Wedding Cakes, Sweets and Pastries


We’ve compiled a host of special allergy-friendly treats for any bride’s special day.

[Updated July 11, 2017]

Don’t let food sensitivities and allergies dampen your celebration or prevent you from having the wedding reception of your dreams. These crowd-pleasing treats are both lovely and delicious. No one will ever suspect that your dessert menu is gluten free and allergy friendly.

When preparing for your big event, follow these suggestions for success.

♥ Plan ahead. Special-diet baking calls for ingredient substitutions. Order any hard-to-find items early so that your pantry is well stocked beforehand. If you’re using an outside bakery, make sure your chef has the recipes and ingredients he or she needs. Do a test run to ward off surprises in the kitchen.

♥ Ask and you shall receive. Good hosts always think of the happiness and comfort of their guests. It’s a smart idea to ask your guests about their food allergies and sensitivities.

The RSVP card or response e-mail should include a place for guests to indicate their needs. If children are included, ask about kids’ needs, too. Inquiring well in advance will help you shape your menu with confidence.

♥ Think fresh and simple. No matter what time of year you’re planning your big day, natural, unprocessed foods are always best. Lightly sautéed vegetables, fruit displays, grilled meat or fish, spaghetti squash “pasta”—these kinds of foods are not only healthiest, they’re also enjoyed by most people. The more sauces, spices and general fussing over foods, the more likely the final dish will exclude those with special dietary needs. Plain fare can be elegant and tasty—combinations of flavorings like seasonal herbs and spices, citrus juices and balsamic vinegar can bring incredible flavor to nearly any savory dish.

♥ Put toppings on the side. There’s nothing more frustrating for a dairy-free person than to approach a beautiful salad in eager anticipation only to find cheese tossed throughout. The same goes for croutons for those with celiac disease. Whether your party features a buffet or a seated dinner, serve bowls of cheese, nuts, fruit and dressings on the side with separate utensils. This way, guests can top their plates to suit their own tastes while avoiding allergens.

♥ Identify ingredients. Labeling what’s in each dish and whether it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free or vegan helps everyone eat safely without worry. It also keeps dietary inquiries from log-jamming the buffet line or befuddling the wait staff. Post easy-to-read ingredient lists by each dish on the buffet line or place printed menus with ingredient listings at every table.

♥ Establish etiquette. Inform food preparers and servers about food sensitivities and cross contamination. If you’re serving buffet-style, let those with special dietary needs go first. Consider making an announcement about food-allergy etiquette before the meal is served, not only as a way to help ensure guest safety but also to heighten overall awareness.

♥ Let them all eat cake! Every wedding needs a showpiece cake (or cupcakes). Making a cake that’s gorgeous and delicious—plus gluten free and dairy free—is easier than you think. So don’t hesitate! With these recipes and instructions (see Cake Walk, page 28), you can have your cake and eat it, too.

♥ Let taste be your guide. When it comes to your special diet, accept no sacrifices and no compromises. Here are memorable desserts for your special day.

Gluten-Free Wedding Cake

© Thinkstock 2012/Hemera

Gluten-Free Luscious Lemon Cake


With its sweet-tart lemon curd filling and lemon frosting, this moist cake by Mary Capone is a crowd pleaser. The recipe makes two 9-inch rounds. For two 12-inch rounds, triple the recipe. For a three-tier layer cake (two 6-inch rounds, two 9-inch rounds and two 12-inch rounds), multiply the recipe amounts by 6. See cake-building instructions, here. This recipe can be made egg free with good results; see instructions here.

4 large eggs*
2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut milk or milk of choice
1 cup mild vegetable oil of choice
¼cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2½ cups Mary’s Flour Blend or gluten-free blend of choice
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine-grind sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans.

2. In a heavy stand mixer with a whisk attachment or with a hand mixer and a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, combine coconut milk or milk of choice with oil, lemon juice, zest and extracts.

4. In another bowl, whisk together Mary’s Flour Blend, xanthan gum, sea salt and baking powder.

5. At low speed, slowly add dry and wet mixtures to egg and sugar mixture just until combined.

6. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Place in preheated oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake center springs back to touch. For 6-inch rounds, bake 28 to 30 minutes. For 12-inch rounds, bake 40 to 45 minutes.

Each serving of cake without filling or frosting contains 146 calories, 8g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 22mg cholesterol, 73mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g protein.

Pictured: the four-step process for building a three-level “Luscious Lemon Wedding Cake.”

TIP: For wedding-size portions, use a large chef’s knife to cut the finished cake into 1×2-inch portions.

*For Egg-Free Luscious Lemon Cake, replace 4 eggs by combining 2 tablespoons arrowroot, 3 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer ( + 6 tablespoons warm water to make a paste. Add to sugar in step 2 and continue recipe.

Piece of Gluten-Free Cake

Lemon Curd Filling


For easier spreading, spread lemon curd while it’s still warm over cooled cake. This recipe makes enough for one 6-inch or one 9-inch 2-layer cake. For a 12-inch 2-layer cake, double the recipe. Triple it for a 3-tier wedding cake. Lemon curd can be made up to a week in advance. Store refrigerated in an airtight container. This recipe can be made egg free with good results; see instructions below.

4 egg yolks*
½ cup granulated sugar
2 lemons, zested and juiced
4 tablespoons unsalted cold butter or dairy-free butter alternative, chopped

1. In small saucepan, mix yolks and sugar. Whisk in lemon zest and juice. Add butter or dairy-free butter alternative.

2. Warm mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until curd thickens. Do not let the curd boil.

3. Place mixture in a bowl and let cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

*For Egg-Free Lemon Curd Filling, replace 4 egg yolks with 3 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch + enough water to make a paste. (Use cold water with cornstarch.) Mix with sugar in step 1 and proceed with recipe.

Lemon Chiffon Frosting


Lemon extract and coconut milk make a light yet rich-tasting frosting that holds up to a warm day. This recipe makes enough for one 6-inch or one 9-inch 2-layer cake. Double the recipe for a 12-inch 2-layer cake. For a 3-tier wedding cake, multiply the recipe by 4.

1 cup organic palm shortening
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, more as needed
¼ cup coconut milk or dairy-free milk of choice, more as needed
1 teaspoon lemon extract
¼ teaspoon salt

1. In a heavy stand mixer or with a hand mixer and a large bowl, blend shortening and sugar together on low speed until incorporated. Add coconut milk or dairy-free milk of choice, a little at a time. Blend in lemon extract and salt.

2. If frosting is too loose, add more confectioners’ sugar, a tablespoon at a time. If frosting is too thick, thin with more milk, adding 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Each serving of cake with filling and frosting contains 262 calories, 15g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 48mg cholesterol, 95mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g protein.

Lemon cake, filling and frosting recipes by Mary Capone.

Dairy-Free Wedding Cupcakes

Jules E. Shepard

Dairy-Free White Wedding Cupcakes


These cupcakes by Jules Shepard are light and airy. Easily doubled, this recipe can be baked in advance and frozen until the big day. Work in batches to make as many cupcakes as you need to match your guest list. Estimate high, as guests are going to sneak seconds. The eggs can be replaced with good results; see instructions.

3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
¼ cup powdered milk or dairy-free powdered milk of choice
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter or dairy-free butter alternative
2 cups granulated cane sugar
4 large eggs*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk or dairy-free milk of choice (vanilla flavor preferred), such as soy, almond, flax or coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 28 to 30 muffin tins with decorative cupcake papers.

2. Whisk together flour blend, powdered milk, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat well with the paddle attachment until the mixture is very light and fluffy (approximately 3 to 4 minutes). Add the eggs next, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla with the last egg addition. Slowly add the milk, alternating with the flour mixture and beating in between the additions. Beat until smooth.

4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Place in preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and they begin to pull away slightly from the sides of the pans. When done, turn off the oven and leave the oven door open to let the cupcakes cool there slowly for 10 minutes or so. Then remove them to a cooling rack.

5. Frost the cupcakes only when fully cooled. Alternatively, wrap them in wax paper or plastic wrap and seal inside freezer bags to freeze until ready to use.

Each cupcake without frosting contains 148 calories, 4g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 37mg cholesterol, 84mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g protein

For Chocolate Wedding Cupcakes, add ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder to dry ingredients; replace 1 cup vanilla-flavored milk with 1¼ cups chocolate milk of choice.

*For Egg-Free Wedding Cupcakes, omit 4 large eggs. Add 4 tablespoons arrowroot powder to dry ingredients. Add 4 tablespoons applesauce to beaten butter and sugar mixture. Proceed with recipe instructions.

Bourbon Buttercream Frosting


Bourbon adds an unexpected tang to this rich frosting, making ordinary icing wedding-worthy. This frosting sets up nicely once applied. For best results, top cupcakes when frosting is prepared, as it becomes stiff and crunchy if left to sit in the bowl.

1 cup butter or dairy-free butter alternative, slightly softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
⅓ cup milk or dairy-free milk of choice (vanilla flavor preferred), such as soy, almond, flax or coco- nut milk
¼–⅓ cup bourbon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, alternating with milk, ¼ cup bourbon and vanilla, beating on low speed until incorporated after each addition. If the frosting is too stiff, whip in the remaining bourbon (up to total ⅓ cup); if the frosting is too thin, beat in ½ cup additional confectioners’ sugar.

Each cupcake with frosting contains 273 calories, 10g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 54mg cholesterol, 86mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g protein.

TIP: Additional confectioners’ sugar may be needed to achieve the appropriate consistency, depending on application. If piping for decorative trim, the frosting should be stiffer; if spreading with a knife, it should be creamier but not thin.

Cupcake and frosting recipes by Jules Shepard.

Gluten-Free Wedding Wands


These lovely fried pastries by Mary Capone are special enough for important family events, particularly weddings. Italians might call them cenci fritta, which translates to “little fried rags.” Extremely light in texture and delicious in taste, they can be made several days ahead and kept fresh in an airtight container. Refresh with confectioner’s sugar before serving. This recipe doubles easily. For best results, do not replace the eggs.

3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup melted butter, ghee, dairy-free butter alternative or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
2¾ cups Mary’s Flour Blend or gluten- free blend of choice
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
4 cups vegetable oil or shortening, for frying, more as needed
-Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. In a food processor, mix together eggs, sugar, vanilla and butter.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together salt, flour blend and xanthan gum.

3. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and blend in a food processor until dough forms into a ball.

4. Cut dough into 12 pieces. Using a rolling pin, flatten each piece into a 3×4-inch rectangle. Roll through pasta machine, first through the #1 (wide) setting and then through a thinner setting (#3 is best). If you don’t have a pasta machine, roll out each piece between parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness.

5. Place dough pieces on trays dusted with gluten-free flour. Cut dough into 2×4-inch ribbons with a pastry cutter or knife.

6. Place about 2 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven, wok or skillet and heat to medium-high heat (about 350°F) or until a droplet of batter sizzles and puffs up immediately. Add strips of dough without overcrowding and fry until golden-brown and puffed. Then turn over. These pastries cook fast, about 30 seconds per side. Begin turning them as soon as you have filled the pan.

7. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels. When cool and well drained, transfer pastries to a platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Each wand contains 47 calories, 2g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 13mg cholesterol, 23mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g protein.

Recipe by Mary Capone.

Gluten-Free Lemon-Basil Biscotti


Lemon and fresh basil transform this old family recipe into a bright, elegant wedding dessert. This recipe can make 48 mini-biscotti (bite-size for finger food) and can be multiplied for a large crowd. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to two weeks. This can be made egg-free with good results; see instructions below.

1¾ cups Mary’s Flour Blend or gluten-free blend of choice

1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine-grind sea salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or dairy-free butter alternative, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs,* room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

1. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.

3. Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, cream butter until white. Add sugar and beat for 3 to 5 minutes until mixture is fluffy. Add eggs one at a time or egg replacement, mixing on slow speed just until incorporated. Mix in lemon extract, lemon zest and basil.

4. Add dry ingredients to batter, mixing just enough until ingredients combine to form a soft dough.

5. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

6. Preheat oven to 375°F.

7. On a cutting board lightly dusted with gluten-free flour, roll dough into two 2×6-inch logs. (For mini-biscotti, roll dough into four 1×3-inch logs.) Place side by side on prepared baking sheet, leaving room for dough to spread.

8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. (For mini-biscotti, bake 15 to 18 minutes.) Let cool 10 minutes.

9. Slice each log into individual biscotti about 1-inch thick. Lay flat on baking sheet and return to preheated oven for 7 to 10 minutes for second toasting.

Each biscotti contains 115 calories, 4g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 28mg cholesterol, 67mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g protein.

TIP: Biscotti will be doughy after the initial baking, so let the logs cool slightly before slicing and handling. Slice the logs gently with a pastry knife or a chef’s knife, using the utensil to turn each biscotti on its side for the second toasting.

*For Egg-Free Lemon-Basil Biscotti, replace 2 eggs by making a paste with 3 teaspoons Ener-g egg replacer ( + 4 tablespoons warm water. Blend paste into butter and sugar in step 3 and continue with recipe.

Before second bake, cut cookies while still warm to prevent crumbling. Then turn biscotti over every few minutes during the second bake or lower heat to 350°F.

Recipe by Mary Capone.

Gluten-Free Mexican Wedding Cookies


Also called Italian butterballs and Russian tea cakes, these special-occasion cookies by Mary Capone are delicious and simple to make. They can be made one to two days ahead and stored in airtight containers. Refresh them by dusting or re-rolling in confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Recipe can be doubled or tripled for a crowd.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or dairy-free butter alternative, room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup raw, unsalted walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds, finely chopped, or ¾ cup gluten-free flour blend of choice
1¾ cups Mary’s Flour Blend or gluten-free blend of choice
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine-grind sea salt
-Confectioners’ sugar, for coating

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

2. Cream butter and sugar together with a stand mixer or by hand until soft and well blended. Add vanilla and nuts, if using, and combine.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour blend (add additional ¾ cup blend here if not using nuts or sunflower seeds), xanthan gum and salt. Add to butter mixture and blend just until incorporated and dough forms into a ball.

4. Scoop about 1 tablespoon dough and roll it into a small ball or a crescent moon shape. Repeat with remaining dough. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet. (They will expand a little in the oven.) Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until cookies are light golden-brown on the bottom.

5. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes on baking sheet. Roll in a bowl of confectioners’ sugar to coat completely.

Each cookie contains 152 calories, 11g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 42mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

Recipe by Mary Capone.

Mary’s All-Purpose Flour Blend

Brown rice flour contains more flavor
and nutrients than white rice flour.

2 cups brown rice flour
2 cups white rice flour
1⅓ cups potato starch (not potato flour)
⅔ cup tapioca starch/flour

1. Mix ingredients together. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until used.

Each cup contains 564 calories, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 127g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g protein.