Ask the ChefsOct/Nov 2008 Issue

Questions & Answers: Allergy-Friendly Baking


Identity Question
Are tapioca starch and tapioca flour the same thing?
A Yes. These two terms are used interchangeably.  

Looking at Labels
Q I‘m still seeing labels with modified food starch listed as an ingredient. I thought companies now had to list what food the starch is made from, like wheat, corn, tapioca, potato, etc.
A If the product is made in the United States, modified food starch is made from corn. Companies distributing food products in the United States, regardless of where the items are manufactured, must comply with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) and disclose on the label if their product contains any of the top eight food allergens. That's wheat, dairy, soy, peanut, tree nuts, egg, fish and shellfish.

Dining Guide
Q  I'm searching for restaurants where my gluten-free kids can eat on vacation.
A The Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program ( is
an excellent resource. Many restaurant chains, including Outback Steakhouse, Wendy’s and P.F. Chang, have gluten-free menu selections. You’ll also find suggestions for dining at

Love Your Pizza Crust
Q Your e-recipe for pizza crust* is probably one of the better recipes I’ve tried. Can you pre-bake the crust before topping it? Can you freeze the dough?
A Yes to both questions. To pre-bake the crust, roll it very thin and par-bake it about 8 minutes in a 425-degree oven. Add the toppings and finish baking. Make sure the toppings are cut very thin or you'll overcook the crust before your toppings are done. To freeze the crust, form the dough into a pizza crust and wrap it tightly before placing it in the freezer. When you’re ready for pizza, place the frozen crust on an oiled cookie sheet. Add your toppings and bake the pizza without thawing.

Maple Sweet
Q Your e-recipe for Hawaiian Wedding Cake* calls for maple sugar. What is that?
A Maple sugar is an all-natural delicacy made by boiling down the sap from maple trees beyond what is required to produce maple syrup. Maple sugar is available in many natural food stores and online at In a pinch, you can substitute brown sugar.

Moove Over
Q I can't eat cow's milk. Can I substitute yogurt made from goat's milk in a recipe?
A Certainly. Goat’s milk yogurt is a good alternative for cow’s milk. Soy, soy milk and soy yogurt are also good substitutes.  

Milk Powder
Q I’m curious about milk powder. I must eat dairy free. Is there an acceptable alternative to dry milk powder in baking recipes?
A Try Vance’s DariFree (a potato-based powdered milk substitute available at or use finely ground almonds, if tolerated. You can also omit the milk powder in your recipe and add back half the quantity as tapioca starch/flour plus add one-third to half a cup more liquid. Add the liquid back slowly, checking the consistency of your batter to make sure it’s not too runny.

Fat Substitute
Q Your e-recipe for scones* calls for butter or vegan butter. Can you give me substitutes that don’t contain the fat and chemicals?
A Try applesauce or prune or banana puree in place of butter or oil. The scones, as well as other baked goods, will be much heavier but they will meet your dietary requirements.

*Visit for recipes mentioned in this column and to sign up for free weekly e-recipes.

Send your questions to: Ask the Expert, Living Without magazine, 535 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854-1631 or Include your full name, address and daytime phone number. Letters become the property of Belvoir Media Group, LLC and may be published in other media. Submissions chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and length.


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