Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Starter Zucchini Sourdough Rolls

A good starter is the opening chapter to a book, the story of how bread came to sit on your table. It’s one of the oldest kitchen tales, full of science, yes, but also a hefty measure of whimsy. You’re building an edible net to catch wild yeast from the air—what isn’t rather fey about that?

A gluten-free sourdough starter just has to rewrite the magic a little.

I’ve been making “experiments” in the kitchen since I was two years old—old enough to be up to my elbows in bread dough alongside my mother. When my gluten allergy kicked in years later, sourdough seemed a lovely mirage on a horizon I’d never touch again. Regardless, I’ve been walking towards it ever since. This year, I finally set foot in its field once again. This year, we’re working on my own terms.

It’s a good idea to read this recipe through all the way before you jump in. Remember: there’s science behind the whimsy and science likes its methods to be followed. The first time I tried this starter, I sealed the plastic bag completely and it raised one of the shelves in my cupboard with its gasses, knocking over cans and jars alike. The second time I tried this, I filled the jars too full and my husband got that worried note in his voice as he asked what was growing over the refrigerator shelves. It’s okay to be rusty.

These Zucchini Sourdough Rolls belong between summer and autumn. Use up the last of your late summer zucchini surplus and curl up to a warm roll as evenings grow chilly. Make a batch of Tomato Jam and lather it on. Enjoy the quiet way these rolls fill every corner of your kitchen with their scent, a secret whispered to an ever-earlier sunset.

Gluten-free Sourdough Starter
Makes enough for 2-4 quart jars

.8oz active dry yeast
12oz water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit
115g sweet rice flour
115g millet flour
110g brown rice flour
110g amaranth flour
1 yellow onion, skinned and cut in half

Heat 12oz water to 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer to measure it with, the water should be warm if touched to the inside of your wrist, but shouldn’t feel much warmer than your skin. If it burns, it’s too hot. You must be very careful about the temperature of your water because if it’s too hot, it’ll kill the yeast and your starter will never live.

Dissolve yeast in warmed water and set aside to proof. After a few minutes, it should form bubbles and foam up. If it does nothing, throw it out and get new yeast.

Sift together all flours in a large bowl. Whisk in water and yeast mixture until all flour pockets are incorporated. Either pour into a clean new bowl or a gallon plastic bag. Push onion halves partway into starter. Cover loosely with plastic or a towel, or partially close the plastic bag. Set in a corner of your kitchen where it won’t be disturbed and leave it for 24 hours. I use a dark cupboard by the stove, so it stays somewhat warm. Do not completely seal bag or tightly wrap your bowl! You want to leave room for the gasses to escape.

After 24 hours, bring out the starter and remove onion halves. Wash glass quart jars very well. Scoop starter into jars, filling about 1/3 full. Leave plenty of room for the starter to grow because it’s going to do just that. At this point, you have a choice. Fill 2 jars and throw the rest away. Or, fill 4 jars and keep it all. Keep in mind that every time you feed your starter it will grow. This quickly becomes a losing battle if you try to use all of it every time, so either get used to some waste or find a lot of friends who want your endless supply of gluten-free starter. (I’ve found that I don’t like to use the first leftover from the starter for recipes; it’s a little young and needs a week or so to develop its perfect sourdough flavors.)

Cover the mouths of your jars loosely with plastic wrap and let them sit out on the counter for 2-4 hours. This gives them some time to grow and also to pull wild yeast from the air. Wild yeast will change the flavor profile of your starter, so it’s nice to set it out to catch some wild yeast every few weeks. After the starter has set for a couple of hours (and grown considerably), wrap the mouths tightly and store them in the fridge. You may notice your starter separating a little while it’s stored in the fridge. This is normal, but you want to pour off the water from the top before using. Don’t mix it in. It’s a good idea to use and feed the starter at least once a week. You can feed it every day if you prefer. Take care of it and it’ll last you a lifetime.

Feed your starter with 1 part flour, 1 part water. My recipe below is broken down into the flour mix I use specifically for my starter.

Starter Food

50g sweet rice flour
50g brown rice flour
50g amaranth flour
50g millet flour
1 ½ cup water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Sift flours together. Whisk in warm water until thoroughly mixed. Whisk in your starter, divide among clean jars, leave out for wild yeast, and store in the fridge. Repeat at least once a week for a healthy starter.

Zucchini Sourdough Rolls
Makes 10-12 muffin size

40g (1/3 cup) tapioca starch
60g (1/2 cup) gluten-free oat or quinoa flour
30g (1/4 cup) gluten-free rolled oats
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ¼ tsp sea salt
2 tsp brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
45g (1/4 cup) flaxseeds, ground
1 cup loosely packed grated zucchini
250g (1 cup) gluten-free sourdough starter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Sift together flours, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar into a large bowl. Add oats and set aside. Measure olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice together. Stir in ground flaxseeds until the oil is thick and gooey.

Add grated zucchini to flours and toss to coat. Stir in oil mixture, slowly adding sourdough starter as you go. When everything is incorporated, scoop batter into prepared muffin tin. Fill either ¾ full or all the way to the top, depending on how large you want your rolls.

Bake at 375F for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter, honey, maple syrup, or tomato jam.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And the winner is…

The WINNER of our Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery giveaway is Jazmin, with her goat cheese, leeks, pine nuts and dabs of fig jam pizza topping! This sounds like a cheese plate with the surprising addition of leeks. I don’t often see leeks on pizza, but for this they work. Their oniony side plays up the pine nuts and goat cheese while their sweet side kisses the fig jam. It’s both creative and skillfully arranged.

Congratulations, Jazmin! Please send me an email (syronai [at] gmail.com) with your full name and mailing address. I’ll pass it along to Rudi’s Gluten-free Bakery and they will mail you your prizes.

Thank you to everyone who posted their creative pizza toppings. You’ve all got some great ideas and I can’t wait to try some of them on my next gluten-free pizza.

Toppings of particular note:
-          Tuna and banana (kairanie)
-          Provolone cheese, sweet onions, pear, prosciutto, walnuts, arugula, sherry vinegar, black pepper (Birdy)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rudi's Hot Dog Rolls & Hamburger Buns

4/5 spoons

4/5 spoons

September begins the slow slide into autumn, as apples ripen, tomatoes burst their seams, and peppermint plants make their play for garden domination. There’s an evening chill in the air and the scent of small wood fires replaces the blue smoke of barbeques.

But I don’t want to put the barbeque away just yet and the beautiful Gravenstein apples on my counter will wait another week as I ponder their destiny. Summer lingers in Seattle.

My husband’s birthday was yesterday and I promised him bacon-wrapped hot dogs. You won’t find meat featured on this site very often, but here they are, nestled in Rudi’s Gluten-Free Multigrain Hot Dog Rolls in all their greasy glory.

Rudi’s hot dog rolls and hamburger buns are spot-on. Hearty and full of multigrain flavor, these gluten-free goods hold up to piled-on toppings for dinner or quietly accept simple melted cheese as an afternoon snack. I love the chewy texture—it’s exactly what you’d hope for in a multigrain bun, never mind that it happens to be gluten-free. The only drawback to these rolls and buns is they seem a little on the dry side. That’s easily fixed by microwaving instead of toasting, though, and you’ll hardly miss the toasting. Give it a little brush over the grill’s flames. That’s what I did and they were delicious.

Note the buns and rolls both contain xanthan gum, a drawback for me, but this fortunately doesn’t affect everyone.

Interested in trying Rudi’s products yourself? I’m hosting a CONTEST with a free giveaway for one winner. The winner will receive two FREE loaf coupons and two Rudi’s sandwich boxes! To enter, please comment on this or my Pizza Crusts post with your most creative and delicious pizza topping. What pizza really makes your taste buds sing? Contest ENDS Tuesday, September 20, 2011, at 9pm Seattle (Pacific) time. I will judge the winner on the creative and skillful pairing of their flavor combinations.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pizza Crusts

Rudi's pizza crust, topped with fresh peaches, basil, chevre, lemon zest, and drizzles of honey and olive oil.

Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s the one thing every newly gluten-free person bemoans: “But then I can’t have pizza!” Fortunately, there are a lot of options for gluten-free pizza nowadays.

I remember even five years ago how difficult it was to find good gluten-free pizza without making it myself. I prefer making pizza from scratch, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to throw together at the whim of a craving.

There are two particular companies that make excellent premade gluten-free pizza crusts: Udi’s Gluten Free Foods and Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery. I’ve used Udi’s pizza crusts for about a year. Rudi’s recently developed their own gluten-free pizza crust and sent me a sample, so I decided it was time for a comparison review. Rudi’s was also kind enough to send me samples of their hot dog and hamburger buns so you can expect reviews of those soon.

And no, Udi’s and Rudi’s are not related companies, despite the similarity between their names. I’ve been watching their tug-of-war over the gluten-free bread market for awhile. Their products are similar and they seem to be taking cues from each other as they develop better and better recipes. It’s a bit like a game of Jenga—which company will create the best gluten-free products and which will collapse the tower trying? Gluten-free consumers are the true winners in this contest. Both companies make spectacular products. (I already made it clear in this review a few months ago that I prefer Rudi’s Multigrain Bread to Udi’s counterpart.)

Interested in trying Rudi’s products yourself? I’m hosting a CONTEST with a prize for one winner. The winner will receive two FREE loaf coupons and two Rudi’s sandwich boxes! To enter, please comment on this post with your most creative and delicious pizza topping. What pizza really makes your taste buds sing? Contest ENDS Tuesday, September 20, 2011, at 9pm Seattle (Pacific) time. I will judge the winner on the creative and skillful pairing of their flavor combinations.

4/5 spoons
Overall, an excellent, easy to use frozen pizza crust with good flavor.

  • Bakes up crispy on the bottom with an appealing chewy, bready texture.
  • Browns beautifully, especially when rubbed with a bit of olive oil before topping and baking.
  • Holds together well, even when piled with extra toppings.

  • Mild flavor doesn’t interfere with the rest of your pizza, though it doesn't enhance it either. I’d look for a more robust, yeasty flavor, if they were to improve the crust.
  • Contains xanthan gum, which bothers some people’s digestion.

3/5 spoons
Overall, a good frozen pizza crust: easy to use, decent flavor, quick to prepare. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up Rudis Pizza Crusts in a pinch. But I'd love it if Rudi's would make a multigrain crust; therein lies their true bread genius.

  • Bakes up crispy all over with some slight chewiness where the toppings sit.
  • It’s a bit more like a cracker than it is a pizza crust; that texture may appeal more to lovers of very thin crust pizzas.
  • Holds together well.

  • Mild flavor, a bit too salty for my taste.
  • Contains guar and xanthan gums, which bother some people’s digestion.