Hang onto your hats, folks, because this is going to be a long post. If you’re not into long-winded and ruminating essays masquerading as blog posts, you may want to just scroll down to the recipe, which is for a delectable and decadent chocolate cake I’m making for my sweetie for Valentine’s Day. The required ingredients on one hand and is gluten-free to boot.
Which brings me to the heart of this blog post. After six year of blogging, after much hemming and hawing and wondering if I’m doing the right thing, I’ve decided to take Gratinée gluten-free. I cut out gluten after my trip to Paris last year, and despite a few slip-ups, I’ve stayed away from it ever since. I have changed my diet over time to be naturally gluten free over, save for the odd French baguette or croissant here and there. It’s been easier than when I first went gluten free for a six-month period in 2010.
I’ve known that there was something wrong with my GI function since I was four years old. I’ve been plagued with medical issues for most of my life, many serious or at least uncommon for someone of my age. I had my gallbladder removed when I was nineteen because I had stones the size of Smarties. I still suffer from lifelong autoimmune conditions and a host of mysterious symptoms. As a result, I never truly feel well. In fact, I don’t think I even can remember what that it really feels like. I’ve always struggled with one issue or another, whether it’s poor sleep, hay fever, back pain–the list goes on.
I have been tested for gluten intolerance. Some tests say yes, other tests have read no. I don’t know if I truly need to be gluten free or if other allergies or medical issues are causing my symptoms. But what I do know is that I feel better when I don’t eat wheat, and even dairy. So at this point, I don’t need a biopsy cutting out a part of my intestine to confirm anything—which is what it would take to get a concrete celiac diagnosis.
The reticence I have felt for making my blog gluten free is that after six years I have built up a loyal readership who comes here for my photography and recipes, and sometimes my writing. I might assume that the majority are not eating gluten free. However, if I am continue to run this blog, I need to be developing recipes that I can personally test. If you look through the majority of my posts in the last year, you will notice that many are actually gluten free. Like my black sesame chicken wings, the Eton Mess, my plum and blueberry plum crumble, for which I provided traditional and gluten free versions. There are a lot of great things to eat out there that don’t contain gluten and I’m ready to really start exploring that frontier here on the blog. I’m of the belief that we would all be better off eating little or no wheat. The world has been catching on to this, which is another reason why I have actually been resisting making this blog gluten free.
Frankly, the whole gluten free craze is annoying. When you cannot eat Neapolitan style pizza, croissants, or dumplings at dim sum, there is nothing more irritating than what I call by the drive-by gluten freers. People who grill servers on the gluten content of the entire menu and then swipe a bite of their boyfriend’s chocolate lava cake at the end of the meal.
Are you one of these people—holding to your gluten-free lifestyle most of the time with occasional breakdowns at the buffet table ? If you are, fess up. I’m not judging you. I’ve been one of these people, too. Perhaps I will continue to be, on occasion, when I can’t stand one more minute without a taste of ciabatta bread, fresh out of the oven. It is difficult for humans to forego such elementary and habitual pleasures. It’s why we continue to engage in habits that are not good for us, like drive-thrus and inhaling plant resins into our lungs. That being said, I am fully aware that there is a downside to the gluten free bandwagon that is causing those with bona fide celiac or gluten intolerance to get taken less seriously and how I may have contributed to that phenomenon with my inability to truly accept that I will never enter a Parisian bakery ever again.
For someone who is so passionate about everything to do with food—eating it, photographing it, writing and reading about it—food sensitivities are a nightmare. I have missed many blogging related events, invitations to restaurants and other tasting opportunities because I knew I couldn’t eat what was being offered. For a good year, I wracked my brain on how I could continue to forge a career in food without being labeled a gluten-free blogger. Not because there’s anything wrong with that. Everyone needs a niche, but mine is more about photography than developing recipes for a certain type of food.
Ultimately, I have realized is that labels don’t matter. All I can do is continue to use my skills to the best of my current ability and keep on expanding on them to bring content to my readers that they will enjoy, gluten free or not.
Things are pretty much going to stay the same as they have been for the last while, with delectable recipes that most people can enjoy. I’m not going to even going to change the name Gratinée, which means baked with breadcrumbs on top. They will just be gluten free breadcrumbs. 😉
200 g semisweet chocolate
6 eggs – separated, at room temperature
125 ml / 1/2 cup butter, melted
100 g / 1/2 cup sugar – divided
60 g / 1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8-inch (22cm) springform pan and line it with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate on top of a double boiler. Allow to cool until just warm
2) In a large mixing bowl beat egg yolks, salt and half the sugar; slowly beat in melted butter and vanilla, followed by the coconut flour and then the melted chocolate.
3) In another large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; start incorporating the rest of the sugar, at about a teaspoon at a time and beat about another 2-3 minutes, until thick and glossy.
4) Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in thirds, working gently until well incorporated (and not streaky); pour into pan. Bake for 55 minutes, or until the outside is crisp and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean.
5) Cool on a wire rack. Press down randomly on surface cake with fingers to crackle it. Serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar, or a pile of berries, with whipping cream or ice cream on the side.