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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Everything is a pudding!

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.
June Daring Bakers' challenge - Blackwell Tart Pudding

This month's challenge (and my FIRST! Daring Baker's challenge) - was co-hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. There were two mandatory parts. The first was the use of a sweet shortcrust pastry for the pastry tart. The second was frangipane.

I can't have either, at least not as given. Not that that is a huge surprise, however. :P I am the first to admit that I can't eat ANYTHING normal.

Crumbly shortcrustWorking on the crust...

Moving on. So I decided to make the sweet shortcrust pastry by substituting my standard gf-flour mix and an extra 1 tsp Xantham gum for the flour called by in the recipe. Easy enough!

Finished shortcrust pastryFinished Shortcrust

The frangipane posed a tougher challenge. Not only can I not have the flour, but I also cannot have the almonds. Hey, at least it didn't call for walnuts...

Through the Daring Bakers' Alternative Forum I found a link to Nutless Frangipane, and decided to try that.

No Nuts!The Nutless Frangipane

I also decided to make mini tartless rather than one larger tart, because I couldn't choose between guava or apricot jam. So I made four little tartlets.

Two flavors...who doesn't love options? :)Mmmmmmmm jam...

I really have about four or five different jars of jam and jelly and preserves under the counter. I really don't know why, because I can't eat it on toast, and my husband doesn't eat toast. Hm. I guess I did make those jam-filled muffins once...

Here are the tartless ready to bake:
Raw tarts!Uncooked

And here they are out of the oven:
Mostly golden brown ^^'About 15-20 minutes later...a couple of them ended up sliiiiiiightly over done, but my oven is evil.

Apricot filling:
Apricot AwesomenessThese tasted so good!

And Guava filling:
Guava GoodnessNote the drippiness of the filling...the taste was still great, they were just stickier!

Here is my modified version of the recipe:

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)

1 cup gf flour mix
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 egg yolks
½ tsp almond extract Here I used imitation almond extract because I can have that...
1 Tbsp cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Nutless Frangipane
From Wookie Hut but I did change it some - changes are noted in italics. :)

Two parts:

Pastry Cream, aka Custard
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp imitation almond extract
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp sugar (again)
1 egg yolk

Heat milk and sugar on the stove. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and sugar and whisk in egg yolk. When milk mixture is almost boiling, add it a little bit at a time to the egg mix (added to fast and it could cook the egg :P). Once all the milk has been added, stir in the extract and return mix to stove. Cook until the mixture thickens (just about when it starts to boil), and continue to cook for one minute. Remove from heat, transfer to bowl, cover with cling wrap and let cool. Place in fridge.

Flour Cream
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) softened butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup gf-flour
1 egg

Cream butter and sugar. Work in flour. Add egg until combined. Cover and place in fridge.

When ready, mix Pastry Cream and Flour Cream together (by hand). Keep in refrigerator until use.

Assembling the tart
I pressed the pastry into the tart pans, because the gf crust stuck to EVERYTHING no matter what I did. But gf crust is often like that. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with nutless frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 20 minutes. *note my oven is ummm difficult so baking time may differ greatly with your oven!*

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

Final Comments
Despite making a half batch of the nutless frangipane I still feel like I ended up with about twice the amount I actually needed. However, I did like it as a substitute for normal frangipane and thought it turned out well.

I may have overfilled the tarts slightly, but I like fruit. Apricot jam is yummy.

These remind me a lot of a traditional South African cookie, Jan Smuts' cookies. They also have a shortbready base, jam filling, and a gooey top, but the top is definitely not frangipane - no almonds invovled! And they are not made into a tart but rather use a muffin tin. The dough is cut out and/or pressed into the bottom of the muffin tin to form a shell, filled with jam (traditionally apricot) and then the top of the muffin tin is covered with the topping. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm yummy.

These turned out really well. The apricot jam was great, but the guava jam went a little bit runny after baking. It still tasted so good but it did kind of run out of the tart and all over the plate, hands, and everything.

I will probably make these again sometime. They were fun and not terribly difficult or time consuming. And did I mention I like cookies filled with jam? :P

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daring Cooks June Challenge!

Daring Cooks Challenge - June - Jiaozi / Chinese Dumplings
Hosted by Jen from Use Real Butter

The June Daring Cooks challenge (and the first Daring Kitchen challenge I have particpated in! YAY!!!!) was Chinese Dumplings. :) I have always wanted to try Chinese dumplings (everyone went on and on about how great dumplings were in Chinese class) but can't eat normal dumplings. So this gave me a great excuse to try them! I actually did this once twice, because the first time...well, you'll see. The requirement was that the wrappers be made by hand.

First go - I didn't feel comfortable using Wheat Starch, as that can be questionable, so I tried substituting a generic "gf flour mix" for wheat flour in the dumpling wrapper recipe. But the dough was so crumbly it wouldn't stick together at all, it would just fall into pieces whenever I tried. I did finish the regular dumplings (for my husband) but then I burned them, oops! I didn't take any pictures - no need to see ruined dumplings. :P

Second go - I retried two weeks later. This time I made a half batch of regular wheat-flour dough and a half batch of gf-dough. To get the gf dough to work I added 1 tsp of Xantham Gum, which made it stretchy enough that I could roll it out and actually wrap it around the filling.

For the filling, I made half a recipe of pork filling (subsituted "regular" cabbage for Napa cabbage, because I couldn't find any, substituted olive oil for sesame oil out of cheapness :P and the bamboo shoots were left out completely because I couldn't find those either) and a half a recipe of beef filling as well (same as pork, but substituted beef for the pork).

A lot of chopping!The fillings - pork is on the left, beef on the right.

The gf-dough, while actually possible to roll into dumpling wrappers, was still more difficult than normal flour.

Gluten-free wrapper with fillingYou can tell that the edges are just a *bit* crumbly, but they still worked well enough...I was even able to pleat them!

Normal wrapperYeah this one was a bit misshapen, it was one of the later ones and I was getting tired.

I didn't have any problems with the pleating, I actually thought that part was rather fun. Because I have to eat gluten-free, but my husband does not, I actually made and cooked my dumplings completely before starting on the "normal" wheat flour dumplings for my husband. It made some extra work, but it is better than having a stomach ache for a week!

All in a rowHere is the finished (but uncooked) tray of gluten-free dumplings...

Mmmmmdumplings...and here is the finished (but uncooked) tray of normal dumplings!

I pan-fried them rather than steamed or boiled because I don't have a steamer, and I thought the pan-fried bottoms looked really yummy. :)

Golden Gluten-Free BottomsHere are the gluten-free dumplings, ready to eat!

I think I slightly over did these...Gluten dumplings, with slightly over-cooked bottoms. Sigh.

For the dipping sauce I made a sweet-and-sour sauce, because my husband loves sweet and sour. :) And the dipping sauce really did turn out well. Even my Mom thought so (yes, they were so good I took a couple to my parent's house over the weekend - Mom just went gluten-free so I thought she would enjoy something different ^_^).

Ignore the baked potatoes and lack of chopsticks...You can see here the dipping sauce in the bowl. I forgot to get a close-up of it. After this picture was taken, I divided it into two smaller bowls so there wouldn't be any cross-contamination of gluten.

Yes, I *do* actually have chopsticks, but we are moving and they were kind of already packed in a box. ^^' OOops... And, yes, I made twice-baked potatoes to go with it. Not very "Zhongguo-tsai"/Chinese cuisine/Asian but I couldn't think of anything else to make.

In conclusion: This was a tricky recipe to make gluten-free, and it was also time-consuming (but that was mostly because I had to make two separate batches, washing dishes and everything in-between), but the dumplings were really yummy. And now I finally know what (gluten-free) dumplings taste like! And that they do, indeed, live up to the hype! I will probably make these again, actually, but they won't be something I will make very often, but rather as a special treat a few times a year. Although, since we are moving and will have a larger refridgerator, it might be a better idea to make a full batch and freeze the dumplings in (labeled) freezer bags that I could then pull out for a "quick" meal. That might come in handy, especially if I ever find a job!

The recipe:

Wheat Dough:
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for worksurface

2 cups (250g) all-purpose gluten-free flour of choice
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
1 tbsp Xanthan Gum
cornstarch or gf-flour for worksurface

pork filling:
1/2 lb ground pork
2 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
1.5 stalks green onions, minced
3.5 shitake mushrooms, minced My husband doesn't like mushrooms :(
1/4 cup bamboo shoots, minced (left out because I could not find this)
1/8 cup ginger root, minced I substituted ground ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce (check label to find gluten-free!)
1 tbsp sesame oil (subsituted olive oil)
1 tbsp corn starch

beef filling:
same as pork filling, but substitute pork for beef

sweet and sour dipping sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp corn starch
4 tsp water


Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

For the dipping sauce, combine the vinegar, ketchup, and sugar in a sauce pan and heat until boiling. Mix the cornstarch and water together, and add that to the sauce pan. Stir, heating, until sauce thickens (doesn't take very long). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix the flour and water. Continue adding water in small increments until the dough is firm but not sopping wet. Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking - about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (press center of edges together, then pleat the right half, seal the teardrop edge, and repeat with the right half). Place finished dumplings on a tray or cooking sheet (I covered my cooking sheet with waxed paper because I found it easier). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for until bottoms are golden (10 to 15 minutes). Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve (or put in the fridge and reheat when ready).

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.

You can find Jen's original recipe, with additional filling options and cooking options, plus her dipping sauce recipe, here.