I just read a disturbing post at Celiac Squirrel, asking celiacs to boycott Babycakes’ much feted cookbook. Kay and I visited Babycakes in NYC and tried their chocolate cupcake, which Kay declared delicious. Now according to Celiac Squirrel, many of the Babycakes recipes use spelt flour. Spelt is a kind of wheat and therefore is poison to people with celiac disease.

I went to the Babycakes website to see if they label products with spelt as gluten-free. They don’t.  On a page about their ingredients, they write:

What other flours do you use?
We use spelt flour for our non-gluten free products.

Do you know there is gluten in spelt?
Spelt contains gluten, so it is NOT recommended for those following a gluten/wheat free diet. Also, an individual with a wheat related condition (i.e. celiac sprue, gluten sensitive enteropathies, etc…) should not consume spelt flour.

What is spelt and why does BabyCakes NYC use it?
Spelt is an ancient grain. People prefer it to its distant cousin, wheat, because it has 15-20% more proteins, is higher in complex carbohydrates, is rich in magnesium, is lower in overall carbohydrates, has not been genetically altered and contains enzymes that assist in glucose and insulin secretion.

Many people with delayed hypersensitivities and allergies to regular wheat feel spelt protein is much easier to digest than wheat protein. We, however, do not encourage those with wheat sensitivities to consume this grain.

What do you do to prevent cross-contamination?
We realize many people are concerned about the potential for cross-contamination between spelt and gluten free flours. We take every precaution to ensure that gluten free items are not corrupted by spelt flour. We use separate pans, sinks, spatulas, measuring cups, cleaning utensils and bowls. Ultimately, however, up to the consumer to decide her comfort level with our use of spelt.

The Babycakes cookbook is titled:

Babycakes: Vegan, Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery

So Celiac Squirrel is correct. The title of the cookbook is misleading. If Babycakes  had titled it Mostly Gluten-Free it wouldn’t have been a problem. But they didn’t. Celiac Squirrel argues:

Inside the book it is explained that spelt is not gluten-free. Are we supposed to be comforted that a book that says the recipes are gluten-free then tells us that not all the recipes are gluten-free? This is just an example of people willing to lie to take advantage of the gluten-free mainstreaming trend.

Which is why I think BabyCakes needs to pay a price for selling a cookbook of gluten-free recipes that are not all gluten-free. This, quite frankly, should turn into a public relations nightmare for the company, and it should be used to underscore that a gluten-free diet is not a trend, it is the only option for people with celiac disease.

We would love to hear people’s opinions about this matter!