Gluten-Free Baking

article image
For those on a gluten-restricted diet, baking is usually the most difficult culinary obstacle to overcome. Gluten-Free Baking provides 70 easy recipes for cakes, breads, cookies and sweet and savory snacks that are tasty enough to try whether or not you have a gluten intolerance. 

The following is an excerpt from Gluten-Free Baking by Phil Vickery (Firefly Books, 2011). Brimming with inspiration, this book opens up a whole new world of delicious treats —all completely gluten-free — showing you how to face every meal of the day with a selection of delicious recipes that may have seen impossible for gluten-intolerant diets. You can find beautiful photos of each of the recipes below in the Image Gallery. 

Soft Pine Nut Cookies 

Makes: about 20 cookies

Preparation: 15 minutes

Baking: 30 minutes 


  • 1-3/4 cups (7 oz) slivered almonds 
  • 1 scant cup (3-1/2 oz) pine nuts 
  • 3/4 cup (3-1/2 oz) rice flour 
  • 1 cup (8 oz) superfine sugar 
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature 
  • Pinch of cream of tartar 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract 
  • Cinnamon and sifted confections’ sugar, for dusting  


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Place the almonds and pine nuts on the lined sheet, and brown them well in the oven for 8-10 minutes; the almonds will brown slightly quicker. Once browned, remove from the oven and cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. 
  3. Once cooled, place the almonds and rice flour in a food processor, and blitz until you have a fine mix. Place in a medium mixing bowl, add the pine nuts, 1/2 cup (4 oz) of the sugar and the lemon zest, and mix well. 
  4. Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until light and foamy, then add the remaining superfine sugar and whisk until creamy and glossy, but do not overbeat. Fold the nut mixture into the egg whites, along with the vanilla and almond extracts. 
  5. With a wet teaspoon, drop the mixture into small oval mounds, and place on the lined sheet (you will need to bake these in batches). Flatten each mound slightly before baking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they turn light golden, keeping an eye of them, as they brown quickly. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  6. Spring with cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar. 

To store: Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

To freeze: Freeze the cooled cookies before dusting with the sugar and cinnamon – wrap well, and store in an airtight container. Defrost for 30 minutes, then heat through a 350 degree for 2-3 minutes to soften again and dust with the sugar and cinnamon.

Pear & Blueberry Polenta Cake 

Makes: 12 squares

Preparation: 25 minutes

Baking: 30 minutes 


For the sponge cake:  

  • Vegetable oil, for oiling 
  • 3 pears 
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 3/4 cup (6-1/4 oz) unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup (8 oz) superfine sugar 
  • 3 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tbsp baking powder 
  • Scant 2 cups (9 oz) fine cornmeal  
  • 1 cup (3-1/2 oz) blueberries  

For the frosting:  

  • 2 tbsp (1 oz) butter, softened 
  • 1-1/4 cups (10 oz) light cream cheese 
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) confectioners’ sugar, sifted  


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9- inch (23 cm) square baking pan. 
  2. Pare and slice the pears, cut into rough chunks, and coat in the lemon juice to prevent them from browning. 
  3. Place the unsalted butter and superfine sugar in a mixing bowl, and cream them together, using a handheld electric mixer. Add the eggs, half the lemon zest, the vanilla extract, baking powder, and cornmeal and mix well. Carefully fold in the pears. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, and press a layer of blueberries on the top. 
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until well risen and golden. Test with a toothpick, which should come out clean when inserted into the center. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan. 
  5. For the frosting, put the butter and cream cheese into a medium bowl, mix until soft and smooth, then beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Remove the cake from the pan. Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, and sprinkle with the reserved lemon zest. Cut into squares to serve. The cake is best eaten on the same day that you ice and decorate it. 

Alternative fondant frosting topping: 

  1. Prepare the cake as above, transfer it to the oiled pan, and bake it without the blueberries. Leave it to cool in the pan. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of lemon juice with 2 1/4 cups (9 oz) fondant icing sugar, until it is the consistency of very thick cream. Remove the cake from the pan, and spoon half the icing over the cooled cake. Top with 1/2 cup (2 oz) blueberries or seasonal berries of your choice. Drizzle with the rest of the frosting and leave to set. 

To store: The uniced cake will keep for 2 days in an airtight container

To Freeze:  Not suitable. 

Apricot & Almond Macaroon Bars  

Makes: 16 bars

Preparation: 20 minutes

Baking: 40-45 minutes 


For the base: 

  • Vegetable oil, for oiling 
  • 1-1/8 cup (5-1/4 oz) rice flour 
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) superfine sugar 
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz) dark brown sugar 
  • 6 tbsp (3 oz) unsalted butter, cubed 
  • 4 tbsp apricot jelly  

For the filling/topping:  

  • 1-1/4 cups (8 oz) soft dried apricots, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • Generous 1/2 cup (4-1/2 oz) light brown sugar 
  • 3 tbsp rice flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) ground almonds 
  • Light brown sugar and slice almonds, for sprinkling 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan, and line base with parchment paper. Put the flour and sugars for the base into a food processor, and blend together. Add the butter, and process until the mixture forms fine crumbs, and then starts to clump together. Tip the crumb mixture into the base of the prepared pan, and press lightly to make an even layer. 
  2. Bake the base for 10-15 minutes, or until pale golden brown. When cool, brush with the apricot jelly. 
  3. Meanwhile, put the apricots into a small pan with the lemon juice and 5 tablespoons cold water. Stir over low heat until soft, thick, and fairly smooth. Cool slightly, then spread over the base and set aside. Start whisking the eggs and the vanilla together, then whisk in the sugar until thickened and airy. Stir the flour and baking powder together, and fold into the sugar-egg mixture. Finally, fold in the ground almonds. 
  4. Spoon the topping onto the apricot layer and sprinkle the light brown sugar and sliced almonds on top. Return the pan to the over for about 30 minutes, until golden and risen. 
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan, then cut into 16 bars. 

To store: The bars will keep for 1 week stored in an airtight container.

To freeze: Wrap well, and freeze in an airtight container.

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Baking, published by Firefly Publishing, 2011.