If you're just discovering how to bake gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar-free food, it may seem like a minefield when it comes to getting it right.
Try these essential tips from Vicki over at the Free From Fairy to keep your cooking safe, tasty and free from allergens. You'll be making delicious free-from baking in no time!
- Make sure you check all ingredients very carefully as allergens hide in all kinds of places! For example, if you're cooking for a coeliac or someone with a severe allergy then even trace amounts of the allergen can make them ill (watch out for...'may contain' or 'produced where there is x allergen' on labels).
- Watch out for cross-contamination. Before making anything free-from make sure you clean the equipment thoroughly along with the surfaces and keep the product separate from allergen containing foods.
- Always use scales! You need to be accurate when baking free-from recipes.
- If you need an egg or milk replacement then follow this great infographic on vegan baking.
- If you need a gluten replacement try using xanthum gum, following the instructions for quantity on the packet.
- For a good, consistent gluten-free flour mix try Doves Farm mixes. They're available in most supermarkets and can pretty much be used in direct replacement for 'normal' flour. Be aware that the self-raising mix already contains xanthum gum so you don't need to add any more!
- For wonderfully moist gluten-free cakes, add a sugar syrup made from 100g sugar dissolved in 75ml of water to the cooked cake.
- To keep a gluten-free cake from drying out, add 1 tsp finely ground flax seeds to every 6oz or 170g gluten-free flour.
- If baking gluten-free bread don't expect your dough to look like 'normal' bread dough. It'll look more like cake batter!
- There are many sugar replacements on the market. Always try to use one that's natural, rather than one that's been man-made. Check out stevia – 250 to 300 times sweeter than cane sugar and free from calories and carbs. It also doesn't raise blood sugar levels! (For more information about sugar replacements, read our advice here).
About the author… Vicki writes the successful Free from Fairy blog, which offers advice for those who are cooking free-from food for the first time or who have been diagnosed with an allergy. With recipes for all ages, including lots of ideas for kids, it's a great online resource for those with a gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar-free diet.