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Caution! Gluten ahead!

Baking for Special Diets: Gluten-Free

Whitney M.

Alright, y’all. I’ve done the vegan baking thing, and I’ve been reading up on the gluten-free baking thing, and you know what I’ve learned? Some cookbook authors don't like food. This is the only explanation I can find for some of the nastiness I’ve come across in these special-diet books; the author has prioritized “ingredients you can eat” instead of “delicious food made of ingredients you can eat”.

Well, you don’t have to live that way.

Here’s my advice: instead of digging through a (for example) gluten-free cookbook looking for delicious recipes, pick up a foodie cookbook and dig through for gluten-free recipes. I guarantee you’ll hit pay dirt more quickly.

Gluten-Free, Just This Once

Chances are, you have an increasing number of friends and family who have moved to a gluten-free lifestyle...and if you’re like me, you still want to bake for these people, because you love them and sometimes they come to your house. What to do?

Here’s an easy fix: make pavlova, or ice cream cake, or flourless chocolate cake. These go-to recipes can give the same special-occasion feel as a regular cake, but (a) they’re naturally gluten-free and (b) you don’t have to buy unusual ingredients to make them.

One caveat: be sure to check every ingredient you’re using for hidden sources of gluten. For the recipes I’ve listed, here are the ingredients you’ll need to check specifically; if what’s in your pantry doesn’t say “gluten-free”, you should probably head to the store for a version that is labeled gluten-free.

  • vanilla (alcohol can contain gluten; McCormick’s Pure Vanilla Extract is GF)
  • powdered sugar (if there’s wheat starch in the ingredients, don’t use it)
  • chocolate (check your brand here)
  • ice cream (check your brand here)


View the recipe

Pavlova with Kiwi and Strawberry, by Kirti Poddar

Flourless Chocolate Cake

No-bake recipe or bake recipe

Individual No-bake Chocolate Cakes for a Celebration, by The Cilantropist

Lemon Raspberry Ice Cream Bombe

View the Recipe

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Cake

View the Recipe (use gluten-free chocolate cookies for the crust, obviously)

Meringue Ice Cream Cake

View the Recipe


Once More, With Feeling

What if you’re wanting to dive in head first? What if you need to turn your kitchen into a fully-equipped gluten-free bakery that churns out delicious celiac-friendly cakes by the hour?

Alas, dear reader, we have approached a topic that is beyond the scope of this post. Full scale gluten-free baking is an enormous topic that is best covered by a book. So, how about a recommendation or two?

Gluten-Free Baking Classics is one I ran across while poking around the King Arthur Flour site the other day. The reviews on Amazon are stellar, and I’ve always had good results from King Arthur Flour’s recipes. This is where I would start.

The Gluten-free Gourmet Makes Dessert is one of the books I read through while researching for this article. It’s very informative for those who are just transitioning to gluten-free baking. My favorite points: she has four recipes for making your own gluten-free flour mixes, each used for a different purpose; and at the end, she has a chapter called No Special Ingredients, which focuses on desserts that don’t require you to track down things like xanthan gum and sorghum flour.

Happy baking!

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Awesome, thank you for the recipes and great information :) LOVE Cake Theater!
4 years ago