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I am pleased to share with you a little interview with Hannah Miles, author of the wonderful Gluten Free Baker as part of my Gluten Free Champion Series. An interesting interview given she doesn’t have to live gluten free! Enjoy!
  • So, you do not have Coeliac Disease, so why write a gluten cookbook?
I was inspired to write the book when a friend in my village was diagnosed with a serious wheat allergy two years ago.  We went for afternoon tea at a posh hotel in London and they served her gluten free scones, which literally turned to powder when she cut them. That was when I decided I needed to write a book to help her and other people suffering from coeliac disease.
  • Who is your food hero?

I love Skye Gyngell who ran Petersham Nurseries and adore her cook books – she believes in getting the right balance of flavours in each dish and adding sweet, savoury and umami tones. Everything I have cooked from her books has been delicious.

  • What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I missed breakfast this morning as I swam then had an 8am meeting for work – not very good I know.  But I made up for it with a delicious chicken and chorizo sandwich for lunch and blueberry juice!

  • What is the best and / or worst thing you discovered about gluten free cooking?

The best thing I discovered was getting the hang of adding moisture into recipes – so yoghurt or soured cream and lots of flavouring and creating recipes that you wouldn’t know were gluten free at all.  The whole ethos of the book was that you could make one gluten free cake or pudding that would be nice enough to serve to everyone coming for supper – even those who aren’t gluten intolerant.

The worst thing was trying to make gluten free puff pastry.  I have to confess it nearly defeated me and I spent a fair few minutes sitting on the kitchen floor in tears when I couldn’t get it to work.  Luckily my very kind publishers gave me a two-week extension to keep trying and finally I got it to work.  It was one of my greatest ever achievements I think!!!

  • Would you mind sharing your top tip for gluten free cooking since you are a professional cook?

Add lots of moisture and flavour when using gluten free flour as it stops your dish from being crumbly and the flavour masks the slight tang that the substitute flours can sometimes have.  For example if making sweet pastry, add a little almond essence, vanilla or lemon or orange zest for a nicer flavour.

  • Where is your favourite place to eat out – considering special diets?

My favourite place at present is the Bell and Bear in Emberton, Bedfordshire.  They have an amazing menu – which changes every day and is just written on a chalkboard.  The food is all based on what they have available that day and they barter with local allotment owners and bee keepers, trading veg and honey for beer in the bar.  What an excellent idea? The last time I was there with Lucy my gluten free friend, the chef took the time to come and talk to her personally about what was gluten free on the menu – everything bar 2 dishes were fine for her to eat and she was thrilled.

  • Any other gluten free recommendations you would like to share with us?

If you haven’t tried it yet Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free flour is excellent (I am not on commission honestly) as it’s made with bean flour so has a great texture particularly for pastry.

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