Four gluten-free recipes to satisfy sweet and savoury cravings

You won't believe how good freshly baked, homemade crumpets taste.
You won't believe how good freshly baked, homemade crumpets taste.  Photo: Hannah Rose Hughes

If avoiding gluten has left you on an endless roster of soups and salads, maybe it's time to break out of your cooking comfort zone.

English blogger and recipe writer Becky Excell's new cookbook, How to Make Anything Gluten Free, is about rediscovering foods you miss eating, without compromising on taste or texture.

Becky Excell's new cookbook.
Becky Excell's new cookbook. Photo: Hardie Grant

"Through years of travelling to gluten-free bakeries across the world and sharing my own recipes online I've discovered ... you can make anything gluten-free," she writes. "Nothing needs to taste any different or look any worse either."

From creamy chicken pies to a giant gooey chocolate cookie, Excell's specially tailored recipes promise to unlock the foods you wouldn't ordinarily eat on a gluten-free diet.

To mark Coeliac Awareness Week, held this year on March 13-20, here are four crave-worthy dishes to make and enjoy. 

Five-ingredient crumpets 

Does it get any more British than tea and crumpets? Not only would you never know these are gluten-free, you wouldn't believe how good freshly baked, homemade crumpets taste. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 400ml/1⅔ cups milk, warmed
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp active dried yeast (ensure gluten-free)
  • 300g/2¼ cups gluten-free self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • vegetable oil, for cooking
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METHOD

  1. Stir your warm milk, sugar and yeast together in a jug, then allow to stand for 10 minutes until nice and frothy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add your flour, bicarb and salt. Add the frothy yeasted milk mixture and mix for 2 minutes until smooth (I use an electric hand whisk for this).
  3. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place for no less than an hour, ideally for 1 hour 30 minutes. There should be some air bubbles on top.
  4. Your mixture should have thickened to an almost pourable consistency. If it has thickened too much, simply add 1-2 tablespoons of warm water to your bowl and mix in.
  5. Add a little vegetable oil to a large frying pan and place over a medium heat. Place either round egg rings or round metal biscuit cutters to the pan (you will need to cook the crumpets in batches, depending on how many rings you can fit in the pan).
  6. Spoon 2½ tablespoons of the batter into each ring and cook for about 5 minutes, until little air bubbles appear on the surface and the surface is no longer wet. Using tongs, remove the rings and then flip the crumpets onto the other side to cook for about a minute. Remove from the pan and repeat until you've used up all of your batter.
  7. Serve with butter or a dairy-free alternative, golden syrup, jam (jelly), or whatever takes your fancy.

Makes: 10

This is an edited extract from How to Make Anything Gluten Free by Becky Excell, published by Quadrille, RRP $39.99
Gluten-free crumpets
One-pot barbecue pulled pork arepas
Arepas
Chicken, leek and bacon pie
Savoury shortcrust pastry
Cookie dough skillet 
Single use image only, images by Hannah Hughes, supplied by Hardie Grant for promotional purposes only

Tonnes of sweet, smoky flavour. Photo: Hannah Rose Hughes

One-pot barbecue pulled pork arepas

For me, street food usually involves walking down the street and taking in the combined aroma of all the food I can't eat. But as that isn't much of a hobby, I decided to make the ultimate street-food fakeaway of my dreams instead. This pulled pork is super soft and tender in the middle, yet crisp on the outside and packed with tonnes of sweet, smoky flavour. Add in the cayenne pepper if you like a little extra kick.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg pork shoulder, boneless
  • 2 tbsp garlic-infused oil
  • 300ml/1¼ cups (hard) cider (ensure gluten-free)

For the rub

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

For the barbecue sauce

  • 220ml/1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp black treacle (molasses)

To serve

  • 2-ingredient arepas (below)
  • baby gem lettuce, shredded
  • spring onion greens, chopped
  • extra mature cheddar, grated

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 150C fan-forced (170C conventional). 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the rub and mix until well combined. Ensure you break up any large clumps of sugar. Add the pork shoulder to the bowl and, using your hands, cover completely with the rub. Squeeze it and compact it against the pork shoulder as much as possible.
  3. Place a large lidded flameproof casserole dish or Dutch oven over a medium heat.
  4. Add your garlic-infused oil. Once hot, add the pork shoulder to the dish. Sear both sides and both ends for 1 minute each. Propping up the pork shoulder against the side of the dish can help when searing the ends. A carving fork is a great tool for easily turning that big hunk of pork.
  5. Once the pork is seared on all sides, pour in your cider, pop the lid on and place into the preheated oven for 2½ hours. Once the 2½ hours is up, remove the lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove the pork from the dish and place onto a large plate. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  7. To make your barbecue sauce, add the tomato sauce, smoked paprika and black treacle to the casserole dish with all the meat juices and cider (there should be approximately 230ml/scant 1 cup of meat juice and cider). Stir everything together until fully combined.
  8. Shred the rested pork using two forks. Add all of the shredded pork back into the casserole dish and mix into the barbecue sauce.
  9. Serve up immediately with my 2-ingredient arepas alongside shredded baby gem lettuce, chopped spring onion greens and grated cheddar.
  10. I also love to enjoy this pulled pork stuffed into brioche buns or corn tortilla wraps (for tacos). 

Making it low FODMAP? Simply use gluten-free beer instead of cider and enjoy without the barbecue sauce, or serve with a low-FODMAP barbecue sauce instead.

Serves: 4

Arepas

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g/2 cups pre-cooked cornmeal flour (yellow or white)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500ml/2 cups warm water
  • vegetable oil, for cooking

METHOD

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal flour and salt. Add the warm water, mix and then use your hands to bring it together into a ball. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Briefly knead the dough in the bowl until you achieve a smooth consistency. Dough too wet? 
  3. Add a little more cornmeal. Dough too dry? Add a little more water.
  4. Divide the dough into 8 portions and roll into large golf balls, around 100g each. One at a time, flatten the balls using your hands to form a flat disc just over 1cm thick and around 10cm in diameter. Make sure you don't leave lots of finger indentations in the dough as they won't cook evenly in the pan.
  5. Place a large pan over a medium heat and cover the base with vegetable oil. Once heated, place as many dough discs as will comfortably fit into your pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Allow to drain on some kitchen paper and pat dry, then cool for 15 minutes. Repeat until you've used up all your dough.
  6. Slice just over halfway through each arepa with a serrated knife and fill with your favourite Mexican-style fillings. I'd recommend guacamole, fresh salsa and my one-pot pulled pork. 
  7. Store the unfilled arepas in the fridge for up to 5 days and simply bake in the oven to refresh them before enjoying.

Tip: Don't try this with any other flour, such as cornflour; it must be pre-cooked cornmeal flour or it won't work. Please note that pre-cooked cornmeal is different to masa harina flour. 

Makes: 8

Chicken, leek and bacon pie

With tonnes of creamy, chunky filling encased in buttery pastry, I'm in love with these cute little, single-serve pies. At home, I use two 10cm round ceramic pie dishes to make these but if making one large pie, you'll need to double the quantity of pastry and multiply the filling ingredients by 1.5. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 quantity of gluten-free shortcrust pastry (below), chilled for 25 minutes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • handful of poppy seeds (optional)

For the filling

  • 250g boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets
  • 100g smoked streaky bacon, diced
  • 90g leek, chopped
  • 2 tbsp gluten-free plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 400ml/1⅔ cups gluten-free chicken stock
  • sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. For the filling, cut the chicken into small strips no more than 2cm long.
  2. Place a large pan over a medium heat, add your bacon and fry until the fat begins to brown, then add your leek and chicken strips. Fry for 3-4 minutes, occasionally stirring, until the chicken is sealed.
  3. Add in your flour and mix until everything is evenly coated, then add the stock and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the gravy has nicely thickened.
  5. Remove from the heat and, after 5 minutes, stir in the cream and leave to cool.
  6. Preheat your oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). 
  7. Remove your pastry from the fridge – if it feels really firm when you take it out, leave it out at room temperature briefly. Don't handle your dough excessively as this will warm it up and make it more fragile. Cut the ball of pastry in half and lightly flour your rolling pin. On a sheet of non-stick baking paper, roll out one portion of the dough to a 3mm thickness.
  8. If using a round 10cm pie dish, cut out a 12cm circle from your rolled-out pastry. Transfer this to a pie dish and gently push the pastry in, using your fingers, leaving a little overhang, but trimming off any excess that hangs down over the edge of the dish. If using a rectangular pie dish, ensure that you have rolled your pastry into a rectangular shape, then simply transfer the pastry to the pie dish as above, trimming any excess.
  9. Form the leftover pastry scraps back into a ball and reroll out to a 3mm thickness. Place your second pie dish face down onto the rolled-out pastry and trace around it with a knife to create a lid. Place the lid to one side (you'll need to trace around it with a knife to make the second lid later). Repeat with the other half of your dough and second pie dish.
  10. Divide your pie filling between the pie dishes and brush the overhang with egg. Place your pastry lids on top and pinch the edges together to crimp them tightly shut.
  11. Brush each pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if you like. Lastly, make a small hole in the very middle of the top of each lid by gently prodding with a sharp knife and twisting. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes until golden, then serve with mashed potato, vegies and gluten-free gravy, if preferred.

Tip: If you don't have time to make your own pastry, use store-bought gluten-free pastry instead.

Makes:

Savoury shortcrust pastry

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g/1½ cups gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 100g/scant ½ cup very cold butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3-5 tsp cold water

METHOD

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together your flour and xanthan gum.
  2. Make sure your butter is really cold: if not, put it into the fridge or freezer until nicely chilled, then add to the bowl and mix it into the flour.
  3. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour to form a breadcrumb-like consistency.  Make sure your hands are cool as we want to avoid the butter getting warm. Stir in your sugar, if making sweet pastry. Add in your beaten egg and, using a knife, carefully cut it into the mixture. You don't want it to come together just yet, so don't use your hands to push it together even if it feels like you could.
  4. Add the cold water a teaspoon at a time, using your knife to cut it in. The mixture will start to really come together at this point. I find that, at about 3 teaspoons, it's about the right consistency to push together into a ball with my hands. It should be a little sticky to touch but not unmanageable.
  5. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for about 25 minutes before using. You can freeze this pastry for up to 2 months; defrost fully before using.

Tip: Chill! Using cold water, cold butter and chilling the dough makes your gluten-free pastry stronger and more workable. Making any type of pastry on an incredibly hot day isn't advisable, as the warmer your dough is, the more fragile it will become.

Triple chocolate cookie dough skillet

Graduate to true gluten-free "cookie monster" status with my crisp on the outside, gooey in the middle, triple chocolate cookie dough skillet. Serve with vanilla ice-cream and thank me later.

INGREDIENTS

  • 120g/generous ½ cup butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g/½ cup caster sugar
  • 100g/½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g/1½ cups gluten-free plain flour 
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g/¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 250g mixed chocolate chips (white, dark and milk)

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional). Grease a skillet or 20cm round cake tin with a little butter.
  2. You can happily use an electric hand mixer to make your cookie dough, but I prefer to do this one by hand. In a large mixing bowl, add your melted butter and both sugars. Mix until really well combined and slightly stiff.
  3. Add your egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined. Next, sift in your flour, bicarb and cocoa powder. Mix in thoroughly until you have a smooth, thick cookie dough. Mix in your chocolate chips, then evenly spoon your mixture into your skillet or tin. You can push a few extra chocolate chips in the top if there aren't many showing already.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is cooked but still gooey underneath. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. If you like it a bit less gooey in the middle, leave it a little longer to cool. Enjoy straight from the skillet with vanilla ice-cream.

Tip: You can also reheat a portion by giving it a quick blast in the microwave.

Serves: 5-6

Making it dairy-free? Use a (hard) dairy-free alternative to butter and dairy-free chocolate chips. Ensure the cocoa powder is dairy-free too.

Making it vegan? Follow the advice to make it dairy-free, then replace the egg with 3 tbsp aquafaba (whisked until frothy).

This is an edited extract from How to Make Anything Gluten Free by Becky Excell, published by Quadrille, RRP $39.99. Buy now