Living in France, 30 mins from the centre of Paris, I have access to various exotic-sounding French gluten free baked goods, including croissants, pains au chocolat and madeleines. I also have a sweet tooth. You might therefore think that my gluten free cup runneth over and I might have little or no need to bake my own GF bread and other baked goods.
However, Houston, we have a problem. Finding GF baked goods I would actively choose to eat is extremely difficult. Here are the main issues:
- The flours used are mostly starches – pure carbs, with almost zero nutritional value. No fibre, no minerals, no vitamins, just calories.
- The flour of choice is usually rice flour due to price point and availability. As well as being nutritionally void (see above), rice flour gives almost everything an unpleasant gritty texture. It also has the ability to suck every molecule of moisture from your mouth as soon as it is chewed.
- Many bakeries use large amounts of xanthan gum to bind their flours, especially for products like croissants. And xanthan gum gives me the same gut symptoms as gluten. Suddenly that croissant is looking less attractive.
- Most easy to find items are industrially produced and use ingredients like palm oil, and a truck load of additives. Tasty.
- Artisan produced baked goods are hard to find. Unless you are lucky enough to live in the centre of Paris, London or New York, chances are that you will not have a dedicated gluten free bakery using quality ingredients within a reasonable distance.
- Many bakeries will produce gluten free items in a gluten-filled atmosphere. And recite with me ‘gluten free plus cross contamination does not equal gluten free’.
So I choose to make my own GF baked goods, with organic GF flours with positive nutrition, with seeds and plant fibre generally to bind (rather than xanthan gum) and in my own gluten free kitchen.
I’d love to have the opportunity to teach you recipes that work, that are simplified and worth the investment of your precious time. Let’s bake!
About the Author
Lisa Rumsey is a UK-trained doctor who worked in General Practice and Women’s Health in both the UK and France from 1988 until 2010. After moving to Singapore, she contributed to a magazine as a food writer and editor and subsequently teaching gluten free cooking, both privately and at a local cookery school. Now living back in France again, she is teaching GF baking from her home in the western suburbs of Paris. She also takes people on walking tours in Paris hunting down ingredients, bakeware and good GF things to eat. All the details are on her blog www.biencuitglutenfree.com.