This week has been rough. Ella has still, after 4 weeks, not settled into school very well. Every morning is a struggle for me to put on my most positive face and smile and peel her off of my arm to deposit her within her classroom. My poor little heart tugs every day as Sammy and I head home for a day together. In addition to the stress of Ella’s school, I’ve not had any time off for just ME this week. When you are a stay-at-home-mum, you are a mum 24/7. I have to make “Me Time” more of a priority. It makes me ratty and grumpy and not a very happy Mummy. I am also currently waiting on the infuriating institution known as the NHS who is supposed to be getting back to me about a major operation. Never mind that I have been waiting for 12 weeks to get one simple date. Never mind…
On top of all of that, I had to deal with a very upsetting and nasty online situation this week that came out of left field. Fortunately for me, I was overwhelmed with support from blogging friends who reached out to show me how much they care. I turned to baking this week to help combat the nasties and managed a Gluten Free Caramel Apple Pie (with my own pastry thank you very much) and a Pear & Almond Crunch Cake made for dessert with the in-laws on Thursday. Baking is very therapeutic. And also quite expensive (gluten-free ingredients are about 3x the cost of “regular” baking ingredients). I really wish I had a Gluten-Free Fairy Godmother who could make all of my obscure flour needs appear magically and for free! Sigh. Anyway, on to Week Six of the Great Bloggers Bake Off challenge!
On the Great British Bake Off this past week they tackled Tea Loaves, an Apricot Couronne (as you do) and Sweet European Buns. I’m not a fan of dried fruit so the idea of tea loaf or an Apricot Couronne wasn’t terribly appealing. I figured I could handle sweet European buns. I figured wrong!
One of the sweet treats I have missed since being diagnosed Coeliac is the other-worldly Cinnamon Roll. In the US there is a famous “fast food” institution known as Cinnabon. I miss it. There are a lot of Cinnabon stalls in American Airports. Passengers are carried by their noses to the closest Cinnabon where they indulge in their private urges. Cinnabon has even made it to the UK! Rush to their nearest location and see what I am on about! I digress. I wanted to make my own GLUTEN FREE Cinnabuns. I could just smell the cinnamon and brown sugar greeting me on a Sunday morning. Well, dreams sometimes are just better off as that…a dream.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t turn to my new Gluten Free Baking bible as there were no sweet dough recipes to follow. There may, in fact, be a reason for this! As I have mentioned in previous posts, gluten-free baking is no where near as straight-forward as regular baking. Due to the absence of gluten, breads and doughs are complicated. You can’t knead them in the same way that you can regular bread dough. Generally, my dough is ended up more batter-like as opposed to a dough that can be worked with. I end up pouring my dough onto the counter and attempting to work with it and end up covered in sticky, gloopy dough. However, when plopped into baking tins or muffin tins, the end result isn’t miles away from what it should be.
I used an online, American site recipe to attempt my version of Cinnabon glory. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way the site promised, which of course, is no fault of the very talented blog baker from Gluten Free Yummy! One ingredient that I didn’t include was the Xanthan Gum which may possibly have contributed to my baking disaster. Xanthan Gum is used in gluten-free baking as a binder and thickener. The recipe called for 2tsp of Xanthan Gum which seems like a very small quantity to make a significant difference in the consistency of the dough but maybe that is where I am going all wrong. Unfortunately, I am having difficulty sourcing Xanthan Gum at the moment because my local Tesco has dramatically reduced their free from products on offer. One possible other cause of my bread dough woes is that I don’t have a mixer (Hello Kitchenaid??) with a paddle or dough hook attachment which might possibly make working with such a wet dough a more reasonable feat. As it is, the only choice I have is either to just pour my dough into baking dishes and hope for the best or embark on a giant recipe testing fest to experiment with liquid quantities in relation to various flours and their absorbability. Erm, anyone have a spare couple hundred quid?
See what I mean?? And this was after following the recipe and attempting to work with the dough on parchment sprinkled with tapioca flour and sugar. I ended up using a flat spatula to scrape the dough from the parchment paper and into the baking dish. In an attempt to create “tear and share” sections, I used a tin of Carnation Caramel to drizzle the tear and share lines. Into the oven it went. Would it work out? Would it taste like a Cinnabon? Well…have a look!
Sort of! It baked. It seemed to have a decent consistency. The flavour was excellent. I thought for a few minutes that I might have salvaged it. I tipped the Cinnabun round upside down onto a plate and proceeded to drizzle the Carnation Caramel sauce all over the new top of the Cinnabun dough. It looked rather delectable. My heart did a little flip…maybe I did it after all?!
But then, after having a proper taste, although the flavour was excellent, the consistency of the bake was not what I would like it to be. Gluten-free dough is nothing like regular dough. Gluten-free dough ends up quite cake-like. You don’t get the smooth, pull-apart-able layers that you have in traditional doughs. As the dough cools, the texture goes from cake-like to sponge-like. It’s almost like you’re chewing through a kitchen sponge. A tasty kitchen sponge, mind you, but a kitchen sponge nonetheless. The final product was pretty though…look!
Do you see what I mean about the texture?? Cake-like! Yummy but cake-like. Also, as with most gluten-free baked goods, these dried out within minutes and became very heavy and chewy. The best method for prevention is to place them within an air-tight container as soon as they are cool. Otherwise, you will be the proud owner of a pretty, nice-tasting brick.
So, my first mahoosive failure in the Great Bloggers Bake Off. I need to source some Xanthan Gum and see if that makes any difference. I also need to try to find UK recipes when possible as I don’t know that the amounts and ingredients translate the same from “American” to “English”. Flours are different regardless of being gluten-free or regular. The amounts may be where I am tripping up. Please pop on over to Mummy Mishaps or The Crazy Kitchen for proper examples of how sweet buns, Couronnes and tea loaves are supposed to turn out. I’m going to have a cup of tea and dump my gluten-free Cinnabuns in the bin. Here’s hoping next week’s choices work better for me. If you have any advice on where I went wrong, feel free to comment below. **sniff**