I am not much of a baker. It’s not that I don’t love all things bread, but more than ten years ago I developed an allergy to wheat. Not just a gluten sensitivity, or even celiac disease, but an actual allergy to wheat. With that, baking became the one thing I couldn’t do. I gave up bread, cold turkey and by now I’m not particularly tempted anymore. I even used to often write at the King Author Bakery Cafe because I could smell the yeasty goodness. But seeing a jar of cookies on the countertop can still send me into a tizzy, so I stopped baking. Sadie, my now sixteen-year-old, is a great cook. She makes more creative dinners than I ever did. She braises and broils, grills and sautés but I have never taught her to bake. I wasn’t interested in making lots of gluten free things. I just gave up baking.
Pandemics bring out some strange feelings. For me, the urge to bake was one of them. I guess I’m not the only one. Yeast was one of the first staples to sell out—way before toilet paper, according to the nice lady at Hannafords.
So we started with chocolate chip cookies. By the second batch, Sadie was experimenting and has developed a pretty special oatmeal chocolate chip cookie—thick and chewy. To refrain from eating the delicious-smelling cookies, I made lots of pans of corn bread. My grandmother’s recipe for cornbread takes so little flour, that I have successfully adapted the recipe, over the years, to use gluten-free flour and extra eggs to make a pretty satisfying substitute for the real thing.
Once Sadie learned the art of cookies, her natural instinct for experimentation took over. She decided to perfect gluten-free banana muffins. She took a standard recipe and adapted it to use gluten-free flour and maple syrup. The first few batches were kinda soggy and not much like a muffin at all. She kept trying, and sure enough, by increasing the temperature and adding more butter she came up with banana muffins to die for.
I placed an order for yeast this morning. I expect it will take a while to come. When it does, I am going to teach Sadie to make my homemade oatmeal bread. Before I became allergic I used to bake it almost every week with molasses and oats. It was so good I would make four loaves a week and we would eat one while it was still hot. I’m not sure that recipe can be adapted to gluten free, but I expect Sadie, with time and determination might just be able to do it. I can’t wait!