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!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Gluten Free Baguette and Beautiful Basil Pesto


I have been wanting to make a gluten free baguette for some time, but gluten free bread can be very difficult to mould into familiar shapes as it is much wetter than usual wheat-based dough and generally not 'kneadable'. Unsure how best to get the traditional rounded stick shape, I recently came across a baguette tin which is designed to hold dough in a rounded, supported position along the length of the tray, via two dips whilst it bakes. The tray has a mesh structure to allow the dry heat to circulate round the whole loaf whilst it is baking and I wasn't sure whether gluten free dough would hold in the pan (being worried it might drip through the holes).


Only one way to find out I guess and that was to give it a go.............

There are only a handful of gluten free baguette recipes out there and although they seem to follow a rough ratio of wet to dry ingredients to yeast, they all seem to use different flours. I tried to check out some French gluten free blogs for the 'local' take on GF baguette recipes (I figured they may have higher standards than me), but my appallingly bad French language skills let me down......... Have now made a mental note to practice harder (or find a good translator)!


This is my version of a French stick, which uses a combination of sorghum, tapioca, potato and rice flours and seems to produce a good, soft baguette with a slightly dense texture and mild flavour. It is brushed with a mixture of water and a little oil before it heads for the oven, which helps it get a crispy crust. It is best eaten fresh, warm and at least the same day (as with traditional baguettes), but it is freezable if you need to store it.


Baguettes are great for garden eating and picnics.......... you can fill them like a sandwich, turn them into a barbecue hot dog, or just dip them in any number of sauce varieties, olive oil, pesto, or chutney.

Pesto is a favourite and with the summer abundance of fresh basil, it seemed a good idea to make some home-made and fresh. It is really simple to do and, providing you have a food processor, you can knock it together in ten to fifteen minutes (including the light toasting of the pine nuts).


The recipe I use is a Jamie Oliver one which you can find here. Jamie's recipe quantities are not very specific.......... a handful of this and a handful of that............ but with pesto, it doesn't really matter as you want to make it to taste anyway, so judge the flavour as you go along.


The end result is deep in flavour, incredibly aromatic and the most beautiful, vibrant green colour. It is rich with the mingling of parmesan and basil, shot through with savoury nuttiness from the pine nuts. The garlic is obvious but not over-powering. So much better than the commercial pre-prepared jars.

If you want to make a vegetarian version of this pesto, look out for veggie alternatives to Parmesan (which contains rennet). Sainsbury and Tesco do an Italian Style Hard Cheese which is considered to be safe, or you could use an alternative favourite hard cheese that you are familiar with.

If you don't want to use it as a dip, it makes the most amazingly delicious chicken pesto pasta!


I am offering my gluten free baguette and beautiful basil pesto to three challenges for July :


Four Seasons Food, being hosted by Lou over at Eat Your Veg (with Anneli at Delicieux). This month FSF has gone 'al fresco' and is enjoying all things summer with outdoor eating. Great for lunch, parties, picnics or soiree's, this gluten free baguette means that even the gluten-intolerent can feel part of the hospitality. And who couldn't resist a dip this beautiful?


Eat Your Greens hosted by Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen, who is challenging us to make something with a green vegetable each month.......... I know that basil isn't technically a vegetable, but it is very very green, so I am hoping I can sneak it in!


And finally : Cooking With Herbs from Karen at Lavender & Lovage. July's challenge is 'beautiful basil'.......... That just about says it all! This pesto is the most amazing colour......... totally beautiful, fragrant and absolutely delicious!



Gluten Free Baguette

Ingredients

140g sorghum flour
100g tapioca flour
85g potato starch flour
60g brown rice flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (I used Allinson's)
240 ml hand warm water
2 large egg whites
1 large whole egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix the flours together with the xanthan gum and salt, making sure any lumps are broken down. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, yeast and warm water and leave for 10 minutes to become active and frothy.
  3. In a large bowl, lightly beat together the egg whites, whole egg, oil and vinegar.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mix followed by the yeast liquid and fold together until evenly combined.
  5. Place the baguette pan on a baking sheet and brush with a little olive oil. 
  6. Spoon the dough into the baguette moulds and spread, shaping into even, slightly rounded oblongs using the back of a spoon.
  7. Dampen the back of the spoon and smooth the bumps out of the top of the dough.
  8. Slash 3 slits diagonally into the top of each baguette (dampen the knife to prevent sticking).
  9. Lay a piece of cling film over the top and leave to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
  10. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  11. Before placing in the oven, lightly brush the baguettes with a mixture of olive oil and water. 
  12. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown, then leave to cool on a wire rack.
  13. As with traditional baguettes, this loaf is best eaten the day it is baked and at its best when served warm from the oven.

Beautiful Basil Pesto (from a  Jamie Oliver recipe)

Ingredients

½ clove of garlic (or less if the clove is very large)
large pinch fine sea salt
large grind of fresh black pepper
3 to 4 large handfuls of basil leaves (about 50 to 55g)
approx 50g pine nuts - very lightly toasted (a large handful)
approx 50g parmesan cheese - finely grated (a good handful) or an alternative vegetarian hard cheese
approx 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
squeeze lemon juice to taste - optional

Method

  1. Using a food processor, grind together the garlic, salt, pepper and basil.
  2. Add the pine nuts and grind again.
  3. Add half the parmesan (or alternative) and mix again.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and gradually add the olive oil and more parmesan until you have reached a rich, thick consistency and flavour that you are happy with. 
  5. Add a squeeze of lemon to taste (optional)
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

16 comments:

  1. Oh you have created a tasty and healthyl bread here. So many people cannot take gluten these days and are desperate to find products they can eat. The best way is how you do by making things yourself. This baguette look delicious and I love its consistency. Nothing could match this better than freshly made pesto; love the bright green colour, you have made it just right. Really well done you!

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    1. Thanks Alida! Finding ways to make it myself has become a bit of an obsession! But lots of fun......

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  2. These baguettes look yummy and the shade of that pesto is beautiful. I can't imagine me needing to make a gluten free baguette but if I eve do I know where to come now straight away =)

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    1. Thanks Laura. That green is pretty amazing, I agree! And always good to have a quick GF option for those 'tricky to feed' guests!

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  3. I love the rustic look and shape of your baguettes. That pesto looks amazing too, what a colour!

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  4. That's brave of you to try a gluten free baguette! I've never tried making one with wheat flour yet. I could eat that bowl of basil pesto just by itself. I love basil pesto!

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    1. Thanks Ness. Less brave and more necessity! The baguette tin definitely helped keep the shape. And yes.... the pesto is lovely!

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  5. What an amazing post and such a BEAUTIFUL colour in your pesto too! LOVE the fact you managed to bake a GF baguette and it looks very crusty and tasty! Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen. I was pretty chuffed with my efforts!

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  6. Your gf baguettes look absolutely fantastic, I need to try and do more gf baking, I tend to steer away from it, unless necessary. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful basil pesto for #EatYourGreens challenge this month.

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    1. Your welcome Shaheen. Thanks for the advice about cheese!

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  7. Just baked these baguettes and they are great and tasty too. Thanks

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    1. I'm so pleased Linzi! It is always so reassuring when a recipe works for someone else too. Thank you so much for letting me know. I really appreciate the feedback.

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  8. Just found your blog through Linzi Barrow @LancashireFood. I'm a late diagnosed coeliac living in rural central France and I can tell you the GF range available here is extremely limited and VERY expensive! I look forward to trying your baguette recipe, IF I am able to find sorghum flour here. If you need any translation help, just shout, I am now naturalised French and not too bad at the language :)

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    1. Thanks for visiting Tottie. It's so frustrating when you just can't get what you need or it costs twice as much. I went to Paris recently and was surprised at how limited it was for coeliacs. I hope you get to try the recipe! I found a couple of recipes on French websites, but couldn't translate well enough to risk trying them. If I send you a couple of links via your e-mail address, I would appreciate your kind offer of translation help. Would that be okay?

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