Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Demetre Debacle

If you live in the UK I'm sure you are aware of the comments made by Coeliac chef Anthony Demetre on Saturday Kitchen (aired 09/04/2011).  If not, then have a look at this blog post by The GF Traveller.  This is not the first time Demetre has made ridiculous claims about eating gluten with Coeliac Disease; in 2009 he was interviewed by Swell City Guide, here are some excerpts:

"Q: How has being a coeliac influenced your menus, cooking and life in general?
A: Before being diagnosed 100% coeliac, I was quite cynical of people with the disease as well as other intolerances and thought it was just an excuse to diet. Since being diagnosed, my perception has changed enormously. It also helped when my gastroenterologist (who is a foodie) assured me that the options for coeliacs are not dull and that I would feel a lot better for it. I now always make sure that I have 1-3 dishes that are gluten-free on the menu.

Q: Best piece of advice you would give others who are suffer from gluten sensitivity/intolerance (Coeliac Disease) yet can’t bear to stop eating all the foods they love?
A: I go through stages of abstaining from gluten and then have a week of submittal. As a chef, it is difficult to completely avoid gluten, but I always avoid inferior gluten products. I can never refuse a toasted crusty piece of sourdough, but I am very choosy and stay away from bleached, un-organic flours. I have also started researching buckwheat flour, which is gluten-free. And now, leading supermarkets such as Waitrose have introduced an extensive range of products free from allergens, wheat, gluten or nuts. The diet of a coeliac actually promotes good health."

I have a better idea for others with Coeliac Disease who can't bear to stop eating all they foods they love.  Find gluten free alternatives.  It is as simple and as obvious at that.  We know the consequences of eating gluten, the pain, fatique, digestive problems (to put it lightly), anemia, osteoporosis, risk of bowel cancer... Why, oh why, would anyone with Coeliac Disease deliberately eat gluten?  Yes, free from products in the supermarkets are expensive.  No, gluten free doesn't have exactly the same texture as gluten-full.  However, if you experiment, you can get it pretty darn close and making it yourself will be cheaper than shop-bought.  Plus, there are so many naturally gluten free foods out there that you just don't need to mourn the loss of foods that, let's face it, make you ill.  I've said it before, my diet has become more varied since being diagnosed Coeliac.  I was forced to try new things, and it has been a benefit.  I don't miss my old diet.

That said, I do occasionally crave gluten-full items.  Recently I asked this question on Twitter; "what foods from your pre-gluten-free days do you miss the most?" and one response was "Cinnabon".  For those who don't know, Cinnabon is a food chain in the USA who sell cinnamon buns and other similar products.  After I received that tweet I was very much in the mood for cinnamon buns...

You won't miss the gluten, I promise!
 Cinnamon Buns
These are a bit of a faff, lots of stages, lots of washing up.  You might be cursing my name when you bake these yourself, but once you taste them all will be forgiven!

For the dough
300ml milk, at blood temperature (stick a clean finger in it, if it doesn't feel hot or cold then you're there)
75g butter, melted
7g dried yeast (I used Doves Farm)
100g caster sugar
550g Doves Farm Gluten Free Bread Mix
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt

For the filling
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
70g butter, softened

For the glaze
50g cream cheese (check it's gluten free, I didn't once...)
25g butter, softened
100g icing sugar

  •  In a bowl, combine milk, butter, eggs, sugar and yeast.
  • Combine flour and salt, then add to the bowl of wet ingredients and mix well into a sticky dough.
  • Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour.
  • Cut 2 pieces of greaseproof paper, about 50cm in length.  Put one piece on your work surface.
  • Empty the dough on to the paper, then place the other piece of greaseproof paper on top.  (The dough will still be quite sticky and this is the best way I've found to roll it out without losing half the dough to rolling pin, hands and work surface!  Also, if you're handling the dough, put some oil on your hands to stop it sticking to you!)
  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 2cm thick.  Peel of the top sheet of greaseproof paper, but don't throw it away.
  • In a bowl, combine the butter, cinnamon and sugar for the filling.  You will end up with a kind of sandy mixture.  
  • Sprinkle the filling over the flattened dough.
  • Now, (think swiss roll) pick up one edge of the bottom sheet of greaseproof paper and use it to start to roll the dough, if you fold the edge of the dough over then you can lift the greaseproof paper to encourage the rest to roll up.
  • Remember that second piece of greaseproof paper?  As you roll up the dough, place that piece on the work surface so you can drop your lovely rolled dough on it, thus saving it from sticking.
(It should look a bit like this)

  • Oil a knife, and cut slices about 4cm thick and place these slices in a baking tin.  If you need to you can squash them in a bit.

  • Cover with cling film and put back in the warm place for a further hour, or leave overnight in the fridge.
  • Heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Remove cling film and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, butter and sugar to a smooth paste.
  • As soon as you take the cooked buns out of the oven, spread the glaze over the top, leave to cool slightly before you remove them from the tin, it is easier to remove then while they are still a wee bit warm.

Ta da!!


(Phil Vickery, Coeliac UK National Food Ambassador has released a statement about the Demetre Debacle, you can read it here.)

 Added 12/04/2011...
I have received this response from the BBC Complaints department regarding Anthony Demtre's comments:

"Thank you for contacting us regarding the BBC One programme ‘Saturday Kitchen’ broadcast on 9 April.

We understand you were unhappy with the comments made by Anthony Demetre about his eating habits even though he has been diagnosed with Coeliac disease.

Anthony is a diagnosed coeliac and his children have shown signs of wheat intolerance. He therefore cooked a dish that was without gluten as it is something he has always been keen to support within his restaurant business. 

In discussing his eating habits Anthony was expressing his own personal way of coping with the condition and at no point did he advocate it as a diet that others should try. He accepts that maybe his choice of words could have been better judged but at no point did he intend to anger people and he is perfectly entitled to control his eating in any way he deems right for him. However, he apologises should anyone have been offended or upset by his words but he will continue to serve and cook gluten free food, something that is very unusual in the world of professional chefs.

'Saturday Kitchen' highlights a range of different culinary style and foods. We always strive to provide recipes that are suitable for all diets and we will continue to do so."


  1. i'm in love, im such a slut for cinnamon, they look ammmmmazing! x

  2. Thanks! It took all my strength to not eat them all in one go! And they smell divine, too.

  3. I think that response from the complaints department bothers me more than the chef's statement! It's not so much an issue of "offending," it's an issue of safety - because in a way, he is advocating eating wheat, as he is a public figure who some people likely admire! (It also makes me a little worried about how careful he is to make sure his gluten-free dishes are completely free of contamination, if he seems to think it's ok for celiacs to have a little gluten sometimes!) Ok, end of rant. Anyway...

    Those cinnamon buns look delicious! I will have to figure out what flour blend to use (I live in the US, so I can't get Dove's). I just found your blog thanks to the Gluten Free Ratio Rally - always glad to find out about another gluten-free baker!