Monday, 15 October 2012

The Family-friendly Gluten-free Cookbook

The Family –friendly Gluten-free Cookbook


I’m always on the lookout for gluten free treats as so many of our friends and family members are going gluten free these days.  Sarah King’s new Family-friendly Gluten-free Cookbook has lots of quick and delicious gluten free recipes which are not too expensive.  Included are basics like bread, scrumptious goodies for afternoon teas like chocolate éclairs and a whole lot of ideas for lunch box fillings.

This is her first cook book. Aged 35 she has had a fascinating and varied career including working as a nanny for Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright in London and as a wedding planner. She is now running the Gluten-Free Grocer in Mount Eden with her husband Mitch, and is committed to sharing her knowledge of affordable gluten-free cooking with others.

She always bakes gluten free at home as her husband and four children are all gluten and dairy intolerant. Refreshingly honest, she admits that there were years and years of baking disasters along the way, some so bad that even her chickens and ducks refused to eat them. The reality is that a lot can go wrong when baking gluten- free and it has taken a lot of experimenting to create the tried and true recipes which eventually found their way into this cookbook.

The main trick to producing successful gluten-free baking is to mix several gluten- free flours in exactly the right proportions and then to bind them together with gum.  So it is essential to follow each recipe exactly. Even then there may be an occasional failure. For instance a humid day can cause something that is usually successful to flop. Her advice is not to get discouraged, and to try and try again. Any failures need not go to waste and can be turned into yummy treats like chocolate truffles.

My first attempt at baking from her book, the lemon syrup cake, was not entirely successful. The texture was somewhat rubbery.  Maybe it was the commercial baking mix I used or perhaps I had not been meticulous enough when weighing the ingredients.

I had much better luck with her gluten-free ginger crunch. It did feel alarmingly soft when I first removed it from the oven. But it hardened as it cooled. It was slightly chewier than my usual recipe but covered with a thick layer of delicious gingery icing it was eagerly demolished by all. As it is also easy to make this slice it will definitely be one of my standbys for a gluten-free afternoon tea.

Bread is a daily staple and Sarah’s yeast-based gluten-free white loaf can conveniently be cooked either in a conventional oven or in a bread maker. Another of her recipes is for a yeast free bread which can be refrigerated overnight and baked in the morning. But you would have to rise bright and early to have it out of the oven before the kids head off to school. Any leftovers can be used make delicious French toast.

And if you have children’s lunchboxes to fill every day and they come home after school clamouring for afternoon tea the afghan biscuits, chocolate cookies are sure to become their favourites.

There are a few savoury items such as pizzas, a chicken pie and bacon and corn muffins in this book. But most of the recipes are for sweet treats including a tangy lime cheesecake decorated with fresh tropical fruits. It looks very decorative but should be quick and simple to make. Another recipe which I can’t wait to try is a spectacular looking lemon meringue pie filled with lemon curd and topped with piles of light billowing meringue.

Children’s birthday parties are a special event and Sarah suggests that where there are gluten- free guests it is easier to put only gluten-free treats on the table. Then they will not be tempted to eat the wrong foods or feel excluded. So she has planned a totally gluten- free birthday spread that any kids would enjoy. This includes pizzas, mini sausage rolls, fruit kebabs and an iced birthday cake.

And when the kids are in bed the adults can party. If you are planning to cater for a group she has a whole lot of ideas for gluten free canapés, both savoury and sweet. She does add one cautionary note. Don’t forget to check that any alcohol being served is also gluten-free.

The Family-friendly Gluten-free Cookbook

By Sarah King (published by New Holland) RRP $39.99
Reviewed by Lyn Potter

This review first appeared on The Breeze website

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