I’m free

Once a month I get together with a few other folks for a shared lunch. It used to be pot luck, but we have got into the habit of bringing specific things and I generally supply something sweet – usually some form of cake. To begin with it was easy and I just made whatever cake took my fancy, but then we were joined by someone who was wheat intolerant and I had to change my thinking. All went well initially – I made various cakes using gluten-free flour; things like brownies and gingerbread don’t seem to suffer much with the lack of wheat. But then, she developed an intolerance to barley and the commercial gluten-free flour route was closed down.

So, I’ve experimented with a variety of flours – chestnut, rice, sorghum, millet and using guar gum to help with the texture, but although our gluten-intolerant friend says they are good, I am very dissatisfied with the results: either like a brick or stodgy, and the flour always seems to be slightly gritty. Part of my problem is planning ahead -I generally bake on a whim because I have all the necessary (wheat-laden) ingredients in my store cupboard, but personally I don’t like wheat-free flours, so I have to buy them specially for this once-a-month bake. Sadly things like chestnut flour don’t keep well and it’s too expensive to allow to go off.

Anyway, this month I have had a brainwave – old-fashioned coconut macaroons. I haven’t made these since I was a child and I had to go back to a cookery book from the 1970s to find a recipe. In fact it was an easy recipe – beat two egg whites until they are foamy, but not stiff, fold in 4 oz caster sugar and 2 level tsp cornflour, then fold in 5 oz desiccated coconut. Place little heaps of the mixture on a greased baking sheet, flatten them slightly and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes, until they are golden. They were so simple to make, they are dairy, wheat and barley-free. Fortuitously, I had two spare egg whites having made mayonnaise earlier on in the week, so the recipe was ideal. And, though I do say so myself, they do look (and taste) rather good:


no wheat, no barley, no dairy, still good

Now I really should spend some time getting to grips with some of Kate Chiconi’s gluten free recipes, which always look amazing.


Leave a comment


  1. Thank goodness for maize! I made jammy buttons this week, there was flour but also coconut. All sounds very delicious

  2. As a child I used to make coconut mountains with my step-granny, we mixed condensed milk and dessicated coconut together til very thick, (I added lurid food colouring – but that is not essential!) and them we put mounds on rice paper and cooked it. I don’t remember any other ingredients.

  3. Heather

     /  November 18, 2016

    They look great & seem easy. May I suggest a recipe from a blog ‘Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for brownies made with Chestnut Flour, the seem pretty good. Just a suggestion, hope you don’t mind.

  4. They look delicious. Wish I liked coconut, but it’s one of those flavors that I just can’t get past no matter how many times I try it or how old I get.

  5. I’m a bit puzzled about why commercial gluten free flours are no good for your wheat- and barley-intolerant friend. By definition, barley is a gluten-containing cereal, and should not be present in GF flours. The acronym is BROW: barley, rye, oats, wheat. GF flours commonly contain rice, corn, potato starch,tapioca, etc, in varying proportions, to mimic the properties of wheat flour. Single-ingredient flours will rarely perform as well, hence your less satisfactory results.
    For a flour-free recipe that sadly needs a bit of advance prep (!), and works well as a celebration-type cake for GF people, take a look at this link:

  6. I like this resolution: no substitutes for anything, so it tastes as people expect and voila! is all good for everyone. I have used a lot of different flours and almond and rice go together nicely. Still, a new recipe is best, as otherwise, you remember the old one and it doesn’t measure up.

  7. Oh great, now I’m craving macaroons. I’ve read you can whip the “water” from a can of chickpeas into stiff peaks just like egg whites for meringues, so now I’m wondering if this would work for someone who vegans they might be baking these coconut goodies for. And then whip up a batch of hummus too…oh now I am getting hungry!

  8. This is a most interesting post and comments to read through Jan. I avoid wheat and sugar and so look to using ingredients such as mashed pumpkin, ground almonds and cacao for any sweet treats that may be required. I find that all very satisfactory, though it must be admitted my tooth is more inclined to savoury than sweet.

    • I eat sweet things when they are around, but like them less these days than I used to… I’m a bit of a fiend for cheese, though, which I have to be careful about due to my lactose intolerance (yay for lactase tablets and the fact that hard cheese contains relatively little lactose).

  9. They look delicious! 😊 I bet they’d be good with a teaspoon of jam dolloped on before baking.

  10. Nice! I remember these from back in the day too… YUM! Wherever I used to get them from added chopped glacé cherries into the mix – definitely worth a shot if you’re making them again. Oh, and if you still want to try your luck with a flour substitute, I found a recipe for a blend a few years ago… It uses 240g white rice flour, 105g potato starch and 40g tapioca flour. Happy baking! 😋

  11. They look tasty. Wish I enjoyed coconut..


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