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Gluten Free Food

The final stage needs extra care, because you are going to have to turn the top over. Remove this from the fridge, brush the edge with water and do the same with the pastry in the dish. Leave the top stuck to the paper it was rolled on and cover with the saved paper. Now you have to transfer it to the pie. For a small dish like the one I used, my hand was enough support, but if you are making the larger pie topping you may have to use a thin plastic cutting sheet or similar. Don’t remove either sheet of baking paper yet. Place one hand, or slide a thin cutting sheet, under the baking paper, and the other hand, or the second plastic sheet, over the top, then turn over. Move this to the correct position over the dish (close enough isn't good enough - if the pastry falls in, you'll never get it out in one piece!). Take off the top plastic sheet so that you can see what’s going on through the baking paper, then slide out the supporting hand or the other sheet – don’t remove the paper underneath the crust until it is in the right position. Once the final adjustments have been made, then you can slide it. Finally, peel off the baking paper it has been rolled on, taking care to avoid splitting. Now, crimp down the edge of the pie and make a few holes in the top to release any steam.

Brush with egg white or milk and bake on 190°C (175°C fan-forced) for 25 minutes, or until golden. When cooked, the pie with the base can be lifted from the dish using the paper, transferred to a board for cutting, then slid onto the serving plates with a spatula or fish-slice. My pie was great and tasted the same as it had always been with wheat flour. I sincerely hope yours turns out the same. Just a word of warning: temperatures and cooking times will need adjusting to allow for the idiosyncrasies of your particular oven, not to mention where you place the pie on the shelf. Hopefully by now, you’ll know what to expect from your cooker.

As well as pastry, we are also fond of batter puddings, in particular Yorkshires and Toad in the Hole. My old recipe worked better using 2 – 2½ tablespoons of GF plain flour and TWO eggs plus the milk, of course, mixed and rested in the usual way (see Recipe 13). With my first attempt, I used a temperature of 170°C fan-forced which produced puddings that looked great in the oven, but they sank miserably when I put them on the plates. If you don't mind softer Yorkshires, try them this way, because they cook quicker and still taste great; but if you prefer them crisper and “upstanding” lower the oven setting to 160°C fan-forced and leave them in a bit longer (about 30-40 minutes). This recipe made 3 huge puddings, or would probably be enough for 10-12 patty-size. I also discovered that the same mixture makes excellent pancakes, especially with the addition of a little sugar and cinnamon.

As for cakes, there are GF mixes available, but I haven't tried them myself so can't recommend any. I would imagine, however, that they could be made with the standard GF flours, plus the addition of an extra egg. I'll have to try this and see what happens. I can, however, recommend this month's recipe as one that most of you will enjoy. Hoolie Doolies not only taste good, but they are a breeze to make - 35 minutes to prepare and cook, all up. The exclamation of the same name came from our Grandson when he first tried them, and I suspect you'll be hollering the words too. These little cakes are so adaptable that anyone can make them, even the kids, because there's no rubbing in, just a good old stir with a wooden spoon. They can be sweet or savoury using a variety of additions to the basic mix to suit most tastes. Less milk results in a drier consistency producing something resembling rock buns that can be cooked longer for a crunchy texture; more milk in the mixture is the opposite. It is really worth experimenting to make your own special Hoolie Doolies.

Many of our recipes can be adapted to use gluten-free flours and products. If you haven't done so already, why not give one or more a go. It is simply a matter of substituting a few ingredients. The only ones I might have trouble with at the moment would be Pizza, Roast Turkey Carvery and Focaccia - mainly because they are bread-based. I'll have to try Strawberry Shortcake myself, but I see no reason why it couldn't be made using GF plain flour (without the gum) and GF baking powder. Have a play yourself, invent your own recipes – whatever happens, you won’t need to starve... well, hopefully not.

Aside from giving a promise to carry on experimenting with GF recipes, there's little more I can tell you. What I will say, though, is don't be satisfied with second best. You deserve to eat well and there's no reason you shouldn't. Scour the shops and supermarkets for GF products, give them a go; and if they make the food taste ghastly, lob it out for the birds and try again. Eventually you'll be able to achieve what we have - seven weeks without repeating a single meal, and all as good as the ones we used to eat; except for the trial versions of the pastry, of course, but even that experience was good for a laugh. So, please enjoy your gluten-free life in the knowledge that you are as healthy, if not more so, than your average wheat-eaters.

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