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Why Didn't My (Gluten Free) Biscuits Rise?

whyHere is a great question from one of our members:

Using a gluten-free flour blend, I made biscuits following my recipe. Although they taste ok (especially when split and toasted), the biscuits did not rise. Would there be suggestions on what to add to help with this?

My first thought was the recipe you followed a gluten free recipe for biscuits? Or was it a regular recipe that you just substituted in gluten free flour?

If it was a regular recipe using wheat flour, then you really need to alter it a bit to compensate for the properties that gluten free flours lack (in comparison to wheat flours). In place of gluten, gums (like xanthan or guar) are added to replace those stretchy, binding, and structural properties that are missing.

It's also good to increase the other leveners (like baking soda or baking powder) called for in the recipe by 25%, to help give those gluten free flours and extra lift. If you check out our Flour Substitution Chart, it will help you know how much to add.

Gluten free baked goods don't rise as well in  comparison to wheat flours. There is unfortunately no getting around that. But they should rise at least half as much as wheat biscuits.

Here are a few more tips to make sure your biscuits rise as much as possible:

  • Make sure all your ingredients (wet and dry) are at room temperature - except the butter, that should be very cold and cut into cubes.
  • Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until pea-sized crumbs form (no smaller). When the biscuits are in the oven, the heat causes the large pieces of butter to release its moisture, and the steam that's created separates the layers of the dough - which helps them rise and creates flaky and tender biscuits. This is another reason why butter is better than shortening to use, since shortening doesn't contain any moisture.
  • Wrap the dough and allow to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will ensure the butter stays in firm before baking, and gives the gluten free flours time to absorb the liquid (which can make the biscuits taste gritty if not properly absorbed).
  • When using a biscuit/cookie cutter, don't use a twisting motion to cut them out of the dough. Just press the cutter straight down into the dough and pull up. The twisting motion can pinch the cut edges together, which can seal it so much that it prevents the edges from rising up properly.
  • Instead of using a biscuit/cookie cutter, try shaping the dough by hand. Roll into a ball, then use your knuckles to press it down to 1 1/2", working quickly so as not to melt the butter with your hands. The only downside to this method is that it can be hard to make all the biscuits uniform in size - which can make determining when they are all fully cooked difficult. Although if you use a kitchen scale, that problem can be eliminated.
  • A very hot oven is essential to create that all important steam in the biscuits. Oven temperature must be set at 400°F or higher.

For more information, check out The Secret to Baking Gluten Free Bread

13 Responses to Why Didn't My (Gluten Free) Biscuits Rise?

  1. Jewell March 10, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

    I have a new g f bread machine & have tried 3 times & failed to make a good bread that "rose" as expected. I called the company & they said salt kills yeast which may be to blame. You r told to add liquids then dry & make a well in dry & add yeast, set cycle & start the machine. Salt is dry so I added it to dry ingred (into which I made a well & added yeast) Should I add the salt to the wet ingred instead? Why they don't address this issue in their manual/directions I don't know, but I am confused & hesitant to keep repeating/trying to make a good product. Have you encountered this question/problem before? If so, can you help me? Thanks for your attention. Do you have suggestions for using other g f recipes in my bread machine, rather than not just their limited ones (3 of the 6 they offer gave me the problems described above) with the salt (maybe the salt). Jewell

    • Marla Hingley
      Marla Hingley March 11, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

      There is some great information in our article: “The Secret to Baking Gluten Free Bread (there are bread recipes in that article), so definitely check that out. But I thought I would expand a bit more on some of the points in that article, as they related to your question, and I wrote them up into this article: "Why Didn't My Bread Rise?"
      Thanks for your great question, I hope I helped 🙂 Let me know how your next batch goes!

    • Barbara April 16, 2015 at 8:14 am #

      I have been baking my own gf bread for 12 years now and actually seeling it to members of my Celiac group and friends who need gf...I ended up with 5 bread machines...so I've baked ALOT. I always followed the instructions for the machine...then decided to try a shortcut by mixing the yeast in with the dry ingredients, which includes salt...and it comes out just as good.
      I am using rapid rise yeast which cut 1 hour off the baking time. I add the eggs with a bit of cider vinegar, which is important for the yeast... with water first, then add the dry ingredients and then put butter into the corners of the dry ingredients..It rises beautifully.
      My bread machine originally took 3 hrs. 20 minutes..then I switched to rapid rise yeast which cut 1 hour off to 2 hours 20 minutes...then I found that the company making my bread machine came out with a new machine with gf settings...so I reprogrammed my machines and now it's 1 hour 20 minutes because GF baking does not require 2 punch downs as regular yeast breads...I was told the sale and vinegar are very important when using yeast.

  2. Sylvia Zehnter April 15, 2015 at 7:58 am #

    When salt and yeast are mixed, the salt will kill the yeast. Place the yeast at one end of the bread maker pan on top of the flour and the salt on top of the flour at the other end of the pan so the aren't anywhere near each other. I've never had a problem by using this method. t

    • Marla Hingley
      Marla Hingley April 15, 2015 at 8:34 am #

      If they are mixed directly together, then yes the salt will kill the yeast. But as long as they are not in direct contact it will be fine (as well as your method, you could even dissolve the salt in the liquid). The salt is really an issue when you are making bread by hand, and 'proofing' the yeast. You definitely don't want to add the salt at this stage or the yeast most certainly will die. For gluten free breads (and all gluten free baking for that matter) it's best to whisk together the dry ingredients (flours, leveners, salt, xanthan gum) in a separate bowl first. This will ensure everything is evenly dispersed, giving your baked goods the best chance at success!

  3. Jane April 15, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    Use Gluten-free Bisquick, don't bother to bake from scratch. Its almost as good as the regular Bisquick.

  4. Annie April 15, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    the gluten-free bisquick is really good,that is what I use.

  5. Susan April 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    I just love your site. There is so much good information esp. Since I have been suffering most of my life not knowing until a year ago that I can't eat wheat. This disease sure has put a profound change on the way I eat. I have to admit no more pain and I never felt better. I have so much to learn. Thanks for yor site. Sue

    • Angie Halten (Admin)
      Angie Halten (Admin) April 15, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

      Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know. We try very hard to create a wide range of great tasting recipes, provide relevant insight for those trying to live a gluten free lifestyle, and to be used as a resource where you can come to for information as well as support. Thank you again, and have a great day!

  6. James April 15, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

    I do everything by hand, sometimes my breads and pasteries come out real good, and sometimes just so so or not at all, but lots of times I find regular recipes that I like and convert them to gluten free, which leads to a lot of failures sometimes, but once I get successes, it makes it that much better, and I do get a lot of good ideas from your articles which help me a lot. Thanks.

    • Marla Hingley
      Marla Hingley April 16, 2015 at 7:53 am #

      Hats off to you for still trying and staying positive - I know exactly what you mean about the failures! Converting recipes into gluten free can sometimes be hit or miss that's for sure. The hardest part is that you can't just use one type of flour, you need a blend to try and replicate all those properties found in wheat flour. On top of that, each flour has its own unique properties that can react differently when used for different types of recipes. So a recipe that turned out great for cookies with a particular flour blend, may have failed miserably when used for a cake recipe. A tip when converting traditional recipes is to increase the amount of leveners (baking soda/powder, yeast) by 25%. This will help give those gluten free flours a bit of a boost. For more info check out our Flour Conversion chart. Thanks for the feedback, we truly appreciate it!!!

  7. Muriel May 19, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    Any cake failures in my house end up as crumbs to be used as part of the base for cheesecakes or squares - yes even that banana bread that fell in the centre ended up as crumbs!

  8. Herbert January 4, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

    The way I make bread in the bread machine, I hope this helps. I put the liquids in first and then the flours and add the yeast. I set it for one mixing cycle and take it out and put it in the gas oven with pilot light and let it rise for about an hour and then put it back in the bread machine and bake for one hour. It always came out good for me.
    Herbert Smith

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