Sunday, December 7, 2014

Making Gluten Free Pastry

A large number of people buy ready-made pastry and shy away from making their own.  However, the bought stuff, apart from all butter puff pastry, is never as good as homemade.  In the gluten free world it is a good idea to learn to make your own so you know you are eating the best quality pastry.

When making normal pastry, you have to be very light handed and keep the utensils cool so that the gluten in the flour does not make the pastry tough.  So, in theory, we GF pastry makers should have an easier time …. 

There is plenty of advice out there about making gluten free pastry, so it is a good idea to read up about it before you set off.  Though if you are used to making pastry and are just switching technique, it will be easier as you will know what it is meant to look and feel like as you go.  I found the pastry to be more pliable than wheat pastry and to be very light and soft.  I believe using xanthum gum is necessary to hold it all together – without it I think it would be too crumbly and a bit dangerous.

When trying something new like this, I recommend you do a trial run and make something simple first.  Then, once you know how it behaves, you can make something more ambitious.  For me, this was a first trial run.  The recipe is from Phil Vickery, who has published a few gluten free cookbooks, so I have written it out below + submitted my photographs.

225g GF plain flour (I used Dove’s Farm)
pinch of GF baking powder
half a tsp xanthum gum
2 pinches salt
110g good quality unsalted butter
1 medium egg, beaten
cold water

Put flour, salt and butter in a bowl and rub until it resembles breadcrumbs

Add the egg and a little water then gather it all together into a soft ball.  Add more water if it is not collecting well, but too much and it will be sticky, so go slowly

Roll and gently massage the pastry, then roll out on a floured surface in the usual way.  (Some cooks recommend you roll between pieces of greaseproof paper, but I found this pastry behaved really well on my granite worksurface and that was not necessary).

I made simple jam tarts and some cheesy crackers, which were delicious with a bit of butter on them.  More ambitious recipes to follow …. (along with a fabulous GF cheesecake!)

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