Gluten Free French Toast

Cornbread French ToastContinuing with our breakfast theme this week, I’d like to discuss gluten free french toast. French toast is super easy to make gluten free- all you need is gluten free bread, or in this case, leftover cornbread (Thank you to fabulous photographer Rebekah West for the brilliant idea!)

In this case, we actually used leftover Polenta Cake compliments of David Lebovitz. If you don’t subscribe to his blog, and you love French food, I highly recommend it. I find many of his recipes easy to convert without losing the essence of what’s he’s working to create. Polenta cake is a great combination of polenta, almond flour, and a tiny bit of regular flour ( to sub, we used 3 tbs corn starch, 3 tbs sorghum, and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum) the result is a flavorful, not to sweet cake that’s perfect in french toast for breakfast the next day. *Hint- do NOT leave out the lemon zest- it’s key.

polenta cake french toastFor a slightly less sweet breakfast, leftover cornbread is perfect. It has more flavor and texture than sandwich bread, and although it’s somewhat unusual- why not? We loved the result.

We also recommend adding additional butter to the pan once the toasts have been cooked on one side- even throwing some butter on top of the cooked side and letting it melt in. By adding the butter at this point, instead of at the table, the butter is allowed to seep in the flavor permeates the toast. We especially like salted butter for this, as the contrast between the tiny bit of sharpness you get from the salt compliments the sweet of the egg mixture and the maple syrup.

Lastly, I have to brag on my budding photgraphers. The Kitchen Divas in training are responsible for all the pictures in this post- both of them! I confess, it’s much easier to cook while you have a ‘staff’ of people willing to document!

gluten free french toast

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Gluten-Free Paris: Helmut Newcake

Helmut NewcakeJust off the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement, is one of Paris’s best gluten-free patisseries (pastry shops- and yes, there’s more than one!), Helmut Newcake.

Helmut Newcake is one of 3 dedicated (and certified) gluten-free eateries in Paris. In addition to the incredible patisserie they make, they also have a daily lunch special and offer brunch on Sundays. Brunch is very popular here- in fact the first time I called to reserve a spot- 2 days in advance– they were already booked up! After reserving 4 days in advance so I wouldn’t miss out, I can see why!

Helmut Newcake Interior

The space is warm, friendly, and eclectic. Mismatched furniture, interesting art, and cosy tables are tucked into corners alongside a mini grocery area & bookshelves filled with Marie Taglioferro’s personal cookbooks.

gluten free eclair helmut newcakeWho is Marie Tagliaferro? The inspiration behind Helmut Newcake. Her husband, François, runs the front of the house while she makes magic in a tiny kitchen 1/2 the size of my own! Several years ago she was working for Lenôtre, one of the best pastry establishments in Paris, when she was diagnosed with Celiac. Imagine being a pastry chef diagnosed with celiac- it’s like being an opera singer who’s told she can never sing again.

Like many of us who’ve struggled with a transition to a completely gluten-free diet, François agreed the transition was not easy. “Marie gave up cooking. For awhile we both managed restaurants in London.” Thankfully for us, she couldn’t stay away.

“At first, she started experimenting, and at first it was a disaster.” smiled François. (sound familiar home chefs??) “But eventually it got better and she started working on specifics- percentages and writing down exact measures. Then in December, 2011 they took the plunge and moved back to Paris to open Helmut Newcake.

Gluten Free Pastry Helmut NewcakeSince then, they’ve been taking the gluten-free world by storm. They’ve been featured on David Lebovitz’s blog, the New York Times Magazine, The global news agency AFP (see their video about Helmut Newcake here), and many other well respected European publications.

We visited on several occasions- enough times to enjoy nearly everything in the pastry case. While everything we tried was delicious and beautifully presented, the stars were the eclairs. *Hands Down*, these are the lightest, most perfectly balanced eclairs I’ve ever enjoyed. The filling is creamy and a delicious contrast to the light and airy pâte à choux. And, for those of you who can still eat gluten- I guarantee in a blind taste test you could not tell which one has no gluten- and in fact, I bet you’d prefer Marie’s eclairs. They’re that good.

From a pastry standpoint, I know that gluten-free pâte à choux can be a challenge. Too often it gets tough and stringy, and then it won’t puff in the oven- or it will collapse. Marie has elevated gluten-free pâte à choux to an art form, and if you only have time to stop by for one pastry- get an eclair, or another treat made with pâte à choux. Gluten-free paradise indeed.

As for that brunch we enjoyed? Heavenly. Think baskets of fresh gluten-free bread, smoked salmon, bacon, pancakes, savory tarts, and perfectly coddled eggs. And dessert? Let’s just say the sign on the counter about gluten-free paradise is correct.

I think the next time we visit Paris, we may need to stay in the 10th, just so we can stop by every day!

DSC05882Brunch at Helmut Newcake

Merci Beaucoup Madame (et Monsieur) Tagliaferro! Vous êtes une source d’inspiration pour les chefs sans gluten partout. Nous vous remercions de votre persévérance, de dévouement et de passion.

Snow Day Homemade Marshmallows

David Lebovitz's MarshmallowsKansas City was the recipient of an epic- century sized- snowstorm today. We’re at over 12 inches and counting- making this the largest February snowstorm since 1900. And- this wasn’t your typical blizzard- here in the midwest we get Thundersnow! Yes- you read that right- Thunder, lightening, and heavy snow- all at once! Thankfully, there were no “snow-nado” warnings!

Now for those of you who live out west or in New England, 10-12 inches may not seem like much. But to the flatlanders out here 3 inches is enough to cancel school and tie up traffic for a good day or so. And when we start getting into the double digits- well- besides sledding, making snow people, and shoveling out the cars from the driveway, there’s not much else to do besides make hot cocoa and watch movies… Unless you feel brave enough to tackle homemade marshmallows!

Not feeling like reinventing the wheel, I hopped online and ended up at David Lebovitz’s site. Not only do I love reading about Paris, but David is great at sweets- something I am not. So, when I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone- this is where I go.

The Kitchen Diva in Training hard at work
The Kitchen Diva in Training hard at work

I was happily surprised to discover that marshmallows are one step removed from italian meringue, which I am now very comfortable with thanks to our Adventures in macaron making last month!

They are super easy, and taste Waaaaaay better than the plastic-y cylinders we all grew up eating. We added a touch of peppermint schnapps to ours, and then toasted them in our mini oven to gently carmelize them. They were the perfect addition to our post-snow shoveling cocoa!

For a great read, and a beautifully easy marshmallow recipe- click here. And the next time it snows buckets in your neck of the woods- try making your own marshmallows!

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Remember- we’re experimenting with Gluten-Free Croissants this month….. How’s it going? Post your comments below.