Gluten and dairy free baking

Guest post by Charlotte Pike. Professional Food writer and Cook. Author of The Hungry Student Cookbook series

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Food allergies and intolerances has increased

Over the last decade, our awareness of food allergies and intolerances has increased exponentially, and most of us now know someone who is affected by one or the other.

Generally, people avoiding wheat or dairy do so for one of two reasons; they either have a proven allergy and cannot tolerate certain ingredients, or some people simply feel better avoiding ingredients, and they do so as a lifestyle choice.

What does this mean in terms of gluten and dairy free baking?

Put simply, there are many recipes that can be made naturally without one or the other ingredient, and others can be adapted. Some recipes work perfectly when adapted, and others are much trickier to master. I’ll return to this in a minute.

It is important to stress a few rules when it comes to allergy friendly baking. Without wishing to sound patronizing, it is so important to be careful when baking for any food restrictions.

Some people can have a reaction to the slightest traces of certain ingredients, so, it is imperative to ensure you check the ingredient and allergy list of every component ingredient in your bake.

Baking for someone with allergies.

If you are baking for someone with allergies, you need to check every ingredient is suitable. You may also need to seek out certified allergy friendly ingredients too – for example, someone who follows a wheat free diet may be able to eat oats, but a coeliac will need to ensure they have certified gluten free oats.

Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda will need to be gluten free, too – even if the standard baking powder doesn’t contain wheat in the ingredients list. The reason for this is cross-contamination.

Some ingredients will have been produced or packaged in an environment in which allergens are present, so you may need to seek out ingredients from the freefrom section in the supermarket or health food shop that are clearly marked gluten or dairy free.

Cross contamination

Cross contamination can be prevented at home by keeping your equipment scrupulously clean.

Make sure you keep allergy-containing ingredients stored separately – sealed plastic storage containers provide a good home – and for particularly severe allergies, it is good practice to use a separate set of equipment which is kept stored separately in sealed storage boxes.

Cross contamination of flours can be minimized by wiping surfaces with a spray, such as Dettol, too.

In terms of baking for gluten and dairy free diets, it can be a good idea to look for recipes that avoid the offending ingredients – for example, baking for gluten free diets, look for flourless recipes, or those using ground nuts or polenta (there are some lovely recipes in the Clandestine Cake Club Cook book).

For dairy free cakes, you can use a soya or sunflower spread in lieu of butter, even shortening (Trex) if you’re so inclined. I prefer a more natural approach and use olive or sunflower oil, which can be delicious in carrot and chocolate cakes, or muffins, even. Soya, rice and nut milks work extremely well, even with a dash or lemon juice to make your own buttermilk.

Substituting flours

If you’re substituting flour for gluten free flour in a recipe, always add a little less gluten free flour than wheat – usually 30-50g less should do the trick. This is because gluten free four blends are more absorbent, and if you use the same quantity, your cake will be dry.

Generally, the most-loved flour is the Doves Farm plain or self-raising flour blends.

Above all, the best thing to do is to check every stage of your baking carefully. Be sure you know what the recipient can and can’t have, and be careful how you bake and which ingredients you use.

Don’t forget, allergy friendly baking can be a lot of fun, and can be a great way to experiment in the kitchen.

You might like to try this gluten free Mango and Passionfruit cake

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One Comment

  1. This is a great article. My friend is both dairy and gluten intolerant. I have bought a couple of books on gluten free and vegan baking but the recipes in them seem to involve really expensive ingredients. Any suggestions as she is missing out on cake and we cant allow that!

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