Dubbed the Queen of gluten-free baking by Nigella Lawson herself, Becky Excell is on a mission to prove anything can be made sans gluten if you put your mind to it – and without compromising on taste.
To mark Coeliac Awareness Week, the author of How To Make Anything Gluten Free has shared her tried and tested recipes for three-ingredient pizza dough and an incredibly fluffy garlic and rosemary focaccia.
It’s thought one in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when a person eats gluten.
This causes damage to the lining of the gut and results in the body being unable to properly absorb nutrients from food. Symptoms can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers and anaemia.
People with the illness will need to cut out gluten completely – but this can be a real challenge, not to mention huge source of disappointment, when it’s present in so many delicious baked products.
Excell is on a mission to reunite people with the foods they never imagined they’d be able to eat again.
Whether you’ve cut out gluten for dietary reasons or have coeliac disease, here are two mouthwatering recipes to sink your teeth into this week and beyond.
Garlic and rosemary focaccia
Serves 4-5 people. Takes 45 minutes, plus one hour proving.
280ml / 1 cup plus 2 tbsp warm water
7g / ¼oz active dried yeast (ensure gluten-free)
15g / 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
260g / 2 cups gluten-free white bread flour or gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
15g / ½oz psyllium husk powder (ensure gluten-free)
6g / ¼oz salt
1 large egg
1 tsp cider vinegar
60ml / ¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for greasing
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Maldon (flaky) sea salt
Mix your warm water, yeast and sugar in a jug, then allow to stand for 10 minutes until nice and frothy.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add your flour, xanthan gum, psyllium husk powder and salt. Mix together until well combined, then add your egg, vinegar, oil and frothy yeast mixture to the dry ingredients.
Either in a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment or with an electric hand whisk, mix on a high speed for three minutes until well combined. It should look like a very thick, sticky batter. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes.
Grease a 23cm / 9in square baking tin (pan) with a little oil, then add another glug of olive oil to lightly coat the base of the tin.
Tip your rested dough into the tin and spread out using lightly oiled hands and a spatula. It might seem a little resistant at first, but continue to spread it into a nice, even layer. Loosely cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and prove in a warm place for one hour until noticeably risen.
Preheat your oven to 210°C fan / 230°C / 450°F. Using oiled fingers, make several deep dimples in the risen dough, then drizzle garlic-infused oil all over the top to fill the dimples.
Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and salt before cooking in the oven for 25–30 minutes until golden in colour.
Remove from the oven and carefully remove from the baking tin. Tap the base to check that it feels and sounds hollow – if so, then it’s done. Drizzle with some extra garlic-infused oil and place onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Top tip: Feel free to add any extras to the top of your focaccia just before baking – olives and cherry tomatoes work especially well.
Three-ingredient pizza dough
Makes 500g (18oz) of dough. Takes 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting time.
250g / generous 1¾ cups gluten free self-raising (self-rising) flour, plus extra for dusting
260g / 1¼ cups Greek yoghurt (or any thick, plain yoghurt)
¼ tsp xanthan gum
Pinch of salt
In a large mixing bowl, add your flour, yoghurt (give it a good stir before using), xanthan gum and salt. Mix together using a spatula and, as it starts to come together, use your hands to bring it together into a slightly sticky ball.
On a well-floured surface, knead the dough briefly until smooth, combined and no longer sticky. Dough still too sticky? Add a little more flour. Dough too dry? Add a little more yoghurt. Cover the dough and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
The unrolled dough can also be chilled and stored in an airtight container to use the next day. Or you can freeze it.
Top tip: If using a different type of yoghurt that isn’t quite as thick, simply add a little more flour to compensate.