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Bergamot dreams

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That’s the most fitting word I can think of for bergamot. It smells familiar, but exotic. When you try and grasp at the flavour of it, it flits away leaving you with a memory of something half-defined. I had one bergamot left at the weekend and was wondering what to do with it. Beautiful though they are their strong floral aroma makes them tricky to substitute for lemons in many recipes (though substitutions tend to work very well the other way round) and being expensive, rare and generally divine I wanted to give this one a good send off. After a bit of searching I found the perfect recipe on Hungry Cravings, small two-bite bergamot biscuits, similar to shortbread, that melt in your mouth when you bite into them. The sort of dreamy baked good that is perfect for bergamot and perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

These biscuits are also ideal for making gluten-free, since their crumbly nature is only enhanced by gluten-free flours. No gummy stabilisers are required here, just pure gluten-free flour. Unfortunately I realised a little too late that I had made these too fine, and as a result their portability is pretty much nil. I can just about get one from a plate into my mouth before it dissolves like sherbet, but any further afield and there will be crumbs everywhere. The sensation when these hit your tongue is more than worth it though, melting almost instantly, and releasing their floral aroma. Just be careful when rolling them in icing sugar, lest they crumble to dust in your eager hands.

Bergamot dream biscuits
Adapted slightly from Hungry Cravings

I deliberately used very fine flours for this recipe to get the lightest, most melt-in-the-mouth texture possible. I used rice flour (a mix of white and brown rice, for slightly more nutritional value), tapioca starch and cornflour. If you play around with different flours let me know how they turn out.

1 cup rice flour (white and brown, mixed)
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons bergamot zest
2 tablespoons bergamot juice
More icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 160 C.

2. In a medium bowl cream together the butter and icing sugar. Stir in the zest and juice.

3. In a large bowl briefly whisk together the flours and salt. Stir the flours into the butter mixture until it comes together in a cohesive ball. If the dough is a little crumbly get your hands in the bowl and knead it for a minute or so; this will help melt the butter slightly and bring it together a little more.

4. Pinch off ping-pong ball sized pieces with your hands and roll between your palms to make dough balls about 1.5-inches across. Place these about an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until just a hint of colour is showing on their tops.

Makes about 28. These keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week with no discernible change in taste or texture.


Written by guffblog

17th March 2011 at 19:15

Posted in Biscuits

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Bad marketing

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In a stroke of Mad Men-esque genius, someone, somewhere, sometime ago, came up with the idea that a biscuit containing oats and a few whole grains could be called a granola bar, and marketed as a healthy alternative to biscuits, a healthy snack to eat on the go or even replace your breakfast with. Inspired. Despite having the same saturated fat, pure sugar and sodium levels as your average jammy dodger, in today’s health-conscious world granola bars, with their grainy texture and angelic connotations have become the go-to snack in a rush, the thing to keep in your handbag for when you’re hungry and in a rush.

These biscuits are my version of granola bars. Only I’ll cut out all the marketing and give it to your straight. They’re biscuits. They are made with butter and sugar, and yes there are oats and apple chunks in there but alas that still doesn’t make them health foods (though I reckon they contribute at least half to your 5-a-day). That said, made yourself I suspect these would work out a lot cheaper than a box of fancy health-benefit-claiming bars too. They’re really quick to make and last long enough you can have one in your lunchbox every day this week.

Apple, cinnamon and oat biscuits
Adapted slightly from Joy the Baker

As has almost become second nature now when making recipes from U.S. sources I have reduced the sugar somewhat. I have a sweet tooth, but I like my biscuits to taste of something other than sugar. These are still sweet, just not sickly.

1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/3 cup golden granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup gf flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup gf oats
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium apple
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 180 C.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract and beaten egg.

3. Stir the gf flour blend, xanthan gum, oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together. Fold these into the butter and sugar mix.

4. Peel, core and dice the apple. Toss with the lemon juice to prevent it from browning (even in the oven) and stir this into the batter. Chill batter in the fridge for 15 minutes.

5. Using a tablespoon drop scoops of the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart, as they will spread a bit. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until going lightly brown at the edges.

Makes 10-12.

Written by guffblog

10th January 2011 at 19:25

Posted in Biscuits

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