Sunday, 27 December 2009

gluten free short-crust pastry

A few years back we used to buy our butter from a local cheesemaker for whom butter was a tasty by-product of their cheese.  I was curious when one day I saw a big commercial hobart mixer in the dairy and asked why it was there.
"That is to grate the butter" came the reply.
Ok, so why would you grate butter?  Well, you could put that another way by thinking about the process of making pastry which is all about the rubbing in or distribution of the fats in the flour.  You take chilled butter, chop it into chunks and then, using your fingertips you rub the butter combining it with the flour until the little pieces of butter have completely disintegrated into the flour creating a sandy yellow, slightly gritty texture.  My Home Ec teacher at school drilled it into us that we should never, ever have floury palms whilst making pastry as that would make for a heavy pastry - definitely fingertips only (and don't moan about cramp in your hands!).

The other day when the weather decided that Mum would be spending Christmas with us, I realised I would need to make some mince pies.  I had been intrigued by the idea of grating butter for bakery purposes but since it has never really matched the processes that we used in our bakery, I haven't thought much more about it, until I read a post in November on the Gluten Free Girl & the Chef blog  (a great source of inspiration and entertainment which you can find here).  I amalgamated that recipe with my own existing recipe, which was in need of a bit of an upgrade as I had to lose the potato flour which I can't tolerate at present.   Instead I added teff as suggested by Shauna.  I am a fan of using glutinous rice flour as an addition to pastry and doughs, especially when used with cornflour as you get a silky smoothness and an easy to handle dough.  Kuzu is a gum / gelling agent with it's roots in Japanese cooking, it is great for adding flexibility to pasta doughs, the addition here is a bit of a test but I thought that, in combination with almond flour, I might get a smooth and manageable dough which still has a shortness of traditional wheat pastry.  This combination of flours is necessary for me as I can't tolerate either oats or potato starch which are commonly used in other flour blends and thankfully it looks as though it is working well.
Grating the fat makes it a lot easier to get an even distribution without getting cramp in your hands rubbing in.
The dough came together beautifully, rolled out to 2.5mm with no handling problems and has made the most beautiful light crisp pastry no doubt improved by the combination of lard and butter together.

You can make this into a proper flakey pastry by rolling out portioning the dough into quarters and rolling each piece in turn into a 3mm sheet.  Spread half the dough with a sparse scraping of butter and fold the dough sheet in half over the butter.  Do the same again on this new layer and fold again.  If you have patience do this once more, now re-roll the pastry out to it's original size and shape and use as normal.  When you bake you will get light flakey pastry which flakes and crumbs luxuriously.
I made the sausage rolls pictured with the flakey pastry and mince pies with the regular version, the sausage rolls were devoured before they had cooled, all my guests were wheat eaters and not one of them noticed a difference!

  • 200g rice flour
  • 150g tapioca starch
  • 80g ground blanched almonds
  • 80g teff flour
  • 80g glutinous rice flour
  • 80g cornstarch
  • 25g arrowroot flour
  • 10g kuzu
  • 1.5tsp xanthan gum
  • 150g grated butter
  • 120g grated lard
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 90-120 ml very cold water
  • grate the lard and butter and store in the fridge whilst you prep the flours
  • grind the kuzu with the almonds in a coffe grinder
  • weigh and sieve the rest of the flours together
  • sieve in the xanthan gum and salt
  • stir in the ground almonds and kuzu so all the flours are combined in a large bowl
  • whisk 2 eggs with 100ml very cold water and set aside
  • grab the grated fats out of the fridge and take 1 smallish handful of the mixed butter and lard
  • rub this in to the flour using your finger tips, until the fat diasappears into the sandy mix
  • continue this until all the fats are used up - if you find this difficult get all the fat into the mix and broken down into little pieces
  • transfer the flour and fat mix to a food processor or mixer and mix at low speed until you have a consistently sandy mix
  • whilst the mixer is still running, drizzle in the egg mix slowly and let the mixer do the work, bringing the dough together
  • once the dough looks like a crumble mix stop the mixer and squeeze a couple of chunks of the dough to see how moist it is.  If the dough sticks together without too much moisture then stop the mixer and tip the dough onto a work surface.  If the dough is too dry, drizzle in another 10-15ml water whilst the mixer is running and try again, if the mixture is too wet, add a handful of tapioca starch and mix again before testing.
  • Knead the dough 4-5 times to bring the chunks together then shape into a slab, wrap in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes before using.
  • Baking, for small tarts or pies, you can roll the pastry thinly and bake filled from raw.  If you are making a bigger tart or pie then I suggest you bake the pastry blind before filling.  I baked  mince pies at 170°C for 25 minutes turning the tins half way through, but I do suggest you follow the instructions for the pie you are going to make, simply substituting this pastry for the one in the recipe.
This volume of dough has made 36 mince pies and 18 x 4" sausage rolls.


  1. hi Kate,
    glad this one worked out for you and missing out potato flour is keeping you feeling well
    I don't have many of the ingredients but those sausage rolls look amazing, I often crave one if I pick one for my daughter
    very best wishes,

  2. Your pastry looks great. I don't have a problem with gluten but will bear this in mind so I can pass it on to anyone who does.

  3. Thanks Kate! I shall pass the links on! My brother and my friend in the USA will be really pleased.... my brother will love to be able to have sausage rolls again!

  4. I recently ventured into gf shortcrust pastry and am chuffed to find that you can do a puff pastry with this too! thanks for sharing this!