Monday, March 28, 2016

Croissants, the Quick-er, Easy-er Way

The Julia Childs croissant recipe takes 24 hours.  I don't want to brag here, but my new croissant recipe only takes six!  Croissants aren't easy, but I've taken the tricky bits out.  These crescent rolls are even better than if you took an extra18 hours to make them.

The traditional method of making croissants calls for a laborious task called "laminating" that takes up lots of time and labor.  This recipe uses a technique typically seen in other types of pastries and biscuits - cutting in the butter.  This is much faster than laminating and doesn't take much in the way of technique.  So never fear, you do not need to get a degree from the Cordon Bleu to make these tasty pastries!

Croissant Recipe, Quicker and Easier

Mix time:10 minutes
Chill time: 60 minutes
Rolling/shaping time: 30 minutes
Rise time: 3-4 hours
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8-12 croissants

In a food processor, or in a medium mixing bowl, blend together:

12g (2 TBSP) Ground psyllium husk (note: this is more than typical)
1/2 tsp Yeast
12g (1 TBSP) Sugar
1/4 tsp (2g) Salt

Cut into pic4-5 pieces and put into the blender:

140g (5 oz) very cold European-style cultured butter

Pulse the butter into the flour (or cut it in with two knives) until the biggest pieces are about 1/2 inch across.  Add all at once:

225g (Scant 1 Cup) Ice-cold water
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Pulse or stir the dough just until it seems evenly wet all over.  Do not over-blend or knead, as this will break the butter up too much.  The dough will be extremely sticky and wet.  Don't worry - it will firm up.  If using a food processor, carefully remove the dough onto plastic wrap, wax paper, or parchment paper.  Wrap and refrigerate.  If you mixed by hand simply cover the bowl.  Refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Note: I use water in this recipe because it works better with the psyllium husk binder, which doesn't absorb milk well.  Traditionally croissants have milk and cream but the extra fats don't work as well in this gf recipe.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator after it has chilled and make a patty of it on a piece of floured parchment paper or wax paper (I use white rice flour for dusting).  The dough will have three turns or folds - two letter folds and a book fold.  Hopefully you will be able to do all of these at one go, but if the butter looks shiny or melted at any point just pop it back in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill it.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about twice as long as it is wide.  Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush.  The dough will have butter chunks in it like this:

A letter fold is folded like a business letter.  Fold the dough in a tri-fold.

Roll the dough out again and do a second letter fold.  Roll it out again and do a book 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.

This gives you a very neat final packet.  Turn the dough so you are rolling it out toward the open ends.  Roll out one more time until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick.  Go even thinner if you can.  Try to keep the dough in as neat a rectangle as possible while rolling out.

Cut the ends off for cleaner edges.  You can use the scraps to make little roses by spiralling them up.  Cut the dough into long rectangles, then long triangles.  Notch the wide end of the triangles and fold the dough outward at the center, then roll the triangles into crescent rolls, tucking the tail under.

Note: If you are pulling the rolled dough straight out of the fridge after storing it for a while, it may be too stiff to shape at first.  Let it warm up to room temp before shaping.

Place these onto a baking sheet and spritz with some water to keep them from drying out.  Cover the croissants with plastic wrap and let rise.  Since the dough is fresh out of the fridge, they take a really long time to rise, usually 3-4 hours at room temp.  If you can make a proofing area that's warmer than room temperature it will speed things up, but don't let the dough get warmer than 85 degrees or the butter could melt.

When the rolls look puffy all over they are ready to cook.  The outside rises faster than the inside, so make sure the middle layer of the crescents is just as puffy as the outer layer before cooking, or the inside won't cook right.  Whisk together:

1 egg white
1 Tbsp water

Brush each roll liberally with the egg mixture.  Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes, or until the croissants are deep golden brown.  Croissants are best when cooled before eating, but they are also best within the first few hours after baking.

Enjoy some gluten-free croissants!

Rustic White Bread Flour Blend

I've been using the Gluten-free Bread Flour Blend for years, but I recently developed a "whiter" flour blend that gives the bread a bit more rise, a lighter color, and a lighter crumb.  I get the most compliments on my bread made from this flour.  This flour blend is lower in whole grains and higher in starches, but it's not completely without whole grains so it has a rustic country-style look to the finished product.

This flour blend can be used interchangeably with the original Gluten-free Bread Flour Blend.

Rustic White Bread Flour Blend Recipe

Blend together thoroughly:

150g Tapioca Flour
150g Potato Starch
100g Sorghum Flour
50g Millet Flour

For a binder, mix with the liquids either:

20g ground psyllium husk

- OR-

28g whole psyllium husk

Friday, March 25, 2016

Coming Soon...

I haven't posted a recipe in a while, so I thought I'd check in and let you know that I'm working on a few recipes that I'm really excited about!

  • Lemon Cookies
  • "Quick"-er "Easy"-er GF Croissants
  • Pain au Chocolat
  • Whole-grain muffins
  • New bread recipes!

So tune in on Monday for a real treat!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dark Beer Lovers Must Try this Squash Beer

You know that one thing that you keep missing, even though there are so many great GF products out there?  For those of us who love dark beer, finding a gluten-free version that satisfies our craving for that smoky, malty, liquid goodness is our personal search for the holy grail.  While I'm not saying that my search is over, I am saying that I have found a cup that looks an awful lot like that grail.

Any dark beer lover would have already tried Green's Dubbel Dark Ale knows that it's a solid choice for GF dark beer.  However, that light fruity Belgian style is just not the same thing as a lush, malty dark beer.  Ground Breaker Brewing's Dark Ale comes a little closer to satisfying that craving.  However, this Seasonal Squash Ale is even better than the brand's Dark Ale.  Something about the squash in the recipe smooths it out and mellows the flavors.

Maybe that's because of the process.  From the Ground Breaker press release:

Ground Breaker’s one-of-a-kind seasonal is “triple-squashed.” Squash is added to the mash tun, boil kettle, and fermenter. Pumpkin seeds are toasted, crushed, and also added to the mash. The ale has a “wet-squash” addition to the fermenter which consists of squash that has been slow roasted for several days into a creamy squash butter. It is then finished with a gentle inclusion of cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted coriander to complement the squash flavors and aromas.

In spite of all the squash and spices, this brew has a smooth, subtle flavor that's well-rounded.  Because of all the squash and spices, it's a perfect accompaniment to all your holiday meals and festivities.  Dark beer lovers, this ale is a must-try.  Get some, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Reader's Baking Success and the Questions He Asked to Get There

I recently heard from a reader who is new to gluten-free bread baking and is really delving into it.  Eric from San Francisco had a lot of great questions for me about why I created some of my bread recipes the way I did.  He also asked me to flesh out some of the bread-making methods I use.  He had a couple of great photos he shared with me and he's been nice enough to let me show them to you!

Eric: Your recipes and methods work well! I cannot believe how well. GF Bread that actually rises and that is workable, who knew?! Thank you so very much for sharing your knowledge. I'm new to Celiac so this has been a really tough time. Baking calms me and your blog has really helped me accept my fate and inspires me to bake more!

I have a few questions, if I may:

1. Regarding baked and uncut bread. How long would it stay "fresh" on a counter? Do I need to cut, wrap and freeze it if unused in the same day? I was hoping to store some baguettes out, uncut for a few days.

Gina: Thanks for the photos!  Your bread looks really great!  I'm so happy you're enjoying my recipes, and that you've had so much success with them.  I'll try to answer some of your questions.

Uncut bread is usually good on the counter for about a day.  If you like the crust to be crisp, store it in a paper bag the first night.  After that, or after cutting it at all, it does better in a plastic ziplock bag.  The ends dry out quickly once cut.  Mine starts to grow mold after about 3-4 days once cut open if kept at room temperature here in slightly humid Oregon.  Baguettes, being skinnier, do dry out a little quicker than big loaves, so I wouldn't expect them to still be completely fresh after the first day, but they would still be edible.  You can usually refresh an older loaf by spritzing it with water and heating it up in the toaster or oven for a bit, whether sliced or uncut.  I do freeze sometimes, but it seems to get freezer burn pretty fast.

Sourdough bread stays fresh and springy quite a bit longer on the counter, maybe 3-4 days fresh tasting and 1 or more weeks without molding.

Eric: 2. It seems in general your bread recipes hydrate the flour around 100% or more. I've been getting better at measuring the water and watching the dough as I add that water taking into account air humidity, but my bread still has a slightly sticky crumb. Do GF breads just tend to be slightly sticky? The breads I bake are cooked to temperature and have good crumb structure, just a little tacky (even at room temp, day of baking.)

Gina: Stickiness.  Try baking the bread for an extra five minutes and see if the crumb is a bit less tacky.  Go by crust color and hardness rather than temp for checking doneness - sometimes the bread reaches temp before it's really done.  It should have a nice deep hollow sound when rapped on the bottom.  If it's still too sticky, reduce the water.  Measure water by weight to get consistent results. Lastly, it's possible that my recipes come out slightly wetter than wheaten bread - I didn't eat bread of any kind for a year after I went GF, so my assessment of the proper texture needed to be adjusted by having other people give me feedback.  Plus, if you overcook it or make it too dry it doesn't stay fresh as long, so that may have influenced my recipe making.  That being said, your crumb photo does look a little on the moist side.  I don't think your dough was too wet to function - the usual sign for that is when you see a layer of compressed, undercooked dough on the bottom of the loaf.  Your bread has great, evenly distributed, open crumb.  I say keep it like this if you want to save it for a day or two uncut, or cook it a little longer if you want a crisper crust and to eat within 24 hours.

Eric: 3. Will you still be posting your gf all purpose flour? I'm really curious what your mix is :)
Thanks again! Keep baking :)

Gina: I've not put a lot of time lately into the AP flour, and may end up reserving it for a cookbook or something if I do think one up.  However, in the mean time I've been using the "pancake flour" - basically the pastry flour mix without the xanthan gum - as an AP flour for gravy and where appropriate.  It seems to work pretty well.  I hope that helps!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Vegan Teff Sandwich Bread Recipe

Years ago I posted the very popular Best Teff Sandwich Recipe.  That recipe uses xanthan gum and eggs, which some people can't do.  Here I have developed a recipe that's xanthan gum free, egg-free, and vegan.  Check out the Artisan Teff Bread Recipe if you'd like to use my bread flour blend.

Vegan Teff Sandwich Bread Recipe

Mix time: 10 minutes
Rise time: 1.5-2 hours
Bake time: 45-55 minutes

In a medium bowl, mix together:

200g (1 1/4C) teff flour
100g (3/4 C) sorghum flour
75g (1/2 C) tapioca flour
75g (1/2 C) potato starch
24g (2 Tbsp) sugar
6g (1 tsp.) salt

Set this mixture aside and in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer whisk together:

520g (2 1/3 C) warm water
30g (1/3 C) whole psyllium husk
2g (1 tsp.) yeast

Set aside 50g (1/2 C) of the flour mixture and put the rest of the dry ingredients in the bowl with the wet ingredients.  Blend with a paddle or dough hook on your stand mixer, or blend with a wooden spoon, until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  The dough will be wet, sticky, and shaggy.

Let the dough rise, covered, for about one hour.

After the first rise, blend in the rest of the flour that you set aside.  Pat the dough out into a square or rectangle. I usually place it on parchment paper or wax paper for this step for easier handling.

Roll the dough into a log.

Tuck the edges of the log under and place it in a greased bread pan or pullman pan.

Let the dough rise, covered, for 30-45 minutes, or until a finger dent stops filling in quickly.  Pre-heat your oven to 450° F mid-say through this last rise.  Bake at 450° for 45-55 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped with the knuckles.  Turn the bread out to cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Molten Mug Cakes in 30 Seconds

Sometimes you just need a chocolate treat.  This recipe, adapted from a recipe on A Beach Cottage, was just what I was looking for: used ingredients I already had, was easy to whip up in one cup, and had single serving portions.  The molten center didn't hurt.

To make it quick and easy, I have given the ingredients in volume measurements.  It mixes up really fast, then cooks even faster.  It's the perfect recipe for one or two people (full disclosure: I made one for my boyfriend, then ate both servings myself.  Then I made another one later that night.)

Molten Mug Cake Recipe

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Artisan Teff Bread Recipe

One of the most popular recipes on this blog is The Best Teff Sandwich Bread Recipe.  This was one of the first bread recipes that I ever created.  I thought I'd follow that up with a recipe for a rustic, artisan loaf with teff flour using all the bread-making techniques I've learned since the beginning.  This bread is really soft and spongy.  It's a little more dense than the regular bread, but in a nice, substantial way as whole grain breads often are.  Check out the boule bread recipe for more tips and photos of the process.

Artisan Teff Bread Recipe

makes one 2-lb round loaf
Mix time: 10 minutes
Rise time: 2-3 hours
Cook time: 35-45 minutes

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

520g (about 2 1/4 cups) warm water, 110-120 degrees
30g whole psyllium husk (or 20g ground psyllium husk)

Monday, August 24, 2015

I Love Book Lists!

Did you know that Gluten-free Gourmand is a huge sci-fi fan?  I've been seeing a bunch of interesting book lists floating around the internet lately, and decided to create one of my own.  Enjoy my picks for Top 33 Science Fiction Classics!