Gluten Free Food Made Easy - The Guide
Cakes and Biscuits
This is probably the easiest section in the whole guide. The breadth of variety, the pricing, and the taste and texture of ready-made GF cakes and biscuits is amazing, utterly amazing. There are a dozen different brands available, as well as the major supermarkets all doing their own lines, and you could probably get almost any cake or biscuit you can think of. This is something the GF industry is doing right, so very right.
For basic or common cakes and biscuits the supermarket-own brands really come into their own with large ranges and competitive pricing; Sainsburys and Tesco in particular are really impressive. You can get digestives (incredibly useful for cheesecakes and banoffee pies), custard creams, rich tea, bourbons, bakewell tarts, victoria sponges, chocolate cakes, jammy dodgers, hobnobs, wafers, ETC! Glutafin also do a great range of basics. I cannot stress enough how easy it is to get hold of your favourite types and how great they taste.
For cookies I really like Doves Farm's range and I've seen them stocked in both independent and chain coffee shops, or try Byron Bay as they're gloriously fudgy.
For luscious cakes try Honeyrose Bakery, The Village Bakery, or Livwell's. There is a gap in the market for ready-made celebration cakes in supermarkets; I look every year for one for my sister but I'm never successful in mainstream supermarkets. Online there are a number of really good choices such as The Brilliant Bakers or The Healthy Cake Company but be warned that they can be expensive; I always make my own as it's much cheaper.
If you want a bit more of a treat try Lazy Day's millionaire's shortbread, which tastes exactly like the mainstream, Waitrose's almond frangipani tarts, Sunstart's rocky road, Orgran's amaretti biscuits, or Kelkin's jaffa cakes (which also make an amazing base for GF trifles!).
It is also incredibly easy to make your own GF cakes and biscuits; you can use any recipe you want as the flours are really easy to substitute. I'd always go for a ready-blended GF plain or self-raising flour as they best match the texture of mainstream. If a recipe calls for baking powder to be used, remember to check the labels to guarantee a GF brand.
You can also make flourless cakes; there are more and more recipes online as they're becoming really popular. These usually involve ground almonds, polenta, ground hazelnuts, or an above average amount of oil or butter.
A note about cake or biscuit decorating: be really careful with edible decorative bits and bobs you can buy as they can unexpectedly contain gluten or wheat, so always check the labels!
Yes, you can have fish and chips, pancakes, and Yorkshire puddings! Batters are all about flour substitution and it's really easy to try.
For a really basic batter (like this) substitute the same amount of GF plain flour and a small amount of GF baking powder instead of mainstream flours and treat everything else the same. If you want something a little bit adventurous try a beer batter (like this), this is especially good for fish but be careful because not all beers or ales are GF (I'll take you through these in a later blog post!). For tempura batters substitute the mainstream flours for just cornflour because it's light and will create a lovely crispy batter (like this).
Yorkshire puddings are one of my favourite things and again they're really easy to do GF; again substitute the mainstream plain flour for GF and voila! Glutafin do a recipe which combines GF plain flour with a little cornflour to make them a bit lighter. Pancakes too can use a GF plain flour substitution, but there are GF batter mixes on the market like Orgran's apple and cinnamon mix. You can also get ready-made pancakes like these from Tesco or Genius.
A lot of Indian dishes, such as onion bhajis, use GF gram (or chickpea) flour to make their batters, but some use plain flours instead so check the recipe you're using in case you need to substitute. Gram flour is great to use for these kind of batters though because it adds a lovely taste and golden colour.
If you can crack GF breadcrumbs then you open the door to all sorts of recipes; scotch eggs, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, chicken kiev, escalopes, fish goujons, stuffings, crusts for meat, ETC!
To make your own is brilliantly simple; take some basic white GF bread (it can be the cheapest you can find) and whizz up in a food processor until fine. And that's it. You can toast them in the oven if you want a golden colour, but otherwise use them as normal. You can add all kinds of flavourings like black pepper, grated parmesan, or lemon rind. As an alternative you can use polenta as a crumb; again use it in the same way and when fried or oven-baked it becomes incredibly crispy.
You can buy GF crumbs ready-made but they're limited in supermarkets and are mostly available online at quite a price; try Doves Farm or Orgran if you like but it's much more cost effective to make them yourself.
Quite a new introduction to the ready-made GF product family is stuffing by Mrs Crimbles! It's great to have with roast chicken or you can make it into balls, and it's just as good as mainstream. Of course if you've got time you can make your own stuffings using your own GF breadcrumbs, but be careful of using sausagemeat as it's not GF; try GF sausages instead and just squish out the meat from the skin.
Next time it's sauces, sausages, burgers, meatballs, and soups!