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Gluten free cakes as part of your business offerings?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,
does anyone offer gluten free cake options? I have been receiving a lot of inquiries recently, so did not know how common it is overall. I did a quick search and it seems like it's going to be quite complicated to test out the recipes because of different way of baking sweets and also ingredients are higher priced. Do you find it worth the trouble to offer gluten free?
post #2 of 10
It is not just the increased cost of the different baking ingredients, and the different method of baking. You need to consider the serious risk of cross contamination. That is a very real and serious problem for us Gluten-Free peeps.

It's complicated. I only bake Gluten-Free so it is easier for me. People ask me if I will make them a "regular" cake and I say no, every time. I will not risk the cross contamination. None of my supplies for baking or decorating have ever come into contact with gluten. I wont risk it for myself or my clients.

It might be worth it if you have enough people who are interested and you can produce a good product and you address the cross-contamination issue. Word spreads fast in the Gluten-Free community when someone has a bad experience or reaction from a particular restaurant, bakery or product.

Lot's to consider, good luck.

Quinte West, Ontario, Canada   www.TeriLovesCake.ca   Strictly Wheat & Gluten-Free         

 

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Quinte West, Ontario, Canada   www.TeriLovesCake.ca   Strictly Wheat & Gluten-Free         

 

Reply
post #3 of 10
We offer Gluten Free options, and have found it to be a valuable addition to our business. The market for it is not huge, but it's definitely there.

We have a storefront bakery, so our customers are fully aware that we bake regular items in our kitchen. We let them know that although we wash everything down before we bake gluten free, there is always a chance of trace amounts of gluten. Everyone we have talked to about this is fine with it, and they understand that we don't bake exclusively GF. You do have to be extremely careful, however, and make sure to use all separate products in GF stuff. We have all separate sugar, baking soda, baking powder, etc. so that there is no chance of trace amounts of flour in the product itself.

The other issue is taste and quality of the cake. It's can be a challenge to bake gluten free due to the different flours that must be used. You probably want to do some trial runs and get some friends to try it out and give you honest feedback.

As far as the cost of the ingredients, they are pricey, but we just price our GF products accordingly. We find that the majority of people who eat GF are used to things being a little more expensive and don't have a problem with it.

Take this all with a grain of salt, since I am not GF myself! icon_smile.gif But we have done quite a few GF jobs now, (including weddings) and gotten all really good feedback.
Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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post #4 of 10
We built our bakery business around customers with restricted diets (peanuts/nuts/eggs/dairy/gluten/soy). This is a huge niche market in many areas given the increasing prevalence of food allergies (especially among children) and the gluten-free trend.

We spend several months testing recipes at home (while simultaneously getting our commercial kitchen ready, which is required in California) and eventually came up with several great gluten-free products that weren't significantly more expensive. Our mix contains mostly rice flour and tapioca starch (both cheap) with smaller amounts of sorghum flour and xanthan gum (both expensive).

The biggest hurdle is avoiding cross-contamination, both in your baking process and those of your suppliers. We price our gluten-free products around 10-20% higher than traditional products.
post #5 of 10
I started offering GF, but I always make sure I tell people they are made in a gluten-using kitchen so I can't guarantee no cross-contamination. I label my boxes with what exactly is in the cake/buttercream and also have the disclaimer on the box about being made in a gluten-using kitchen. If I talk to someone that wants to order a cake but suffers badly from an allergy and has zero wheat toerance, I refer them on to a 100% GF bakery. Anyway, I get a lot of calls from people that are only sensitive and watching what they eat so I am selling a fair amount of it. And surprisingly, I get a lot of calls for 1st birthday cakes to be gluten free. Lots of moms are holding off on gluten for their kids until much later in life.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hmmmm...I did not realize how serious this is and did not think about cross contamination. I was mainly considering cost of developing the recipes and higher price ingredients. With a fear of cross contamination, I do not really want to keep up with a whole separate set of tools and equipment. Even though I've been getting quite a few inquiries lately, they are still a very small percentage by comparison. Sounds like financially it may not be beneficial to offer gluten free, especially if in general we are only looking at 20% increase in final product price. Thanks you all, you are a wealth of information as usual.
Thanks again, P
post #7 of 10
You're right that it is a small percentage of the population...about 1% of the US population has Celiac disease, although there are an increasing number of people without Celiac who are avoiding gluten or have gluten allergies/intolerance. The incidence of Celiac in the population is steadily increasing as well.

However, if you are the only provider of gluten-free goods in your market you will capture virtually 100% of that market, especially if you can provide something that is difficult to duplicate at home (like professionally-developed recipes and custom cake decorating). Many of our customers had literally never been able to eat their own birthday cake before.

If there are a million people in your local service area, 1% of that population is 10,000 people, and that's just people with Celiac. You can probably double that number to include gluten-free non-Celiacs, and remember that friends and family of someone who is gluten-free will often try to find GF options for events they are invited to. There is also the increasing incidence of autism, and many parents of autistic kids feel that a gluten-free/dairy-free diet helps moderate their behavior.

Thanks to social media the gluten-free community is very tight-knit, even in large metro areas. This is a blessing for businesses who understand the seriousness of this issue and make an effort to produce safe GF products, but if you have only token GF offerings without guarding against cross contamination and someone gets "glutened" that information will spread very quickly.
post #8 of 10
I was told by my health dept that if I wanted to offer gluten free cakes, I had to do one of two things.

Option 1 would be to bake GF on one day of the week, say a Monday, since I wouldn't have baked on a Sunday and all regular flour particles would have "settled". I would still have to thoroughly clean all areas and also use a completely different set of utensils (i.e. not just cleaned and sanitised) - mixing bowl and paddle, spatulas, knives, cups, pans, cooling racks etc.

Option 2 would be to completely separate and enclose an area of my bakery kitchen to bake GF, which I could use whenever needed.

Both were options that I just couldn't consider, so I don't offer GF any more. I was one of the ones who had no idea just how sick a GF customer could get from cross contamination and I am grateful that she gave me all that info.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Quote:

Option 1 would be to bake GF on one day of the week, say a Monday, since I wouldn't have baked on a Sunday and all regular flour particles would have "settled". I would still have to thoroughly clean all areas and also use a completely different set of utensils (i.e. not just cleaned and sanitised) - mixing bowl and paddle, spatulas, knives, cups, pans, cooling racks etc.

Option 2 would be to completely separate and enclose an area of my bakery kitchen to bake GF, which I could use whenever needed.



I haven't spoken to the Health Department about this but after reading the responses yesterday, the above two options were the only ones I felt I was comfortable with should I have wanted to consider offering gluten free options. And honestly, I would feel better going with the second alltogether. Considering the size of my operation and the size of my community, at this time it's just not going to be financially feasible. However, as my business continues to grow, allergen free kitchen expansion is something that I would be strongly considering. Thank you all again.
post #10 of 10
Even GF baking days would not need to be exclusively GF. If you bake/decorate GF items first and make sure all your GF products/supplies are put away and covered you can go ahead and bake non-GF items that day. The only real restriction on timing is no GF baking or decorating in a 24 hour period after non-GF baking is done, there should be no such timing concern when you get to the decorating phase since no flour would be in the air.
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