Gluten-free bakeries have been on the rise for years now, but 2024 truly brings options aplenty for people who are coeliac, gluten intolerant or simply gluten-free-curious.

When baker Nonie Dwyer was younger this wasn’t the case. As a coeliac, she’d carry her own food with her because it was never guaranteed she’d find something suitable.

“These days it’s quite extraordinary – you can go to most places and they have an understanding of what gluten is, and they have [gluten-free] options on the menu,” she tells Broadsheet. “The whole idea of gluten-free being like cardboard is over. There’s no room for that anymore. We know how to do better, and people deserve better.”

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Here are some of the best gluten-free baked goods around Sydney.

Charcoal bread from Nonie’s

If your avocado arrives on a slice of textural, midnight-black toast, chances are it’s Nonie Dwyer’s. The gluten-free charcoal bread is a heavyweight in Dwyer’s offering, which she sells from her warehouse space in Botany on Fridays, and at Northside Produce Markets and Carriageworks Farmers Market on alternating Saturdays.

“My partner and I were in Paris when I came across this beautiful bakery with amazing black bread in the window,” she says. “I felt so full of envy that there wasn’t something like that for me, I got back to Australia and set about trying to recreate the bread.”

She experimented with different ingredients to achieve the inky shade – squid ink being one – before landing on charcoal, which doesn’t have a flavour. The bread’s base is rice and tapioca, with a combo of activated charcoal, quinoa and buckwheat flour for an earthy flavour with mellow sweetness.

Activated charcoal and quinoa bread, $11.95 for 550-gram loaf.

Portuguese tarts at Wholegreen

Wholegreen Bakery isn’t just an exceptional gluten-free bakery, it’s award-winning overall. “In the Royal Sydney Fine Food Awards in 2021 and 2022, we were the overall pastry champion,” owner Cherie Lyden says. “They don’t even have a category for gluten free, we were up against the gluten bakers and we won.”

At the Waverly, Alexandria and CBD stores, there are flaky, buttery viennoiseries, pies, sausage rolls and sourdough loaves. But the most popular item is the “real-deal”, gluten-free Portuguese tart. The laminated tart shell is made from rice flour and starches, and filled with crème pâtissière before it’s baked. In the final 10 minutes the temperature’s cranked up to scorch and seal the top before it’s glazed.

Best way to enjoy? Warm and dusted with cinnamon.

Portuguese tart, $6.90 each.

Carrot cake from Hudson’s Bakery

Triple-choc cookies were Sandra Hudson’s first big success in the world of GF baking. They were so popular, friends encouraged her to develop her own range of gluten-free treats. In three years, the business grew from a market stall to a Bondi Junction mecca for gluten-free lamingtons, muffins, rustic burger buns and loaves of bread, chewy sesame bagels, and pizzas.

The whitewashed table outside the Oxford Street space is often packed with people taking in the sun and tucking into the decadent vegan carrot cake. The spiced loaf-style cake is spread thickly with icing and topped with walnuts and rose petals. The batter’s made with tapioca, besan and rice flour, and it’s jazzed up with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg plus carrots and apples. Buy it by the slice or take home a whole cake.

Carrot cake, $54.60 for whole cake.

Sweet potato doughnuts from Comeco Foods

Comeco Foods covers the gamut of dietary requirements: the doughnuts and Japanese dishes aren’t just gluten free, they’re also vegan. Chef and co-owner Masa Haga created the dishes for his wife (and co-owner) Yu Ozone, to cater to her allergies, but the concept grew beyond their dinner table.

Today their popular Newtown store does vegan, gluten-free Japanese food for lunch and dinner, plus the lauded doughnuts that have evolved from rice flour to sweet potato as the base.

“The issue with our original rice-flour sour doughnuts was their lack of lasting softness,” Ozone says. “Our new sweet potato doughnuts use blended raw rice instead of rice flour, resulting in a doughnut that maintains its softness over time. Sweet potato just adds a creamy texture, like eggs [do].”

The rich texture is similar to that of a cruller, and several core flavours join monthly specials. Expect matcha, hojicha, yuzu and kinako (roasted soy bean powder), plus cinnamon-sugar, chocolate and salted caramel.

Doughnuts, from $6 each.

Burnt Basque cheesecake from Nutie

Sina Klug began baking gluten-free desserts when she was at university. “I had two friends who were coeliac and I didn’t want them to be excluded,” she says. “I used to make them special gluten-free desserts for every dinner party we had.” Many years later, at her Dulwich Hill bakery, Klug offers a completely gluten-free menu with many dairy- and egg-free options as well.

There are pastel-coloured macarons, lavender slices of ube cake, a range of doughnuts, croissants, “giant” lamingtons and cheesecakes.

The burnt Basque cheesecake is an outstanding version of the classic. “It gets baked at a high temperature, resulting in a caramelised and slightly bitter burned top. The inside is very creamy, flavoured with quality vanilla bean and cream cheese.”

Burnt Basque cheesecake, $55 for whole cake.