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Dear Lola . . .

Almond flour is a little darling of grain free, Paleo/Primal, and low carb. baking. It easily rivals conventional flour in its ability to produce tender and fluffy baked goods. Unfortunately, almond flour has numerous detrimental health consequences. It is important to understand these aspects of almond flour, so you can make the decision to avoid or use it ….

A cup of almond flour contains about 90 almonds  Imagine sitting down and mindfully chewing 33 almonds at one meal. After perhaps a big handful, your body would tell you “Okay. I’m full. That’s enough almonds for right now.” As you may know from experience, your body loses that perception and communication when consuming almond flour.

I find the microwave method the best for cooking gluten free pasta. Use a large earthenware or microwave bowl, with a lid; a soup tureen is good if you have one as it has an air hole. Use half a cup of rice pasta and one cup of cold water. Cook on high for eight minutes and let stand for ten minutes. Stir when cooked and if still a little uncooked let stand a few more minutes. You can even use gluten free pasta cooked this way for pasta salad. For success with rice spaghetti see Cooking Rice Spaghetti under my Cooking class tab.

Besan flour is not bitter to taste, even the cheaper brands that are imported from India are not bitter, some have an earthy curry flavour. I think the flour you were sold, as besan flour is yellow pea flour, this is a very bitter product. As good quality besan flour has increased in price, some shops are selling this cheaper flour as besan. The best brand of besan is the colour of custard powder and does not have black specs in it. If you cannot get it email or fax me and I can always send you some. It is usually packed in plastic bags and when you get it home store it in paper or a flip top lid that will let the flour “breathe”, important to prevent rancidity.

With fan ovens the heat still manages to lift the foil, I use a flat scone tray on top of the bread tin, this works well to give you a flat top as well as preventing the loaf from burning. Gluten free flours are heat sensitive and do burn easily so try baking the bread on the lowest shelf and use an oven thermometer to check the temperature, if it is still burning reduce the temperature by 20 degrees.

If I am in a hurry and haven’t any of my bread and pastry blend ready mixed, I use a thin coating of potato flour on the steak before browning, it thickens very well and makes a nice glossy gravy. Be careful not to use too much or you will get a gluggy mixture.

There are a few easy methods of handling such products as golden syrup, treacle, rice syrup and liquid glucose. Many of these products are now packed in glass or plastic containers so that you can warm them in the microwave. If you are using oil in the recipe use some of this to oil your measure and the syrup will then easily slide off. If you are weighing the product just oil the dish on your scales.

Heating the eggs and sugar over a saucepan of hot water allows the mixture to be beaten without separating the eggs. Also the warmed mixture whips in half the usual beating time, a great help if you only have a hand mixer. Separating the eggs and beating for a long time gives you a dry sponge that will not keep. This method can be used with icing sugar and egg whites to give a thick creamy meringue covering such as used in Bombe Alaska. It sets in the oven in just a few minutes.

This is a precaution with a new tin; once your tin has baked a few loaves of bread it is seasoned and does not need the paper. You can use ‘baking or silicone’ paper more than once. Do remember to always bake your bread in a heavy duty tin, not aluminium. Sometimes I say to grease the tin with margarine, this is done to evenly hold seeds if you are using them in the bottom of plait and ribbed tins, or simply to hold the paper in place.

This can have one or two different causes; usually the most common cause is leaving the bread to rise too long before it is placed in the oven, remember that gluten free bread still rises in the oven unlike wheaten bread. A common cause can be the type of yeast as some dried yeasts contain a fast rising ingredient that is good for wheat bread but not so good for gluten free products. Slightly cooler water will help if it is the yeast but as you say ‘sometimes’ I think it is probably the first cause.

Many gluten-free recipes use rice flour, maize cornflour and tapioca starch, these simple carbohydrates are quickly digested and are broken down into simple sugar glucose. When the cells in your body need fuel they use this glucose. Extra glucose is converted into glycogen. If your body already has enough glycogen stored up, the glucose is turned into fat. Besan flour is made from chickpeas, complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest, making you feel full longer. They provide vitamins, minerals, fibre, and consistent energy. Many Coeliacs lack B vitamins, calcium, iron, and other nutrients so why not get them from your baked goods.

 Many manufacturers are advertising Gluten free Oats, Does the Coeliac Society think that these oats are gluten free.? Further to your inquiry regarding the advertised uncontaminated oats this is the reply by Graham Price, Technical Officer and chemist for the Coeliac Society of Australia. Note that America has a much higher allowable gluten content in their foods than Australia.

Gluten is the name given to the protein in wheat, rye, barley and oats that affect people with coeliac
disease. It is a composite name representing – Gliadin in Wheat, Hordein in Barley,Secalin in Rye,Avenin in Oats The current tests for gluten can measure gliadin, hordein, and secalin but not avenin as it is a slightly different protein. Accordingly it is prohibited under the Food Standards Code to use oats in foods labelled or advertised as gluten free.
When people discuss gluten free oats (and laboratories advise that oats are gluten free) what should be said is that they are free from wheat (and rye, barley) gliadin i.e. there is no measurable contamination. Avenin is an essential part of oats (as gliadin is with wheat). Oats will never be gluten (i.e. avenin) free [even if they are described as gluten (i.e. gliadin) free]. As mentioned in The Australian Coeliac magazine on several occasions, Dr Robert Anderson has found that approximately 1:5 people with coeliac disease react to pure uncontaminated oats i.e. they react to oat avenin. Since we cannot determine who is the 1:5 and we know that damage can occur in the absence of symptoms, Dr Anderson’s advice (and The Coeliac Society’s) is that oats should not be consumed without a biopsy prior to and during consumption. Graham Price OAM BSc (Hons)

Please write or try to contact the author through the publisher, I have tested my recipes many times but many recipe books are compiled from stored recipes that have just been converted to gluten free and not necessarily tested and sometimes they will not give you successful results.

Fermipan is no longer available in Australia and I am now using Mauripan yeast; also a commercial quality.

The advantage of a commercial quality yeast is the extended life span, 3 years in a jar in the frig. and the intolerance level, it works in all climates and is not effected if the water is a little too hot or too cold. Mauripan produces a fine textured loaf. I have been using it successfully now for three years.
You can have it mailed from my web site, in some states it is sold in health food outlets that I supply at a wholesale rate, but it is not as easy to find in NSW. Domestic yeast sold in supermarkets contains a large amount of a bread improver that is necessary for wheat flour but unsuitable for gluten free flour as it over-rises the gluten free mixture causing it to collapse in the oven.

Such a basic cookery question I thought everyone would know until I decided to check in cookery book glossary pages and found no mention of either product in my huge range of books. For new cooks I can now understand the problem. No they are not the same product!
Baking Soda, the common name for bi-carbonate of soda is used in recipes where slight rising is required such as cookies or pastry, or it is used to darken a product such as a fruitcake or gingerbread. In my basic pastry I use lemon juice to activate the soda causing a gas that lightens the pastry.
Baking Powder is a combination of one part Bicarbonate of soda with two parts Cream of Tarter to give a lighter leavening effect that takes place in the oven for cakes. These two elements are combined with’filler’ such as cornflour to prevent activation in the container and to make measuring easier. It is this filler that may contain gluten so it is important to read the label

Sour cream if you can have it otherwise mashed cooked sweet potato is good. Fruits such as dates also add moisture. If you freeze your scones, before you reheat them in the microwave a dip in cold water does wonders. Wrap the wet scone in paper towel before heating. Psyllium is also good, sprinkle a tablespoon onto half a cup of cold water and leave to stand about ten minutes until it is a thick jelly, add this mixture to your scones. The important step with scones is to keep the mixture soft and don’t overmix, always use a knife and mix with a cutting action. Make sure the liquid is added to he bowl before the flour, never make a well and add liquid with gluten free scones.

It is almost impossible to over mix using a knife, yes, it is awkward, so encouraging you to mix lightly. It also ensures that the mixture is moist as it is even more difficult to mix a dry mixture with a knife. Remember to always add the liquid first when making scones. Over mixing and a dry mixture ruin a good scone.

Light olive oil is light in colour and flavour, there is no difference in the moisture level, however I did find a difference when testing canola oil, the recipes needed an additional tablespoon of oil for each alf cup of olive oil. I prefer to use olive oil, apart from the type branded “Pomace”, olive oil is produced by pressing the fruit without the aid of chemicals.

You can cut a crust of gluten free bread into fingers, sprinkle it well with water and bake it for about twenty minutes in a low oven. Let it cool in the oven and check to make sure it is not too crumbly. If you wish to bake your own rusks look at Recipe Sheet Collection and Ingredients links and you will see details of a recipe and a beginner rusk package that includes the recipe, baking tray and a pre-mix for two dozen rusks to get you started The recipe does require a special tin and a few special ingredients to obtain a good result but they do keep well and don’t crumble easily. We mail out daily.

This is a product that I developed to improve the texture of sandwich bread and simplify the mixing process for folk who need to make bread regularly. It is mainly dried egg white with some gluten free starches and citric acid to neutralise the PH of water which assists the yeast to rise evenly. It is blended under pharmacuetical conditions to prevent contamination. The ingredients are only available in commercial quantities of 25 kilos or more at a cost of many hundreds of dollars so it is impractical to give a recipe. It takes the place of the egg whites in my sandwich bread recipe and allows a bread pre-mix to be made so that the mixture can be simply added to warm water and beaten to produce a good loaf. It is available only from my website and can be mailed out to most countries -Ingredients

I use gelatine to replace the gluten that is missing from my flour blends.It is a simple ingredient tolerated by most people and can be replaced by agar agar for vegetarians or those sensitive to it.

The saddle tin is the tin that German cooks use to make their Christmas Chocolate Log cakes, I find it a good shape to give interest to gluten free loaves that can be used for filling with meat and salad or just shopping into a bun shape for a quick lunch. It is made of tin and cooks the bread well. See my utensils page for an image.

I created sauce blocks thirty years ago to simplify sauce and gravy making for my commercial kitchen to obtain a consistent quality for the sauces we used. With a staff of eight cooks it was impossible to maintain a consistent standard for the sauces. When I commenced teaching gluten free cookery I found that I was often teaching people who had no previous cooking knowledge and saucemaking was a problem. The use of Sauce Blocks again solved this problem and has been a help to gluten free cooks ever since. In simple terms sauce blocks are roux blocks of my gluten free flour cooked with equal quantities of margarine or butter for a few minutes and set in an iceblock tray. These blocks can be frozen and used to thicken liquid when required.

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This article explains it all, I don’t need it for successful gluten free baking with my high protein flour blends and I do not use ingredients that
are known to cause bloating and stomach cramps, as well as the fact that the ingredient list recently sent to me lists lead and arsenic in the product, see below.

Xanthan gum is a thickening agent named after the bacteria used to make it through fermentation, Xanthomonas capestris. This common bacterium is the same culprit that causes your cauliflower to turn black when rotting. Although you would not eat rotting cauliflower, xanthan gum is generally safe and only causes mild irritations in some people. Guar gum and cellulose gel are common alternatives to use as thickening agents if you are sensitive to xanthan gum. Since celiac disease and gluten-free diets are becoming more commonplace, xanthan gum is also being used in more baked products to replace gluten.
Gastrointestinal Irritability
The most common side effects of xanthan gum are gas and bloating. If you ingest a large quantity of xanthan gum, you may experience severe abdominal pain from gas buildup in your intestines. A clinical study on the effects of xanthan gum on dogs was completed by the World Health Organization. In this study, dogs were fed large amounts of pure xanthan gum and experienced weight loss and chronic diarrhea.

No human trials have been done to determine if normal dietary consumption of xanthan gum produces any gastrointestinal effects except gas but it is recommended that plenty of water is consumed, especially by children who are consuming xanthan gum in products.
Respiratory Distress
Xanthan gum can be purchased in a powdered form for use in your kitchen. This low-density, fine powder has the ability to create a cloud in the air when being handled roughly. Inhaling xanthan gum may allow it to accumulate in your lungs, according to the World Health Organization. Eventually, xanthan gum may induce respiratory distress by making absorption of oxygen in your lungs difficult. The Xanthan Gum website reports that industrial workers who produce xanthan gum have experienced respiratory problems. You should be careful when handling xanthan gum and try to be gentle when adding it to your recipes. Inhaling small amounts should not cause any problems; however, if you believe you are experiencing any breathing difficulties, consult your doctor.
Allergic Reaction
Manufacturers are not required to list what food the Xanthomonas capestris bacteria eat during production. If you are allergic to any vegetation including soy and corn, you may want to seek an alternative thickening agent. If you only have a slight allergy, you may want to test several individual brands to determine which ones produce the fewest side effects. Allergic reactions can produce severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing. If you notice swelling or rash developing, talk to your doctor. Read more: I recently received this email below.

We are a leading Xanthan Gum  supplier and would like to offer you a great price on our product Xanthan Gum Food Grade

Item Specification
Appearance Cream-white Cream-white
Particle Size 80 mesh 200 mesh
Loss on Drying ≤13% ≤13%
PH (1% KCL) 6.0-8.0 6.0-8.0
Viscosity (1% KCL,cps) ≥1200cps ≥1400cps
Acid resistance This product and citric acid can be used together,function is not affected
Shearing Ratio ≥6.0 ≥6.0
Ashes(%) ≤13 ≤13
Pyruvis Acid (%) ≥1.5 ≥1.5
V1:V2 1.02-1.45 1.02-1.45
Assay 91%-108% 91%-108%
Total Nitrogen ≤1.5% ≤1.5%
Heavy metal    
Arsenic content ≤3ppm ≤3ppm
Lead content ≤5ppm ≤5ppm
Total Plate Count (cfu/g) ≤2000 ≤2000
Yeast & Moulds(cfu/g) ≤100cfu/g ≤100cfu/g
Coliform Negative/25g Negative/25g
Staphylococcus Negative/25g Negative/25g
Salmonella Negative/25g Negative/25g