7 of the best gluten-free Easter bakes

7 of the best gluten-free Easter bakes

by Great British Chefs 01 April 2019

Going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to miss out this Easter. Thanks to the magic of modern cooking, all your favourite Easter treats can be made gluten-free and you won’t even notice the difference! Here are seven recipes we turn to over the Easter holidays without a hint of gluten in sight.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

There’s no time like Easter for really getting stuck into some baking – not only do you have a four-day weekend to fill, you also have plenty of helpers and a host of hungry mouths to feed. After forty days and forty nights of Lenten abstinence, Easter Sunday is our first opportunity to enjoy some of the finer things in life once again – cakes, pastries, pies, more cakes, biscuits and cakes.

Traditionally these all would have been made with regular flour, but more and more of us these days are choosing to reduce or completely eliminate the gluten in our diets. That’s why we’ve been hard at work in our kitchen developing some gluten-free alternatives to all your favourite Easter bakes, from hot cross buns to Simnel cake. In some cases that requires a bit of ingenuity to recreate the stretchy, tearable quality that gluten creates – xanthan gum does a remarkable job of this in our gluten-free hot cross bun recipe, for example – but often, gluten-free flour actually makes your job easier.

Traditionally when you’re baking cakes, pastry or biscuits, you’re actually trying to restrict the development of gluten to create that delicious crumbly texture; this is why recipes warn against overworking and adding too much water. With gluten-free flour you don’t have to worry about any of that, and you end up with beautiful short biscuits, melt-in-the-mouth pastry and a crumb on your cake that would earn you a Hollywood handshake. If you’re catering for some gluten-free guests this Easter, scroll down for seven of our favourite gluten-free Easter treats.

Gluten-free torta pasqualina

Originally from Liguria in the northwest of Italy, torta pasqualina has become wildly popular since its early origins and is eaten all over the country during Easter. The pie would have been made with thirty-five separate sheets of wafer-thin pastry once upon a time – one for each year of Jesus’ life. Most bakers today don’t bother with that, thankfully (though you can if you like) – just mix up a batch of gluten-free suet pastry and enjoy the crumbly texture, which contrasts wonderfully with the creamy spinach, ricotta and egg filling.

Zesty gluten-free Easter biscuits

One area where gluten-free flour really excels is biscuit-making. Because you’re not developing any gluten in your dough, you can work it as much as you like and you’ll always end up with melt-in-the-mouth biscuits. This is a great recipe if you’re looking for something easy to put on the table, or a nice Easter activity for the kids – just combine the dry ingredients, rub in some cold butter and mix in egg and lemon zest, and you have a biscuit dough ready for the oven.

Gluten-free Sicilian ricotta pie

Easter is a busy time of year in Italy – every region has its own selection of Easter treats to look forward to and the shops are full to bursting with pies, biscuits and sweets. On the southern island of Sicily, no Sicilian would dream of celebrating Easter without a slice of this ricotta pie. Like all great Italian food, the beauty of this pie lies in its simplicity – once you’ve lined your pie dish with pastry, fill with a simple mixture of ricotta, egg, orange, lemon and sugar, and bake until the filling is set and the pastry is crisp. It’s so delicious, you might well find yourself whipping it up for dessert throughout the year.

Gluten-free Easter lamb pie

If you’re after a gluten-free centrepiece for your Easter Sunday dinner, look no further – Victoria Glass’ lamb pie is true dinner party showstopper. Victoria uses gluten-free plain flour to make the pastry – the knack with pastry is to create as little gluten as possible so using gluten-free flour is perfect, and results in short, buttery pastry everytime. Combine that with a rich lamb filling – boosted by umami-laden anchovies and aromatic oregano – and you have the perfect alternative Easter dinner.

Gluten-free chocolate Simnel cake

This marzipan-laden fruit cake has its roots in medieval England, though it has changed somewhat since then – originally it would have been boiled and baked before being eaten! Thankfully, that’s not the case these days. The modern recipe is comprised of a batter studded with a host of dried fruits and candied peel, which is then baked in two layers with a marzipan centre and topping. Eleven balls of marzipan decorate the top, signifying the twelve apostles (with Judas removed). Victoria Glass ups the decadence in her gluten-free version, adding chocolate, prunes and cherries and substituting regular flour for rice flour and ground almonds.

Gluten-free hot cross buns

Forget your chocolate eggs and your lamb roasts – the thing we really look forward to at Easter is a nice, toasty hot cross bun. Thankfully, gluten-dodgers don’t have to miss out on this king of Easter treats thanks to Victoria Glass’ fantastic recipe, which trades regular flour for a blend of gluten-free flour and buckwheat flour. A pinch of xanthan gum helps to give the finished article that pleasing stretchy texture, making this almost indistinguishable from a regular hot cross bun.

Gluten-free chocolate fudge cake

Victoria Glass takes umbrage with ‘brown cake’ – that dull ‘chocolate’ cake made with a mere dusting of cocoa powder – and counters with a proper chocolate cake that packs in bags of chocolate flavour. The key, unsurprisingly, is using actual chocolate! She starts by melting dark chocolate with milk and sugar, and combines that with rice flour to make a delicious gluten-free cake batter. Throw in a rich chocolate buttercream – again made with real dark chocolate – and you have a glorious gluten-free masterpiece that’s worthy of any occasion.