As somebody who does the odd bit of gluten free baking now and again, this is something I get regularly asked. The simple answer to this question is yes BUT don’t expect the same results!
Gluten free flours often contain lots of water grabbing gums and starches so we have to ensure that there is enough water present to fully hydrate the gums and gelatinize the starches. When starches do not gelatinize, the baked good can have a gritty texture, and this commonly happens with flours such as cornflour.
If say you bake a basic Victoria sandwich cake and simply substitute the flour for gluten free, the finished product is likely to be dry, crumbly, and will fall apart more easily. You can add extra liquid to the recipe to increase the moisture but be careful not to alter the ratios too much or the baked good may not come out in the same way!
Something that is often added to gluten free products is xanthan gum. This ingredient has an ability to trap air which allows gluten free cakes and breads to rise properly and have a light and airy texture. It is also added to doughs such as pastry doughs so that they can be rolled and stretched without breaking.
When I make gluten free cakes and pastries I normally use a ready made gluten free flour mix but you can make your own. There are loads of gluten free flours available so why not experiment!
Another good substitute for flour are ground nuts, but these only work well in certain cakes so make sure you use a recipe that is tried and tested for the best results. I prefer to use recipes that are either high in moisture or low in flour already, for example brownies which often contain a very small amount of flour that can easily be substituted without dramatically changing the texture. Or, cakes such as carrot cake, which contain extra moisture from the water in the vegetables. If you are a newbie baker I would stick to recipes that have already been developed to be gluten free until you are confident enough to create your own.
Have you had any success with gluten free baking? Let me know!