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~ My Five Basic Tips for Foolproof GF Cookie Baking ~

IMG_3873For the record, I do not eat a gluten-free diet, nor do I recommend that anyone for any other reason than being a bona fide celiac adopt a gluten-free diet.  Simply stated, depriving the body of gluten, meaning wheat or by-products of wheat, for any long-term length of time, causes. not cures, health problems -- research it.  That said, I do know two bona fide celiacs, and, when either pay a visit to my kitchen, I accommodate -- which isn't remarkably hard because lots of foods (meat, poultry, fish, seafood and vegetables), pantry ingredients and meals are gluten-free, and, for the record, there are some very good gluten-free pastas available, so know, a gluten-free pasta dish or three are helpful to keep in your back pocket.  I can count the number of gluten-free recipes in my repertoire on one hand, and, for my needs that's just fine.

Tip #1.  Cleanliness comes first -- zero cross-contamination.

While baking gluten-free cookies requires no special equipment, it is important the equipment you do use be spotless -- literally.  Why?  The answer is cross-contamination -- and it is very, very dangerous.  Celiac disease can be triggered by even the smallest spec of gluten. This means if you recently prepared foods using wheat flour, the first step (and it's a must) is to fully wipe down all baking surfaces, wash all hardware (mixing bowls, beater blades, baking pans, wire cooling racks, miscellaneous utensils, etc.), and, remove any products or gluten-containing ingredients that are nearby.  For an added layer of protection, I recommend placing a sheet of parchment on each baking pan that has been used previously to bake cookies/anything containing gluten.

Tip #2.  Use gluten-free all-purpose flour -- not a GF flour blend.

Generally speaking, the only thing that contains gluten in cookies is flour, which is made from wheat.  This means:  once you swap out the all-purpose flour and swap-in the gluten-free all-purpose flour, you've got a gluten-free cookie recipe.  Find a gluten-free all-purpose flour you like and use it exclusively.  Why?  This product does vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, and, since baking is a science, a little can mean a lot.  I use King Arthur gluten-free all-purpose flour exclusively.  I do not recommend gluten-free flour blends unless you enjoy playing roulette with your outcome, and, that includes taste -- and many leave an unpleasant aftertaste in baked goods. When trying a recipe for the first time, use whatever is recommended in the recipe.

Tip #3.  Add extra leavener & salt + always add xanthan gum.

I like to add a 2:1 ratio of baking powder and baking to soda to all of my gluten-free cookie recipes, and, when converting a conventional recipe to a gluten-free recipe, I increase the amount by about 1/2  teaspoon.  I do the same with salt, meaning:  I increase the amount of salt by 1/2 teaspoon.  While on the topic of salt, when butter is called for in the recipe,  I always use salted butter -- trust me on this point.  Xanthan gum is a stabilizer that acts "sort of" like the gluten in wheat flour.  It keeps your cookies from falling apart, and, gives them a bit of elasticity ("chew") too.  King Arthur gluten-free all-purpose flour contains no xanthan gum, and, generally speaking, my gluten-free cookie recipes contain 1-2 teaspoons of this all-important stabilizer.

Tip #4.  Rest the dough, use smaller scoops, &, flatten balls.

My gluten-free cookie doughs are not "stickier" than conventional recipes.  At the onset, my general rule of thumb is to add two extra tablespoons all-purpose GF flour for every cup of all-purpose flour (example:  2 cups all purpose flour = 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour).  Once my dough is mixed and all add-ins (baking chips, nuts, etc.) have been folded in, rest the bowl of dough for 45-60 minutes.  Why?  GF flour has a grainier texture that all-purpose flour. This gives the GF flour time to absorb moisture from the "wet" ingredients (butter, eggs, sugar and extracts).  My standard rule is to use a 1 1/2" cookie scoop (smaller than the 1 3/4" scoop I use for conventional cookies).  After that, 90% of the time, using my fingertips, I flatten the balls.

Tip #5.  Lower oven temp by 25° & cool in the pan 1-1 1/2 minutes.

Experience has taught that gluten-free cookies benefit from a slightly lower oven temperature, and, on occasion, up to an extra 1-2 minutes of baking time.  Gluten-free cookies are at their best when just cooked through to their centers and light-golden in color on the bottoms.  A lower oven temperature gives them the time they need to do both.  Gluten-free cookies should remain the same taste as texture for as long as conventional cookies too -- up to two weeks.  A lower oven temperature, remarkably, achieves this.  Once the parchment-lined pan of cookies (always use parchment) is removed from the oven, allow the cookies to remain and cool in the pan for 1-1 1/2 minutes, to firm them up a bit, prior to transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Try my Simply-Delicious Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

6a0120a8551282970b026bdef3d0b2200c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/ Copyright 2021)


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