Gluten-Free First Timer: Baking from Scratch

December 30, 2010 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

When Silvana Nardone invited the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to participate in her Gluten-Free Holiday Cookie Countdown, I did a happy dance. What better way to celebrate the season than a virtual cookie swap with gluten-free’s biggest names? I perused our stock of recipes for gluten-free sweet treats and settled on Buckwheat and Raisin Cookies. They were unique (Cream of Buckwheat in a cookie? Not too common) and, best of all, a kitchen-tested recipe from our friend, Nancy Baker.

Ready to bake!

The only problem? No photo, which meant I needed to bake. Now, curry or dips, I can do. Xanthan gum? Not my forte. As someone relatively new to the celiac scene, my gluten-free baking typically consists of boxed mixes. Xanthan gum still hovered in that “Experienced Bakers Only” category. Still, I can’t deny my love for a cooking challenge, so off to the store I went.

Mixing the dough

Fast forward to Dec. 19, also know as “the day I’m supposed to bake gluten-free.” My roommates don’t bake often, so I figured a Sunday morning would be a safe time to de-glutenize the area and break out the buckwheat.  I strolled into the kitchen to find two sticks of butter on the counter. “Kate, are you making something today?” I shouted up the stairs. “Yeah, I’m baking chocolate chip cookies and some sugar cookies for everyone.” The traditional, gluten-containing kind. Crisis.

I immediately went to Plan B: Baking at my boyfriend’s house, a place void of flour and baking mixes. Still, he and his roommates enjoy their hoagies and pizza, so I thoroughly cleaned the counters, bowls, utensils and cookie sheets to ensure a gluten-free environment.

I may have checked on the cookies a little too often.

And the baking? Well, the recipe actually is easy. Sure, gluten-free flours and cornstarch dusted everything in sight, and I left the oven light on for hours so I could check each batch every 2 minutes. But, despite one near mishap (a friend dared to enter the kitchen clutching a deli sandwich), the cookies turned out round, toasted and quite photogenic.

After a few snapshots and a taste test by my boyfriend’s roommates (tough critics, as you can imagine), the cookies were safely stashed in Ziploc bags to await enjoyment at the office.

The cookies! Pretty, right?

NFCA’s gluten-free experts gave the cookies a thumbs up and, more importantly, no one felt ill after eating them. Cross-contamination successfully avoided!

After this culinary victory, I’m convinced that baking gluten-free from scratch really isn’t as hard as it seems. In fact, I dare say that xanthan gum and I are now friends. Hey, it sounds cheesy, but if I can do it, you can too.

What tips do you have for gluten-free baking from scratch?

-Cheryl

Entry filed under: Cheryl. Tags: , , , , , .

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