Gluten Free, What Should You Know ?

Decorating By majormichel Updated 19 Aug 2012 , 5:45pm by MsGF

majormichel Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 12:08am
post #1 of 17

More and more people are eating gluten free foods. As a cake decorator I want to offer gluten free cakes to capture that niche market. Please share your information and experience on this topic. What is gluten? Are you currently offering gluten free cakes to your customers? Is there really a difference in taste when you bake with gluten free flour rather than cake/all purpose flour? Do you make your own gluten free flour? What should we know about gluten free cakes, ingredients or other products. Do you have a big gluten free clientele. Please share your gluten free cake (chocolate, vanilla, etc.) recipes.

16 replies
costumeczar Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 1:15am
post #2 of 17

Gluten is a protein that's in wheat flours, related flours, and a lot of other things...

DO NOT do gluten-free if you don't have a gluten free kitchen. It's dangerous and can put someone who has celiac disease in the hospital. It's not a niche market so much as a medical market for people who have real sensitivity and celiac.

the problem recently is that gluten-free has become trendy, and people who don't need to avoid gluten are eating gluten-free anyway. There are doctors who treat gluten issues who say that it's totally unnecessary to avoid gluten unless you have a medical issue with it, but people do anyway. If someone who isn't sensitive to it tells you that they want gluten free it isn't a big deal if you have cross-contamination, but it really can be a serious health risk for someone who really has to avoid it.

If you bake gluten free it should be in a kitchen that never sees gluten. It isn't enough to wipe down your equipment in between regular and gluten-free cakes. Traces of gluten can stick around on the mixer, your tools, or even in the air if you have wheat flour that you use. If that gets into your "gluten-free" product it isn't gluten free anymore.

There are a few people around here who offer traditional and gluten-free cakes, and I have no doubt they don't know what they're doing. One girl at a farmer's market said that she cleans everything really well when one of my friends asked her about her gluten free products. She has a daughter who has SEVERE reactions to gluten, and can end up having seizures and be hospitalized if she eats it. So you do NOT want to fool with it if you don't have a dedicated kitchen.

AZCouture Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 1:18am
post #3 of 17

If I had celiac disease, the only person I would trust making a gluten free cake would be another decorator who had it, or had a child who had it. No way on earth would that person ever have flour in their home.

majormichel Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 1:19am
post #4 of 17

Thank you Costumeczar, very informative.

jason_kraft Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 2:01am
post #5 of 17

I founded a bakery with my wife in 2008 that specialized in allergy-friendly baked goods, including gluten-free products (we sold it in 2011). We started the bakery because of my severe allergies to nuts and eggs, but we got so many gluten-free requests we expanded our product line.

We did not bake out of a dedicated gluten-free kitchen (it was a commercial kitchen rental) but I designed our baking process specifically to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination. If you are careful you can safely make gluten-free products in a non gluten-free kitchen, but it does require a lot of planning and a complete redefinition of how you use the kitchen.

The key things to remember are segregating batches and sanitizing between them, only using non-porous surfaces and utensils, not exposing gluten-free products to air where flour has been airborne in the last 24 hours, never storing GF ingredients and products below anything with gluten, and making sure your suppliers are as careful about cross-contamination as you are.

After 4 years and 700+ orders we never had a single complaint of an allergic reaction, and many of our customers were severely allergic to gluten (and/or other allergens).

Getting GF recipes to be excellent instead of just mediocre can take some work. We made our own flour mix using rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum.

If you can make a great GF cake, the 1-2% of the population with gluten sensitivities will beat a path to your door and you will never need to advertise again, aside from initially reaching out to your local GF/Celiac community.

Jennifer353 Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 9:36am
post #6 of 17

Sorry for hijacking the thread but Jason do you have a recipe book for sale or one you would recommend? I would like to learn more about gluten free cooking and in particular the flours. My sister is undergoing tests at the moment but it is very likely she will be diagnosed with celiac disease (shes just waiting on one final test) and my cousin has been recently diagnosed. I have read some websites and got this recipe book but a lot of things seem to say something along the lines of most of the flours we use are fairly interchangable (within the given book/site). Being an engineer and reading contracts regularly at work I have difficulty with words like most and fairly! I know trial and error is one way to go but if I knew a bit more I could do more informed trail and error and save me getting fat trying every variation!

Also, if anyone has a book/site recommendation on gluten free bread that doesnt involve a bread maker it would be most appreciated! My sister LOVES bread but doesnt yet have a bread machine (although Im thinking I may have to get her one)

On an aside, does using a dishwasher cause cross contamination of utensils if there are dishes in it that are gluten free and others that have traces/gluten?

Thank you for any guidance you can give me.

sillyoldpoohbear Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 11:41am
post #7 of 17
Originally Posted by Jennifer353

My sister is undergoing tests at the moment but it is very likely she will be diagnosed with celiac disease (shes just waiting on one final test) and my cousin has been recently diagnose.

Have they had this cornfirmed by their gp or specialist at the hospital? Only there have been a lot of health shops in the area offering tests & telling people they are celiac just to get you to buy their overpriced products. I hope you don't think I'm interfering but I know someone this happened to & I wouldn't want anyone else to get a wrong diagnosis or get ripped off.

Should you need it Doves farm do a great gluten free plain or self raising flour that you can get from Tesco or Asda. It makes a wonderfully light sponge that tastes almost as good as a regular one. They do make gluten free bread flower but i've never tried it. If you go to there are lots of recipes there as well as on the back of the packs of flour. They're also really helpful if you email them with any questions you might have.

Jennifer353 Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 12:21pm
post #8 of 17

No not at all, thank you for saying it and it may help someone else reading this. Unfortunately for her though it is by her doctor and it's the "camera down her throath" test that she is waiting on (I've been told by a doctor friend that's the only reliable way of confirming it). I know of the kind of health shop allergy tests you are talking about though - one I saw was even advertising the service with "no positive result no fee"!!

I'll look into Doves Farm, thanks. My cousin said the things she had tried with their flour tasted chalky but that may have been her cooking or the recipe she used if you have success with it. Can you sub it directly for regular flour or do you need to increase the liquid?

Thanks for your help and post.

sillyoldpoohbear Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 1:06pm
post #9 of 17

You're welcome. Yes i suppose it does have a slight taste, but I put it down to the bicarb. I can''t have yeast so I guess I'm used to that taste lol

When making a cake I just make it to my regular recipe & add a teaspoon of water if it seems a little thick. There is a recipe on the pack but I found no difference.

It is good if you can make your own cakes & biscuits because the store bought ones have way too much sugar in them.

It is such minefield especially when you're first diagnosed. My great uncle was diagnosed at 86, he's now 92, & it's been so hard for him at his age. I think the one good thing is that there are a lot more products available now & the shop bought bread has improved vastly. However it is still nice to make your own if you can, at least you know what's going into it icon_smile.gif

majormichel Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 1:57pm
post #10 of 17

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.

Jason_kraft, like Jennifer353 mentioned, do you have a cookbook for sale. I would love to get my hands on those recipes.

jason_kraft Posted 17 Aug 2012 , 2:52pm
post #11 of 17

I did start a cookbook but it is currently on hold. We basically started out by purchasing all the highly rated GF baking books on Amazon and experimenting with the recipes that sounded the best to get them from "good" to "great".

While many gluten-free flours are fairly interchangeable in that the result will still be edible, you're right that to maintain the highest quality you need a specific combination. For GF cake we tend to avoid chickpea flour (it lends an off taste to the mix) and potato starch (it adds too much grit to the texture). Almond flour is another popular choice, but we did not test it since we also needed a nut-free recipe.

Using a dishwasher will not cross-contaminate utensils as long as they are non-porous.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 18 Aug 2012 , 3:07am
post #12 of 17
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

The key things to remember are segregating batches and sanitizing between them, only using non-porous surfaces and utensils, not exposing gluten-free products to air where flour has been airborne in the last 24 hours, never storing GF ingredients and products below anything with gluten, and making sure your suppliers are as careful about cross-contamination as you are.

We follow all of these procedures in our GF baking, and we have never had a problem either. I am really anal when it comes to GF baking, definitely taking every precaution against cross-contamination. We do always advise people ordering GF that although we do everything we can to avoid cross contamination, we do not have a dedicated GF kitchen, so they are aware of it. I know for a fact that one customer who we did a wedding cupcake tower for is VERY sensitive to it and she had absolutely no problem. She was thrilled that she was able to get exactly what she wanted for her wedding despite her allergy.

That said, it's definitely not something you want to do on a whim, not only because of safety issues, but because it can be very challenging to get a good GF recipe. It's great that the OP is doing their research. thumbs_up.gif

scp1127 Posted 19 Aug 2012 , 2:06am
post #13 of 17

I agree that taking GF form good to great takes time and lots of experimenting.

I offer it but advertise it for those with slight irritations or just prefer to cut down on their gluten intake.

I can't tell you how many times mothers have begged me to make cakes for their highly allergic children. I do not have a GF kitchen. It is important to say no to these situations if you don't have a GF kitchen.

pusskin Posted 19 Aug 2012 , 3:45pm
post #14 of 17

I heartily recommend a book called Red Velvet &Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood. She has a different way of looking at things that I enjoy, if you aren't worried about nuts (a lot of her recipes use ground almond), for instance she has a mini cupcake pistachio recipe which list the ingredients as egg, sugar, finely grated courgette, rice flour,baking powder and ground pistachios.

Yours aye

MsGF Posted 19 Aug 2012 , 3:58pm
post #15 of 17

I have Celiac Disease and I strictly Bake and Decorate Gluten Free. I would never purchase a Gluten-Free Cake from a person who also bakes "regular" cakes. Having Celiac is a serious issue. Cross contamination is a very real concern for us. Also it is an entirely different type of baking. The regular rules of baking go out the window. I have spent years perfecting my cake and cupcake recipes. It is not as simple as people believe. the ingredients are more expensive and I've hated every GF box cake I've tried.

So this is something to be taken seriously if you choose to bake for the GF public. You need to really understand what gluten is, how many regular products it is in, how to avoid it and how to avoid cross contamination.

check out this website:

Take Care Ms GF

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2012 , 4:06pm
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by MsGF

I would never purchase a Gluten-Free Cake from a person who also bakes "regular" cakes.

We have had several customers tell us the same thing...when they ask about this I start by explaining our baking process and how we protect against cross-contamination before I tell them the kitchen is not dedicated GF. Every GF customer who had these concerns went ahead with the order after I explained our process.

MsGF Posted 19 Aug 2012 , 5:45pm
post #17 of 17

I appreciate your comments jason_Kraft, but you ran an allergy friendly bakeshop so you can certainly appreciate the seriousness of food allergy and intolerance. People who don't have experience or real understanding about food allergies and intolerance can be scary for those of us with food issues. They are not to be taken lightly. Just going to a restaurant for dinner is difficult as you know. We have to ask a million questions and we know when people don't really "get it".

The OP'er doesn't seem to have much experience or knowledge in this area, so she needs to seriously educate herself. Making people ill from reactions can open you up to a whole new can of worms. I certainly appreciate everyone who becomes well educated about food allergy/intolerance and takes it's seriously. It makes the world easier for all of us with food issues to navigate. The scary thing is people think this is a fad or some niche market and to those of us with food issues it most certainly is not.

I wish her all the best in her GF adventure but she needs to really understand the seriousness of it.

Take Care & Good Luck & Do Lots of Research

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