The Gluten-Free Kitchen – Baking for EveryoneThis week saw the start of a new series of ‘Bake Off’, and with schools going back, autumnal days now here, and the whole, gloomy COVID and economic situation, we needed something to cheer ourselves up! Apparently, there were a record number of books – nearly 600 – published in early September. That’s because lockdown delayed publication of so many. So this week I’m sharing news that, for many families, will be a Godsend: a newly published baking book for anyone needing to avoid gluten. Gluten-Free Kitchen, by Catherine Atkinson, published by Lorenz Books at £15 hardback, is great value and allows those on gluten-free diets to enjoy pasta, bread, cakes, cookies and other delicious goodies that are normally strictly out of bounds. But the recipes are so good that all the family can enjoy them.
The book aims to demystify gluten-free cooking and demonstrate that it’s surprisingly easy to create foods that you thought you’d never be able to eat. The introductory section contains clear medical and nutritional advice on all aspects of gluten-free diets and eating. There’s information on the different types of gluten-free flours, the bakes they are suitable for, and how to blend them. Then there are recipes for bread, cakes, cookies, pasta, pies, puddings, pastries and sauces that will revolutionise a gluten-free diet. Traditional recipes are reworked to gluten-free, plus new ideas and inherently gluten-free dishes. Many are dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian, too. All have step-by-step instructions, plus a photograph of the finished dish. Here are some simple, but delicious, recipes to give you a taste of the book.
Polenta Bread – makes 1 loaf
A combination of polenta and golden olive oil makes this gluten-free bread a beautiful sunny colour. It is best eaten while still slightly warm, with a little butter or a drizzle of olive oil to moisten. It’s especially good served with soups or chunky vegetable and bean casseroles.
250g/9oz fine polenta
75g/3oz gluten-free self-raising flour blend
2.5ml/½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
5ml/1 tsp salt
15ml/1 tbsp caster sugar
400ml/14fl oz milk
30ml/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. Grease the sides and line the base of a 450g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
2. Put the fine polenta in a large mixing bowl. Sift over the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and stir to combine. Make a small well in the middle.
3. Whisk the egg with the milk and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix together. Pour into the prepared tin.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn out on to a wire rack; remove the lining paper and leave to cool.
5. Slice and serve buttered or drizzled with olive oil.
Almond Florentines – makes 12
Vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free, these Florentines are thin and crisp with gorgeous colour. By grinding your own almonds, the brown skin of the nut is included. Not only does this mean the cookies have more fibre, but also that the mixture is less absorbent, resulting in a crisper cookie.
200g/7oz raw whole almonds
1.5ml/¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
30ml/2 tbsp coconut oil
50ml/2fl oz maple syrup
1.5ml/¼ tsp almond extract
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas 3. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. Put the almonds in a food processor and blitz them for about 30 seconds, until ground into tiny crumbs.
3. Pour them into a mixing bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda and mix with a fork.
4. Melt the coconut oil then pour the oil, maple syrup and almond extract into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Spoon the sticky mixture on to the baking sheet using a teaspoon, leaving plenty of space in between them to allow for spreading, and flatten each spoonful into a cookie shape.
6. Bake for 15–16 minutes, until golden brown. Leave the Florentines to cool until hardened on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Variations • If you want to buy ready-ground almonds, use 175g/ 6oz. • You could use other nuts, such as hazelnuts or walnuts.
Cellophane Noodles with Pork – serves 2
Cellophane or glass noodles are usually made from mung bean starch or sometimes green pea starch and are used in many Asian dishes, especially stir-fries and spring rolls. They are both gluten- free and fat-free and have a lovely, slightly chewy texture.
200g/7oz dried cellophane noodles
30ml/2 tbsp vegetable oil
200g/7oz minced pork
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 fresh green or red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
30ml/2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
30ml/2 tbsp gluten-free Thai fish sauce
30ml/2 tbsp gluten-free sweet chilli sauce
15ml/1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
30ml/2 tbsp rice vinegar
30ml/2 tbsp gluten-free roasted peanuts, chopped, to garnish
45ml/3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
1. Place the noodles in a large heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes, until soft. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
2. Heat the oil in a wok or large, heavy frying pan. Add the pork and stir-fry the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spatula, for 2–3 minutes, until browned all over.
3. Add the garlic and chilli to the meat and stir-fry for 3–4 seconds, then add the beansprouts and spring onions, stir-frying for a few seconds after each addition.
4. Snip the noodles into lengths and add to the wok with the soy sauce, Thai fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce, sugar and rice vinegar. Toss until well combined and the noodles have warmed through.
5. Pile on to a platter or into a large bowl. Sprinkle over the peanuts and fresh coriander and serve immediately.