Everyone has a baking nemesis right? Or is that just me? I have one for sure….. actually I probably have a few, but for those of us who are gluten free, this is a biggie! Once I cracked bread (a necessary staple), the next thing I really craved was pastry….. not just any pastry, but the light, crisp, flaky pastry that is ‘Puff’.
Without Puff Pastry, we miss out on so much….. from amazing buttery, decadent patisserie to palmiers, airy pie-crusts and crispy turnovers, mille feuille and of course danish pastries.
If you eat gluten, but can’t manage to make Puff Pastry, it’s easy….. Nip down the supermarket and there it is, ready made, ready rolled and ready to buy and use. We gluten free folk do not have the same option. Whilst there are a couple of brands now offering ready made puff pastry, they are not really (in my humble opinion) up to scratch. Unless you can’t eat dairy, puff pastry should be rich with butter….. this is not the case with shop-bought GF brands. I will be honest… I tried the Genius frozen puff pastry with great excitement only to be disappointed with its bland flavour, slightly bitter aftertaste and lack of rise. My very favourite ready-made GF pastry brand (Silly Yak), which is fab for making ‘don’t have time’ quiches and pies, has a better flavour, but I would not describe it as puff pastry in the true sense that would be expected from a gluten-eater and I have yet to get it to achieve the light, flakiness and crunch that I seek.
Although there are now a handful of very specialist gluten free bakeries who do make the most amazing gluten free patisserie and puff-pastries, they are really hard to find unless you live in London or are lucky enough to have a serious specialist on your doorstep…. If we go to London, we always make a concerted effort to visit one of the bakeries and to return home with a stash of Danish Pastries, doughnuts and other treats. This is massively expensive….. I have been known to spend £30 to £40 on pastry treats alone in one visit, which is seriously excessive…..
It is time to face my nemesis and with this week being GBBO Pastry Week, I have decided now is the time to deal with it head on. So this week my GBBO-inspired offering is a selection of gluten free breakfast pastries…..
In the past, I have had a couple of fairly unsuccessful stabs at gluten free puff pastry. Whether it is a result of my anxiety that ‘I can’t do it’, or whether the recipes I have used have been deficient, I cannot say, but the results have been bin-worthy and very disheartening. This time it is going to be different….. In the words of the lovely and very inspirational 2015 GBBO winner Nadia, “I am never gonna say ‘I don’t think I can’…. I can and I will”…..
After much internet searching, I found a fantastic-looking recipe from an incredible gluten free blogger, Aran Goyoaga (Cannelle et Vanille). Aran was trained and working as a high-end pastry chef before her children were diagnosed with gluten intolerance….. Her foodie passion was subsequently diverted into the world of gluten-freedom and she has developed some of the most amazing recipes I have found.
Aran’s Puff Pastry recipe comes complete with a video to show you how to make it and give you confidence that it really isn’t that hard…. and can be found here. It is a lengthy process for sure, but the recipe makes a double-quantity of pastry, so you can either make loads and loads of stuff in one hit, or split the batch and chill the other half to use for something else, later.
For a first attempt at the recipe, I think it worked amazingly well….. I did mess up slightly when I encased my butter packet in the dough and so gave it an extra few layerings to try and compensate, but the texture and flavour of this pastry once baked is incredible…… crisp, light and perfectly buttery.
I used the dough to make my Custard, Cherry and Caramelised Pecan Danish (I adore Danish pastries with custard, fruit and nuts) and also to attempt some Pecan, Pear and Cherry Pinwheels. I used the leftover pecans from the Danishes, but I think I may have seriously overstuffed the roll, so some of the filling spilled out. There wasn’t perhaps quite as much rise as I would have liked (I think I also rolled the dough too thin), but trust me…. that made absolutely no difference to the end result for the sheer delight of eating them….
The mini croissants that you can see in the photos are made using Vicky’s (the Free From Fairy) Fairy Flour (wholegrain, multi-purpose rice free, gluten free flour blend) which you can buy via Honest Eats and her recipe for Danish Pastry which is found in her e-book : How to Make Gluten Free Pastry
This is the first time I have used Vicky’s Fairy Flour and I can report a big thumbs up….. it had a lovely texture and blended really well into the mix….. none of the grittiness that you get with so many commercial flour blends….. The flour is a carefully weighted mix of teff, sorghum, buckwheat, tapioca and potato starch flours, so you know that you are also getting plenty of good nutrition when you use it. The flour does have quite a strong taste to it (possibly from the Teff), but that is not a bad thing….. it has a sort of nutty undertone, but seems to adapt well to the addition of other flavourings.
The croissants look fab and Miss GF loved them, although I will be honest, they were by no means perfect…. I may have used the wrong type of pastry for making them….. I thought a yeasted puff pastry was the right way to go, but either I did something wrong (although I did follow the recipe to the letter, except for the addition of a little almond extract) or I over-baked them (more likely….). The uncooked pastry looked like it should layer reasonably well and it rose whilst proving successfully, but I found the croissants to be less than flaky and quite dry.
I will certainly give them another go, but I think I will use the remains of my Fairy Flour to test in a recipe that I am more familiar with…… When I do this I will come back with a post devoted to Vicky’s amazing blend….. I thoroughly recommend that you check it out!
Now…. back to breakfast…. gluten free continental style anyone?
I am sharing my selection of gluten free breakfast pastries with the following linkies :
Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi.
The Great Bloggers Bake Off with Mummy Mishaps : Week 5 : Pastry
The Bake Off Bake Along with This Particular and Rhyme & Ribbons
#TheFoodCalendar with Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen…. next week on the 30th September is the Macmillan Coffee Morning….. these would go down perfectly if you have plenty of time to knock some up!
Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse
Cook Blog Share with Hijacked by Twins
Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too
Puff Pastry – a recipe from Aran Goyoaga (Cannelle et Vanilla) – double batch
- Weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add 110g cold, cubed butter and rub in with the finger tips until you have the texture of coarse sand.
- Add the iced water and mix with your hands until a dough has formed.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it is smooth and hardly cracks (if the dough is too dry, add a dribble more water).
- Shape the dough into a square block (2 inches/5 cm thick), wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Whilst the dough is chilling, make a butter packet : cut the remaining butter into two rectangles, lay out a sheet of clingfilm and place the butter in the centre.
- Dust the top of the butter with a tablespoon brown rice flour, cover with another sheet of clingfilm and use a rolling pin or the ball of your hands to press down and flatten.
- Unwrap the butter and fold it over on itself. Gather up the remaining rice flour and re-dust the top. Cover with the clingfilm and flatten again.
- Repeat the folding and flattening process until you have a smooth, 5×5 inch/13×13 cm butter square. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Lay two pieces of clingfilm (overlapping) on your work surface and dust with tapioca starch.
- Place the dough on top and roll out to form a ‘4-flapped’ square (the shape of an unfolded envelope). The centre of the dough shape should be about the size of the butter packet, with flaps that are long enough to fold over the butter completely.
- Place the butter packet in the middle of the dough and fold all four flaps over. Pinch any gaps and cracks. The butter needs to be completely encased. Brush away any excess flour.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle-strip – approx 20 cm by 50 cm (three times long as wide).
- Fold the top third over the middle third and then the bottom third over the top of that.
- Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process of rolling and folding as in 13 & 14 above.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Take the dough from the fridge and let rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Lay a sheet of clingfilm on the surface and dust with tapioca starch. Repeat the rolling and folding process as in 13 & 14 above (starting at 90 degrees turn from the last roll) a further two times, then re-wrap and chill for a further 2 hours.
- Repeat 17 & 18 above one further time.
- Place the dough back in the fridge tightly wrapped in cling film until you are ready to use.
Custard, Cherry & Caramelised Pecan Danish Pastries (makes approx 18 small or 9 large pastries)
- Make your custard ahead of time to allow to cool completely.
- Prepare your pecans, by heating the coconut oil in a small saucepan. Add the pecans and gently sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the brown sugar and stir through for a further couple of minutes over a low heat to dissolve and coat the pecans.
- Remove from the pan on to kitchen paper for a few seconds (to remove excess oil) and then set aside.
- When ready, roll out your pastry (I did this in small batches to make it easier to work without getting too warm) to 3 to 4 mm thick. Cut into squares (approx 10 cm (4 inches) for large and 7 cm (3 inches) for small pastries).
- Drop about a teaspoon of custard into the centre of the dough square (a teaspoon and a half for larger pastries), top with a cherry or two and a few pieces of broken pecan.
- Roll-up the four pastry corners into the middle (to surround the filling) and then roll in the four remaining sides to create a small basket for the filling.
- Place the uncooked pastry onto a large baking sheet lined with baking paper.
- Repeat the filling and rolling process until you have used all your squares.
- Place the uncooked pastries on the tray into the fridge for 30 minutes (it is important for the dough to be chilled before it goes in the oven).
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7.
- When chilled, glaze the raw pastry edges with either beaten egg or milk and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crisp and golden.
- Remove from the oven and whilst still hot, take a couple of teaspoons of apricot jam, warm in the microwave (or over a bowl of steaming water) and brush each baked pastry with the jam to glaze.
- Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cool, mix about 3 heaped teaspoons icing sugar with a dribble of water to make a drizzleable icing. Drizzle across the top of each of the pastries.
Pecan, Pear and Cherry Pinwheels
- Make the Filling : Mix the pecans, fruit, maple syrup, melted coconut oil and cinnamon in a small bowl – set aside.
- Cut your pastry block in half and roll out to form rectangle sheets approx 3 to 4 mm thick.
- Spread the filling across the whole sheet evenly and then roll the sheet up from the longer side to form a spiralled sausage shape.
- Place the whole length in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes (this will make is easier to cut).
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7.
- Once chilled, take a sharp knife and cut lengths approx 2 cm/just under 1 inch and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Lightly sprinkle the uncooked pastries with a little brown sugar and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp and golden.
- Whilst the pastries are still hot, take a couple of teaspoons of apricot jam, warm in the microwave (or over a bowl of steaming water) and brush each baked pastry with the jam to glaze.