At this time of year when the holidays roll around, baking is on everyone’s mind. Maybe you’re a pie lover or a cookie connoisseur and when you’re gluten-free, this can be stressful, but I’m telling you from experience that it doesn’t have to be. I’ve come up with 10 ideas to make this year easy and delicious—gluten-free for the whole family.
I could have really used these tips when my son Isaiah was first diagnosed. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the idea of holiday baking. After all, we cut out gluten and dairy from our lives the day after Halloween, so I had less than a month to figure out how to bake gluten-free and dairy-free in a way that would satisfy his memories—and mine.
I remember making a basic cookie crust using store-bought cookies made with a coconut milk-based pumpkin filling. For more fun pie ideas, check out my gluten-free pie tutorial. Now, the options are endless. I don’t put limits on anything I can make gluten-free.
1. Use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend you trust. Whether you make your own blend or buy one at the store, make sure you prepare a big batch and store it in an airtight container so you’re prepared for all of the seasonal baking. If you’re new at gluten-free baking, ask friends or family for their favorite blend or brand, or try my gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, which uses my favorite Shiloh Farms tapioca flour.
2. Bake recipes you can make ahead successfully. Pie crusts or cookies can be made ahead so plan to do your baking a little at a time, even up to 2 weeks in advance. Store cookies between sheets of parchment paper in separate tins and freeze pie crusts in freezer-safe resealable bags, then let thaw at room temperature before filling and baking. Also, remember that baked goods always make great gift ideas. If you’re short on baking time, consider hosting a cookie exchange to make your life a little easier.
3. Get the whole family involved. From measuring ingredients to stirring together the dough, everyone loves to be part of the party. Kids take tons of pride in helping set the table or putting the final sprinkles on chocolate-dipped cookies. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help doing the dishes. People like to pitch in wherever they can.
4. Stock your kitchen with all the necessary baking ingredients to avoid shopping during the holiday rush. Waiting in long lines at the supermarket is something we may all have grown accustomed to, but I always avoid this stressful task whenever possible. I like to shop at least two weeks and up to one month ahead, then I have everything on hand at a moment’s notice. I also try to shop when the store just opens or an hour before closing to sidestep crowds.
5. Bake your tried and true recipes. These sweet treats are the things that memories are made of. You have the confidence of knowing what they taste like, that your family loves them and that the recipes will work—if you use a flour blend that substitutes cup-for-cup with regular gluten-full all-purpose flour. But don’t forget to experiment with at least one new recipe to keep your festive occasions fun with surprising, attention-grabbing desserts.
About Silvana Nardone
I’m the author of COOKING FOR ISAIAH: GLUTEN-FREE & DAIRY-FREE RECIPES FOR EASY, DELICIOUS MEALS, the owner/editor-in-chief of the digital gluten-free magazine, EASY EATS, and the founder of SILVANASKITCHEN.COM, a gluten-free cooking and baking blog. Previously, I was the founding editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, where I was also the “No-Recipe Zone” and “Sweet Spot” columnist. A writer, editor, cooking instructor and food consultant, I coauthored Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian. I was an editor at Food & Wine magazine before opening my Italian bakery, Fanciulla. I’ve appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’sWeekend Today, CBS’s News This Morning, ABC’s Eyewitness News This Morning and the Food Network’s Roker on the Road. I’ve also been featured in The New York Times, New York, TimeOut New York, The Associated Press and on many websites, including AOL Health, iVillageFood and Babble. I live in Brooklyn, New York, with my children, Isaiah, 16, and Chiara, 6.