- Ladyfingers are a delicate cross between a cookie and a cake.
- They are eaten alone or paired with other desserts.
- The traditional ladyfinger recipe requires flour, which is why ladyfingers are not gluten free.
- Modern recipes use non-gluten flour replacements.
Are ladyfingers gluten free? It’s that time again, you finish your meal at your friend’s house and he puts on the deserts on the table, you look at the ladyfingers and you lick your lips.
They are that good YES! For people with celiac this is a real dilemma, should I eat it or not.
In this post we will outline all there is to know about ladyfingers and gluten, plus give you some yummy recipes to make your own.
It’s a sponge cake… It’s a cookie… It’s a Ladyfinger, the delightful mix of the two. Usually served as a side with some dessert, it can vary in softness, and may or may not have a creamy filling.
But you can never miss the signature spongy texture. Ladyfinger is a delicate, spongy confection from the Duchy of Savoy, a monarchy in southwest France and northern Italy. But are ladyfingers gluten free?
The recipe of ladyfingers calls for basic ingredients – including flour. So, they contain gluten and are unsafe for anyone with gluten allergy.
But its modern versions are made using gluten free flour replacements to make them gluten free, as long as they don’t use other additives or undergo cross-contamination.
Check the label and the list of ingredients to check their gluten free status.
Are Ladyfingers Gluten Free – What are lady fingers
Ladyfingers, Boudoir, Sponge fingers, savoiardi… What’s in a name? Known around the world in different ways, ladyfingers derive their name from a woman’s digits.
That’s because they look narrow and dainty. They taste delicate, too. Ladyfingers are paired with sweet delicacies to soak up the flavors and balance the creaminess with their cakey texture. But are ladyfingers gluten free?
Did you know that the ladyfinger was born in the 15th century? The recipes of bakers’ confections that are still popular to this date might be delicate and difficult to make.
But most of them use simple ingredients to create magic. Ladyfingers are no different. It’s light as air and delicious in a subtle way.
The sorcery, however, lies in how it’s made – and the person who makes it. The ingredients are just what you’d expect in traditional western confectionery:
As you might know, one of the primary sources of gluten is flour. So, ladyfingers contain gluten and are unsafe.
But that’s the old ladyfinger we’re talking about – the ones made by using a traditional recipe. Modern bakers are more considerate.
They have developed newer methods in which they have replaced wheat flour with gluten free meals.
It helps to cut out the source of gluten from ladyfingers. So, a gluten-less ladyfinger is made with naturally gluten free ingredients. But, there’s a little catch here.
Even if ladyfingers are made using naturally gluten free ingredients, there’s a high possibility of them getting cross-contaminated.
They can get gluten content transferred to them unintentionally due to shared facilities. This can lead to the presence of trace gluten in this cakey cookie.
If you’re buying packaged ladyfingers, the process of checking is easy – check if the package has a ‘gluten free seal”.
This label confirms that the product, its ingredients, and the facilities are tested and proved to be free from gluten, as well as any possibility of cross-contamination.
If the label does not have the stamp, you need to look at the ingredients to determine if the product is at least made from gluten free ingredients.
If it is, eat a small amount of it to check how your body reacts to the ladyfinger.
You should only try this method if you are not severely allergic to gluten. If your allergy level is acute, you should not try consuming anything that is certified as gluten free, i.e., the gluten content is less than 20 ppm, which is the permitted level.
Doing so may trigger allergic reactions and make you ill.
However, when it comes to a bakery, cafe, or restaurant that serves ladyfingers with tea, pudding, or tiramisu, you need to be careful. There’s no way to confirm that a handmade food item is free from gluten.
Unless the place dedicatedly cooks and bakes in a gluten free environment and takes steps to prevent cross-contamination in the hands of staff members, you can’t tell if the ladyfingers are safe.
In any kitchen, the biggest fear is that of cross-contamination. Using contaminated storage containers, baking tools, or serving utensils can unknowingly add gluten to desserts even if that’s in very small amounts.
But if you’re one of those who react to trace gluten, even the smallest amounts of gluten in ladyfingers can be harmful. But it’s difficult to claim that this has not happened.
Another thing to remember about the new recipes without gluten-rich ingredients is that they may use baking powder as a raising agent.
While most brands of baking powder are gluten free, many are not. Baking powder that has flour as a filler will contain gluten and add that to the ladyfingers.
It is true in the case of both packaged ladyfingers, as well as freshly-made ones served at local eateries.
How to Eat Ladyfingers
There’s something really fancy about ladyfingers. They are light, with a unique texture, and are incredibly delicate. Many people call them cookies, while others refer to them as cakes.
They are small like cookies and often have a crispy, dry outside. On the inside, however, they always have a softness that’s similar to sponginess. Ladyfingers are plain but dainty and are eaten in various ways.
Some might just have them on their own with tea or like snacks. They enjoy the subtle taste and texture, with the gentle coating of sugar on the outside.
Since they are mostly soft on the inside, they are often given to infants. Sometimes, ladyfingers are served with some whipped cream or fruits.
Most popularly, they are used in other desserts like trifles. They absorb the moisture and flavors of such desserts and add a lovely, cakey ‘bite’ to the creaminess to create a balance of textures.
They are used as a lining for desserts like Charlotte cakes or chocolate and fruit gateaux. You may even soak them in liquor, coffee, or sugar syrup and use them in tiramisu. They are really flexible.
It has less fat, which is something of a plus point, and the only liquid used in it comes from eggs.
That means it is traditionally dairy-free. They are fun to make as the baking process takes around 15 minutes. The trick is to fold everything correctly, a technique that can make or break any baked item.
They also need to be piped properly to achieve the long, finger-like shape. When piping, the temperature of the kitchen and the baking sheet come into play.
If either is warm, the batter will start to spread, and you will end up with flatter, fatter ladyfingers. Chilling the baking sheet might solve the problem and keep the batter in place while you pipe it, before popping it into the oven.
Here’s an interesting fact about ladyfingers. They were made in the Duchy of Savoy and were first served in the 15th century at the royal court as a mark of celebration when the erstwhile king of France came for a visit.
They were later announced as the “official court biscuit”. But historians say that they originated in the 11th century. If that’s true, it’s interesting that the recipe is 900 years old.
Ladyfingers were given to visitors in France and Italy to welcome them with something that marked local cuisine. Legend has it that the Czar of Russia, Peter the Great visited Louis XV of France in the 18th century, accompanied by his wife, Catherine, the peasant empress.
They loved ladyfingers so much that they arranged for the purchase of the baker and shipped him off to Saint Petersburg!
Best Ladyfinger Brands
Now that you have read of all the glories and legends of ladyfinger and what it traditionally contains, you must be thinking of the brands that can bring you gluten free ladyfingers so that you do not have to make them at home.
Fortunately, there are quite a few brands in the market that do make the best ladyfingers without using gluten-rich ingredients. Let’s take a look:
The package of Schar Ladyfingers proudly flaunts the gluten free tag. It is marketed as naturally gluten free and is one of the most trusted ladyfinger brands among those with a gluten allergy and celiac disease.
They are an excellent accompaniment with tea or coffee. They have a dry and crispy texture on the outside and have the perfect texture to make a great pair with homemade tiramisu.
Another brand that has marked gluten free right on the package, Pberlander’s ladyfingers are safe for you if you have gluten allergy or celiac disease.
The brand has been around since 1947, and since then, it has rolled out many delicious bakery goodies. Thankfully, it has simply updated its original recipe for ladyfingers to make it gluten free.
The result is a safer option – with the authentic taste.
Vicenzovo’s new “savoiardi” ladyfinger variant mentions “senza glutine” on the green package. That’s Italian for gluten free. It also has a little symbol that marks its status.
So, you can have these cookies without any fear. The cookies are made by artisan baker Matilde Vicenzi of Italy. Despite their gluten free status, these ladyfingers still retain the deliciousness of the classic cookies.
Gluten Free Ladyfinger Recipes
Ladyfingers are fun to eat, but there are few brands that make gluten-free ones. You can try making them at home on your own, though. If you like to bake, you will have a lot of fun making these.
We have an amazing gluten free ladyfinger recipe for you – and two bonus dessert recipes.
Gluten Free Ladyfinger Recipe
Check out this ladyfinger recipe that cuts out gluten-rich wheat to give you something delicious and yet healthy.
- Egg yolks: 2
- Egg whites: 3
- Granulated sugar: 120 g (divided) + 100 g
- Gluten free flour (without xanthan gum): 140 g
- Cornstarch: 1 tbsp
- Xanthan gum: ¼ tsp
- Baking powder: 1 tsp
- Powdered sugar: ½ cup
- Start by preheating the oven at 355 F. Take two baking sheets and line them with baking paper. If the weather condition in your area is warm and humid, refrigerate the sheet.
- Put together 2 egg yolks and 60 gm granulated sugar, and whip. You can either do it using a stand mixer or use a hand mixer with a double beater. Let the mixture increase in volume and become pale.
- In a bowl, put 3 egg whites and another 60 g of granulated sugar. Whip them till they form stiff peaks.
- Now, put the egg yolk mix into the egg white mix and fold it in gently. Take care not to lose any of the air, or the ladyfingers won’t be light enough.
- Mix together all the dry ingredients except the sugar and sift the mix into the egg mix. Once again, fold everything in gently. Ensure that there’s no lump, but don’t hurry through the process or knock out the air.
- Put this batter into a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle. Pipe out 10 cm lines on the baking sheet, leaving a gap of 2 cm between each.
- Mix the powdered sugar with the rest of the granulated sugar and dust the mix over the piped cookie lines.
- Bake the ladyfingers at 355 F for about 15 minutes. Then, bake the cookies for another 12-15 minutes at 300 F. The second round of baking will give the ladyfingers a crisp layer on the outside.
- Once done, let them sit on the cooling rack.
Your gluten free ladyfingers are ready! You can store them for up to 2 weeks in an air-tight container.
Gluten Free Tiramisu Recipe
You now know how to make a basic ladyfinger. Now let’s turn it into something even more delicious and exciting – the beloved tiramisu, with a gluten free twist! Check out this recipe.
- Ladyfingers (gluten free, recipe above): 18-20
- Egg yolks: 4
- Sugar: ¼ cup
- Mascarpone cheese: 2 cups
- Brewed coffee (strong) or espresso: 6 tbsp
- Dark rum/cognac: 1 tbsp
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: For dusting
- Dark chocolate shavings: 2 tbsp
- In a large bowl, put together egg yolks and sugar and whisk them till the color turns pale, and you have a thick mix.
- Add half a cup of the mascarpone cheese and whisk well so that it is well-incorporated. Make sure that the cheese is at room temperature. Continue to repeat the process with half a cup of cheese at a time.
- In a shallow dish, whisk the coffee and liquor together. Now, dip the ladyfingers in them so that the top layer is covered in the mix. Make sure not to soak them in the liquid.
- Place half of these on a serving plate, side by side. They should touch each other. Then layer them with half of the cheese mixture. Add the second layer of ladyfingers and then add the rest of the cheese mix.
- Put a plastic cover on the top and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour. You can refrigerate it for as long as the entire night.
- The tiramisu is ready. Sprinkle over the chocolate shavings and cocoa powder and get ready to dig in!
Gluten Free Ladyfinger Biscotti
This is a simple recipe that brings together the goodness of chocolate, fruits, and ladyfingers, in a gluten free way. You can have as much and as little of it as you want, depending on your capabilities to resist! Check it out –
- Gluten free ladyfingers (recipe above)
- chocolate chips (semi-sweet): 1 cup
- Dry kiwi, papaya, or any fruit of your choice
- Poppy seeds
- Coconut shredded
- Start by melting the chocolate. Once melted, whisk in a bowl placed in an ice bath to make it a little stiff.
- Dip half of the ladyfingers in chocolate and place them on parchment paper.
- Sprinkle the poppy seeds, shredded coconut, or dried fruit.
Once the chocolate solidifies, your gluten free biscottis are ready!
Ladyfingers aren’t just dainty by name. They are a delicate item to have. They are versatile and delicious, and they taste just as good on their own as they do with other desserts.
Even the toothless young ones with a sweet tooth can enjoy these cakey cookies because of the soft texture inside. The only problem is that the traditional recipe uses flour, adding gluten to it.
However, there are a few brands that offer gluten free ladyfingers. You can go ahead and buy those that don’t use wheat flour, but there’s no guarantee that these are entirely gluten free, especially when you buy them from an eatery.
It is difficult to claim with certainty that even the ladyfingers that are made without wheat are entirely safe and gluten free unless they are tested and certified.
The best way to enjoy gluten free ladyfingers is by making them at home. You can replace the wheat flour with non-gluten flour mixes that are available in the market, and tweak the recipe slightly to make delicious ladyfingers at home.
But if you’re feeling absolutely lazy, you can always try the gluten free ones available in the market. The options are limited, but they are all certified brands.