Monthly Archives: October 2014

Experiments in gluten free baking: Scones

Over the past several months, on and off, I have been doing quite a bit of research into diet. As part of this, I have recently switched to a diet with reduced FODMAPs. More on this in future posts. Suffice it to say, for the moment, that this has required the removal of wheat from my diet, at least for a time.

So far, I have found this less of a challenge than perhaps I might have thought. Since I am not gluten intolerant, I haven’t needed to be as careful as those who are. I can eat regular oats, for example. I’m also a great fan of jacket potatoes, so I’ve been quite happy to eat those instead of bread. They are certainly a lot more enjoyable than than the shop bought pitta bread that I tried, which had a texture something like chalk. So the challenge of gluten/wheat free baking is one I’ve been quite slow to embark on. If I don’t really need to, why bother? I know it can be a challenge to get right.

That said, it’s like Everest. The challenge is there. Waiting. I need to know if I can do it. Also, I quite like baked goods occasionally, so if I end up needing to stay on this diet, I might as well find out how to do it.

I decided I would start with scones – mostly because I don’t have a lot of energy and they are quick and easy. I also have a wheat flour recipe that has always worked well, so I know something of what to expect. Google suggested a little more liquid might be needed. So, remembering the dryness of the pitta bread, I went with this and made the dough nice and sticky.

The resulting scones didn’t rise in quite the same way as wheat flour scones. They went out instead of up. But they were very light. Certainly, they were a lot better than the pitta bread. However, they were still drier than I would have liked. I gave them six out of ten and went back to the drawing board.

Further consultations with Google suggested that gluten free carrot cake works well because it is so moist. Hmmm. So what about adding some fruit or vegetable matter to my scones? Would this improve them? There was only one way to find out. Today I grated a small apple into the mixture to see what would happen. (I would have used carrot, but I had used all those up in yesterday’s soup!)

'Apple' scones

‘Apple’ scones

Success!

They still aren’t the same as wheat scones, but they are soft and light and have a much moister and pleasanter texture with the apple than without. Interestingly, they don’t taste of apple. Clearly, more experiments are in order if I want that. But the apple had the desired effect and that’s what matters.

So I have learnt something. Adding vegetables and fruit improves the moisture content (and hence palatability) of gluten free baking.

Today’s recipe below, for those interested:

8oz plain white gluten free flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2 oz butter
1 apple (peeled and grated)
A generous 1/4 pint buttermilk

Put dry ingredients into a bowl. Rub in the butter. Stir in the apple. Add the buttermilk and mix gently into a soft dough. Press out gently to about 3/4 inch thick and cut into rounds. Bake at 225 C for 10 minutes.

Notes:
1) My oven is not fan assisted!
2) The scones are best eaten fresh. This is especially true of the gluten free variety, which tend to dry out very quickly. However, they are fine if frozen and then warmed briefly in the oven or microwave.