Gluten-Free Ladyfingers

Ladyfingers are little sweet sponge cake biscuits that are molded and baked into the shape of rounded fingers, and used not only by themselves to accompany coffee or tea drinking but also within treatmaking recipes such as trifles, charlottes, chocolate gateau lining and even tiramisu.  With that, you may be curious to know if they’re gluten-free or not.   

Ladyfingers are a dessert-like cookie or wafer in the shape of sticks with rounded ends.  These treats originate from British England and is also known in Italian cultures as “savoiardi” and in France as “Boudoirs”.  These snacks can usually be considered glutinous, but finding or making gluten-free versions is not too difficult of a task. 

Although these aren’t usually made to be gluten-free, finding brands that offer gluten-free versions is not difficult with knowledge and preparation.  This article will tell you everything you need to know about ladyfingers, what makes them not be considered gluten-free, homemade gluten-free ladyfinger making process and brands that don’t/do offer gluten-free options.  

About Ladyfingers

Ladyfingers are referred to around the world with many different names, from those mentioned earlier to sponge fingers, sponge biscuits, Naples biscuits, and even biscuits a la cuiller.  These cakes are on the drier side and are made with eggs, and are considered a rare bakery art.  They have a rich history and historians think the original recipe came from France.

What Makes Ladyfingers Glutinous?

Ladyfingers are traditionally made using a type of all-purpose flour, which is an ingredient that carries a high gluten content.  Therefore, ladyfingers that are not specially made to follow a gluten-free diet using gluten-free flours should be avoided at all costs by those with sensitivities, as they’re guaranteed to have gluten in them.

What Brands Offer Gluten-Free Ladyfingers?

The amount of brands that offer gluten-free ladyfingers is unfortunately small.  Brands that offer gluten-free ladyfingers include Schar (gluten free ladyfinger cookies) and Maltilde-Vicenzi-Vicenzovo ladyfingers.  Some brands may claim they’re gluten-free, but it’s important to rule out wheat flour and all-purpose flour as ingredients first.  

What Brands Should You Try To Avoid?

Sadly to say, there are a lot of different brands that make ladyfingers that those who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten cannot have.  Some of those brands include Balocco Savoiari, Delallo, Gullon, Goya, Alessi, Whole Foods brand of ladyfingers, Marini Savoiardi, tiramisu making kits and Sophia.  

Additionally, any ladyfingers that don’t clearly have the GF (gluten free) label printed on the front of their packaging should be avoided, as it won’t be guaranteed that the item is gluten-free (even if it claims to be).  Food produced without gluten-free labels are not guaranteed to be produced without tools or machinery contaminated with the protein. 

What Stores Carry Gluten-Free Ladyfingers?

There are quite a few stores that carry the gluten-free ladyfinger options that have been listed above.  Some of those stores include Kroger, Amazon, Walmart, Meijer, Yummy Bazaar, LetsMakeADeal.com, Jubilee Grocery, Pure Modern Living, WholeLotta Good, Eataly.com and many other stores (many of which can be found on various websites).

Homemade Gluten-Free Ladyfingers

To make gluten-free ladyfingers, you’ll only need just a few ingredients before you get started.  First, you’ll need ingredients such as eggs with their yolks and whites separated, cream of tartar, pure vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar, salt, gluten-free flour blend or a gluten-free flour substitute for all-purpose flour and xanthan gum.

Once you gather all your ingredients, you will first blend together the egg whites and cream of tartar with a mixer, then add in the sugar until stiff peaks begin to form.  Once this happens you can scrape the egg mixture into a separate bowl and begin mixing the egg yolks and incorporate the remaining sugar with the blender.  

After this process has been finished, you should continue to blend the yolk mixture until it has almost tripled in volume, then add in the vanilla and salt and some of your gluten-free flour, blending until evenly mixed in.  Finally, add the remaining gluten-free flour and blend it until it’s all smooth, then fold in the egg white mixture.  

Now you can fill a pastry bag and pipe some fingers using a ½” plain pipe tip onto some baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  You’ll bake your ladyfingers at approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes or until you can observe the cookies puffing up and becoming a golden hue.  Once they’re cool, you can dust them with sugar.

Substitutes For Making Gluten-Free Ladyfingers

There are a lot of substitutes out there for baking without gluten-filled ingredients, and ladyfingers are no exception!  If you decide to make your own and opt out of purchasing a pre-made gluten-free flour, you can use almond meal/flour at a ratio of 1:1 for ladyfinger recipes.

You can also use coconut flour in place of all-purpose flour in your ladyfinger recipes, using a ratio of ¼-⅓ cup coconut flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour.  However, the exact ratio of coconut flour you’ll have to use can vary, so messing around with the ladyfinger recipe until you find the exact amount of coconut flour that works for you is the best choice.

Other choices good for substituting all-purpose flour include: 

  • Buckwheat (1:1 ratio)

  • Millet Flour (1:1 ratio)

  • Sorghum Flour (1:1 ratio)

  • Amaranth Flour (1: ¼ ratio)

  • Black Beans (ground, using a 1:1 ratio)

  • Chickpea Flour (1:1 ratio)

  • Teff Flour (1:¼ ratio)

  • Cassava Flour (1:1 ratio)

  • Arrowroot (1:½ ratio) 

  • Potato Flour (1:1 ratio)

  • Brown Rice Flour (1:¾ ratio) 

  • Sweet White Rice Flour 

  • Tapioca (1:1 ratio)

  • Psyllium Husk (¼ tbsp : 1 cup ratio)

  • Oat Flour (1: 1 cup flour^2, multiplying whatever is called for all-purpose flour by itself to yield correct ratio amount) 

  • Corn Flour (2:1 ratio)

  • Tigernut Flour (1:1 ¼ ratio)

Summary

Although traditionally made ladyfingers are considered to contain gluten and therefore be a bad option for those who have gluten sensitivities, there are a few brands that offer gluten-free ladyfinger options and a few stores (both on and offline) who offer them.  You can also easily make your own gluten-free ladyfingers using all-purpose flour substitutes.

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