I've been baking/decorating for 2 years and have my business - getting lots of calls and am making (regluar wheat flour) cakes every weekend.
I've been diagnosed with Non Celiac Gluten Intolerance (as of May of this year) and eliminating gluten from my diet has resolved many of my symptoms.
I am using wheat flour several times a week while baking and am concerned that being in this environment may be harmful (I'm still having pretty severe hip pain and weakness even after cutting out gluten from my diet). I feel itchy (face and hands) sometimes after baking, but I can't tell if it's real or psychosematic and once had a swollen/red lower lip immediately after baking.
I've considered stopping using wheat flour and heading into the gluten free baking world (I've found a few recipes I'm happy with already).
So, my question is this: Do those of you who bake gluten free do so exclusively? Are you gluten intolerant yourself, or celiac? Do you have a lot of orders for decorated gluten free cakes?
I'm having a hard time, partly because it's hard to let go of a good business base with regular baked goods - it's hard to pass up the $500 cake orders! But, if it's a better decision health-wise, I will do what I need to do and rebuild my business as a gluten free baker.
I know the decision is one only I can make, but I'm hoping for advice from others. Thanks!
While it might take a while to build your business back up you may end up with quite a niche where people only come to you for gluten-free items. You could probably even charge more as though wanting gluten-free are more willing to pay for it if it's good.
It's quickly becoming more accepted for people who suffer from intolerance or Celiac but also as a better way of living. My 5 year old daughter suffers from eczema pretty badly and for the last year we've changed her (and myself) to gluten-free diet and her digestive system has gotten a lot better and her skin somewhat, that's kind of a crazy battle. I have also been doing a lot more gluten-free baking and while I don't bake with it exclusively I would imagine if you have an intolerance you would want to.
My husband actually thought I should switch to gluten-free only but I don't even have a business yet so I won't make that call for a while. If you do switch you have to do it 100% as you can't have any cross-contamination. Good luck with your decision!
I don't know were you live, but I"m in Ontario, Canada. I have a friend who has a business in the cake world and she has Non Celiac Gluten Intolerance. She decided to change and serve only gluten free products and let me tell you her business has taken off. She is the only bakery in our neck of the woods that offers that service. My advice to you would be do a little research in your area and see if this is something you could do. Good luck with your dision and I hope you succeed in what ever you decide.
MJoyCake - I am a Celiac (15 years now) and right after I was diagnosed and on my GF diet I was still having tummy upsets. Went to the doc and we decided that because I had made several non-GF cakes in the past few months that I needed to either stop doing that or mask while I was mixing the cakes. So now I do mask so that I do not inhale the flour which can fly up form the bowl while mixing. That seems to have solved my problem. However if you are in a commercial bakery where there is lots of baking I can see this as being a major problem as wearing a mask all day is no fun. In many of the books/magazines etc about GF diet and non compatible careers, a bakery is one of the non-compatible careers unless of course the bakery is dedicated GF. Good Luck!
Thank you all for responding. I run a licensed home bakery, so I'm not in a commercial kitchen and I can try wearing the masks, perhaps I'll pick some up tomorrow before more baking.
I saw my Dr. today and she was saying she's been diagnosing gluten intolerance/celiac a lot and she would be happy to hand out my business card to newly diagnosed patients if I wanted her to. So, I know there's some market here for it....I'm also going to attend a celiac support group meeting at our large local hospital later this month, so I'll get a feel for more need and numbers there too.
Keep the advice coming! Thanks a bunch!