A few months back, I upped my savory skills with a stellar vegetarian cooking class with the San Francisco Cooking School. I got the opportunity to return to the school (and subsequently drool over the gorgeous kitchen) with a class that was a little more up my alley – a guide to gluten-free baking.
Overhyped or not, it’s no secret that gluten-free has swept America. It’s almost a staple now to offer something gluten-free at any gathering as millions of people learn towards the gluten-free lifestyle either for health or dietary reasons.
I had my first taste of gluten-free working pastry at a restaurant in Berkeley. It was one of the first places at the time to always carry one vegan and one gluten-free dessert on the menu. There, I learned how to bake with different flours and how to use xanthan gum without overusing it. I also learned that these types of desserts didn’t have to taste bad, which was often the case when eating similar things from places that didn’t take the time to understand what gluten-free meant.
The SFCS class reminded me a lot of the menus I used to work with at this restaurant – the instructor was well-versed in gluten-free and offered a solid packet of information on how to use different types of flours, starches, and xanthan gum without ruining your pastries. Boy and I were assigned all things chocolate – the most delicious station, while not necessarily the most difficult. We finished everything quickly enough to play around with extra things, so that by the end, we had made the following:
Chocolate-espresso bundt cake
Double chocolate cookies (aka DBC – death by chocolate cookies)
Coconut caramel sauce
I get asked a lot about how to make desserts gluten-free, so having a packet of recipes will be super helpful in the future. My verdict: This was definitely a class for people new to baking, but it also provides a great opportunity to play around in a professional kitchen and take home lots of goodies and recipes to try later.