Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Finally – the gluten-free mincepies

So, I made the candied peel.  I made the mincemeat.  I have now made the mince pies and delivered them to Revill’s farm shop and Number8 Community Art’s Centre.  I have a great big jar, the kind sweets were sold in, full of mincemeat which should only get better as it matures.

Pastry Ingredients
200g butter

(400g flour) 
150 urid lentil flour
125 fine polenta
125 tapioca flour

1 egg, lightly beaten
approx 100ml water
1/2 tsp sugar

Whisk or sieve the flours together.  Cut butter into little lumps and stir into flour so that they are all coated. 

Either rub in by hand until they resemble breadcrumbs (I must think of a gluten-intolerant descriptor for this stage, suggestions welcome) or blitz in a food processor.  Don’t keep going until it gets claggy, just pulse until all butter lumps are tiny.

Stir in a little sugar to help the pastry brown and give a slight sweetness.  I tried the mince pies with sweet pastry and didn’t like it as much, but a teaspoon of sugar wont really be noticeable.

Stir in the egg.  I use a flat silicon scraper to avoid over working the mixture and to keep the noise down in my metal bowl, but just use whatever tool feels right to you.  Try to mix without squashing too much.
You should find that your dough doesn’t easily form big patties yet.  Add cold water and stir until you find that a handful of dough squidges into a lump of dough that stays together easily and doesn’t split along the edges if you roll it flat.  The amount of water you need will depend on the flours you use, the humidity of the day and the size of the eggs.

As I was making a big batch of pies for a customer I ran a test just to be sure I hadn’t made any dreadful errors.  I have been know to make cake without the sugar – it is usually the sugar I forget, but it has been butter, one of the flours…so now I try to test the dough or taste the batter before I get to the point where I can't fix things.  It also means you get (hopefully) a treat to eat before you carry on with the work, and is made and eaten before the pastry has had its twenty minutes in the fridge.

Wrap in cling film and putting in the fridge to chill a bit.  If your butter gets to warm it is harder to roll out the pastry neatly.

I rolled out the pastry using tapioca flour to dust my work surface and rolling pin.  You can also roll between two sheets of Clingfilm/plastic wrap or parchment paper.  I rolled this straight onto the board to show how the pastry does work easily and isn’t really any more trouble than a plain wheat pastry to handle.

I rolled the pastry so thin that you could easily see the pattern of my tablecloth through it.  I could still handle it but it was a bit fragile. This is too thin for these tarts, which need to be able to cope with handling in a store.  

I used a 78mm cutter to go in the little foil trays.  I placed each round on the tray and gently squeezed the pastry in place – ok, so it does take a bit more care than I recollect wheat pastry to need, but it isn’t too hard.  

If you get a tear just take a little piece of dough and press it into the gap.  I have done a little video of this but it is my first attempt and the sound pick-up was poor – I posted it a couple of days ago just to get me started.

repairing a hole in the pastry

When you have cut out your circles, cut out any smaller pieces you want for toppings.  

Take the remaining pastry and lightly shape it before rolling out again.  You can do this three  or four times with the pastry still being acceptable.  

Place a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat in each tart.  I put little pastry stars on top as I like to be able to see the mince and I like the slight caramelising that takes place when the mincemeat gets direct heat.

I cooked these little tarts at 170degreesC for 8-12 minutes depending on where they were in my irregular old oven. Cool and sprinkle if desired with icing sugar or caster sugar.

holding together!

Enjoy.  I don’t know how well they will keep yet but the mincemeat frangipane tart I made last year stayed good for weeks.  I’ve kept some to test over the next month. I will post results.

I made a bigger tart with all the bits of pastry that had already been rolled out and re-squidged three times.  I just compressed it into the tart tin rather than rolling it out again.  It still tasted good and wasn’t tough, but the pastry was definitely a little less crisp and light.

I tried mince tarts made with Bob’s Red Mill flour but I didn’t like the slight chickpea flavour, though my Tolerant Taster said he didn't notice it.  The pastry was also more difficult to manage so I made it thicker, and it was more stodgy.

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