Thursday, May 31, 2012

Perfect Gluten-free Flour Tortillas

Have a burrito - a real burrito.  Just like I did every day this week since I came up with this recipe for gluten-free flour tortillas.  They aren't even hard to make!


There are several secret ingredients.  The first one is not so secret - it's more of a traditional, but underground ingredient.  The ingredient that makes these tortillas taste so good is lard.  Yep, delicious lard!  It's how flour tortillas are made.  (Sub out with vegetable shortening if you are vegetarian, of course.)



The second secret ingredient is my Deluxe Pastry Flour.  It has just the right balance of gluten-free flours for texture, pliability, and flavor.  You need flavor in your flour to balance out that fat you're using.  You know, the lard.  It's delicious, but you want to taste flour with a beautiful enhanced flavor.  As much as I like lard, you don't want the lard flavor to take over your tortilla. That's exactly what will happen if you use a flour mix with too much starch in it, and no flavor.


The third secret ingredient is flax seed.  You need this for the flexibility.  Did you know that xanthan gum does not make your gluten-free flour flexible?  Flax seed does, though.


Now that you know the secrets, I'll show you the recipe.

Recipe for Perfect Gluten-free Flour Tortillas


This recipe makes about three 12-inch tortillas.  Multiply the recipe as needed.

Whisk together in a bowl:

1 cup (135 g.) Deluxe Pastry Flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp flax seed, finely ground

Drop into the bowl:

2 Tbsp Lard

Cut the lard into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or just blend it in with your fingers until it looks like coarse crumbs.  Drizzle over the crumbly flour:

6-12 TBSP very warm water

Mix the water into the dough with your hands. Start with 5 or 6 Tbsp, then start kneading when it comes together.  If it's still too dry, add more warm water until it feels like proper dough.

Let the dough rest, covered, for at least 15 minutes at room temperature.  This helps the dough and the flax absorb the water and become flexible.

Turn on your cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat.

After the dough is done resting, knead it again for a minute and then do this test to see if it's the right texture.  Roll a piece of the dough into a ball and press it down into a disk.  Then use this guide to see if you need to adjust the water content:


Once it's perfect - and don't go to the next step until it is! - separate the dough into equal sized balls a bit bigger than a golf ball.  Roll it out on a piece of wax paper that is liberally floured with potato starch.  When it is a disk about 8 inches across, you might start to think it's not going to roll out more.


You would be wrong.  Just dust it with starch again, and flip it over onto the piece of wax paper, freshly floured
.

Roll it out until it's about 12 inches wide, then stick your hand under the wax paper again and peel the tortilla off.  (If at any point in this process the tortilla falls apart, just form it into a ball again and start over, adjusting the moisture content if needed.)





Slap the tortilla onto the hot griddle and cook for no longer than 30 seconds. 
Flip the tortilla over and cook for no longer than 30 seconds on the other side.
Remove the tortilla to a plate and cover it with a towel.  Cook the rest of your batch the same way, stacking the tortillas up under the towel as you go.  Serve them right away while they are warm, or within a few hours.  These tortillas are flexible enough to wrap around anything, or nothing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gluten-free Gourmand Flour Review and Giveaway

This week head over to the Gluten-free Homemaker to read a review of my No. 1 All-Purpose Flour and enter a giveaway to win a free bag of flour!  You get to choose between the No. 1 All-purpose Flour and the No. 2 Deluxe Pastry Flour.  You have until June 2nd to enter, so hurry over!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gluten-free Croissants

Do you want to experience the feeling of endless layers of buttery dough shattering against your teeth as you bite into a lovely pastry?  Then you need to make yourself some of these gluten-free croissants, because odds are that no one is going to make them for you.  It's hard to get good glutinous croissants let alone GF ones, so you will have to fend for yourself.  This recipe does take several hours to a day to prep, but it's worth the time and effort for fabulous, flaky, buttery gluten-free croissants.

Note: This recipe takes about 24 hours.  If that's too long to wait for your croissants, check out my newer recipe, Quicker and Easier Croissants.


I learned many things about croissant making and gluten-free dough while developing this recipe.  I've done a separate post on tips for making gluten-free croissants that you can read for more details.  I also have a post with more photos for laminating the dough that you should read before delving into that step.

I modified this recipe from the croissant recipe on Joe Pastry. I made several changes for the following reasons:

- Using cream for the dough fat made the dough too soft.  Oil helped make the dough more pliable and strong.
- The dough came out too salty the first time so I reduced the salt.
- I added more sugar and some vinegar to improve the rise.
- I revised the folds and technique to make it easier for gluten-free dough.

A handy list of ingredients you will need for this recipe:



20 oz. (4 1/5 cups) of my Deluxe Pastry Flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp psyllium husk powder
4 1/2 tsp. (about 2  packets) Red Star active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups whole milk, ultra-pasteurized (or scalded and cooled) at room temperature
1/4 cup cream
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
Potato starch for flouring your surfaces
12 oz. cultured European butter 
1 egg and some water for the egg wash

Equipment:


Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (or just some really strong arms and a wooden spoon)
parchment paper or, less desirable, plastic wrap
rolling pin, preferably a club-style pin but I use a marble rolling pin
A dry, clean pastry brush
A good, heavy baking sheet with edges or two sheets nested together

Making the Dough


Put about two cups of the pastry flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with the yeast, psyllium husk powder, salt, and sugar.  Blend those together briefly.  Add in the milk, cream, and vinegar, and blend together thoroughly.  Start adding more flour until the dough starts to come together, a little at a time. You probably won't use the whole 20 oz. of flour - there will usually be at least 2 oz. left.  The dough should still be soft, but will start climbing up the sides of the bowl like this:


Taste the dough.  It should taste like raw bread - pretty neutral but yeasty.  If it tastes too salty or sour add more sugar and re-mix.

Cover and refrigerate the dough for about an hour.  Before that is done chilling, make your butter packet as described in the post on laminating the dough.

Cover your hands and the dough ball with a good dusting of potato flour.  Knead the dough for a little while.  If it's just too sticky to handle even with the potato starch then knead in more pastry flour until you can handle it.  You don't want the dough too dry and stiff, though, so it should still be a little tacky to the touch.  Coat the dough with potato starch again and form a smooth ball. 

Roll out the dough on a well-floured piece of parchment paper and insert the butter packet as described in How to Laminate Dough.  Neatness and even rolling are especially important for croissants.  You want to strive for even layers of butter and dough, and tight packages with no gaps where the ends fold in.  Do one letter fold and one book fold, chilling the dough for 1/2 hour in between the folds if necessary.  Sometimes you can get away with not chilling in between folds, but don't push it. If you see sticky, shiny dough or butter on the surface or on your rolling pin, chill the dough.  After completing the two folds, try rolling it out partially as far as you can push it without it getting sticky, ideally to about 3/4 or 1 inch thick. chill the folded dough for 1-2 hours before rolling it out for croissants.

Note: if you feel confident with your laminating skills and your dough is behaving, you can try for more folds.  Do two letter folds and a book fold for thinner layers of dough.  Just be warned that your croissants will probably come out more like the picture below - still delicious and flaky, but they tend to split.

Rolling out the croissants:


After the dough is evenly chilled all the way through, you can bring it back to your work surface that is covered with parchment paper and liberally floured with potato starch.  Cut the dough in half and refrigerate or freeze the second half for later use.   Check the cut edge to see how you did with the layers.  If they look uniform and unbroken, you should be eating some beautiful croissants soon.  If the layers look smeared you may need to chill the dough more.  If they layers have cracks in them you may have trouble rolling it out or proofing, or it may be too cold.  If I think it's really messed up I might use it for a crust or something that's not as difficult to shape as croissants.

Start to press the dough with your rolling pin.  Press, press, press in different directions, being very patient and gentle.  If it starts to crack, hold off until it warms up slightly.  All of a sudden, the dough will become workable.  You will feel it give way easily.  Gently roll it out into a large sheet until it's about 1/4 inch thick.

See this post for directions on how to shape pain au chocolat.

Cut the edges off the dough to make a neat rectangle.  Cut the rectangle into sections about 4 inches wide.  Cut the rectangular sections in half at a diagonal.

Take one triangle and place it on a separate piece of parchment paper.  Roll out the base so it's more symmetrical, then gently roll out the length of the triangle as far as you can without tearing it, brushing off any extra potato flour as you go.  Loosely roll the croissant from the wide end, leaving some space in the middle on the first roll.  Place the croissant on your parchment paper-lined baking sheet making sure you don't trap the tail underneath the croissant.  Repeat these steps for all the remaining croissants, refrigerating them if they get too soft to handle.

Brush the tops of the formed croissants with an egg wash (egg whisked with water)


Proofing


There are a few different ways to proof and bake the croissants.  I'll give you the best way and the fastest way.  Your timeline will determine which method to use, but you could always split it into two batches and use both methods.

Best way:

Proof the croissants in the refrigerator overnight.  Cover them loosely with plastic.  In the morning, take them out of the refrigerator and proof at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours.

Fastest way:

After forming the croissants brush them with egg wash and proof them at room temperature.  This can take as little as 20-30minutes so keep an eye on it.  If you press a finger on an edge and the dent only fills halfway up, it's ready to cook.

Baking

There are also two methods for baking.  I still haven't figured out which one works best under which circumstances.

Normal method:

Preheat your oven to 400.  Brush on a second coat of egg wash.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until very brown on top.  The baked croissants have the best flavor and texture after they have cooled, but within a few hours.

Cold-oven technique:

This method can sometimes get you a little more oven spring in your croissants.  Brush on a second coat of egg wash.  Place the croissants in a cold oven and turn the oven on to 400 degrees and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Tips for Making Gluten-free Croissants

I assure you that I am the most impatient cook ever.  If there is a step that can be skipped or a corner that can be cut I will skip and cut at the same time.  I tend to look at recipes as a collection of concepts, many of which are just the author's unscientific and convoluted way of going about making something that should be very straightforward.  I look at recipes for methods for creating something, then I modify that method and create something similar, but mine, and faster and better.
Near-perfect croissants that split a little

It's this tendency to change things and modify that makes croissants a tricky thing for me.  They are very dependent on technique and making them is very detail-oriented.  I'm more of a big picture person.

It's also this tendency to change a recipe that allowed me to figure out how to make croissants gluten-free.  It's a long and grueling process to make the laminated dough.  I simplified it.  Trust me, I tried the long way several times.  The short way just happens to suit gluten-free baking better.  Besides, some glutinous recipes make it sound like you can go on laminating dough infinitely and make as many super-thin layers as your heart desires.  That's not true even for gluten-containing flour, and it's doubly untrue for gluten-free flour.  There's a point at which the layers get so thin they either break or meld into each other.  For a flat sheet of puff pastry you might get away with some of that.  However, croissant making is about maintaining the integrity of the layers you create.  Gluten-free dough is more delicate than glutinous dough, so for this recipe we are going to make far fewer layers than an average croissant.  That happens to translate into less work and less time.  Oh well!

We also don't need to rest the dough as much to "relax the gluten."  There is no gluten!  Gluten is for suckers.  It is necessary to chill the dough to get the right temperature for the butter and dough to be firm, but you don't need to chill it as much as with wheat-based dough.  You want the butter and dough to both be equally pliable, not cold and stiff.  Chilling the dough too much can cause the butter to break apart in the dough and destroy the fine layering.

The biggest tip I have for making croissants is to use potato starch for dusting the dough with flour when you're rolling it out.  Tapioca starch doesn't work as well, and using more of the pastry flour actually makes the dough stiffer on the outside because of the xanthan gum.  Remember how xanthan gum makes dough stiffer?  It does that when using it to flour the surface too.  This can lead to a dough that's not as easy to handle or that cracks excessively.  Potato starch is perfect for flouring the dough because it coats very finely while making the surface silky-soft without drying.  I think this tip could apply to gluten-containing croissants as well.

The part of the process that has been the trickiest for me is the last step - the proofing.  I was constantly over-proofing these things in the beginning.  I just wanted a little more plump to them.  Unfortunately they over-proof very quickly, which results in the croissants collapsing in the oven and bleeding out butter everywhere.  They still tasted delicious, but a little greasy, and collapsed croissants look pretty sad.  I had some luck with using a cold-oven technique for baking them to get a little more lift, but succes depends most on timing the proofing right.

Shaping is another thing that took me a while to get down.  The dough is really delicate so I found it's best not to force anything on it.  Once the dough is at the right consistency during the roll out process you should work quickly to shape everything right away.  There are three important differences between shaping GF croissants and "regular" ones: first, you need to roll the croissants loosely, preferably with a little bit of open space on the inside of the first revolution.  The second thing you want to do differently is to not tuck the tail underneath the croissant.  Pastry chefs tuck the tail under in wheat-based croissants to prevent the croissant from unrolling.  This rarely happens with GF croissants, and if you tuck under you run the risk of the tail splitting on top of the croissant from the pressure of rising.  The third tip is to roll the croissants out and leave them straight.  Okay, so technically they aren't "crescents" if you don't curve the tails around, but the straight shape is a completely legitimate variation on this pastry, and the gluten-free dough often just doesn't flex enough to hold up under the additional shaping.  If your dough looks pretty flexible, you can try your luck at crescents but don't force it or you'll break your layers.

Making croissants has a learning curve to it.  Hopefully with these tips in mind you'll have beautiful croissants the first time, but if not keep trying your hand at it and you'll be an expert in no time!

I'll post my croissant recipe next so you can get started!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How to Laminate Dough for Puff Pastry, Croissants, and Danishes

I used to say that the only things I missed about eating gluten were croissants and beer.  Those of you that follow my Facebook page know that I've been working really hard to perfect a recipe for croissants.  My next post will be about making the croissant dough.  This post will be about the technique for laminating dough for puff pastry, croissants and danishes.  The three types of dough are a little different from each other, but the technique to incorporate the butter into the dough is the same for all three recipes.

You will need:

Ingredients

1 recipe puff pastry, croissant, or danish dough.
chilled butter for the recipe, usually 12 oz/3sticks/340 grams
2 Tbsp GF flour or starch of your choice
potato starch for dusting the dough

Equipment

parchment paper or, less desirable, plastic wrap
rolling pin, preferably a club-style pin but I use a marble rolling pin
A dry, clean pastry brush

I drew heavily from Joe Pastry's blog post about this same technique.  He makes his pastries with wheat-based flour, so there will be a few minor differences, but his page is a good reference.

The photos are all taken of my croissant dough.

The dough has chilled a bit, and now you want to encase the butter in it for rolling out into many layers.  The first step is to make your butter packet.  Take your sticks of butter and place them on some parchment paper.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the flour on top.  Flip all the butter over and sprinkle the other tablespoon of flour on the other side.  Start pounding the butter.  Pound it hard.  You should be making some noise.  If the butter isn't denting at all, let it warm up for a few minutes and try again.  Conversely, if at any point the butter starts looking shiny you should put it in the fridge to chill.  Pound the butter until all the flour is incorporated and the butter is malleable.  Fold the butter onto itself a and pound it into a rough square about 8 inches wide.  Put the butter packet in the refrigerator for a few minutes while you roll out the dough.

Take your dough out of the refrigerator.  Dust your hands with potato starch and sprinkle some starch onto the top of the dough.  Turn the dough out onto a smooth surface floured with starch and put some starch on the bottom of the dough as well.  Brush the starch over the whole surface of the dough and form the dough into a ball.  The dough should feel very manageable with the starch coating it.  Knead it a few times and re-coat with starch.  If it's not manageable with a good starch coating, you may need to knead more pastry flour or starch into the dough.

Place the dough ball on a large sheet of parchment paper.  Press it down into a disk and re-coat with starch if needed.  Roll it out into a square about 12 inches on each side.  To make straight edges, create a mold with the parchment paper and roll it out to the edges, like this:


Place the butter packet into the middle of the dough square making a diamond shape to the dough's square shape, like this:

The butter packet can be a little bigger than this and still be folded in okay.  Don't fuss with making it perfect - just work quickly to avoid everything getting too warm.  Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to meet in the middle, using the parchment paper to support it during the fold if necessary.

Pinch the dough together on the seams to seal the butter in completely.  Push the corners and sides up against the butter packet and make sure none of the butter breaks through or shows.

Dust the top with starch and flip the whole dough packet over onto the center of the parchment paper.  Dust the bottom side, which should be pretty smooth.  Press the dough with the rolling pin several times to get the butter spread out to the edges inside the dough.


Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about twice as long as it is wide.  Brush off any excess starch with a pastry brush.  Try to make the rectangle as uniform as possible, with even distribution of dough.  (This dough rectangle could do better.)

Fold the dough into the type of fold your recipe calls for, brushing off excess starch as you go.  (Too much starch on the surface of the dough can make it dry or tough.)  If cracks form in the fold pinch them back together.

A letter fold is folded like a business letter.  Cut the inside edge to show the layers of butter and make a clean edge.  Fold the dough in a tri-fold.

A book fold is a double fold, also called a wallet fold.  Cut the rough edges off both ends.  You fold the sides in toward the center, leaving a gap between.  Then you fold the two sides together like a wallet.


Turn the dough so you are rolling it out toward the open ends.

You can usually get away with rolling it out once more before refrigerating.  Use your judgement.  If it's too soft, refrigerate it for 20 minutes first.  Do your second press, roll, fold and turn and refrigerate for 20 minutes, then do your third.  Always end on a book fold because it gives you a neater package of dough with nice square corners.  Rest the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before rolling it out for your pastry.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Portland's Somewhat Gluten-free Restaurant List

I have a Restaurant List going of Portland's many safe gluten-free eating establishments.  That list is of the restaurants in Portland that have gone above and beyond in order to offer safe dining options for people who eat gluten-free.  I want to list out a few more restaurants which may or may not be celiac-safe, but which definitely have options for those who are looking for something with no gluten ingredients.  For clarity I'll list the restaurant with what I know about its degree of gluten safety.
Seven Virtues GF Sandwich
Elephant's Delicatessan - Each item in the hot and cold deli case is labeled for various food restrictions.  Those labeled WF have no wheat or gluten ingredients.  The servers are very helpful when you have questions about ingredients.  However, everything is prepared in a common kitchen with no segregation.

Por Que No? - There are very few things that are made with gluten in these taquerias.  Most dishes are served with hand-made corn tortillas.  However, I have not done extensive research on any possible cross-contamination issues.

Navarre - The servers are very knowledgeable about ingredients in each dish.  Many dishes are naturally wheat-free if they don't include bread.  They have a great brunch menu.

India Oven - Servers are very knowledgeable about ingredients, and many dishes are prepared in a traditional, naturally gluten-free way.  I don't know of the potential for cross-contamination.

Vindalho - Servers can direct you to the items that can be prepared gluten-free.  I believe everything is made in a common kitchen.

Toro Bravo - This amazing tapas place has lots of naturally GF items on the menu.  Many items are prepared individually or in their own ceramic pots.  Servers are very helpful and knowledgeable.  All items are cooked in a common kitchen.

J&M Cafe - This breakfast joint has several egg dishes that have no gluten ingredients.  Their potatoes are home-made and also contain no wheat flour.  Of course, everything is prepared in a common kitchen.

A.N.D -  54th and E Burnside.  A vegetarian breakfast place that serves gluten-free waffles.  As far as I know, all their waffles are gluten-free, so they don't share the waffle iron with gluten ingredients.  Eggs are served poached so they aren't cooked on shared equipment with gluten.

Slappy Cakes Serves cook-your-own pancakes, and has GF batter.

Besaw's serves gluten-free pancakes, but I believe they are cooked on the same griddles as the glutinous ones.

Seven Virtues - This coffee shop sells GF vegan pastries and can make a grilled panini on gluten-free bread.  Read the full review here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gluten-free Bread Recipe Roundup

Now most bloggers on Friday do a recipe roundup of some great-looking things they saw on the internet that week.  Well, I have higher standards for this blog post.  Considering I'm deep into research and development for a new bread recipe and possible new gluten-free flour, I only want the best information for you, my readers.  Therefore I am rounding up the best gluten-free bread recipes of all time.

That's right, folks.  My recently-revealed Gluten-free Boule Bread recipe and my Best Teff Sandwich Bread recipe are just the beginning for me.  I have big, soft, fluffy, chewy things in store.  With crispy crust.  But first I want to share with you, my readers, some of the research I've done.  After hours of perusing the internet for the best gluten-free bread recipes to learn from, I came up with this list:

Gluten-free Crusty Boule by Gluten-free Girl
Some Bread for the Table by Gluten-free Boulangerie
Sourdough Bread (Boule), Gluten-free by The Art of Gluten-free Baking
Gluten-free Bread by Gluten-free Girl
Gluten-free French Bread by Fire and Salt

After hours of research, that's pretty much it.   If you feel I'm really missing out on a bread recipe posted to the internet, please let me know.  You can post a link in the comments and maybe it will make it to the list above.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Most Useful Kitchen Tools

Some of the best advice I ever got was: "Always use the right tool for the job."  I got that advice about power and mechanical tools, which I have plenty of, being the handy person that I am.  However, the same advice goes double in the kitchen.  Here are a few tools I have that I use daily to improve my performance in the kitchen.


I have this Lodge Reversible Cast-iron Skillet that I use almost daily.  The flat side is perfect for pancakes or tortillas.  (I don't know how people cook pancakes without it.) The grill side is excellent for steaks.




I also use a number of other cast-iron skillets like this 13-inch round.




This Kitchenaid Stand Mixer is something I longed after for a years.  Finally I received one as a gift from my adoring boyfriend, lover of shallots and asparagus.  I have the stainless steel bowl, which is appropriate for my level of clumsiness.  However, how cool would it be to have the glass bowl to see if your eggs are fluffed up all the way?





Too rich for your blood?  The simplest, most useful kitchen tool I own is simple unbleached parchment paper.  I use it to roll out pizza dough or pie crust.  I use it to bake bread on.  For gluten-free cooking where the dough is more delicate and difficult to handle it's an essential, and not too pricey.




Another really inexpensive but really useful tool is a pastry brush.  I use it to brush the tops of scones and loaves of bread before baking.






An instant-read thermometer is an essential tool for baking bread, and it's inexpensive as well. 







 

The tool that I rely on the most is my Salter digital Kitchen Scale.  Measuring by volume is out of style.  Be in vogue with a better tool for measuring your gluten-free flours.  You just can't get accurate measurements without a scale. 


I used every single one of these kitchen tools just this weekend.  What tools do you rely on the most in your kitchen?




Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to Make Chiles Rellenos Gluten Free

I love Mexican food.  I've been to Mexico so many times it's hard to count.  One of my favorite Mexican dishes is the Chile Relleno, or stuffed chile, but now when I go to restaurants I usually can't have it.  Even though it's mostly chile, egg, and cheese, it's usually not made gluten-free.  A little bit of flour is used in the egg batter to hold it together.

I'm having my sister and her family over for Cinco de Mayo, and this hand-down her favorite Mexican dish.  She and her family are vegetarian, and this dish is one of the few Mexican dishes that is both satisfying and meatless.  I decided to wow her with my new chile relleno recipe that I've adapted to be gluten free.  I'm hoping it's just like the traditional chile relleno we used to have in Mexico.

Recipe for Gluten-free Chile Relleno

This recipe makes 2-3 chiles rellenos.  Double, or triple it as necessary for more servings.  The recipe makes plenty of sauce and batter for two, so if you make eight you can triple the recipe and it will come out about right.

Sauce:

You can use a ranchero sauce from the Mexican section of the super market, but if you would like to make your own sauce this works nicely.  It's a bit more tomato-y than a traditional sauce for this recipe, which would mostly be chile, but it's tasty and mild.

Throw together in a sauce pan:

1 can crushed tomatoes
4 Tbsp new Mexico Chile Powder
1 cup vegetable stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Let that simmer while you cook the chiles.

Prepping the chiles:

A gas stove or grill works best for this, but in a pinch you can use your broiler.

Place the chiles (poblano or pasilla peppers, or anaheim if you can't get anything else) directly on the burner of your gas stove.  Turn the stove to high.   Don't be shy - you want to blacken these all over the outside.  Turn the chiles with tongs as needed to blacken every side, then set aside on a plate to cool.

When the chiles are cool enough to handle, gently scrape all the blackened skin off the chiles with your fingers, being careful not to tear the chile itself.

When you have successfully scraped the chiles, use any existing tear to open the chile slightly and remove the seeds from inside with your fingers or with a spoone.  Try not to open the hole larger than 2 inches.  Carefully stuff the chiles with:

queso fresco or mozzarella cheese

Use enough so they are full, but they shouldn't be crammed or you will tear the chile.  Cut the pieces of cheese to fit the chiles.

Set the stuffed chiles aside.

Making the Batter:

In a large skillet heat:

Canola oil, about 1 inch deep

In a large bowl or stand mixer, whip until peaks form:

2 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt

In another bowl, whisk together:

2 egg yolks
1.5 tsp white rice flour

Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.

When the oil is hot enough, you will know it by placing a little bit of the egg batter into it.  The batter will sink a little, then immediately rise up to the surface and puff up.  Dip your chiles first into the batter to coat them with egg.  If your seam is gaping, fill it with egg batter.  Spoon more batter over the top if necessary.  Place the chiles in the pan seam-side up and cook until brown on the bottom, about 1 minute.  Carefully turn the chiles over to cook on the other side until brown.  Place on some paper towels to drain, then serve while hot with the sauce.

Update:  It's Cinco de Mayo evening and the guests have left.  My sister insisted on taking her second chile with her as leftovers.  My brother-in-law Andy cleaned his plate.  When my boyfriend asked them how my dish compared to chiles rellenos in Mexico Andy said, "They're identical."  That's exactly what I wanted to hear!  The new photo I have at the top of the post is from tonight's meal.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quick Gluten-free Boule Bread

Editor's note: The flour mix for this recipe is no longer available.  Please see the Bread Page for updated recipes.

Do you miss the opportunity to knead your bread now that you cook gluten-free?  This recipe is for you.  If you just miss crusty bread, this recipe is for you, too.

My panel of taste testers included gluten-eaters and non-gluten-eaters.  Everyone was a fan of the chewy inside and the fresh-baked flavor very much like regular bread.  Even my super-picky  6-year-old niece loved it.  This is a girl who eats almost nothing and once declared that she doesn't like gluten-free food.  (She is not GF.)  She kept asking for more slices.

"Quick" Gluten-free Bread isn't instant.  It's just fast relative to breadmaking in general.  This recipe is akin to the 1-hour bread recipes all over the internet for "regular" bread.  This recipe is gluten-free, so it's more like a one-and-a-half hour recipe, but it's the same concept.  You get a soft, chewy interior and a nice crisp crust.  It's so soft inside that it's still soft the next day.  You don't get a huge hole structure because you're going for a formed loaf that's quick-rising.  I'll do bread with gigantic holes in another recipe - one that takes longer.

A note about the ingredients: there are lots of variations on this recipe that work.  I'll note variations I've tried at the end.  However, I have no idea if this recipe will work with any flour mixes besides my own.  I honestly haven't used any other flour mixes besides mine in years.  My flours are specially formulated for superior taste and performance.  I am now sharing my flours with everyone because I love them so much and I think they can improve the reputation of gluten-free baked goods in general. You can purchase my flours at GlutenfreeGourmand.com.

Here is a visual preview of the recipe.
Kneaded dough
Place seam down
Form a boule
Cut the slits
Let rise 35 minutes
Let it cool as long as you can

Slice and enjoy

Recipe for Quick GF Boule Bread:

It's important to have all your ingredients at room temperature or warmer.  I usually warm up my egg in a bowl of warm water while I'm mixing the other ingredients.

Mix together in a small bowl or measuring cup:

1/2 cup (118 ml) warm water, 110-115 degrees F
1.5 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar

Set that aside to proof while you mix the other ingredients.  In a medium or large bowl combine:

225 g. No. 1 All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using No. 2 Pastry Flour)
1/2 tsp. pectin
a scant 3/4 tsp salt
5 g flax seed, finely ground

I another small bowl mix together:

1 egg
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp oil

Once the yeast has proofed for 5 or more minutes it should have a large head of foam.  (If it doesn't, you've likely done something wrong with the temperature or, less likely, your yeast is dead.  With this recipe it would behoove you to start over with fresh warm water, yeast, and sugar to get the right mix.)  Providing your yeasty water looks foamy, go ahead and mix the frothy water together to make sure there aren't any chunks of yeast.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.

If you are using a stand mixer, this is your opportunity to finally break out that dough hook.  The paddle attachment won't cut it.  Dough hook that dough on medium speed until it comes off the sides of the bowl and starts crawling up the hook.  Scrape the bowl down a bit and continue mixing if it doesn't come together right away.

If mixing by hand, mix everything a bit with a wooden spoon until the ingredients start to come together.  Then start kneading the dough until it starts smoothing out.

The dough should be tacky to the touch but springy.  A bit will stick to the hand, but you should be able to knead it.  If it's too stiff then add a little water and re-knead.  If it's so sticky it's unmanageable, flour the dough and re-knead as necessary until it starts behaving.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface.  I like rice flour for kneading.  It's nice and dry - you don't need much.  Knead a few times with a floured hand.  Try to form as nice a kneaded ball as possible. See the photos at the beginning of the post for reference.

Turn the seam side down onto the floured surface.  Gently form a ball, patting and spinning the dough between your hands until it looks smooth.

(Side note: don't use the traditional method of forming a boule here.  It may cause a break in the top of the bread as it rises.)

Put your loaf on top of a lightly-floured piece of parchment paper.  Cut slits in the top of the loaf and set it in a warm, damp place to rise.  I put mine in the cupboard above my refrigerator with the mixing bowl inverted on top of it. I have good results when I warm the mixing bowl with some water before covering the loaf.

Let the bread rise for 35 minutes.  In the mean time, place a dutch oven or heavy stock pot in your oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

When the 35 minutes is up, brush or spritz the loaf with water for a browner crust.  Carefully transfer the parchment paper with the loaf still on it into the hot dutch oven.  Cover the pot and cook the loaf for 30-35 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Most recipes will sternly admonish you to wait until the loaf completely cools before you slice into it.  I won't be so cruel.  I'll tell you that you get better slices if the bread cools before cutting into it, but if you want that amazing experience of eating bread fresh out of the oven you should wait 15 minutes then dig in.  Warm bread is better than clean slices any day.

Variations:

No xanthan gum: You may omit the xanthan gum and replace it with more flax seed for a total of 25 grams flax seed.  Omit the oil as well.  This will give you a very tender, chewy bread but the crust will not be as crisp.

No flax seed: You may omit the flax seed but bring the xanthan gum up to 1/2 tsp.  This will give you a crisp crust still, but the inside will be a bit stiffer and not as chewy.  Eat while fresh.

No pectin: You can omit the pectin.  I don't know exactly what that will do, but it will still turn out.