October 1, 2012 by Tamika
I have been baking ridiculous amounts lately. Any one who follows my Belle Jar Preserves facebook page, has seen photo evidence of it. Along with jams, of course.
A few years of gluten free living, countless pounds of gluten free flours and starches (though if I had to estimate it would be in the hundreds of pounds, for sure), many batches of mediocre to just plain awful compost-or-indiscriminate-chicken-worthy baked goods and the determination to make gf pastry, pizza crust and cakes as close as possible to the ‘gluten’ thing has brought me to this point. I know many people just give up and expect gluten free to NEVER be the same, just get used to different textures, less rising, odd flavours. There is a whole barge worth of gf flour mixes, cake, brownie, muffin, bread, waffle, pancake mixes on the market.. some very good. You might wonder why I would create my own.
Basically, I have always baked from scratch, professionally and at home, although being gluten free poses challenges at first and it may be easier to grab GF flour mix off the shelf, I wouldn’t really be learning about gf baking and I wouldn’t be baking from scratch.
I have always liked to bake. I got the baking gene from my grandparents, immigrants who hand made a lot of foods we ate from baked goods to sausages to pasta (you can see my gluten free Gnocchi post at Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking) these crafts have all influenced my food choices for life. I decided being gluten free was not going to change my mind about low/no processed foods (although, I do eat store bought gf crackers and chips. And Annie’s gf mac n cheese once in while.. because, you know, I have to).
Now I’m ready to share. I’ve shared recipes before, but now I’m really ready to share in a way that will help free you to become a real from-scratch-gluten-free baker. I am still honing some flour combos and techniques, so this will be a progressive process for us all.
One lesson I’ve learned is there is NOT one flour mix that can replace gluten flour in everything. There is one great flour blend for cakey baked things, there is another terrific blend for pastry and another for pizza dough/ breads. I’m still working on a perfect cookie blend. See, I bake without xanthan gum, guar gum, oat flour, corn flours/ starches, and soy. Perhaps you are not sensitive to any of these, but I am and I’ve met a fair number of gf folks who are still sick and trying to figure it all out. Shauna Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef fame has stopped using xanthan and guar gums, she first mentions it here. I remember emailing her when I was a new gf-er, I wanted to be a trial baker for one of her cookbook recipes, but it had xanthan and I didn’t know how to amend that, she emailed me to let me know she was working on xanthan free too.
I learned pretty quickly on that xanthan made me sick, really sick, like having the stomach flu. Once I put two and two together, I remembered why I never liked bottled salad dressing, the gluey thick viscosity of it is the xanthan at work. Many people have no problem what so ever with it or guar gum, but why use it if you don’t have to? Why not use something else to help thicken that also adds health benefits to your diet. By the way, xanthan is derived from corn by product.. very processed. Buy a large bottle of Psyllium Husk Powder and a bottle of Apple Pectin Powder, some ground flax seeds, all available in health food stores, nutrition stores or on-line.
Gluten free baking is not low fat. It’s not low carb, as many people erroneously think (I get asked if I’m gf because I’m on a low carb diet?!) and it’s not necessarily healthier than gluten baked goods, unless you’re gf, then it is. Gluten free baking is delicious, comforting, rewarding and special.
Buy an inexpensive digital kitchen scale. PLEASE. It makes gf baking much easier, more accurate, therefore less chance for compost-worthy baked goods. 1 cup= 149 gr, how will you know this with out a scale? particularly for pastry. All the flour mixes I give you will be by weight.
Pastry flour. Pastry should be buttery and flaky and crunchy. My requirements for creating gf pastry flour. And can be rolled with a rolling pin (carefully, still). My base ratio of flour to fat to liquid for pastry has always been 3:2:1. 3 cups of flour to 2 cups cubed very cold butter to 1 cup of iced water (meaning, a 1 cup measure filled with ice then water). By weight that is 447 gr gf pastry flour, 283 gr (10 oz) cubed butter, 114 gr (4 oz) iced water. Please buy a scale (25$!).
Let’s start with the Apothecarista’s pastry flour blend recipe:
This recipe makes a good quantity, you’ll need a 5-6 qt. storage container, or you can use zip lock bags, but will still need something large to mix all the flours in. It makes sense to have flour mixes in bulk, that way you can bake spontaneously!
Gluten Free Pastry Flour
[Recipe by Tamika Adjemian]
1000 gr white rice flour
700 gr sweet white rice flour
400 gr brown rice flour
700 gr tapioca flour
(Psyllium husk powder added at time of baking.)
Mix these flours together very well. After each addition and thoroughly at the end. It helps to use two bowls or containers.
When making pastry dough, gluten free or glutened, it’s of utmost importance to work COLD. The fat in the butter cuts into the flours better, leaving little pockets of fat that create the flaky texture that is so DIVINE. I cube my butter and place in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. I fill my 1 cup measure with ice then water and place it in the freezer too. I use a food processor to make pastry. Hands are warm and melt butter. If you need or want to use your hands, work quickly, putting the dough into the freezer to rest once before finishing, this will help keep the butter cold. This pastry rolls well, keep fine ground white rice flour handy for coating your board/ counter and rolling pin.
Pate Brisee Gluten Free (Really Terrific Pastry Dough)
447 g gf pastry flour (around 3 cups)
1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder
sugar (to taste) if using, a big pinch (I find it unnecessary)
283 g (10 oz) VERY COLD cubed butter.
114 g (1/4 cup) water, over ice
big pinch sea salt (not weighing it!)
Parchment paper (this sticks to silpat mats at this point)
Mix the salt into the iced water. Set aside in the freezer.
Put the gf flour and psyllium husk powder into your food processor and pulse a few times to mix and grind a bit, if you want a sweet dough, this is where you add sugar. Add all the cold butter AND your salted water(not the ice) at once. Pulse in the processor a few times, then rest a beat, add more cold water a teaspoon at a time if necessary, pulse some more, rest, scrape with a spatula if you need to get butter and flour off the sides of the processor bowl. Pulse until it resembles very coarse corn meal or you can see the butter is in tiny globules. Open the processor and grab a big pinch of dough, if it hold together mostly, it’s done. If it’s still very dry, add a bit more cold water and pulse. Dump the entire bowl of dough onto a big piece of parchment paper, using the edges of the paper to lift the dough and pat it into a flattish round, wrap parchment to close, turn seem side down onto a plate and put in fridge for at least one hour. This whole process, once you get the hang of it, will take five minutes, so the butter never really warms up.
Use this dough to make anything you’d use regular pastry for.. and come on back for PASTRY HAND PIE recipe, up next!