[This post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with cookbook authors, bloggers, women entrepreneurs and home chefs whose work I enjoy and admire. If you’ve got someone in mind you’d like me to approach for an interview, please shoot me an email at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom, or leave a comment here and let me know! And now, enjoy today’s installment!]
[Moist, light and delicious Breakfast Carrot Cake from The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide, Part I].
Today I’m thrilled to share my interview with Iris Higgins, who blogs at The Daily Dietribe, and Brittany Angell, who blogs at Real Sustenance. Both women blog gluten-free (with many vegan recipes), use whole foods ingredients, and create delicious, health-enhancing foods within their own dietary restrictions.
I’m also sharing their recipe for Breakfast Carrot Cake AND giving away a copy of their Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide, Part I–skip to the end of the interview for details!
[Brittany Angell on the left; Iris Higgins on the right.]
They also share their personal journeys as they navigate health issues and learning to eat–and cook–in a new way. As Iris says on her blog, “The Daily Dietribe was born out of a realization that I had more to share than I knew. I write about my gluten-free journey, and about the ups and downs of living this lifestyle. But I also write about life in all its strange and awkward experiences, food related or not. ” These days, Iris practices as a women’s wellness coach and hypnotherapist, and is studying for a Master’s in nutrition.
In Brittany’s case, a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease, compounded by various food allergies, led her to seek out and create recipes that are free of major allergens, with the ultimate goal “to connect, engage and understand the needs of others and to guide them through their journey to health through education, support and recipe development.” And, I would add, a magical ability to create incredible, mouth-watering desserts that almost everyone can enjoy!
This power team co-wrote The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guides, Part I and Part II. Why two books? Well, once they began to write the books, Iris and Brittany quickly realized that there was much more information to share about gluten-free baking, the different flours, ingredients substitutions and how best to use each flour than they’d anticipated. So they decided to present the information in two more manageable parts. If you have a favorite gluten-free flour that you like to use for most of your baking, you can select the book that features it. Of course, I’d recommend both books so that you have the full array of flours to work with!
I asked both women the same six questions. Here, I share their answers. They’ve also graciously agreed to let me publish the recipe for Breakfast Carrot Cake, which made a wonderfully light and moist snack the other day, with a cup of Bengal Spice Tea. I made my cake without raisins (both because they weren’t included in the original recipe and because they’re not part of the ACD); but if you can eat them, I’d highly recommend adding some to this lovely snack cake! (see recipe after the interview answers).
1. What was your impetus for writing the books?
IRIS: It all started with Facebook…as does everything these days, right? Brittany and I had recently become Facebook friends, and I loved chatting with her about gluten-free baking. One day, I posted a recipe for coconut biscuits (a recipe that I am dying to rework now that I understand coconut flour so much better), and Britt and I were talking about how there are certain flours we shy away from because we don’t understand them well. Recognizing that there was a need for a resource that would explain these flours to us, we took the conversation offline and started brainstorming. Our ideas got bigger and bigger, and the next thing we knew, we were talking about writing a cookbook together.
BRITTANY: Back in 2010 when I first went Gluten Free, like many I was completely overwhelmed, especially when it came to baking. Stepping into the grocery store and seeing over 10 different types of flour left me lost in a daze. The first six months of baking entailed me following recipes created by others. While I was learning about how gluten free batters differed from conventional, I was still at a loss understanding exactly why I was using so many different flours and what each one did in the recipe. In a Facebook conversation, Iris and I got into a conversation about how coconut flour worked. Neither of us really knew, and that sparked continued conversation via email. At first we spoke of creating a blog event to teach our readers how to use this specific flour, but then from a blog event grew the seed to write an e-book. From e-book came the idea of a full blown book. From one book, it became two. Before we knew it we had a publisher on board and were in the midst of writing two books detailing how 12 different gluten free flours work–to be completed within a 9 month time frame. It was exciting, exhausting and wonderful!
2. Who is the target audience for your books? Who do you think would benefit most from your books?
IRIS: Anyone who wants to learn how to understand gluten-free baking better. The home cook who knows how to follow recipes, but wishes she could adapt recipes like she used to. Parents who are baking gluten-free for their families. Those newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance who are scared of baking. Any baker who has ever thrown her hands up in frustration after a failed gluten-free recipe! Our goal with these books is to teach people how to understand what’s happening in the oven so that they feel they have more freedom in the kitchen.
BRITTANY: Nearly anyone interested in gluten free baking. Our books are the very first on the market to explain in detail how each of the gluten free flour varieties work, taste, what kind of texture they provide, the types of recipes they work best in and, most importantly, how to exchange them! Up until this point the only way to learn all of this information would be to spend several years in the kitchen learning little by little. Iris and I put our recipes through hundreds of tests with different flours to compare results to find our answers. We really longed to give bakers freedom once again in the kitchen to experiment safely and have fun without worrying about having the classic disasters that gluten free baking often brings. We hoped by providing the education, that bakers of any skill level would be given a platform to play! Additionally, it was important to us that we covered in great detail how to substitute other ingredients such as sugar, corn, soy and eggs. With the growing number of food allergies, knowing how to convert recipes is a necessary skill. One that again can take time to learn–unless you read the pages of our books 🙂
3. What was the most surprising thing you learned (related to gluten-free) while working on the books?
IRIS: Learning how to transition away from using gums was a game changer for me. I had seen a few other bloggers and authors doing recipes using flax, chia, and psyllium husks, but I had never experimented with it. Once I learned how to bake that way, I found I liked the texture of those recipes better, and loved that I could make them higher in fiber with that little change. Also, that our recipe testers were some of our best resources. There were a couple of testers that I ended up e-mailing all the time, and they shared all the tips they had learned from years of gluten-free baking. Baking can be a wonderful collaboration, and I loved working with Brittany and all our testers because every one of us came to the project with a different style and taste palate.
BRITTANY: Just how important the flour grind is. Many commercial gluten free flours are as coarse as sand and that really can have a negative effect on baked goods. Additionally, not all brands work being exchanged for one another due to the different milling of the flours. Superfine rice flour and regular rice flour will behave totally differently in a recipe. The finer a flour is milled, the more moisture is sucks up and the better texture your baked good will have.
4. Is there anything you found impossible to replicate gluten-free? If so, what?
IRIS: That’s a great question! There was really nothing we couldn’t eventually make happen. I spent forever on a gluten/dairy/egg/nut/soy/yeast-free sandwich bread, and developed a Pizza Roll Up recipe that I would take over regular pizza any day. That being said, we had originally planned on having stevia recipes in the book. But we found that our testers just weren’t happy with the stevia recipes (unless they were already used to it, like you) because it wasn’t a flavor they expected. We decided to keep the recipes in these cookbooks refined sugar-free, but save the stevia recipes for our blogs and possible future books. Which reminds me that I have some stevia recipes I developed for the cookbook and never used…I’ll have to find those and put them on the blog!
BRITTANY: I believe that all things are possible gluten free. It may take a little extra effort, but where there is a will there is always a way.
5. Do you have a favorite recipe? If so, what is it, and why?
IRIS: I don’t know if I can pick just one…I am partial to the Italian Style Flatbread, which is in Book 1. I recently made it for a cooking demo, and was so happy when someone told me afterward that it was the best bread she’d ever tasted. And then proceeded to sneak a second sample. 🙂 I love that recipe because it’s very simple, adaptable, and great for potlucks
BRITTANY: I am really fond of the Sweet Rice Pie Crust as it behaves exactly like a conventional crust–it doesn’t crumble while you work with it and it’s incredibly flaky and buttery. I’m also nuts over the Cinnamon Rolls. I spent nearly a month making them day after day to get them just the texture that I wanted. I’m particularly proud of them knowing they have brought happy tears to a number of individuals with Celiac disease. I live to give people hope and happiness again. No one should miss out on their favorite foods.
6. What is your next project?
IRIS: It’s top secret. 🙂 But I can say this: There will definitely be gluten-free food involved.
BRITTANY: As I’m working primarily with grain free flours now, I hope to eventually write a third baking guide. I have a few other projects as well in the works, but until they are further developed, my lips are sealed!
Thanks so much, ladies, for giving us an insight into your process and the books!
Iris and Brittany have also graciously offered to give away a copy of one of their books! See the giveaway details at the bottom of the post, below the recipe.
Breakfast Carrot Cake
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) packed, finely grated carrot 4-5 medium carrots)
1 cup (172 g) potato starch
1/2 lightly filled cup (78 g) white rice flour [I used brown rice flour–worked just fine!]
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon [I used a full teaspoon–I love cinnamon!]
3/4 cup (180 ml) unrefined granulated sugar [I used coconut sugar
and added about 20 drops stevia
3/4 cup (180 ml) full-fat canned coconut milk
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup (80 ml) mild-flavored oil (I used organic sunflower oil]
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F (170C). Grease an 8″ (20 cm) square pan, or line with parchment.
Grate the carrots and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the potato starch, garbanzo flour, white rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon and sugar*.
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix well. Stir in the carrots.
Spoon batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting (if desired–I ate mine plain). Best when eaten on the first day, but can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, or frozen for later. Makes nine large or 16 smaller pieces.
Suitable for: ACDStage 2 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan.
Now, for the giveaway! Please remember that you must use the Rafflecopter form to submit your comment–just click on the option (“+1 Do It!” ont he form) and then follow the directions, indicating that you’ve completed the comment. Once you do so on the form, you must still submit an actual comment in the comment section, below. Sorry for the extra step–but it makes the giveaway run so much more smoothly, and choosing a winner is automated this way, as well–no worries about counting wrong! 😉
What: A copy of The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide, Part I (from which this recipe hails! Plus an interview with me in the book–you REALLY want it now, right?!)
Who: Anyone in Canada or the U.S.
When: Today until this coming Sunday, September, 30, at 11:59 PM my time.
How: Just leave a comment (using the Rafflecopter form to indicate your participation first), telling me: Which favorite recipe of yours would you like to make over as gluten-free? This can be one you’ve already done, or one you are dreaming about.
Why: Just because I love y’all!
Good luck, everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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