For a lot of people, Christmas is a time for baking goodies. If you are on a gluten-free diet, this season can be difficult because so many of those baked goodies contain flour. For those people, I want to say that you do not have to miss out! There are so many gluten free flour options to work with and gluten free cookbooks to read. It is my pleasure to celebrate National Gluten-Free Baking Week with you this week on Off the Shelf.

Whether you follow a gluten-free diet or not, I’m sure you have heard of the name since it’s popularity has certainly grown over the past decade. Not sure what gluten is? It’s a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For some people, eating this protein causes adverse reactions so they must eliminate gluten from their diet. Others might just want to try it for fun and that’s ok, too.

My very best advice for new gluten-free bakers is to use a flour blend. Replacing wheat flour with a single type of another flour like rice or almond will not result in the consistency you might expect from your baked goods. Blending flours helps to recreate many of the aspects that flours with gluten are known for. One trait that is difficult to recreate is the elasticity of gluten. If you’ve ever kneaded bread, you’ve seen the stretchy gluten fibers develop. Gluten-free flours can’t do this, so you won’t get to experience the joy of kneading your gluten free bread dough, unfortunately. But I promise that fresh gluten free bread will still smell amazing right out of the oven!

Over the years I have discovered some things, so my next piece of advice is that most gluten-free baked goods are better warm and don’t have a long shelf life. So eat them fresh and share them while you can. A quick pop in the microwave or toaster can also revive a dry baked good. And most goods will keep in a well-sealed container in the freezer if you have simply made too much to eat and/or share. Serving size slices of chocolate cake are my favorite treat to keep in the freezer for when my sweet tooth strikes.

The library has a great collection of gluten-free inspired books and cookbooks. I highly encourage you to check them out. There are even a number of them available digitally so you don’t even have to wait, you can get cooking today! The books that I have selected to highlight for you are: 201 Gluten-Free Recipes for Kids, Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Baking, Gluten-Free Baking at Home, Gluten-Free Baking, and Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Baking. Happy baking!