Gluten free and delicious!

Looking for a decadent gluten free getaway? At Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast we have lots of friends whose diets require a little special finesse. Dairy sensitive? With all the great lactose free products out there, you’re easy! Vegetarian? Vegan? No big deal. But gluten free? Hmmm. How to make all of those yummy French Toasts, sweet muffins and birthday cakes turn out just as soft and delicious as ever?

Beach Front Florida B&BThe other day I read that about 6 percent of our population, or about 18 million people, have sensitivity to gluten and over the years it feels like we’ve tried that many different recipes looking for the perfect moist gluten free muffin! Sorghum flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour all work fairly well, but are inconsistent and more often than not muffins turn out crumbly, a little grainy or worse, doughy. Then one lovely afternoon in Barnes and Noble I found my new favorite book The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free by Anne Byrn.

I know, it sounds like cheating but seriously…it’s great! Brownies, muffins, cookies, bars, layer cakes, you name it and she’s got it. The idea is that instead of making your own flour base with a combination of sorghum, rice, tapioca flour, etcetera – you use gluten free cake mix from the grocery store as the base and usually a little instant pudding mix for moisture and texture then add in all kinds of other goodies to make your treat unique. For instance, “Kathy’s Cinnamon Breakfast Cake” recipe adds pecans, pure vanilla extract, eggs, cinnamon sugar and vanilla pudding mix, and makes the most delicious muffins. I used to separate the batter in half then add mashed brown bananas and chocolate chips to the rest so that we ended up with 6 cinnamon and 6 banana chocolate chip muffins for our guests (this also works great with the chocolate cake mix!) Then one day our non-gluten free teenage daughters happened by for a little “taste test” and now when I bake a batch we only end up with 6 muffins for our guests and the kids steal the rest!

But don’t worry, not all of our gluten free recipes come from Anne’s book. Here is one of our favorite gluten and lactose free French Toast recipes from our Favorite Recipes from Port d’Hiver cookbook:

sliced canned pears                                                            pinch of salt
1 cup raw cane sugar                                                         1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup water                                                                        ½ cup golden raisins
½ tsp. nutmeg                                                                     ¾ cup honey
1 ½ cups plus 2 tbl unsweetened soy milk                          3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups 1” tapioca bread cubes                                            1/3 cup plus 2 tbl plain soy yogurt

Spray a 9” cake pan with cooking spray (Mazola Pure No-Stick cooking spray is gluten-free) and lay pear slices in the bottom. Set aside. Combine sugar, water and salt and heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and when the syrup is light brown, stir in 2 Tbl soy yogurt and allow to cook for 1 minute. Pour over pears and set aside. In a large bowl, combine bread, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. In small bowl, combine eggs, soymilk, remaining yogurt and honey, whisking until combined then gently toss in bread cubes. Pour mixture over pears. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and with the foil on bake for about 55 minutes taking the foil off for the last 10 or so. Dish is done when it puffs and is golden brown, let cool for a few minutes then turn pan over in one swift motion onto a plate. Serve warm allowing the caramel sauce to drizzle down the sides. We like to top each slice with a couple red raspberries and a light sprinkling of powdered sugar just to make it extra pretty before serving at our Melbourne Beach Inn.

Extra tip: One of our favorite guest couples, Thomas and Julie, are gluten free, lactose free Vegans! For this recipe we use egg replacer instead of the real eggs and it still turns out great.  Our favorite is Ener-G Egg Replacer. It is gluten free!