Murdoch Books
April 2023
Hardcover, Rrp $49.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

With coeliac disease so prevalent, plus thyroid problems such as Hashimoto’s Disease making gluten not only problematic, but actually dangerous, for many people, Gluten Free options are essential in a modern kitchen.

All too often, however, the reality falls short – sometimes far short. Often this is laziness, or lack of training, or worse, wilful ignorance. There’s no excuse for it – not when thickening a sauce is exactly as simple using rice flour or non-wheaten cornflour as it is using wheat-based products.

Baking is a little more complex, but hallelujah for cookbooks such as these – treasure troves of hints, tips, and methodology to create gluten free food which are close to or as good as wheat-based alternatives.

The difficulty, as anyone who has done the barest modicum of research will know, is that gluten provides elasticity to bread and cakes and the like. Gluten free alternatives have traditionally been dry or crumbly – but that doesn’t have to be the case at all, thanks to the likes of xantham gum, psyllium husk and the like.

As a chef who has been catering for different dietary requirements for over a quarter century, plus with a wife who was diagnosed as gluten intolerant a decade ago, and more recently with Hashimoto’s and told to treat gluten as if she was “allergic” to it, I have been on a journey to discover suitable alternatives to problematic wheat-based products for years. I can attest that there is a wealth of products and information out there now that simply weren’t readily available ten years ago.

Cherie Lyden runs the Wholegreen Bakery in Sydney and does exactly what she promises with Gluten Free Baking Made Simple. Her 80+ recipes start with essential GF flour blends, then runs the gamut from muffins, cupcakes, slices, cookies, pancakes, loaf cakes such as an amazing looking Lime, Coconut & Yoghurt Loaf with Lime Drizzle, cakes, pastries, pies, tarts, brioche, hot cross buns and breads, Including both sweet and savoury versions.

It’s a revelation for those baking fans who thought they might never be able to enjoy some of their favourite treats again without catastrophic side effects.

Crucially, it will also act as indispensable research material for chefs wanting to increase their understanding of working with gluten free alternatives to the norm and, hopefully, help to provide better, safer alternatives for those who need them.

Shane Pinnegar
Shane Pinnegar is an author, chef and music/pop culture writer who lives in Western Australia. He has a lovely wife, two rambunctious dogs with no respect for personal space, especially on the sofa or bed, twenty-something koi, a flock of itinerate galahs who visit regularly, and a never-comprehensive-enough rock n' roll record collection.

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