Gluten free Christmas baking

gluten free

I find it really hard to buy presents for men. And, I admit, that includes men that I love dearly, like my husband and my dad. This year, I’ve decided to do a frugal and largely homemade Christmas, and as my dad eats a gluten free diet due to coeliac disease, I’m going to do some Christmas baking for him!

I hear that it’s much easier to make gluten free bread in a bread maker, but as an experiment, I’m going to try without. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Gluten free bread

I spent a long time looking online for different recipes here. A lot of gluten free bread recipes seem to use coconut flour, but my dad really hates coconut, so those ones were out. I’m also not very good at anything involving kneading (especially at the moment, when my tiny tyrant might call me away at any moment!), so I tried to go for something that was just pour and go.

I also preferred the idea of using a proper gluten free recipe, rather than just one that substituted bread flour with gluten free bread flour. So I’ve cobbled together a few different recipes and come up with this. We’ll see!

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of flaxseed
  • Half cup of ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder (gluten free, obviously)

Preheat oven to 200C.

Beat eggs together in one bowl. Mix the flaxseed, almonds and baking powder together in a second bowl. Add the beaten eggs in, and mix them all together thoroughly. It should have a slightly wet consistency, but not be too loose. (If you struggle to stir it together, add in a tablespoon or so of water, but I didn’t find that I needed this.)

Pour the mixture into a loaf tin, and pop it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or so.

So… what was the verdict?

Um. Well. It looked quite good, although it didn’t really rise much. The texture was quite dense (maybe I should use some more baking powder next time), but the crumb did look like bread. It just tasted rather, well, rubbery.

My husband’s reaction? “It… has a slight taste of fish to it. Not in a bad way, though. It’ll be great covered in Marmite!”

Yeah. I may not gift this to my dad. I may have had more success using a breadmaker!

A bonus gluten free recipe: brownie cheesecake

Not knowing how the first one would turn out, I also decided to make something that I know works well. You can do this in gluten and gluten free versions – just substitute the gluten free flour for regular if you have a real hatred of free from products!

This is one of my favourite recipes ever. I’ve been making it for years – in fact, to check measurements and timings, I ended up looking at an old Facebook note from 2009! It’s easy and delicious, and tastes basically the same whether you use gluten free flour or regular.

The brownie 

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar (dark)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups plain gluten free flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 175C.

Mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt. Stir until well blended.

The cheesecake

  • 220g cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Chocolate chips

Whisk the cream cheese until it’s soft. Add sugar and vanilla essence. Whisk them together until smooth.

Spread brownie mixture into pan, smoothly. Dollop cheesecake on top, then swirl them together. Add chocolate chips.

Bake for around 35 minutes, until edges are puffy and centre is set. Try not to eat it all in one go!

*This is a sponsored post.

Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding

breastfeeding vs bottle feeding

Before baby arrived, I was committed to breastfeeding. After the slightly traumatic birth, we weren’t able to start immediately – I actually have no idea when I first fed her. But I definitely tried that first evening, and every day after.

I thought it went fairly well at first. No pain, although I could tell my milk hadn’t really come in. And then I had a visit from the community midwife when she was five (I think!) days old.

It was a Saturday and I’d not met this midwife before. My husband was having a nap upstairs (we were doing shifts of sleeping at this point) and I was all hormonal and easily worried. The midwife weighed her, told me breastfeeding wasn’t working well, maybe I didn’t have milk, her latch wasn’t good, and I needed to give her formula after every feed. Why had I not gone to breastfeeding classes before the birth, she asked. Lots of mums do, the ones who are prepared for this. Then she left.

I cried. A lot.

She could have phrased it more sensitively. It’s typical for there to be a delay in milk coming in after a long, traumatic and medicated birth, but she didn’t tell me this.

Fortunately, I’m a reader. I research like mad. I got sad and upset, sure, but I also got informed. And I was determined to make this work.

So we got out our emergency formula and decided that we would supplement, but maybe only after every other feed. And we would continue breastfeeding.

My milk eventually came in on about day eight, I think. I woke in the night with intensely painful, rock-hard breasts, and had to pump before baby could even latch on. Once I had, it was like she was born knowing how to latch on.

She’s four weeks old today and weighs 7lb. By three weeks she was over her birth weight. We give 200ml of formula a day, at night. The rest of what she gets is exclusively breastmilk. A few weeks ago, I never would have thought we’d be doing this. I’d say we have a successful breastfeeding relationship, even if technically what we’re doing is combination feeding.

Reasons I’m breastfeeding

  • There are the myriad benefits to me and to her, including statistically lowering her risk of developing asthma and some allergies. My dad is allergic to a lot of things and really suffered with asthma when younger. If I can prevent my daughter from going through that, I’d try a lot of things!
  • It’s so much cheaper. Sure, I bought a breastpump (about £30 on Amazon – it works just fine and I didn’t want to shell out for something incredibly expensive until I knew if it worked!) and I have some nursing bras, but that’s a total expenditure of probably £70. While I’m on maternity leave, we’re not exactly flush with the cash, so we’re looking to save money where we can!
  • It’s quick. Rather than having to go to the kitchen and sort out bottles, all I need to do is pop my bra open and aim a nipple at her mouth. The less time baby is crying, the better!
  • It’s also less labour-intensive. No need to wash or sterilise bottles! Fewer trips to the supermarket! These are good things, particularly in these early days. Also, formula makes her spit up more, so there’s less washing when we’re breastfeeding more.
  • I like that it’s something only I can do for her. Maybe that’s selfish or possessive, I don’t know. But anyone can change her nappy or sing to her or give her a bottle. And after so long where I did everything for her, I kind of miss that special bond. So it’s nice to have something that’s just Mummy-and-baby territory.

Reasons we’re also bottle feeding

  • Despite that, sometimes I need a break! On Monday night, she fed for four hours. We did not have a break. My husband had gone out with some friends for the first time since she was born and she fed the entire time. When he came back, I was more than happy to say, “Right, pop some formula into a bottle and you have a go.
  • Breastfeeding can be kind of painful. I don’t have the bleeding nipples that I’ve read about (although it’s still early days!), but it’s still an adjustment. Sometimes I just can’t face the thought of her latching on again.
  • When she wasn’t gaining weight as fast as we’d have liked, it was great to know that despite not knowing exactly how much breastmilk she was getting, she was definitely getting at least X amount of formula. It wasn’t very much in the early days (30 or 40ml at a go) but now she can down 150-200ml before bed! She is a hungry little baby!
  • It’s nice for my husband to get to see those big milk-drunk eyes. She does a special smile that says, “I want food now, please.” I love it, and I’m glad that he gets to see it too.

I do honestly believe that “breast is best”. But more than that, I believe that fed is best. I would never let my baby go hungry just because I like the idea of breastfeeding. Feeding is a wonderful bonding time for us all, whether it’s breast or bottle. And I’m so glad that she’s getting heavier. I can’t believe four weeks have already passed, and my little baby is so much bigger!