While recovering from an eating disorder only to learn I had food allergies I have learned much from my relationship with food. I continue to learn as I grow in my ability to adapt foods to be allergy-friendly. Learning to cook many of my favorite comfort foods has become a new and welcome challenge!
Adapting recipes can be an adventure. Making eclairs gluten and dairy free was just that! And I learned some important life lessons throughout the process and being a good kitchen steward I’m looking forward to sharing them with you and my journey to the perfect gluten and dairy free pastry.
Depending on how you fill them, eclairs are not a sugary dessert. And they’re surprisingly easy to make gluten and dairy free. I began by starting with Glutenista’s Gluten-free Eclair recipe, studying her troubleshooting tips, and watching tutorials by Mary Berry, from the Great British Bake Off.
Related: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Diet Tips
Troubleshooting Gluten-Free Baking
Ideally, I knew what the pitfalls were and how to avoid them. I was on my way to perfect, eclairs…so I thought.
I knew something was wrong with the pastry batter. I hurried to watch another step by step tutorial. Reread the troubleshooting tips. Added a little flour and tried to chill the batter…but it was obvious I wouldn’t be able to bake the dough as directed.
Wracking my brain for scientific reasons why this bake wasn’t behaving as it should, I discovered a small yet significant mistake: no xanthan gum.
Because I bake gluten-free whenever possible, some delicacies are difficult to make without a little ingenuity and help from science. Xanthan gum helps give structure and elasticity to gluten-free dough so one can enjoy things like pizza crust, pasta, and yes, even eclairs.
I bought the fool-proof gluten-free baking flour from King Arthur and I thought it had failed me for the first time. But it was I who forgot the significance of 3 tiny words on the box: no xanthan gum.
I quickly whipped up a half batch of batter with xanthan gum and it did much better. I was also careful to pay closer attention to its temperature while whisking in the eggs.
Temperature Matters when Baking
I used to think, “Since I’ve prepped for the worst, it won’t happen to me.”
But part of being prepared for the curve balls in life isn’t about preventing them from happening: it’s about learning to juggle them.
Remember that batter that was just too runny because of its missing ingredient? It turns out that while I couldn’t bake it (as you can see in the left photo), this batter fried up nicely.
I was surprised to find that the answer was simple: turn up the heat. The dough expanded once it made contact with the hot oil.
And that second, smaller batch I whipped up? I got the delicious, expected results after I let it rest in the fridge. Sometimes in life, we’ve got to just chill.
Choose your Eclair Filling
If you’ve had the pleasure of watching The Great British Bake-off, you’ll know that there are all kinds of options for flavoring and filling eclairs. Even when limited by your needs, taste preferences, and available ingredients, you’re likely still left with several options.
There might be more than one “right choice” for you. Different flavors are more satisfying to different people. So get creative and find something that fits your needs.
This is perfect if you’ve just been told you need a GF diet, if you have a friend or family member eating GF and you’d like to cook for them, or if you’re just curious what it’s all about!
Gluten, Dairy Free Eclair RecipePrint
Low-sugar, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free Eclair recipe with suggestions for filling and toppings.
- Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.
- Boil 1/2 cup Earth Balance, 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Once dissolved, remove from heat; stir in xanthan gum (if not in flour mix) and 1 cup + 2tbsp flour &
- Refrigerate the dough for 5 mins.
- While dough cools mix together 3/4 cup water and 4 Tbsp ground flaxseed.
doughis no longer warm to the touch, gradually add in the flaxseed “eggs”.
- The dough will look like cottage cheese at first so sing like Dory, “Just keep stirring. Just keep stirring.”
- Place dough back in
refrigeratorso it will be less sticky when placed in a piping bag. Put a sheet of parchment paper over your baking sheet and retrieve the dough from the fridge.
- Using a Ziploc bag with a cut corner (or a Pastry Bag with 1″ tip,) pipe out dough into double-decker logs on
bakingsheet (about 2 inches long for mini-eclairs and 5 inches long for large gluten-free eclairs).
- Bake in
preheatedoven (400F) for 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 325 and bake eclairs for 25 minutes longer.
- Check golden brown eclairs for done-ness by slicing open lengthwise. The inside should be quite warm but not doughy.
- When insides are dry and outsides are golden, remove from oven. Slice in half and place on
- Serving Size: 1 eclair
- Calories: 220
- Sugar: 10 g
- Sodium: 131 mg
- Saturated Fat: 6 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 7 g
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 25 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 2 g
- Cholesterol: 0
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Life Lessons Through Baking
What did these eclairs teach me?
- Life’s not ideal, and that’s great!
- Preparation is different than prevention.
- Check your temperature: do you need more heat or do you need to chill?