In our continued search for the perfect free-from loaf we recently discovered the world of Fria - the Scandinavian market leader in gluten-free bakery products.
Fria is an award-winning, family-owned bakery based in Sweden, that since it was established in 1996, has become the biggest and most successful gluten-free bakery in Scandinavia.
All Fria products are freshly baked then frozen in a dedicated gluten- and dairy-free environment, so they can simply be defrosted and are ready to eat with no baking required. Just take out what you need and leave the rest in the freezer for later.
'Research has shown that there are no practical differences between the nutritional value of fresh, canned and frozen foods. In fact, fresh isn't always best. Canning can help release the most stubborn nutrients, while freezing locks in the ones that try to escape'.
Armed with this information we put Fria to the test...
Firstly, it is a refreshing change to find a producer that is keen to get more fibre into their produce, while reducing fat levels and choosing to not simply replace the gluten and dairy in their produce with more refined sugars.
Being chocoholics, it seemed only natural that our taste-testers went straight for the Kladdkaka. This deliciously sticky chocolate cake took less than an hour to defrost and we took less than that to eat it! Do not let looks put you off. This cake may be slightly shallow compared to the average pudding, but what it lacks in physical depth it more than makes up for in flavour.
Described as a 'Swedish Brownie' on the packaging, this is more a sticky chocolate fudge cake. Whilst it was sweet, it was not over-sweet - which meant we could eat the whole thing! Perfect with a dollop of dairy-free 'cream' although on its own this cake is still a winner.
Allowing our sweet-teeth to continue, we went swiftly on to the Kanelgiffel. These cinnamon flavoured mini rolls were easy to thaw and ready to eat within thirty minutes although they would need eating soon after to stop them drying out. With a great flavour, consistency and texture they were not too sickly sweet. For optimum results we would suggest you pop them into the oven to thaw and warm through while you put the kettle on.
Continuing in the same vein, we moved on to the Äpplemuffins - filled with apple jam and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. These lovely muffins thawed exceptionally well and were as soft and springy as any freshly made. With a good texture and subtle taste, they were not over-sweet and although we would have liked to have found a little more jam inside.
Next on the table was the award winning Grova, a dark loaf containing linseed and caraway. We simply took out just what we needed and tried this bread straight to toast from frozen - as well as thawed for sandwiches. It is good rye-type bread with a hearty taste although the slices are quite small. Unfortunately it is a little too dark for our taste but perfect if you like a granary or malted loaf.
Meanwhile the Fria Fiber, a fibre rich loaf enriched with sunflower seeds and linseeds, came out a lot lighter. With 9% fibre content this loaf weighs approximately 500 grams and contains around 16 slices. Again this loaf thawed well enough for us to make fresh sandwiches and toasted from frozen. The slices were still quite small, like the Grova, but the taste is a lot lighter and more in keeping with what may be expected from a 'white' loaf.
We found the Fria Grov Minibaguette, a fibre enriched dark roll (with sunflower seeds, linseeds and buckwheat flakes), exceptionally soft on the inside while still managing to hold its shape and structure. By simply popping them into the oven from frozen, we were able to have warm bread rolls that were still edible and inviting.
This is a great roll to serve with soups and stews, or load with your favourite savoury filling. In fact, we thawed out one too many so wrapped it in a cellophane bag and popped it in the food cupboard. It was still soft and fresh 48 hours later, and tasted just as good.
We thought we had found the best with the minibaguette, until we tested the Vallmofralla. We absolutely loved these rolls. They are described as a tasty, savoury poppy seed roll - perfect for the breakfast table, picnic or lunch box. And we agree!
By adding a little lactose free cheese on top and putting them under the grill for a few minutes, we created the perfect alternative for cheese on toast. These rolls are amazing and it was easy to forget that they are gluten-free.
We have discovered that Fria also produce an excellent white loaf, Vita, that has been described by testers as the nicest white gluten-free bread they've tried. But don't take our word for it - explore the whole range of Fria products yourself at www.fria.co.uk
All Fria production takes place in a secure gluten-free and milk free environment and the products are baked with Fria's unique flour mix. To guarantee the products' security and quality, the raw materials and finished products are continuously monitored in the bakery and the laboratory. After baking, the products are frozen in order to retain the freshly baked taste and texture.
Fria will be at the Allergy and Free-From Show at Olympia this month from the 18th - 20th May.
At present you can purchase Frias products at selected stores and online. If you like the Fria range then contact your favourite supermarket and ask them to stock it.
You can buy Fria products from GF Direct www.gffdirect.co.uk, TotallySwedish; who have two London stores and an online shop (with nationwide delivery) www.totallyswedish.com and Scandinavian Kitchen; a London store and online shop. www.scandikitchen.co.uk
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