• By: OLM Staff

Two-Time ‘Cupcake Wars’ Winner Shares Delicious Gluten-Free Desserts

Bakery Owner Tosses the Flour but Keeps the Flavor

More than ever, people understand that our bodies just weren’t designed to handle the amount of processed flour found in many of today’s foods.

Some people with vague, undiagnosed illnesses feel better after cutting out gluten, a protein in flour-based foods. Many North Americans, including professional athletes and celebrities such as Zooey Deschanel and men’s tennis leader Djovak Nokovic, say they look and perform better since dropping gluten from their diets.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people who commit to a gluten-free lifestyle believe they have to sacrifice their favorite desserts, because gluten-free treats are often loaded with sugar but low on flavor,” says Kyra Bussanich (www.kyrasbakeshop.com), author of a new, full-color recipe book: Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle (Ten Speed Press; Random House, Inc.).

Book Cover

Bussanich’s gluten-free cupcakes twice bested their floury competition on “Cupcake Wars” (2011 and 2012) and were a runner-up for the show’s Cupcake Champion. She shares her secrets in recipes such as Mexican Chocolate Baked Alaska, Persian Love Cakes with Cardamom Buttercream and Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Blackberry Coulis.

After suffering a life-threatening illness at 20, Bussanich recovered with the help of a new diet without gluten. She began testing gluten-free recipes while attending the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu pâtisserie program and later opened her popular business, Kyra’s Bake Shop.

“My recipes are not good for being gluten-free; they’re just good, and that’s why people who eat gluten visit my bakery and order gluten-free desserts,” she says. “For me, being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease allowed me to turn lemons into gluten-free lemon meringue pie!”

Bussanich invites anyone who doubts that gluten-free can be delicious to try the following recipe:

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

6 large tart apples (Pippin or Granny Smith)
1/3 cup sugar, or 1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Generous pinch salt
3 tablespoons cold butter


½ cup sweet white rice flour
½ cup millet flour
½ cup tapioca starch
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup gluten-free oats
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel, core and slice the apples into ¼-inch slices. Put the apple slices into a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over the top. Add the tapioca starch, cinnamon, five-spice, ginger and salt and toss together to evenly coat the apple slices. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, dot the top with pieces of the butter and set aside. To make the topping, combine the flours, tapioca starch, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, five-spice and ginger in a mixing bowl. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix in the butter until it is uniformly incorporated into the flour mixture. Stir in the oats and pecans.

Crumble the oat topping evenly over the apples. Bake until the topping is golden brown and set and the apples are warm and bubbly, 55 to 60 minutes. You can prepare everything ahead of time. Refrigerate the apple filling and keep the topping frozen until ready to assemble and bake. Don’t refrigerate the unbaked topping overnight since the millet flour will interact with the butter and taste and smell cheesy when it’s baked.