Dec 262011
 

Even though this is our first gluten-free Christmas, we didn’t want to miss out on the pudding. So, we made our own. I was apprehensive, but need not have been.

The basic recipe I followed was this one. Note that you have to scroll down the page quite a ways to actually reach the recipe.

I also had this one on hand and my final result combined aspects of both and may have included some improvisation re: dried fruits.

For the breadcrumbs, I followed a recipe very similar to the one for cornmeal croutons listed on this page.

If you need a shortcut, I have had some success with Glutino GF crumbs elsewhere: we used them in some fantastic crabcakes, but that’s another story.

For the proper flavour in any Christmas pudding, it is important to start early. I did not, so I can say that 2 weeks of maturing time was just about enough. I did top up with brandy every few days to help the process! If you want a nice, rich, flavour, the cooked pudding should mature for at least a month. The great thing about this process is that you can make them several months in advance and they will continue to mature. Just check on them from time to time, add a bit more brandy along the way, and you’ll have a warm belly and happy tastebuds come Christmas.

On the day itself, we plopped the pudding in the steamer and let it sit for a couple of hours (really, it only needs heating, so half an hour should do it) and it was fine. When we were ready, we turned out the lights, poured on the brandy, and flambéed the pudding. We had ours with whipped cream this year, though normally we have brandy butter.

For those unaccustomed to a Christmas pudding, it is very rich and you’ll want to eat only a small amount at a time. Just a few bites and you should be sated.

Dec 242011
 

Mince pies

How did we do it? First of all, I picked up a new kitchen scale. It’s digital and switches easily between metric and US standard units. This makes it easy to fool around with different types of gluten-free flour since the only thing that really matters is that there be double the mass of flour to fat.

Right. What about those pies?

* Cranberry mince pies. For the filling, I pretty much followed the recipe given here.

* I also made traditional mince pies (again, GF pastry) inspired by this recipe.

I may have added some prunes into the mix and also currents. I did not use any candied fruit and had to substitute Granny Smiths for Bramleys.

We are fortunate to have access to a great farm stand that sells excellent quality locally-raised meat at reasonable prices. I bought a large block of suet from them. When I need a bit, I just take the block out of the freezer, grate what I need, and put the rest back for later.

For the pastry, I played around a bit. In the last batch, I combined roughly equal parts of:

  • Rice flour (white and brown)
  • Garbanzo (chickpea) / fava bean flour
  • Added in a bit of corn starch

The above three ingredients came to about 150gm.

Then I put in a couple of teaspoons of:

  • xanthan gum
  • baking powder

Now for the fat. I’m not sure if it made much difference, but I froze all of my fat (lard and butter).

Total fat used: 75 gm

 

Sometimes I used only butter, sometimes a combination of lard and butter. The latter was a bit crumblier, as you might imagine.

Rather than cut the fat through the flour, I grated it, or at least sliced it into tiny pieces before cutting through the flour.

I did use my fingers for less than a minute to crumble the mixture together, then added the cold water– about 5-6 tablespoons and mixed everything together with a fork.

One the mixture held together, I separated it into two balls and put it in the fridge.

Half and hour later, I was ready to roll.

One note of warning: gluten-free pastry is not as pliable as regular pastry because of the lack of gluten. For me, the mini pies worked really well because each shell was small enough that it did not fall apart. When making a large apple pie, I found I had to do a bit a patching because of cracks in the dough.

I did find that using buckwheat flour sometimes helped with the pliability issues, but one has to be careful since the strong taste does not suit all types of filling.

Other links re. gluten-free flours and pastry (in no particular order). I took my ideas from several of these. As should be clear from the above, I am still experimenting. Even though I’ve been happy with some of the results, I’m eager to test other methods so that I can find a comfort zone within the gluten free world. A lot of the recipes linked below look quite involved. The great thing about using a scale is that there is less fussing with small individual measurements. Play away!

http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2010/04/recipe-gluten-free-puff-pastry.html

http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/2010/03/puff-pastry-gluten-free/

http://glutenfreegirl.com/gluten-free-rough-puff-pastry/

http://www.flour-arrangements.com/2010/10/gluten-free-pastry.html

http://www.ellenskitchen.com/faqs/glutfree.html

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