Shortbread Pastry – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Shortbread Pastry - Gluten Free and FODMAP, Fructose Friendly

If you’re after a pastry that is quick and easy to whip up and not *too* fiddly (compared to typical gluten free pastry), then look no further. This slightly sweet, buttery and delightfully crumbly pastry will do the trick.

These tart shells will keep (once baked) in an airtight container in the pantry for about five days, before they start to go stale, so they are great to make ahead and then fill on the day you are planning to serve them.

I highly recommend this lemon curd or this passion fruit cream cheese as a filling. This pastry would also suit any Christmas style baking, as shortbread is definitely seasonally appropriate! I am working on a fructose friendly fruit mince pie recipe as we speak, so stay tuned…

Notes:

  1. Be sure that you use BOTH a gluten free flour blend (or spelt flour, if you can tolerate it) and white rice flour – both their properties are required in this recipe, so using 100% white rice flour wouldn’t give the best results.
  2. Use coconut oil instead of butter for a dairy free biscuit.

Low FODMAP and Gluten Free Shortbread

Makes approx. 60 mini tartlet shells, or two 23 cm/9 in shells.

  • 1 cup dextrose or 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups/300 g softened unsalted butter/coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or 1 tbsp. ground chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Sieve the sugar, 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend and 1/2 cup white rice flour into the bowl of your stand mixer and add in the butter, then beat on a low to medium speed until smooth.

Meanwhile, sieve the second cup each of gluten free flour blend and white rice flour, the xanthan gum (or ground chia seeds), baking powder and salt into a separate bowl.

When the wet mixture is smooth, scrape down the edges and add in the egg. Beat on medium until it is smooth once more, before adding in the rest of the dry ingredients and mixing thoroughly for 5 minutes. Wrap the mixture tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour before you want to bake them.

When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 190 C/375 F and then generously flour your work area. Break the dough into 6 and sandwich it between two layers of wax paper. Roll it out to about 4 mm thick (for small tarts) or 6 mm thick (for full-sized tarts) and gently transfer it to your chosen tart pan/pie dish.

Baking:

  • To blind bake these miniature shells, cook at 190 C until lightly golden – this should take about 10-12 minutes; I normally set the timer for 10 minutes and then watch it for the next two. Cook larger shells for approx. 15 minutes, but keep an eye on them.
  • To bake with a filling in, blind bake for 3 minutes, then use the pastry according to the recipe you are following.

Gluten Free Shortbread Pastry Collage

If you baked your pastry with the filling inside, the tarts will be done when they are removed from the oven. Serve them as instructed.

If your pastry was blind baked until completely cooked, let them cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to five days and fill them with the topping of your choice when required.

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From left to right: lemon curd, chocolate hazelnut and passion fruit cream cheese – all are delicious, though the lemon curd is my favourite. Enjoy!

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Baked Ricotta Cheesecake, with Variations – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake - Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Does everyone from Australia remember the Cheesecake Shop? Apparently it’s still around. My parents always used to buy cakes from them – they made way more than just cheesecakes and everything was delicious. As you can see, my sweet tooth developed early and it’s tough to keep it in check!

My favourite cheesecake was easily their ricotta cheesecake stuffed with sultanas. I’m not sure whether it was the ricotta or the sultanas that drew me to this cake – or the combination of both. Sadly, the Mordialloc shop stopped making ricotta cheesecake at some point in my early teens and I was devastated… but I eventually put aside my grief and moved on to my custard tart obsession.

A couple of months ago, my friend Chath made a batch of miniature cheesecakes and they got me thinking about the ricotta cheesecakes I’d loved so much growing up. Of course, since I would be hard put to find a gluten free/fructose friendly ricotta cheesecake in the supermarket – not to mention the fact that I like baking – I decided I would make my own.

I got my inspiration from a few sources; Chath’s cheesecakes linked above (they are delicious), this classic baked cheesecake from Donna Hay and Alton Brown’s method of water-bath baking cheesecakes from his show, Good Eats. A couple of trials and errors later, I give you my ricotta cheesecake with variations. It is lightly sweetened and combines the best of both the ricotta and cream cheeses for a rich cheesecake that is the perfect balance of fluffy and creamy.

Notes:

  1. Ricotta and cream cheese are not low in lactose, so this recipe isn’t suitable for those who malabsorb lactose.
  2. The eggs I used were 50 g each.
  3. Pure maple syrup does not have additives in it that may increase the level of FODMAPs present, thus should be safe.
  4. Fresh lemon juice is generally better tolerated than lemon juice concentrate. If you use the concentrate, only use 20 ml.
  5. Pure vanilla extract is low FODMAP.

Ricotta Cheesecake

Makes 1 x 9″ cake or 2 x 6″ cakes. You may not need all the base mixture for the single 9″ cake.

Crust

  • 110 g almond flour/meal (or nut of choice)
  • 135 g gluten free plain flour
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 20 g dextrose or castor sugar
  • 120 g butter, chilled and chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. cold water

Filling

  • 275 g ricotta cheese
  • 115 g cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dextrose or castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 30 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Variations

  • Layer the blind baked crust with stewed fruits and dust the top with icing sugar after it has baked.
  • Sprinkle fresh or frozen berries on the blind baked crust and dust the top with icing sugar after it has baked.
  • Stir a tolerable amount of dried fruit through the filling before pouring it into the crust then bake it and dust the top with icing sugar afterward.
  • Bake the mixture plain and pour passion fruit pulp or a mixed berry sauce over the top.
  • Bake the mixture plain and dust the top with icing sugar after it has baked.

Pre-heat your oven to 150 C/300 F.

Grease and line either one 9″ cake tin (normal or spring form) or two 6″ tins completely. Using baking paper, line the sides first and then press the circle for the base in gently, sealing up the gaps.

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In a food processor or by hand, thoroughly combine the ingredients for the crust. It should be a smooth, malleable mixture and not dry and crumbly. Press it evenly over the lined cake tin base and up the sides as high as possible, as it will slide down a little when baking. Cover the crust mix with baking paper and pie weights (to help even and quick cooking) and blind bake for 15 minutes or until it becomes lightly golden. Let the crust come back to room temperature.

Pre blind baking

Pre blind baking

Post blind baking

Post blind baking – the cracks are my fault, I forgot to set the oven timer and it cooked for 5 minutes too long

By hand or in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, blend the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, eggs, maple syrup, dextrose, lemon zest and vanilla extract together. A stand mixer will give a smoother end product and makes life a lot easier.

Meanwhile, mix the potato starch and lemon juice together to create a smooth paste. This step is important, because if you mix the potato starch into the mixture as a powder it may cause your baked cheesecakes to become gritty, which is not a texture we want to associate with this dessert.

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This is where the variations come in – choose your variation and then fill the cooled crust to about 5 mm shy of the top with the cheese batter, covering any fruits you decided to add in. In the photos below, I filled the crusts to 5 mm below the cracks caused by me overcooking them.

Variation - baked plain

Variation – baked plain

Variation - baked with fruit on the crust

Variation – baked with fruit on the crust

Place the cake tin in a large baking dish and place that dish in the oven. Pour the boiling water into the baking dish so that it surrounds the cake tin up to 3/4 height – this water bath technique allows the cheesecakes to bake slowly and evenly while providing steam to prevent them from drying out, thus eliminating those unsightly cracks from the surfaces that can form as they cool. If you have used a spring form tin, this will not work as the water will leak in. Instead of a water bath, place an oven safe bowl full of boiling water on the shelf under the baking cheesecake to help steam it. 

Baking:

  • 6″ cake – 45 minutes at 150 C/300 F and then turn the oven off. Open the oven door for 60 seconds before closing it again and set the timer for 45 minutes more, after which you can remove the baking tray with cake tins from the oven and then take the tins out of the water bath.
  • 9″ cake – 60 minutes at 150 C/300 F and then turn the oven off. Open the oven door for 60 seconds before closing it again and set the timer for 60 minutes more, after which you can remove the baking tray with cake tins from the oven and then take the tins out of the water bath.

Let the baked cheesecake cool completely before refrigerating it in an airtight container for at least 4 hours to finish the setting process. Do NOT remove it from the tin before it has cooled completely, or this will happen:

Cheesecake. Nailed it.

Store in the fridge for 3-4 days, max. If you do not store it in an airtight container, your fridge may dry out the surface and a skin will develop.

Serve your variation of choice with extra fresh fruit, vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream to cut the richness if necessary.

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Passion Fruit & Blueberry Tartlets – Fructose Friendly

Passion fruit & blueberry tartlets - delicious!

I think you might have gathered by now that I love passion fruit and I’m shattered that it’s so hard to find up here in the Pacific Northwest. But thanks to my Australian connections, I have a small stash of the canned pulp at my disposal. I’m not joking; it’s very small. I have three cans left that are about 4 oz each. I made one can last a month by using it sparingly in and on desserts – a little goes a long way.

Ev and I had some friends over for dinner on Friday night, and I wanted to make something new for dessert. Chocolate eclairs had to be on the list but I have made so many Pavlovas recently (I can see some people nodding) that I felt the need for a change.

I wanted whatever I would make to be small and pretty; small because we already had eclairs on the menu and pretty because I like looking at what I’m about to eat 😛

I had a few tablespoons of passion fruit pulp left over that needed to be used before we go home to visit for two weeks and an 8 oz pack of cream cheese. So I knew whatever it would be would have passion fruit cream cheese icing either in or on it… which is my favourite icing ever.

Eventually I decided on passion fruit cream cheese fruit tartlets with blueberries on top. That’s a pretty good mix of fruit to me. Here are the recipes for the different components used in making them.

GF Sour Cream Pastry:

This recipe is shown in more detail here. To make it with wheat flour, just substitute normal plain flour for the GF plain flour and omit the xantham gum.

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F. Makes 24 mini tart shells/tartlets.

  • 120 ml sour cream (do not use all of it if unnecessary)
  • 250 g GF plain flour
  • 1 tspn. xantham gum
  • 3 tbsp. icing sugar (for sweet pastry)
  • 200 g unsalted butter, chilled

Sift the flour and xantham gum (and the optional sugar) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Dice the butter into small cubes and add to flour mix. Blend until the butter has combined with the flour and the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Add the sour cream gradually until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. It should be tacky but not sticking to your fingers. Wrap the dough tightly in glad wrap and refrigerate it for approx. 20 minutes before working with it. Try and keep handling of the dough to a minimum, or the butter will begin to melt. If this happens, re-wrap the dough and place it in the fridge for another 5 minutes to chill it and begin again. When the pastry warms up it becomes increasingly fragile and harder to work with.

Place the unwrapped ball onto a GF floured bench and knead for 30 seconds.

Cut pastry ball in quarters. Roll the pastry between two layers of wax paper (to prevent sticking) until it is about 3mm thick. GF pastry can be temperamental and fragile. Peel off one side of the wax paper, then replace it loosely; flip the dough over and remove the other sheet of wax paper and slice it into six roughly even pieces. Peel each piece off the wax paper gently and then carefully transfer the pastry into the awaiting pan. Spray your dishes with olive oil to assist with pastry removal later on.

At this point, I like to freeze the pastry for about 10 minutes before blind baking it. Then, I add baking paper and ceramic baking balls to prevent bubbling while baking and bake it at 200 C for 10 minutes. Set a timer. Remove the baking paper and pie weights and return the pastry to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When it is golden brown, it is completely cooked.

Place them in their pans on a cooling rack for 15 minutes and them remove from the pans and cool completely.

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The cooked tartlet shells – unfortunately my oven developed a hot spot at the back left corner. As you can see, the not-so-pretty shells are hidden in the middle. They still tasted fine.

Passion Fruit Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 300 g/10 oz full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tbsp. passion fruit pulp
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups icing sugar

Beat the cream cheese, butter, passion fruit pulp and vanilla extract together until they are light and fluffy.

Gradually add the icing sugar, beating each portion til it is well combined. The amount listed is a guideline only, you might have a sweet tooth and want to put in the full 2 cups.

As one of our guests pointed out, the “tartness” that passion fruit can sometimes bring to a meal wasn’t present here. I think that it’s due to a combination of using canned passion pulp as well as the generous amount of icing sugar involved.

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Assembly:

It couldn’t be more simple. Dollop a generous amount of the cream cheese mixture into the tartlet shells and decorate with blueberries.

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I decided after a little while that they needed a little extra something, so I picked some mint leaves from our herb garden and used it as a garnish. It made the blueberries look a little like a flower, which was nice.

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Dust with icing sugar closer to when you serve, or it will absorb moisture over time and you will lose some of the “powdered” look.

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Served with gluten free/fructose friendly chocolate eclairs for dessert.

Finally, eat and enjoy!

Pavlova – Low FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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A Pavlova is a variation of a meringue, in which the outer shell is crisp and crunchy and the inner core is like marshmallow – light, soft and chewy. It is traditionally covered in whipped cream and decorated with fruits and maybe some shredded chocolate… which reminds me, I should put Flake on my shopping list for when we go home next.

Aussies and New Zealanders have a fierce argument going on about where exactly the Pavlova originated. All we know for sure is that it was named in honour of the ballerina, Anna Pavlova – apparently it was light and airy, just like her dancing. The Wikipedia page purports that “formal research” suggests the Pavlova hails from New Zealand… but considering this was published by the University of Otago –  in New Zealand! –  I doubt how unbiased it truly is. Being Australian, I of course take our own side. The “Pav” is ours!

My Gran was always the Pavlova-maker of our family. For every occasion, she’d make a Pav… until about 10 years ago when she got a new oven and swore it couldn’t make them like her old oven. It was one of the first things she taught me to bake, after cornflakes cookies. I always think of her when I make one, and how she would scold me for leaving the little white lump in the egg whites. She loved her old wive’s tales.

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One of Mum’s Pavlovas: strawberries, raspberries and “Flake” chocolate topping

If you are sensitive to table sugar, then the Pavlova is probably going to cause some sort of reaction. If you are diabetic, then stay away! The main ingredient is sugar. This is definitely a “sometimes” food, in all meanings of the word; desserts like this shouldn’t be eaten every night, or you’ll end up like the side of a house.

For FMers, reducing your daily fructose load can be done by limiting your sucrose (table sugar) intake, even though sucrose is 1:1 fructose/glucose, which technically assists with fructose absorption but is seems that if you gorge on sucrose the glucose co-transport system will eventually be overwhelmed and symptoms will ensue. If you’re worried, just make sure you really cut back on fructose before eating a slice of this beauty. I can get away with a slice of Pavlova (okay, sometimes two) and not react.

Pavlova:

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature*
  • 1 pich table salt
  • 250 g castor sugar
  • 2 tsp. corn starch or 1 tsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 300 ml/half pint of double/heavy whipping cream
  • Fruits of your choice

*The rule of thumb with Pavlovas is to use eggs left to come to room temperature over night. However, when I do this, my batter doesn’t form a stiff enough peak and I end up having to add extra sugar. I find the best thing is to leave the egg whites out of the fridge for 20 minutes to take the chill off but still leave enough of the cool in there to help the peaks maintain their shape.

Before you start – you can’t make a Pav in an overly warm or a humid environment. The peaks wont stay formed. Don’t use your dishwasher beforehand and don’t have the heater on! A nice, breezy kitchen is best. But isn’t it always?

Preheat your non fan-forced oven to 180 C/350 F.

Beat the salt and egg whites at high speed for about 5 minutes – this allows satiny peaks to form. The more air in your batter, the stiffer the peaks.

Gradually add the sugar, in two or three bouts, and continue to beat on high until stiff, shiny peaks form. Ensure that the sugar is thoroughly mixed through and not coating the base of your mixing bowl. Scrape it in with a spatula and re-mix if this happens.

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To test if you have stiff peaks, raise the beater out of the batter and see if the resultant peak stays upright. If it sinks back into the mixture, keep beating until it doesn’t. If you are very confident of your peaks, the “gold standard” test is to hold your mixing bowl upside-down and see if the mixture stays inside (which it should!)… but this takes some guts. It’s a fun trick to scare Pavlova newbies with, though.

Sometimes you might need to add a little extra sugar to help the peaks form properly – however, do this sparingly as too much sugar will not be able to combine with the egg whites and will make for a “syrupy” Pavlova that will stick to baking paper and be brittle.

Once you have stiff peaks, sprinkle over the corn starch, white wine vinegar and vanilla extract and beat in on a slow speed.

Heap the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place it in the middle shelf of your oven and immediately lower the temperature to 150 C/300 F. Set the timer for 30 minutes. Next, lower the temperature further to 120 C/250 F and set the timer for a further 45 minutes.

Uncooked Pavlova

Uncooked Pavlova

If your Pavlova develops beads of moisture on its surface, that means it is over-cooking. It isn’t a failure, though. It might just end up a little extra crunchy in the middle. Reduce the temperature a little for the remainder of the cooking time if you see this happen, to try and prevent excessive dryness in the centre.

When it is done, turn off your oven and let the Pavlova cool in there with the door closed.

To serve, place on a cake stand/plate. Cover it with whipped cream and decorate with fruit. “Favourable” fruits, of course. For a slightly richer cream, add some vanilla extract before you whip it. And get creative with the decorations! You can lay out fresh fruit in patterns or serve it with a fruit compote.

Pavlova

Mum and I made this one last Easter when we went home to visit: raspberries and passion fruit, with a “crown” edge to the Pavlova. To achieve this look, you use a spatula to wipe up the edges before baking. This is also a two layered Pavlova with whipped cream in the centre.

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A simple strawberry design can still look good and is quick to do

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Kiwi fruit slices and passion fruit pulp – delicious

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Canned passion fruit pulp… shipped all the way from Australia! Passion fruit is impossible to find in the PNW.

Enjoy!You can’t get more traditional than passion fruit.