When your kids have been diagnosed with food allergies, it’s sometimes tough to navigate recipes that call for flour, eggs, dairy, or whatever it is you’re trying to avoid. Baking can become tricky; often recipes for cakes, cookies, muffins and loaves rely on flour and eggs for their structure, and butter for tenderness and flavor. Here are a few tricks that will help you adapt your favorite recipes to accommodate any dietary restrictions, and some new cookie, muffin, cake and pie recipes that everyone will enjoy.
The ingredients you use depend largely on what it is you’re baking, and the texture you want to achieve. For example, adding liquid to a cookie recipe will give it a cakey texture, which is better suited to cakes and muffins than something you want to be dense and chewy or crumbly and shortbreadlike. Here are a few ingredient swaps to try:
Cakes, muffins and quick breads: All of the above work wonderfully with canola or another neutral-tasting vegetable oil, so if a recipe calls for butter – or particularly for melted butter – you can make the switch cup for cup. Eggs act as binder and leavening agent in these sorts of recipes, and are more tricky to replace – if a recipe calls for 1-2 eggs, try an egg replacement (available at most grocery stores, and not the same as egg substitute, which comes in cartons in the dairy case). You can also try mixing 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp. warm water; let stand 1 minute before using and use in place of the egg in a recipe – this is a common substitute. (For more info, visit kidswithfoodallergies.org.) For the wheat flour, substitute a gluten-free blend; most often you can’t rely on a single gluten-free flour to give cakes, muffins and loaves proper structure. For milk, substitute soy, almond or coconut milk cup for cup.
Cookies: Because they rely on butter as much for flavor as texture, try swapping a dairy-free butter substitute. Dense squares like brownies are easiest to adapt; with very little flour in them, they don’t rely on gluten for their structure. Try gluten-free oat flour, quinoa flour or a gluten-free flour blend in your recipe if you’re aiming for wheat or gluten-free.