You called for it: more on gluten-free

The growing gluten-free trend wasn’t news to me when The Associated Press distributed a lengthy story with tips and recipes a month or so ago. But seeing the perfect opportunity to focus on locally produced gluten-free products, I interviewed Central Point baker Betty Lake for the June 4 story in A la Carte.

I knew an interested readership was out there, but little did I imagine the flood of phone calls that would overwhelm the newsroom in response to the story. Callers wanted to know how they could reach Lake, in part because I neglected to include her phone number, believing customers would catch up with her at the twice-weekly Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market or pick up her goods at Medford’s Food 4 Less. In case you still needed it, Lake’s phone number is 646-1088 or e-mail her at sweetaromabakery@hotmail.com.

But Lake is hardly the only local, gluten-free baker out there. While she and a couple of others specialize in bread, 38-year-old Jen Parrish of Talent makes crackers, baking mixes and pre-baked pizza and pie crusts, sold at Food 4 Less, Ashland Food Co-op and Health Food Mart. She also bakes custom birthday and wedding cakes to order. Like Lake, she works out of a certified commercial kitchen and does not have her own retail site.

Parrish has felt first-hand the difficulty of eliminating gluten from one’s diet since hearing from doctors more than a year ago that her son, now 4, shouldn’t eat wheat, soy or peanuts.

“Gluten’s in everything,” she says, adding that she believes the prevalence of over-processed wheat in packaged food has led to so many people’s diagnosis of celiac disease.

“It was shocking, actually.”

Talking with other parents, Parrish knew gluten-free was a niche market that wasn’t by any means filled. To cater to her son, she baked graham crackers and cheesy animal-shaped crackers, which remain among the core products of her business, Gluten-free Goodies. She also eschews corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in her baking. She can be contacted for special orders at 840-7526.  

Understandably, gluten-free bakers like Lake and Parrish aren’t giving up their recipes. So here’s another to complement the three included with the June 4 story. Portland-area Bob’s Red Mill produces oat flour and hazelnut and almond meals. The brand is well stocked in health-food sections of several local stores. Or buy online.

Nutty Oatmeal Cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1/2 cup hazelnut meal/flour

1/2 cup almond meal/flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Combine the butter and sugars in bowl of a food processor or stand mixer; process for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract; process until well combined. Stop motor to add the flours and baking powder; process to mix well. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add the chocolate morsels; stir to combine. Drop by teaspoonfuls or tablespoonfuls on baking sheet; bake 1 sheet at a time for 15 minutes, until lightly brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24 to 30 cookies.

— Recipe adapted from “Cookies for Breakfast: A Teen’s Not So Bad Guide to Wheat and Gluten-Free Baking,” by Michael H. Perlman.

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