My first love of baking started with my Easy Bake Oven complete with shiny baking pans, even though they were miniature. I spent endless hours baking with it until I decided bigger was better! Why bake in a small oven with small pans when I could bake big cakes in a real oven? In high school and college, friends enjoyed my many cookies and brownies. As a mother, many fond memories were made during the holidays baking Christmas cookies with the kids. When I was told by my doctor that gluten was no longer something I could eat, I was determined to continue my baking, but more than 3 years later, I have found it disappointing and dis-heartening.
What has made it so difficult?
Gluten is what gives baked goods there elasticity. Without gluten things do not rise, they fall apart and they do not brown. My cookies would look uncooked, fall apart or be hockey pucks or the flavor would be awful. The hardest part of all, besides my long list, is that you need to combine many flours together to get things to work, so it can be expensive and a trial by error type of method-very time consuming. For a while, I actually baked without regular flour choosing to bake with coconut and almond flours instead. They are ok, but just not what my heart was wanting, especially for special family occasions and birthdays.
How have I made my gluten-free baking easy?
Thanks to a cooking class at a local food supplier and a sister who loves to bake too, I was introduced to a wonderful gluten-free all-purpose flour that works 1:1 like a wheat-based flour. It is a life-saver in the kitchen (though my waist-line will no doubt suffer). It now comes in a few different varieties for dairy-free diets, as well. It is called Cup-4-Cup. It is pricey, but the results are perfect! Light, airy and no aftertaste at all. The cookies stay together and look like real cookies. I find it definitely worth the price. I am officially back in business.
And for those birthday cakes? Thank you Betty Crocker! A new line has come out for brownies, cake mixes and frostings. My daughter’s favorite cake has always been the confetti cake with all the multi-colored dots in it, I call it the party cake. It now comes gluten-free, so I can eat it too, and it tastes amazing! Moist, light, not too sweet and it looks and acts like a real cake. Easy to frost without crumbling. It was hard not to eat the whole thing. My brother-in-law and I had some for breakfast! We could not resist.
I hope this post helps you enjoy the kitchen again without the cost, disappointments and time I spent there. Using a cake mix may not be “from scratch” as I always preferred, but if it tastes good and looks good that is all people care about!