Easy Steps to Convert Favorite Recipes to be Gluten (and Dairy) Free

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Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies 2010 edition hit the newsstands and features a recipe by gluten-free, dairy-free (GFCF) expert Jean Duane, Alternative Cook. Those on a special diet, might feel deprived when flipping through these mouth-watering pages with only one gluten-free recipe. Why stop at one when it's so easy to convert every one of those recipes? Jean shares her tips on how to convert recipes to be gluten and dairy free.

Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Cookies

I am pleased to offer a gluten-free recipe for this publication, says Jean, but why limit readers with allergies to one recipe when converting is so easy?

Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications - Christmas Cookies contains 101 holiday treats with beautiful photos and easy-to-make recipes. One of the recipes, Snickerdoodles is from Bake Deliciously! Gluten and Dairy Free Cookbook by Jean Duane, Alternative Cook. "I am pleased to offer a gluten-free recipe for this publication, says Jean, but why limit readers with allergies to one recipe when converting is so easy?" Below in this excerpt from Bake Deliciously!, Jean shares her secrets gleaned from years of trials and learning from (many) errors. What follows are general guidelines to convert a traditional wheat-flour recipe into gluten-free.

How to Convert a Traditional Recipe to Gluten and/or Dairy Free

1. Start with a combination of flours in these ratios: 50% grain flour (brown rice or sorghum), 25% starch (cornstarch, tapioca or potato starch) and 25% protein flour (navy, fava, garbanzo, soy, gafava flour) or a different grain flour. One cup of wheat flour translates into 1/2 cup of grain flour, 1/4 cup of bean flour and 1/4 cup of starch.
2. Add 25-50% more leavening (baking powder, baking soda or yeast).
3. Add 1/2 to 1 tsp. acid (vinegar, citric acid, ascorbic acid dough enhancer, cream of tartar or citrus juice).
4. Add 1/2 tsp. of either xanthan gum to the dry ingredients or guar gum to the wet ingredients for every cup of flour, or 1/4 tsp. of each. For smaller baked items, gums can be omitted.
5. Substitute butter with oil or ghee, cow's milk with nut or rice milk (ideally with the same fat content).
6. Let the batter sit for a few minutes to absorb liquids before baking.

Sound easy? It really is. Here's an example:


Original Recipe
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coffee crystals    

GFCF Adaptation
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. guar gum
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sorghum flour
2 TBS starch
2 TBS protein flour
1/4 plus 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coffee crystals

Beat together the wet ingredients. Whisk together the dry ingredients and mix with wet ingredients. Divide into an oiled muffin pan and bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

Need more help? Go to http://www.alternativecook.com and click on Convert a Recipe.

Jean Duane, Alternative Cook, LLC produces instructional DVDs (Chocolate, Mexican, Italian and Kids' Meals), video streams (alternativecook.com), Bake Deliciously! Gluten and Dairy Free Cookbook and The Complete Idiot's Guide for Gluten Free Cooking. She shows how to cook without gluten, dairy and other food-allergens. She has produced several spots for Comcast's Video on Demand, made television appearances on PBS and has been a featured speaker at the 2009 and 2010 International Association for Culinary Professionals' Conferences. She has developed recipes for Betty Crocker and for Beautiful Sweets bakery and has featured recipes in many publications. A regular speaker and magazine writer, she won Kiplinger's "Dream in You" contest in 2006.


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