In my dreams I am an Italian peasant farmer. I would love to have a small piece of land, enough to grow all our veggies, to have a few chickens, olive trees for my own oil, grape vines for my own wine… I have no clue who would actually do all the work involved. The reality is – I don’t like bugs – spiders, slugs, snails, wetas ick!!! And, in spite of four years of Latin lessons one hundred million years ago – I don’t speak the language, and while they don’t have wetas in Italy – they do have snakes and scorpions – I would be a cot-case… gibbering helplessly in a corner (or, more likely – comatose from too much plonk!)
My limit is our small veggie garden and my precious pots of herbs.
When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I started to trawl through all my recipe books in search of gluten-free recipes. I soon realised savoury food is easy to alter, and I also found a number of recipes for cakes and cookies of Italian origin that are naturally gluten-free – that is, no alterations or replacements needed.
I haven’t done much baking lately – God knows I don’t need the calories. But I have another dream. I think I’d like to have a small bakery – exclusively gluten-free, perhaps supplying cafes and restaurants with cakes, cookies and desserts…
It’s probably not going to happen. I’ve done no research, and let’s face it – with the economic situation in the world at the moment wobbling all over the place, it would be madness to open a new business.
However, dreams are free – and this recipe might be one worth holding onto. This was in the Sunday Star Times newspaper today, Julie Le Clerc’s version of Ricciarelli di Siena, which are traditionally made at Christmas.
In a large bowl, put 25og ground almonds, 285g icing sugar (powdered sugar), 20g rice flour, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/8 tsp baking powder – beat them together using an electric mixer. I would sift the icing sugar next time – gluten free icing sugar can be a bit lumpy…
In a small bowl (or jug) – put 2 egg whites and 30g liquid glucose (which has to be the most irritating stuff ever invented – sticky! - there has to be a cheffy trick to getting the glucose out of the jar without resorting to swearwords??? Anyway – beat the eggwhites and glucose together till they are just foamy.
Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture. Then add 1 tsp almond extract – which I didn’t have, so I used orange-flower water instead. I had bought this
at the Indian deli around the corner from us a while ago and it was burning a hole in my pocket (so to speak).
Mix until the dough comes together. This is a bit of a sticky dough, but not unmanageably so.
Julie LeClerc says make the mixture into logs, then cut on an angle into oblongy sort of shapes…. they should be sort of biscotti looking. I made a pigs ear of that, so resorted to rolling lumps into balls (about the size of a walnut) and putting them on a baking sheet – then I pressed the balls with my fingers.
Then you leave the cookies on the bench for at least an hour to dry out a bit. Bake at 160c for about 15 minutes until light golden. Allow them to cool completely, then dust with icing sugar. Store in an airtight tin.
I made 29 cookies. They’re sweet, but not too sweet and the orange flavour is very subtle. They’re much softer than biscotti.