Gluten free wedding cakes
Food intolerances and allergies have always been a major concern for food producers, never more so than in recent weeks with the horrific stories of unnecessary deaths from poor food labelling and standards. We are often asked if we can provide gluten free wedding cakes and there should be no reason why any guest should not be able to enjoy your wedding cake. However, there are some important points to consider:
What exactly is gluten?
Gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. It acts as a kind of glue which helps foods maintain their shape. It is often found in foods you would not expect:
- Baked goods
- Prepared soups
- Salad dressings
- Malt (e.g. milkshakes, malt extract, malt vinegar, chocolate bars)
- Food colouring
- Rye bread e.g. pumpernickel
What effect can it have on the body?
A person can be ‘intolerant’ to a particular food or drink which causes a chemical reaction. The severity of the reaction is usually related to the amount of substance consumed and may take 12-24 hours to subside.
Symptoms may include:
- Rapid breathing
- Headaches and migraines
- Burning sensations on the skin
- Tightness across the face and chest
- Breathing problems (like asthma symptoms)
- Allergy-like reactions e.g. skin rashes
On the other hand, a food allergy is when the body’s immune system overreacts to a harmless food as if it were toxic.
Common foods to cause allergic reactions:
- Tree nuts
The severity of symptoms can be influenced by exercise, heat, alcohol, the amount of food eaten and how the food is prepared and consumed. Symptoms are usually rapid onset, often immediate and can be life-threatening.
What are the symptoms?
Mild to moderate
- Itching, burning and swelling around the mouth
- Swelling of face or eyes
- Runny nose
- Skin rash (eczema)
- Hives (urticaria – skin becomes red and raised)
- Diarrhoea and abdominal cramps
- Breathing difficulties including wheezing and asthma
- Vomiting and nausea
Severe (or anaphylaxis)
- Difficult or noisy breathing
- Swelling of the tongue
- Swelling or tightness of the throat
- Difficulty talking
- Hoarse voice
- Persistent cough
- Dizziness or collapse
- Becoming pale or floppy (particularly in young children)
Considerations for food producers
The biggest consideration for food producers is the risk of cross-contamination and correct food labelling. All our cakes are delivered as standard with ingredient information, including the presence of any allergens including milk, eggs, gluten and nuts.
With regards to cross-contamination, every effort is made to prevent contamination by gluten-containing products. This means that all our gluten-containing ingredients are stored away from gluten-free ingredients and all utensils and surfaces, including the oven, are thoroughly disinfected prior to baking gluten-free products.
However in a domestic kitchen that handles gluten, the risk of cross-contamination cannot be fully eliminated despite every precaution being taken For this reason, we prefer to label our product ‘gluten-friendly’ to avoid any confusion. Customers are advised accordingly during consultations and if there is any risk, the order will not be accepted. We feel it is our duty to protect both ourselves and our customers.
We have based our approach to this on guidance provided by the Food Standards Agency on food allergy and intolerance so please ensure that any wedding cake supplier you consider is versed on their responsibilities. If an allergy is particularly severe, it may be advisable to contact a bakery that maintains a fully gluten-free environment.
But will my gluten free wedding cake taste the same?
There is no reason why your gluten free cake should not taste just the same, if not better. Over the years, we have adapted all of our popular flavours to gluten-friendly with no compromise in flavour (you can check out our flavour list here). We use approved gluten free flours such as Dove’s Farm and specific baking powders and xanthan gum to maintain the texture. We also check the ingredients list thoroughly to ensure they are gluten free (for example, did you know that Mars Bars contain gluten?).
So there is no reason why everyone, regardless of food intolerance or allergy, should not be able to enjoy your wedding cake. However, please ensure that you ask the appropriate questions of your wedding cake supplier and if in doubt, consult a gluten-free speciality baker. I hope that this has been helpful but if you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact me here.