Bake a cake, gluten-free


Baking has been a challenge for people who maintain a gluten-free diet, especially for people trying to make traditional birthday cakes or re-create a childhood favorite. That’s in part because flours made from other ingredients (almonds, chickpeas, rice) don’t “behave” in the same manner as flour made from wheat.

Today there are a number of flours for sale at Whole Foods and other specialty stores that are meant to be replacements for all-purpose wheat flour. With a combination of ingredients such as potato starch, tapioca and rice flour, cooks are told they can use them in place of all-purpose flour in a recipe. Among the producers are King Arthur Flour, which has been in business more than two centuries; natural food store staple Bob’s Red Mill; and renowned chef Thomas Keller, whose kitchens developed Cup4Cup. There’s even a Trader Joe’s gluten-free flour.

We baked a poundcake with five of them, using a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s classic book, “The Cake Bible.” All five turned out, albeit with a couple of major tweaks to the Cup4Cup cake. (The opinion of an unscientific sample of office colleagues held that cakes made with the King Arthur and Trader Joe’s products were the best.)


For cooks who want to make their own flour mix, Shauna James Ahern has two simple recipes in her book “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day,” and there is one in the book “Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking,” by Kelli and Peter Bronski.

-- Mary MacVean