One of the upsides of this blog is the continued stream of parcels which arrive at the Fuss Free flat. The downside is the feeling of obligation and the need to write about them. I am very very lucky with the opportunities this site brings me, but in some cases I wonder who is benefitting the most.
I am hugely excited to be speaking at the forthcoming Food Blogger Connect, about reviewing and working with PRs, and consequently have been putting some thought into my presentations on the subjects. I touched on both at the start of the year, and the more I think about it the more that I realise, at least for many bloggers, the two are entwined, as so many reviews are in response to invitations, gifts and samples from a PR. Without giving away the contents of my presentations too much, one of my new rules is that I am not going to feel obliged to write about unsolicited samples. Nor will I write “puff” pieces in the hope of obtaining more freebies, although judging from a twitter chat last weekend it seems that, sadly, some feel others do.
A recent (unsolicited) arrival was a copy of Honeybuns – gluten free baking, by the wondrously named Emma Goss-Custard. I am not gluten free, nor are any of my friends, so initially I was not that interested, but the first flick through quickly showed that the book warranted a little more attention. It is a lovely book, whether you are GF or not. Fantastic recipe names, interesting flavours, many of the recipes within are begging to be baked. Caramel, pecan & dark chocolate cake? Fig, honey and Greek yoghurt cake? Coffee whiskey and hazelnut cake? Yes please!
However what struck me the most was that much of the book is naturally gluten free and uses alternatives to wheat flour – polenta, ground nuts, tapioca, linseed etc – all delicious and very different in taste and texture to standard flour. I realised that I seldom bake with these ingredients, and that someone baking from this book could well be eating rather more interesting cakes than standard wheat containing ones, maybe we all have something to learn from the gluten free community?
Visually the book is lovely, well laid out, with bright shabby chic style photos of around half the recipes. I especially like the overall greenness and list of compostable waste from each recipe!
It has gained a highly contested space on my bookcase, mainly for inspiration, but I shall be baking from it but know I shall be substituting in normal flour for some of the more unusual ingredients (quinoa flour anyone?) although I think I could now grind my own in the new Vitamix.
If you are going to bake for a coeliac friend please take great care over any cross contamination issues. A microscopic amount of gluten can do a lot of damage, even a speck of flour in your sugar pot that gets transferred to your bake. You cannot be too careful.
Inspired by the book and not gluten free is this loaf, made with a mixture of polenta, ground almonds and flour. Lightly spiced with Steenberg’s koekkruiden blend, a warming heady mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and anise, perfect for this time of year and also not unlike speculoos (but spicier).
Fuss Free Rating
Honeybuns Gluten Free Baking by Emma Goss-Custard: ****
Spiced Apple, Almond and Polenta Cake
- 100 g butter or baking margarine
- 100 g soft light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 50 g plain flour
- 25 g polenta
- 25 g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp koekkruiden blend (or other warming aromatic spices
- 1 eating apple roughly grated
- 1 tsp flaked almonds optional
Beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until fluffy. Add the eggs and a tbs of flour and beat again. Fold in the remainder of the ingredients (apart from the flaked almonds).
Pour into a lined and greased 1lb loaf tin. Smooth the top of the batter and scatter the flaked almonds over.
Bake at GM5/190C/375F for 20 – 25 mins until risen.
Honeybuns is published by Pavilion, cover price £14.99
Fuss Free Flavours received a complimentary copy for review. All opinions are our own, we were not required to write a positive review.