Allergen-free baking

Allergen-free baking
It’s easy to feel deprived at Easter or anytime treats are served if you have food allergies. Six percent of kids and two percent of adults have food allergies but a far greater number have food intolerances, which are unpleasant symptoms triggered by food.

“The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook” by Cybele Pascal helps these folks not feel left out by offering 100 recipes that use substitutes for the foods that cause most food allergies/intolerances in baked goods. These include: cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts, soybeans, peanuts and wheat.

To bake allergen free, stock your pantry with rice milk for cow’s milk; egg replacer for eggs; dairy-free and soy-free vegetable shortening for butter; and gluten-free flour for regular flour. Don’t forget xanthan gum, the secret ingredient, in gluten-free baked goods. Xanthan gum provides the glue and elasticity that gluten normally gives to baked treats. Keep vegan yogurt on hand to replace cream in recipes.

Make a kid or adult with food allergies happy for Easter by making Chocolate-Chunk Blondie Bars from Pascal’s cookbook.

Chocolate-Chunk Blondie Bars

2 ½ cups plus 2 T. gluten-free flour mix (see recipe below)
½ tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. xanthan gum
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup plus 2 T. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. egg replacer mixed with 2 T. rice milk
¼ cup plus 1 tsp. rice milk
6 ounces Enjoy Life Rice Milk bars or Dark Chocolate Boom Choco Boom bars, chopped

Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine-by-nine-inch pan. Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mix fitted with the paddle, combine the shortening and both sugars, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the vanilla and egg replacer, and mix for 20 seconds. Add the flour mix in three batches, alternating with the rice milk, and beginning and ending with flour mix. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Spread the batter evenly in the baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly golden, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove from the oven, and let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. Cut into squares. Let cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 16 bars.

Basic Gluten-free Flour Mix

4 cups superfine brown-rice flour
1 1/3 cups potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca flour

Combine all the ingredients in a gallon-size plastic bag. Shake well to blend. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 6 cups.

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