‘Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle’ (Recipe + Giveaway!)

Kyra Bussanich has a good story.

When she found out that she needed to avoid gluten for health reasons she took it upon herself to master gluten-free baking so that she wouldn’t have to go without all the things she loved (like scones and cake). And while most of us just play around with gluten-free flours in the kitchen, she actually signed up for a Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program, so that she could learn all about mastering the art of regular baking, and then tweak things so that she could make her own gluten-free creations. As she puts it, “My mission is to find a way to include those of us who are gluten-intolerant in the main celebration by making pastries the whole family can (and WANTS TO) devour.”

The result? Her baking was so good she opened up her own bakery. Her new cookbook, Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle (which you can win a copy of by leaving a comment below), is a collection of recipes that are perfect for those that are on a strict gluten-free diet or just looking to cut out regular processed flour.

Why is Kyra gluten-free? If she needs a baked good on Saturday morning, what does she whip up? What is her favorite gluten-free flour to bake with? All questions answered in our interview with her. Read through and then enter the giveaway to win a copy of the book!

Foodie Underground: Tell us about why you’re gluten-free.

Kyra: When I was 20, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I was on and off steroids, in and out of the hospital, and doing chemotox infusions every 6 weeks for the next 8 years, and still felt terrible. I had no energy, my hair was falling out, and worst of all, I was still experiencing gastrointestinal distress all day long. There were days I couldn’t even unfurl from the fetal position because it hurt too much. It got to the point where I had tried every drug available (including Class D meds where I was having to get bloodwork every 12 weeks to make sure my brain and liver were still functioning), and still hurt all the time. It wasn’t until my gastroenterologist wanted to do surgery to remove my intestines that I put my foot down and decided to try going gluten-free. Within 3 days, I had more energy, slept better through the night, and was able to start reclaiming my life.

When you tell people you’re a gluten-free baker, what is their response?

When I first started my business, people who didn’t have to eat gluten-free were very skeptical about whether my pastries could possibly taste good.

It’s Saturday morning and you want to bake something to eat with your morning coffee. What do you make? 

Pumpkin Spice Cake

makes a lovely fall breakfast and is dynamite with a hot cup of tea or coffee!

What’s your favorite gluten-free flour to bake with?

Millet flour. It’s often overlooked, I think because people aren’t sure what to do with it. The flavor is slightly nutty and creamy, and it has a wonderful texture in baked goods. I use it extensively in my pie crust, cookies and scones.

What differs this book from other gluten-free baking books?

Some of the gluten-free baking books available rely on all-purpose flour mixes, but I shy away from this. I think a scone should have a different texture than a cupcake or a cookie, and so should also have different ratios of flours (and in some cases, different flours altogether). There are also books out there that are super healthy, or free of all allergens, and while the people who need to eat that way are really appreciative of those books, my body tolerates eggs and dairy just fine, so I do use one or both in many of my recipes. My main goal wasn’t to make a book geared for every food intolerance out there, but to create a book where the pastries were delicious enough that you could serve them to people who don’t have food allergies, and they would happily gobble up the desserts, and not know or care that everything is actually gluten-free. My mission is to find a way to include those of us who are gluten-intolerant in the main celebration by making pastries the whole family can (and WANTS TO) devour.

Do you think that people are veering away from gluten goods because it’s a fad, or do you think that people are having a better awareness about their health and what makes them feel good?

The fact that there is more awareness about gluten, what it is, where it can hide, and how to prevent cross-contamination, is a good thing for us gluten-intolerant folks. And it does seem that more and more people are curious about what going gluten-free can do for their health and are giving it a try. Some people might not notice any benefit at all, and they won’t stay gluten-free. But for the ones who feel a whole lot better (they have more energy, their headaches have disappeared, their stomach aches went away, they stopped snoring and started sleeping more soundly), the gluten-free awareness benefits them.

What are some great gluten-free baking and cooking resources online?

Gluten Free Girl has a wonderfully rich blog, as does GFreeFoodie, A Girl Defloured, The Tender Foodie, Annies GF Grub…. There are SO many once you start looking!

Win a copy of Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle. Just leave a comment below telling us what your favorite gluten-free baked good is.


Now for Kyra’s favorite Saturday morning recipe. As you can see from the image above, you can make this as a regular cake, or turn it into cupcakes.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cake


2 cups sugar, divided in half

1 cup oil

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup tapioca starch

3/4 cup potato starch

1/2 c rice flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups pumpkin puree

Powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Spray a tube pan with pan spray and lightly dust with powdered sugar. Set pan aside.

In the mixing bowl of a clean dry stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip the egg whites over medium high speed until thick and foamy. Slowly add one cup of the sugar and beat on high speed until the meringue is at the medium peak stage.

Gently transfer the whites to another clean dry bowl and set aside. Measure out the tapioca starch, potato starch, rice flour, xanthan gum, baking powder,

baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt into another bowl. Mix to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of the stand mixer, beat the yolks on high speed until thick, foamy and tripled in volume. Slowly add the remaining cup of sugar and mix well. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the two cups of pumpkin puree as well as the vegetable oil. Mix on medium speed to combine.

Switch mixer attachment to a paddle and add the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed to moisten all the ingredients and create a uniform texture.

Remove the pumpkin mix from the stand mixer and, in three additions, gently fold the egg white mixture into the pumpkin batter, incorporating until 90 percent mixed in before making the next addition.

Once all the egg whites are incorporated into the pumpkin batter, pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

When you remove the pan from the oven, let sit for ten minutes and then invert the pan you’re your serving platter and let the cake cool completely.

Once cool, remove the pan and dust the cake with sifted powdered sugar.

Win a copy of Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle. Just leave a comment below telling us what your favorite gluten-free baked good is.

Contest is open until Monday December 2, 2013 at midnight PST. Shipping to US address only. 

Images: Random House, Kyra Bussanich

Comments 9

  1. Peter Robe

    Kyra Bussanich is also a 3 time winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars – and the only Gluten-Free winner ever of that show.
    Also, her new book, “Sweet Cravings” is wonderful, not only for her 50 creative gluten-free recipes but also for the personal, inspirational stories. I’ve bought her book and made some of the recipes – they’ve come out heavenly.
    And I found a fun, short video intro she made for new book (Sweet Cravings) at http://www.tinyurl.com/kyrasweet

  2. annika craig

    I love homemade buttermilk pancakes with oat flour. I make them for my father-in-law who has celiac disease and rarely gets to enjoy fresh pancakes. He considers them a special treat!

  3. J.J. Barkas

    Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes! I would love to try these! And if I win the book, then I can make them!

  4. lola

    Banana Bread is one of the tastiest breads that I love! I make a gluten free version which a just use a standard baking mix and sub out the butter for homemade applesauce. It makes it extra moist. (I also add extra bananas cause it couldnt hurt right?) Desserts put a little bit of awesome in the day and homemade gluten free is now a must!

  5. Melissa

    Last Christmas I baked gluten free sugar cookies that NOBODY guessed were gf. Needless to say, they will be making a return appearance 🙂

  6. Debra Lee

    Paleo love Co has an awesome double chocolate brownie!

  7. Beth Lohmeier

    I love to make gluten free whoopie pies. My daughters’ friends can’t get enough of them. They don’t even know they’re gluten free.

  8. Robin McLain

    I am also gluten free for medical reasons and miss good baking – this sounds wonderful!

  9. Dee Fitting

    After 9 days in hospital every test u could think of they finally said celiac disease.that was 19yrs ago and they come a long way since then. Needless to say I’ve tried just about every cookbook out there, some breads could b used for door stops. Being about the only one in our support group who cooks from scratch am asked for lots of tips so they don’t have to buy mixes and try their own. Somewhere along the way I’ve learned letting ingredience get room temperature works. Like to know a lot more u can share. My favorite cake is oatmeal with milk chocolate icying

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