Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free Puff Pastry – Attempt No. 1

I had been delaying an attempt at fructose friendly puff pastry for a while. A long while.

It took enough courage to attempt normal gluten free pastry – I grew up using good old freezer aisle puff pastry in Australia and until I had to cut wheat out of my diet, I didn’t have a problem with using it. Mum had told me that Gran had always made top notch pastry but she never had the knack of it, so Pampas it was. Gran made top notch everything that she cooked until she started to get forgetful, which was before I really became interested in baking more than just cornflakes cookies, so I never learnt to make pastry from her; aside from that, the fact that it was always a taboo in my own house probably has something to do with my fear of pastry – even the basic sour cream pastry that I know I can make. I’m still scared of it being a complete flop every time I go to make it. I get butterflies – it’s ridiculous.

To add to this, last year my friend Mia was taking a pastry class and she asked her instructor a few sneaky questions for me about gluten free baking, one of which being, could she give her any pointers on a gluten free puff pastry. To our disappointment, Mia was told that gluten free puff pastry was impossible. I wasn’t too sad, because as far as pastry goes, the sour cream pastry that I use is very versatile and it hasn’t failed me yet – even the time I accidentally used normal cream when making pecan pies for Dad back home – those damn Bulla double cream and sour cream containers are too similar! Having a professional pastry chef tell me that something is impossible, though, meant that I never looked into it any further.

However, a month or so ago my friend Chath and I were talking – about food, what’s new? – and one of us mentioned vol au vents. From there the conversation moved onto puff pastry. Neither of us had made a gluten free version. A few days later, Chath came to the rescue with a link to a “rough” gluten free puff pastry. If you haven’t heard of “rough” puff pastry, it is essentially puff pastry that begins its journey to layered puffiness as a messy heap of barely combined butter and flour. It’s like the Picnic Bar of pastry. Deliciously ugly. But the point was, gluten free puff pastry is possible!

I spent the next few days looking over recipes in my spare time and realised that rough puff pastry, while everyone raves how easy it is, looked a little too messy for my obsessive compulsive self to be comfortable making it – at least to begin with. After looking at normal puff pastry recipes as well, and combining what I have already learnt about gluten free pastries, I decided to give it a go.

I won’t say that it’s perfect, it might have had a little too much water in it and it only puffed a little – but it is a pretty good start. I’m also open to suggestions for improvements, so comment below if you have any ideas.

For the puff pastry purists, no, I did not start with a giant block of butter. I’m far too lazy for that. Maybe I should have called this recipe “semi-rough” puff pastry instead. It is what it is, and what it is kind of works, for a first attempt.

Puff pastry is all about producing pastry that has layers separated by air after baking. Ev made wheat puff pastry a few years ago and it was successfully airy and layered. Keeping the butter and pastry cool is important in this process. The butter is frozen initially and the pastry is chilled in between “turns” to ensure that the butter does not integrate fully with the granules of flour – this is what causes a tender pastry, when the butter completely and evenly surrounds the flour granules. Flaky pastry is produced when there are chunks of butter in between layers of flour granules – this is what you aim for with puff pastry.

Notes:

  1. Make sure you use a gluten free plain flour that doesn’t have brown rice flour included, if you are sensitive to it.
  2. The King Arthur GF plain flour mix that I use includes rice, tapioca and potato flours, listed in that order.
  3. I used normal butter in this recipe, which contains a little lactose. I am not sure how this recipe would work with a lactose free alternative like coconut butter but if you are brave enough to try it, let me know.

Puff Pastry

Makes enough for three or four large tart shells or one, maybe two, enclosed pies – depending on how thin you roll it.

  • 750 g GF plain flour
  • 3 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar – optional for sweet pastry
  • 300 ml water – only use what is necessary

Dice the butter into small chunks and freeze for at least an hour, or until solid.

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In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to combine and aerate the sifted GF plain flour, xanthan gum and kosher salt for 1-2 minutes. Add in the butter and combine until it looks like bread crumbs before adding in the water; you might not need all of the water, depending on your flour blend. The dough should become a semi cohesive ball quite easily as you remove it from the mixing bowl.

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Divide the pastry into two balls. The following image demonstrates the progression of the pastry from roughly put together to a smooth, coherent dough over the first four “turns.”

Turn 1 – Place your semi-cohesive dough ball on a lightly floured surface (a pastry mat makes life very easy). Roll it out to just over the size of an A4 sheet and then use the pastry mat (if you have one) to lift the top and bottom thirds and fold it like a letter. The pastry is angled to that its length runs parallel to the front of your body. Turn the pastry brick clockwise.

Turn 2 – The pastry brick is now angled so that it’s longest length is coming from your front at a perpendicular (90 degree) angle – the photos below might not reflect this, sorry. Repeat step one by rolling the pastry so that it is just larger than the size of an A4 sheet of paper. You will notice that it has come together more than it was at this stage of the last turn. Use the pastry mat once more to fold the sheet of dough in thirds and rotate the brick clockwise. You have completed your second turn.

At this point, I like to refrigerate the dough to prevent the butter from melting too much, for the reasons mentioned above. I refrigerated this dough every two turns for 30 minutes, however next time I will see if refrigerating it every turn improves the flakiness.

Turn 3 – Angle the pastry so that it is protruding in a perpendicular manner form your chest. Complete the rolling and folding as outlined above and turn clockwise once more. The beauty about gluten free flour is that you can’t overwork it like you can glutinous flour, so it shouldn’t get too tough.

Turn 4 – Angle the pastry so that it is protruding in a perpendicular manner form your chest. Complete the rolling and folding as outlined above and turn clockwise once more. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

I completed eight turns but I’m not going to type it all out for you! Please use your brains to extrapolate. 🙂

Semi Rough Puff Pastry - Turns 1 through 4

After the eighth turn, it should very much resemble a smooth, pliable dough. It is not as strong as glutinous pastry but it is definitely manageable and not quite as flimsy as the GF sour cream pastry that I also have on this blog.

This should function as required in existing recipes. To blind bake it, roll it out so that it is 5 mm thick and line the dish you want to use; freeze it (so that it shrinks less) while you pre-heat the oven to 190 C/375 F and then use baking paper and pie weights for the first 10 minutes of baking to prevent bubbling, followed by 10-15 minutes further baking without pie weights until it is golden brown and completely cooked.

I will post a miniature pie recipe next which works well with this pastry.

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The proof is in the puff. It’s there, so hopefully with improved technique and practice I can get this puff pastry down!

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