I debuted Lula's Fancy, my line of gluten-free treats yesterday. Now that I have a state-certified home kitchen (glad that I could finally put to use that background in culinary and food manufacturing) I'm working on developing a line of products that people with wheat intolerance, allergies, and celiac can enjoy. For the next few weeks I'll be trying out different products at the Russell's Farmers Market in Wayland (the market runs from 10-1 pm) at the Karma Coffee booth.
Since this is a brand new endeavor, I'm trying to learn as much as I can from customers about what they want and don't want. The runaway hit seemed to be the gluten-free fruit tarts, made with my tart dough and summer raspberry preserves.
Oats seem to be a real sticking point - some folks I spoke with were interested in oats as long as the oats are certified gluten-free. One customer asked if my facility was certified gluten-free. The answer - until I manufacture at a dedicated bakery- is no. I bake as cleanly as possible using dedicated pans and ovens on dedicated baking days (I do not bake anything with wheat flour on days when I am baking gluten-free, and the kitchen is thoroughly cleaned before I begin baking on gluten-free days; additionally I store my gluten-free ingredients in a closed area that cannot be contaminated by wheat).
For those who don't know me, I cut my teeth in gluten-free, allergy-friendly food manufacturing when I worked for Enjoy Life in Chicago. I'm a pastry chef by training and for the last year and a half have been developing gluten-free recipes I can live with. I've been pretty disappointed with the quality of gluten-free baked goods on the market and want to offer an alternative that both tastes good and is slightly better for you than the average baked good. Gluten-free often looks great (anything made with combinations of 'white' flours like rice, corn, potato and tapioca) but lacks great flavor or texture. I won't sell anything that doesn't taste good to me first. And I'm kind of picky.
When I bake, I use a combination of whole-grain flours: teff, buckwheat, coconut, brown rice, and tapioca round out my baking mix. I NEVER use flours made from soy, potato, corn or sorghum in my baking, either because of nutritional issues (corn, potato), digestibility issues (sorghum), or allergy issues (soy). I make my own vanilla extract from vanilla beans and rum (distilled and always gluten-free), make my own fruit jam fillings, use organic ingredients where ever possible, I mostly use organic rapadura (evaporated cane juice) for sweetness and avoid processed sugar. I use a gluten-free baking powder (made, unfortunately, with potato starch) and use Enjoy Life's soy-free chocolate chips.
If you click through this blog, you'll find recipes for many of the things I bake and sell. I urge you to try baking for yourself at home. There's nothing better than home-made baked goods!