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28 NOVEMBER 2021
Hi friends, and welcome to the second edition of our Big Love newsletter! We have been hard at work with our next book these past months and this week we sent the manuscript to our editor. Now it's off to the designer and we finally have time to focus on this newsletter, baking cookies and starting to prepare for Christmas. We'll tell you more about the book in January. Today you can read my conversation with Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille. She has been in the online food world even longer than we have and we have always admired her work. We also include some links to recipes we are cooking, warming winter things and books to read.
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Aran Goyoaga
”It’s actually easier to do a gluten-free bread, in some ways.”
Aran Goyoaga is a Basque born pastry chef living in the US. Her multi-awarded food blog Cannelle et Vanille with stunning cakes, fantastic photography and styling was a big inspiration for us when we started Green Kitchen Stories back in 2009. As gluten intolerant, Aran has developed superpowers when it comes to baking bread, cakes and cookies that looks nothing like traditional gluten-free goods. She has just released her new book Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple and we caught up with her to learn more about gluten free baking, life after blogging, the best way to replace eggs and why she hasn’t joined Tik Tok.
By David (photo of Aran by @belathee)
David: Hi Aran, so fun to catch up. Since you and I are both kind of old in the blogging game, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on recipe sharing online
Aran: I started Cannelle et Vanille with no real intention. I was a new mom, had just left my job as a pastry chef and wanted to continue baking, experimenting and documenting, but I didn’t want to be in a professional kitchen. The blog was a way to do that. Then I became interested in photography and started learning the aspects of telling stories around food and communicating with people in a new way, which was very exciting. I did that for many years and probably could have monetized it, but I didn’t have the bandwidth or interest to do that. And now my work has evolved. I don’t blog anymore, but I’m active on Instagram, I have a free newsletter where I share recipes, I have my books and I have on-demand baking classes that people can take if they want to learn more. Buying my books and taking my classes have become my primary revenue streams, which feels more right for me than doing collaborations and sponsored content.
D: How do you feel about newer social media channels, like Tik Tok?
A: I haven’t been able to keep up, really. I’m not on Tik Tok. My agent, who is older than me, keeps telling me that I should be: “That’s how books are sold right now”, she insists. But I can’t do something that doesn’t feel right for me. The way I’m sharing videos on my Instagram right now is as low and non-caring I would go in terms of quality and visual aspects. Our daughter, who’s 12 and my husband watches Tik Tok. But our son, who’s 15 doesn’t. He thinks it’s a waste of time and that it pollutes your brain.
D: What first drew me to your blog was your beautiful photos and styling. What is closest to your heart - baking or photography?
A: It’s funny, because I fluctuate between the two. When I look at my Instagram feed, I feel it reflects my taste and style, and I really like that. My sensibility is very European and I like things to be textural, grounded, earthy and a little romantic, perhaps.
But right now, while I’m promoting the book, I’m more in teaching mode, trying to help people with how a dough should look, which flours to use etc, rather than focusing photography and the ethereal part. So I feel like I go between.
D: When did you realize you were gluten intolerant?
A: When I was pregnant with my daughter, I started to have crazy vertigo and hearing loss along with other symptoms and it lasted for a long time. When I finally went to the doctor, I was told I was gluten intolerant. That was April 2010 and I haven’t had any gluten since then.
D: How did you feel about baking, coming from your background as a pastry chef? Was it difficult giving up gluten in your recipes?
A: Actually, I think it was easier for me since I have worked as a pastry chef and have been experimenting with different gluten free flours and understand the balance of ingredients. So I was aware of them. And making cakes and cookies gluten-free actually isn’t that hard, because you don’t need gluten that much for those things. I love experimenting so I was just really excited to learn more. I remember thinking: “ Gluten is what is making me sick and this is what I have to do to feel better” – and it worked! So I was mostly just happy to learn more about that.
D: When I look at videos of you, pulling a gluten-free brioche roll open and it looks exactly like a traditional brioche, I almost feel like you’re cheating (and I mean that as a compliment), because I haven’t seen anyone else who can do that kind of bread-pulls with gluten-free goods.
A: Haha, well I’m not cheating. But if you take something out of the oven, and you pull it apart while it’s still oozing, it’s going to look so much better than if you let it sit on the counter for two hours. So I guess that is my trick.
D: I have dabbled with gluten free baking, but as soon as I try bread or rolls, anything that stretches really, it’s always more tender and compact. What’s the secret?
A: You need to understand the purpose of the various flours and the balance between whole grains, gluten free flours and starches, choosing between them, depending on what texture you are looking for with the final product. For example, buckwheat flour and oat flour tend to be kind of gummy. Rice flours are short and crumblier. Sorghum and Teff are higher protein grains. If I can get away with making a cake only with buckwheat flour, I will do that because it’s easier, heartier and probably better for my insulin. But if I want a baguette that gives me the airiness and crust and chewiness of a traditional baguette, I need to introduce starches, because they provide elasticity. Each recipe needs to be tackled in a different ways. But personally I think it’s actually easier to do a gluten free bread, in some ways. 
D: Wait, you think gluten free bread is easier than traditional bread?
A: Yes – with gluten you can ferment it, pull and fold it so many times, because it has elasticity so the recipes are often more elaborate and demand more techniques. But with gluten free bread you don’t have that, you might have more flours, but because it doesn’t stretch the other parts are simpler. 
D: Yes, your new book is called Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple – A new way to bake Gluten-Free. It’s stunning – congratulation!
A: Thank you! I am very happy with it. I know it’s presented as a special-diet book, but I don’t see it from that perspective. I want more people to learn about the possibilities of gluten-free baking. It’s just like GKS – even though you do vegetarian food, you want it to be for everyone.
D: So is it simple, gluten-free baking?
A: Well, I wanted to make sure that the way the recipes read, are really simple. I go into detail on how things should look and feel, and I have tested everything. So I did a lot of the work ahead of time to make it really simple, which I think makes it approachable to everybody. And looking on Instagram what people have been making from it, most of the things look similar to the photos in the book. That’s a testament to me that it works and isn’t too complicated.
D: I’ve noticed that you share a lot of vegan recipes and egg replacement in your newsletter and in the book. Why is that?
A: I am not vegan myself, but one of the most common questions I get, is how to make it vegan, so I have started to experiment more with that. I also like to challenge and push myself, so I find it really interesting to learn new things, like how aquafaba (chickpea brine) behaves in a recipe instead of eggs. And it’s actually a really good egg replacement as it both has airy and binding capabilities. I use 3 tbsp aquafaba to replace 1 egg. And you can beat it into meringue too.
D: How about butter – what is your favorite way to replace butter?
A: It depends on the recipe. My son reacts to butter so I use vegan butter when I want that resemblance. But I also use a lot of olive oil, because, you know, I’m from Spain. I also like combinations like mixing oil with a fat, like tahini or nut butter.
Milk on the other hand is so simple to replace with oat milk – especially Oatly, it works almost exactly like cow’s milk.
D: Do you have an opinion on if it is healthier in any way to eat gluten free?
A: There are gluten free goods that are good and there are gluten free goods that are crap. If you buy a box of gluten-free brownies they are going to have a lot of weird and unnecessary ingredients, so I don’t think there is a general rule. Anything you make at home is always healthier – whether it’s gluten-free or not.
D: What is your favorite tool/appliance in the kitchen and why?
A: I love my Vitamix. I like using it to grind oats and buckwheat, making my own nut milks and I have a special cashew and coconut cream in the book which is really good and it can only be made with a strong blender. Oh, and a scale. You should always weigh your flours when you bake to get the best result.
D: What is your favorite music to cook to?
A: I actually have a baking playlist with over 1500 songs. You can find it here.
D: Recommend a food person you think everyone should know and why?
Naomi Devlin! She is a gluten free chef working at River Cottage in the UK. She was the first person I started to look at who developed gluten free sourdough methods and she teaches great gluten free baking courses.
Big Love.
We are going into winter mode with recipes (and socks) to keep us warm, equipment to help us bake and some good reads, bits and bobs.
  • Elsa and I love singing TikTok duets to this Christmas song.
  • Butternut Squash on pizza
  • A fun gift guide if you are into puzzles (we want the Sloth Eating Noodles)
  • Our go-to holiday coffee shake.
  • Baker or not, everyone needs a good kitchen scale.
  • If you love baking, here are three other baking books to check out: One Tin Bakes Easy by Edd Kimber, New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford, Bread Ahead, by Matthew Jones.
  • Offer: We have a special discount on our supplements. Use the code GKS15 to get 15% on top of the 15% sale on Puori's site. The offer only lasts until Monday 29 Nov, so last chance. And during Black Week, Puori are donating to Kiss the Ground with each purchase which we are so happy to support.
  • If you want to learn more about Kiss the Ground check out their Netflix documentary.
  • Would love to cozy up with a bowl of Sweet Hot Chili Tofu.
  • We love Stanley Tucci on the screen and on Instagram and are so keen to read his book Taste.
  • So impressed by Deliciously Ella's Feel Better App. Recipes, workout and rest.
  • We will send out one last batch of our tattoos next week so they will arrive before the holidays. Great for Christmas stockings.
  • Every winter we talk about these alpaca socks produced by a friend of ours, because it's essentially the only socks we wear during the colder months.
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