Saturday, August 13, 2011


            (Under the guise of a blog much good news is revealed.)

            This past week proved an ideal time to stoke my test kitchen ovens. It was rather cool for the NE, and, since I needed to tweak my bread-in-a-bag formula, improve my Bold Buckwheat recipe, and come up with an unique flatbread, I baked my @@@ off.

            As Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread negotiates with a wholesale bakery that's interested in producing our line, one of the activities I've "kept for myself" is the right to teach workshops, as long as the content doesn't reveal any unique inventions. So, on the weekend of October 7 - 9 I'll be offering a flatbread workshop at the Gluten-Free Living Now Expo in Carmel Indiana.
GF Karkalan Piirakka, ready for the table

            I'll be demonstrating my way of making thin-crust pizza as well as cheese-and-mushroom-filled gorditas. Also, thanks to a former student and her mother, the class and I will be crafting Karjalan Piirakka.

            OK, don't bother trying to pronounce that. "Karelian Bread" is the way I say it. It's a Finnish delicacy, or so say Kiran and her mother. (Mom should know - she's a chef for the Finnish ambassador in NYC.) Unique among the world flatbreads it's made with rye flour, which of course I cant digest. Its taken several iterations but I finally have a reasonable GF recipe.

            As it happens I've got 5 lbs of gluten-free rye flavoring, courtesy of a wholesale buy from Authentic Foods. It only takes about 10 grams to give a big flavor punch to two pounds of bread, so I have enough to make hundreds of discs of Karelian.

            In Kiran's Karjalan Piirakka recipe, the dough is rolled thin enough "to see seven churches through it," a technique thats virtually impossible without something stretchy involved, like gluten or fat. However Kirelian bread is supposed to be lean: flour, water and salt - no shortenings, no leavens and no conditioners. Thus it was a perfect opportunity to put cassava flour to the test.
Count the churches

            For several months I've been experimenting with American Key Foods Products' King Lion brand cassava flour. This interesting ingredient works wonders with GF sweets and has vast potential for savories. I've made black chocolate brownies and Chinese dumplings with it and have incorporated it into "beta" breads. It imparts chew and stretch as well as vaguely exotic flavors. At my last meeting with Mel Festejo and Connie Ponce de Leon of AKFP I learned the company was making King Lion available to home bakers. Small quantities can now be bought through the company's website (click the hotlink above.) It's definitely worth a try.

Discs of dough and dusting flour

            My adaptation of Kiran's  Karjalan Piirakka recipe was very much a shot in the dark, since I've never tasted "the real thing." Not only did I need to figure out a GF version, but, since Kiran's recipe would make 12 - 14 "pasties" (sorry but that word always makes me think of burlesque), I had to tame the quantity. I ended up with too little rice, which left me unable to resolve the dough edges nicely. Also my bread tastes not quite rye enough. I'm on the right track, however, and in subsequent versions I'll  come close enough to hand something over to mother and daughter for a taste test. In the meantime I'll go ahead and share what I've come up with, knowing that one of you will create tasty modifications and improvements.
Ready for the oven

Always use the right serving utensil

            (Or perhaps you'll sign up for my October workshop, by which time I'll have it nailed).

            Enjoy!  Karjalan Piirakka is particularly great for breakfast.

Gluten-Free  Karjalan Piirakka.

makes 2, 6" circular pasties

ingredients:(for dough)            21 grams cassava flour
                                                15 grams sorghum flour
                                                15 grams teff flour
                                                10 grams potato starch
                                                1 gram potato flour
                                                2 grams xanthan gum
                                                1 gram salt
                                                4 grams Authentic Foods rye flavor
                                                75 grams water
                                                melted butter for brushing onto bread
                        (for filling)     1/3 cup arborio rice
                                                1 cup whole milk
                                                salt to taste


1)         Place all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to blend. Add water and stir vigorously to form a thick dough. Set aside.

2)         Put the milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and sprinkle in the rice. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the rice becomes "al dente". Remove from heat and salt to taste.

3)            Position an oven rack to the highest slot. Place a pizza stone on the rack. Pre heat oven to 500 F.

4)         Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter. Dust liberally with sorghum flour. Turn dough out onto this. Dust your hands with sorghum flour and shape dough into two equal spheres. Pat the spheres into discs, then, using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the discs very thin (see text, above).

5)         Slide discs onto a well-floured pizza peel, or (alternatively) a sheet of parchment paper. Spread rice porridge onto discs. Fold edge over the rice to keep it from oozing onto the stone and decoratively pinch the dough edge.  Slide the pasties directly onto the hot stone (or, if using parchment, slide parchment onto the stone). Bake until the rice has small brown spots, 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.

6)         Before pasties have cooled to room temperature, brush liberally with melted butter. They can be stacked in a paper bag at this point, which will soften them. However they're perfectly good when crispy, too.

Serve as is, or with hard-boiled egg chopped fine and stirred with butter.


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