Gluten-Free Brainstorming!

Gluten-free is something that is requested at every single event that I do. It is the golden question when anyone orders birthday cupcakes. In general, it is a seriously hot topic. I can be heard reciting my rehearsed lines each time the words are spoken: "We don't have a recipe yet that we are happy with, but we are definitely working on it!"

Well, I have decided to put a stop to this. All this time I have been desperately searching for the magic answer to the texture and flavor issues that occur when you take gluten out of the equation in a vegan cupcake recipe. So far in my tests, every single cake tastes like cornbread! It is incredible... and unappetizing. Who wants to put frosting on a corn muffin? Not I! And frankly, I am staunchly unwilling to serve, what I consider to be, an inferior product no matter how many gluten-free friends tell me that the texture "just won't be the same" and that I should stop comparing. You all are selling yourselves short! Don't settle!

On that same empowering, glass-half-full note, I think I've just been looking at the problem all wrong. Way back in culinary school, we took a class called "Converting." It was in the middle of a baking unit, and it had everything to do with making run-of-the-mill recipes vegan or heart-healthy or sugar free or gluten-free without compromising all that they had promised to be originally. If I learned anything from this class, it is that you CANNOT skip steps. You bake the recipe as it is written. Then you bake it again changing ONE thing. And again and again, one change at a time. So that when something terrible happens, you can pinpoint the source.

So why is that I thought that I could take a carefully designed recipe that replaces the moisture, fat, and "glue" properties of egg and dairy with careful calculations and then ALSO remove the gluten? Yeah, I don't know either. SO my conclusion is this: Go back to the beginning, Ashley! Make a recipe that is gluten free but not vegan. Make it taste good as JUST gluten free first.  Leave the vegan part as a future goal for now. Because honestly, who doesn't hate that "two birds with one stone" product that most places are carrying now? 'We carry mostly traditional baked goods, BUT we do have one vegan and gluten free cookie! Too bad it tastes like a brick and doesn't really satisfy either pool of people."

That will not be me, friends. Nope.

Anyway, my plan is to have an all around killer gf recipe in place for the Holiday Mass Market on December 11th from 12-5pm in the Mass Art gymnasium in Boston. I've been poking around the internet at various recipes to get an idea of ingredient ratios, etc. Inspiration, if you will! My favorite flavor idea so far, at least for the cake, is this one. Would love to try something a little less sweet for the frosting... But I'll save that brainstorming for later and not get ahead of myself. It's sure to be delicious!