My First Gluten Free Cookbook
Our daughter was diagnosed with a Wheat and Gluten Intolerance more than 30 years ago. At this time a gluten intolerance was an unusual condition and foods for her diet had to be home cooked as there were no gluten free products that could be bought.
Baking without gluten even for me, a trained commercial cook, was difficult. I started developing recipes for my daughter and soon the Coeliac Society became aware of my work. Working full time with little time to spare I promised the Coeliac Society that I would help them with recipes when I retired. I commenced developing recipes and teaching gluten free baking for the Coeliac society throughout Australia. For a retired person I found this work exhausting so I decided that if I published the recipes this would help people and let me enjoy my retirement.
Research worldwide by the State Library revealed one paperback gluten free recipe book by an American author. She used a white bean flour that needed a gum, xantham Gum because of the low protein content of the flour. I knew from baking experience that a high protein flour was necessary for successful baking. Under the guidance of my daughter’s allergy specialist I started testing flour and finally after many months my All Purpose Flour was the basis of my early recipes. I started compiling recipes and finally after two years I had tested enough recipes for a manuscript of 150 recipes without the use of gum, the cause of bloating.
Then it was time to look at publishing possibilities, I trudged publisher after publisher but no one was interested in publishing a gluten free recipe book although a well known recipe book publisher was encouraging but said there was not enough people who needed the book for them to publish. He thought I should look at publishing 5000 books myself. Little did I realize the work or the money involved!
Before digital photography I set up an appointment with specialist food photographer , where he gave me an estimate of $4000.00 per photograph. He suggested I needed about twelve photographs and this would take about three weeks of full time work at his studio in North Sydney.
I would have to be at his studio at about 6am each morning with three copies of two dishes that I wanted him to photograph. This meant working through the night to prepare work for the next day.
One copy of the recipe was used to set up the shot, the second in case the first wasn’t suitable and the third, just a backup. Hours of work continued with changes of lighting and arrangements of food before trial photography shots were taken and developed before a final group of photographs were taken. Photography finished each day around 5pm. Then it was time to go home and bake again for tomorrows photographs. After three weeks and approx. $50.000 dollars I had a batch of transparencies for the printers. Then the work started!
To prepare the manuscripts for the printer proofing was necessary, at least three different people proofed the recipes and rearranged the recipes. Of course more money. Then the manuscript was ready for the printer almost four years later and at a cost of $80.000 in September of 1996 “Lola’s Wheat free World” the first coloured gluten free cookbook appeared in the Coeliac Magazine. This book was reprinted numerous times over the next eight years before the current edition was published, this time by a publisher who took my manuscript and created the book Wheat Free World.
Gluten Free Cookery
My introduction to gluten free cookery came in 1980 when our daughter developed intolerance to wheat. Even though I was a commercially trained cook I found this type of cookery the most difficult that I had attempted, so if you are discouraged at any time take heart! Now due to twenty years of my attempts and failures there are many great recipes that you can master. I have been able to successfully make most products that can be made with wheat flour, although filo and a good puff pastry still elude me without the use of chemicals.
My first book Wheat Free World introduced a new method of cookery that was to simplify the recipes. These methods I teach in my Allergy cookery classes and I find that even beginner cooks can easily master them. I have continued in this book of breads to follow the same methods as thousands of letters from Coeliac and general allergy sufferers confirm the success of the recipes. I avoid the use of guar and Xanthan gums in my cookery as many reported cases of intolerance have come to me through the years, particularly of flatulence and irritable bowel symptoms. Soy flour is also avoided, as many allergy sufferers can’t tolerate soy products. My superfine flour blend used in this book is also free of corn.
One of my methods is to blend your own gluten free flour before commencing to cook. It is much less wearying if this is done on a day when you are not intending to bake. Make at least three kilos at a time, store it in a calico bag and it will keep for months, see the instructions under “Blending Your Own Flour”. This flour can be used for all purposes that you would normally use plain flour for. Your own flour mix will cost less than half the price of commercially packed products that can contain soy flour and unspecified ingredients such as wheat starch.
Successful gluten free cookery is dependent on following a few important rules. Please follow the directions as each recipe has been made at least three times, sometimes six or seven times to achieve a good result. Weigh all dry ingredients using a small accurate set of scales or a digital set. Cup measurements are not good enough for this type of cookery, due to the differing amounts of moisture contained in the flours, and the size of the grind of the flour, if you are using rice flour, it is manufactured in many different grinds from a course ground rice to the finest powdered rice flour. Of course one cup of a heavy grind weighs twice as much as a fine powdered product, hence needing more liquid and more oil or butter to prevent a crumbly product.
Read carefully the page on bread tins, this is an important part of all good cookery. Expensive utensils are not required for good results apart from an electric mixer and a good reliable oven. With a little confidence you can become a superb gluten free cook.