Your mom can't have gluten and your co-worker is vegan. Your postman can only have sugar substitutes and yet the alternative baking aisle leaves you quaking in your boots. Here are a few tips to get you over the fear and instill in you the confidence to bake with love and some new-to-you ingredients and recipes!
1. Make All Recipes Twice: When making a recipe for the first time, don't get disgruntled if it doesn't work out. In the back of your mind, plan on making them twice. You learn so much the first time through a recipe, even if you've read every comment and user review online before starting. When you're shooting for presentation and a gift from the heart, plan on the first batch going in your belly (or to your dog) and making the second go round the shining stars.
2. Use the EXACT Ingredients Called For: When making a recipe for someone with dietary restrictions it can be tempting to make general substitutions that you might make in regular baking. Altering things when using new ingredients can change the chemical reactions. Stick to the recipe exactly as its called for. If you can't find something at a grocer near you, Amazon.com should have everything you need (along with other specialty grocery websites) to keep things in balance. Even if something feels like a new texture (brownies might be more runny before baking or cookie dough more soft), stick to the plan as written!
3. Just Cover the Needed Restriction: Although some recipes on the internet cover more than one dietary need (i.e. gluten-free AND vegan), your chances of ending up with a product that's more like baked goods that Mom baked will increase with only one thing being altered or eliminated. This of course isn't true for every recipe out there, but in general you'll find the best texture and taste when there are fewer alternative ingredients being used.
Do you have any tips for newbies doing alternative baking? Is there anything that helped get you over your fears of testing the waters for the first time? Share your thoughts below!
(Image: Emily Ho)