To see if the gluten-free, low-carb baking mix really mimicked flour, I baked a vanilla sheet cake. Here's everything that ensued. 

By Grace Elkus
March 15, 2018
Grace Elkus

Comparing cauliflower crust to a traditional pizza crust is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re two entirely different products that are only the least bit similar because of the sauce and cheese piled on top. As our food director would tell you, it’s about managing expectations. You can’t go into your first bite of cauliflower crust expecting the chewy, bubbly, brick-oven-fired version.   

But if you enter the world of cauliflower-based creations with your glass half-full, treating it as a nutritious, low-carb, paleo-friendly substitute to rice that can be transformed into pretty good tots and crispy pancakes, you might just become a believer.

Because of this, cauliflower rice has transitioned from something you make at home on your box grater to a product available in grocery stores and restaurants nationwide. Buy it in the freezer aisle from Green Giant or in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s—or order a cauliflower crust at California Pizza Kitchen. And now, fill your baked goods with cauliflower with a new cauliflower “flour.”

Described as the “first-ever vegetable-based baking mix,” we were immediately intrigued—and knew we had to try it. The packaging claims the product can replace flour in any recipe cup-for-cup, whether you want to make brownies, biscuits, flatbreads, bagels, pie crust, or in our case, birthday cake.

So I made a sheet cake, swapping out all-purpose for Cauli-flour and hoping the strange smell of the batter would magically disappear as it baked. It didn’t. The cake, perhaps unsurprisingly and yet somehow still disappointingly, tasted like cauliflower. (Or, as one editor put it, “It’s not bad, but I wouldn't ask you for the recipe.”) 

The off-putting taste was somewhat made up for with the impressive texture of the cake. It was tender and moist, and baked up beautifully golden brown. As a staff, we decided this "flour" is simply better suited for a zucchini bread or a chocolate cake—something not so vanilla as, well, vanilla cake. 

But what’s in it, exactly? Is it even worth baking with it? Though the first ingredient is cauliflower, the product also contains a mix of your standard gluten-free flours: brown and white rice flours, tapioca flour, quinoa flour, and sorghum flour, as well as cornstarch, yeast, and baking powder. So the vegetable didn’t magically gain the ability to mimic flour in baked goods, it’s simply mixed with ingredients that have previously been proven can do so.

RELATED: How to Make Cauliflower Rice

In addition to being gluten, wheat, and dairy-free, the "flour" is also a good source of Vitamin C and fiber, and contains fewer calories, fat, and sodium than most gluten-free baking mixes. So if you're in the market for a healthier gluten-free flour and don't mind a slightly vegetal taste to your baked goods, full steam ahead. (You can grab a 24-ounce bag for $15 at Amazon). But if you love a classic, gluten-filled baked good, you likely won't love it. 

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