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Gluten Free Choux Pastry for Doughnuts and Cream Puffs

December 3, 2011 - 12:58 pm

I published a teaser for this some months ago when we made the first batch of cream puffs.  It’s taken a few tries- oh, ok, quite a few tries- to get this down to a simple and repeatable experience anyone in the house can make.

The biggest issue was a procedure problem with the starter recipe, which had us use a food processor instead of a stand mixer for the final mixing.  This inevitably ended with batter going into the center hole of the food processor and making an icky mess that was devilish to clean up.  In frustration we tried working the whole thing in the stand mixer, and it worked fine!  One less appliance to clean, and an icky mess averted.

The base recipe here is for something called a choux pastry.  It’s one of the oldest recipes for a pastry dough, dating back to 1840.  This pastry is the basis for many sweet pastries, including cream puffs, profiteroles, beignets, crueller style doughnuts, eclairs, and churros.

The dough itself isn’t sweet however, and can be used for many applications.  It can be wrapped around cheese to melt in the baking, used as buns for sandwiches of various sorts, and David has all sorts of ideas for savory applications.

Today I’m publishing the cream puff shells.  I’ll add the doughnuts in a day or so.

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Recipe for Choux Pastry, baked into shells

Equipment:

  • Large baking sheet
  • Slipat mat or parchment paper
  • Stand mixer

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sorghum flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Egg Mixture:

  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg white (or more, for 3/4 c.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Heated Wet Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons half n’ half

Prep:

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF, and line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
  • Set up Stand Mixer with paddle or dough hook.  Leave standing ready with lid removed in a place convenient to the stove.

Directions:

In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix well.

Break eggs into a measuring cup, adding whites until 3/4C egg, then whisk them.  Add baking powder, and whisk some more.  The egg will develop weird lumps; it’s supposed to do that.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter, water, half n’ half, sugar and salt over a medium-low flame until the butter has melted completely and the mixture has just come to a gentle boil.

Add the dry ingredients and stir, scraping bottom and sides, until the dough has collected into a single lump.

Immediately transfer dough to the stand mixer, and pulse for at least 20 seconds to cool.

Pour egg mixture slowly into the stand mixer while it’s running.  Continue blending until you have a thick, smooth sticky paste: a minute or so.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet; the recipe should make about 12.  Flatten and smooth the puffs into the shape you want.  Long and skinny for éclairs, or round for puffs.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425ºF, then lower oven temperature to 375ºF and bake for 10 minutes more.  NOTE: opening the door to the oven will cause the puffs to collapse.  Resist the temptation.

Makes 12 large cream puffs.

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Strawberry Shortcake

July 11, 2011 - 5:57 am

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We harvested our first strawberries this past week, and wanted to make strawberry shortcake.  I’d never gone looking for a shortcake recipe before.  This came out with a texture between those cheesy cakes we used to get in the grocery store next to the strawberries and angel food cake, but so much better than either one!

Strawberry Shortcake

dry ingredients:

  • 1 C corn starch
  • 1/4 t xanthum gum
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

wet ingredients:

  • 1 C butter (one stick) slightly softened
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 and grease muffin tins.  I used tins that were shaped like small bundt cakes.

Combine dry ingredients, mix well, and set aside.  (not the sugar.)

Beat butter until fluffy.  I used a stand mixer, but a hand mixer would also work.

Add vanilla and sugar, and beat til fluffy again, starting with the mixer on low so you don’t make a mess.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until fluffy between each.  At the end the mixture may separate a little; this is ok.

Add the dry ingredients and … Yep!  You guessed it!  Beat til fluffy!!

Divide the batter between the cups.  It will be thick, but that won’t matter; they will cook into a nice shape even through they don’t start with a smooth surface.

Bake for about 15 minutes.  Less will give a softer, wetter texture, more will give a firmer, dryer consistency and a darker color.

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I also made a cinnamon whipped topping while the cakes were cooking:

  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C 2% milk
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 T powdered sugar

Beat cream until it starts to thicken.

Add milk, a little at a time, beating between additions, diluting the cream as mich as you can without making soup.  Depending on the cream and the milk and the day, you may not be able to use it all.

Add cinnamon and powdered sugar, and beat some more.

I plated it up, sprinkled with some shaved chocolate, and it was delicious!  Wonderful accompaniment to a game of Carcassonne!

 

Cream Puffs

May 4, 2011 - 2:30 pm

I have just made gluten-free cream puff shells for the first time ever. This is a choux pastry, which is something I’ve never tried to make previously; apparently this is how eclairs and profiteroles are made as well.

I’m not sure I’ve ever baked something so beautiful. And I haven’t filled them with the chocolate pastry cream yet.

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here, let’s zoom in:

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Now don’t you want to come to knit night at my house tonight?

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

March 31, 2011 - 2:17 pm

Question to Zachary: “What should I make for brunch?”

Answer: “Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread!”

Question to David: “What would you like for dessert?”

Answer: “Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread!”

Question to Heather: “What would you like me to bake for the retreat at La Push?”

Answer: “Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread!”

It seems like there’s only one answer to any question I ask these days about baking.  This is the new universal favorite baked good in the house. Pumpkin pie’s spicy sweetness mixes with chocolate into a rich warm flavor.   The moist crumble of a perfect banana bread combines with a little bit of texture given by the chips and oat bran.  Delicious!

The best part for me is it’s also full of nutrition, with lots of pumpkin and oat bran, and very little sugar other than what the chips impart.  Sometimes I just sprinkle a few on the top without mixing them into the batter, and they are not missed.  It’s dairy free and gluten free.

I got the foundation for the recipe from gfreecuisine.com, but it’s morphed substantially from their base recipe.  And so without further ado, I give you:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Equipment:

  • 3 loaf pans, 8 x 4 inches.  I recommend glass, because it will be easier to clean the melted chips.
  • Stand mixer recommended.

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 C pureed pumpkin, or canned pumpkin.  (Don’t get the pie mix! 🙂
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 1/3 or more C water, added at the end to make a good batter.
  • 4 large eggs, beaten well.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C oat bran or Scottish Oats for a bit more texture.
  • 1 C masa or corn flour (not corn meal)
  • 1 C tapioca flour or starch
  • 1 C sorghum flour
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 T pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 t nutmeg
  • 1 T xanthan gum
  • 1 & 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 & 1/2 t salt

Extras:

  • 1 & 1/2 C chocolate chips; I prefer the miniature ones, and remember to look for dairy free, if needed.
  • 1/2 C nuts and or dried fruit, if you like them.  I do not.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350

Grease and flour the three loaf pans, using tapioca or corn flour.

In a stand mixer or large bowl, combine the wet ingredients and beat until smooth and somewhat frothy.  Adding air at this stage makes the bread fluffier.

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk to thoroughly mix.  If you don’t mix well enough, the bread will have an uneven consistency.

Add the flour gradually while the stand mixer is going on its lowest speed, or in small batches if you are mixing by hand.  Stir until just combined, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  The mixture should look like a heavy cake batter.  If it gets so thick that the bottom of the bowl is visible, add water as needed to smooth it out.  How much is needed varies with how wet the pumpkin is; use your judgement.  I have added as much as a cup and a half, and as little as 1/3 C.

Fold in most of the chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit, if adding.  Retain some to sprinkle on top of the loaves.

Divide the batter between the three pans, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  The center of the bread should stay firm when you shake the pan, not jiggle like jello.  You can also test for doneness by inserting a knife.  It may come back with melted chocolate chip, but shouldn’t have batter on it.

Turn out the loaves immediately, preferably on a wire rack.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  This bread freezes well; I always freeze one or two of the loaves.

 

Candy Brandy Pears

March 26, 2011 - 9:02 am

This is right after the fruit went into the butter, before the oj was added.

This is one of my favorite desserts. The one I always want after a good meal. Just the right amount of sweetness, and warm, satisfying flavors.

Candy Brandy Pears

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 pears sliced in half and cored
  • 3 – 4 T butter
  • 1 C orange juice
  • Spices; I use apple pie spice and a little ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and whatever else smells right
  • Optionally, brandy or other alcohol, to taste

Instructions:

Put the butter in a skillet large enough to place all of the pears face down in.

Brown butter.

Add pears, and sprinkle spices over them.

When the pears start to stick, add orange juice, 1/4 C at a time. Pour it over the pears to wash the spices into the butter.

As the liquid cooks off, keep adding the oj, and baste pears in the developing sauce regularly as they cook.

If the oj is gone and the pears are still not soft enough to eat with a spoon, start adding water in 1/4C amounts and continue basting until they soften.

Remove pears to plate, cut side up.

Add alcohol to complete the caramelization of the oj & spices into a sauce.  If you prefer not to add alcohol, a little water will also help lift any sticky bits.

Pour over pears, and serve immediately. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream go well with this dessert.

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