Monday, 18 March 2013

gluten free experiments & discoveries

I love baking, and of course eating the said baked goods which is why my weight is so erratic.
Going gluten free has thrown me many challenges one of which is how to bake muffins, cakes and pies without the easy option of wheat.  A challenge I embraced tentatively.

I started by using the pre packed gluten free flours found in the supermarkets.  They consist mostly of white rice flour, not very nutritious or tasty.  they tasted like sad imitations of real wheat and lets not forget gummy and well....... like rice.
So I went online to trawl the websites (very different from the trawling I did on the dating websites but trawling nonetheless) and I found a wealth of information dedicated to gluten free living and good advice on the different flours and grains available.  I was afraid to experiment at first then as I got better at baking gluten free and trying the recipes, I got bolder.
I plunged headlong, well tiptoeing actually,  into the giddy world of experimentation,  using the different blends that all these experienced people had written blogs on.  I searched supermarket shelves ( I still am too lazy to go out of my comfort zone and head to the speciality stores in town) for the flours I needed and  concentrated on building recipes with the flours I found.

dough is too firm
crumbly but yummy
I made a batch of choc chip muffins on Sunday, using a blend of flours I had on hand, there is something missing in that they are too crumbly but they tasted fine.  I will have to adjust the flours and the  percentage of each type ( I used Sorghum, Brown rice flour and potato starch) to see how to make it less crumbly.

Then I tried making a tart. I had lots of plums in the fridge and thought why not.....

For my first all purpose flour blend, I used Sorghum, brown rice, potato starch and almond meal,  gratefully recreated from the Gluten Free Goddess  and I made a batch of this to use (successfully) in my earlier baking attempts of choc chip cookies, and blueberry muffins and I used this blend to make the pastry for the tart.

Plum & Apple Tart
200 g gluten free all purpose flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
125 gms butter - cubed into small pieces
1 tbsp sugar.
So its the same as all baking, you add in all the flour, sugar, salt and the gum to a large bowl then add in  the cold bits of butter.  Using your finger tips, quickly rub in the butter.  yeah easier said than done in this humid and hot country!  Pastry making in Singapore is stressful, in that you have to do it quickly and I have always failed as the butter melts too quickly in the overheated kitchen and I get a tough pastry as the end product.  But Gluten free pastry is easier to handle - it wont toughen as it doesn't have gluten!!  Even a dunce with pastry , like me, can bake a soft crumbly shortcrust pastry!
Anyway,   beat the egg in a bowl, and add it in to the crumbly flour mixture and bring the mixture together to form a ball.  There should be no bits of flour left in your bowl, it should all stick together in one nice ball of dough.  Put the dough in the fridge (I used a Ziploc bag ) for about 20 minutes, minimum.

While the pastry was chilling, I started on the filling.  I adapted the plum filling from here.   As we experiment, we learn, and I learnt that its actually damn difficult to pit plums! I made an almighty mess.

500 grams of plums
300 ml of water
150 grams of sugar
put water and sugar in saucepan, bring to boil and when sugar has melted add in the sliced and pitted plums with skin on.  I actually put everything into the saucepan then reread the recipe and thought shit!  and had to take the plums out as they only were supposed to go into the damn pan once the sugar had dissolved!  another fine mess!
Anyway after water boils blah blah, add in the plums and cook for about 5 mins ( depending on how ripe those fucking plums were in the first place!)  The riper they are the less time to cook......who knew
Once cooked, drain plums and set aside to cool.
Hmm what was I going to do with this sugar water?  I didn't want to throw it away.  Waste not want not!

the second part of the filling is the apple sauce -
2 apples ( I just used what ever apples I had)  Peel, core and chop apples and put in saucepan, use the plum and sugar water ( one cup) and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, boil till apples are tender.  mash ( I used my potato masher!)
set aside to cool.  now for the pastry
Oh and don't forget to preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celsius) a bit earlier
roll out pastry between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper.  Lift bottom sheet, and carefully place pastry gently onto the pie tin ( or is it into the pie tin?)
do not stretch or pull pastry.  be nice to it!
after being baked blind
bake blind for 15 - 20 mins (baking blind - there are a dozen 'real' blogs about baking out there and I am not one of them or you could go ask Wiki)  once done, take pastry out of oven and spread the apple sauce evenly across the bottom of the pan and then arrange the plums (yeah right, my plums all got mushy as they were too fucking ripe in the first place so I just dumped them and spread them over the apple sauce), Sprinkle over the plums, half a tablespoon of brown sugar and
not so neatly placed plums in a tart
then bake in oven for 15 - 20  mins.  and Voila you have a plum and apple tart!

I think I need to take better pictures though.

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