Substituting Ingredients and Food Allergies & Intolerances

Many of you already know how I (and most other baker/authors) feel about ingredient substitutions but for those of you who don't, I think a further explanation is in order to start the New Year off right! Most baking recipes, especially cake ones, are crafted with great care, balancing ingredients that support the cake's structure with those that are carried by it and provide moisture and flavor. Changing an ingredient will change both the texture and the flavor of the cake, often in a very significant way. Baking authors almost always list acceptable substitutions in the book for many ingredients. Choosing them means the result will still be acceptable but it will not be identical. If you want to be experimental, substitute only one thing in a recipe and see the results. Then you can decide if this is your preference or not. For those who suffer from celiac disease or similar wheat allergies, finding excellent cakes can be very difficult. I strongly believe the answer lies not in taking a standard cake recipe and making substitutions, which rarely produces great results, but in using a recipe that is inherently gluten-free. It isn't easy for those with these allergies to find great food but they also deserve to have the best cakes possible, not spiritless compromises. Also please note that my newest book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, has an entire chapter devoted to flourless and mostly flourless cakes. Mostly means that though a component may contain flour, it is an optional component such as the lady fingers in Tira Misu. The mascarpone filling is so delicious it would be at least as good spooned over fresh figs! The cheesecakes in this chapter are also excellent without the crust. These are some of my favorite cakes.