On to a happier topic - BAKING!
I absolutely love to bake. I hate the daily monotony of fixing the family dinner, but give me butter, sugar and eggs and I'll make something.
Lately I have been working on decorated cookies and working on my skills. There are some great blogs out there that show you techniques and are not shy about sharing what they have learned. Some of my favorites are SugarBelle's, JP Creatibles and Sweetopia.
I got an order for some gluten free decorated cookies. They are going to a young woman who I think is wonderful so I was happy to do these for her.
For a while we did a gluten free diet with our son, so I know how to do this. Many people are finding out they are gluten intolerant, or have Celiac Disease, so this type of baking is becoming more and more popular. I even had a request for it while I was selling cookies at a Relay for Life event.
There are several things with gluten free.
1) Check ALL your ingredients. There can be gluten in things like baking powder and vanilla. Yes, it doesn't belong there, but it's like high fructose corn syrup. It's in lots of things. If someone is just gluten intolerant, it may not be as important, but with full blow Celiac, you learn to check and you learn which products you can use and which ones you can't.
2) Gluten free products can be gritty and they tend to be more brittle or crumbly. There is a good reason for this. Gluten free products contain no wheat and gluten is found in wheat. It is the part that makes things more elastic. If you are kneading a loaf of bread and is starts to get that "elastic" feeling, you know you're at the right point for the bread to rise. This doesn't exist in gluten free baking. Gluten is the "glue" that holds items such as cakes, cookies and muffins together.
3) Everything you know about regular baking is different. The biggest thing, and this is related to point #2, is that you are always told not to over mix or it will become tough or not rise. It's just the opposite in gluten free. Beat the crud out of it. Hopefully you have a nice stand mixer or hand mixer. You want to go twice as long as a regular recipe, or even longer. It helps to eliminate that gritty texture. It also helps to activate the "glue" you add to your recipe.
4) You don't have to use Xanthan Gum!! This will come as a great relief to anyone who does do GF baking. This stuff is expensive. About a year I discovered that you can substitute plain gelatin 2:1 for Xanthan Gum. If a recipe calls for 1 tsp, use 2 tsp of gelatin (such as Knox) in it's powdered form. It is so much less expensive and serves the same purpose.
I work a wonderful job during the holiday season, and I often spoil the employees by bringing in fresh baked goods. When I discovered that one of the employees was GF, I made sure to bring things she could eat. The rest of the employees were skeptical, but soon they were inhaling the GF products and I had to make sure to set some aside for the woman who actually had to eat these. The employees were shocked that the recipes were made differently.
If you are GF, there isn't any reason you can't eat baked goods at home. Yes, the ingredients are more expensive, but your health is worth it.
I'll leave you with one last photo. This is one of the things that the employees didn't know was gluten free. It's a lemon blueberry bread. Two full loaves of it disappeared!!