Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Alpha and Omega: Thanksgiving gluten-free sourdough rosemary rolls recipe and gluten-free piecrust mincemeat cookies

Reaching for a roll, breaking through the crackly crust to expose the tender insides riddled with holes. Steams escapes redolent with the piney sharpness of rosemary as your fingers slip slightly on the crunchy salt crystals on top. Butter slathered inside melts in an instant, primordial grunts of joy leave our throats as the first bite meets our tongues.

This sounds like a dream for us gluten free folks.  We don’t get tender threaded bread with lovely large holes now, do we? And the abililty to break through an actual crust, rarely.

Because of bakers like Shauna James Ahern and her husband Danny (the Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef), we do have that ability.
They created the original crusty gluten-free bread. You can read all about it in their new book The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef on pages 180-181. Like all good chefs, they worked from a place of curiosity.  How could they take James Leahy’s brilliant variation on bread making procedure,  My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method and make it their own?

First, by weighing their flours. They were able to see how changing from one flour to another would bring different densities to the loaves.

Big slap on the head about that one, of course the different flours varied in weight. No one before Shauna really made any concessions to that fact.

No wonder we all produced bricks as we started out using whole grains.  They weigh more than the fluffy starches of our baking pioneers like Bette Hagman. So when we replace cup for cup to get a “healthier” loaf, we use more flour in total weight.   Likely, we all have a weighty doorstop to prove it.

Mark Bittman added his variations to Jim's recipe, two years after the original post. Now the process got even more convenient to make, speeding the baker to make faster loaves.

King Arthur Flour changed one part of the technique, allowing all of us to rid ourselves of sticky cotton towels forever. Parchment paper allows our shaggy doughs to be dropped into the hot cast iron pot without difficulty.

Shauna was the first to bring together our mixture of flours, starches and gums to create a crackling crusty loaf.

Then she did the next right thing, sending out a call for recipe testers.

We have all had that experience of preparing a recipe from a magazine, only to have it flop.  We think we have done all we could to make it just like the instructions say but somehow fail to achieve our goal of perfection.

Sometimes, it isn’t us. 

It’s the recipe.

An untested recipe is like a car driven by a first time driver, lurching and stopping without reason, occasionally crashing.

Why would anyone publish a recipe without testing?

Occasionally a deadline looms, sometimes just one change was made on the fly that didn’t make it into the printed version.  Sometimes for the sake of word count, an ingredient is left out. 
Then, when the recipe doesn’t work, we blame ourselves.

Shauna and Danny tested all their recipes using a network of friends, fellow bloggers, twitter followers and the like.
I am very proud to have been one of their testers. As a bonus, I got to see some of these incredible recipes months before anyone else.

Pout, I couldn’t share them. Even when my sisters begged, pleaded with tears in their eyes. I had to tell them to wait, wait, wait for the release.

Here, have another slice of crusty bread. Toasted, slathered with butter and lemon marmalade on top.

Now the waiting is over, the book is here, you can all go buy it now, with a second copy for your best friend.

Perhaps, if you are lucky, you live in Colorado.  If you do, go over to Shauna and Danny’s blog for the book tour information.  Make it a date, bring along a dish to the potluck and dance with Lu.  You will love every minute.
 The rest of us can enjoy all the recipes and variations that occur in the hive of gluten-free baking.  Variations like the gluten free sourdough rosemary rolls I described at the top. Yes, you read that right, Gluten-Free Sourdough Rosemary Rolls. Printable Recipe You see, I took Shauna’s recipe and baked a lot of bread. Then I realized the bread I missed was sour. Not the sweeter youthful taste of newly risen bread, but the older, wiser, slightly cranky, world-weary sourdough bread. This is where my curiosity exploded. What about other attributes of flours?  How about fat percentages? Carbohydrate counts? Fiber?  Protein! Of course, protein is essential since gluten is what we are taking out. Gluten is protein.  So we have to replace it. My curiosity led to research, which led to the extraordinary geekiness of my flour chart. The chart that fed the next journey of discovery, how to make a sourdough starter food. The live yeasts in the air working on all that protein became my starter, the rising agent for true sour flavor and texture.  The crunchy crusted, tender threaded bread of my dreams finally manifested under my slightly scorched hands. But, just one kind of sourdough didn’t satisfy all of my yearnings. When Ed worked for Breadfarm, my favorite bread was a roll.  That sounds so simple, a roll. But the roll of my remembrance, the roll that lived in my memories for the 5 years I’ve been gluten free wasn’t truly simple. Complications arose from the desire for a stark contrast of crunchy crust and resilient spongy insides. Perfumed with the piney smell of rosemary, the crust brushed with olive oil prior to being sprinkled with coarse salt.  A bit complicated, improved by dipping in more olive oil. Or by having a fried egg, sandwiched inside with a bit of char from the toaster, softened by butter. This was the Proustian roll of my memories. I set out to create this roll.  Then laughed when I realized just how simple it was once you had the basic dough. The ease of creating these rolls led me to many more variations like caramelized apple rolls, breadsticks, and eventually to bagels. The roll was the first variation. The Alpha of a meal, I always grabbed a piece of bread first at big meals like Thanksgiving.

The Omega came along much later, after I had taught several classes of gluten-free sourdough.  One of my class attendees, Cat Bismuth, asked if I had thought of filming the process. Yes, I had thought of it.  I love Shauna and Danny’s videos. Learning a new technique is much easier to follow visually. What held me back was simple. Who would come and do that filming? My girls?  Their camera control needs a bit of work. The dog? She is no help, you need those opposable thumbs to hold the camera. Cat told me she was a videographer, and asked would I like to be filmed by her? YES! Lucky me, Cat had already lined up another amazing gluten-free blogger to share her recipe as well. Jeanne Sauvage from Art of Gluten-Free Baking was all lined up to do her flaky pie crust. Cat wondered if we would be willing to guest appear on each others filming. Heck, yes! After all, pie crust is one of the holy trinity of gluten-free desires. Bread, pizza and pie crust. The three foods that make newly diagnosed gluten-free folks weep to imagine life without. All of which are actually fairly simple to make once you have a great guide. A guide like Jeanne for pie who learned from Kate McDermott  the secrets to flaky, buttery pie. Which she then turned around and created gluten free. Like good students everywhere, while we were filming, I took mental notes of all the techniques.  I brought those techniques back to my kitchen. Gathered my choices of flour, using my flour chart for guidance for nutritions sake.  Brought my ½ pound of butter to cool room temperature for flavor's sake, and created my variation on Jeanne’s classic pie crust. Now I had the essential ingredient for the Omega of a meal. Cookies that fill the empty nooks and bits of time with coffee after a big meal. Since my husband lets me know on a yearly basis that mincemeat is his preferred pie for Thanksgiving, these are for him. Enjoy! Printable Recipe for the pie crust  Gluten-free Pie Crust 100 grams sorghum flour 80 grams brown rice flour 200 grams white rice flour 120 grams tapioca flour 160 grams sweet rice flour 2 grams xanthan gum 1 grams baking powder 7 grams organic sugar 4 grams salt 1 cup of butter  1 Tablespoon vinegar 6-8 Tablespoons water Stir together all the flours till you get an even color. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour, smearing the mixture between your fingers. Continue till the mixture resembles sand with a few chunkier pieces. Add the vinegar and stir. Add the water a bit at a time, stirring with your hand to incorporate the water. The dough should hold together with a gentle squeeze. Divide the dough in half, form into a neat disc about an inch tall.  Wrap well in plastic and chill for at least ½ hour. Cover your rolling surface with tapioca flour. Remove one disc of dough from the plastic, sprinkle generously with tapioca flour. Place on prepared surface and begin to roll. Roll lightly as a butterfly with almost no downward  pressure. Just allow the dough to move gently flatter, keeping the board and surface of the dough well sprinkled with tapioca flour.

Waiting to be filled

just a bit of filling

Sorry for the fuzzy focus, I just love this tool of my grandmother's.  It cuts out fluted circles or plain circles with the center cut out able to be flipped from one site to the other.  Ingeneous!

Found this fun mincemeat at Deals only!  

Check out that list of ingredients, real fruits, cider and brandy.  Just a bit of tartness from the acid.  We can't seem to get enough of it.

This one only lasted a moment, Ed grabbed it right after the photo 
Printable Recipe for Mincemeat Cookies Mincemeat cookies 1 batch of pie crust- rolled out to ¼ inch thickness 1 12 oz jar of mincemeat or 1/2  batch of this recipe Cover your rolling surface with tapioca flour. Remove one disc of dough from the plastic, sprinkle generously with tapioca flour. Place on prepared surface and begin to roll. Roll lightly as a butterfly with almost no downward  pressure. Just allow the dough to move gently flatter, keeping the board and surface of the dough well sprinkled with tapioca flour. Continue to roll till the pastry is ¼ inch thick. Cut out the cookies making sure to have an even number. Top one of each pair with a dollop of mincemeat.   Use your finger to dampen the edge of each cookie. Cover with second dough round, pressing to seal. Don’t worry if the dough cracks, it just adds to the charm. Repeat with the remaining dough, or save half for a quiche instead. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning once. Let cool completely before serving. And if those recipes aren't exactly what you are hoping to find for your holiday table, check out this amazing group of bloggers who all took on the challenge of baking gluten-free. For some of these folks, it might be the first time ever baking gluten-free.

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