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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

HypoAllergenic Cooking: Homemade Sub Saves the Day!

If your a mom of a kid with allergies, you will understand why today was a big day for us.

Jack's school had another "special lunch day". While most parents might welcome the opportunity to pay a few bucks and order a meal for little Jimmy that they don't have to prepare or pack, for those of us with kids with allergies, it's a recurring nightmare.

I get that our schools want to treat our kids and to provide what they feel is healthy food, but what if it's not only not healthy for your child it could make him sick or even kill him? It's tough to get excited about a special lunch day that your child can't participate in. Will he feel left out? Will he be made fun of?

If you are the mom of the child who can't have that special treat, you know that you will do almost anything to make it up to your child, however irrational that behaviour might be.

Would you like a pony, honey?

Perhaps that's overkill.

You will at the very least make your child, from scratch if necessary, something that is as similar as possible to what the other kids are eating. If it's going to be different than it helps if it is also better.

Today was special lunch day at Jack's school. The caterer? Subway. Does subway have a gluten-free sub bun? Oh, no. Can you buy a gluten-free sub bun anywhere on the planet? I have yet to see one.

So, what do you do? That's right. You make one from scratch. And then you toast it just so, pile turkey slices on it and bacon (no else's will have bacon on it) and all sorts of lovely veggies, hold the dairy. Next you put it in a special container (no one else has a special container)...

and it is a beautiful thing to behold:

I made two sub buns so that I could have one of these gorgeous sandwiches today too! 

The recipe that I used for the sub buns is a hamburger bun recipe from a Donna Washburn cookbook called The Gluten-Free Baking Book. If you are new to gluten-free baking, pick up one of her books. Every one of her recipes just works, which is not the case for all gluten-free recipes. I have been using this recipe for a couple of years now. I made substitutions to remove dairy and sugar. The adapted recipe is below.

I used this perforated bun form which I ordered from the Canadian Celiac Assocation. This type of pan helps release moisture so that baked goods are not soggy on the bottom. I doubled the recipe to make two hamburger buns, two hot dog buns and two sub buns. 

Sadly, The CCA no longer sells this pan. If you see it anywhere, please let me know as I would love to buy another one! I have seen similar pans for baking just one type of bun that would also work well.

When Jack came home from school today, I asked him how he enjoyed his sub. He said it was DElicious! He went on and on about how good it was, and I had to fight back the tears of joy. If you have a kid with allergies, you get this. A successful meal is a big deal!

Bon appétit!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free Buns
(great for hamburger, hot dog and sub buns)
Adapted from the Hamburger Bun recipe by Donna Washburn
The Gluten-Free Baking Book: 250 Small-Batch Recipes for Everything from Brownies to Cheesecake
page 99

My changes and notes are in italics below.

If using a perforated non-stick pan like the one above, no pre-greasing is necessary. Otherwise, lightly grease a pan large enough for 4 hamburger buns, or 4 hot dog buns, or 2 sub buns. (Double this recipe to fill the form pictured above to make 2 hot dog buns, 2 hamburger buns and 2 sub buns.)


1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tbsp Xylitol (or preferred 1:1 granulated sugar replacement)
2½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp bread machine or instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 large egg *
1 large egg white *
2/3 cups non-dairy milk (rice milk works well)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I use cold-pressed olive oil)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

* For vegan diets, substitute 1½ tbsp ground flax seed + 4½ tbsp water


  1. In a bowl or plastic bag, combine brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, sugar-substitute, xanthan gum, yeast and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, using a heavy-duty electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine egg and egg white (or flax seed-water mixture for vegan buns), non-dairy milk, oil and vinegar until well blended. With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined. Stop the machine and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on medium speed, beat for 1 minute or until smooth.
  3. Spoon dough into prepared cups of pan, dividing evenly. Flatten tops slightly. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45-60 minutes or until dough has almost doubled in volume. [If desired, sprinkle the tops of the buns with sesame seeds before the dough rises.] Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature of buns registers  200°F (100°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the pan immediately and let cool completely on a rack.

Doubles and freezes nicely.

Note: This is a sticky dough. It is difficult to press into moulds, BUT the result is really worth it, and if you make a point of exaggerating how challenging it is to mould the dough, your sweet child (spouse, significant other, etc) may make you a special treat to thank-you for your efforts. Mine was sliced apples and segments of mandarin orange. :)

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