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Gluten Free Puff Pastry

Some people have busy lives. I talk to them about what they eat, and how they approach the preparation of their food, and they complain they never have time. 'Oh I work all week, I get home late and wake up early, it's easier to just pick something up from the store'. Then they will give me a detailed account of what happened on the Toddlers in Tiara's marathon that was on over the weekend.

My point is, occasionally it pays to make time for food. If you are a coeliac or have some kind of wheat intolerance, it almost ALWAYS pays to make time for food. Store bought gluten free food is about as authentic as Gerard Butler playing an American. Most of the substitutes taste like a drunken car manufacturer made them, they are bland, rubbery, crumbly, awful. Puff Pastry proves the rule. I have yet to have store bought gluten free puff pastry that actually puffs. After all, what is the point? You may as well eat buttered bread with your mince, it'll be more authentic than a sausage roll made with this junk.

Making puff pastry seems daunting but its actually ridiculously easy. The first 3 times you will fail. And you'll make such a mess of failing that your kitchen will look like Jordan Belfort's briefcase, there'll be so much flour plastered all over every single surface the police will call in the riot squad. Never fear! Like riding a bike and using your left hand for certain pursuits, you will become an expert in time. And as you get better, you realise you can whip this up in under 3 hours (total time, not actual work). Then you bake it for 25 minutes, and you have unbelievably delicately delicious puffed pastry on the table by 6:30.

When I say 3 hours, the actual time you will be doing things is much less than that, so you can easily pause your Toddlers in Tiara's marathon when you are rolling your dough out and come back to it during the 15 minute intervals I have prescribed. Or, if you'd rather, you can go bang your skull against a brick wall, which would be my personal choice.

If you haven't been experimenting with flours yet, never fear. I have provided a flour mix that actually works better than anything I have come across so far, and it doesn't involve corn starch amazingly! Yes, a gluten free recipe with no corn starch.. But I will put one proviso on this. The butter you use MUST be high quality. It must be unsalted, and brands I will allow are New Zealand Westgold, Western Star, Allowrie or the absolute freaking holy grail, Pepe Sayer cultured unsalted. Last night I was bored and, having some left over from my puff, decided to put it on a rice crisp. Needless to say at 1am I was at the Tempe headquarters of Pepe Saya screeching until the police came for them to open up and give me some more. Warning: It is addictive, but oh so good.

1/2 cup brown rice flour*
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour* (don't worry about the glutinous it doesn't have anything to do with gluten)
1/2 cup Quinoa flour*
1 tsp xantham gum**
1/4 tsp guar gum**
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup iced water

* I source all my gluten free flours from here:
You can substitute brown rice for white rice flour, and quinoa for more brown rice, white rice, buckwheat or besan (chickpea).
** found in most health food stores

For the Butter package:
170g GOOD QUALITY unsalted butter, slightly softened

Extra glutinous rice flour for dusting and rolling.

1. Take your butter out of the fridge. Combine your flours, salt and gum in a large mixing bowl. I don't sift but if you'd prefer then go ahead. Mix well with a wire whisk or a spoon, make sure they are well combined. Make a well in the centre and pour your iced water in. Now draw the flour over the well of water until it begins to come together in to doughy pieces. Shove your hands in your packet of flour and get to work kneading in the bowl. Here is a tutorial on the best way to knead. Keep kneading until it begins to come together, then turn it out on to a lightly floured surface, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

2. Place your butter on a floured piece of baking paper, then lightly flour the top and place another piece of baking paper on top. Now the fun bit. Using your rolling pin or whatever blunt instrument you possess (I use my head), pound your butter until it is about 1cm thick. Fold it back over on itself a couple of times, and repeat the process. Do this 3 or 4 times, we want the butter to be nice and pliable. When you've done this, using floured hands, shape it in to a 10x10cm square, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 10 minutes or until hardened.

3. Take your dough out of the freezer. On a lightly floured surface (I use a pastry mat), roll in to a 20cm round. Put your butter package in the middle of the dough round and lightly trace around the outside of it. We want the outline of a 10x10cm square, but do not cut the dough all the way to the bottom. This is just a guide.

The dough with the flaps is now ready to have the butter package inserted

4. Remove the butter package, and lightly flour the top of your dough again. Using your rolling pin, roll from each side of the square until you have 4 flaps that are 10 - 11cm long. This is a tricky bit. You do not want to touch the square in the centre. Place your rolling pin on the very edge of the square and roll from there, so in the end you will have a dough package with 4 flaps and a raised 10 x 10 cm square in the centre of it.

5. Place your butter (unwrapped) back on to this raised square, and fold each flap over the top of it. Do not worry if they overlap, this is good. Using damp hands, press along all the joins to seal them closed. Press hard, we don't want any butter escaping!

 The butter package will sit atop it's throne in the middle of the dough

6. Using your rolling pin now, press down on the dough at regular intervals in a horizontal fashion. This is designed to stabilise the butter in the dough package. It sounds complicated but it is quite easy. You are achieving the same aim as rolling would, but we are gently pressing until the dough package is around 5cm thick.

 Fold the flaps in to enclose the butter

7. Now, you should have a rough rectangle in front of you. With one of the shorter sides facing you, roll your dough package upwards and downwards (never side to side) until it is 2cm thick. When you've done this, the tricky part begins. We need to fold it. Fold the rectangle in thirds. So take the end closest to you and fold it a third of the way, then take the furthest end and fold it over the top. At this stage there will most likely be some butter leaking out which is totally fine. Patch up any holes with your extra flour, and pat them down until the holes are gone. Tidy your package up, make sure the edges are nice and straight. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes. You've just completed the first turn.

 This is how it should look after your first turn

8. CONGRATULATE YOURSELF!!! If you made it this far you've done a bloody good job. Sit down, watch some Toddlers, Bang your head against the wall, or eat your left over pepe saya butter.

9. We want to essentially do 5 turns (6 if you have time). When the 15 minutes is up, take the dough out of the freezer and, like before, place it on your floured surface with the smallest side facing you. Roll it out again to 2cm thick, fold it in thirds, tidy it up, wrap it and freeze for 15 minutes.

10. Once you have done this the 5 or 6 times, Wrap it as tightly as you can in plastic, and if you plan to use it within 2 days chuck it in the fridge. If you want to wait for a special occasion, puff pastry loves to be frozen for up to 6 months. When you are ready to use it, leave it out of the freezer for around an hour, roll it out to a thickness of around 1.5cm and cook it in an oven at 220 degrees for 20-25 minutes, although individual recipes will of course differ.

Once you eat this puff pastry, your life as you know it will have changed. You will become a slave to the puff, as I say. 

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