How to be Gluten-Free & Fabulous
It’s taken ten years. Yes, persistence and perseverance are my secret middle names. I am a determined woman. Blood, sweat and tears in the kitchen. But know this, I have perfected the gluten-free scone.
And I’m sharing the life lessons, along with the recipe.
I’ve been gluten-free for around ten years now. It was a big battle as I resisted, but eventually my health was suffering, and I succumbed. I hated the idea that it was trendy. And I so didn’t want to be like my mother…’allergic’ to everything. I remember the horror of dining out with her as she laid out her list of requirements. So embarrassing to have all that attention come our way.
Anyhoos, I’m a quiet sufferer! And the gluten-free world was just beginning. Celiac was something that happened and you wondered what people ate. I quietly cried, and ate some not-so-nice gluten-free baked goods. Gave up a lot. Bread, biscuits, pastry, and of course, scones. I did find things that work, including recipes and some baked goods.
But the glorious magic of a gluten-free scone eluded me.
I’m not a baker, but I do love to cook. A little of this, a little of that. Recipes are inspirational invitations to creativity. But not in the world of baking. Baking is chemistry. Precise measurements and timing. A new world opened to me.
And I sucked.
Many attempts in the kitchen ended up in the bin. Seriously, some of these gluten-free baked horrors couldn’t even be put out for the birds. I found a scone from a store, and thought ‘yes’ this is it. But honestly, it was gritty and only tasty because of the amount of sugar in the thing. Sweet and jammy, it worked, until the day it didn’t. And I said ‘no more.’ Back to the kitchen.
Well, with the Royal Wedding on the horizon, I’m making my Brit in the USA plans. Got a tee-shirt with Harry & Meghan on it. Hunted down my fascinator. Found out how to watch on my computer. Yes, I will be getting up at 3:30am to get in front of the screen.
With a nice piping hot cup of English Breakfast tea, and I thought yes, yes, a scone with cream and jam.
But where? How?
(Forget why, I just do, that’s all.)
And back to the kitchen.
With my ten years of research, and my tips, tricks, bells and whistles. If it didn’t work this time, I was going to hang up my baking apron and crawl back under the covers. Perhaps never to be seen again.
And it worked. Oh yes, I have perfected the gluten-free scone. I am a superstar: Wonder Woman of the Kitchen.
Borrowing heavily from King Arthur Flour‘s recipe, and infusing with the lessons learned, here’s what you will need:
2 x large mixing bowls
1 baking sheet
Parchment paper to line the baking sheet
Large-hole cheese grater
Measuring cups and spoons
Large spoon for mixing
And one of those spatula type things, so you can scrape all the goodness out of the bowl
(Tip: do not eat raw dough. Gluten-free raw dough is absolutely disgusting.)
1 3/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
(This flour isn’t gritty. If you’re gluten-free or have been chilling with peeps who are, you’ll know that most flour blends are kinda gritty when baked. Leading me to believe that gluten-free flour is actually dust. Which some blends may be.)
1/4 cup refined, white sugar, and 1 tablespoon
(I know, you wanted to hear coconut-sugar or honey, or stevia. Trust me, I use C&H sugar. Remember, it’s chemistry. I’ve tried the others…all of them! Just say ‘no’.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
(Of course, make sure it’s gluten-free. Now, I don’t know what baking powder is, and I don’t want to. I just know you need it to make the perfect gluten-free scone.)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
(More evil chemicals, so I’m told. I use Bob’s Redmill, as that seems almost healthy.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
(You need it…baking requires obedience. However, I use Pink Himalayan.)
1/4 teaspoon dried nutmeg
(I love fresh nutmeg, but you need the stuff that’s already powdered. Trust me…)
1/2 cup Kerrygold unsalted butter
(The one that comes in the silver wrapper. If you unfortunately are in a land that doesn’t have Kerrygold, then you’ll need some grass-fed European-type butter. No, you may not use a butter substitute. This baking lark is only for the brave.)
1/2 cup organic dried raisins
(Okay, I was just a little heavy-handed, and it was heaped. But 3/4 cup and it’s not working. And next time, I’m going to try currants, so there’s better dispersion of fruit. I learned this from Mary Berry.)
2 duck eggs
(Yes, I’ve been doing my study. Duck eggs are bigger and better for baking. And as gluten-free baking is often so bloody anemic looking, the extra big, extra yellow yolks help the look as well as the taste.)
BTW: these gluten-free scones are golden, yes golden! Like real baking.
1/3 cup cold, whole milk
(Taste…remember, we aren’t relying on a ton of sugar, we really want a tasty scone. No 2%, almond, skimmed, hemp or any other ‘milk’ they serve at Starbucks, please.)
1 teaspoon Madagascar planifolia extract, aka Bourbon Vanilla extract
(Spendy, I know! But only the best for our gluten-free baking. And let’s face it, it’ll most likely last for a lifetime, as I’m not making these every weekend.)
And now to make the magic, or I believe it’s usually labelled “Instructions”.
- Get everything you need out of the cupboards, pantry fridge. All the ingredients, and supplies listed.
- One bowl is for wet ingredients and one is for dry. (I did actually learn this at a cooking class…vegetarian cooking lessons.)
- To the ‘dry’ bowl, add your flour blend, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and the nutmeg.
- Then using the whisk, ‘whisk’ them together. (We’re not using a sieve here, sorry Mary Berry.)
- Next we add the butter. I grate mine straight on top of the dry ingredients. Then I use my finger tips to kinda mix it up for a bit. Followed by using two knives to cut the butter in. Hold one in each hand, and cut them back and forth, sort of like you were using a knife and fork, but two knives instead. This stops the butter from melting, but is tedious. So, then I go back to using my fingers to work the butter into the flour until it resembles something rather like coarse breadcrumbs. DO NOT overwork, better to err on the side of caution, than overwork.)
- Use spoon to stir in your raisins.
- In the ‘wet’ bowl, crack your eggs. Pop in the milk and vanilla. Using the whisk again, ‘whisk’ away until it’s all fluffy and frothy. (Looks rather like the bubbles you get on top of the tea when you pour it, but it’s all over the top.)
- Make a little ‘well’ in the middle of the dry ingredients. (Well is a technical word ‘us bakers’ use for a dent.)
- Pour the wet into the dry, and use a spoon to mix. (Gluten-free baking is wet and stickier than gluten-full. Use a spoon.) Blend together, but DO NOT overwork. Over working makes tough scones. Tough scones suck.
- You’ll have about 1/3 cup for each of the 8 scones this makes. (Yeah, all this work for only eight scones, that’s why I didn’t mention it earlier. It’s worth it.)
- But don’t measure, as that will overwork the dough. Just eyeball it and kinda scoop, drop, using spoon and spatula, 8 scones on the parchment paper.
- Now, make sure there’s an over rack above the center of the oven, and turn the oven on to 400 degrees to warm-up.
- Why? Because you have to let the scones rest for 15 minutes. (This allows the xanthan gum to do it’s magic and swell up, faking gluten or something like that. A baker explained it to me, but I was enjoying a cuppa at the time and wasn’t really paying too much attention. Rather like chemistry class at school. But I digress, back to baking.)
- Clean up the kitchen while you wait. It’s now somewhat appearing like a bomb hit it.
- Sprinkle the tops of the scones with the remaining one tablespoon of sugar.
- Pop the scones in the oven. Set timer for 15 minutes. Have a cup of tea.
- Open oven, and turn the tray around, to make sure the scones are evenly cooking. Give them another 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven. The spatula thingy is all clean again, so use it to gently lift the scones onto a cooling rack. Leave for 5 minutes.
- So, stick the kettle on and make a cuppa. Slice in half carefully. And enjoy…
I had mine with Kerrygold salted butter, and Bramble Cottage home-made jam. While warm. With a cup of Bramble Cottage Tea. Heavenly.
Also had one an hour later, and it had cooled and was still good.
And in the name of research, I had one for breakfast this morning. Yep. Still good!
The whole process took me about 1.5 hours in the kitchen. However, after ten years of experimenting & researching…it was well worth it.
Now, I’ve got to find some Devon Cream for the big day. And yes, I’m going to go all out and try currants instead of raisins. Wish me luck.
And lessons learned:
Where there’s a witch, there’s a way. Yeah, baby!
Perseverance, tenacity and a no quitting attitude get you there.
And, I’ll not accept shoddy baked gluten-free replicas of baked goods anymore.
Oh yes, and my next kitchen project? Sausage rolls. I see gluten-free sausage rolls in my future.
(Btw, I’d love you to share this with others suffering without scones as they’ve gone gluten-free, and I’d love your feedback. Drop me a comment below. Cheers!)