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Preparing Gluten-Free Treats by Joseph Bases

As the seasons change many people look forward to spending time with family, friends and food, but what about those among us who have a gluten intolerance? Is this a time to enjoy? Of course it is. Although gluten-free baking and food prep may take a little more attention it is nothing to fear.

Here are some tips that will help:

Flour

There are several ready to use glutenfree flours on the market however sometimes individuals will have an aversion to some other ingredient in the ready-made flours so it often is best to blend your own. This simple “cookie mix” is the basis for cakes, tarts, and cookies. The mix includes 2 cups of brown rice flour; ¾ of a cup of potato flour and ¼ cup of tapioca flour. The above flour mix can be substituted for wheat flour in many icebox or drop cookie recipes. Also if the basic recipe calls for nuts, try grinding some of these nuts into the flour. Be mindful of your choice of butter, margarine or vegetable shortening. Since gluten-free flour has no gluten, batters and doughs do not bind as well as traditional flour which means that the spread of the cookie as it bakes will be greater. Drop your cookies as normal in size but give them a bit more room between cookies. Again, remember butter spreads furthest, next margarine and finally shortening.

Pie Dough

The key to pie dough is to not over mix. Stop as soon as all of your ingredients are blended. Over mixing causes toughness and you then will be kneading the dough further when you make your pie shells.

Temperature

When directions say “wrap and chill dough for at least an hour”, it really is best to chill overnight—one hour is not enough time to properly chill dough. Once you have placed your dough on a cookie sheet, chill that as well (pan and all) for about twenty minutes.

Time

Gluten-free cookies should be baked for less time than traditional cookies. Under-bake your cookies by about one minute. Your cookies will come out soft and tender. Fully baked cookies are crisp but since you are using rice flour and rice draws moisture, your gluten-free version of a floured product will become dry if you bake it for the traditionally recommended time.

Pie Shells

If it is the inflexibility of gluten-free pie dough that makes it so difficult to work with then try this technique: chill the dough and then break off small amounts and crumble that into your pie tin. Next, use your fingers to press the dough up along the sides and over edge.

Top Crusts

Roll your dough out on a cookie sheet and chill. Then use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the rolled dough. Then arrange those shapes on the open pie. Theses “biscuits” will serve the same function as the top crust.

Joseph Bases is the owner of The Little Bake Shop, located at 491 Kings Highway in Valley Cottage, where he offers a variety of traditional and gluten-free baked goods. He can be reached at 268-5511 or on Facebook.

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