Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

6 gluten-free treats to make, not buy

Gluten-free pancakes
Gluten-free pancakes

These days, there are tons of gluten-free treats and even staples like gluten-free flour tortillas for sale in regular grocery stores.

Hooray! It’s definitely cause for celebration. But as more companies enter the gluten-free marketplace, we should demand more. Since they know we’ve got purchasing power, let’s make ‘em work for it! So even though you could buy ready-made gluten-free versions of these foods, may I humbly suggest that… you shouldn’t? Some of them are just too quick, easy, and cheap to make yourself (and you’d pay a serious premium to buy them ready-made).

For others, the store-bought foods are just pretty terrible, and cost a bundle, too. No thanks!  

 

Donuts and muffins, like Gluten-Free Glazed Chocolate Donuts: Donuts may seem like a specialty item, but cake donuts are really, really easy to make at home. I use a little electric donut-maker so I don’t even have to fire up the oven, and six donuts bake in three minutes in that little contraption. I bought it super-cheap, and I use it all the time. The gluten-free donuts that they sell in grocery stores are frozen and, frankly, terrible. Plus, they cost a bundle. Don’t have a donut maker? Make ‘em in a mini muffin tin.

Crackers, like Gluten-Free Parmesan Cornmeal Snack Crackers: Once you get the hang of rolling out the dough, making crackers at home is so easy. And I have yet to try a packaged gluten-free cracker that is worth the price. So what’s the trick to rolling out dough in an even layer? There are two tricks, actually: First, the best way to tell if the dough is rolled out evenly is by touch, not by sight. Just run your fingers lightly over the surface of the dough you’re rolling out. You’ll be able to tell right away. The second trick is temperature. If dough seems too sticky to roll out, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes after you’ve rolled it out and before you’ve cut out shapes. You’ll be a pro in no time!

Pancakes, like Gluten-Free Buckwheat Pancakes: I’m not really talking about buying ready-made frozen gluten-free pancakes (although they do sell those!). I’m talking about pancake and waffle mix. It’s really just an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend + baking powder + baking soda and salt. You add everything else. We’re already paying a premium because it’s gluten-free. Why pay more for them to throw some leaveners and salt in there? Pancakes are the easiest thing to make, like, ever. Try these basic gluten-free pancakes and tell me that wasn’t too easy to believe.

Granola bars, like these Copycat Cranberry Almond KIND Bars: Packaged gluten-free granolas and gluten-free granola bars are one of the most expensive packaged gluten-free products you can buy. Some of the ingredients are, indeed, kind of expensive (raw nuts are, for sure, expensive all on their own). All the more reason to keep the cost down by making your own. You do little more than throw all the ingredients together, press them into a pan, bake a bit and voilá. Granola bars.

Drop cookies, like these Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: If you are scared off by the idea of rolling out dough and cutting out shapes, drop cookies are the answer for you. Mix up the room temperature ingredients, drop by tablespoonful on a lined baking sheet, and bake for a few minutes. They don’t have to be the perfect round shape, and they don’t have to have all the chips in the most artful places. If you bake one gluten-free thing at all, even if you think you can’t bake to save your life, bake cookies. You’ll feel like a rock star!

Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas: They aren’t the quickest thing to make when you first try your hand at them, but once you get the hang of it they’re ready in no time. And they freeze incredibly well. I used to dream of a company’s making certified gluten-free flour tortillas (like I do that someone will make and sell gluten-free wonton skins!). Well, now they do, and they’re terrible—not to mention expensive. This is one gluten-free recipe you really need to master, and never ever buy—at least until they make them so you can actually roll them into a burrito without having them crack!

Nicole Hunn is a gluten-free blogger and cookbook author. She blogs at Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, and her most recent book is Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread: Biscuits, Bagels, Buns, and More. If they can make it with gluten, we can make it without!

Nicole Hunn
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