Thursday, 22 November 2012

Gluten free panettone

There is one item of Christmas food  that I have really missed since I went onto a gluten free diet and that is panettone.  I first ate panettone when I was living in Italy in 1970.  It started to appear around the beginning of Advent and was popular at all times of the day.  It became particularly significant for me because that Christmas it was only thing the Australian friend I was with and I had in the way of Christmas food.  We had a 'great adventure' travelling from Turin to Rome in a Fiat cinquecento with no heating and a radiator that kept boiling.  We went through the Appenines in the dark in a blizzard, not on the autoroutes (to save toll charges as we were all broke) and this year on my holiday I was eagerly trying to see if I could recognise any of the places we passed through.  I didn't, which is hardly surprising but after forty years I did sort out the geography.  In 1970 we finally arrived in Rome at 2 am on Christmas morning and ended up in a pensione near the station.  Next day we woke up at lunchtime and set off to find something to eat.  What we did not realise was that in Italy everyone ate on Christmas Eve and by the afternoon of 25th December this part of Christmas was over (the second part is Epiphany) and all the restaurants were closed.  So we went back to the pensione and ate the panettone one of my students had given me as a Christmas present.  We did not have a knife so we cut it with a stainless steel tailcomb. (Those were the days of much back-combing).

Cutting the panettone with a stainless steel tailcomb became a family tradition which we kept up for a long time but in the end there were no tailcombs around and we started to cut it normally.

Gluten free Christmas baking is not difficult: cake, mince pies and pudding are easy but panettone is much more of a problem so I just had to give it up.  However, this year I am determined to have it.  Thanks to the internet I found several recipes.  In the end I opted for one by an American but like most recipes it assumed you had a stand food mixer e.g. a Kenwood Chef, in which to make it.  I have only ever owned a food processor so it began to look as though I would have to have a Kenwood Chef as a Christmas present.  Just one problem: we have no bench space left for one or space to store the attachments.  So I looked in my Magimix cookbook and it claimed you could make bread although obviously it does not have a variable speed motor which means you cannot beat the dough/batter for ten minutes as recommended in the recipe I used.

Today was the day to do a trial run.  I decided that if it did not work, it did not work.  Gluten free bread will not rise much and you have to add eggs to it to make it stick together.  This recipe is really heavy on the eggs as it has four plus a yolk.  You end up with a sort of batter which you then put straight in the tin and leave for an hour to see what happens!

It did rise a bit but I forgot to take a photo before it went in the oven.  It also cooked perfectly so I think I can say it was a success.

It is a bit more cakey in texture than the ones you buy in the supermarket and I am a bit concerned that as there are only two of us, we will not be able to eat it all up quickly enough.  However, I then remembered that panetone bread and butter pudding is quite a trendy dish.

Now I need to try making bread in the Magimix.  The bread I have been buying for the last two years is now only available sliced.  The slices are very thin and collapse if you try to use them for toasted sandwiches or if you freeze the bread.   My husband is a keen bread maker but gave up when I went gluten free as it is hardly worth making bread for one person.  Obviously making bread this way is not the same as traditionally kneading it but I intend to have a go using the recipe on the back of the Doves' flour packet.  It would mean that I can have unsliced bread which I much prefer.

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