I had the pleasure of spending my birthday in San Francisco with a dear friend and her family, none of which are gluten-free eaters. Some were curious, but after a long list of what happens to me when I eat gluten, nobody wants to eat anything afterwards, so I try to keep it to a minimum.
However, my friend wanted to surprise me and surprise me she did! She anticipated the birthday celebration and the options before her in regards to some sort of birthday dessert. Apparently, gluten-free cheesecake was discussed, as was making a gluten-free cake on their own.
I must say, my eyes nearly popped when I heard the last option. I have been gluten-free baking for many years now and even still, there are some serious flops and failures. It takes time and patience and a whole lotta know-how - either that or someone who has a serious book of good recipes. Luckily, I do, but my friend does not have the same experience being a gluten-eater. She's an amazing cook, but the gluten-free world can be challenging. And all bakers know that just using a recipe off the internet is not always a wise decision. Plus, the cost of buying lots of random ingredients they will never use again didn't seem like a good idea either. Of course, I'm not sure if she is aware, but there are some pretty good boxed mixes out there now, but it would be hard to know what would be available as we are here (in Seattle) and we were going there (San Francisco).
So, my brilliant friend did what brilliant friends do - she found a gluten-free baker.
With the help of the internet and a whole lotta trust, she ordered me a beautiful birthday cake that was beyond fantastic! It was a monstrosity of chocolate layers with a filling of raspberry jam and the most beautiful piping job of dairy-free (that was the option) "buttercream" basketweave and a bushel of beautiful, ripe berries on top. It was glorious!
I mean, look at that! How amazing, right?
Now, again, as all gluten and gluten-free bakers and eaters know, things can be beautiful to the eye, but the actual product may be less than...well, it would be hard to say what's inside that beautiful package. We've all seen the Food Network Cake Challenges - not all things are as they seem!
Well, this was just as beautiful inside as it was on the outside. This is one allergy-friendly patisserie that knows what it is doing. The cake was moist and flavorful with just the right amount of filling and the "buttercream" was soft and pliable, sweet and yummy. And those berries! I do not know where on Earth this bakery gets their berries, but if I could find them, I would drive down there just to get them. In fact, as we all waited for my friend to put her little one to bed, we couldn't stop ourselves from picking berry after berry off the top. We tried to hide the end result, but I'm sure the gaping holes gave us away.
It really was a magnificent birthday surprise.
For more information, you can contact Let Them Eat Cake at http://www.allergyfriendlypastries.com/ . They make all kinds of stuff: breads, rolls, pastries, cupcakes, wedding cakes, etc., but they only deliver in and around the Bay area. Not sure about shipping. But they would be more than worth it. And apparently, as I raved to them in an email and sent them a picture of their creation pre-plate-licking episode, they mentioned back to me that they now sell their flour mix online. Another good option.
Michelle - the birthday girl