Matt Aita, the executive chef of gluten-free restaurant mini-chain The Little Beet Table, uses it in all his restaurants.

By Margaret Eby
March 14, 2019
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Photo: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey and Elise Mayfield; Prop Styling: Kay Clarke and Laura Evans

Baking, when you're avoiding gluten, can be a tricky proposition. There are plenty of recipes out there for flourless chocolate cake or gluten-free stuffing, but when it comes to recreating favorites like cake, bread, or cookies, you can run into trouble. "Lots of gluten-free bread and buns end up being really dry," said Matt Aita, the executive chef of gluten-free restaurant mini-chain The Litte Beet Table. For his restaurants in New York City and Chicago, and upcoming locations in Connecticut and Maryland, Aita is always on the hunt for new gluten-free baked goods, constantly tasting them to make sure that they're up to his standards. "What I'm looking for is that I can't tell whether it's gluten-free or not," said Aita. "That's the gold standard."

So for the baking they do in-house at his restaurant, Aita doesn't worry about making a bespoke mixture of rice flour and almond flour and tapioca, or whatever alternative flours might work for a baked good. For the banana bread at The LIttle Beet Table, which Aita serves with hazelnut butter as an appetizer for brunch and breakfast, he depends on Cup4Cup, a gluten-free flour that you can substitute in baked goods as the name implies, cup for cup.

Cup4Cup started in famed Thomas Keller restaurant The French Laundry, where chefs were attempting to make a Cornet of Salmon Tartare that tasted like the original but had no gluten for guests who were avoiding it. They have a number of specialty flours, including a cornbread mix and a pie crust mix. But Aita uses the multipurpose flour in the bread, and finds that it works great.

"The thing you have to watch with gluten-free flour is the hydration," Aita noted, adding that you might want to add more egg or a similar binder than you otherwise would. But if you're just starting out in the world of gluten-free baking, giving Cup4Cup a shot will save you worrying about proportions of xantham gum and other additives. They're just already in there, ready to go, just like regular flour.

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