Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What are Scones?

What are scones?  In short, they are my favorite pastry.  I think of scones often, so I thought I'd share a little bit about them with you, my readers.

Scones can be called a quick bread, a pastry, a tea cake.  However, they are most like a biscuit in structure.  The most traditional type of scone is made like a biscuit in that the fat - in this case butter - is cut into the flour to form chunks of fat in the dough.  When the scones are cooked the butter melts and leaves pockets of air in the scone.  This gives the little cakes a flakier texture.

Scones can be sweet or savory and made with all sorts of different flour blends and liquids.  They originated in Scotland.  The traditional Scottish scone would be made with white flour, butter, sugar, salt, and cream.  They might also traditionally be made with barley flour or oat flour.  Baking powder and/or baking soda are usually added for leavening.  Currants are often used for a fruit note.  They are traditionally served with the afternoon tea, although Americans seem to prefer them for breakfast.

Many scone recipes are a huge departure from these basic ingredients.  I have seen recipes for gluten-free vegan scones, chocolate scones, goat cheese scones - you name it.  The purist in me once scoffed at such transgressions from the traditional scone.  Now, my gluten-free lifestyle doesn't allow me to cling to tradition so closely.  Scones were the first recipe that I wanted to perfect when I went gluten-free.  It took about a year to do it.  I was dedicated!  Now, however, I have numerous scone recipes, many of which break from tradition on many levels.  I love them all.

What is your favorite scone?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Baking Gluten-free Bread: a Reader's Success

This winter I came up with many new bread recipes which I published here on my blog.  All of them involved my bread mixes which came out last fall and which I ship anywhere in the United States.  One day on my Facebook page I got this comment from a reader in response to my vegan sandwich bread recipe:

Samantha Matete and I ended up swapping a bunch of messages about gluten-free bread making which eventually resulted in my blog post about how to make your own gluten-free bread flour blend.  Samantha ended up trying some of the ideas that I threw out.  I was excited to see pictures of her loaves once she did some experimenting.

Here are some notes from Samantha about what she did on these loaves of bread:

"Well I am definitely hooked on your bread recipes that I have been querying you about!
The first 2 photos are following the vegan sandwich bread recipe and method.
The 3rd photo is following the teff bread recipe and the 4th was a recipe by
glutenfreegirl and I had to use brown rice flour which I know you say just doesn't work
in gluten free bread baking and your right! It works in sweet baking I find though.
To say all the bread is edible and I know I can do better with more practice and
tweaking Also I used no eggs and replaced with an flaxseed 'egg' slurry mixture. It was
wonderful feeling to slice into a loaf and it didn't crumble apart! The last loaf was abit more
fragile and its either the rice flour or the recipe and method????? Like I said more
practice, experimenting and tweaking.
i have to say though that psylluim is the key in gluten free bread baking for sure!!!!!
This is the one I used from glutenfreegirl who also thinks psylluim is the key.


I have been using just the flaxseed slurry mix '1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp of 
hot water' per egg....
I forgot to add, as I don't know how much psylluim is in your package and when we first
started conversing about your sandwich bread recipes you said to start with 35g psylluim.
I worked it out that a tbsp of psylluim is 5g, so 35g is 7 tbsp and I thought that was abit
much as I know how psylluim works. So I dropped to 20g, 4 tbsp and that worked nicely
on the second loaf, not so dense.

Thanks for all your help.

Onwards and upwards in the world of gluten free baking!"

It's amazing to see people's results from their baking experiments.  Thanks Samantha for the great pictures of your loaves of bread!  They look wonderful!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pastry Flour Sale - Two Days Only!

Did you know that I've had various sales going on over the last week for my gluten-free flours?  No?  Well here's how to get in the loop!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sterilize the Eco-friendly way with Iodine

When it comes to sterilizing things, I subscribe to the notion that Americans do it too much.  Harsh chemicals in a home kitchen can be dangerous for humans and the environment.  However, there are times when it's necessary to sanitize things.  When I got my license to mix and package my baking mixes for Gluten-free Gourmand the inspector told me that I had to sanitize all equipment after washing it in a chemical sanitizer.  I hate using chlorine - talk about harmful to the environment - but he let me know that I could use iodine instead if I wanted.  It's quite a bit more eco-friendly since the substance occurs naturally. As a bonus it's really inexpensive.  You can get a small bottle in most pharmacies or drug stores for a few dollars or less, and a little goes a long way.  I think this is a good kitchen tip to share around.

Iodine isn't for everything.  It's a dark brown color, so it can stain things, especially white plastics.  I have noticed that it dulls some metal surfaces when used repeatedly.  Iodine evaporates at temperatures above 120 degrees F, so you can't use it with very hot water.  It also evaporates if you leave it in an open container for long, so mix it right before you're ready to sanitize.  It can be tricky to use with water that's extremely alkaline.  Also keep in mind that it's not safe for food use at full strength.  Keep it out of the reach of children.

Here's how you do it:

  • First, clean your items to be sanitized.  The sanitizing step will not remove food particles - that has to be done with regular washing.  
  • Next, you want to make a solution that's pretty dilute, between 12.5-25 parts per million.  That's about 1-1.5 tsp per gallon of tepid water.  It should look like weak tea.  In a bowl like the one shown it will take just a few drops.  If you're worried about it you can find test strips in some grocery stores that help you test the water to see if the concentration is correct.  
  • Submerge your items to be sanitized in the watery solution and leave them there for at least one minute. I have found that this is a great way to sanitize kitchen sponges, but that this kind of material may need to sanitize longer than a hard surface.  You can safely dispose of the solution down the drain when you're done with it. 
Enjoy your sanitized kitchen equipment and your newly freshened sponges!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Beautiful Gluten-free Salad with Shallots and Asparagus

You can find the recipe to this beautiful and delicious gluten-free salad on my cooking partner's website Just another Shallot and Asparagus Blog.  Here you will find numerous delicious and funny posts about  - you guessed it - shallots and asparagus.  All recipes are gluten-free.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gluten-free Bread - Large Round Loaf

There is an updated version of this recipe here: http://glutenfreegourmand.blogspot.com/2013/12/BouleBreadRecipe.html

I'm sorry for the absence of new recipes lately.  I've been really busy with some major career events.  I'll post more on that in the weeks to come, but the long and the short of it is that I should have more time to post to the blog now that I've re-arranged my whole work life.  I'll be delving into some great recipes, including the ultimate bread recipe: sourdough.  I've been working on creating a nice, tangy, flavorful sourdough recipe for you, complete with an easy-to-use starter.  Keep checking back for that!  In the meantime, I have another nice traditional boule bread recipe for you to munch on.

For those who have been following my gluten-free bread recipes, I'm giving you another in the series.  This one is very similar to the Traditional Round Loaf recipe.  In fact it's the same but you get a larger loaf, about a 2-lb.  This recipe uses my Bread Flour mix.

Gluten-free Bread Recipe - Large Round Loaf

makes one 2-lb round loaf

Mix in the bowl of your stand mixer or whisk together by hand:

450g (about 2 cups) warm water, 110-120 degrees
30g whole psyllium husk 
4 tsp apple cider vinegar

Add to the bowl:

2 Tbsp sugar 
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 packet yeast

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until everything is completely combined and a sticky dough forms.

Remove the dough to a banneton or other lightly floured basket or bowl.  Cover, and let rise 1/2 hour in a warm place.  After it has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Gently knead the dough with lightly floured hands until you can form a ball with it.  Place the dough seam-side up back in your rising basket.  Let rise 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, or until a finger dent doesn't fill in quickly, but only comes halfway back.

When it's done rising, place a dutch oven or a pizza stone and an oven-safe pan large enough to cover the bread in the oven and turn it on to pre-heat to 450 degrees F.  While the oven is heating gently place the dough seam-side down on your lightly floured work surface, trying not to deflate it.  Lightly flour your hands.  Gently run your hands along the sides of the dough, tucking the sides under and turning the loaf around as you go to get all edges tucked under.  The top will be more rounded than before and stretched a bit more tightly.  Brush the top with a little water.  Place the dough on parchment paper, cover the dough and let rest for 15-20 minutes while the oven heats.

When the oven is ready and the dough has completed its bench rest, score the top with a sharp blade about 1/4 inch deep in whatever pattern you want.

Carefully place the bread in the hot dutch oven or on the hot pizza stone and cover.  Cook for 25 minutes, then uncovered on the rack until the crust has a hollow sound when tapped on top, usually another 10 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack, or for a crisper crust turn off the flame and cool in the oven with the door propped open.  Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy some traditional gluten-free bread!