11 December 2011

Caramelized Leek and Mushroom Tartlettes

I've been playing with some different flour blends (and baking ratios) lately. You might have noticed1 that I bake by weight. I strongly recommend it; it's a must for truly consistent results. Good digital scales are easily found for under $30, so cost shouldn't be a deterrent. My scale was $25, and I love it.
When bakers speak of ingredient ratios, they mean amounts as measured by weight. I'll illustrate using a 1:1:1 (flour:sugar:fat) ratio and say that our weight is 100g. Each item needs to weigh 100g. Easy. By volume, however, the measurements are not equal. Let's convert.
100g of each item looks something like: 3/4 Cup of flour; 1/2 Cup + 1tsp of sugar; 7 Tbsp of fat.
Allow me to note here that for small measurements, such as 1/4 tsp, weight isn't as much of a factor; it's perfectly acceptable (and common practice) to use volume.

I do my best to include approximate volume measurements for my recipes. Unfortunately (and the reason I said "approximate" just then), you're now left with a couple of variables that can result in significant deviations in outcome.2 Remember, these variables affect baking by volume alone. If you bake by weight, you're pretty much good.
  • Variable #1: Flours have different weights. I mix my own GF flour blends and use different ones, depending on what I'm baking. If I measured 100g of each blend by volume, I would undoubtedly notice differences. For instance, brown rice flour weighs more than sorghum by over 30g! If another baker subs flours or uses a packaged blend, the recipe results could be quite different... and not in a good way.
  • Variable #2: How the flour is measured.3 Do you scoop flour out of the bag and level off the cup? Do you spoon flour into the measuring cup evenly up to the rim? Depending on your method, you can end up with weights ranging  from 110g to 150g. This translates as potentially 30% more or less flour than the recipe requires.
How's my argument for baking by weight? Convincing? Maybe a little?
Once you've converted to baking by weight, the lovely thing about understanding ratios is that, you have a freedom from recipes and can play with being more inventive and creative. Of course, gluten-free ratios don't quite work the same as ratios for gluten-based flours. Now add Vegan into the mix4, and you've got a pretty different set of "rules" with which to work.
Enter intuition.
I once thought5 I could improve upon recipe ideas by plugging my GF, vegan ingredients into common ratios for recipes. I had baked enough6 to know how a batter or dough should look, but when my cupcake batter turned out to be the consistency of a half-melted milkshake, I defied my better judgment, and popped them into the oven anyway. They were not a success.
One might say that baking requires Scientific Intuition.7 Gluten-free, vegan baking seems to require a tad more intuition. Since we've been talking ratios, let's say, Intuition:Science = 2:1 

Well, now I've taken the circuitous route to bring us to this point:
Caramelized Leek and Mushroom Tartlettes... and some really green arugula.
A point that is not unrelated to my previous ramblings, since I used that Scientific Intuition to create this (vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free...) recipe. The filling was all intuition; the crust was a combination of both.
Here's where I add my disclaimer: In the event of volume measurement, I cannot guarantee crust outcome.

Is it tartlette or tartlet? I prefer the look of the former; I'm going to use that.
Since it's that time of year, these struck me as a lovely hors d'oeuvre  for a holiday dinner or New Year's gathering. They can be snapped up in two little bites. The mushroom filling has creamy undertones without being too rich; the leeks are mild, so there's no need to worry about onion-breath in a social setting; and you get a nice boost of B vitamins from the nutritional yeast.
Honestly though, nothing says you can't bake them up for tomorrow's lunch.

You'll need a mini tart pan for this recipe. It could work in four ramekins or a 6" pie plate as well. If anyone tries one (or both) of those variations, I'd love to hear.

Don't be discouraged by the written length of the recipe. There are a few steps involved, but it doesn't take much time to prepare, and the labor intensivity8 factor is low - "special occasion" not required.

Caramelized Leek and Mushroom Tartlettes
(makes 12 tartlettes)

For the crust:
  • 3/4 Cup (102g) Sorghum Flour
  • 1/4 Cup + 1 tsp (33g) Tapioca Flour
  • 2 Tbsp (15g) Potato Starch -(not Potato Flour)
  • 2 Tbsp (16g) Buckwheat Flour
  • 1/3 tsp Guar Gum*
  • 1/3 tsp Sea Salt
  • 6 Tbsp (85g) Earth Balance® Coconut Spread (or any vegan margarine or shortening)
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp (25g) Ice Cold Water

    For the filling
    • 8oz (224g) White Button or Crimini Mushrooms
    • 1 Large Leek
    • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used a homemade rosemary-infused9 one, but plain EVOO is just as delicious)
    • 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk (I used So Delicious® Unsweetened Coconut)
    • 1 tsp Coconut Sugar
    • 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
    • 2 tsp Tapioca Starch
    • Sea Salt to taste
    Oven 350F/180C

    Prepare the crust.
    *I tried it without the gum, but the crust was a bit too crumbly when served warm. It would work perfectly sans gum for a dessert pie/tart meant to be eaten cool/cold. 
    Make sure everything is really cold - place a few ice cubes in your water; measure out the buttery spread and pop it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
    Using a food processor, pulse together the flours, starch, guar gum and salt. Cut the frozen buttery spread into smaller pieces; add it to the flour mixture, and pulse until the fat is uniformly distributed and the mixture is crumbly. You can also cut the fat into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. If you prefer this method, it may be helpful to use a cheese grater to grate the frozen buttery spread into your flour mixture; it will help with even distribution.

    I highly recommend using a food processor for this step, even if you cut in the fat by hand. Once your flour/buttery spread mixture is the proper consistency (I once saw someone refer to it as being like beach sand after a light rain; I like that analogy), with the food processor on low, begin to add the cold water 2 tsp at a time. The dough will begin to come together. Watch your dough. You may not need to add all of the water - just enough to make a dough that is neither wet nor too dry or flaky.
    Form the dough into a smooth ball, and pop it into the fridge, while you...

    Prepare the filling
    Leeks are notorious for hiding little dirt and stone surprises in their layers. Make sure you wash them well. Chop off the end and slice the leek lengthwise. Chop into quarter inch pieces, leaving the tough green tops out. Chop mushrooms into small pieces and set aside.

    Add the leeks, olive oil and a pinch of salt to a covered wok or large saute pan, cook over medium heat until softened and translucent. Add in the coconut sugar after a few minutes to help them caramelize.
    Once the leeks are tender, add the mushrooms and another small pinch of salt. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and have released their water.
    In a small bowl or glass, create a slurry by adding the tapioca starch and nutritional yeast to the (cold) non-dairy milk and mixing until there are no lumps. Add the slurry to the cooked mushrooms and leeks. Stir for a minute or so until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Now assemble.
    Grab your chilled dough from the fridge. If you're using mini-tart tins, as I did, your life crust prep just got easy. Pull off small pieces (enough to form an approximately 1" ball), and press the dough evenly into each tin. Allow the crust to be slightly thicker around the top edge.
    Poke the bottom of each crust with a fork, and bake the unfilled crusts for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and spoon the mushroom mixture into each crust, filling the tartlettes to the top.
    Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes. The filling should be bubbling and the tops should be a bit brown.

    Allow the tartlettes to cool slightly before removing from the pan and serving.

    The crusts didn't brown quite as much as I had hoped. I think it was the fault of my tart pan, which needs to be replaced for a number of reasons.
    Regardless, the tartlettes were still fully cooked and delicious!!

    Create a Fabulous Day!

      1. If you've seen my recipes, read my "About Me" page, etc... etc... 
      2. If significantly unappetizing variations.
      3. And/or who is doing the measuring. 
      4. Ha-ha. Mix! Get it? Mix?
      5. Rather naively
      6. Of other people's recipes... and some of my own.
      7. I say it all the time. 
      8. I may have just made that up, but whatever.
      9. There's that rosemary again; no one was around to stop me.

      No comments:

      Post a Comment