Misadventures in the Kitchen: Custard Buns

Today was the epitome of frustrating baking.

I was trying out a recipe for gluten free danish custard buns by Gluten Free on a Shoestring. I LOVE custard buns. I wanted nutella filled baked goods as well so, why the fuck not?

Ok ok, before I start ranting about misadventures in Charlie’s kitchen I just want to take 20 seconds out to thank Nicole of Gluten Free on a Shoestring for even providing this damned recipe. It may have frustrated the hell out of me, but the results were edible and I can (and will) try it again with some changes. 

Ok, firstly don’t even look at this recipe unless you have time to kill. Lots of it. This is a long, multistep, chill and work, chill and work, recipe. Hours of your fucking time. So yeah, that’s one thing. Sick girls who just want to sleep should not be trying this shit.

Second thing, Nicole uses a particular gluten free flour that she likes… which bears exactly zero resemblance to my homemade gf flour mix because gluten free flour is a bitch like that. Following the recipe as it was gave me a very soft, wet, dough. I persevered, having no idea what I was doing anyway so what the fuck lets just keep working with it and see what happens…

Round 1: Nutella!

Several frustrating, irritating, hours later I tossed the knife and rolling pin in the sink. I bundled the dough up into two balls – one for custard and the other for nutella – threw the former into the fridge wrapped in cling film and the later broke up into even-ish chunks and smoothed them into rounds with my fingers. A table spoon of nutella, wrap these soft hunks of dough up into balls and threw them on a pan. I didn’t wait for them to rise after they didn’t budge in the first half our and damned near burnt them cooking them…

That said. They were pretty damned good nutella pastries, if a bit flat and doughy.

Next round will involve changing up the dough big time. I’m debating between my bread base with almond flour and a small amount of polenta (I can’t find proper maize here) and my general GF mix with almond flour to get a more resiliant dough. Milk will be added slowly to manage the dough’s texture in much the same way as I’d make bread dough.

I’m gonna do the custard ones tomorrow. Hopefully a night in the fridge will help the dough out a bit.

Maybe.

Round 2: Actual real life custard buns

[UPDATE: The second half of the dough lived in the fridge for 2 days and I finally got around to using it today with the custard filling. Again no rise, but they look better. They’re wayyyyy too hot right now to eat so I’ll report back.

UPDATE 2: OMNOMNOM!!! These turned out much better. I had added more flour to the dough to dry it up a bit and it worked much better.]

Re-learning baking

I learnt how to bake at my mother’s elbows as a child. My mother cooks some of the most delicious baked goods I have ever had in my life. Her caked put store bought, cafe and even the finer restaurant cakes to shame. I’ve always wished I was half as skilled as she was. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty damned good. Not Mum good, but pretty damned good.

Going gluten free means starting from scratch. Nothing I knew will work anymore which is just… frustrating.

It, once again, says a lot that instead of sad and overly intimidated I’m actually rather excited about it. Bread will be a while in the making, but cookies, cakes, pastries… scones. These things are necessary parts of my existence. I will learn to make them asap.

First up is scones.

I love scones, and my lovely friend (and author) Nicole Field was heading over to write on my couch so scones and tea sounded like a perfect idea. I’ve never had a good gluten free one so this was a bit scary, admittedly. I followed this recipe from The Sensitive Epicure. It started really well, but at I was a little unsure by the end. The dough was very very very soft. Unusually wet for a scone dough. I passed on the kneading and plopped the dough into a pie dish to cook as a single piece when chilling it didn’t really help.

And the results are pretty fucking good. It’s got a perfect crumb. Soft and fluffy, very light.

Slightly too salty, but I realised upon a re-read that I actually put in far too much butter and forgot to add the sugared top which would explain the very wet dough and slightly too saltiness.

The first piece fell apart, but the following piece slipped out perfectly formed and crumbled no more than a normal gluten filled scone.

Score one for the first baking effort of gluten-free life! Nicole noted a slight aftertaste which I think would have been caused by the millet flour. I can’t say I noticed and she wasn’t overly bothered by it so…

Next up, tomorrow night’s dessert.

 

Mum's Choc Chip Cookies

One of the things I have resigned myself to in this life is that I will never be the baker my Mum is. I can do just about everything else as good if not better, but Mummy Darling has the magic touch when it comes to baking and she passed that on to my youngest brother rather than me (totally not jealous, not me).

Wirst photo ever of the yummiest cookies ever… and milk.

Cookies are my ultimate comfort food. These cookies have been a staple over the duration of my life. A couple of cookies and a glass of milk and I’m five years old and colouring at the table. At 11 I’m pushing aside thoughts of the friends I left when we moved away with the familiarity of baking with Mum and my baby brothers. At 16 nursing a cup of tea, a book and cookies and losing myself for a few hours while living in a hotel apartment because we don’t have a house yet. And now I’m 28 and trying no to burn my mouth on fresh baked cookies straight from the oven… dunked in cold milk of course 🙂

It’s not a hard recipe and I’m sure it was once in a cookbook somewhere, but she’s been making it from memory longer than I’ve been alive so who knows so here’s Mum’s chic chip cookie recipe. I’m not allowed regular flour anymore so check the notes if you’re wheat intolerant.

Mum’s Choc Chip Cookies

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup regular white sugar

1/2 cup butter

1tsp vanilla essence

1 cup choc chips*

2 cups self raising flour or plain flour sifted with 4tsp baking powder**

1/4 cup milk

Method

Remember when I said this was simple? I wasn’t joking.

Preheat your oven to 180 celsius and prepare a cooking sheet or pan. I’m lazy so it’s usually baking paper lining a pan.

Mix together sugars and butter till it’s smooth and creamy. Drop in your vanilla and mix it through that.

Throw all your flour and chic chips into the bowl and mix thoroughly. I’d advise on settings for your mixer… except I use a wooden spoon. I break electronic things a little too readily.

Add milk and stir through. It’s going to seem too dry and crumbly, but it’s meant to be.

Scoop out spoonfuls of the mix into your palm and roll into flattish balls of even size. I like them to be about the same size as a 50c piece. If the mix is crumbling too much you may need to add a tiny bit more milk, no more than a table spoons worth (after that you get into some cross between a biscuit and a scone).

Put your tray in the oven for 10 -15 minutes.

Try not to burn your mouth eating the bastard things hot.

Notes

* Traditionally it’s milk chocolate drops, but the youngest child adds anything he feels like and then some.

** If, like me, you’re on the Low FODMAP diet try Spelt Flour. It’s not always listed as a safe food when you’re buying spelt bread because of additives the bakeries use, but for home cooking it’s normally fine. As always with the FODMAP diet mileage may vary. Also note that spelt flour is a high gluten flour, not suitable for celiaces or gluten intolerant people.

To get it if you’re not in Melbourne try health food stores, organic food stores and specialist bakeries. If you’re in Melbourne save yourself some cash and head to the Vic markets. One of the bakeries in there has it for $4 per 500g bag. This is about a third of the price I’ve been able to find it anywhere else.

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