I have a new ingredient in my flour collection…… Glutinous Rice Flour. It is also known as ‘mochiko’, sticky rice or sweet rice (though it is not sweet) and is widely used in South East and East Asia. I picked mine up at a local Thai supermarket, having heard about its virtues (in particular being less grainy when used in baking), and having been keen to try it out for some time.
Being rice, it contains absolutely NO gluten despite its name, so is completely safe for Coeliacs. But its properties in cooking on first try seem interesting and more importantly for us gluten-avoiders, promising! It becomes very sticky when cooked, which makes the binding possibilities worth further exploration. The Japanese apparently use it to make rice bread (which I need to research a bit more as it could be another interesting alternative to wheat-based bread), but it is also used to make a whole range of Asian desserts, dumplings, cakes and as a coating for some fried goods.
I will be honest, I didn’t know what to expect at all when using it…… but as its name suggests, it is sticky….. really sticky! And that’s exactly what it needs to be in a gluten free kitchen. We gluten free bakers tend to substitute gluten in wheat recipes with either xanthan gum, guar gum or chia paste, which provide an alternative to glue together the ingredients and to prevent cakes and breads from falling apart into a crumbly mess. If a little sticky rice added to a mix can help the natural binding process to some degree, that has to be good! I hear that it also gives fantastic thickening properties for sauces too…..
If anyone out there uses it regularly, I would love to hear some tips and tricks on how best to use it/what to avoid? What I found fascinating was that the ‘batter’ for the cakes became more of a dough (does it need a greater quantity of liquid?), although this produced an amazing cross between a biscuit and sponge which was, coincidentally, spot on for the Jaffa cake base. Talk about lucky!!!! The texture also seemed to be more ‘kneadable’ than some of the ‘doughs’ I have made, which got me very excited and looking forward to more experimentation, especially on the bread-front.
Anyway…… I have been wanting to make gluten free Jaffa cakes for a long time……. Finally I have given them a go………. Apart from my very good fortune with the cake-biscuit base, which was just the right texture to support the jelly-chocolate top, I decided to make my own jelly filling using some jam that I knocked together a couple of weeks ago to use up a load of fruit that was getting too soft and otherwise heading for the bin. The jam I have yet to post, but its flavour (made with a combination of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and apple) was so amazing that I decided to base my jelly with it. My ‘Jaffa’ Cakes are therefore not the traditional orange variety, but are delicately flavoured with English Summer-Autumn fruits and berries, which pair perfectly with the rich, dark, crisp chocolate coating and give the insides a beautiful purple colour.
I even made a few white chocolate ones as well for comparison which are great if you have a slightly sweeter tooth….. although I most definitely prefer the dark ones.
Although I made my jelly by a traditional gelatine method, you could equally use an alternative vegetarian product such as Vege Gel if you need to. The cakes use no butter either (instead substituting coconut oil), which makes them just that little bit more virtuous.
I am so pleased with the result, that I am sharing them with a number of blog challenges :
First up : Love Cake with Ness over at Jibber Jabber, who’s theme for September with the start of the new academic year is ‘back to school – something new’. Not only is this a new recipe and something I have never tried making before, but for me, it contains a new ingredient too – glutinous rice flour. I have also never used jam in making dessert jelly before, so I think my ‘Jaffa’ cakes qualify on a number of grounds!
Next they are heading over to Chef Mireille’s East West Realm and Elizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary for September’s No Waste Food Challenge, on account of the jam being home-made to salvage the fruit that was on the turn, some of which was picked from the local hedgerows on my recent blackberry forage…. Way too good to waste…. I confess that I also collected the apple for the jam on a walk through a local orchard….. this one had been left on the tree….. the pickers having missed it!
Mixed Berry ‘Jaffa’ Cakes (makes 18 to 20)
3 leaves gelatine (or equivalent vege gel)
100g glutinous rice flour
50g almond flour
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
2 large eggs – room temperature
75g soft brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
70g coconut oil – melted
220g dark (or other) chocolate
- Jelly – Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes to soften.
- Prepare a shallow container (about 9 inches/23 cm square), by base-lining with baking paper.
- Put the jam in a jug and make up to ½ pint with boiling water, stirring until the jam has dissolved.
- Drain the gelatine leaves and stir into the hot liquid until completely dissolved.
- Pour the liquid into the container and place in the fridge until completely set.
- Sponge – Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and mix together the flours and baking powder. Set aside.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla paste until fully combined. Add the coconut oil and beat thoroughly until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients and fold until combined. The mixture will resemble a stiff dough.
- Using non-stick muffin tins, take small balls of the dough (each equivalent to about a teaspoonful) and press them into the bottom of each muffin hole (about 5mm thick).
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until just beginning to turn golden. Be careful not to over-bake.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
- When cold, place the sponges back into the muffin tins and take the jelly from the fridge. Lift out of the container using the baking paper as a base and place on a chopping board.
- Using a small round cutter, cut circles of jelly and place one in the centre of each sponge.
- Chocolate Coating – melt the chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl either over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave on medium setting (30 second bursts), stirring frequently.
- Spoon the chocolate over each cake whilst still in the muffin tins and carefully spread to coat the top evenly.
- Place back in the fridge for a few minutes to set and then ease the cakes from the tin.