Baking cakes, biscuits or breads for your gluten-free friends and family can be a lovely and thoughtful gift.
But, if you’re not used to gluten free baking (whether you’re just starting out on your gluten free journey, or you’re baking gluten free as a one-off experiment), you might be worried about getting it ‘wrong’.
Its relatively easy to make your glutn free bakes delicious – moist and flavourful and moreish. The biggest thing you should be worrying about is the risk of accidentally making someone ill.
For people with coeliac disease, or with a severe form of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or a severe allergy, even a microscopic piece of gluten can cause a reaction, potentially making them very ill.
This is known as cross-contamination, or sometimes as being ‘glutened’, and there are some precautions you can take to reduce the risk to cross-contamination when baking at home
In this post I’m going to outline a few steps you can take to vastly reduce the risk of cross-contamination when you’re baking gluten-free goods for a celiac, or someone with a severe gluten allergy.
Avoiding Cross-Contamination: How to Make Sure Your Gluten Free Bakes Really are Gluten Free
Thoroughly Clean All Surfaces
A thorough wipe of all surfaces to be used during baking should be sufficient to remove any traces of gluten. Remember to wipe behind and underneath any pots or equipment that stands on your worktop, to catch any gluten-containing flour or breadcrumbs that may have fallen underneath.
Wash All Equipment & Utensils
Bowls, spoons and baking pans should all be washed thoroughly with soapy water and rinsed well before beginning gluten-free baking. If you are baking gluten-free goods in a gluten-consuming household often, then investing in separate equipment for gluten-free only use has an even lower risk of cross-contamination – this is particularly true for the sieve you use to sift flour. You can stock up on baking equipment and utensils in my Amazon shop here.
Use Fresh Butter & Other Shared Ingredients
One baking ingredient that is highly likely to be at risk of cross contamination is butter, or margarine. If household butter is used on gluten-containing toast and sandwiches, theres a big chance of crumbs falling in from a knife. It is probably best to use a new pack of butter for gluten-free baking, and to keep a separate gluten-containing butter and gluten-free butter if you live in a mixed household.
Store Gluten Free Flours Separately To Gluten Containing Flours
It is very easy for flours to spill or to puff out of the bag as you move them in and out of a cupboard. By storing gluten-containing flours in a seperate cupboard to gluten-free flours (or at least storing gluten-free flours on the shelf above gluten-containing flours) you can minimise the likelihood of cross contamination between flours.
Line All Baking Tins and Trays
You’ll likely line any baking tins and trays anyway, but be especially sure to line any that are also used for gluten-containing baking. By lining trays with baking paper, you are eliminating the possibility of contaminating your gluten-free cakes and biscuits with any crumbs or residue left over from the last bake.
Don’t Use Wooden Equipment
Wooden equipment (like spoons and chopping boards) are far more likely to absorb residual gluten – opt instead for metal, plastic or silicon for shared baking equipment and utensils
Double Check all Ingredients
Particularly gluten-free flours and other flour-like products (xanthan gum and baking powder, for example). Though they are commonly used in gluten-free baking, not all brands of these products are 100% free from cross contamination, (which can occur during the processing). The best way to be sure that these products are gluten-free is to look out for the crossed-grain symbol, certifying that products “are gluten free and suitable for people with coeliac disease.“.
Following these steps will help you to remove the risk of cross-contamination with gluten-containing foods and ingredients, but really the only way to gurrantee zero cross-contamination is by removing gluten completely from your baking environment.
Coeliac UK sums it up succinctly: “Even tiny amounts of gluten may cause people with coeliac disease to have symptoms in the short term and gut damage in the longer term“.
If you’re baking gluten-free treats for someone else, ask them about their tolerance level, and don’t be offended if someone is scared or worried to eat gluten-free goods than have come from a gluten-containing enviromnment. For some people with coeliac disease or with a severe form of non-celiac gluten sensitivity or allergy, cross-contamination could mean runnisng the risk of serious illness.
Download a printable list of all the steps you can take to avoid cross-contamination of your gluten-free baking here:
Visit my full shop here, to stock up on gluten free baking essentials.