Gluten Free Workshop Updates -Cookies and Christmas!
Sooo its about that time of the month again where I turn myself into a gluten free pretzel running around after unusual ingredients and calling companies like crazy to double check their cross contamination policies… yup. Time for another workshop.
This past Saturday was the first time EVER that I held the workshop at my house (eep). I was a bit nervous. To say the least. The whole week was spent scrubbing and polishing and fretting and planning… and the morning of, my computer died and I couldn’t get any of my recipes off!! (insert heart attack. hyperventilation. trying to handwrite recipes from memory. thankgodformyITprodad).
All in all, when everyone arrived, it went off without a hitch. We had plenty of goodies to share and munch on while our cookies were baking. We got to chat with pro baker Joanna from Dolci Bakeshop ,
…and we shared tips and tricks for baking. I shared my latest discovery that just about ALL spices you buy at the grocery store, and no name vanilla extract, are actually contaminated (gluten products are produced on the same factory line). (insert heart attack and then frenzied criss-crossing the city in search of safe spices).
Highlights of the Workshop:
– You make your own cookies, at your own station, completely hands on. Yes, I have enough tools and supplies for everyone to have their own. You don’t stand around and watch and pass around one bowl for a whole group to stir. You’ve got your own to dive in.
– There’s always a professional baker or representative from the Celiac community to visit as a guest speaker. You can pick their brains on the latest products they’ve found, what they do, and any tips they
– You always take home your own set of baked goods. For the cookie workshops, everyone took home 3-6 of each cookie. Thats about 24 cookies ….. :D niiiice
-There’s modifications for gluten, dairy, egg, soy, corn, xanthan, and sugar free options. For every recipe.
– Every single ingredient and utensil is safe. No flours from bulk bins. Every company for every ingredient is contacted to confirm the facility for their product is gluten free. Every single cooking utensil you use is brand new and the kitchen is completely gluten free.
-The atmosphere is festive. We’ve got comfy couches, a fire going, extra treats for you to snack on and try for upcoming recipes, and there’s always support for every step of your cookie experience :)
What I learned designing this workshop:
– There’s no such thing as ‘common sense’ with GF ingredients. Unless its fresh fruit you picked yourself, EVERYTHING else is subject to cross contamination. And, as I found out, every other ingredient I planned to buy WAS cross contaminated- spices, vanilla extract, molasses, honey, jam, cocoa powder, nuts… I found safe companies, safe products, and was VERY proud of myself. But- a bit worried. How many people out there put GF labels on their baked goods but DON’T check their non-flour ingredients!?
People. Any pro baker should be able to confirm they called the companies of EVERY single ingredient in their baked good— not just the flour! Demand accountability. If you don’t get a thorough answer, don’t buy it. If I can keep a spreadsheet of all my ingredients, where I got them, who I called, and who confirmed the safety of their product, then frankly any decent baker should do the same. Remember, its only truly Gluten Free if its less than 20 parts per million. Anything sold in a regular bakery, or in a bulk goods store where there are open bins of wheat flour (and therefore flour particles in the air, it doesn’t matter how far away), doesn’t qualify. Not sure about that? Contact your local Celiac Association rep. They’ll confirm it.
– There are two great spice companies that supply gluten free spices and vanilla extract: Frontier Spices and Arayuma. (Thank you Herb&Spice for all of your help on this!) Most health stores carry these brands.
– There’s a great GF Flour supplier in Perth who delivers 5kg and 10 kg bags !
Yay! Nobody else sells anything less than those huge 25kg (50 pound) bags. Thank you Purest Natural Products! No more crazy expensive 10.00 tiny packages! Guys, check them out if you bake frequently. A 5kg bag is way cheaper.
– I totally underestimated the sheer social value of these workshops. Everyone who comes, in their ‘regular’ life, is isolated because of their diets. Being able to meet others who are similar is such a relief! I plan on extending the social aspect of these workshops. Check below for a link to join the FB group to chat with others.
– The feedback from everyone was extremely helpful. I’ll be picking a monthly theme, always same day same time, and planning 6 once- a- month workshops in advance so that people can plan for upcoming ones. We’ll focus on specific techniques and walk through them together.–Everyone agrees that having a visiting Pro baker or professional in the field as a guest speaker is tremendously helpful. I will make sure to have guest speakers at as many workshops as possible!
– I’m going to try online payment for workshops and a cancellation policy. This will help me plan better- I’ll know for sure in advance how to plan for ingredient amounts, and it will take care of last minute changes in attendance.
So, guys, it was a great experience. In total there were 10 of us, and we ate and baked, and had a lovely time.
If you want to keep in touch with some of the great people you met, feel free to join the new Gluten Free Workshops Facebook group – we’ll use it as a resource to share tips and tricks and touch base with each other.
And that about wraps it up! Terrific food, lots of fun, and wonderful company. Perfect. :)
Check out some of the past Workshops to see the fun we were up to: