When it comes to testing gluten free products, I am always pleased to have my husband and teenage testers on hand. They not only bring the “normal” eaters’ perspective, but they also offer additional mouths to cram the calories into.
As it is one of those marvellous ‘Twixmas’ days and I have non-working time on my hands, I have been trying out the Provena range of gluten free oat products. These oats from Finland are available online from Holland and Barrett and are extremely well-tested and carefully produced to guarantee GF.
Nicely packaged and with a lot of different languages on the back, it’s clear the company behind Benecol is working hard to push their products throughout Europe. Once you wade through the multilingual instructions and find the English bit, it is all straightforward.
This morning we tested Instant Porridge; the Oat Bread Mix and the Chocolate Muffin Mix. We also scrutinised the Oat Flour and the Oat Baking Flour, but I have not tried those out yet. The gluten free Oat Muesili is in my travel bag for a trip up north to Loch Ness for Hogmanay, so I might tweet (if I have a signal!) on the outcome of that test too.
Provena Gluten Free Oat Bread Mix
The oat bread sounds terrific, doesn’t it? Oat bread has to be good for you and, hopefully, low GI. The process for making this is unusual: melted butter, warm water, yeast, salt + the full packet. I mixed it up using the kneading blade of my Kenwood Chef but, to be honest, there is not really any true kneading involved. You could easily just mix this all up with a spoon. It then proves in a large bread tin and cooks for about 30 minutes in a hot oven.
And it is delicious! It has a good yeasty flavour when eaten hot out of the oven and also tastes good toasted. I would not stint on the salt – oats seem to need them, plus it definitely needs the full 30 minutes of cooking to cook it right through.
While there are terrific readymade gluten free breads out there, such as Findlaters, Archipelago Bakery, Genius and Wheat Free Bakery Direct, the beauty of this product is that you can make a great quality gluten free product anytime and anywhere. We often holiday on a remote Scottish island, so a few packs of this in my travel bag will ensure fresh bread whenever I want it, so I shall get my order in before the summer.
Provena Gluten free Chocolate Muffin Mix
Now, I am not a packet mix cake baker, but after a couple of recent un-blogged gluten free baking disasters, the comfort of a packet mix (and particularly one of high quality) is no bad thing. These muffins were dead easy to make: mix eggs, melted butter and the packet together and then plop into muffin tins. The slightly odd suggestion of using 150ml of melted butter is made easier to understand if you know that 150g of butter is 150ml when melted – worth knowing! The muffins were both easy and tasty. I added some chocolate butter icing to liven them up a bit and another time I would have thrown in a liberal helping of Belgian chocolate chips, but the teenage testers wolfed them down and declared them good.
Provena Gluten Free Instant Oatmeal
Little sachets of instant porridge are the discovery of our age. Quick to prepare and with all the benefits of oats, I often use Nairns sachets at work. These little beauties were the same. My husband tested the Apricot ones, which were quite sweet, plus had added salt, but he definitely gave them the thumbs up. Provena does not seem to make a plain option, which is a shame, but for those who want the flavour, there is also a raspberry one.
Other products from Provena include gluten free Jumbo Oats, which are good and chunky. I find the gluten free oats from the UK high street to be a bit floury. They are fine for adding to granola and having for breakfast, but do not make a good flapjack. Proper flapjacks have air in them and lots of room for the golden syrup to ooze, whereas the floury oats make them too dense. So these Provena Jumbo Oats are definitely on my shopping list from now on as they are way chunkier and more flaky than anything I have seen to date. I think they would toast well in homemade gluten free granola too. These are another item for a Scottish island holiday – so we can have good flapjacks on the beach.
Provena also makes flours, and I made some little apple pies using the baking flour. It is crumbly and cake-like and quite difficult to handle, so I might add some xanthum gum to it. Definitely tasty. And the jumbo oats muesili is also good, with not too much fruit, but great flaky oats.
Holland and Barrett has a “buy one get one half price” offer on all Provena products at the moment and you can either buy online or have delivered to your local store, so now’s the time!
Edinburgh Holland and Barrett stores for your delivery: Rose Street, Princes Street, Shandwick Place, Cameron Toll, Nicolson Street, Ocean Terminal, The Gyle