Weekend Cooking: Gluten-Free Baking

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Weekend Cooking is a weekly feature hosted by Beth Fish Reads linking up food-related posts. Click here to check out Weekend Cooking posts from Beth Fish Reads and other blogs.

We celebrated a daughter’s graduation recently with a party at our house over Memorial Day weekend. Since it was close to our older daughter’s birthday, I decided to bake two cakes to mark the two occasions at the same party. The catch is that we had decided to make our house a gluten-free zone for the five days that our older daughter (recently diagnosed with celiac disease) would be staying with us and to have only gluten-free dishes on the menu for the whole time. Gluten-free salads and meat on the grill (for the Paleos and the non-vegetarians) seemed easy enough when planning the party menu, but how to do the cakes without good old non-nutritious white flour?

I turned to King Arthur Flour’s line of gluten-free products for help and bought two yellow cake mixes and cake enhancer to make a Boston Cream Pie birthday cake and an M&M-decorated cake for graduation. (Thank you to my husband who came up with the M&M idea when I realized at the last minute that I couldn’t be sure the tubes of decorator icing were gluten-free, so there was no way to write on the cake!)

 photo of girls cutting cakes

Judging from the number of people who tried slices of both cakes, and the lone half-slice of cake that was left the next day, I’d say everyone would agree that the King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix and Cake Enhancer are excellent products!

The filling and topping for the Boston Cream Pie and the traditional Butter Cream Frosting for the graduation cake were relatively easy to make gluten-free, but I had to be careful to use only bowls and utensils that we had purchased and kept separate, and only unopened packages of confectioner’s sugar and chocolate chips, etc. that we could be sure no one had previously dipped a measuring cup into that had trace elements of gluten lodged in tiny cracks, etc. So even though I used cake mixes, which I usually don’t do, baking the two cakes took about twice as long as it usually would! This was an education for me, and really brought home the point of how difficult and anxiety-producing it is for a person with celiac to have to share a kitchen with people who eat a traditional American diet, no matter how careful they might try to be not to drop crumbs into the silverware drawer or not to produce a light dusting of flour over the countertop and other canisters while baking.

For more about the party menu, what we did right (and wrong), and revelations about my nasty Twizzler habit, check out my daughter’s post, A Tale of Two Cakes, on her blog about being newly diagnosed with celiac disease, Based on a Sprue Story. (M&Ms are gluten-free, we have learned, but Twizzlers are not.)

Some cookbooks I’ve seen online and want to try:

cover image of Gluten-Free Baking ClassicsFlying Apron Baking Bookcover image of Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie BookDoes anyone know anything about these gluten-free baking cookbooks? Other recommendations?

Disclosure: I don’t own stock in, receive freebies from, or have any relatives who work for King Arthur Flour. I’m just a KAF addict. KAF also has a great baking blog with a lot of recipes I can try out for our next gluten-free get-together.

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11 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: Gluten-Free Baking”

  1. I really enjoyed this post and I took a trip to your daughter’s blog also. I am interested in gluten-free eating and cooking although I do not have a problem with gluten that I can tell. Both you and your daughter write very well. Very nice post on this subject. And congratulations to your younger daughter on her graduation.

    1. Yes, we bought a huge bag of Wild Riceworks Sea Salt and Black Sesame wild rice crisps to try (along with some other gluten-free corn chips, crackers, etc.) and everybody raved about them. (I was hoping for leftovers of those, but there weren’t any.)

  2. I’m a KAF addict too! I haven’t tried their mixes, but good to know they work. So sorry your daughter is extremely sensitive. I have friends with celiac, but they aren’t bothered by the flour that’s in the air.

    1. Hey Beth (daughter here), I was diagnosed recently enough that I don’t really know yet how sensitive I am, so I’m taking extra precautions. There are anecdotal reports of people reacting to airborne flour (presumably by breathing in through the mouth and then swallowing), but I think the bigger concern is that it tends to drift and settle around the kitchen. If you bake two batches of cookies, one regular and one gluten-free, there’s a chance that some wheat flour from the air will settle into the gluten-free dough or onto the parchment paper, etc., and then the GF cookies can’t be trusted. (That’s why the most trustworthy mixed bakeries for people with celiac are those that bake GF baked goods on separate days from other baked goods.)

      Whether or not I turn out to be someone who can’t even walk into a bakery, I feel very lucky to have a family that goes way out of their way to accommodate my special needs. 🙂

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