The difference between our wheat/spelt or rye breads and our gluten-free (GF) pastries and breads are the flours we use. After all, the body of any pastry is flour.
What we do is take advantage of the characteristics of each flour that impart flavor, texture, color and the treasures when combined with other GF flours, which amplify flavors dimensionally, because each flour is very different from the other. The ability to mix and match GF flours is greater because of their varietal differences. This is something we can’t get with gluten flours, because there are only a few: American wheats, European wheats we call wild varieties (spelt, emmer, einkorn), barley and rye. Even though the wild wheats are more nutritious, complex and rich in flavor alone, the ability to blend GF flours with their distinctive characteristics gives the baker extraordinary freedom to create.
Most gluten-free commercial mixes consist of one grain flour, often another refined flour, and 2-3 starches. The starches used in GF mixes are cheap fillers to replace the expensive whole grain GF flours that should be there, resulting in little flavor, and not much nutrition. We use only whole grain GF flours–such as quinoa, long grain brown rice, buckwheat, millet, soy, oat, amaranth, yellow and white cornmeal. In essence I make my own mixes every time I create a pastry. I’m blending flours with other ingredients, which frees me to be very flexible in how I approach any food idea. There is an exception with starches; I do use arrowroot and/or cornstarch in my GF shortbreads and breads. I don’t use salt in the muffins or scones and seldom elsewhere.
I bake by inspiration from and for the public, meaning that I want them to have something delicious and healthy that they may not get elsewhere. And to do so, inspiration comes by a flavor or a specific ingredient that lures me. A combination of flavors, maybe something cultural, perhaps an idea comes at night, or I want to celebrate a holiday, a season or an event with food. I build a pastry around whatever it is that’s inspiring me, and if, for example, it’s something Asian, I’ll use brown rice flour as the foundation and add Asian-influenced ingredients.