Ask Chef Phyllis
No sooner had I finished my post on gluten-free pastry cream than I received a phone call about gluten-free dough…for cream puffs and eclairs. As you know, you can make both with the same dough (called pate a choux, or choux pastry). And since it has no sugar, you can make a sweet or savory filling for your puffs. Which gave me an idea—and no, it wasn’t just beginner’s luck.
Many of you don’t know this, but I started writing this blog and answering food questions during a rough time in my life. My husband was sick—really sick. He was in intensive care, getting around-the-clock doctoring. Though he was pretty much out of it, he was fighting for his life.
Boredom isn’t usually a problem for me, but with no partner and only worries, I had endless time on my hands to think about everything. So it was most fortuitous that my friend and former employer had started up a blog about healthy food. What?! Was this the opportunity of a lifetime for this chef and late bloomer or, at the very least, a reprieve from boredom? (All of this, indeed, is the makings of yet another post…)
Back to those cream puffs. Did you know that you make the pate a choux for cream puffs from rice flour? Of course, you can always just buy rice flour, and many other suitable gluten-free flours, but most of them are expensive and come in small, one-pound packages.
With this in mind, I asked myself, If you can grind wheat berries for whole wheat flour, why not grind brown rice for gluten-free rice flour as well? With a Vitamix or a food processor equipped with a metal blade, it’s easy.
So, do you think that you can grind your own gluten-free flour? Sure, you can! Just be sure to follow a couple of key rules:
Rule number uno: You must keep all of your flour dry.
Rule number dos: You must grind it right before use since it turns rancid quickly.
Now that you know how easy it is to grind your own gluten-free flour, it’s time to enjoy this recipe for perfect gluten-free pate a choux for your cream puffs.
Gluten-Free Pate a Choux for Cream Puffs
Chef’s note: Baking powder is not an ingredient in traditional cream puff dough, but here it is necessary for proper rising. Other than that, the taste is so close to wheat flour cream puffs that you’d have to be an expert to know the difference. Enjoy!
1 cup organic brown rice
1 cup water
½ cup (1 stick) butter
Pinch sea salt
½ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Grind the brown rice and remeasure it to only 1 cup. (It makes more than that when ground in a blender, flour mill, or food processor.)
- Pour water and butter into a medium-sized saucepan. Add salt and bring it to a boil.
- Meanwhile, mix rice flour and baking powder in a small bowl. When the water has come to a boil and the butter is melted, add the flour mixture all at once to the saucepan.
- Stir until a mass forms. Cool slightly, then put the dough into the bowl of a mixer.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating each thoroughly into the dough before adding another. The dough will be silky and clear the bowl.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a pastry bag, pipe the dough onto the parchment paper.
- Bake until puffed and slightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.
After sufficient cooling, the puffs are ready for a sweet filling (such as our pastry cream) or a savory one. I like roasted chicken salad with celery and pecans for a ladies’ luncheon entrée, but it can be anything you desire.
Image from iStock/beats3.