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.

The Original Cakerie's Inspired By Happiness Two Layer Dreamin' Cakes are certified gluten-free desserts.

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.