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Gluten-free baking

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Author Topic: Gluten-free baking  (Read 693 times)
« on: June 09, 2009, 01:00:24 am »

Gluten-free favourites

Suffering from coeliac disease does not mean a lifetime sentence of dull and boring food.

By JAN BILTON - The Marlborough Express | Thursday, 28 May 2009

DOUBLE DOSE: Gluten free loaves with persimmon topping. Eat one now, freeze one for later.

DOUBLE DOSE: Gluten free loaves with persimmon
topping. Eat one now, freeze one for later.

Most of us don't need to think too carefully about what we eat, enjoying whatever we feel like in moderation. Occasionally we allow ourselves an indulgence or two and this doesn't do us any harm.

But some of us are not so lucky. Studies show that about 10 per cent of the population are wheat and gluten sensitive, but four out of five don't know it.

Coeliac disease is a medical condition. People with the disease have a permanent intestinal intolerance to gluten found in wheat, barley, rye and with some coeliacs, oats.

What does it mean if you suffer this condition? Well, symptoms can include chronic fatigue, bloating, headaches, itchy skin and irritable bowels. A strict gluten-free diet is essential. If untreated, there is a risk of gastrointestinal upsets together with other health problems.

Hundreds of everyday foods contain gluten including breads, biscuits, pies, pastries, pasta made with wheat, sausages bound with breadcrumbs, and sauces and soups thickened with wheat flour. Most breakfast cereals should also be avoided. And always read the labels of commercially prepared foods. Avoid include lemon barley water and brewed drinks made with barley such as beer and stout.

As alternatives consider: gluten-free pastas which are very readily available now from supermarkets; potatoes, pulses, rice, rice flour, rice bran, rice noodles, arrowroot, tapioca and sago, soy flour or arrowroot, mung bean (cellophane) noodles, gluten-free bread and bread mixes, puffed rice cakes and crackers, and puffed corn cakes.



Makes 2 small loaves one for the freezer.


  • 2 cups Simple Gluten-free Baking Mix
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Ό tsp ground cinnamon
  • Ύ cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp each: brown sugar, canola oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup peeled and diced persimmon
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar, extra


  • Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  • Lightly spray with oil two x 2-cup non-stick loaf pans.
  • Line the bases with baking paper.
  • Sift the baking mix, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl.
  • Combine the milk, brown sugar, canola oil and eggs. Stir into the baking mix.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly into the pans.
  • Sprinkle the top with the diced persimmon.
  • Sieve the extra brown sugar over the persimmon.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

The tops may be glazed with sieved apricot jam while still warm.

Great served sliced with or without a table spread.

Makes two loaves.



Base Ingredients:

  • 1 cup luke warm water (body temperature)
  • 1½ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1½ cups Simple Gluten-free Bread Mix
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • extra bread mix

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 each: onion, large tomato,
  • 1 each: green, yellow pepper (capsicum)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup each: diced cooked chicken, grated tasty cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Place a pizza stone or an oven tray in to heat.
  • Combine the water and yeast and stand until dissolved.
  • Combine the bread mix and the paprika in a bowl.
  • Stir the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients.
  • Mix well, until fairly firm. The dough might still be a little sticky.
  • Dust the bench with a little extra bread mix.
  • Tip the dough on to the bench and form the dough into a ball.
  • Place in an oiled bowl, cover with film and stand in a warm place while preparing the topping ingredients.
  • Thinly slice the onion and tomato.
  • Seed and slice the peppers.
  • Using a spatula, pat the bread dough thinly on to an oiled sponge roll tray.
  • Stand for 5 minutes.
  • Top with the onion, oregano, chicken, tomato, peppers, cheese, basil and black pepper.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked.

Serves 3-4.




  • 400g skinned and boned chicken breast
  • spray oil
  • 1 cup good chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp chilli paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot
  • Ό cup finely chopped parsley
  • 250g wheat and gluten-free spaghetti, cooked


  • Slice the chicken into strips.
  • Saute in batches in a non-stick frying pan, which has been sprayed with cooking oil.
  • When lightly browned, place to one side.
  • Bring the stock, juice, chilli and garlic to the boil.
  • Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Make a paste of the arrowroot and a little water and stir into the stock.
  • Cook, stirring until thickened.
  • Return chicken to the pan with the parsley.
  • Serve over the cooked spaghetti.

Serves 4.




  • cup each: cocoa powder, warm water
  • 150g each: dark chocolate, butter,
  • 1 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1Ό cups ground almonds
  • 4 eggs, separated


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Grease and line a sponge roll pan with baking paper.
  • Whisk the cocoa powder and warm water in a large bowl.
  • Stir, until smooth.
  • Melt the chocolate and butter over low heat.
  • Stir into the cocoa mixture then add the sugar and almonds.
  • Mix well. Add the egg yolks one at a time.
  • Beat the egg whites, until soft peaks form.
  • Fold into the chocolate mixture in two batches.
  • Pour into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until firm. Cool.

Can be served warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream and garnished with chopped toasted walnuts.

Serves about 8.

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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2009, 02:50:42 am »

Life without wheat

By SALLY KIDSON - The Nelson Mail | Tuesday, 23 June 2009

WHEAT OUT: Anna and Roger Wilde, pictured with their son Gabriel, try to eliminate wheat and gluten from their diets. — DANIEL ALLEN. TASTY: Red quinoa salad with pears and feta. — DANIEL ALLEN.

  WHEAT OUT: Anna and Roger Wilde, pictured with their son Gabriel, try to eliminate wheat
        and gluten from their diets (left). TASTY: Red quinoa salad with pears and feta (right).
                                                     — Photos: DANIEL ALLEN.

Wheat and gluten intolerance is an increasingly common dietary condition, but as a Nelson couple are demonstrating, you can still eat well without wheat. Sally Kidson reports.

Anna and Roger Wilde reckon eating too much wheat can make them cranky, foggy and bloated.

The Nelson couple, who run a healthy-eating website and cooking classes using whole foods, rarely eat food containing large amounts of wheat and when they do they notice its impact.

While the Wildes aren't allergic to wheat they decided to eat less of it after going through a period of eating raw food five years ago. This diet encouraged them to cut things out of their diet which didn't make them feel good, and wheat was "definitely one of those things".

They've heard of, and personally know, others who find that some health complaints get better after eliminating wheat from their diet, including migraines and back pain.

The Wildes say while wheat is not completely wrong for most people, its dominance in our food can be problematic, with many of us eating more wheat in our diet than we need to.

Roger says a typical Western diet might include toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner, all of which contain wheat.

The Wildes say symptoms caused by wheat intolerance can range from mild symptoms like feeling tired, slightly bloated, "foggy" and grouchy, to more chronic conditions like depression, headaches and bowel irritation.

They believe wheat intolerance is becoming more prevalent partly due to greater awareness, but also because of "massive changes to food production over the last 40 to 50 years".

The method of growing wheat has changed in this time and wheat growers are among the highest users of chemical pesticides and herbicide sprays.

"It appears that the more hybridised strains of wheat create the most digestive problems," Roger says.

The Wildes point out the bread we eat today has also changed from previous generations, with today's mass-produced bread being vastly different in taste and texture to what earlier generations grew up on. Some modern bread is less nutritious and can contain more additives and preservatives.

They recommend people try going without wheat for six weeks (although Roger says improvements may be felt earlier) to see if they notice improvements in their energy levels, mental clarity and other health issues.

They also suggest people try eating breads made from ancient grains like spelt (or dinkel) or kamut, as they can be easier to digest.

The couple's passion for fresh food has led to publishers New Holland publishing a book using their recipes, Real Fresh Food.

Nelson photographer Daniel Allen has taken the photos for the book, which comes out in September and features recipes using locally sourced and unprocessed foods, many of which are gluten and wheat free.

They were thrilled to be approached by New Holland to write the book after the publisher came across their website, wildhealthfood.com, and felt their healthy whole food recipes were just what it was after.

Anna says while people might find it daunting cutting out wheat or gluten from their diet, it doesn't need to be.

Many gluten-free versions of products don't taste that great and can be expensive.

So she suggests people approach going wheat or gluten free as a way to expand their culinary skills and taste experiences by cooking with grains like quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) - a whole grain grown in South America - they might not usually use.

"It's an opportunity to improve your health."

One Nelson woman who has seen major improvements in her health by eliminating wheat and gluten products from her diet is Stoke woman Wendy Joyes, who was diagnosed as having coeliac disease four years ago. She says not eating gluten means she no longer suffers from a range of health and stomach issues.

She says she started feeling a lot better within six to eight weeks of eliminating gluten, with some symptoms disappearing earlier.

"It was like flicking a switch for me - that's why I'm motivated to stick to the diet."

Coeliac disease is a condition in which the body has an immune reaction to gluten.

While symptoms of the disease are unpleasant in itself, including diarrhoea and vomiting, the disease can lead to a wide range of other symptoms, many of which are caused by nutritional deficiencies, including mouth ulcers, stomach pain, depression, weak bones and susceptibility to infection.

It's estimated that as many as one in 100 people have coeliac disease, but the condition is believed to be seriously under-diagnosed.

The under-diagnosis is something Joyes can relate to. Her diagnosis led to eight members of her extended family, including two of her four children, also testing positive for the condition.

Coeliac disease can be diagnosed with a blood test - if that test comes back positive patients are referred for an endoscopy to confirm they have the disease.

"Some people will stop at the blood test and put themselves on a gluten-free diet, but they need to go through the whole process to make sure that really is what is going on," Joyes says.

Having the disease confirmed by endoscopy also allows coeliac sufferers to access subsidised gluten-free food, like flour mixes and pasta - those gluten-free products can be "hellishly expensive" otherwise.

She places orders through Oamaru-based distributor Crombie and Price every few months.

"I was very determined to be really strict right from the start, right from the day I was diagnosed I made a choice to never eat gluten."

One of the first new skills she learnt was to really read the labels of food products, something she says is getting much easier with companies increasingly listing more contents on their labels.

Joyes says it's necessary to read labels with an eagle eye. Ingredients like soy sauce, for example, contain gluten, as do various thickeners, and coeliacs can also not have malt vinegar, as it contains barley.

To be successful in eating a gluten-free diet means planning and developing your own systems, but once you have got those skills in place, eating a gluten- free diet isn't too daunting, she says.

It is relatively easy to avoid gluten in evening meals; it is mainly lunches and snacks that present hurdles.

She has home-made gluten-free muffins on hand and supermarkets stock gluten-free products with items like gluten-free pita bread a "really wonderful" substitute for sandwiches. Gluten- free muesli bars are also helpful for snacks.

She says eating out is where eating a gluten-free diet can get tricky.

However, restaurants are getting better at including gluten-free choices and marking those on their menus.

Overseas travel presents another challenge that the family is yet to tackle, with feedback from members of the Nelson Coeliac support group who've travelled saying it was difficult.

She agrees some people see eating gluten-free as a bit of a fad and says this can send mixed messages to the community about people who genuinely can't eat gluten.

"Some people choose to put themselves on a gluten-free diet because they see it as a healthy choice, but gluten is not unhealthy unless you are allergic to it."

Joyes says good support exists for people diagnosed with coeliac disease. The Coeliac Society of New Zealand publishes a good magazine, and she has read a lot on the topic. "Because it was a pathway to good health, I don't look at food and think, ‘I wish I could have that’."

The recipes on the next page, courtesy of Anna and Roger Wilde, show that whatever its limitations, a wheat-free diet doesn't need to be restricted in its taste offerings.


This is a type of protein found predominantly in wheat, but which also occurs in other grains such as barley, rye and oats. It is the gluten in wheat that becomes malleable when mixed with water allowing breads, pastries, pies and other products to be made.

Coeliac disease
A condition in which the body has an immune reaction to gluten. This causes inflammation of the intestine and incomplete digestion. While uncomfortable in itself, this digestive difficulty may lead to a wide range of other symptoms, many caused by nutritional deficiencies. Coeliac disease is estimated to affect 1 per cent of the population and is diagnosable with a blood test and endoscopy.



A colourful, nourishing soup. Add calamari, scallops or prawns if available.

Serves 4-6.

Soup Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp peanut or rice bran oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste
  • cup long-grain rice
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 cups water
  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Chopped fresh coriander for garnish

Dumplings Ingredients:

  • 400g fresh, boneless, white-fleshed fish
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted (or 1 tsp ground cumin)
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Saute onion until softened slightly.
  • Add red curry paste and rice.
  • Cook for several more minutes.
  • Add tomato, turmeric and water.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the fish dumplings.
  • Cut fish into small chunks and place in a food processor fitted with an “S” blade.
  • Add remaining ingredients and process for 20 to 30 seconds until well combined.
  • When the rice in the soup is well cooked, add coconut cream.
  • Bring to a low boil again.
  • Using a dessertspoon, scoop some of the fish mixture, squeeze it gently in the hand to form a dumpling and add to the soup.
  • They can be any shape but a consistent size is best.
  • Continue making dumplings, adding to the soup as you go, until all the fish mixture is used up.
  • Add lemon juice and sea salt.
  • Simmer for about 5 minutes until dumplings are just cooked.
  • Serve in individual bowls, garnished with coriander.



Red quinoa - although more maroon than red - has all the wonderful nutritional properties of regular quinoa and a dramatic bright colour. If preferred, use cow's feta or blue cheese instead of goat's feta.

Serves 6.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds
  • 2-3 firm but ripe pears
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives or spring onions, finely sliced
  • 110g goat's feta


  • Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water and drain.
  • Place in a large saucepan, add water and salt and bring to boil.
  • Cover and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.
  • Use while warm, or allow to cool.
  • Toast the sliced almonds on a low heat until just starting to colour.
  • Slice pears into quarters, remove core and slice into long thin strips.
  • Place quinoa, pears, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice and chives in a bowl and toss to combine.
  • To serve, crumble feta on top and gently mix everything together.



This is a delicious wheat, dairy and sugar-free alternative to chocolate fudge. Serve these squares with fresh strawberries, all piled up together for dramatic effect.

Makes about 18 squares.


  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • cup dried coconut
  • cup cocoa powder
  • 8 large dried figs (150g), sliced
  • ½ cup dates, chopped
  • 2 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 2 Tbsp water


  • Soak almonds in water overnight and drain.
  • Line a 10cm x 20cm loaf tin with cling film.
  • Grind the sesame seeds in a spice grinder or coffee mill until fine.
  • Put all ingredients in a food processor and process on high speed until the mixture has a fine, crumbly texture.
  • Squeeze some of the mixture in your fingers — it should be just moist enough to hold together.
  • Add a little bit more water if necessary.
  • Press mixture into the bottom of prepared loaf tin and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

To serve, remove from the pan and slice into squares.

• For more recipes, see wildhealthfood.com.

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« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2011, 02:48:36 pm »

Demand grows for gluten-free Purebread

By KAY BLUNDELL - The Dominion Post | 8:31AM - Monday, 26 September 2011

GREAT BAKES: Robert Glensor offers a range of gluten-free products through Paraoa Bakehouse Purebreads.
GREAT BAKES: Robert Glensor offers a range of gluten-free
products through Paraoa Bakehouse Purebreads.

DEMAND for Robert Glensor's gluten-free bakery products has been growing as fast as his organic loaves have been rising.

Mr Glensor started as a one-man band 15 years ago when he launched Paraoa Bakehouse Purebreads from premises in Kapiti Road, Paraparaumu.

Today he employs 16 staff and the demand for his gluten-free products, including breads, pizza bases, breadcrumbs, muesli, cakes and biscuits, has been growing steadily despite shoppers trimming their food budgets and struggling to justify paying extra for organic products.

"It was a lot easier to convince shoppers to buy organic products a few years ago. It's an easy thing to get knocked off the shopping list, especially when they [shoppers] are told other options are healthy," Mr Glensor said.

Launching his first gluten-free loaf, Corn and Seed, about four years ago, his latest gluten-free loaf, Young Bucks, was now his best seller.

The gluten-free market had become more competitive during the past couple of years as other companies launched gluten-free, low-allergy products.

"It is more challenging now but gluten-free is definitely our growth area. More and more people are getting into it, but we still have points of difference," he said.

The company's "fresh to store" policy meant it did not use gas-flush packaging used by many other breadmakers, and its method of bulk fermentation and sourdough breads meant they were a lot more digestible, he said. "Light, fluffy, white loaves are produced in about an hour and half while our three to five- hour fermentation process makes our breads much more digestible."

Using organic pasture-fed eggs in his products, he said his popular gluten-free loaves were more full-bodied in texture compared with others on the market.

Last year, Purebread was recognised as New Zealand's top organic business when it was awarded Organic Enterprise of the Year by Organic Aotearoa New Zealand.

Purebread supplies supermarkets and health-food stores from Kaitaia to Dunedin — about 50 per cent of its product is distributed within the Wellington region.

With a turnover of $1 million a year, the company distributes about 10,000 units a week.

Achieving Bio-Grow certification early in the life of the business, he used high-quality organic flour from Australia, which needed long periods for ripening.

Although organic flour was about two and half times the price of non-organic, he tried to keep his prices down, he said.

Looking to the future, he was hopeful organics would keep growing in popularity as people realised how important it was for their health.

"It is about what is NOT in our bread rather than what IS in it, in terms of pesticides and preservatives that are potentially very bad for people.

"If people are really serious about investing in our people and our children, the old cliche 'we are what we eat' should be taken very seriously," he said.

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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 09:08:35 pm »

Gluten-free Anzac biscuits

By EMMA GALLOWAY - Fairfax NZ | Friday, 20 April 2012

LEST WE FORGET: These gluten-free Anzac biscuits have the same delicious texture and taste as the traditional version baked using wheat flour.
LEST WE FORGET: These gluten-free Anzac biscuits have the same delicious texture and taste
as the traditional version baked using wheat flour. —

GLORIOUSLY CRISP and golden on the outside, while still chewy in the centre, these gluten-free Anzac biscuits are pretty damn close to the original in both flavour and texture.

While they are traditionally made using regular oats, I've opted to make these biscuits using quinoa flakes for a nutritious, 100 per cent gluten-free alternative.

You can find quinoa flakes and flour at your local health food store or at selected supermarkets.

It is said that traditional Anzac biscuits kept for up to two months, just long enough to be shipped over to the troops.

Mine have never made it past three days before being gobbled up, so I'm yet to find out how well they actually keep.




  • 1 cup (90g) quinoa flakes
  • ½ cup (80g) brown rice flour
  • cup + 1 Tbsp (45g) quinoa flour
  • 1 cup (220g) raw unrefined sugar
  • ¾ cup (60g) desiccated coconut
  • 125g butter or dairy-free margarine
  • 1 Tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp boiling water


  • Preheat oven to 170°C.

  • Place quinoa flakes, brown rice flour, quinoa flour, raw sugar and coconut into a medium bowl. Melt butter/margarine and golden syrup together in a small pan over medium heat.

  • Mix the baking soda with boiling water and add to the dry ingredients along with the melted butter mixture, using a wooden spoon stir to fully combine.

  • Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls, squeezing the mixture together if it seems crumbly. Slightly flatten and place 2-3cms apart on baking paper lined oven trays.

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cookies have risen, then fallen and have become dark golden brown in colour. Remove from the oven and set aside for five minutes to set before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to seven days. Makes 30.

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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2012, 04:19:39 pm »

Crusty gluten-free bread

Capital Life

By PIPPA KENDRICK - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 24 May 2012

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD: This alllergy-friendly crusty loaf is easy to make at home. — Photo: PIPPA KENDRICK.
BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD: This alllergy-friendly crusty loaf is easy to make at home.

ALLERGY-FRIENDLY bread can be one of the hardest things to create; the lack of gluten, eggs and yeast makes it tricky to bake a loaf that can both rise and hold its shape.

I promise you that this loaf will not disappoint, however. With a glorious crisp crust and just the right inner texture, it is a breeze to prepare and tastes equally good fresh from the oven or toasted the next day.

You'll see when it bakes that it rises up brilliantly from its tin; this is due to the combination of sparkling water, bicarbonate of soda and lemon, which mimic the action of yeast but with none of the downsides for those who are intolerant to it.

This truly is a failsafe recipe for bread — I love it and I hope you will too.



This recipe is free from gluten, egg, dairy, yeast and nuts. You will need a 450g loaf tin for this recipe.


  • 450g gluten-free plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp xanthan gum
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 3 heaped tsp egg replacer, whisked with 6 tbsp water
  • 175ml/6fl oz rice milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 200ml/7fl oz sparkling water


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and lightly dust the loaf tin with flour.

  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and stir together until blended.

  • Pour in the egg replacer mixture, rice milk and lemon juice and, using a wooden spoon, mix everything together as much as you can - you will find the mixture is very dry and clumpy, which is as it should be.

  • Immediately pour over the sparkling water and mix together for a minute or so until the dough has pulled together. Now use your hands to lightly pull the mixture together, without kneading it, into one large ball of smooth dough — you will be able to feel how light and airy the dough is under your fingers. Resisting the urge to knead it, place the dough straight into the loaf tin, fitting it into the corners and then gently levelling the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

  • Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, by which time the loaf will have risen up out of the tin and turned a pale gold in colour with a crisp crust. Remove from the oven and transfer from the tin onto a wire rack, leaving to cool before cutting into slices.


• Recipe from The Intolerant Gourmet (Harper Collins, RRP $49.95)

“The Intolerant Gourmet”

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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 10:58:06 pm »

He he... lol.

Check out www.vegeme.co.nz

More recipes coming over the next few days.
If you have any you would like to donate - PLEASE do!  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 02:26:13 pm »

Coeliac baker makes tasty gluten-free food his business

By CALEB HARRIS - The Dominion Post | 5:00AM - Monday, 21 October 2013

GOING HARD: Sean Barnes stocks his 100% gluten-free Carterton cafe, The Goodness of Food, with products from his own catering business, Frillys. He learned how to make gluten-free food “taste like food” after being diagnosed with coeliac disease, he says. — CALEB HARRIS/Fairfax NZ.
GOING HARD: Sean Barnes stocks his 100% gluten-free
Carterton cafe, The Goodness of Food, with products
from his own catering business, Frillys. He learne
 how to make gluten-free food “taste like food” after
being diagnosed with coeliac disease, he says.

A CLASSIC bit of trans-Tasman stirring gave Sean Barnes the inspiration he needed to launch a unique food business.

"How does a Kiwi make a small business? He starts off huge, then he slowly whittles it away to nothing," an Aussie friend teased.

Barnes tells the anecdote with a grin but there is a steely gleam in his eye.

"We did the opposite," he says.

"Start little, then go hard."

Barnes is a trained pastry chef who has worked in some of London's best hotels.

Back in Wairarapa, he became extremely sick working in a bakery and was diagnosed with coeliac disease — a permanent, auto-immune disorder caused by intolerance to gluten, a substance found in baking staples such as wheat, barley, rye and oats.

It seemed like disaster.

"It's like being a brain surgeon but then you can't stand needles, knives and blood."

But he and wife Kate found a way forward, launching a 100 percent gluten-free (GF) cafe and catering business, thought to be the only one of its kind in the country. True to the Barnes' recipe, its beginnings were humble — they sold their first pies from their car boot. But the new products sold well. "We made a name for ourselves."

Kate's parents invested and the couple launched an online business shipping their own "Frillys" gluten-free products to homes, cafes and caterers around the nation. Frillys is a blend of the names of their two children — Freddy, 4, and Lily, 5.

In May 2011 they launched their own, completely gluten-free cafe in Carterton, The Goodness of Food. The trick, Barnes says, is taste. He describes traditional GF cooking as "flavourless, heavy, unpalatable — just yuk".

"It was an extensive exercise of perfecting formulas ... GF [flour] absorbs moisture faster, so the cooking time is nowhere near as long. You have to teach yourself how to make food that tastes like food." Where most cafes offer the same one or two GF staples such as almond friands or roast veges, he has GF versions of a large range of his most beloved dishes, which taste at least as good as their glutenous cousins, he says.

"When you're first diagnosed coeliac you walk past a place with date scones and you go, I know it's going to make me sick but I don't care." Now he has people driving up to 45 minutes for his gluten-free big breakfasts, cheesecakes or fish and chips, orders for his slices and pies from Gore to Kaitaia, and a majority of walk-in customers who don't even realise his cafe is gluten free.

Barnes has learned to be patient.

"To grow a business from scratch, there's ups and downs — but this coming financial year is on track to be very profitable."

He advocates personalising service by remembering customers' orders. "Making someone feel they're special is a really important part of our job."

He frequents trade shows, and on quiet days drives around the North Island cold-calling shops and cafes, offering tastings.

All told, Barnes looks well placed to make a certain Aussie stirrer eat his words — sans gluten, of course.

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