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Gluten Free Food

Convinced there had to be a way, I asked around and was disappointed by the general consensus of opinion which declared that nobody could make a half-decent GF pastry. Okay, said my wife, let's Google it. There were plenty of recipes and suggestions, but a picture of the most suitable didn't look any better than my failed attempts. One good thing did come out of it, though - many of the recipes used an egg or two in the mix. I'd always put a yolk in my sweet and cheese shortcrusts, so I figured it might work. Woo-hoo, it did! And here's the recipe. Before you dash into the kitchen, I should add a word of advice: care needs taking with mixing and rolling, so any cook in a rush won't achieve a 100% success.

For a pie with base and top in a 15cm (6 inch) square dish
OR top-only on a larger pie dish

    125g GF plain flour
    25g GF self-raising flour
    35g vegetable margarine
    ¼ tsp salt (optional)
    1 egg yolk
    1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    egg-white or milk to glaze

Mix the flours and salt in a bowl, then rub in the fat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Beat the oil and egg yolk together lightly, then stir into the dry ingredients with a fork, taking up as much of the flour as possible before adding any milk. Put this in a little at a time, folding to the point where the dough starts to bind. Test with the fingers - if it feels dry and gritty, add a touch more milk until the dough is just moist enough to form into a single lumpy ball. Don't knead it! - the less it is handled, the lighter it will be. If making a small pie with base, divide into two balls, one slightly larger to allow for the edge to come up the sides of the dish. Now, leave the dough in the bowl, cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge for five minutes to cool.

The next, perhaps most important step, is the rolling which needs to be slow and careful. For the base and topping pastry (we'll concentrate on this version: the other will just be a single roll-out), cut three sheets of baking paper big enough to line the dish with some spare. This kind of pastry doesn't like deep, steep-sided dishes because it can crack very easily. Shallow dishes with sloping sides are better. Don't use dusting flour - it will dry out the dough! Just place the larger dough ball in the centre of a paper sheet and press down with the palm of the hand. It will crack around the edges, but you will remedy this shortly. Roll lightly to increase the surface area a bit, then pat in the edges - with your hand if using a round dish, with the rolling pin if it is a square or rectangular one. Roll out a bit more, then carefully turn it over and pat the outside to retain the desired shape and remove the cracks. Repeat this to the point where the pastry seems too thin to turn, leave it as is and just carry on rolling.

Because you are using no dusting powder, the dough will try to stick to the rolling pin. Wipe this occasionally with a hand; and if the edge of the pastry starts to pick up, be a little less heavy-handed and take it slower. The base will obviously need to come up the sides of the dish, so allow for this in the rolling. Once it is the right size, cover with a second piece of baking paper to prevent drying, then put it to one side while you roll out the top using the same method. When this is done, slide it (still on the paper) onto a stiff cutting sheet or a suitable plate and rest in the fridge for ten minutes. Leave the base out - it will stay softer making it more pliable when it goes into the dish.

It’s time to get the oven going and put any finishing touches to the filling. Once they are taken care of, you can sit back and enjoy your favourite beverage because you're almost done. When the ten minutes are up, bring out the pastry. Remove the paper covering the base (save this to go on the top crust), pick it up using the baking paper it has been rolled on, position over the dish and gently tease it down, paper and all (this will line the dish), gently pressing together any splits. Now pour in the filling.

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