Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind when baking gluten-free, especially aimed at those who don’t often bake gluten-free but plan to do so for the holidays:
■ One of the biggest concerns with gluten-free baking is cross-contamination and the use of ingredients with hidden gluten. If you are using a stand mixer that has had gluten flours in it, be sure to properly wash and sanitize the machine’s entire exterior before you use it. The same goes for measuring cups, baking pans and cooling racks.
■ If your utensils are wooden or plastic and are well-worn, consider buying new ones to use specifically for gluten-free baking.
■ Always read labels. There can be hidden gluten in things you would never expect. Some of the more common ones are flavoring extracts, such vanilla extract; cooking oil sprays; even some types of chocolate chips and sprinkles.
■ Gluten-free cookies should be packaged and plated separately from cookies containing gluten. Some people are less sensitive than others, but people with celiac disease can become very ill if their food comes into close contact with gluten.
■ Cookies without gluten can be quite fragile, so take extra care while packaging and transporting them.
I always suggest using a good flour blend or following a recipe that has been tested. In fact, the holidays might not be the best time to take your first shot at gluten-free baking. Baking itself is a science, and when you take away an element like gluten, your margin of error becomes larger. But practice really does make perfect — and the accompanying recipes are a fine place to start.
Cripe is chef de cuisine at the Red Hen in Bloomingdale.
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