Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pâtisseries françaises sans gluten

My partner in crime Romie has dashed off on a fabulous holiday overseas with her girlfriends. After dropping her off at the airport on the weekend, I was left reminiscing about my past holidays (all pre-coeliac).

One of my best memories from a trip to Paris, was sitting under the Eiffel Tower with my sisters digging into a feast of French pastries, baguettes, cheese and champagne while the beautiful lights were twinkling above us! Hmmm I can still taste the pastries and baguettes as if it were yesterday!

When I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease, after the initial shock that I could no longer have real bread or real pasta again (I’m Italian, come on!), I realised I would never taste another buttery croissant. With this in mind, I was determined to create some gluten free pastries that would take me back to my memories of Paris.

So I had my first attempt at making chocolate croissants! It wasn’t as hard as I thought. The only thing that was challenging was trying to keep the kitchen cool and not melt the buttery pastry in my hands.

I was feeling quite proud of my first attempt at making the chocolate croissants, but the real test was getting my non-coeliac husband to taste my creation. So straight out of the oven, I presented him with a croissant. Guess what? He liked it! He even went back for seconds. Yeah!

I have to admit, they weren’t as flaky and melt in your mouth as the real deal, but they definitely pass as a croissant and went down well with a nice cup of tea that afternoon. The next day however, they weren’t as delicious as they had been straight out of the oven the day before, but a quick reheat is all that was needed to perk them back up again.

All in all I was happy with the outcome, but I will continue to practice my technique until I get the flakiness and buttery consistence of the French ones.

The recipe I used was from one of my favourite cookbooks,“Allergy-friendly Cookbook” by Alice Sherwood.


225 gluten free plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp xanthin gum
1 tbsp fast-action dried yeast
55g cold butter, cut into 1cm dice
150ml milk
1 egg
a little vegetable oil for greasing

1. Shift flour with the salt, sugar, and gum in a food processor.Use the dough attachment. Add the yeast and diced butter.

2. Warm the milk very briefly until tepid then whisk in the egg. Add to the processor and run the machine for 1 minute to knead a soft ball.

3. Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a rectangle. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up over. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll and fold again. Turn, roll and fold once more.

4. Dust rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into an oblong about three times as long as it is high and about 5mm thick. Trim the edges and cut into 6 equal squares.

5. Grease baking sheet.

6. Beat the eggs with the icing sugar and brush all over the surfaces of the squares. Lay 3 squares of chocolate in the centre of the dough in line. Fold over the dough and place, folded sides down, on the baking sheet. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to prove until well risen, about 45 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200◦C. Brush the pains au chocolat with the remaining glaze. Bake until spongy and golden, about 15 minutes.

8. Dust with a little icing sugar. Best served warm or transfer to wire rack to cool before wrapping and storing. Makes 6.

Bon Appétit!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Mamma Mia!

Mum and her three daughters
With Mother’s Day coming up, I thought this was a great opportunity to dedicate this post to our mum.

When we were diagnosed with coeliac, I think mum took it the hardest. Having skipped the coeliac gene herself she felt awful that not one but two of her daughters had the disease. At first there was the shock… “What am I going to cook for you?” Then there was the guilt – guilt that she could indulge in foods that her daughters no longer could.

For our mother, food is everything. It always has been. Growing up in a small Italian village, life was not easy. Food was sparse and most was home grown or made. Many locals would share their produce with one another and vice versa. This meant food was always fresh, however if something were in season this would determine what was for dinner for the rest of the week!

Bread was homemade and cooked in wood fire ovens. Fresh tomato sauce was jarred and wine was bottled. Drinking water was collected fresh from the mountains. Small things we now take for granted were a luxury. I remember mum telling me how my grandfather would on the very rare occasion take home a small slab of fresh pure butter. It was shaped in a log and wrapped in silver paper. And when nobody was looking she would sneak just a tiny sliver and let it melt slowly in her mouth, enjoying every second it lasted.

Today with so much more food available, mum makes sure she experiments as much as she can. She loves her kitchen and creating new and exciting dishes for her family to enjoy. She loves the food channel, cooking magazines and anything food related! We still continue the traditions of homemade produce such as fresh tomato sauce, pickled vegetables, cracked olives and sundried tomatoes. Mum even makes her own breadcrumbs!

Since our diagnosis mum has been our biggest support. She now has a new passion – to make gluten free foods just as tasty as the rest of her cooking. From day one she has been experimenting in the kitchen for ways to change recipes to make them gluten free. It hasn’t been easy. Those of you who have baked gluten free goods before will know that dough’s are sticky and cakes are crumbly. But her determination has resulted in amazing food – from homemade pasta to gorgeous meatballs. Mum has adapted all her traditional recipes passed down from her mum to be gluten free. And she makes sure we never miss out on a dish. The flavours of her cooking are indescribable. She is the master of the kitchen!

Mum you are our inspiration and passion. We hope that one day we can be half the mum that you are to us. Ti amiamo.

Here is the recipe to one of mum's famous cakes.


10 peeled figs, cut in quarters
3 eggs
250 g. gluten free self-raising flour
150 g. sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Pinch of salt
Lemon zest of 1 lemon

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°c. Grease a 22cm tin.
2. Beat egg yolks with sugar until pale in colour. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour and continue beating. Add milk and mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites & salt until peaks are formed.
4. Fold egg whites into above mixture.
5. Pour into greased tin and place the figs on top of mixture. Bake for 45 minutes.
6. After cake has cooled down, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Serve and enjoy!

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