Taste test: gluten-free baking mixes

During a recent sampling of gluten-free foods, our panelists wanted to know if the baking mixes without gluten pack as much taste and texture as others on the grocery store shelves. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein that can wreak havoc for people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities. Our judges found the results of the mixes were okay, but not up to the regular variety. And they would rather eat the cake plain than use gluten-free, canned frosting.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/serving Bisquick

one-third cup

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cookies

Simply Organic Banana Bread

half-inch slice

Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Cake Mix

one of eight slices

Cherrybrook Kitchen Vanilla Frosting

2 tablespoons

Calories Fat/fiber Sugars/sodium 140 calories

0.5g / 0g

3g / 340mg

110 calories

2g / 0g

13g / 125mg

70 calories

0g / 0g

6g / 150mg

190

0.5g / 2g

25g / 220mg

10

0g / 0g

Judges' comments We used this gluten-free mix to make drop biscuits. They lacked the "glue" of traditional homemade biscuits, but not necessarily the flavor. They seemed a bit dry and overly flakey. That said, most judges liked the crumbly texture and slightly sweet flavor. "I wouldn't mind serving these with honey to a gluten-free friend," said one panelist. These were best hot out of the oven. After a bit of cooling, they got kind of flat and a bit dry-looking. They were especially airy and very, very sweet. "I like the nice, crispy edges and the very good chew," said one judge. Gluten made no difference in the appearance of the banana bread. It had a nice, golden color and a hint of cinnamon in the flavor. The texture, though, was disappointing. Judges said the slices were grainy and a bit gummy. Most said they wouldn't buy the mix unless they couldn't tolerate gluten and really wanted banana bread. We tried a chocolate cake mix that baked to a beautiful, glossy color. It was rich looking and spongy like a homemade cake should be. Judges couldn't say the same for the taste. The cake was grainy and chalky tasting. One said it left a cocoa powder residue in her mouth. "It's deceiving," said one judge. Elmer's glue in a can was the description judges gave this gluten-free frosting. One panelist said it looked more like a gel or a beauty product than frosting. It was weak and pasty. The taste wasn't too bad. "But it definitely had a warm/hot aftertaste of fake sugar," said another judge.
Shopping information $4.19 for a 16-ounce box of mix from Sweetbay. $3.14 for a 19-ounce box of mix from Target. $5.89 for a 10-ounce box of mix from Sweetbay. $4.99 for a 16.4-ounce box of mix from Target. $4.19 for a 16-ounce can from Target.
Product/serving Bisquick

one-third cup

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cookies

Simply Organic Banana Bread

half-inch slice

Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Cake Mix

one of eight slices

Cherrybrook Kitchen Vanilla Frosting

2 tablespoons

Calories Fat/fiber Sugars/sodium 140 calories

0.5g / 0g

3g / 340mg

110 calories

2g / 0g

13g / 125mg

70 calories

0g / 0g

6g / 150mg

190

0.5g / 2g

25g / 220mg

10

0g / 0g

Judges' comments We used this gluten-free mix to make drop biscuits. They lacked the "glue" of traditional homemade biscuits, but not necessarily the flavor. They seemed a bit dry and overly flakey. That said, most judges liked the crumbly texture and slightly sweet flavor. "I wouldn't mind serving these with honey to a gluten-free friend," said one panelist. These were best hot out of the oven. After a bit of cooling, they got kind of flat and a bit dry-looking. They were especially airy and very, very sweet. "I like the nice, crispy edges and the very good chew," said one judge. Gluten made no difference in the appearance of the banana bread. It had a nice, golden color and a hint of cinnamon in the flavor. The texture, though, was disappointing. Judges said the slices were grainy and a bit gummy. Most said they wouldn't buy the mix unless they couldn't tolerate gluten and really wanted banana bread. We tried a chocolate cake mix that baked to a beautiful, glossy color. It was rich looking and spongy like a homemade cake should be. Judges couldn't say the same for the taste. The cake was grainy and chalky tasting. One said it left a cocoa powder residue in her mouth. "It's deceiving," said one judge. Elmer's glue in a can was the description judges gave this gluten-free frosting. One panelist said it looked more like a gel or a beauty product than frosting. It was weak and pasty. The taste wasn't too bad. "But it definitely had a warm/hot aftertaste of fake sugar," said another judge.
Shopping information $4.19 for a 16-ounce box of mix from Sweetbay. $3.14 for a 19-ounce box of mix from Target. $5.89 for a 10-ounce box of mix from Sweetbay. $4.99 for a 16.4-ounce box of mix from Target. $4.19 for a 16-ounce can from Target.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Julie Overton, consumer, mother of four; and Amanda Bachman, dietetic intern. All foods were tasted blind.

Taste test: gluten-free baking mixes 10/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010 5:30am]

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