Friday, March 17, 2017

Can Retro Baking Be Gluten-Free? Shamrock Spritz Say Yes!

If you've been reading along for any length of time, you already know two things about me:
  1. I use a lot of old recipes.
  2. I bake a lot of things without gluten for my friends and family.
Around Christmas, I tried making Spritz cookies - using a classic recipe - with the Bob's Red Mill 1-for-1 flour that I've been using so much. And they turned out really well.

So, when I was asked to produce some gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free cookies for an event this week, I thought I might as well try them again - with a St. Patrick's Day flair.

You may remember from last fall's post on Beaujolais Nouveau and Cheese Straws that I have an old-style hand-crank dough extruder. (Honestly, it is not only just like the kind I used growing up in my mom's kitchen, but it also reminds me of the Play-Doh factory that I had.)

I know you're probably thinking that it's only good for Christmas wreaths (or cheese straws), but there are TWELVE different "forming plates" in the set, as well as the three larger tips. Let's take a quick look at all of them:

You can see the wreath and Christmas tree in the second-to-bottom row. In the top row, you've got a butterfly, a flat cracker (because you pipe it out in long stretches, and then cut it), and something that kind of looks like a dog (or maybe a horse). In the second row, there are a star (again, for piping out long stretches and then cutting it - or at least that's how I'd use it), a camel (I think), and a pinwheel.

And - in the bottom row - you have the four plates that create playing card suits. Because, of course, most of these sets were sold in the 60s and 70s when people had formal card parties (either Bridge or Poker, probably), and would make crackers or cookies to go along with the theme. 

I've never really understood the camel. I may have to use it sometime, just because.
Oh. Sorry. I was getting a tad overly nostalgic when I was taking pictures. Let's move those two into the 21st century, shall we?

Obviously, if you're paying attention, you can see that none of these is technically a shamrock. But the "club" is awfully close - especially if you make it green. (Sorry. I probably should have prefaced that with "Spoiler Alert.")
Oh. Before I get too far ahead of myself, how about the recipe and some ingredients?
The printout is from a family cookbook that I put together for the wedding of one of my sisters. The recipe comes from the instruction booklet that was actually in with the press when I bought it in the early 1990s. I've never found a better recipe, so I figure there's no point in mucking it up.
Please note: GF flour, real butter (you can't use most margarine if you're trying to avoid Soy), and no nuts anywhere in the vicinity.
If you're working along and truly want all of the ingredients, I should warn you that I also used green sanding sugar before I baked them.

Honestly, this is a really straightforward recipe. Your basic "cream the butter and sugar, then add stuff" recipe. (I love recipes like this - you're in and out of the kitchen in under half an hour, if you don't include clean-up - and if you can hear the kitchen timer from other parts of the house.)

One thing that I do like to do when coloring cookie dough: I like to add the food coloring with the other wet ingredients. It's easier to mix it in at that point, and you don't end up with the streaks you get when you add coloring to the dough.
In case you're wondering, when I'm doing a single recipe of this cookie dough, I don't worry about using a mixer. I honestly think it's faster with just a good spoon and a solid grip on the bowl.

If you add the food coloring with the liquid ingredients, you do need to be careful how much you add. You need it to be more vibrant at this stage than what you want the final product to be, because...

...when you add in the dry ingredients, the color will be tempered by the flour. (In this case, you can see that it's also just a little yellow-er than before. That's because the 1-for-1 flour isn't quite as pure white as all-purpose flour.)

Of course, the dough in the bowl doesn't look anything like shamrocks (though that would be really cool), which means it's time to break out the cookie press!

You actually fill it through the top, and then you crank the dough down until it is just barely coming through the plate, so you can make sure it's coming through evenly. 

Once you've got it going, you stand the press up (can you see the little copper guides?), and start cranking.
Forgive me for going back in time in the next couple of photos. When I work with this process I'm always transported back to the kitchen I grew up in, so the filter on the photos seems appropriate.
Every shape you make (be it shamrock or camel) will take a slightly different amount of dough, so you'll need to kind of twist and test for the first few that you crank out.

Eventually, you'll get your "place, twist, stop, lift, repeat" rhythm going, though, and eventually get to the point where you run out of dough.

How sad does that look when it's empty? Doesn't it deserve to be used more than one month out of the year?
I saw them looking like this and thought "hmm... they need something."
Better, right?
The dough does puff up a bit, so you kind of have to decide what you're more worried about: the way the finished cookies will look, or the way they'll hold together.

With gluten-free cookies, I've found that you usually want to err on the side of just a little too much dough, since they are already prone to more breakage than regular cookies.

You can see that the "split line" is right where the leaves connect to the stem. Slightly bigger cookies come off the pan with fewer crumbles.
Oh. And one photo that really needs to be in true color:
If you look closely, you can see that the very bottom edges of these are starting to brown. That's what you're looking for. I have no science to back me up, but I'm guessing that the carmelization also helps to keep them from breaking upon pan-removal.
Now, the recipe at the top of the page says that it will make 5 dozen wreaths, or about 3.5 dozen trees. I found that, when making shamrocks, I ended up with about 5.5 dozen.

And a really great hour or two of reminiscing.

Have a "family memory recipe" that you're afraid to make because you're not sure it has held up to time? Let me know and I'll see what I can do about making it and reporting back!

1 comment:

Robin said...

Yum! Spritz cookies! My favorites. Well, truth be told: My favorites are the wreathes with sprinkles and 1/2 candied cherries...but I'll eat any of them!