Piece of Cake!

Finding gluten free cake isn’t as difficult as it used to be, thanks both to entrepreneurial bakers yearning to share with others the tasty spoils of their kitchen wars and big food factories eager to cash in on the gluten free “craze.” Too often, however, the cakes look less like dreamy confections and more like clumsy claymation.

Finding a baker who can produce yummy, truly gluten and dairy free cake suitably beautiful for a wedding is no easy task. The gluten free bride can go with a strictly gluten free bakery or go with a wedding cake baker who offers both traditional and GF cakes. She also can make it herself or have a family member make it, or she can go to the nearest GF food grocer and purchase frozen confections to serve.

I quickly crossed off the bakers who make both traditional and gluten free cakes. I just don’t trust anything made in the same building where durum wheat wafts in the wind. I’m so sensitive, I once got glutened at a tasty national sandwich-bakery chain and I didn’t eat anything. How do they prevent flour from settling into the crevices or coating the work surfaces even if they clean the place with a fire hose and thick suds? How are they segregating ingredients so they don’t commingle on the apron or in the oven?

I also wasn’t going to make my own cakes. I already was DIY’ing the planning, the flowers and the decor, plus relying on family for hair and makeup. The cakes had to be professionally done and done so well no one would say, “Well, they’re that weird gluten free fad stuff; of course they taste like cardboard iced in muslin.”

Enter Gluten Free Cutie. Gluten Free Cutie makes a variety of confections and savory treats that aren’t just gluten free, they’re free of the top allergens: eggs, dairy, nuts, soy, corn, and shellfish (not that you’d want a shrimp pie, but some ingredients are sourced from shellfish). No artificial flavors or colors, either. Whew! Gluten Free Cutie works hard to ensure the purity of its ingredients and its baking environment. You can read more about Gluten Free Cutie’s ingredients (what is and isn’t used), including the use of coconut milk, here.

Natalie Dorsey launched Gluten Free Cutie because her daughter, Savannah, has allergies to gluten, dairy and artificial dyes. Going gluten, dairy, and chemical free dramatically improved her daughter’s health, but it was hard for the little girl–and her mom–to watch other kids devour pretty cakes and cookies at parties but be unable to join them. I suspect Savannah’s birthday cakes and holiday sweets tables now are the envy of her classmates. Sure, yellow birthday cake is nice, but wouldn’t cinnamon yummy cake be, well, yummier?

I met with Natalie three months before the wedding so we’d have plenty of time to work out the details. She explained how the cake sizes worked, what flavors were available, and what decorations she could do. I took home several flavors of cake and cake pops so my family could help with the taste testing. You have to buy cupcakes, scones, donuts, and cake pops for tasting, which made sense, given how expensive GF ingredients are.

IMG_8300Our final wedding cake table offered our guests a lot of options. The “main” cake was a 4″ mini cake stacked on a 6″ cake in spiced chai latte. This cake has a nice balance of sweet and spice, with delicate notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and cardamom. This was the cake the groom and I cut and fed to each other.

For the chocolate lovers, we had 6″ cakes in the following flavors: colonial red velvet with a dairy free “cream cheese” filling, rich chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache filling (so decadent!), and a chocolate cake with cocoa mocha “cream” filling. The chocolate lovers devoured these cakes, even tucking slices into the treat bags we provided so they could take some home.

Tiered Cake

We also had a delicately flavored lemon cake with a vanilla cream filling, and then a last minute addition of winterberry cake: ruby red cranberries dotted the delicately spiced white cake. This one was my absolute favorite, although the lemon was tasty, too.

Natalie did a fantastic job decorating the cakes. We wanted simple variations on our snowflake theme–not overwrought icing flowers. The only “must” was a “combed” effect on the stacked cake so it would evoke a woodland feel to complement the little owl salt and pepper shakers we got from Weddingstar. Their diminutive size worked perfectly for our cakes, much better than the usual, larger cake toppers.Snowflake cakes

The other cakes had white edible pearls or shimmering sugar crystals and/or fondant snowflakes. FYI, that lavender sugar is completely chemical free. The tint is a vegetable-based tint!

We deconstructed the traditional stacked wedding cake by putting the cakes on plates ranging in height from 1″ to 6″. We bought the cake plates at TJ Max for $6-12, depending on the style. We used our own plates to ensure no cross-contamination would happen by using plates that one held regular cake. An added bonus, we gifted the plates to friends who helped us with wedding details so they could take the party home with them. We also brought new cake knives because the caterer’s had cut many a wheaty cake.

People devoured the cakes while raving about them. Friends who also are GF and/or have food allergies nearly cried: they could have cake, too!

TartsBecause some people just don’t like cake, we also served Gluten Free Cutie’s mini tarts in two flavors: apple and blackberry. The cinnamon brown sugar crumb topping and the flaky pastry crust enhance the fruit filling. We additionally offered mini whoopie pies for the kids: heavenly devil’s food cake sandwiching marshmallow or peppermint cream.  These were served on a galvanized aluminum tiered tray provided by the caterer. Again, the treat bags let folks take home extras.

In keeping with the snow theme, and to throw a twist into the traditional cocktMaple Bacon Ballsail hour, we served Gluten Free Cutie’s maple bacon donuts with a hot beverage bar (along with the standard chicken skewers and stuffed mushroom caps). These usually are sold as mini donuts but we asked for donut holes so they’d evoke a snowball.  The pure maple sweetness skated smoothly with the smoky bacon savoriness. It’s as if a winter’s morning of skating on a frozen pond followed by a hearty breakfast before a roaring open fire slipped from your fingers and landed in your mouth. That was perfect for the cocktail hour, which took place on the rooftop patio.

Best of all, we didn’t break the bank. We spent about the same amount of money as we would have for one traditional stacked wedding cake serving 100 guests. For $600, we got 6 cakes in six different flavors, 3 dozen tarts, 3 dozen whoopie pies, and 4 dozen donut holes, plus 4 pumpkin scones (we ate those the morning after) and 2 dozen pigs in blankets (our helpers wolfed these pure beef mini hot dogs–free of hormones, chemical dyes and preservatives–wrapped in a tasty pastry). That included sales tax and delivery.

Natalie and her husband personally delivered everything, carefully packaged for travel, to our house. They took care to place the cake boxes in our cars so nothing would shift during the 70 mile drive to the venue. Every cake and pastry arrived in perfect condition.

We can’t wait to eat the winterberry cake we stored in the freezer for our first anniversary. In the meantime, we’re taking tiny bites of the six maple bacon donut holes we hid from everyone and stashed in the freezer. Thirty seconds in the  microwave and these babies sing with sweet, smoky sass.

Sweet, indeed!