Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gluten-free Baguettes, Quick and Easy

I know that I've got a good bread recipe if, after first tasting a loaf, my boyfriend immediately plans on making a sandwich out of it.  If the bread is just okay, I get an unconvincingly encouraging "That's good!"  If it's great, I get, "We could cook some bacon and make a BLT with melted cheese!"  Then, even if it's 11:00 at night after a heavy meal, he will make that sandwich.

If you have been following my blog or Facebook lately, you know I've been obsessed with bread.  I've been making dozens of baguettes, trying to get it right. I got the recipe to work ages ago - but they didn't look that great.  I tried everything under the sun to get the crust to brown.  It's easy when you cook the loaf in a dutch oven like I do with my boule bread.  However, the baguettes are too long to fit in the pan.  Finally I figured out how to simulate the environment of a dutch oven without the dutch oven.  You just trap your steam with parchment paper!  

I got all kinds of compliments on my baguettes for Christmas dinner, from people who ate gluten and from those who were gluten-free.  It was an amazing and filling meal, and yet my boyfriend made little turkey sandwiches afterward with baguette slices and turkey bits.  That says it all.

Quick Baguette Recipe

For this recipe you will need:

- warm water
- apple cider vinegar
- a baguette pan (not 100% necessary, but it helps to shape the loaf)
- extra flour - I recommend potato starch

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together:

1 1/4 C (245g) warm water (100-115 degrees F)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

15g whole psyllium husk

Whisk the psyllium husk into the wet ingredients until the mixture begins to thicken, 1-2 minutes.  Add:

225g gluten-free bread flour 
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp yeast

Form the baguettes by dividing the dough into two equal portions.  Flour your work surface (I recommend using potato starch) and scoop the dough onto the work surface.  Wet your hands and press the dough into a rectangle.  Take one long side of the dough and fold it over onto the middle of the rectangle.  Pinch the edge down.  

Repeat this step to close the dough into a tube. Re-flour the surface if necessary.  Roll out the dough with your hands by gently but firmly rolling it against the counter as though making a play dough snake.  Get the snake as even as you can, but don't roll it out longer than your baguette pan.  Taper the ends by rolling them out more firmly.  You don't need to get too fussy.  

Place them diagonally on a large piece of parchment paper on the baguette pan.  (If you don't want them as floury as pictured, brush the flour off with a clean, dry pastry brush.) Cover the baguettes and let the dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Score the top of the loaves deeply, holding the knife at a 45 degree angle and overlapping the cuts somewhat.  See a good demo video here.

Wrap the loaves by stapling the parchment paper together in a tent shape as pictured.  This traps the steam so that the crust browns nicely.

Cook the bread for 25 minutes, or until it is done.  When the bread is cooked through it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Enjoy your baguettes after they have cooled for at least 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Best Gluten-free Danishes

I've been working on this recipe for a while.  It was a request on a Facebook survey that I did last spring.  The fact that the request came from my mom inspired me more than a little, I guess.  I am taking some danishes over to my mom this afternoon for her to sample, and I'm so excited to see what she thinks.  I, for one, love these little treats.

I modified this recipe from the Danish Pastry Dough recipe on Joe Pastry, a great resource for any technique that is pastry-related.

Danish Recipe

Makes 8-10 danishes.
For this recipe you will need:

- 225g GF Bread Flour Blend
- sugar
- salt
- psyllium husk
- eggs
- milk
- apple cider vinegar
- parchment paper
- Cultured european butter, preferably Lurpak
- extra flour - I recommend potato starch

This recipe takes several hours to make.  I recommend splitting it up into two days.  Any time the dough needs chilling you can extend that step overnight, as long as you wrap it in plastic so it doesn't dry out.

Whisk in the bowl of your stand mixer:

1 egg

Whisk in:

1 cup milk at room temperature

Mix until slightly frothy.  Add to the mixture:

2 tsp vinegar
14g whole psyllium husk -OR- 12g ground psyllium husk

Mix the wet ingredients with the psyllium husk until the mixture starts to thicken, looks creamy and coats the side of the bowl a bit, about five minutes.  Add:

225g GF Bread Flour Blend bag 
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp quick-rise yeast
1 Tbsp sugar (add'l)

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients on low, then on medium until the mixture is well-combined and smooth.  Remove the dough to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours.

After the dough has refrigerated, remove it to a flat surface that is generously floured, and knead it for a couple of minutes until it looks smooth.  Put it back in the refrigerator. Measure:

- 6 oz Lurpak or high-quality cultured european butter.

Make the butter packet and dough envelope according to the instructions on the post How to Laminate Dough.  Do three letter folds.  Don't let the dough get too warm, and refrigerate it for 20 minutes at any stage if it becomes too delicate to handle.

Once the dough has undergone three letter folds, refrigerate it for at least one hour, then pull it out to roll out to 1/4 inch thick or so for shaping your danishes.  See some shaping suggestions below.  Let the shapes rise for 1/2 hour, and pre-heat the oven to 425.  When the danishes have risen, press the middle of the danishes down with a spoon and fill them with fruit, jam, or sweet cheese filling.  Brush the tops of the pastries with egg whisked with water.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned on the top.

For a classic danish shape, cut two strips of dough about as wide as they are tall, and gently twist them together, then shape them in a circle and tuck the end in.

A shape that I like to do that is simpler than the classic shape is the pinwheel, pictured at the top of this post.  Cut slits in from each corner to almost the middle, then fold every other corner down to the middle.  Let rise 1/2 hour and fill and bake as instructed for 15-20 minutes.
Enjoy your danishes after they have cooled from the oven.  They are best within four to six hours.