With the rising consumer awareness of gluten-free, we look at how bakeries, cafes and hospitality around the world showcase wheat-free items ranging from pastries and tarts to cakes, muffins, bread, and savoury items.
In the past, gluten-free products were associated with tasteless and dehydrated bread and cakes. However, today, gluten-free options are a ubiquitous part of menus, and some baked goods are so delectable that they rival or even surpass their gluten-containing counterparts.
French and Danish Gluten- Free Pastries
Everyone loves a pastry, and just because you’re gluten-free doesn’t mean you should miss out on the delightfully perfect buttery layers of a pan au chocolat or plain croissant. French pastries can be hard to master, even with regular flour. Still, there are a few bakeries that have nailed the gluten-free croissant after recipe testing with alternative flours like rice, potato, corn, tapioca and chickpea.
Inspiration: Pain au Chocolat, Manna Dew, London. Croissant, Holy Grain Bakery, Madrid.
Decadent choux-buns and layered puff pastry mille-feuille are some of the most scrumptious patisserie treats. Apparently, rice and corn flour is a good substitute for choux pastry, and tapioca and potato starch are suggested for puff pastry.
Inspiration: Trésor Framboise, créme mousseline with raspberry compote & fresh raspberries in choux pastry with a macaron, Sebastien Sans Gluten, Sydney. Mille-feuille of pastry cream, cream & raspberry jam, Holy Grain Bakery, Madrid. Chocolate, vanilla & caramel eclairs, Noglu, Paris. Chocolate coated cream choux bun, Helmut Newcake, Paris.
Fruit such as apples, rhubarb and raisins are popular patisserie treats, often alongside thick pastry cream or set custard. The perfect combination of flaky pastry and fruit, you wouldn’t even know these are gluten-free.
Inspiration: Rhubarb & custard danish, Wild Flours Bakery, Glasgow. Pain au Raisin, Manna Dew, London.
Gluten-Free Cakes, Cupcakes & Muffins
Bring on the Cake
No more dry, crumbly cakes. Those days are long gone! gluten-free cakes now come in an array of shapes and styles, from classic Battenbergs and carrot cake to flourless cakes made with almond meal, which are increasingly popular.
Inspiration: Flourless pistachio rose cake, Flour Craft Bakery, CA. Battenberg, Free From Bakehouse, London. Carrot cake with cashew meal, carrots, raisins, spiced with chai and ginger, The Whole Kitchen, Singapore.
The trend for cupcakes still reigns, with those with exciting flavours and extravagant toppings usually going viral on social media. Cupcakes are great for events (no awkward cake cutting) and perfect for children too.
Inspiration: Victoria sponge cupcakes, @glutenfreealice. Red Velvet Cupcakes, Free From Bakehouse, London.
Muffins are great, from breakfast to an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. Gluten-free muffins are made in various styles, from strawberry to blueberry and cranberry – and savoury (coming up later).
Inspiration: Blueberry muffin, Choices Gluten Free, Australia. Blueberry almond muffin, Noglu, NYC.
Gluten-Free Tarts: Fruit, Chocolate & Lemon
Fruit tarts don’t just taste delicious; they look amazing too. They’re a chance for chefs to get creative, showcasing seasonal and fresh ingredients, like strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, apricot, plum and even edible flowers, rosemary and basil. Some bakeries say that rice, corn and almond flour are great alternatives to the tart casing if you fancied having a go yourself!
Inspiration: Raspberry tart, Noglu, Paris. Sea & buckthorn, apricot, Klear Labs, London.
Citrus works wonders with meringue, and now that bakeries have discovered that buckwheat makes a great base with its earthy, nutty flavour, there’s no limit to what patisserie chefs can make.
Inspiration: Lemon meringue pie with a biscuit base, Gluten Free Cuppa Tea. Lemon Meringue Tart, Wholegreen Bakery, Sydney.
From fresh and fruity tarts to decadent ganache-based tarts. The only difference is in the base, with buckwheat, pistachio, and hazelnuts all being used.
Chocolate and hazelnut tart with chocolate ganache, whipped ganache, roasted hazelnuts and hazelnut praline in shortcrust pastry, Wholegreen Bakery, Sydney. Chocolate, cashew mousse tart, @cannellevanille
Brownies, Slices & Cheesecake
Brownies were probably one of the first gluten-free sweet treats to be mastered by bakers. Although the standard gluten-free flour lends itself perfectly to the dense and gooey brownie style bakers desire, some use almond and rice flour or potato starch – and some go flourless!
Inspiration: Chocolate brownies with walnut & caramel sauce, Choices Gluten Free. Toasted brownie s’mores, Sweet Laurel Bakery, LA.
Tray bakes have come a long way since the plain sponge cake I’m sure we all remember eating at school. Now, it’s all about millionaire’s shortbread, blondies, flapjacks, and even banana bread squares.
Inspiration: Key lime slice with torched meringue frosting and fresh lime, Posh Pop Bakeshop, NYC. Millionaire’s shortbread, @glutenfreealice.
With a cheesecake usually being made without flour, it’s a pretty popular gluten-free treat, not to mention it’s a blank canvas for a variety of flavours from fruit to chocolate to nuts. Bases are usually made from nuts, crushed biscuits, almond flour and butter, and some chefs are even going as far as making their cheesecakes dairy-free too, using vegan creams/butter or cashew cheese.
Inspiration: Vegan raspberry cheesecake with fresh raspberries & viola petals on an almond base, Klear Labs, London. Lemon cheesecake with a lemon topping, @glutenfreealice.
Soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside is what most people would class as the ultimate cookie, but it wasn’t always so easy to achieve with gluten-free flour in the beginning. But now, chefs have found the secret to achieving the perfect bake – you wouldn’t even know they’re gluten-free.
Inspiration: Almond flour pecan cookies, Almond Butterfly Cafe, Toronto. Giant cookies with white choc, milk choc and triple choc, Daddy’s Edinburgh.
The only thing better than a biscuit is two biscuits with filling in the middle, which oozes out as you eat it. From vanilla, cream and jam to chocolate, raspberry and marshmallows, these sandwich combos take the humble biscuit to the next level.
Inspiration: Biscuit sandwiches with cream & jam, Honey Buns Bakery, Dorset, UK. Dark chocolate, raspberry & marshmallow biscuit sandwiches, Pearl & Grove, London.
Donuts & Buns
From pastries to cakes and now buns! Being more of a ‘doughy’ treat, finding a good gluten-free alternative for making things like cinnamon buns and cardamom buns wasn’t the easiest. But now, bakeries have buns for all occasions, even hot cross buns, delicious smothered in butter, enjoyed alongside a cup of tea. It’s these types of treats that will really make people remember your cafe – they longer have to miss out on baked treats.
Inspiration: Rhubarb & cardamom buns, @CannelleVanille. Gluten-free cinnamon rolls with cream cheese, @CannelleVanille. Hot cross bun, Nonie’s, Sydney.
Doughnuts are an indulgent treat that have been turned into an array of wonderful delights like cronuts (a croissant and doughnut). There are even savoury variations on some menus, as starters or appetisers. The main difference now though, is that some places attempt to put a healthy spin on them by baking rather than frying them. When it comes to flavours, jam still reigns, but covered in chocolate is also a good option.
Inspiration: Jam-filled brioche doughnuts, Oshione Gluten Free, Berlin. White chocolate & coconut doughnuts, Almond Butterfly Cafe, Toronto. Chocolate & white chocolate covered doughnuts, Noglu, Paris.
Bread and Savoury
Gluten-free bread has come a long way in the last 10 years. From sourdough to baguettes, bagels and boules, bakers have found the perfect recipes using all types of flours like rice flour, tapioca, potato starch, sorghum, millet and oat alternatives to standard gluten-free flour.
Inspiration: Sourdough, millet, sorghum, carob, flea seeds, sesame and flax seeds, H.U.G Bageri, Copenhagen. Sesame bagels, gluten-free, Noglu, NYC.
For those who don’t have a big sweet tooth, savoury pastries and breads are the way to their heart. Chefs are producing some truly delicious savoury bakes, using cheese, nuts, butternut squash, spinach and mushrooms. From pastry to bread dough to savoury bread muffins!
Inspiration: Sundried tomato swirl, camembert & raspberry, feta, spinach, olives and mushroom with bechamel, Mama Dew, London. Feta & honey muffins, Honey Buns Bakery, Dorset.
Adding more gluten-free items to your menu doesn’t have to be complicated. A lot of chefs will make their alternative bakes both gluten-free and or dairy-free/vegan to cater to a wider audience. Our advice would be to pick your best-sellers and try making gluten-free options – they may even be as good, if not better, than the original! Having gluten-free treats is especially important for cafes and even pubs, restaurants, schools and care homes, as many are dessert options too.