We’ve come a long way from gummy, crumbly gluten-free baked goods that seem a shadow of the real thing. Now they’re not only just as good as or better than the original, but also increasingly available in our area.
Since more of the one-in-100 people with celiac disease have been diagnosed, and since many people have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon, artful blenders of alternative flours have been offering us sumptuous brownies, rich cakes and chocolate chip cookies like Mom used to make – devoid of gluten and as tasty and perfectly textured as any flour-based goodies.
Gluten is what happens when two proteins in flour, glutenin and gliadin, combine when flour meets liquid before baking. It makes sticky, doughy bonds and creates texture, stretch and “risability” in dough.
When gluten-free foods appeared in the marketplace, the breads, cakes and pastas were disappointing, but in the beginning that was all there was. Rice flour subbed in for wheat flour and just didn’t taste right. Now, dozens of alternatives and, better yet, blends of ingredients from coconut flour to almond meal to pea flour and more make baked goods taste amazingly like the original wheat-based items.
With all this complexity, we can’t blame anyone who would pick something up rather than bake. Fortunately the area is rife with places to get gluten-free treats. Look for gluten-free offerings in the café at Lucky Chocolates at 115 Partition Street in Saugerties, www.luckychocolates.com or (845) 246-7337; and at New World Home Cooking at 1411 Route 212/ Saugerties-Woodstock Road, http://ricorlando.com/nwhc or (845) 246-0900.
Garden Café on the Green does a gluten-free fruit crisp with a crunchy oat topping ($7). Find it at 6 Old Forge Road in Woodstock, www.gardencafewoodstock.com or (845) 679-3600. At Soul Dog Café at 107 Main Street in Poughkeepsie, you can not only get gluten-free pizza or gluten-free mac-and-cheese topped with smoky chipotle flakes, but also a full line of gluten-free baked desserts: www.souldog.biz or (845) 454-3254.
The Alternative Baker at 407 Main Street in Rosendale always has plenty of gluten-free choices among its creative baked goods, like gluten-free cakes and strawberry shortcakes. Find it at http://lemoncakes.com or (845) 658-3355. Sissy’s Cafe at 324 Wall Street in Uptown Kingston also offers delicious gluten-free desserts and many gluten-free breakfast, lunch and dinner options (including a gluten-free pizza). Find it at www.sissyscafekingston.com or call (845) 514-2336.
Calico Restaurant’s patisserie offers artfully crafted cakes and confections, as well as gluten-free chocolate/hazelnut macaroons, Sarah Bernhardts and truffles filled with liqueurs or dusted with cocoa. Find it at 6384 Mill Street in Rhinebeck, (845) 876-2749 or www.calicorhinebeck.com. Some of the treats at Homespun in Beacon are gluten-free, like a dreamy pignoli cookie. Find it at 232 Main Street, www.homespunfoods.com or (845) 831-5096.
Blue Mountain Bistro to Go at 948 Route 28 in Kingston has gluten-free items in its gourmet store. Find it at (845) 340-9800 or www.bluemountainbistro.com. At the Global Palate in West Park, not only does the regular menu offer gluten-free options, but you can also feed your sweet tooth with a gluten-free ice cream sandwich cookie or a double chocolate brownie topped with milk chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate ganache and white chocolate crème anglaise. It is located at 1746 Route 9W, www.globalpalaterestaruant.com or (845) 384-6590.
Local natural food stores are a great resource for gluten-avoiders, with many prepared snacks and treats as well as mixes and flours for bake-it-yourselfers.
Several Valley bakers bake only gluten-free products. Savvy Girl Brownies in Rhinecliff (formerly Sweet Girl Brownies) offers sumptuously rich and scrumptious brownies at several local establishments: www.sweetgirlbrownies.com. Another is Sunporch, with a full line of sweets intended to be delicious and indistinguishable from those containing gluten. Based in Malden-on-Hudson, reach it at (845) 237-3002 or via Facebook; and find Sunporch’s orange almond chocolate brownies, oatmeal raisin cookies, zucchini and banana breads and dark chocolate bundts with ganache and much more at all Adams Fairacre Farms stores and at local highway rest areas.
Bearsville Bakers has been run since 2011 by Janet Villani Garratt and Lauren Arcomano.
“When I was first out there eating gluten-free, I found a lot of companies were just swapping white-rice flour for wheat flour,” said Arcomano, who altered her diet in an effort to address symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. “I wanted to keep baking with whole grains but without gluten.”
Based in Woodstock, the Bearsville Bakers supply gluten-free brownies, biscotti, scones, cookies, coffee cake, and other goodies to local farmstands and health-food stores, including Sunflower Natural Foods and Sunfrost Farms in Woodstock; the Hudson Valley Farmers’ Market in Red Hook; Deising’s Bakery and Adams Fairacre Farms in Kingston; The Bakery in New Paltz; The Big Cheese, Emmanuel’s Marketplace and Davenport Farms in Stone Ridge. Call them at 679-3096.