Monday, 19 November 2012

Baking in the Gluten-free World

I'd like to dedicate this post to Jean, a good friend and the author of Baking in Franglais as well as A Box of Beads and A Very Grand Pressigny.

Jean has been more instrumental than she realises in reawakening my love of baking and cooking, post Coeliac diagnosis.

Prior to diagnosis and when my children were growing up, baking was a constant. As a child I'd baked with my mum and I never imagined I'd do anything other than enjoy baking.

The crunch came when I found out I'd no longer be able to eat gluten in any form, ie wheat, barley, rye and in my case, oats too. It was a huge blow which meant completely rethinking both my eating and my shopping habits.

Shopping took twice as long as I read the ingredients on everything I bought. There were whole aisles in the supermarket which were now out of bounds - notably the cereal and bakery aisles, but also the pasta, quiche, pie and pizza sections, the ready meals and a great many processed foods. Fortunately for me I had never relied on these as I loved cooking from scratch.

My bible was the Coeliac Food and Drink Directory, which lists the foods anyone with Coeliac Disease can eat.

But even armed with this it took an age to shop. My son was still at home so he felt the change too. It's not easy your mum is coeliac and you love all the things with gluten in them. So he did the obvious thing and cooked for himself.

When Colin and I moved to France I had more time and Colin's encouragement, so I tried baking with gluten free ingredients. But you can only stand so many failures when you're used to being able to bake with your eyes closed. Even the birds were refusing my offerings!

Then we met Jean. We went to dinner several times with her and Nick (and Lulu) and she served some really imaginative meals and all completely gluten free. Not only that, she also baked both cakes and biscuits to die for - again, gluten free. To top it all she gave me a recipe book which I've now used so often I know most of the pages by heart.

This was the turning point for me. I started following these new recipes and the results were very pleasing. I've even started experimenting with ingredients which was something I enjoyed pre-Coeliac but gave up on post diagnosis.

We're enjoying the results of this new found confidence and I only hope it's not to the detriment of Colin's (or  my) waistline!

Here are one or two triumphs of experimenting with recipes.
I shall post a couple of my 'experimental' recipes in the coming days.

So a big "thank you, Jean!" You've made all the difference in the world to my experience of food in the gluten free world of Coeliac disease!

I also owe my thanks to Gaynor, Pauline and Susan, who have all taken such care when preparing meals for me.

And lastly a huge "thanks" to Colin, who has encouraged me all along and never laughed (openly) at my many failures!



Jean said...

Thank you Elizabeth for saying such nice things about me !!
I can see how your enthusiasm would take a bashing when so many of your usual ingredients become impossible to use. Baking is such a joy so I am glad I have helped you along a bit.
I hope you post about the chocolate cake you made for us - it was gorgeous !!

The Broad said...

What a lovely post and tribuite to Jean. And congratulations on your renewed baking skills. The above pictures look (as my mother-in-law was often to say)"good enough to eat" -- yummm!

GaynorB said...

Jean's baking is an inspiration, whether gluten free or not.

You also produce some very nice cakes and puddings and I am pleased that you have rediscovered your interest in baking.

Susan said...

Jean's a pretty special person -- one of these endlessly kind and thoughtful people. And a damn good baker. I've just baked one of her recipes for friands, as it happens.

Tim said...

Jean's an inspiration! No home should be without cakes. Pauline