Gluten Free Puff Pastry and Apricot Almond Danish

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It has taken three tries, but I have finally mastered gluten free puff pastry! In the end, it was not too hard thanks to Gluten Free Girl, who’s fabulous recipe guided me to some buttery flaky goodness. Now I can tackle some of the lovely danish that adorns the pages of Baking with Julia!

Gluten Free Puff Pastry

Adapted from Shauna Ahern’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (137 grams) potato starch
  • 1 cup (137 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup (52 grams) white rice flour!
  • 1/3 cup (52 grams) superfine rice flour (mochi)
  • 2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 (or more) ice water

Cut the butter into 1/4-1/2″ cubes. Place cubes on a plate and freeze until solid, about an hour.

Combine the potato starch, cornstarch, white rice flour, super fine flour, xanthan gum, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients to lighten and aerate.

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the frozen butter. Turn the mixer on the mixer on the lowest speed and begin to mix. Be, the flour will begin to fly so you may want to hold bowl a clean dish towel on the very outside of the bowl. Turn mixer on and off a few times until the butter begins to soften. Alternately, you can use a pastry blender to do this job. Pour in the ice water and turn mixer on again. Mix until flours have absorbed the water. The dough will look rough. Pour dough out onto a piece of lightly floured (use the super fine rice flour for rolling) parchment paper. Knead dough for a few times until it comes together.

Square off the dough with your hands , and place a piece of parchment on top and roll into a rectangle. Be gentle and go slowly as you create a roughly 8×12″ rectangle, rolling from the center out.

Using the parchment paper, fold the bottom third of the dough towards the middle, and then the top third on top of that. It will have a rough look at this point. Rotate the dough, one -quarter turn to the right, clockwise. This is your first turn! Chill for 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out again to a 8×12″ rectangle. Use a gentle rolling motion and be patient, as this process is a slow one. Once the dough is rolled out, fold it in thirds again. Rotate the dough one-quarter of a turn, clockwise to the right. This is your second turn. Chill for 10 minutes.

Continue to roll the dough in this manner until you have completed four turns. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

When you are ready to use the dough, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes. Complete two more turns (the 5th and 6th) and then your dough is ready to use. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or freezer for 1 month.

Apricot Danish

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking with Julia”

Almond Filling

  • 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Put the almonds, sugar and butter in the a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground. Scrape the side of the bowl and add the almond extract and egg white. Process to mix. This filling can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Apricot Filling

  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Stir the apricots, water and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl. Place in the microwave and set to full power and cook for ten minutes, stirring often, until the apricots are soft and puffed and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Place mixture into the food processor and puree , scraping the bowl as needed. Place the puree in a bowl, add the lemon juice and almond extract. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Danish Braid (makes 1 long braid, 6-8 servings)

  • 1/2 recipe of the gluten-free puff pastry dough
  • 1 recipe of almond filling
  • 1 recipe apricot filling
  • 1 large egg white, beaten
  • Sliced almonds, toasted, for topping
  • 2-3 tsp. cold strong coffee for glaze
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted, for glaze

Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 10″ x16″ rectangle. Lift rectangle onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Spread some apricot filling down the length of the center third of the dough. Top with the almond filling, leaving some of the apricot filling peeking out of either side of the dough.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut 12 to 14 slanting lines down each side of the dough, angling the cuts from the center of the pastry to the edge of the dough. The flaps you are creating should be 3/4″ wide. Fold the strips of the pastry into the center, criss crossing the filling by alternating one strip from the left with one strip from the right. Lightly press the ends to seal.

Brush the the braid with beaten egg white and sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Cover with a towel and all to rise at room temperature for 30-40 minutes. The braid will look puffy, but will not double in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the braid in the center of the oven and bake fro 15-20 minutes or until golden. Cool and prepare the glaze.

Stir the coffee into the confectioner’s sugar, adding just enough coffee to create a smooth glaze. Spoon the glaze into a small zipper-lock plastic bag, seal top, and snip a small corner to create a decorating tube. Glaze braid with zigzags and allow to set before serving.

Gluten Free Cranberry Chocolate Scones

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I am tired of my usual breakfast items! I have had it with oatmeal (it’s usually cold by the time I get to it), Β scrambled eggs and especially of yogurt and granola. It was time for a special breakfast treat, so I decided to make the Buttermilk Scones from “Baking with Julia.” I often use the gluten-free flour blend recipe below for muffins and quick breads, but you could also use a store-bought flour blend such as Pamela’s or King Arthur Flour.

Gluten-Free Flour Mix

  • 1 1/2 cups White rice flour
  • 1/2 cup Sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup Potato flour
  • 1/3 cup Tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum

Mix all the ingredients with a whisk. Store in an air tight container.

Gluten Free Cranberry Chocolate Scones

Makes 8 large scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Gluten-free flour blend
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or less)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (dark, milk or white chocolate)
  • 1 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbs. coarse sanding sugar (for the tops)

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest in a bowl. Cut in butter cubes with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. It is fine to have a few bigger pieces of butter remaining as they will give the scones their flaky texture. Stir in the buttermilk, using only as much as you need to create a soft dough that holds together. Add the cranberries and chocolate chips. Pour out onto lightly floured surface (using rice flour) and knead a few times, until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Cut each piece in half and shape that portion into a triangle. Place triangles on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet and brush the tops of each scone with melted butter. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake 9-12 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. These are best served warm but are also delicious at room temperature. If you are not going to eat them the day they are baked, freeze the scones in air tight bags. To thaw, unwrap and place in a 350 F. oven for 5 minutes.

Adapted from the recipe for Buttermilk Scones (page 210) (contributing baker, Marion Cunningham), “Baking With Julia” by Dorie Greenspan

French Apple Tart Goes Gluten Free

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I have a confession, French apple tarts are one of my favorite desserts. I have always made them using an almond frangipane filling nestled in a flaky tart crust. In this recipe, the tart is filled with applesauce accented with the tang of lemon juice and topped with thinly sliced apples. In an effort to bring some some of that rich almond flavor to the tart, I added almond flour to the crust.

French Apple Tart (makes one 9″ tart, 8-10 servings)

Tart Crust

  • 1 stick (8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour (could also use millet flour)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

In a mixer, whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and the pinch of salt. Mix until combined. Add the flours, cornstarch and almond meal. Mix for just a few turns until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Gather the dough into a ball and flatten. Chill for 30 minutes. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper (flour with rice flour), roll the dough into a circle about 1/8″ thick and fit into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Fold the overhang over the dough and press to form a small ledge on the inside of the pan. Chill the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prick the crust all over with a fork so that steam from baking can escape. Fit a piece of foil or parchment paper into the tart shell and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove paper and weights and cool on a rack. Lower the oven to 375 F.

Tart Filling

  • 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored an cut in half so you will have 12 pieces
  • 3/4 cup of sugar (I used cane sugar)
  • 1 tbs. rice flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs
  • 3 tsp. lemon juice

Place the apples in a bowl and toss with the sugar, rice flour, cinnamon, bread crumbs and lemon juice. Spread apples on a large baking pan lined with foil. Bake 15-20 minutes until the apples are soft and able to be pierced with a fork. Place the apples in a bowl and mash with a potato masher until they are soft and have only a few lumps left. Cool the filling for 15-20 minutes.

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Topping

  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1-2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. granulated or cane sugar
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven 375 F. Spoon puree into the cooled tart shell. The filling should not come up past the rim of the tart shell.

Peel, core, and quarter the apples and then cut them into slices that are 1/4″ thick. Place slices in a bowl with fresh lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. You will also need the smaller “end” pieces of the apple to pack into the top of the tart.

Arrange the apple slices in a circle on the puree. The slices should overlap, so you want to pack the slices in tightly. Lay another circle of slices overlapping the first by 1/8 inch, trimming and tucking the apples pieces so that they fit. You will probably have enough space for two circles of overlapping apples. In the center, you can create a rosette or small design in the center using small pieces of apples. Brush the apples lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar.

Place the tart on a parchment-lined baking pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the apple slices are brown on the edges and the apples are soft. You can check the apples by piercing with the tip of a small knife. If the edges of the tart crust are getting too brown, cover them with strips of foil. Cool tart slightly.

Place the apricot jam and almond extract in a small saucepan and heat until the jam is melted. Strain mixture into a bowl and brush the glaze over the apples. Garnish the top with whole or sliced almonds and a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar on the edges.

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HUNGARIAN SHORTBREAD ON A COLD DAY

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On cold winter days, I love a slice of shortbread with a steaming cup of tea! Since I find myself on just such a day, I decided to tackle Julia’s shortbread.

In the introduction to this recipe, Julia points out that the “hallmark of a great shortbread is its buttery flavor and sandy texture.” My challenge was to create a lovely rich shortbread that was gluten free. For this recipe, I opened a jar of blueberry jam (recipe below) I made over the summer, but any store bought jam of your choice would work well. I also had some of King Arthur Flour’s “Fioria di Siclia” left over from my Christmas Panettone Bread, which gave the shortbread a lovely citrus and almond flavor.

Blueberry Jam (small batch)

  • 4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice

Lightly mash the blueberries and then mix with the sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly over medium-low heat until thickened, about 20-30 minutes.

The Shortbread (makes 12 slices)

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. Fiori di Sicilia (or almond extract)
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup jam

Method of Preparation:

Sift the dry ingredients into a medium size bowl and set aside. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. With the machine on low, add the extract and then the dry ingredients. Mix until ingredients are just incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a parchment paper. Cut the dough in half and form into a ball. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Very lightly butter or grease a 9′ cake pan with removable bottom. Take one of the balls of dough and using a large box grater, grate it evenly into the bottom of the pan. Lightly pat the dough into the corners of the pan. Spread the blueberry jam over the top of the dough. Grate the remaining ball of dough over the jam and lightly smooth. Bake the shortbread for 30-40 minutes until lightly brown.

Cool the shortbread on a rack. Dust the top heavily with confectioner’s sugar, remove sides of the pan and cut into wedges.

Best served the day, but this shortbread will keep 2-3 days (not in my house).