Why Gluten Free Wedding Cakes?
Whether the bride or groom is gluten intolerant, or a member of the wedding party cannot eat gluten containing products, gluten free wedding cakes are becoming increasingly popular. Nobody wants to be unable to eat their wedding cake or ostracise guests due to health reasons, and thanks to baking developments over the last few years, tasty gluten free wedding cakes are now readily available.
Be sure to read our companion guide to vegan wedding cakes after you’ve read this!
The ‘free from’ food market has exploded in the last few years. Never has there been so much awareness about medical conditions which hinder people eating wheat, barley and rye, and the quantity of gluten free products in shops and restaurants reflect this. Bakers use a variety of natural and delicious ingredients to create their gluten free products; which are made with such meticulous skill that the end result is as good as, or if not better than, gluten containing cakes. Some bakers choose to cook solely gluten free cakes and others are able to make a gluten free tier, for those who wish to accommodate everybody.
Couples are nowadays free to choose from a variety of designs, flavours and ingredients; enabling them to either stick with tradition or opt for something original and unique, just as if they were having a standard, wheat containing wedding cake.
So what is gluten?
Gluten is the composite protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Thousands of people in the UK are intolerant or allergic to gluten, or have the autoimmune coeliac disease, and therefore must follow a gluten free diet. Gluten is present in foods such as bread, pasta, biscuits, pastry and of course cake.
Nowadays, there is much more awareness about the importance of gluten free foods and most gluten containing food items can be replicated without the protein; and this includes your wedding cake.
Newlyweds or guests who are unable to eat gluten shouldn’t have to miss out, and luckily there are now an abundance of skilled bakers who can create the perfect gluten free wedding cake. Whether you cannot eat wheat and desire a completely gluten free cake, or just want a wheat free tier or maybe even cupcakes to ensure some guests don’t feel like they are missing out, there’s a fantastic range of British bakers who can be at your assistance.
What do gluten free bakers use instead?
Gluten binds cakes together, so gluten free cakes have to use a substitute. A lot of gluten free specialists now create their own flour blends; others use popular brands such as Doves Farm, and other options include using oats or ground almonds. Gluten free bakers have tried and tested their recipes to ensure that their cakes taste just as good as – or even better than – regular cakes.
What are the types of flour substitutes?
Rice flour – rice which has been finely ground to make a flour consistency
Sorghum flour – a grass-family flour that originated in Africa and Asia. Rich in protein and fibre.
Buckwheat flour – a pseudocereal which does not contain wheat! Flour made from milled buckwheat
Potato starch – the starch extracted from potatoes!
Tapioca flour – roots of the cassava plant ground to a starch
Corn flour – ground starch from corn
Ground almonds – finely milled almonds
Xanthan gum – a polysaccharide used to bind cakes together
If I want a specific design or type of cake, will I be able to have it in a gluten free variety?
While there is a greater selection of gluten free foods available in supermarkets than there was five years ago, the free-from cakes and biscuits still lack the variety that standard cake aisles have. Therefore, it is no surprise that a lot of people think that gluten free cakes from a bakery can only be made from plain sponge.
In fact, Robin at London-based bakery ‘Cakes by Robin’ has found that more complex cakes; for example, carrot or fruit cake, taste delicious gluten free. However, any of her cakes can be made using gluten free ingredients, meaning that those with a gluten allergy can enjoy the same type of cake as everybody else. Her recipes make use of fresh tasting ingredients and she does not charge any extra for gluten free cakes, which are made using Doves Farm gluten free flour.
I’m a bit worried about the taste of a gluten-free cake for something as big as my wedding.
If made correctly, gluten free cakes can taste just as good – or if not, better, than normal cakes. Marnie Searchwell is a baker based in London and a woman on a mission to demonstrate how exquisite and delicious gluten-free cakes can be. She has won five Great Taste Awards, which prove just how amazing her cakes are. Marnie uses flora and fruits to embellish her creations, which mirrors the delicious and natural taste of her cakes.
She was inspired to start gluten free baking because her husband cannot eat wheat, and since has developed her business to provide superb gluten free wedding cakes to the London area. She actually creates her own flour blend as a wheat flour substitute, and finds these more delicate cakes nicer to eat and digest than regular cakes. Some of her cakes are naturally dairy free and some can be made with a dairy substitute. Because she bakes to order, she is flexible to individual’s needs and is more than happy to discuss how she can adapt recipes to meet certain dietary requirements.
Her most popular cake is the Reine de Saba, which is a rich chocolate cake containing organic ground almonds, fairtrade chocolate and Appleton Jamaica Rum, and is coated in a dark chocolate ganache. Despite all ingredients being naturally gluten-free, the cake is absolutely mouth-watering and when you try it at your tasting session, you certainly won’t be missing wheat.
Here’s a few words from Marnie about how she loves to supply gluten free cakes:
My favourite bit? That look on the bride or groom’s face, at the tasting consultation. When they taste one of their chosen flavours and discover it’s absolutely delicious, even though it’s a ‘free-from’ cake. When they realise that – possibly for the first time ever – they’ll have a scrumptious cake that matches their dietary needs. That’s always a wonderful moment. – Marnie, Marnie Searchwell Cakes
Does my wedding cake have to be entirely gluten free?
If you do not want an entire gluten free cake, some bakers make it possible to have one gluten free tier or a separate gluten free cake specially for the guests who cannot handle gluten.
Renowned West Country baker, the Bath Cake Company understands the need to be flexible when catering to people’s dietary requirements, and company owner Celia will happily adapt her cakes to individual needs. She started baking gluten free wedding cakes in response to popular demand and recognises how great today’s heightened awareness is for those who cannot eat gluten.
Celia is willing to adapt recipes to suit customers and can make a gluten free version of most of her cakes. However, she is happy to create a gluten free tier for the cake (although warns customers that they cannot guarantee that this will be completely void of gluten due to cross-contamination), or a separate cake to be kept and sliced in the kitchen using a different knife. Due to the complete isolation of this cake, this option is perfect for those with a more serious allergy.
Celia’s gluten free cakes have proved immensely popular; vanilla and lemon flavours remaining as timeless classics despite the lack of wheat flour, and she makes a spectacular gluten free version of a rich chocolate truffle torte with salted caramel. Gluten free certainly doesn’t mean bland!
Celia has this to say about Bath Cake Company’s gluten free cake selection:
With the growing popularity of gluten free wedding cakes, we’re really proud that we produce gluten free cakes that taste as delicious as our usual cake recipes, and that everyone can enjoy a slice of cake whether they have an intolerance or not. – Celia, Bath Cake Company
I have a serious gluten allergy. How can I be sure that my cake will be uncontaminated?
A lot of people have expertise in gluten free baking and cake companies know that they must take utmost care when creating gluten free masterpieces. Louise is the owner of Tamworth’s ‘Slice of Heaven Bakery’. Her daughter has been a coeliac for nine years, so Louise fully understands the importance of creating uncontaminated gluten free masterpieces.
After her daughter’s diagnosis and a lot of trial and error, Louise perfected her gluten-free cake, and has since developed her hobby into a fully-fledged business. Her cakes are baked using her own blend of flours, with extraordinary passion and care. Her cake company strictly bakes just gluten free cakes, meaning that she can be sure that her creations are perfect for those with allergies.
Her cakes range from a simple heart design, to multi-tier cakes which can all be altered according to colour scheme. She uses a blend of rice flour, potato flour and sorghum flour to create her own gluten free flour mix and as her kitchen strictly only bakes gluten-free products, you can be sure that there will be no cross contamination.
Are gluten free cakes more expensive?
The customer is the main concern at Woking artisan bakery, Le Papillon Patissiere, and when the demand for gluten free products increased, owner Neil responded to them. He now creates many wedding cakes with a gluten free component, and these prove extremely popular. Because of the demand, Le Papillon Patissiere do not charge extra for gluten free cakes; a welcome ease to the wedding budget.
Neil uses a variety of flours and amends liquid levels in the creation of his high quality gluten free cakes and can also create dairy or vegan cakes on request. He finds that a gluten free chocolate cake with a ganache filling works well, however all of the cakes can be made gluten free. One very popular option are the gluten free cupcakes made at Le Papillon Patisserie; wedding parties can have a mix of both gluten-containing and gluten free cupcakes, meaning that everybody’s needs and wishes are catered for.
Can I have a gluten free version of any standard wedding cake?
Certainly! Many cake companies can make nearly all of their products in a gluten free variety. Katie from Lincolnshire-based ‘Couture Cakes’ knows the importance of creating gluten free wedding cakes that are identical to her regular cakes. She uses a special gluten free flour blend, and because her cakes are so unusually moist, they completely lack the dryness and crumbliness often associated with gluten free cakes.
‘Naked’ wedding cakes are ever-increasing in popularity and are set to be extremely trendy in the coming wedding season. Katie’s most popular gluten free cakes are the classic vanilla and chocolate flavours, both of which are frequently used in naked wedding cakes. This means that brides, grooms and guests alike who have intolerances can still enjoy fashionable cakes.
Katie can also create a dairy free chocolate cake and a dairy free and vegan fruit cake.
What if I don’t want a cake at all?
Savoury Wedding Cakes
Nobody’s really sure who first had the idea to stack lots of round cheeses on-top of each other to resemble a tiered wedding cake, but it was nothing short of a stroke of genius. Presented in the same way as a traditional wedding cake, the cheese wedding cake is ideal for those who don’t have a sweet tooth but still want a traditional centerpiece for guests to enjoy.
The Cheese Shed, based in Newton Abbot in Devon, has been providing delicious cheese cakes nationwide since 2006 and sells about 1000 per year. The majority of their cheeses are artisan, West Country cheese; although they have a selection of others for brides and grooms who have specific wishes. Ian from The Cheese Shed recognises that many people are madly enthusiastic about cheese in a way that they are not about fruit cake, so sees cheese cakes as an opportunity for people to indulge in their passions.
Unique to The Cheese Shed is their ‘cake builder’- a visual tool where prospective customers can create their dream cake by virtually stacking the cheeses on top of one another. Once the customer is happy with their selection, they can order a sample box to taste the cheeses. This ensures that each customer has a completely bespoke cake, ideal to suit their individual requirements.
Cheese cakes are sold individually, giving gluten free guests the flexibility to purchase their own gluten free crackers, however a variety of chutneys and regular crackers (which contain gluten but would be appropriate for wheat eaters) can also be purchased from The Cheese Shed.
This is what Ian had to say about the new cheese phenomenon:
Cheese wedding cakes are now well established alternatives to the traditional type. They’re a new thing but at the same time – with their tiered shape – they offer a centre-piece that provides a nod towards tradition. What we’re finding is that there are a lot more cheese fanatics out there than fruit cake fanatics, so the cheese cake finds a lot of friends. People sometimes use them to replace the traditional cake; sometimes, though, they’re in addition to it – just an exciting and theatrical way to present a cheese course.
Decoration is key, but can be anywhere from the very elaborate styles – which Annie Howes creates for our photoshoots – to pure simplicity, a few pieces of fruit or some flowers. Both approaches can look great. – Ian, The Cheese Shed
There has never been so much awareness regarding gluten allergies, and there is no reason why those who cannot eat the product should have to sacrifice on the traditional wedding day treat. The above bakers are all highly recommended, and all endeavour to deliver the same great tasting and highest quality product, whether that be containing gluten or not. They see it as instead a new challenge, a chance to be creative and a way to spread their love of baking to everyone, regardless of their dietary requirements.
Gluten free certainly does not mean taste free, and thanks to astounding development in the gluten free sector, wedding cakes can now be enjoyed by all!
Like it? Pin it!