In addition to my regular Christmas baking I wanted to do some gluten-free baking for my Celiac daughter, Devon. It seems so unfair that there are lovely goodies for everyone else to indulge in, while Devon is unable to sample most baking for fear of becoming ill. Baker mom to the rescue! This is not an easy task. I have had reasonable luck with gluten-free recipes. That hasn’t been a problem. The challenge for me is making sure there is nothing in the kitchen to contaminate the baking. I take all the clean bowls and baking sheets and cooling racks that I need and wash them before I start. If I’m using the Kitchenaid, I wipe it thoroughly and blow into all the crevasses with compressed air. I make sure I’m wearing a fresh clean apron (vs. a flour infested one) and I get out clean dish cloths and teatowels. Then I’m ready to start.
Gluten is not allowed in the kitchen while this baking is going on. I’m not willing to risk making Devon sick! This year I decided to try several different cookies. I made oatmeal shortbread, regular type shortbread and pecan crunch cookies. For the oatmeal shortbread I went low tech and mixed the dough by hand. What a novel experience. I mixed, patted, rolled and cut the dough before baking. The cookies were solid and biscuit like with the nutty crunch of oatmeal. (I’m going to try them again with less sugar as they’ll be like a Scottish shortbread – perfect with cheese.) The shortbread cookies were mixed in my Cuisinart food processor. I used my regular recipe with a rice flour mixture instead of all-purpose flour. They look exactly like regular shortbread, and taste ALMOST exactly the same too. The pecan crunch cookies, which have potato chips in the dough, I mixed with a hand-held mixer. I was too tired to clean the Kitchenaid and it just seemed simpler. Worked fine. I used a recipe with Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour mix and a little xanthum gum replacing the regular flour. I’d tried this a few weeks ago and had good results. I’ll post the recipes soon. (I assume everyone is too busy now to be trying new recipes.)
I was hoping to try some molasses cookies, but I needed to get the cookies baked and packed to ship to Montreal. There are only so many hours in a day, and I do like to get some sleep. Even packaging the gluten-free baking is somewhat stressful. While I have everything out on the kitchen table I worry that some stray particle of flour dust will float by and dance on to the cookies. Here’s hoping that didn’t happen. My newest discovery for packing the cookies is cupcake baking papers. Gluten-free baking seems to be more fragile than regular baking, I wanted them protected. Who wants to get a box full of broken cookies and crumbs? I used a variety of cupcake papers, matching the diameter and height with different cookies. (The cookies in the pictures are not packed for shipping – I was just testing out the containers.) When packed for shipping, I fill the gaps with waxed paper and printed cellophane so that nothing moves when you shake the container. I use some bubble wrap for cushioning amidst the Christmas gifts. Time will tell if it was enough. The first box is shipping to Montreal, and another will leave for Victoria. I think it’s easier when the kids all come home for Christmas.
Now that I have an awareness of Celiac disease, I’m amazed by how many people suffer when they consume gluten. I have a couple of friends who will be quite happy that I couldn’t fit all the gluten-free baking into the Montreal parcel. Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas season!