Getting the texture of gluten-free pastry right can be a challenge, so here’s a tried and tested recipe for all-butter flaky pastry from Baked to Perfection by Katarina Cermelj. It’s shown here in Katarina’s Tarte Tatin recipe but of course you can use it in many other dishes, from sausage rolls and savoury tarts to sweet pies and turnovers.
Adjusting the amount of sugar used allows you to use the pastry for both sweet and savoury recipes.
Gluten-Free All-Butter Flaky Pastry
Makes enough for a 23cm pie with both a base and a full pastry lid.
- 375 g gluten-free flour blend
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar (for sweet pastry) or 1 teaspoon caster sugar (for savoury)
- 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 250 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes, chilled
- 150 g cold water
While most wheat-based pie-crust recipes follow the 3-2-1 rule for the flour:butter:water ratio, a gluten-free version needs a 3-2-slightly-more-than-1 rule owing to the greater water-absorption capacity of gluten-free flours. The best ratio for the gluten-free flour blends in this book is 3:2:1.2 – but it might be different for other blend compositions.
In a large bowl, mix together the gluten-free flour blend, sugar, xanthan gum and salt.
Add the cold butter and toss it in the flour until each piece is coated.
Squish each cube of butter between your fingers to form small, thin sheets of butter. Be sure to check you’ve squished all the butter pieces before adding the water.
Add the cold water and mix well with a fork or spatula until the dough starts coming together. After you’ve added all the water, the dough will still look very dry – don’t be tempted to add more.
Gently squeeze and knead the dough, pressing it against the sides of the bowl, until it comes together in a shaggy ball with little-to-no dry patches (this can take up to 5 minutes). Because you leave the butter pieces relatively large, the dough is initially (quite unsuccessfully) kept together only by the added water, which is why it will look incredibly dry and crumbly. As you knead, however, small portions of the butter melt from the heat of your hands, helping the dough to come together. If absolutely necessary, and if after 5 minutes the dough still hasn’t come together, sprinkle a tiny amount of water on the most persistent dry patches.
Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate it
for about 30 minutes or until it feels firm but not hard when you press down on it with your finger.
Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to a 15 x 45cm rectangle. Turn the dough so that a short end is closest to you. Brush off any excess flour and fold the dough as you would an A4 letter – bottom third up towards the middle and the top third down over it.
Turn the dough by 90 degrees (so that the open ends are closest and farthest from you). Roll out into a similar-sized rectangle and repeat the letter fold. For the best results, complete a total of 4–6 letter folds (the more you do, the greater the flakiness). If the dough becomes too soft at any point, chill it in the fridge for 15–30 minutes, then continue.
Wrap the dough in cling film and chill it for at least 30 minutes or until needed. (If you chill it for longer than 1 hour before using, soften it for about 15–30 minutes at room temperature, so that it’s pliable.)
1 week in the fridge; 2–3 weeks in the freezer. Allow the pastry to thaw at room temperature for at least 1 hour before using – if you press down on it with a finger, you should leave an indentation (but it should feel fairly firm, not too soft to the touch).
Read our in-depth review of Baked to Perfection by Katarina Cermelj by our regular guest writer Nicky. Nicky and her husband follow a strictly gluten-free diet and assessed this book through the lens of their experiences of gluten-free cooking.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Baked to Perfection by Katarina Cermelj from publisher Bloomsbury Absolute. Recipe photography in this post by Nicky Bramley.