Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tales of the Unexpected

On Monday I was reading through a 'Gluten Free' cookbook and saw a recipe for pastry that was made with cornmeal and decided to try it using rice flour instead. Quite a few interesting things happened. This pastry didn't need nearly as much 'flour' and butter as normal, and the butter was rubbed into the rice flour more quickly and easily. Adding the other ingredients made it look like pastry dough, and when rolled between two sheets of cling-film, it rolled easily.
Then came the snag. It also breaks easily. Next time I use it I will roll it directly onto the base of my loose-base flan, leave a little pastry round the edge, put the base into the tin and then roll strips to put round the inside rim.
The good thing is that I was able to jigsaw the bits of broken pastry into the flan tin. It pushes together very well I have to say, as it can be moulded like putty.
As it didn't contain gluten, I decided to try baking it blind without any beans, but did line it with just tinfoil so the bottom wouldn't get too brown. Then cooked it for 10 minutes at 200C. Halfway through I lifted the foil to see if it has risen, it hadn't, so left it to cook on without the foil.
A quiche filling was made, put into the pastry case and cooked on for a further 25 minutes.
Perfect. When cut cold, the base had not gone soft as can happen with a quiche. Altogether a success apart from it seeming 'heavier' than pastry made with wheat flour, but as my normal pastry is like cardboard, there was very little difference. As long as there is moisture in the flan or pie, it seems this keeps the pastry from drying out completely.
Gluten-free Pastry: to fit a 9" flan ring
150g rice flour,
50g butter,
1 egg
Rub the butter into the flour and stir in a beaten egg. Add a few drops of water if needed to combine. Roll out between sheets of clingfilm, remove top film and invert over the baking tin used. If it breaks, just press it together, but handle as little as possible.
Tip 1: Whichever flour is used, normal or gluten-free, if any small cracks have appeared in the base after baking blind, then brush over beaten egg and return to oven to set before adding any fillling. To fill larger holes, dampen some scraps of uncooked pastry and cover holes. To prevent a pastry base from softenening, brush a layer of beaten egg over the base and return to the oven for a couple or two minutes to set.
Tip 2: To prevent fruit juices from seeping into any pastry base, or falling to the bottom of a fruit crumble, sprinkle some ground almonds or semolina over the base before adding the fruit. This will thicken and cook along with the fruit.

Serendipity Sauce:
Take one good dollop (such as 1 heaped tblsp.) of Greek Yoghurt, and the same of Mayonnaise. Blend together with 1 tsp. horseradish sauce (only add enough horseradish to just give a hint of heat - unless of course you want more bite to it.) If necessary thin down with a little of the liquid that appears in a tub of part-used yoghurt, or just use water. Then serve in a little dish for the diner to add to his meal.
Tip: Kept thick, this would make an ideal dip. Thinned down, apart from using as the above sauce, it would make a great binder for a pasta dish, for potato salad, cole slaw...

It is on days like this I swoon with pleasure for it is always great to know there is always something more to discover, and - like most things in life - alway when you least expect it.
Have a happy day.