Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Rhubarb Curd & Almond Shorties

                                                                              
Rhubarb is another fruit (or is that vegetable?) that appears fresh and in abundance at this time of year in the UK. Its wonderful, characteristic pink-green stalks produce a deliciously sharp tang which is always perfect in tarts and crumbles.


Inspired by a recent blog from Katie at Apple & Spice (Zingy Lime Curd),  I wondered whether rhubarb might work as a curd? Rhubarb has a tartness that I thought would lend itself to the qualities of a curd, so I decided I would give it a try...........I usually buy curd when I need it, although I have no idea why as it is so easy to make.


There seem to be very few recipes around for rhubarb curd, and those that are out there vary enormously in the amount of sugar, butter and eggs that they use. None of them inspired 100% confidence, but of the couple that I did come across, the one in Bite magazine was probably closest in quantities to my expectations, so I decided to adapt from there. The quantities I have used are slightly varied, but my method is more or less comparable, so thanks to Bite, I was on my way!

I made two batches of curd and varied them slightly each time. The first was a pure rhubarb curd......... Absolutely delicious. Totally unexpected in flavour, it took me straight back to my childhood memories of eating boiled Rhubarb & Custard Sweets.................... A rhubarb tang against a creamy, smooth custard sweetness. Rhubarb & Custard in a jar!

My only disappointment was that it was not pink. I expected a curd that had a natural crimson tinge, but it turned out to be more of a mustardy yellow, probably because of the deep yellowness of the free range egg yolks I used. I shouldn't have worried, the flavour far outweighs the deceptive appearance. I have been happily eating it out of the jar as well as on anything else I can find.



But how to colour it? One recipe suggested a dash of Grenadine, but I wanted to try something a little more natural and less sugary, so I added some ground freeze-dried raspberries for my second batch. These had the desired effect of producing a powder-pink curd, but they did affect the flavour slightly, resulting in more of a rhubarb-raspberry curd. This was still delicious, and perhaps a bit sharper with the raspberry added, but if you want to bring out the pure rhubarb flavour, then I would skip the pink expectations and go for method 1.  

Next came the question of what to serve my rhubarb curd with? Bread seemed a possible option, but I fancied doing a biscuit bake, so decided to make some almond shortbread biscuits. They were absolutely the right choice........... With a crisp 'snap' and slightly bitter-sweet almond flavour, they compliment the creamy texture and sharp-sweetness of the curd perfectly.









Lavender & Lovage

Farmersgirl Kitchen







I have still to find the perfect gluten free shortbread biscuit recipe. Somehow, it seems incredibly elusive.....................

I recently came across a site called Tartine & Apron Strings which had published a recipe for shortbread made with a significant amount of almond flour. It promised to be pretty close to the real (gluten containing) version, so I thought I would give them a go................ The published recipe certainly makes a crisp short biscuit which holds its shape well when cut into cookies, but I found it to be just a little too heavy on almonds, so I have adapted my recipe to include some tapioca flour to balance the texture and added some vanilla for flavour.

Rhubarb Curd (with or without raspberry)

Ingredients (Makes 1 to 2 jars)                                  

400g Rhubarb - trimmed and cut into short lengths
3 large eggs - beaten (you may wish to strain out any stringy bits before you use)
110g caster sugar
80g unsalted butter - cubed
2 tablespoons (30ml) cold water
(1 tablespoon freeze-dried raspberry powder - optional)

Method


  1. Place the cut rhubarb into a saucepan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and using a medium heat setting, bring to a simmer.
  3. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has cooked through and turned to mush. If you are adding raspberry, add it at this point and thoroughly mix in, allowing to simmer for a further minute or so.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. Once cool, use a mesh sieve and force the rhubarb pulp through (using a wooden or silicone spoon) into a bowl. This will take some perseverance as you want to get as much through as possible (it may help if you puree in a food processor before sieving). The more you achieve, the more 'rhubarby' the curd. You should have a thick pink puree when you have finished and some remaining fibrous rhubarb 'goo' (which I have saved and frozen to add to a compote in the future).
  6. To sterilise your jars, place clean jars and their lids into a cold oven on a baking tray and turn to 130 degrees Centigrade. Allow to heat whilst you make your curd.
  7. Using a double saucepan, place a small amount of water ready to heat. Place the butter, sugar, eggs and rhubarb puree into the top and begin to heat the water whilst continually stirring until the water begins to simmer.
  8. Continue to stir turning the heat down to a low simmer, so that it is effectively steaming under the ingredients. It is essential not to be tempted to turn the heat up and to be really patient with the cooking process or you will scramble the egg.
  9. Keep stirring until the butter melts and the mixture thickens into a custard consistency which coats the back of the spoon and holds its thickness. (This may take 15+ minutes, so be really patient)
  10. Pour into your sterile, warm jars and seal with lids immediately, before allowing to cool. Store in the fridge when cold.

Almond Shortie Biscuits  

Ingredients                                   

150g unsalted butter (room temperature)   
80g caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
75g almond flour (not ground almonds)
75g tapioca flour
75g white rice flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C / 325 F / Gas 3.   
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the three flours and mix until you have a crumbly dough.
  4. Bring the mixture together with your hands and knead until you have a smooth dough.
  5. Roll the dough out immediately on a floured surface (or between 2 sheets of baking paper) to a thickness of about 5mm.    
  6. Cut into shapes using your favourite biscuit cutter and place on a non-stick baking sheet or baking tray lined with baking paper.
  7. Prick the biscuits with a fork and sprinkle with some extra caster sugar
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes until beginning to firm, and just starting to colour at the edges (you do not want the biscuits to start browning)
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

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