The Mélanger kitchen has been loaded up with flour, dairy and sugar alternatives.  Over the last few months, my days have been filled experimenting with a completely different blend of ingredients.  Whilst trying to identify a source of ongoing pain, Mr Mélanger has been instructed to eliminate a number of food groups by his doctor as part of the process.  So here we are.

I am determined to be fully prepared if the inevitable happens, and Mr Mélanger is crowned intolerant to more than just the known lactose.  In fact, I will be very pleased to roll my sleeves up to alternative baking, if that is the only outcome to this seemingly never-ending medical investigation.

Removing foods from your diet through simple ingredient avoidance is probably the easiest solution.  Enjoying a rich flourless chocolate cake versus a wheat flour chocolate cake would certainly not be a chore for me.

But on the other hand, removing foods from your diet through ingredient substitution is a little trickier.  Wanting to enjoy, say a humble piece of pie, starts to introduce some obstacles.  There really is no substitute for pastry.

Mr Mélanger is quite partial to a piece of pie, so experimenting with pastry is a priority for me.

I wanted to start with a gluten free pastry recipe that combined both nuts and flours, hoping for a little more stability.  The linzertorte came straight to mind.

Using my go-to linzer recipe as a base, I began the substitution process.  I have gleaned from my limited research thus far that a good gluten free flour mix includes both a flour that is ‘stronger’ to provide a stable structure, and a complementary flour that helps towards lightening and binding ingredients.

So based on the limited selection of flours I had on hand, I chose gram (chickpea) flour to play the stable structure role, and then tapioca flour to play the lighten and bind position – plus I used a little measure of xanthan gum to help provide more strength.

Overall, the pastry was fairly easy to work with.  It was stickier than your usual linzer pastry, but completely manageable.

In terms of taste, both within the raw pastry and the finished baked product I could detect the flavour of raw beans from the gram flour.  In something so delicate, I will probably look to use an alternative flour next time.  But in saying that, when the tarts came out of the oven, the aroma was unmistakably hazelnut.

The texture of the pastry was still relatively soft.  It crumbled nicely but was probably what I would describe as a little too chewy.

Have you made a successful gluten free pastry?  Would love if you could share your winning formula!

In the meantime, here is my first attempt at a gluten free linzertorte.

{ Gluten free linzertorte } Adapted from Andreas Stössel – pastry chef and principal lecturer in patisserie at the College of Tourism and Hospitality at Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane

* Ingredients *
60g ground hazelnuts
120g gram flour
60g tapioca flour
70g caster sugar
4g xanthan gum
Pinch salt
120g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
60g iced water
Raspberry jam

* Directions *
Process the nuts, flour, sugar, gum and salt until combined.  Add the butter and process until you achieve a chunky, large bread crumb consistency.  Then mix in the egg only until it combines.  Lastly, add only enough water until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove the pastry and set aside for 10 minutes to slightly soften.  Then roll the pastry out between two pieces of baking paper.  Cut rounds of pastry to fit for mini removable bottom pie tins (approximately 10cm / 4 in).  Gently line the pie tins, neaten the edges and pop back into the fridge for 30 minutes.  Re-roll the remaining pastry and cut out strips that will be used to line the top of the tart in a crisscross pattern.  Also pop the pastry strips into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  Remove the pastry shells and strips.  Add enough raspberry jam to generously cover the base of the pastry.  Line 3 strips of pastry in one direction, and then 3 strips of pastry in the other on top of each tart.  Pop all the assembled tarts back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

With the oven heated, place the tarts on a baking sheet, and bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Makes 4 mini tarts