No gluten? No dairy? No problem. The baker behind Nebraska’s Goldenrod Pastries is known for creating sweets for every type of eater—and now she’s served up a cookbook too.

By Kara Elder
December 23, 2020
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Credit: Brie Passano

Inclusivity is the key ingredient at Goldenrod Pastries in Lincoln, Nebraska, where options include gluten-free, nut-free and vegan treats. In her new book, Perfectly Golden, owner Angela Garbacz (who discovered her own lactose intolerance late in life) writes, “I couldn’t be the person who said no to making a birthday cake, especially for someone who hadn’t been able to have one for years due to dietary restrictions.”

Garbacz grew up cooking with her mother and grandmothers. “Food is such a good medium, whether you’re making it or eating it, for really big conversations,” she says. She studied in Poland during college to explore her heritage and visit family. And that’s where she encountered the sweet rolls that would inspire this cake, so laden with poppy seeds they tasted nutty, but without the lemon you’d expect in the U.S.

“Too often baking is so elevated or unattainable that it’s hard for people to see themselves doing it,” Garbacz says. So the batter comes together with just a whisk, and it adapts easily to be gluten- or dairy-free. Because the last thing she wants is to leave someone out—particularly where cake is concerned.

Step One: Mix

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together 11/2 cups milk (or almond, rice or oat milk); 11/4 cups vegetable oil; and 3 eggs. Add 3 cups flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, 21/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt; whisk to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup poppy seeds.

Tips:

• To get in those ridges, Garbacz uses nonstick spray plus a light dusting of flour or sugar. (Shake out the excess.) Sugar creates a nice crust.

• Each recipe in Garbacz’s book specifies what gluten-free flour brand works best. Here, use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.

• For vegans (and the egg-allergic), Garbacz adapts many recipes with hydrated flaxseed—but she's frank when it won't work. For this cake, only eggs will do.

• Suffering from cake-shape envy? We hear you. Garbacz used the Brilliance Bundt pan, from Minnesota-based Nordic Ware.

Step Two: Bake

Pour into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes in the pan before gently unmolding it onto a wire rack.

Tip: Before you pour, pause. Batter that seems thick or gummy might be overmixed; if needed, gently fold in a little more liquid with a spatula.

Step Three: Glaze

Place 21/2 cups powdered sugar in a medium bowl. For thick, white glaze, whisk in 2 tablespoons milk (or alternative milk) and 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spoon over cooled cake. For a thin glaze (like the one on our cake) that seeps into crevices, increase milk to 1/4 cup. Pour glaze over cake when glaze is still warm to the touch, then let set.

Tip: Thick like a snowcap? Thin and translucent? Icing is subjective, so Garbacz offers a choice of consistencies.

Buy the Book

The genius of Perfectly Golden is its adaptability. Garbacz’s cakes, pies, bars and cookies are rigorously tested, with clear instructions for tweaking to fit various dietary needs (Countryman, $30).

Perfectly Golden

Get to Know: Angela Garbacz

Angela Garbacz

Named her biz for Nebraska’s state flower. Founded a campaign to uplift girls called Empower Through Flour. Loves chicken noodle soup.