As a child, I imagined life as a grown up and cast myself as a round, blond short curly haired mother who pretty much just baked. Ah those heady pre-body image conditioning, pre-feminist understanding, pre-blond-turning-to-brown and pre-gluten-free days.
Still. Post-children, I was excited about baking with them and here they are and they love to bake! But the parameters are different. After my coeliac diagnosis I made a cavalier attempt to bake that Australian staple, anzac cookies – they crumbled to death. Then hugely ambitiously, I tried to make pasta with my juicer (which is amazing and does do this), but the stiff gluten free recipe had the machine labouring to the point of smoking – literally. Deeply traumatised, I was too scared to turn it on for a year but hooray, it still works.
So although my savoury stove-top cooking hasn’t changed much – a packet of gluten free pasta here, a different choice of stock there, I haven’t ventured into the oven so much.
I bought this wonderful book pre-gf, and was then excited to see that almost everything is gluten free. Author Harry Eastwood ‘didn’t want those with wheat intolerances to miss out on the fun’ bless her. Beyond that, Harry Eastwood has integrated ‘secret ingredients’ into her recipes – vegetables. Seriously; sponge cakes with 200g of grated potato, pistachio chocolate cake with 300g of grated courgette (that’s zucchini in Australian) and this show-stopper of a Red Velvet Cake with a bunch of almond meal and hazelnuts and 200g of grated beetroot – there’s a stack of nutrients in there!
It’s a beautiful book with sumptuous styling and gorgeous, poetic photography. Harry gives all the cakes characters and personalities (This cake is the food equivalent of watching your mother put her lipstick on for a night out).
This cake was made with the help of three children (jamming the nuts on the side was their favourite part), the Red Velvet Cake page in the book is now suitably splattered with beetroot bits.
If you’re looking for a book to give a newly diagnosed coeliac, skip the ‘gluten free cookbooks’ (I never use them), and get this little gem.