Allergy Free Baking – By Chef Charity
Free Baking! That’s what I call baking allergy free baking. There are SO many people affected by food sensitivities and food allergens these days! Then, you have the fad followers, that are trying-out going gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. to see if they feel better by removing certain things from their diet. Wading through the information out there can be daunting! I know!
Allergy Free Baking – My Journey
I’ve been cooking and allergy free baking for my family for the past 7 years. My daughter was diagnosed with CML, a type of Leukemia when she was 7. She takes oral chemo medication every day because of this. The medication has created adverse reactions to many foods, including; gluten, soy, and eggs. She already had an allergy to yeast and was sensitive to dairy since birth. Yikes! Right!? My youngest son, who’s 8 (I have 3 kids) has an allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, strawberries, pears, bananas, mangos, & kiwis. It kind of makes your head swim huh?
Thank goodness I have a degree in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry! By default, I’ve become an expert at “free baking” and cooking. I’ve been forced to.
The Chemistry of Allergy Free Baking
Baking is straight-up chemistry. Ever talked with a savory chef who back peddles when talked to about baking? It’s not for sissies! Guy Fieri even told me once, “What I bake, I burn! I steer clear of baking!” In baking, we deal with proteins with IN grains, liquids, seeds, etc. Savory chefs mainly deal with animal proteins. It’s a very different ball game. Over the years, I’ve experimented with many different flours, grains, seeds, oils, alternative milks, etc. If you’ve ever thumbed through a gluten-free cookbook, you’d see each recipe has at least 2-3 flours from different grains in requires.
Yowzers! I started out like that….went out, and researched every grain I could find, bought over a dozen different ones, and tested recipe after recipe with different combinations. A whole lot of time, money and effort. I quickly lost patience with that ordeal, and experimented, instead, with the flour mixtures that are pre-made. Bob’s Red Mill, Pamela’s, even Bisquick, and Pillsbury have various mixtures that are good for different things. Who has room in their pantry, and freezer (because grains go rancid fast) for 12 + different flours? Not ME!
I began using my regular recipes, and substituting a premade flour mixture for the wheat flour, making a couple of other minor tweaks, and Voila! Awesome baked goods that my kid can eat….and more importantly LOVES! My real test of how good a baked item is….is if my boys go for it instead of the regular version. That’s the real measure of success for me.
One very tricky thing when baking gluten-free is fiber. Gluten-free baked goods, even crackers, bread, and the like don’t have squat for fiber content. GF foods are laden with white stuff…..white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, which all convert to sugars in the body. A grown adult should get 40-44 grams of fiber a day in their diet. Wanna lose weight?? Increase your fiber intake. Simple. But if you eat a gluten-free diet and buy lots of store-bought items that are GF, you are liable to gain weight, NOT lose it. Why? You ask….no fiber in those products.
What’s the answer then? Well, I’ve discovered some amazing fiber sources to easily add to your GF baking that can solve the fiber issue. Namely Coconut flour and Hemp flour. Both are great sources of fiber AND protein.
Learning More about Allergy Free Baking
As a cake artist and pastry chef, I have many clients that come to me for desserts and cakes made dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and any other “free” you can think of. I teach classes about how to make all these things, but very few people are able to get to the location of these classes. I want to help more people that are in the same position I found myself in 7 years ago. Let me know what questions you have about all things allergen-based, food science questions and such. I will provide recipes, tips and tricks for free baking. Post your questions below or send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chef Charity is a Celebrity Pastry Chef and Cake Artist based in San Diego, CA. She specializes in chocolate and sugar art, with particular regard for wedding cakes, as well as specialty and extreme cakes. (Though sometimes wedding cake and extreme cake are redundant…) She also specializes in baking and cooking for those with food allergies and sensitivities. Please visit her at www.chefcharity.com.
If you’d like to learn more about some interesting baking tools click here.