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Gluten Free Soft Pretzels

There are so many fantastic things going on right now: my new job at an awesome gluten free vegan bakery down the street and planning our garden plot in the p-patch (to name a few). The hops have started to grow on the back porch, the days are getting longer, and I'm looking forward to a nice evening tonight with friends, good food, and a silly sci-fi tv show.

Yesterday I decided to give GF soft pretzels a try, with some *eeeehhh* results. The first attempt was based on a recipe from Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. The recipe was based mostly on sorghum flour for the protein with added cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato starch as the starchy flours. (An important I have learned from baking gluten free: a mix of different flours helps acheive a good texture by balancing protein-rich flours with starchy flours). Somehow, the pretzels came out kind of lumpy and ugly (falling apart as I rolled them), but they tasted fantastic.

The ugly ones:



I then decided to adapt the recipe using some extra water and fat to keep everything together, along with some aramanth flour for an added "malty" flavor. I had read that aramanth has a somewhat malty flavor, but when I tasted it I just thought it had a grassy flavor. I tried it in the recipe anyways with pretty good results. This time the pretzels stayed together and had a better look. I tended to like the taste of the sorghum pretzels (the ugly ones) more than the sorghum-aramanth pretzels (the pretty ones), but Ian liked the texture and taste of the pretty ones the best (although he did say that it's mostly a tie).

The pretty ones: (the sun was starting to set - bad lighting!)



Here's my recipe for the pretty ones, for now. I think I'll be tweaking it some more so that the shaping process is easier...

Gluten Free Soft Pretzels

Ingredients

Warm water 175 g
Active dry yeast 7 g
Brown sugar 20 g
Canola oil 20 g
Combine the wet team in mixing bowl and set aside to foam up (makin' sure the yeast is good)
Sorghum flour 65 g
Aramanth flour 65 g
Cornstarch 50 g
Potato starch 60 g
Tapioca starch 40 g
Xanthan gum 5 g
Salt 5 g
This is the dry team, combine in a separate bowl with a whisk.
Water 10 cups
Baking soda 1/3 Cup
This is the boiling solution, combine it in a stock pot and set aside. We'll use it after proofing.
Cornstarch 1/2 tsp
Water 1/2 Cup
This is just some starchy glue we'll use when shaping the pretzels. Whisk together in a small microwave-safe bowl and set aside.


Directions
1. You've measured everything out and combined it just like it says above, right? Do it! And keep a little bowl each of extra canola oil, extra sorghum flour, and extra kosher salt handy.

2. Dump the dry team into the mixing bowl on top of the foamed-up wet team (it should smell nice and yeasty in there). Use your stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix on medium speed until everything is combined well. The dough should be pretty thick, but it should stay together. Place the dough in a bowl that has been greased with some extra canola oil, cover with plastic, and let it ferment for about 30 to 45 minutes.

3. After the bulk fermentation, cut the dough ball into 6 equal pieces (mine were about 3 ounces each). Get some canola oil on your hands (for me it helped to keep the dough together), and roll each piece into a ball and then roll out into a long (~12 inch) rope. I alternated covering my hands with oil and dusting the board with sorghum flour to try and keep the dough together. Form the pretzel shape you like. I like to make a U and then cross over once when I bring the ends back, some people do a twist, though, like this person. I make sure the ends are really stuck good by using my starchy goo.

For the starchy goo, put the cornstarch/water mixture in the microwave for about 90 seconds. It should boil for a good bit of that time and come out glassy-looking. Use a pastry brush to brush it on the pretzels as you form them.

Place the 6 pretzels on a half sheet pan lined with a silpat and put in a warm place to proof for about 20 to 30 minutes.



4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Get the boil ready! Put your baking soda/water stock pot on the stove on high. Once it is boiling, submerge each pretzel for about 30 seconds each and extract carfeully (don't burn yourself). Place back on silpat (the silpat is important because they like to stick to parchment). Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake until they sound hollow when thumped, about 20 minutes.

Hello there Mr. GF Soft Pretzel! You are delicious with mustard.

Marble Rye

update!

Sike! I'm not really updating my food blog yet (did I really just say sike? ... it's like flashback to my older brother and the 80s).

Anyways, updates will happen soon. This friday is baguette day.
Last night was cracker night. Two kinds of crackers were on the menu: one vegan (for Ian), and the other involving butter and cheese (for me, must use up butter in fridge!). Crackers are surprisingly easy to make because there's no danger of over-mixing. With things like cupcakes (especially of the vegan variety), you want to make sure that you don't mix too much when you combine the wet and dry ingredients. Too much gluten = tough cake. (Heh, tough cookies, too, I assume). With crackers, however, you're basically making a crust, so mix away!

Ian was itching for some rosemary crackers, so for the vegan crackers I made bell pepper with rosemary. I used How To Cook Everything Vegetarian as the inspiration for the recipes.

Bell pepper with rosemary crackers

Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp kosher salt + more for dusting
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 tbsp fresh rosemary

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, dust a baking sheet with flour.
2. Combine flours, 1 tsp salt, rosemary, and olive oil in food processor and pulse to combine.
3. Add 1/4 cup of water to mixture in food processor. Gradually add more water while it is running until the mixture holds together but is not sticky.
4. Remove dough from food processor, work in chopped bell pepper and roll out on a floured surface until less than 1/4 inch thick. Score lightly with a knife (to make cracker shapes!) and transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for ~ 10-15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

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For my non-vegan crackers, I decided to use up some of the butter in the fridge. I love garlic and parmesan cheese, so it was a no brainer!

Garlic parmesan crackers

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling
1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, dust a baking sheet with flour.
2. Combine flours, 1 tsp salt, butter, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, and garlic in food processor and pulse to combine.
3. Add 1/4 cup of water to mixture in food processor. Gradually add more water while it is running until the mixture holds together but is not sticky.
4. Remove dough from food processor and roll out on a floured surface until less than 1/4 inch thick. Score lightly with a knife (to make cracker shapes!) and transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for ~ 10-15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

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So that was my cracker adventure last night. Sadly, there are no photos because we haven't yet located the camera charger. I like the rosemary crackers better than the cheese ones (shocker!)... probably because the cheese ones were too buttery (I'm not a big fan of the butter taste). I'll try the cheese ones again with olive oil or grapeseed oil next time!

Starting up again!

Since I'm starting pastry school at the end of March, I thought I'd start up my food blog again.

The really exciting thing about the Seattle Culinary Academy is the fact that they have a concrete focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. I'm really looking forward to marrying my expertise in climate change/atmospheric science (hooray those degrees aren't going to waste!) to my passion for baking.

I wish I had taken photographs the other day when I successfully made a batch of profiteroles. Making the choux paste was pretty interesting. The funnest part was watching the mounds of paste balloon into puffs in the oven. (I burned the first batch, so I was taking no chances with the second). My next goal is to make a time-lapse video of the next batch.

We filled them with vanilla ice cream and topped them with some excellent spiced rum caramel sauce provided by Lee.

Meal planning

Our new produce bin arrives tomorrow. We still haven't used up the remnants of our last one... the Butter Lettuce is probably dead, but I touched the two plums this morning and poked the snap peas and they seem ok.

Perhaps I'll give this idea a go to get rid of that stuff




Plum and Snap Pea Salad
Ingredients:
2 plums
A bunch of snap peas
1/2 sweet onion
Lettuce
1 Lime
some vegetable oil
sugar
a bit of fresh mint

Directions:

1. Carmelize the onions. (Cook them for a short time at medium heat on a skillet, until translucent, and then leave them cooking at medium-low for ~20 minutes. Add some cooking sherry near the end).

2. Roast the plums in the oven on a cookie sheet. (I cut them up first to make it easier).

3. Make the dressing: (heh, mojito dressing) Muddle some mint leaves with sugar, add lime juice and whisk in some vegetable oil.

4. Toss lettuce with dressing, top with plums, carmelized onions, and snap peas. Mmmmm. Summery!

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We're going to get some zucchini in our produce bin tomorrow. Along with red peppers, corn, cherry heirloom tomatoes, and potatoes. Should make for a yummy stuffed zuchinni! Perhaps we can make the cucumber-cilantro salad again because we're getting another cucumber. Yumm. :)

Last night's dinner... mmm

Dinner last night! I wish we had the camera because I made it all pretty on the plate! We had cabbage tossed with a lemon-ginger dressing, roasted peaches, cucumber-cilantro salad, hummus toast, and rosemary lemonade. Mmm.



Roasted peaches atop cabbage tossed in lemon-ginger dressing
Ingredients:
2 peaches
1/2 head of cabbage
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/8 cup lemon juice
Canola oil (to your liking)
salt
pepper

Directions:
1. Slice peaches into 6 slices each, roast in toaster oven (directly on rack) for ~15 minutes.

2. Make the dressing by combining lemon juice, brown sugar, and ginger. Whisk together with some canola oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Slice cabbage thinly. Toss with dressing.

Cucumber-cilantro salad
Ingredients:
1 cucumber, chopped into chunks
1 sweet onion, chopped into chunks
1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, chopped
juice of 1/2 a lime

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Hummus toast
Ingredients:
hummus
multigrain bread (we used essential bakery's)

Directions:
1. Slice bread into little triangles.

2. Toast and spread with hummus!

Rosemary lemonade

Recipe from the Cafe Flora Cookbook!

Ingredients:
juice of 5 lemons
8 rosemary sprigs
2-3 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar

Directions:
1. Make rosemary tea! First, put the rosemary into a saucepan and pour ~2 cups of water on top of it. Bring it to a boil and simmer for ~20 minutes.

2. Strain the tea into a pitcher, dissolve the sugar into it, and wait for it to cool (or you can add some ice!)

3. Add lemon juice and more water to taste. Drink up!

Cabbage and such

I'm toying with options for that Cabbage we've had sitting around for a week.  We've really never been able to use a cabbage properly.... and we've received one at least three times in the past in our produce box.  I'm determined to use this one.

So, tonight involves some delicious Rosemary Lemonade. (Rosemary from the U District farmer's market).

I'm thinking of finding some pears or nice tart apples, roasting them, and eating them atop some cabbage tossed with a lemon-ginger-brown sugar dressing (inspired by veganyumyum.com).  Maybe adding some pecans or walnuts!  Mmmmm.  Or perhaps a citrus-themed salad that includes cabbage?  We have some red butter lettuce and snap-peas.... that may be the ticket!

Will take pictures.