Getting ahead with gluten-free
Though The Original Cakerie won the National Restaurant Association’s FABI (Food and Beverage Innovation) award for its Inspired by Happiness brand Gluten-Free Dreamin’ two-layer cakes last year, developing award-winning gluten-free products was not an overnight success, according to Ms. Ross.
Because the company is known for the light texture of its sponge cake, that’s what it aimed to achieve in gluten-free versions. Challenges were varied but not insurmountable: “We’re a scratch manufacturer, therefore we created our own blend with food scientists, adjusting where needed,” Ms. Ross said. “You need to manage the coarseness of the grain of the cake; it’s about finding the desired texture and flavor.”
Her first foray into the wheatless arena was seven years ago, “when there wasn’t a great demand but a subtle underground.” Putting the “cake project” on hold for a few years, the company developed gluten-free brownies as well as seed and nut bars in the interim. “They’re more forgiving, but cakes are a little trickier,” Ms. Ross said.
She eventually revisited the sponge cake project and evaluated the results time and again until they hit upon “the magic.”
“There are gluten-free blends out there that could be fine at home, but weaknesses show when you start to scale up; then you can reinforce it where you need to when it’s out to manufacturing — there are other stresses when you put it through equipment — and then it’s sent out for blind tasting,” she said.
Today, all Inspired by Happiness products from The Original Cakerie, which are sold frozen for food service, are certified gluten-free by Beyond Celiac, and its “A Level” British Retail Consortium certification requires the company’s facilities are audited frequently.