I’ve got to admit, at first glance I thought Gloriously Gluten Free was a little, well, basic. In the increasingly populated world of recipe books, we’ve grown used to whiz-bang production, styling worthy of a Cézanne still-life, page after page of exquisitely written prose that places dishes in their geographical, historical or biographical context. There’s none of that here. It’s recipe, photograph; recipe, photograph; not a dripping spoon or artfully crumpled napkin in sight.
But then it struck me, like a wooden spoon to the head, that ‘basic’ is precisely the strength of this tome. As the mother of a coeliac daughter, the epiphany should have been less sluggish in arriving.
Over the years I’ve baked my share of gluten-free cakes and cookies, but dough and pastry? Too hard. Or so I thought. But this book is a masterclass in gluten-free baking by a high priestess of the art - and once you take a closer look, the simple presentation, far from being a weakness, is immensely appealing.
Frédérique Jules is the owner of Parisian eaterie Noglu, a completely gluten-free restaurant that’s a rarity in a city famed for its obsession with patisserie. Along with her pastry chefs, Jules has developed recipes that are simple, healthy – using organic products, less sugar, less fat and seasonal fruits – and downright delicious.
The first section lays the foundations – easy-to-follow explanations on making everything from cake batter and brioche dough to shortcrust pastry and crème patissière.
The rest of the book is divided into chapters: Big Cakes, Tarts, Desserts, Afternoon Tea, and Breakfast. Classics like Chocolate Cake, Prune Flan and Crepes sit happily alongside modern versions of old favourites such as Matcha Crème Brûlée, Coconut Cakes (vegan), lactose-free Marble Cake. The layouts are clean, the ingredient lists mercifully brief, the instructions clear, and the recipes are showstoppers.
My new slogan? ‘Basic is beautiful’.
$39.99, Murdoch Books