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Going Gluten-Free for the Holidays

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Holidays can be a rough time for folks who can't tolerate gluten. Many people enjoy sharing their love of baking during the holidays, and gluten-free eaters can feel left out.  However, while gluten contributes important properties to baked goods, there is a wide variety of gluten-free flours, starches and baking aids that can be used to produce high quality products.


Although there are many pre-made gluten free products available for purchase, gluten-free items are not very shelf stable and require many preservatives which can affect taste, nutrition and price. Fortunately, made-from-scratch gluten free items can be very delicious. Usually, the hardest thing about gluten-free baking is replacing the all-purpose flour ingredient. In many grocers’ health foods departments, gluten-free flour is readily available for purchase. Bakers can also mix a gluten-free flour blend to substitute for all-purpose flour. Recipes for gluten-free flour may require the purchase of specialty items, but because they take only a small amount of each to blend, these ingredients can last a long time.


It’s important to be aware that gluten may be hiding in other products besides baked goods.  Read the label carefully and contact the manufacturer if you are unsure about the gluten status of a food product. The FDA requires all foods containing major allergens to be labeled, but keep in mind, however, that other gluten-containing grains, like barley and rye, are not required to be labeled. So, “wheat-free” is not necessarily the same as “gluten-free.”


With a little awareness, precaution and experimentation this holiday season, even gluten-free eaters can “have their cake and eat it too.” Just make sure you’re using a gluten free flour blend!



Gluten Free Flour Blend

1 1/4 cups brown rice flour

3/4 cup sorghum flour

2/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup potato starch

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon potato flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum


Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Makes about 3 cups


Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache


1/2 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 2 3/4 cups chips or pieces)

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter

6 eggs

1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract


Chocolate Ganache:

            3/4 cup heavy cream

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces (about 1 cup chips/pieces)


  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 300ºF.  Grease a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, stir together the water, sugar and salt.  Add the chocolate and butter and set over medium-low heat, stirring until the chocolate and butter are completely melted.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.  Slowly mix the chocolate mixture into the eggs, mixing constantly until well blended.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until it is almost set.  Let cool completely.
  5. Remove the outside ring of the springform pan and refrigerate the cake until chilled.  (Leave the base of the springform pan beneath the cake.)
  6. To make the ganache: Heat the heavy cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is shiny and smooth.
  7. Keeping it on the base of the springform pan, place the chilled cake on a wire rack with waxed paper underneath.  Pour the ganache over the cake and spread to cover, allowing any excess to drip off onto the waxed paper.  Place the cake (and base) on a serving plate.


Makes 12 to 16 servings


Source for both recipes: Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski

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