The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gluten-free cuccidate: can it be done?

My regular cuccidate.
I love to bake traditional treats during the holidays.  So far, I've done gingerbread cake (recipe from good old Betty Crocker), nut-free fruitcake with dried fruit instead of candied fruit, cake mix cookies made with a spice cake mix and topped with cinnamon red hot candy, my great aunt's cocoa-anise cookies, and my nut-free version of cuccidate, or Sicilian fig cookies.  I bake so that I can have some good things, but not *the whole batch* and so that I will have something to give to my adult relatives (I only buy gifts for the kids).  My aunt and cousin, however, have multiple food allergies (as I do, but they have different ones than I have) and they almost never get to eat baked goods because their allergies include wheat, gluten, yeast, eggs, dairy (except they can have butter, weirdly enough), corn (both starch and syrup) and cane sugar.
When making my cuccidate this year, it hit me: they can have the dried fruit filling!  It's just a combination of dried fruit, spices, honey, and orange zest, all chopped up and mixed together.  It has no flour, egg, or dairy in it, and it's perfectly sweet just with the dried fruit and a little bit of honey -- any extra sugar is totally unnecessary.  That means that I just have to find/make a dough that they can have, and assemble the two to have a workable treat for them!

The dough in my regular recipe is totally full of wheat, with eggs and cane sugar added, but it's almost like a sugar cookie dough rather than a pie crust.  A simple substitution of rice and garbanzo flour for the wheat might not work.  But then, I found this recipe in my files:

Roly-Poly Pudding (Baked):
Sift together one cup of flour, one teaspoonful of baking powder, and half a teaspoonful of salt. Chop this with a scant half-cup of suet (ice cold) and mix quickly with two thirds of a cup of ice-cold water.
Mould into a long roll and roll out on a floured moulding-board as thin as it will hold together.

This recipe is from "Catering for Two" (1898) by Alice L. James, reprinted in Seasons of Thanks, ISBN 1-4137-6937- 3 and, of course, I've only reprinted the pastry part of the recipe (the rest of it involves making a filling with canned fruit), but this pastry doesn't have eggs or sugar in it, and I'm willing to bet that a mix of rice and garbanzo bean flour would work as a substitute for the regular flour.  Plus, this flour is already meant to be rolled thinly and wrapped around a filling and baked, which is exactly the way I shape my cuccidate!  So, does anyone else have experience adjusting traditional recipes for the gluten-free, egg-free, cane sugar-free diet?  I want these cookies to be a reasonable facsimile for my family when they come to visit in a few days, not all weird.  And I have experience with weird food, due to my own food allergies!


Kathryn Ross said...

Milady! Yes! Thank you for posting this! I have totally overdone the "cheats" with gluten and dairy this week and my body is telling me so in no uncertain terms! I often take traditional recipes and play with them. If you go to my site and then visit me on Pinterest - the link is in the sidebar - you will find a board with some of my own recipes plus others that with a little tweaking you can get something reasonable. I try to work with honey and natural sugars as in fruits - sugar free as much as possible, but NOT chemical sugar substitutes.

The Roly Poly here sounds like it's worth a shot - though the mechanics are dated - hmmmm . . .

Really hated to say goodbye to my pastry, breads, cakes, and cookies - but menopause was unrelenting and rather than go on medication for the rest of my life, I have opted for the diet change. So long as I'm good, I'm good. WHen I'm naughty - I suffer the consequences of my sin. Isn't that God's way, though . . .


South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

Happy New Year, Kathy! My aunt and cousin totally sympathize with you in "cheating" with gluten and dairy, and feeling the consequences! I will definitely be looking at your recipes ...

I ended up not using the Roly Poly pastry for my cookies; check my post from today (December 30) for the recipe I did use. It went together fairly well and was pretty tasty, although I made a few alterations that didn't work as well as I had hoped they would. I'll need to make a few more changes, but the final product of my baking yesterday was 2 dozen cookies that my aunt and cousin could eat, and that the rest of us thought were pretty good, too. Giving up all bread, pastry, etc. would be impossible for me! I'm so glad that there are other options available; too bad most of them are so expensive ...

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)