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Homemade Chow: Gluten-Free Scones


I tried my hand at gluten-free baking for the first time a few weeks back, joining a GF baking evening class at a recently opened studio called The Mixing Bowl in Sheung Wan. A couple of reasons for signing up: I needed a hump day treat; I craved baking with an actual oven (a rarity in Hong Kong apartments); but most importantly, I wanted to find out more about going gluten-free and how to make palatable GF baked goods!

So, what is gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite mainly found in wheat, barley and rye, and is a common component in breads and baked goods, pasta, cereal, sauces, beer, malt and more. Gluten is what gives elasticity - aka that chewy texture - to dough, helping it rise when baked and keep its shape.

Why go gluten-free?
Besides those who are gluten intolerant, advocates of GF living say that limiting one's intake of gluten can lead to an increase in energy levels and a healthier digestive system. However, just because something is gluten-free doesn't mean that it's inherently healthier for you or contains fewer calories.

Since moving to Hong Kong, I've met several people who are or have developed an intolerance to gluten, and it was high time I learned about gluten and what it means to live without it. The demand for GF baking classes in HK was so high that Victor Lo and Kyle Giesbrecht, the couple behind The Mixing Bowl, have designed a specific workshop with original recipes to meet the needs of their students. My taste testers and I were particularly impressed with the results of the GF scones from class, which were unexpectedly fluffy and crumbly in equal parts. Do give these a try if you are going GF, know someone who's gluten intolerant, or just want a new scone recipe in your arsenal.

Gluten-Free Scones
Makes 12 

210g All purpose flour (gluten-free)
35g Caster sugar
2tsp Baking powder (gluten-free)
55g Unsalted butter (cold and cubed)
60ml Whole milk
60ml Heavy cream
Clotted cream and Jam to serve

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

2. Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a generous bowl. Gradually add the butter cubes into the flour mixture, using your fingertips to "rub" in the butter until the texture of the overall mixture is of a consistency comparable to that of breadcrumbs.

3. Stir in the milk and cream by hand until all the ingredients combine to create a rough dough.

4. Dust your chosen worktop with some flour and transfer the dough onto the floured surface. Knead the dough very lightly for 20 seconds, then use a rolling pin (or floured wine bottle!) to roll out the dough to 1.5 inches thick.

5. Cut the scones using a round pastry or cookie cutter. Brush only the tops of the scones with a touch of milk, and bake for c.20 minutes, until the scones have risen and browned slightly on top. Serve with a hearty helping of clotted cream and jam - it's up to you whether you cream or jam first!


Luke Taylor said...

I was actually looking into GF last night after I accidentally bought and ate some GF fish cakes. It seems like GF is becoming more of a fad thing than anything else. Most of the websites I was looking at said there was no health benefit to eating GF products unless you had an intolerance or had celiac disease. Apparently Pizza Hut in the UK have a GF crust option that their website specifically mentions is not recommended for celiac sufferers. Do you think it is more of a fad than anything else? This was never a large problem 10 years ago.

Valerie said...

Good question, LT - and this was a question that was asked during this GF baking class I took. As far as I understand, you can be gluten intolerant (i.e. a celiac), have gluten sensitivities to varying degrees, or be completely okay with gluten. Most people eat what they want and don't feel the consequences, but if you're someone with a even a slight sensitivity to gluten, then going GF would go a long way to improving your health and how you feel after eating. Two of my now GF friends ate everything for the first 20 years of their lives - one didn't even know she was gluten intolerant and just associated eating with pain in her gut, and the other developed it gradually as her immune system weakened after moving to Hong Kong.

I think people are becoming more aware of the subject of GF, which is why more people are talking about it and it is at risk of becoming a health fad, but I felt it was important to educate myself a little about the subject and learn how to cater for people who can't take it! Hope this answers your questions!

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