Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gluten-free Pastry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(...believe me, there should be many more exclamation points after that title!)

Flakes aren't usually a good thing, now are they? Flakes on a first date? Not so attractive. Flaky personality-- definitely not appealing. But I have to tell you, today I fell in love with something flaky and my husband is OK with it. Why? Because he's in love, too!

Maybe I shouldn't talk about flakes on a food blog :P. But, my friends, flakes are a very good thing today!

...Because we're talking about the amazing buttery flakes of a homemade pastry. That's right, and it's not just any pastry, folks. Say hello to a completely gluten-free pastry! I never thought the words "gluten-free" would ever be used in the same sentence as "pastry"! But I recently had a sweet reader contact me, and she asked if I could help her find/come up with a gluten-free pastry recipe. (She was looking for a cream cheese danish, so that's what we made here...also made an apple filling.) I'd been craving pastries myself so I couldn't say no :)! This lovely recipe provided the inspiration.

Thank you again, Catherine, for this opportunity! You helped me face my biggest fear. The thought of making gluten-free pastries used to scare me. Not anymore!

My husband, Jose, said I'm not allowed to make these very often ;). (He freaked out when I mentioned the butter content.) And I nearly threw a dish towel at the guy after he took the first bite and grimaced.

He was totally foolin' me!

After shedding tears of joy, I nearly shed many tears of sadness when he tried to trick me into thinking they weren't tasty. But then he apologized and said he loved 'em. He even said they were better than bakery pastries!

What?! Maybe that's just love talking, but I was definitely happy to hear that. According to Jose, the buttery flavor made them over-the-top tasty. Amazing, that butter...huh?

They're realllllly good, give 'em a try! Perfect way to use up the 22 pounds of apples sittin' pretty in your fridge right now. I'm thinkin' apple turnovers! Oh wait, am I the only one who picked that many apples this fall ;)?!

So here we go with the recipe. It's a lengthy one. The process is definitely long too, but totally worth it! I made sure to mention every last detail, and also included a few pics, but if you have any questions please feel free to email me :)! Love to hear from you all! Makes me feel all warm and gooey inside, like I've just gobbled up a freshly baked pastry :D!

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp sea salt

2 sticks of cold butter

1 tbsp sugar
4 tsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon orange juice

1/4 cup reserved white rice flour for rolling
powdered sugar for dusting
and nuts for sprinkling, if you like 'em.

Start by combining all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, to create a flour blend. Then, separate 1/2 cup of the flour blend. Put that 1/2 cup of flour in a medium sized bowl.

Next, combine the warm water and single tablespoon of sugar in a large cup or small bowl. Add the yeast. Let it sit for a few minutes until it becomes foamy.

In a third large bowl, combine the 3 egg yolks, milk, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour (not the reserved half cup, that's for something else), then stir in the yeast mixture. Cover and refrigerate this for an hour.

Cut the 2 sticks of cold butter into small cubes. With your hands, combine with the reserved 1/2 cup of flour. The heat from your hands will slightly melt the butter--a thick buttery/flour mixture will form. Shape into a thick square, then refrigerate this for about 20 minutes.

At this point you'll have two things in the refrigerator. Once you've refrigerated the yeasty dough for the allotted hour, and the butter/flour mixture has chilled in the fridge for 20 minutes, you can take them both out and place them on a large work space/counter. Make sure you have some rice flour reserved in a small bowl and 2 large strips of parchment paper (about 18 inches long).

You'll first work with the yeasty mix. Place one sheet of parchment paper on the counter, then shape this dough into a ball. Sprinkle rice flour over the surface of the ball of dough you've just created. Sprinkle a bit of rice flour on the parchment, then place the dough on the parchment. Flatten it out a bit with your hands, then place the second piece of parchment over it and roll it out into a rectangular shape, with a rolling pin (doesn't have to be perfect). It should be about 1/2 an inch thick or so.

Next, place the rectangular butter/flour block in the center of the yeasty dough. Fold the top part of the yeasty dough over the body of the butter block. Repeat with the bottom part, then fold the left and right sides over the butter block. You want to basically enclose this butter block in the yeasty dough.

Place the parchment paper over the dough. Start by rolling up from the center. Then down toward you, from the center. Then left from the center and right from the center. This completes one round of rolling. Fold the dough over itself again (like you did when covering the butter block), sprinkle with a bit of rice flour, if necessary, and roll out the dough the same way.

Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. Then remove the dough and roll it out the same way again. Refrigerate for one moire hour. Then roll again.

After you've rolled out the dough a total of 3 times, with 2-1 hour chilling sessions in the fridge…take a break and leave the dough in the fridge over night! :)

You can work on the filling while the dough is chilling. This part is easy :)! You can combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl, mix well then refrigerate until you're ready to prepare the pastries.

But if you want to make an apple filling, this is what you'll need:
3 medium apples
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp)
1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
1/4 cup cloudy apple cider

Peel then cut 3 medium apples into thin slices. Combine in a sauce pan with all the ingredients (before you turn on the flame). Then cook on medium low covered for just a few minutes, until they just start to soften. Mix occasionally, then cook uncovered until they're a bit tender but not soggy. Discard/spoon out some of the excess juice and place in a container/refrigerate until you're ready to make the pastries.

To prepare the pastry…roll it out into a rectangle, about 1/2 an inch thick. With a knife, cut off the excess dough (so that it's a clean rectangle shape). Cut the rectangle down the middle, then create 6 square/rectangular pastry squares. This can get stick, so refrigerate the dough you aren't working with.

Next, cut a new piece of parchment or aluminum foil large enough to cover a big cookie sheet, spray with non-stick. Place parchment on cookie sheet. Arrange the pastry rectangle on the parchment so that one corner is facing you and it looks like an uneven diamond shape. If you need to smooth out the dough, you can wet your fingers with cold water and smooth it out with your fingertips. Put a generous dollop of filling down the middle of the dough rectangle/diamond. Gently lift one corner and bring it toward the middle, over the filling; repeat and do the same for the opposite corner. Two of the corners should now be covering the filling, with a small space dividing the corners as they pass. (If you're working with apples, I recommend arranging them one slice at a time down the middle, so that they're resting flat on the pastry, or on top of each other.)

Repeat with the remaining pastry rectangles.

When you're done, cover the pastries with a clean cloth or towel and let them rest for an hour in a dark area.

Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 25 minutes in the middle rack or until they're golden.