I, by no means, am allergic or adverse to gluten or wheat. Heaven forbid, one day I cannot eat my beloved loaves of bread, croissants, and the plethora of cakes and pastries that are based on wheat flours. Or else, I would be incredibly heartbroken.
That said, it doesn’t make me curious about gluten-free cooking and baking. I wanted to create gluten-free pasta and some sort of delicious, simple cake. Obviously, I still seek the same wonderful textures that regular cakes and pasta offers but it’s slightly more complicated as I needed a mixture of gluten-free grain flours to create that texture. After some research, I found two great recipes that I’ve adapted. I used exclusively Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free grain flours and gums since I am a longtime fan of their high quality products.
As most of you might know, when I bake (or prepare my mis en place for cooking) I tend to weigh my ingredients, well, my old dependable scale bit the dust. But I got myself a really cute yet cool, and most importantly, accurate JosephJoseph Shell.
Of course, you do want the recipes – and those are toward the bottom of the post. The gluten-free pasta is versatile in regards to shape. You can make spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna sheets, etc. but I stuck with fettuccine as my family loves wide pasta. I cooked it with seared large diver scallops and rendered Berkshire jowciale and a touch of chili. The resulting dish was pretty surprising, as the pasta’s texture was pretty toothsome, sort of springy and al dente.
The cakes were mainly based on pistachio flour (or ground pistachio) and white rice flour, made interesting with brown butter (butter always make pastries better), vanilla bean, homemade candied orange peels (I had it in my refrigerator from a previous baking project), cardamom, and poppy seeds for texture. Even though these rich, flavorful financiers I baked were more the size of miniature kugelhopfs, my mother had no problems having multiples. She even said, I made too little.
Adapted from Epicurious.com
Serves 4 people, approximately 1 pound of pasta
2/3 cup (70g) corn flour
1/2 cup (70g) quinoa flour
1/2 cup (60g) potato starch
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon guar gum
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks from large eggs
1. Sift the corn flour, quinoa flour, and potato starch into a large bowl. Add the xanthan gum, guar gum, and salt and stir. Sift the entire mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Put the eggs and egg yolks into the bowl of dry ingredients. Run the stand mixer on medium speed with a paddle attachment until the dough feels fully formed, about 3 minutes. The final dough should feel firm yet still pliable, a little like playdough.
3. Cut the ball of dough into 8 pieces, and then cut each of those pieces in half, so they are about the size of golf balls. Roll out each piece of dough as thin as you possibly can.
For fettuccine, use the fettuccine setting on the pasta machine. If you are cutting the dough by hand, you want ribbons of pasta, about 1/4-inch wide. For spaghetti, use the spaghetti setting on the pasta machine. If you are cutting the dough by hand, you want thin strings of pasta.
4. To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put the pasta shape of your choice into the boiling water. When the pasta rises to the surface, take a little piece and taste it. You should be able to bite into it without it falling apart. (With gluten-free pasta, it’s a fine line. One moment it’s al dente, and the next it’s one big ball of mush, so watch the pot.) Cooking times will vary for the different shapes. Fettuccine generally takes 4 to 5 minutes, spaghetti 3 to 4 minutes. Ravioli takes a little longer, about 5 to 6 minutes. The cooking times will differ in each kitchen, depending on how thin you were able to roll out the dough. Just keep tasting and use your best judgement.
Gluten-Free Pistachio, Candied Orange, Brown Butter, Poppy Seed Financiers
Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life by Beatrice Peltre
Makes 8 muffin-sized financiers or 6 3/4-cup mini bundt pans
1/2 cup (90 grams) shelled unsalted green pistachios
7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
1/3 cup (60 grams) white rice flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons candied orange peel, diced
4 large egg whites, beaten until foamy
Confectioners’ sugar, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and coat the pan with granulated sugar, and set aside.
2. Grind the pistachios into a fine powder with a food processor or coffee/spice grinder.
3. In a small saucepot, melt the butter over medium heat until it turns to a light brown color. Remove it from the heat and add the cardamom, vanilla bean seeds and bean, and rest for 10 minutes (it may be a little more). Remove the vanilla pod after it has infused.
4. In a bowl, combine the rice flour, ground pistachio, poppy seeds, sugar, and salt. Beat in the egg whites until smooth, and then stir in the melted butter and candied orange peel. Stir and fold in the ingredients quickly.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups or mini bundt pans, place the financiers into the oven and bake for 20 minutes for the muffins or 25-30 minutes for the mini bundt pans, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry or have a few crumbs stuck onto it. Remove from the oven and dust the financiers with confectioners’ sugar (optional) and cool completely.