About Me

Elle Kirschenbaum

Hiya.

My name is Elle Kirschenbaum and I live in NYC. I took an interest in baking a few years ago much to the delight of my husband and his co-workers.

I’ve had many careers over the past twenty years including graphic designer, internet marketer, store owner, and online merchandiser. I grew up in Philadelphia but have lived mainly in NYC since graduating college with an art history degree. I spent a few months living in Paris after the internet bubble burst, but decided I preferred the Big Apple.

About four years ago, my father and bestie simultaneously went on gluten-free diets.  An odd coincidence I must say. Since I have had a lifetime of digestive problems, I thought “why not give it a shot?” From it I learned the following:

  1. I do not have celiac disease,

  2. Nor does my father.

  3. My bestie does have celiac disease and a gluten-free diet has produced some dramatic changes for her.

  4. When I eat gluten, I experience incredible fatigue. Really, I feel drugged. So clearly I, like 18 million other Americans, have a gluten sensitivity.

  5. Most gluten-free baked goods on the market suck.

This little experiment took me into the world of gluten-free and I can honestly say it makes no sense. I found myself constantly asking questions. For starters, why do all the bakeries with gluten-free goods make them vegan also? What on earth do gluten-free and vegan have do with each other? Other than a loose relation of putting them both in a category of “people who are health conscience,” there is no connection.  And who’s to say just because you are vegan or gluten-free you are health conscience. Maybe you are just concerned about animal cruelty or have the misfortune of having celiac disease.

So I became obsessed with righting what I perceive as wrong and that brings us to today. This blog is about baking with gluten-free flours but not about ever having to compromise on taste. Not even a little bit. In fact, I will go as far to say that using certain gluten-free flours will actually make your baked goods taste better than if you made them with wheat flour.  What? That’s not possible? Oh yes it is. You’ll see.

What I learned about gluten-free baking…so far

Gluten-free baking is pegged as the ugly step-sister to traditional baking. A mentality seems to have developed where baked goods are considered “good for gluten-free.” I’m thinking this attitude evolved out of a combination of frustration and practicality. There really aren’t guidelines out there telling you how to bake gluten-free well. And let me tell you, it is hard, really hard, to make gluten-free baking taste like traditional baking. It takes a lot of research and honestly, you spend a lot of time and ingredients trying out what is already out there. Add that to the time you spend trying to re-create the wheel and you can see why companies and people just say enough is enough, it is “good for gluten-free.”

Well, I am here to tell you that most, not all, but most of the “guidelines” out there are not pointing you in the right direction (Read Fact or Fiction: Gluten-free Cake Baking). The internet is filled with recipes that claim “you’d never know it’s gluten-free,” but way too often, you do. The result always has one or several of the characteristics that plague gluten-free baked goods.

  1. Chewy
  2. Heavy
  3. Crumbly
  4. Oily
  5. Leaves an aftertaste

I have spent the last year and a half addressing these problems in mostly cakes and sometimes cookies. What I have realized is that it is naive to expect an all-purpose mix to work great in all situations.  Gluten-free bakers fall somewhere between home bakers and professional chefs. Pastry chefs use cake and pastry flour, bread bakers use bread flour, etc. I have developed four flour mixes to date. Two “all-purpose” flours (which really are not “all-purpose’), one cake flour and a one nut-free version. Next, I will be tackling pastry flour and all the yummies made with it. But being the perfectionist that I am, I will not release a pastry flour mix or gluten-free pie crust until it meets my standards. Stay tuned!

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8 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi Ellie- is it possible to use your Flour Mix C- nut free mix- for the Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake with Chocolate Rum Icing? I can’t have nuts- they give me hives.

  2. Airlines are another entity which frustrates me. The gluten free food also appears to be dairy free – a matter of economy for them but while I get a normal meal with an ice-cream that is gluten free by ingredient, my teenage son who has coeliac disease does not get an ice-cream because he is given the generic bland gluten free, dairy free and probably egg free meal. AHHHH!!!
    Thank you for your recipes. Love them and also love your comments on xantham gum. My son does not like the texture of cakes with xantham gum so I stay away from anything with xantham gum in it. Texture has been an important criteria in our taste testing adventure. Keep on posting.

    1. Thank you! You made my day! In the upcoming weeks I will be posting recipes that really focus on lightness so stay tuned. Also you can always subscribe and have the recipes sent directly to your email. If it makes you feel any better, about 50% of people with coeliac disease are also allergic to dairy. So let’s hope that’s the reason for no ice cream but on the other hand, they could just ask. Anyway, thank you again for your encouraging words. They came at just the right time. 🙂

  3. gluten free and vegan are often connected because people with gluten allergies often are also allergic to dairy. many special needs youngsters (autism, aspergers, etc) have dietary allergies, and some parents even eliminate know allergens thinking it may help behaviorally. i am so happy to have found your site. i hate being gluten free. i miss nyc pizza and bagels.

    1. Thank you for the information. I do think with a bit of ingenuity, though, gf baked goods can be made to taste a lot better. For example, one could clarify the butter. This filters out the proteins which are the allergens and leaves “butter oil.” It is very strong however, so it should be mixed with some coconut oil. No one should ever have to give up the taste of butter.

  4. Our daughter was recently diagnosed with a glucose sensitivity. We have found that it is not as restrictive as we thought. There are some good products out there, but it is certainly a lot of trial and error. Thanks for this site.

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