Have you ever tried baking without gluten, wheat, nuts, dairy or soy?
How about opening an entire storefront that sells exclusively made-from-scratch baked goods – minus all the ingredients listed above (and about 75 per cent of the goods also exclude eggs)?
Joanna Schultz knew the idea was insane, but she did it anyways. Now – four years after she opened South Surrey’s Pikanik Bakery – she’s pretty well mastered the art of baking without the most common ingredients found in everyone’s favourite sugary desserts.
Schultz started the business after her daughter was diagnosed with a gluten and dairy allergy. Schultz, a self-described foodie, tried every gluten/dairy-free product she could find.
“Finally, I would find something that is edible, not good, but not the worst thing you have ever eaten,” she said. “I didn’t accept that this was as good as it was going to get.”
She started experimenting on her own. It was a bumpy road with plenty of “epic failures” along the way, she said, but she found out what works best.
To her, the kitchen is a laboratory and baking is the science. Trial and error got her to where she’s at now.
She has some tips for those who want to experiment with gluten-free baking this holiday season.
“We get a lot of people who want to go gluten-free – they try all their old recipes and just substitute with gluten-free flour,” she said. “Just forget that.
“One thing I always recommend. When you’re starting out, find some good resources online or cookbooks that are specifically gluten-free.”
Practise with gluten-free recipes, get comfortable with them, and once you’re more experienced “go crazy,” she advised.
“Don’t be (afraid) to try and fail, because a bad cake is better than no cake.”
Everyone seems to have one dessert that always reminds them of Christmas, no matter the season.
“For me, it’s the jam thumbprint cookie, hands-down,” Schultz said.
“It was always the cookie I looked forward to most. My grandma and my mom made them but they never made them at any other time of the year. They could have, but they didn’t.”
Schultz agreed to share the recipe with Indulge. It’s simple, and it’s her gluten-free Pikanik-style take on the cookie she remembers from childhood.
“It used to have regular flour and butter, all the good things,” she said.
The special ingredient to this version of the cookie isn’t even an ingredient, she acknowledged.
“It’s the (cookie) my kids look forward to because, of course, I don’t make it any other time of the year. That’s how you keep it special.”
Schultz used to have the cookie on her store’s menu but she took it off, she admitted.
It’s good to keep some things just for yourself.
Beat margarine on high for about 30 seconds until it’s soft. Add approximately half the flour, the xanthan gum, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Beat well until thoroughly combined.
Add remaining flour and beat until everything is incorporated. Chill dough for about an hour so it’s easier to handle (or keep it in the fridge until you need it – up to one week).
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Shape dough into one-inch balls.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, at least one inch apart. Press the cookie dough balls with your thumb to make an imprint in the middle. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool before serving. When ready to serve, add a dollop of your favourite jam to the centre and enjoy.
For more information on Pikanik’s line of baked goods, visit https://pikanik.ca
Jam thumbprint cookies
2/3 cup vegan margarine (Schultz uses Earth Balance soy free)
1 1/2 cups of Pikanik all-purpose flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3-1/2 cup jam or jelly