The sight and smell of homemade cookies may be pleasant for some, but for those with celiac disease, gluten-ridden baked goods are a big stomach ache.
But that didn't stop Florence Brooks—14, gluten-free and a freshman at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School—from organizing a cookie sale to benefit local charities. She just made it gluten-free.
Celiac disease is a condition in which "the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten," according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. As gluten is a major component of wheat, standard bake sale items are off-limits to those with celiac disease.
Florence started the bake sale in 2006 as a gluten-free alternative to selling Girl Scout Cookies, her mother, Liza Greenberg, told Patch. Florence—now assisted in the bake sale by her sisters Elizabeth (in seventh grade) and Cassidy (in fourth grade)—and her mom have kept the bake sale going ever since.
Each year, the girls choose which charities to which to send the proceeds of their cookie sale. This year, the girls raised $280 to support Last Chance Animal Rescue (which runs the cat adoption center inside the Bethesda PetSmart) and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Greenberg said.
The girls take a two-pronged sales approach: pre-ordered sales (Girl Scout Cookies-style) and a bake sale (held on Mothers Day this year) for the "walk-ins."
For parents of gluten-free kids, the bake sale is particularly exciting. "They are so excited that they can offer their gluten-free kids anything they want to eat at a bake sale," Greenberg said.
Florence and her sisters advertise the sale to the local celiac community and on school mailing lists, and they also leaflet the neighborhood. They used to hold the sale on Valentine's Day, but after a blizzard dampened Valentine's Day sales one year, they decided to move the sale to the spring, when the weather is more predictable, Greenberg explained.
Best-selling cookie flavors include chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and butterscotch, Greenberg said. At the bake sale, the girls offer lemon tarts and chocolate-covered strawberries as well. This year, they made about 40 dozen cookies and 100 mini cupcakes.
The girls order most of the ingredients from Amazon.com. "For most things, we use a homemade gluten-free flour mix using sorghum flour and potato starch," Greenberg said. For the brownies and chocolate cupcakes, they often use Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes found at the supermarket.
What are your gluten-free baking tips? Share your tips in the comments section below.