A while back, I was sent a bit of an unusual thing to review – an online baking course. It’s not as straightforward as reviewing a food product or a restaurant, and the experience is even more subjective than those. How can you write a fair review of a course when everyone is at different levels and experiences of baking? So I emmed and ahhed a little and thus this blog post has been a long time in the making.
Gluten Free Baking and Living publish an online magazine, run “in person” gluten-free courses across the UK and have a recipe blog. As if that wasn’t enough, they have now produced a digital “at home” gluten-free baking course, which covers 4 types of baking: cakes, bread, scones and pastry. Each one is available separately for £7.50, which I find a bit steep, but you can currently buy all 4 for £10, which is a much more sensible price.
The product comes as a PDF, which you can view on an iPad or tablet, or print out and follow. I tried to put it on my Kindle (Paperwhite, not Fire) and it seemed to hog the memory so I nicked my boyfriend’s tablet, but eventually I just printed it out as I can be a bit of a messy baker. They should really invent a tablet stand specifically for use in the kitchen, that protects it from flour and grease…
Anyway, I digress. I wasn’t sure what to expect as a “course” could mean a lot of things. Each one shows how to make the finished products, covering every step of the way. The step-by-step approach would definitely suit a novice: either someone who has never baked much gluten-free stuff before, or someone who has never really baked before.
The pictures are really clear and very useful if you’re unfamiliar with certain baking techniques. If you are a bit more confident, then there is a text summary afterwards so you can see all the information in one glance.
I made cupcakes with this recipe, but alas I didn’t take any pictures (I was in a rush and taking pictures is sometimes very time consuming!). This is a nice recipe for a standard vanilla sponge cake or cupcakes. The addition of almond flour was a really nice touch and the cakes came out perfectly – moist, well risen, sweet and delicious!
Cakes are probably the easiest of the gluten-free bakes to master – they generally require very little modification from the original recipe, except swapping out the normal flour for gluten-free flour. So this was a very easy recipe, but then again if you’ve never baked anything before you might find you need the step by step instructions!
This is a “cheesy” scones recipe, and as someone who never really ate a lot of scones before diagnosis, I’m still not sure I totally get what a scone is, conceptually speaking. I have made gluten-free scones before where my boyfriend declared they were “nice, but not scones”, so I huffed a bit and waited for him to leave the country* so I could try this recipe and have all my non-scones to myself.
* No, really.
The dough came together beautifully and was very nice to roll out. My main problem when cutting it out was that I didn’t have the right sized cutter, so I had to use a bigger one and cut it in half. Then I decided that looked funny so I cut the next ones into thirds. So I apologise for the odd shapes
I think they came out quite scone-like, don’t you?
The scones had a lovely flavour although I think I underbaked them a little. My oven seems to have two settings: off or HOT LIKE THE SUN so recently I’ve been very cautious and taking things out a minute or two early. So yes, I had to put them back in but that’s certainly not the fault of the course!
I’m still not sure whether they are scone-like or not. Maybe you guys can help me answer, what makes a scone a scone?
Gluten-free bread and I have a tumultuous relationship in that I can bake it fine, but I can never, ever get it to rise. I followed the instructions on this recipe, and it seemed to rise a little (I even bought a thermometer to make sure I didn’t kill off the yeast). One day, I WILL have an oven with a proving setting, a breadmaker or at the very least an airing cupboard! My current method of warming the oven then turning it off and proving the dough in the oven really doesn’t cut it with gluten-free dough.
I was very impressed at the use of teff flour in this recipe and I would encourage everyone to use more teff in their bread baking as it behaves in a similar fashion to wheat, while being naturally gluten-free.
The bread came out not hugely risen but tasting absolutely WONDERFUL!
My other problem with freshly baked gluten-free bread is that I end up eating half the loaf in one sitting. Burp.
By far my favourite recipe of the bunch. It just worked so perfectly! The pastry didn’t fall apart or crack at all, and was easily pressed into my specially bought mini-pastry-tins.
Aren’t they cute?
I have to admit, I had never made a quiche before. This is my first quiche! To be honest, I didn’t even know what exactly they were so I did some googling and discovered that quiches are bloody simple.
To make 4 mini quiches I whisked 2 eggs along with some buttermilk (you can also use cream). I crumbled feta cheese onto the bottom of the baked pastry cases and sprinkled finely chopped red pepper over that. I then carefully poured the egg mixture on top. I baked for around 15 minutes at 175C or until the quiche was set.
I lovingly photographed them for a while until I realised I was starving hungry and ate all 4 for lunch. Is that an excessive amount of quiche? I’m not sure.
Overall, I thought this was a great course for someone new to gluten-free baking. The comic strip style was cute, although I admit I used the text summaries as I was familiar with the techniques.
My only suggestion would be that they give you the option to buy the courses along with a starter pack of flours – some of the flours used, such as chickpea and teff, can be a little hard to find (especially for those new to the gluten-free world), and if they could bundle them together and send them to you, I think that would be really nice.
This course would be a really nice present for someone who has recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. It shows that gluten-free baking can be really simple – and more importantly that gluten-free doesn’t taste “yucky” or “dry” – it can be delicious and nutritious.