Heather Hardcastle, who, along with her husband, Rick Perko, opened Marin’s first gluten-free bakery in 2013 based on her recipes, took that concept to its logical conclusion and last month released her first cookbook, The Flour Craft Bakery & Cafe Cookbook: Inspired Gluten Free Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, and Celebrations (Rizzoli New York, 2021).
“Ever since I got into cooking professionally, I always wanted the opportunity to do a book because I think the recipes and the way I approach gluten-free baking is unique to what’s out there,” Hardcastle says. “I mean, I have like every cookbook known to man in my personal collection, and I know that what I do is just a little bit different.”
For Hardcastle, who gave up on being a landscaper and went to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa in her 30s, baking was a love born out of necessity after she was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance about 20 years ago and discovered there weren’t good bakery options for people like her.
“I mean most people had an option, but it would be like a coconut macaroon that was shrink-wrapped from god knows how many years ago,” she says. “I just thought, you know, I can do better than this. There’s no reason why gluten-free has to be thought of as something that, unless you really need to eat it, you don’t want to.”
And the people of Marin agreed as they flocked to both Flour Craft bakeries — a second opened in 2018 — often asking “what’s gluten-free here?” only to discover that absolutely everything was.
And so about two years ago Hardcastle set out to achieve her second dream of writing a book so she could share her knowledge with bakers of all skill levels. She sent out book proposals and was pleasantly surprised when the publisher Rizzoli, a brand whose quality level always impressed her, expressed interest. “I wanted to make the best book that I could and I thought they were a good partner for that,” Hardcastle says.
She says the experience of doing a project of this magnitude was a real education, but one made easier by teaming up with frequent customer Erin Scott, a celiac who lives in Berkeley, on the photos. “We just immediately hit it off. I knew that she really got my aesthetic of how I want my food to be shown and she did.”
As for which recipe in the book is her favorite, Harcastle says that changes but there are some standbys. “The lemon bars are delicious. The carrot cake is great. The orange polenta cake is probably our best-selling cake of all time at the bakeries and that would be one of those recipes that if I did not put it in the book people would be upset.”
1 Quart Starter
2 minutes, plus 5-20 days to develop
teff flour (or sorghum flour) ¼ cup
filtered water, room temp ¼ cup
1. In a large, wide-mouthed glass jar with plenty of room to spare, whisk together the teff flour and water. Allow to rest, uncovered on an open windowsill or in a well-ventilated room for at least 5 days, or up to 3 weeks.
3. After a few days or maybe a week or so, you will start to see bubbles form on the surface of the starter. Be patient. It can take longer than you’d expect for this to happen. Just leave it alone and check in on it every couple of days. Once you see active bubbles (think beer), that is the time to start feeding it. To feed, whisk in 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons water every other day or so. After you feed your starter for the first time, allow it to rest on the counter for 4–6 hours until you see bubbles form on the surface of the starter.
4. Continue this process for 3–5 more days until your starter has developed a pleasantly sour flavor/aroma and is very active after feeding. Your starter will be quite large at this point and you will have enough volume to use in any of the sourdough recipes in the book. The sourdough recipes in this book call for “unfed” starter. This simply means the portion removed from the original starter for a recipe should not be fed ahead of use in that recipe. After removing enough starter for whichever recipe you choose, feed it, and place the remaining starter in the refrigerator to rest until you need it again.
5. Remember, every time you use your starter you must feed it by replacing what you took out. For example, if you take out 1 cup of starter for a recipe, you will need to replace it by feeding it with ½ cup flour plus ½ cup water. And never let your starter get down to less than one-fourth of the base volume. If you take out all of your starter and/or wash the vessel in which it lives, you will need to start the whole process over from step one.
Makes 4 waffles
About 10 minutes
Anyone who keeps and feeds a starter is always looking for a new way to use it, and I can pretty much guarantee that these crispy, light, and extra-delicious waffles are reason enough to nurture your starter regularly. Make sure you plan ahead for this recipe as it requires that you mix a simple sponge the night before you actually cook the waffles. The extra overnight fermentation lends excellent flavor to the waffles, and it takes just a minute to mix it up the evening before. These waffles are equally good made sweet or savory. When I’m in need of a quick dinner, I reheat them straight from the freezer on a baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven for 10–15 minutes until re-crisped. Then I serve them with any number of toppings I have on hand like poached eggs, leftover roasted vegetables or pesto, smoked salmon or fresh herbs.
For the overnight sponge:
sourdough starter, unfed 1 cup
buttermilk 1 cup
white rice flour ½ cup
sorghum flour ½ cup
brown sugar 1 tablespoon
For the batter:
eggs 1 large
butter, melted ¼ cup
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
kosher salt ½ teaspoon
baking soda 1 teaspoon
xanthan gum ½ teaspoon
1. Put all the ingredients for the overnight sponge in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at least 8 hours or overnight at room temperature.
2. The next morning, or after 8 hours, whisk all the ingredients for the waffle batter into the rested sponge.
3. Preheat the waffle iron. Spray the iron with nonstick spray. Ladle about ½ cup batter into the waffle maker and cook until golden brown and crispy. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve immediately or freeze, stored in zip-top bags, for up to 3 months. Reheat the waffles in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes and they’re honestly as good as the day they were made.