Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gluten Free Green Tea Lime Sables: Comparison Baking

Gluten Free Green Tea Lime Sables, forefront

Two days ago I posted a blog about Sables, the French cookies. A bit of a rant there, but I am a bit anal about some things; so sorry. I absolutely loved the cookies. Love the flavor, the texture, the tender yet crisp bite. I have been eating them over these two days. Last night I wondered if it would be possible to make these French cookies Gluten-Free? As I pondered the question, having never made gluten-free cookies, one of the main precepts for making the Sables is not to overwork the dough once the flour is added. Any time wheat flour is worked too much, gluten begins to form. For making yeast bread, it is essential. For things such as pie crusts or cookies, this is a disastrous result.

Thinking about the fact that gluten free flours do not have gluten to develop, it would seem that this would make the process simpler. If you do not have to worry about overworking the cookie dough, then what else could cause a problem? I went online. The internet is a wondrous thing. All the information out there, available at a simple search. I searched gluten free cookies, curious to see what sorts of differences there would be, in a general way. Was it just the flour difference? Or, was there a lot of folderol necessary to get a gluten free cookie to set properly? Coming from no gluten intolerance of my own, this was just curiosity. I wanted to be able to post a really delightful recipe for my gluten-intolerant friends out there. These cookies were too good not to share.

What I found out is that for the most part, gluten-free cookies are easy to make. Some guidelines to help establish a better result were things such as using a higher protein flour mixture. I have still not completely established which gluten-free flours are higher in protein, but I used a recipe posted on one site (see website here). I had all the flours except amaranth. I substituted quinoa flour for the amaranth. I mixed just enough to make a half batch of cookies. If they didn't turn out well, I didn't want too many. Another thing was an article about crisp versus chewy cookies. I had to think about that for a while. The Sables I had made 2 days ago were not crisp like a gingersnap, but certainly not chewy either. That left me in a quandary. Another item to consider is having the cookie set up instead of flattening. The suggestion was using shortening instead of butter, as butter tends to spread and evaporate more quickly. I thought about using just a little shortening and mostly butter, but last minute changed my mind. I saw a recipe for Gluten-Free chocolate chip cookies by Alton Brown, and he used all butter. If Alton can do it.... Then one site suggested using a lower oven temperature for better baking results.

Tasting side by side; GF in forefront

I sat with my recipe scribbles for the wheat based Sables and just translated over. Equal amounts of butter, sugars, egg yolks. Two cups of wheat flour translated to 2 cups of gluten-free flour blend. I added in, as with the recipe online some powdered egg white. Mine is Wilton Meringue Powder, which is processed in a place where wheat is also processed, so my cookies would not pass for anyone severely gluten intolerant, but I didn't need them to pass for anyone but me. I wanted to know if the flavor and texture would compare. 

I can say these were a resounding success. At top of this page is a photo of the Gluten-Free version in the forefront, with the previous, wheat based Sables on the little plate, behind. Here at right the same. I took a bite of one, then a bite of the other. My Gluten Free Green Tea Lime Sables are in almost every respect, the same as the non gluten-free. Almost, because the gluten-free ones are just ever-so-slightly more tender. The texture and flavor are - to my palate - indistinguishable. So here is my recipe:

Gluten Free Green Tea Lime Sables

The finished dough; then formed into a brick shape

1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
3 tablespoons GF powdered egg white
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 - 4 tablespoons lime zest (about 2 limes)
2 teaspoons Matcha Green Tea powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, in 1/2-inch cubes
2 egg yolks
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup "sanding sugar" or Turbinado sugar

Sliced, egg washed and sugared, then baked
In the bowl of a food processor, place the first 12 ingredients. Pulse 2 - 3 times to blend. Add the butter cubes and process for a minute or so, until the mixture has noticeably changed in texture. Add in the egg yolks and process until the mixture forms a ball. Turn out onto a surface, divide the dough into two sections and form each into a log or a brick shape. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees (300 on Convection). Line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove the dough from its wrapper and slice about 1/4-inch thick. Lay the cookies onto the parchment at least an inch apart. Brush the tops with the remaining egg yolk/water. Sprinkle the cookies with a coarse granule sugar or Turbinado Sugar. (This time I used white sugar crystals. For the wheat based cookies I used Turbinado sugar). Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until just barely golden on the edges. Cool completely before removing from parchment. Makes about 28 - 30 Sables.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.