Friday, 22 June 2012

Gluten-Free Fun

Different people do different things when they can't sleep: Solanah sews herself some pants, some of us unpick seams (you know who you are), but me, I like to bake. It's usually something fairly quick and easy like biscuits because I have them done within the hour. Of course the dishes are always left for the morning.

All week this week I've been craving shortbread, not so much for their rich, buttery flavour but for the gritty texture. Weird, I know. Sadly, I have an intolerance to yeast which means no dairy and no sugar, among other things, so store bought shortbread wasn't an option. In order to satisfy my craving, I was going to have to make my own.

Eating yeast-free is very restrictive, no to mention lacking flavour, but I find many gluten-free recipes cut out most of my 'no' foods. As a result, I have several GF cookbooks but for some reason I've never been game to try any baking. Best to start with something simple, like these tasty little Almond Biscuits*.

175g  Dairy-free margarine
40g    Fruit sugar
135g  Rice flour
40g    Gram flour (chickpea)
30g    Ground almonds
1/2tsp Almond extract

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lay sheets of baking paper on two baking trays.

Place the margarine and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until margarine has melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 4-5 minutes until the mixture has caramelized slightly and become syrupy.

Sift the flours and ground almonds into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the sugar mixture, add the almond extract and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until mixed.

Spoon the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, onto the baking trays to form 14 - 16 balls. Press down each ball with the back of a spoon to make a biscuit shape.

Bake in hot oven for 10 - 12 minutes until lightly browned. Take the biscuits out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

My biscuits got a little over-browned - we have a fan-forced oven and I often forget to adjust the temperature - but they are satisying my texture craving quite well. They're so good in fact, I've been thinking of experimenting with adding some spices the next time I make them. Judging by the way I'm munching through them, it's likely to be real soon.

Have a great weekend!

- Tamara

*Recipe from The Best Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes by Grace Cheetham.

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