Many folks on a restricted diet simply aren’t comfortable eating treats—no matter how lovingly and safely made—from a kitchen that isn’t 100% free of their allergens.
Before spending time and money on a recipe that your friend won’t be able to enjoy, ask them if they’re comfortable accepting a home baked treat. Let them know how you plan to keep their food safe (more on that in a second). And then, respect their boundaries. You might have one food allergic friend who’s okay with enjoying a treat you make for them; while another friend might turn you down. Neither are “right.” They just have different medical needs and comfort levels.
If your friend tells you that she can’t enjoy your homemade treat, thank her for her honesty. It’s tough to turn down thoughtful gifts from friends! Consider making her a non-edible homemade gift instead.
Use new, unopened ingredients.
If your friend gives you the go-ahead, purchase all new ingredients for the recipe you plan to make. That baking powder you’ve been using? It could have wheat in it from other baking projects. Same thing with spices. When you aren’t baking with food allergies in mind, you don’t realize how often you use the same measuring spoon to go from one ingredient to another. Or how a light coating of flour might be on your hand when you add “a pinch” of spice to a recipe.
Once you’ve made the gift, you can use these ingredients for other baking projects. They don’t need to go to waste. Just be sure NOT to use the ingredients for anything else before baking for your food allergic friend.
Clean your work area, baking tools, and bowls.
Before starting on your project, put all other food and ingredients away. And keep them away–including eating snacks—while you prepare the food allergy-safe treat. Nothing “kills” allergens, they aren’t like bacteria. Simply use a clean washcloth and wipe down your workspace. Then wash all of your baking tools and bowls before beginning the project.
Use “Disposable” Pans
You know that light coating that builds up in the corner of pans over time? Well, that buildup might contain wheat, soy, or other allergens. To avoid this, use either disposable pans or, if you don’t want to go the disposable route, consider using cans or glass jars that you haven’t baked in before.
Wrap it up!
After all that work, you want to ensure that your baked goods stay allergen-safe. Once the recipe cools, wrap it well and place it away from any other allergen-containing baked goods.
RECIPE: STEAMED SPICY GINGERBREAD (Gluten-Free, Egg-Free)
Here’s a great recipe for a gluten-free, egg-free steamed gingerbread. It’s a variation of the Boston Bread Brown that I taught this fall for the From Scratch Club Academy. Unlike most gingerbread recipes, this one isn’t too sweet. In fact, it’s almost savory with a powerful ginger kick. If you prefer a less spicy gingerbread, reduce the ground ginger to one and half teaspoons. If you need to make it dairy-free, simply replace the milk with a dairy-free milk, like soy or rice. (If your friend is gluten-free, be sure the dairy-free milk does not contain gluten.)
Nonstick cooking spray
5 ounces (1 cup) sorghum flour
4 ounces (3/4 cup) gluten-free cornmeal
3 ounces (3/4 cup) brown rice flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger (see note above)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk or dairy-free milk
1/2 cup dark (robust) or regular molasses
- Adjust oven rack to lower position. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease one 28-ounce cans or one 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Fill a Dutch oven or roasting pan large enough to fit the can with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the can, about two inches. (If using a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan, heat about four cups of water.) Bring water to a simmer.
- While water heats, whisk together sorghum flour, cornmeal, brown rice flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt. Add milk and molasses. Whisk until smooth. Spoon batter into can or spread batter evenly into loaf pan. Cover cans or loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper. Secure parchment with a large rubber pan. If you don’t have parchment paper, use a piece of greased foil.
- Carefully transfer can to the simmering water. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid. If using loaf pan, nest the loaf pan in a 13- by 9-inch pan. Carefully pour simmering water into the 13- by 9-inch pan. Water should reach halfway up the loaf pan. Cover 13- by 9-inch pan with foil. Transfer to oven and bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 60 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully remove lid or foil (steam will escape as you do this.) Remove can or pan from the water. Allow bread to cool in the can or pan for about five minutes. Turn bread out onto a wire rack to cool completely.