Gluten Free Baking

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie

Since being diagnosed with celiac disease I have pretty much stopped baking. There is a reason for this, Gluten free baked goods tend to be described with the following adjectives: bland, dense, hard, flavorless, cardboardesque, and a few four lettered words my Mother would be upset if I used.

The other thing about gluten free baked goods or breads is that they are so full of sugar, that my nutritionist told me I could either have a slice of gluten free bread or a chocolate bar. The sugar levels were pretty much the same. Gah!

If it comes to bread or chocolate, I am going to always pick chocolate over a piece of cardboard toast.

As such, I tend to avoid most gluten free substitutes, especially ones I bake at home. I would just rather spend my calories and sugar on more delicious things that happen to be gluten free, rather than trying to replace my beloved wheat based products from pre-diagnosis. (Face it, you just cannot replace a fresh baguette or a croissant. Heck, you cant even replace a Tim Hortons bagel with cream cheese.) So instead of trying to replace, my gluten free diet tends to be delicious things that happen to be gluten free. For instance, for dessert I will have cheese with fruit compotes, nuts and seeds and a glass of port. Not exactly cake, but it’s damn good.

However there are some holidays where nostalgia has me wishing for baked goods of my past. Like Thanksgiving, and my old friend pumpkin pie. Nothing replaces pumpkin pie.

This weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada, and we spent it up at the cottage. My Mom was in charge of desserts, and she showed up with two products I haven’t tried before. Pillsbury gluten free pie dough, and gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough (also Pillsbury). Both were premade in a container (not frozen). Truthfully I was pretty suspect of the products. I’m not a fan of processed foods, and I don’t really want to consume a weeks worth of sugar in one cookie. However, it was Thanksgiving and that is a time for indulgence if I’ve ever seen one AND frankly this girl would kill for a pumpkin pie.

Mom got to making the pumpkin pie filling while I rolled out the pie dough. Instead of rolling it out on a surface with flour, the directions asked you to roll it between parchment paper. As we were at the cottage and without fancy baking accoutrements, we used cling film instead. It worked perfectly fine, and the dough rolled out beautifully. It did crack a bit when we tried to put it in the pie plate, but we were able to smooth it back together.

Using nature for decorative inspiration. Tracing a maple leaf to decorate the gluten free pumpkin pie.
Using nature for decorative inspiration. Tracing a maple leaf to decorate the gluten free pumpkin pie.

Once in the oven, even with the crust covered it did get a bit brown (all that sugar I’m thinking) but it came out looking quite normal! Not like the usual thick and dry GF pastry, but actual buttery flaky pastry. If I didn’t know it was gluten free, I might not believe it when looking at it.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
Now for the taste test (where most gluten free things show their true colors). Drumroll please…

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
It tasted just as good as it looked! BUT it was very sweet. I’m talkin sugar cookie sweet. I would probably reduce the amount of sugar in the filling to make the whole pie less sweet. However it tasted GOOD. Like really good. The pastry was yummy on its own, and would make a good tart or popover. I think it would be especially good with a savory filling (as it might counter the sweetness of the dough.) Very impressed.

As the oven was still warm from the pie, we opted to try the cookie dough next. It was a bit hard to get out of the container right out of the fridge, and fell apart and crumbled. I let it warm up a bit, and then spooned it onto the baking tray in quinelle shape using a tablespoon (it was easier than trying to make balls). The container made 13 medium sized cookies. I followed the baking instructions to a tee and took them out at the short end of the baking time (I like a soft cookie.)

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie
They came out of the oven looking like regular cookies (again a huge feat for gluten free baked goods), and they tasted great. Like the pie dough they were a bit too sweet for my liking. Eating more than one is hard without a big glass of milk. Certainly a treat.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie
Overall I don’t know if this is a product that I will keep in my house (although having some frozen could come in handy) but I would pick it up if I needed a quick dessert. I would absolutely recommend this for people who are entertaining a gluten free person. It’s so easy to make and you don’t need to have the expensive array of gluten free baking supplies in the house. It would also be really great for kids. There was a lot of “OMG I can’t believe this is gluten free?!”.

I’m pretty impressed that a big company would go to this length to provide a good tasting gluten free baked good option for the masses. I cant imagine how hard it is for kids who have Celiac, and having products like this will make them feel like they are not missing out, and that they get to eat “normal” food. I also can’t imagine how hard it is for parents to deal with the plethora of allergies children have these days. Birthday parties and bake sales must be incredibly hard. Hopefully products like this make things a heck of a lot easier.

P.S. Pillsbury also makes a gluten free pizza dough, which I will be on the lookout for next.

Oh, and hey! By the way, no one paid me to write this! I just thought I’d share my experience. Cheers!

Author: Kristen

Kristen & her husband El Granto & their Vizsla Odin live in a converted Storefront in downtown Toronto.

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