A Gluten-Free Pastry Experience

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Have you ever accidentally baked several loaves of gluten-free bread? How about accidental gluten-free pop tarts? Me. I have. And my partner and I only realized the cause of the poor pastries and irregular bread after many tears were shed, expletives elicited, and my countless mutterings of what the hell is wrong with this dough? It was sticky, difficult to roll out, and the final product: not very flaky, bland, something…off.

In every kitchen, there must come a recipe that tests the very core of your baking patience, and, causes you to question yourself as well. Such as, do I really know anything about baking? Did I measure ingredients correctly? Have I done something wrong? And your contempt for the pastry dough eclipses everything else until you’re having a cranky fit in the living room that sounds something like, “…stupid, stupid, stupid. I hate it!” For me, it went in rounds like that, each bout with a new vilifying phrase, until the experience was exhausted.

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So, that happened, and this post was originally titled “Homemade Pop Tarts (and my hatred for them),” but I’m glad to have reached understanding — that the cause of all this baking strife was the flour: a poorly labeled bin of flour in the bulk section of my local Whole Foods, labeled as All-Purpose with the fine print of alternative flour. I failed to note before purchase that the ingredients list included garbanzo beans, among other substitutes. I’m also glad that I no longer have to doubt the recipe for homemade pop tarts provided by Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs, as she had never failed me before. Yet I cursed that recipe and hated it with a fever as I rolled out my dough wondering why it was so soft, why the flour failed to bind.

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The good news: we persevered, and there were homemade pop tarts — seven of them with various fillings thanks to Nick’s foresight. He mixed an apple-ginger filling with brown sugar, we filled several tarts with chocolate chips, and the remaining few with rhubarb jam. In even better news, the pop tarts were much tastier on day two despite the flavor of the pastry itself being…not so savory.

Bottom line: this recipe deserves a do-over in the Hawk & Pigeon test kitchen. For the next round I’ll likely try a traditional pie dough recipe for the pastry, or, simply try Smitten Kitchen’s recipe again with tried-and-true all purpose flour. Gluten, gluten, gluten. I love it.

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