The Pastry School Diaries: Saying Goodbye to Gluten

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Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 

As gluten intolerance and its awareness grows, I've become more and more grateful that my body allows me to eat whatever I want. Being so invested in food, cooking and baking, I can't imagine the struggle that 18 million Americans go through being sensitive or intolerant to gluten. For 12 hours a week, I am completely immersed in flour, doughs, cakes and tarts—a celiac's worst nightmare. But this week, we explored the (wider than I expected) world of gluten-free baking.

I've become so accustomed to working with all-purpose, whole wheat and high gluten flours that I haven't had the chance to think about the extensive range of gluten-free versions. Here are some of the flours we used in just three recipes, to give you an idea:

Teff flour

Brown rice flour

Tapioca flour

Potato flour

Chickpea flour

Sweet rice flour

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Gluten-free breadsticks with sesame seeds and paprika salt

I've learned that it's better to use a combination of these flours to create a product that most resembles classic bread. Each flour serves a different purpose, from texture and rise to flavor and chew. I was very impressed by how well our gluten-free recipes baked up. In fact, I forgot to even mention to my coworkers that the apple tart tatin that I shared with them was gluten-free! (Sorry, guys)

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An apple tart tatin is essentially an upside down apple pie with a decadent layer of caramel. You would never know that the crust was gluten-free!

Being able to create such a decadent dessert with only gluten-free ingredients has only reaffirmed my love of the art. Despite the fact that baking requires a bit more patience and exact measurement than cooking, attending pastry school continues to remind me that there's always room for adjustment. Add a dash of extract here; a sprinkling of herbs there; and never be afraid to alter a recipe to fit your specific dietary needs. No one deserves to be deprived of something sweet!

Check back next week for another update!