Gluten-Free Cookies

Carol Varghese


The purpose of this experiment was to find out the average temperature that a gluten free food is preserved the longest at. This photo to the right was taken by a relative of the experimenter.


Every cookie has its dry ingredients, and it's wet ingredients. When they are mixed together, it forms the cookie dough. In a basic cookie, the dry ingredients are flour, sugar, baking soda and powder. The wet ingredients would be butter, eggs, and milk. The general name for the proteins in rye, barley, and wheat is gluten. Gluten's job is to help the foods maintain their shape. It holds the food together like a glue. Gluten is in almost every processed food. Mass processed meat is made with gluten sometimes so that the meat may seem plumper to buyers. Ketchup, beer, soy sauce light sour cream have gluten in it. It's not only bread, pasta, cookies, and pizza that have gluten. Gluten can be in the form of food starch, "natural flavors", malt, etc. Candy, tortilla chips, frozen food, cashews, ice cream can all have traces of gluten in it because some packaged foods are dusted in flour before being put in the package. Cross-contact is where gluten particles in things like bread toasters are eaten by a gluten free person. For example. They might toast gluten free bread in their bread toaster, but the gluten free bread picks up gluten particles from regular bread that was toasted before. Gluten gives structure to baked goods, so a lot of it is welcome. There are different ways to encourage gluten development so that more gluten is there, giving the baked good more structure. Some chefs use unbleached flour, which has more gluten forming proteins than all-purpose flour. Gluten forms a protein network by cross-linking. Cross-linking is when polymer chains are chemically joined in places by covalent bonds. Cross linked substances can also have a high melting point. So, gluten forms protein networks by cross linking. Not only does it do all of the above, it also affects the elasticity or "chewiness" of a baked good like cookies and bread. The second thing gluten's protein networks can do is trap gas, and stop or prevent it escaping throughout the whole baking process. The rising of a baked goods is because of the "leavening agents" which are yeast, baking powder, and stuff like that. But, the rising of a baked good is also because the gluten network, basically, in way, is stretching. Gluten acts like a sponge because it is very good at absorbing the moisture around it. In fact, gluten can absorb, at the most, 150% in water. This can act as a natural preservative because when you compare regular wheat productsto gluten free products, the gluten free ones usually spoil quicker. Gluten is activated by heat and water, and when it is eaten, it gives you protein. A gluten-free diet is a diet that doesn't have the protein, gluten. Almost all the people who follow this very challenging diet have celiac disease. A gluten free diet also helps treat this disease. They are chemicals used to postpone and chemical.changes or the the growth of mold. They can also be used to to keep the food's appearance fresh. Many different preservatives are used for many different reasons. For example, antibiotics are used to prevent harmful growth in fish, poultries, and canned foods. Antioxidants slow down the development of "rancidity" in foods with fats and oils, margarine, and shortening. Antymotics help to stop the growth of mold in bread, fruit juice, cheese, and dried fruits. Preservatives that are used to maintain or keep the moisture or softness in in Bakedgoods are known as, "anti staling agents"(glyceryl monostearate). These agents are thought to prevent water loss from starches


If a gluten free food item is placed above room temperature, it will be preserved longer than the gluten free food items below and at room temperature. Gluten is a protein that could be described as the glue that holds food together. Gluten plays many different roles in baking, such as giving structure to baked goods, or absorbing the moisture around it. In a way, gluten is also like a sponge because, at the most, it can absorb 150% of water. Sometimes, this can act as a natural preservative. When gluten free foods are compared to foods containing gluten, the gluten free ones usually spoil quicker. However, I hypothesize that when a gluten free food is kept above room temperature, it will be preserved longer than the foods below and at room temperature.


The photo above was taken by a relative of the experimenter. The table and graph were made by the experimenter.


  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 11 ounces brown rice flour, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/4 ounces cornstarch, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 -ounce tapioca flour, approximately 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 10 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • Thermometer
  • Cookie tray(baking tray)
  • 2 medium bowls
  • Parchment-lined baking sheet
  • 3 Ziploc bags
  • Insulated blankets(or some form of heat)
  • Wire rack(optional)


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Once melted, pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, xantham gum, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Add both of the sugars to the bowl with the butter and using the paddle attachment, cream together on medium speed for 1 minute.
  4. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  5. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
  6. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until firm, approximately 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Shape the dough into 2-ounce balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet.
  9. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating the pans after 7 minutes for even baking. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on the pans for 2 minutes. Move the cookies to a wire rack(or a tray) and cool completely.
  10. Store 9 cookies in a Ziploc bag in the fridge(below room temperature)
  11. Store 9 cookies in a Ziploc bag(in room temperature)
  12. Store 9 cookies in a Ziploc bag in a heated area(above room temperature
  13. Observe and record changes in table

The photo above was taken by a relative of the experimenter.


  • Dependent variable: The amount or growth of mold/the number of days preserved
  • Independent variable: Temperature that the cookies are set in
  • Control: The number of days the experiment lasted
  • Experimental group-organisms: The number of days the experiment lasted
  • Factors held constant: Gluten-free cookie


The temperature had no effect on the mold growth of a gluten free cookie, because even after a number of weeks and months, there was no change. There was no visual observations of mold growth on the gluten free cookies. There were no green or blue spots or fuzz growing on the cookie; no visual observations of mold could be made. All experiments began on November 2, 2014 and ended on December 2, 2015. For cookie batch one, the average temperature was 75.25. Cookie batch 2 had an average temperature of 60.75, while cookie batch 3 had an average of 37 degrees. Even after being placed in these temperatures, all 27 cookies had no effect whatsoever. Technically, gluten free foods usually spoil quicker than regular wheat products. When a food spoils, there is some discolor or fuzz that appears on the product. Especially when it is kept above room temperature, it happens to spoil at a faster rate. Products stored in the refrigerator, or below room temperature is preserved longer because that temperature rate is a preservative. In this experiment, however, neither claim occurred leading the only reason to be human error

Calculations/Statistical Analysis

The experimenter and the teacher agreed that calculations and statistical analysis are not applicable to this experiment.


The hypothesis and the purpose of this experiment were not met because the temperature of the area had no effect on the mold growth of a gluten free cookie. The photo to the right was taken by a relative of the experimenter.

Sources of Error

This experiment, undoubtly, suffers human error. Also, during the time of this experiment, it was Winter and so the temperature outside negatively affected the outcome of this experiment. The cookie batch that was supposed to be placed in an area above room temperature(80-above) ended up in an area with an average temperature very near room temperature. The cold from outside preserved these gluten free cookies even more, because the cold is a preservative


In means of improving this project, I would either conduct the experiment during the Summer time or I would purchase insulated heat packets for the above room temperature. These heat packets are a new technology to me, something I was not familiar with at the time of the experiment


There are hundreds of thousands people that are diagnosed with Celiac Disease; the case when the patient cannot eat a single item with gluten in it because the patient’s body doesn’t accept it. As a result, whenever a person with Celiac Disease eats a product containing gluten, he or she becomes extremely sick. When a patient is newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease,it is difficult for that person to accustom themselves with their new diet. “What kind of foods can I eat?’, or “How long will it stay good?” are questions they face every day. This experiment deals with the number of days a gluten free food is preserved. The photo to the right was taken by a relative of the experimenter.

"Celiac Disease Symbol." Health Administration RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2015


Ahern, Shauna James. "Chapter 4." Gluten-free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back-- & How You Can, Too. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. 53--81. Print. This was a book explaining how gluten can affect a person. It gave detailed, easy to understand, and important explanations related to gluten.

"Basic Cookie Ingredients in Cookie Dough." The Cookie Elf. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. This source just gave me some quick information on the basic, core ingredients to a cookie.

BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. This source gave me a very important, and specific definition about cross-linking which was vital to understand because it played a part in gluten's role with baking

"How Do You Make the 'Best' Cookie?" How Do You Make the 'Best' Cookie? N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014. This is a source our teacher provided us with, and it gave me a basic idea of what to do for science fair.

"Nutrition and Healthy Eating." Gluten-free Diet: What's Allowed, What's Not. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. This website was about gluten free diets, and what is allowed in a gluten free diet

"Taking Control of Gluten." N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. This gluten source went into detail of the role gluten plays I baking, and how to manipulate that.

"The Chewy Gluten Free Recipe : Alton Brown : Food Network." Food Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. This website gave me my constant: a gluten free, chocolate chip cookie.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Preservative (food Processing)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica,n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. This source was all about the different types of preservatives. I used this to see if gluten was classified under any of these.

"The Science of Cookies." Scienceandfooducla. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014. This is another source that helped me crest and discover my science fair topic/question. This website gave me a new understanding of how the gluten development can be manipulated when making a cookie.

What Does Gluten "do" in Baking?" - Seasoned Advice. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. This is another source that describes, in detail, gluten's role in baking

"What Is Gluten? - Celiac Disease Foundation." Celiac Disease Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. This website is one of many sources I used to research over gluten, and basically what it is