Pure Artistry Cookbook: Gluten-free and Vegan Cakes
Delight interviews Emily Lael Aumiller of Lael Cakes based in Brooklyn, NY about her new cookbook, Pure Artistry, and making beautiful gluten- and vegan-free cakes at home.
PURE ARTISTRY: Extraordinary Vegan and Gluten-free Cakes is the latest creation from Emily Lael Aumiller, of Lael Cakes based in Brooklyn, NY. It is part introduction to gluten-free and vegan baking, part cookbook, and part jaw-dropping coffee table book featuring swoon-worthy cakes. The finished cakes are organized by moodclassical, classical whimsy, modern and modern whimsy. There are step-by-step instructions for creating these beautiful and awe-inspiring desserts.
DGF: Congratulations on the new book. It’s beautiful. The photos look like something you might see on a cooking show or in a magazine. Are they really possible to create at home?
Emily: Thank you! It was important for me to share everything from baking techniques, assembling a tiered cake, as well as many different decorating aspects from simple to more detailed designs. This way anyone can create a beautiful cake no matter where your baking skill set may be. DGF: What is your background? Did you study art? How did you get started?
Emily: Before my journey in pastry, I studied fine arts, mainly sculpture. When I went to pastry school I thought I was making a drastic career change, until I discovered sugar and chocolate
sculpture! All of what I gained in sculpture I use today. Only now I use sugar instead of clay and dust instead of glaze.
DGF: How is gluten-free and vegan baking different than using standard flour and other ingredients like milk and eggs? Does the batter behave differently? Is decorating them any different?
Emily: Baking with alternative ingredients can be intimidating at first, but in many ways the mixing process is less complicated. For instance, you don’t have to worry about over creaming your sugar, butter and eggs or mixing your batter too long so the gluten doesn’t get tough. The cakes and icings will be more fragile—by taking extra steps like letting your freshly baked cakes rest over night before assembling them or tossing them in the fridge after you pipe your layers of icing can make the world of difference.
DGF: You have several recipes for cake in the book. Which do you think would be best for a beginner?
Emily: I would recommend starting with the vanilla bean cake and icing. It’s like the mother recipes. Once you get them down, you’ll be able to play around with different twists of ingredients and flavors. DGF: What are some common pitfalls that gluten-free bakers should avoid?
Emily: One of the largest mistakes I see bakers make is only use one type of gluten-free flour, such as almond, coconut or garbanzo bean, which will make your cakes dry with a grainy texture. I like to mix a multitude of gluten-free flours to mirror, as close as possible, a regular baking flour. I include my favorite recipe in the book! Some of my other tips include: the importance of not over baking your desserts and allowing them to rest over night to set. This will give you a tender, moist crumb that is ideal for cake!
DGF: You use lots of different decorating techniques using royal icing, fondant, sugar paste, marzipan and ganache. How do you determine which icings to use in which situations?
Emily: Each of these icings has a very specific purpose. I include in detail in the book not only how to make and use them but also the importance of keeping them over time. For instance, royal icing is a great material for piping details or using it as a glue to attach sugar paste decorations on a fondant cake because it dries out quickly with a hard shell. For this same reason, it’s not best used as a filling or to cover an entire cake with. DGF: Any other tips for creating professional-looking cakes at home?
Emily: It’s key to follow the guidelines for baking and decorating techniques but don’t take it too seriously—after all it is cake! This book is meant to give instruction as well as inspiration to encourage a balance of precision and ease. Not one recipe or design is going to look identical to one another. Don’t worry about making everything perfect. Imperfection and individuality will make your cakes stand out, and you’ll have more fun in the process! A great dessert should tell a story and that’s always what I try and do.<