Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

Savory Brioche Pockets, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

As promised last week, here is our gluten free version of the savory brioche pockets. They were easier to make than originally thought, but required an additional 10 tablespoons of flour to achieve the right consistency described in the book. Our trusted old stand mixer ended its life during the creation of our last cook book, and we have not been able to replace it since, holding out hope for a pro KitchenAid. But it turns out, with a little effort, one can make this recipe using an ordinary hand mixer. Maybe we can credit the blend of gluten free flours for allowing this, a heavier wheat dough might not cut it. In all fairness, we did not have to run the mixer for the 15 plus minutes suggested in the book. We managed to achieve the desired results in about 10 minutes, with the mixer running warm, but still alive.

Using our blend of gluten free flour, consisting of brown rice flour, potato starch, teff flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca flour, we created the sponge as called for in the recipe, but added one cup of warm water. Gluten free flours can go one of two ways, either too dry or too wet, the latter being the most common problem. However, this sponge was different, 1/3 cup of milk just didn’t do it justice. With the extra liquid the sponge developed beautifully, after rising for 40 minutes. Outside of the obvious changes, i.e. gluten free, we pretty much followed the steps outlined in the recipe for the dough,  using the same flour blend mentioned earlier, with the addition of 1 teaspoon of psyllium seed along with 10 tablespoons of extra flour. The dough was fairly light in consistency, rose beautifully, more than doubling in size within 2-1/2 hours, but we feared it would not survive any length of time in the refrigerator, so we left that step out completely.

While the dough was still rising, we prepared the filling using potatoes, small portabella mushrooms, chopped green onions, finely chopped basil leaves, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and a small onion, finely chopped and caramelized.

Savory Brioche Pockets, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

To our great surprise, the dough was easy to work with, and allowed for easy shaping into pockets. For those of you familiar with gluten free baking, you’ll know what we mean, that a lot of these kind of doughs tend to “crack” or break with a lot of handling. Yet, amazingly, this dough was up to the challenge. We brushed the finished brioche pockets with an egg wash and baked them for about 27 minutes.

Since we finished making this during the late afternoon, the pockets became a quick and very delicious dinner. We absolutely loved them. The filling is amazing and perfectly compliments the flavor of the dough. As an alternative, this dough would also lend itself for making great pasties. We’ll definitely be making this recipe again, experimenting with a variety of fillings.

Savory Brioche Pockets, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

If you would like to get the original recipe, please check out Carrie’s beautiful site Loaves and Stitches, as well as all the creative contributions from the other Doristas.

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TWD: Gluten free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Italian breads seem to be a recurrent theme with the TWD group over the last couple of months. First pizza, now focaccia. Not that we are complaining. Going back to our gluten eating days, we did enjoy focaccia on occasion, in fact, while living in Montana, a local health conscious baker, built his own wood fired oven, in order to do justice making some of the old style, rustic European breads. A lot of his breads were sourdough based, and focaccia was no exception. Usually only available on a weekend, unless you placed a special order, these specialty breads would disappear as soon as they emerged from the oven.  Since not everyone in our household shares our personal love for Italian food, focaccia is generally not at the top of the list, when baking bread. We do love a challenge, and never having tried focaccia gluten free before, we felt we couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

The contributing baker to the original recipe is Craig Kominiak, and he calls for two rising periods, followed by a resting period of 24-36 hours in the refrigerator. Generally, from our own humble experience, gluten free baking is not always amenable to these extra long resting periods. As a result, our own gluten free adaptation differs greatly from the original. When developing any recipe, we always cut the recipe in half, just in case it flops. This was no different.  The changes we made included the preparation of a simple sponge prepared a day ahead, consisting of sorghum flour, brown rice flour and water. The remaining flour blend included brown rice, tapioca, sweet rice and potato starch, along with psyllium seed soaked in coconut milk, one egg and the addition of 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar.  Fresh thyme and rosemary, along with a couple of tablespoons of fresh Parmesan cheese were worked into the dough before rising. The dough was allowed to rise for 1-1/2 hours, during which time it nearly tripled in size. Quite a feat for any gluten free dough.

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Spreading a dusting of rice flour onto a baking board, we divided the dough in half, and pressed it into rough oval shapes, about 1/2 inch thick. Using a fork we pierced holes throughout the dough, allowing it to bake evenly. We brushed the top with olive oil, sprinkled it with fresh thyme, rosemary and halved cherry tomatoes, along with salt and pepper.

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

The focaccia baked for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated 450°F oven. The best thing about making this recipe is how the entire house fills with the delicious aroma of fresh herbs and baking bread.

Never having made gluten free focaccia, we consider this recipe to be a great success, in both texture and flavor. We were also quite impressed how easy the dough was to work with, along with the fact that the final result mirrored the description in the Baking with Julia book, as well as our memories of regular focaccia (however faint – it is quite a while back now).

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In the future, we will definitely give the “refrigerated resting time for the dough” a try, as well as experiment with a non-savory version.

Please check out all the wonderful contributions by the other TWD bakers at this link, as well as the beautiful contribution by this week’s host Sharmini of Wandering Through.

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We did it! Success at last! After several more attempts trying to perfect that perfect chewiness and flavor of “real” bagels, we finally accomplished what we set out to do. Keep in mind, by no means did we bake every single day, we just don’t have that kind of time available.  In the process of developing a recipe, we always only make a small fraction of the recipe for each trial, because seriously, how many bagels can anyone eat? There is also only so much room in our financial budget for the inevitable failures. Since we committed ourselves to achieving a perfect result that everyone would be thrilled with, we tried everything, including baking them without the water bath – that was a complete failure.  In that version, we set out to boil them, but the dough completely dissolved and turned into porridge in the boiling water.  As you can imagine, that was not a pleasant experience. Hence, our thoughts turned to baking the rest of the batch, without boiling them. The idea behind this was sound, but the results were less than enviable. Instead of puffing up, they just flattened out too much.  Not to the capacity of a cracker, but not at all recognizable as anything one would look for in a bagel. Some time ago, someone recommended making a yeasted sponge and letting it sit overnight. Well, nice try, but it doesn’t work for gluten free baking. The dough rose beautifully, but completely collapsed, lacking any stability to withstand a water bath and baking. For this attempt, we used a combination of sorghum, tapioca and a little bit of whole brown rice flour with the addition of some guar gum and honey and molasses to activate the yeast. It also included the addition of an egg.

Studying the failures of this version, for our final attempt, we prepared a simple sourdough sponge, by blending sorghum and whole brown rice flour with water (a total of 1-1/2 cups of flour) and letting it sit overnight in a warm place in the kitchen, covered with a kitchen towel. That sponge became really active (lots of bubbles) during the last few hours, since it was sitting on the warm stove top, while we were busy making, what turned out to be a failed version of this recipe.

For our successful recipe, we basically had to change everything.  In the end,  the only factors that still remained true to the original Baking with Julia recommendations, were the 25 minute baking time, and the boiling method (which is fairly standard for all bagels). Those of you that are familiar with our own flour preferences know, that we rarely, if ever, use starch in any of our recipes, but felt it might be a necessary addition for this recipe.  As it turns out, true gluten free bagels are nearly impossible to create without the use of some starch. In this case, we chose to add potato starch.  In order to make sure, that these bagels did in fact rise, we chose to prepare the remaining flour combination using a blend of tapioca, brown rice, sweet rice and potato starch, along with rice bran and only 1-1/8 tsp. of yeast. The Red Star yeast has consistently delivered the best results. Again, we included an egg, which is essential to bind all the ingredients successfully. This time we used honey and sucanat to develop the yeast and added a very small amount of apple cider vinegar to the dough, to help condition it. Since we experimented in the past with adding shredded cheese to a bread dough to help achieve cohesiveness, we added some finely shredded raw cheddar cheese to this recipe. In the final product, you cannot even taste the cheese, but it does lend a wonderful light chewiness to the bagels.

The dough was very sticky at first, and so could only loosely be shaped into a ball. We let it rise, covered with cling wrap and a cloth, for about 2 hours on the warm stove top. It took it that long to double in size. This still very sticky dough required the addition of a little more sweet rice flour, in order for us to shape into little balls. While the water, with the addition of a little sucanat and baking soda, came to a boil, we shaped the dough into little balls and placed them on cookie sheets. Just prior to boiling we pierced a hole into the center of each bagel, continuously working on containing the shape of the dough, as it wanted to spread outwards. Note, it is very helpful to have helpers when making this recipe! The difference between gluten dough and gluten free is like night and day. Containment in gluten free is everything. We were amazed as to just how perfectly this dough rose. Containing the outward spreading tendency was the only challenge. But unlike the previous attempts, this one also rose high. Each bagel withstood the boiling process beautifully, while still remaining light and airy. After boiling, the bagels were placed on a silicone mat covered baking sheet, which is especially helpful in gluten free baking, preventing the bottom crust from hardening excessively, achieving a perfect result.  We brushed the bagels with a mixture of a whole egg and a little coconut milk and topped them with sesame seeds.

We now know, that our “Part 1 Version” truly suffered because of the steam and the excessive temperatures recommended in the book. As a result, we baked them for 25 minutes at only 375°F, without any addition of water, or steam to the oven. We did leave the bagels in the oven for an additional 5 minutes, with the oven turned off and the door ajar.   The full batch made 11 good sized bagels. One half of it was baked in our regular gas oven, the other in our  counter top convection oven, which explains the slightly darker color in some of the bagels. Everything browns just a little more using our convection oven, even with a reduced temperature.

The bagels were allowed to cool for  a little while on a wire rack before putting them to the final taste test.  And we have to say, the end result was well worth the effort. They not only look like true bagels, but taste like them too. The perfect flavor and chewiness one would expect. Perfect, for slicing and serving with your favorite toppings – perhaps, with butter and jam, cream cheese and/or lox. We will definitely be making this again in the future.

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