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gluten-free egg-free fat-free soft flour tortillas

our-growing-edge-badgeI was recently invited by Genie over at the blog Bunny. Eats. Design. to take part in a monthly event she is hosting called Our Growing Edge. Genie describes Our Growing Edge as the part of ourselves that is still learning and experimenting and the aim of this food-related event is to encourage us to challenge ourselves by trying new things. I was very pleased to be invited: as I told her, nearly every time I set foot in the kitchen, I have a challenge of one sort or another facing me! Do check out her round-up of all the entries at the beginning of next month and see what everyone else has been up to. You never know, it may inspire you to try something new as well!

These soft flour tortillas seemed perfect for this challenge. Tortillas are so versatile: they are relatively quick to make, especially if you’ve run out of bread; they’re perfect for making a wrap if you just want a snack at lunchtime but you can also make them into something more substantial, like fajitas or burritos, for an evening meal.

There was just a slight problem though: it was difficult to get them to be both flexible AND soft… oh, AND I wanted to do all this without egg because my mum can’t eat egg whites and I wanted to make something she could eat as well.

I thought my prayers had been answered when I discovered psyllium husk. Psyllium helps to add some much-needed elasticity which is missing from gluten-free flour. What makes gluten so beautiful, and yet so evil all at the same time, is its ability to mimic bubble gum in its uncooked state and then, by some quasi-alchemical process, turn into cotton wool once cooked.

Unfortunately, psyllium husk hasn’t made this pact with the devil: any elasticity it adds in its uncooked state can become somewhat rubbery when cooked if too much is used. And that’s what my first attempt at these was. They rolled beautifully but they also gave your jaw a great workout whilst chewing your way through them.

Then, I had a brainwave: what about mashed potato to add some softness? So I tried it…and it worked! We ate these this evening as chicken fajitas with guacamole, salsa and spicy beans and rice. Delicious.

gluten-free egg-free fat-free soft flour tortillas 2

Serving suggestion: Gluten-free chicken fajitas served with guacamole and salsa

Gluten-free, egg-free and fat-free soft flour tortillas

Makes 6 medium tortillas

1 tsp psyllium husk
3 tbsp cold water
90g cold mashed potato
110 gluten-free self-raising flour
50g potato flour
25g tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
100g fat-free natural Greek yoghurt (I used Total 0%)

You will also need 6 x approx. 25cm squares baking parchment and a large, non-stick frying pan (skillet)

Put the psyllium husk into a small bowl or mug with 3 tablespoons of water, give it a good stir and set aside whilst you measure out the rest of the ingredients. The psyllium should now be gloopy.

Put everything into the bowl of the food processor. Blitz it until the mixture comes together in one ball of very sticky dough.

Dust your hands with flour and divide the mixture into 6 equal balls (they should be about 70g each). Liberally dust a square of parchment with flour and place a ball of dough in the centre. Using the heel and blade of your hand, gently flatten the dough into a circle, a couple of millimetres in thickness. Then finish it off with a rolling pin until it’s about 1mm in diameter. Prick all over with a fork. This will help to prevent the tortilla from puffing up with air when it’s in the frying pan. Make the remaining tortillas in the same way. These can now be stored in the fridge, stacked and covered with clingfilm until ready to use – although I think they are better cooked from fresh.

Place your frying pan (skillet) over a moderately high heat. When the pan is hot, balance the tortilla, still on its parchment, on the palm of your hand and carefully flip it into the pan. Peel off the parchment from the top of the tortilla. When the tortilla is browned and blistered on the bottom (a couple of minutes), toss it or flip it over with a palette knife and toast the other side.

What a coincidence that only the other day I was talking about rarely, if ever, making bread myself. The last time I tried it did not end well. I was following a recipe for focaccia from The Gluten-Free Baker written by Hannah Miles (who I believe to be a MasterChef finalist.) This is a beautiful book with gorgeous photographs of delicious-looking, drool-worthy treats (available on Amazon!). When I first came across it in the library, I actually had to stop myself from licking the pages. Just flicking through it made me realise that gluten-free food can still be so delicious that everyone, whether you have a gluten-sensitivity or not, can enjoy it.

But I digress. As I said, I was following a focaccia recipe… Actually, I’m being slightly disingenuous here. I did go off-piste somewhat: I didn’t have fresh yeast, only the fast-action dried variety so I had to try to work out how much less I needed and, what with me only wanting to make a half-batch of bread in the first place, the mental arithmetic got the better of me so I just bunged a full packet in; I didn’t have the prerequisite honey or buttermilk so used sugar and yoghurt instead; I also think I forgot to halve the salt, too much of which annihilates yeast…but I carried on regardless. How badly could it turn out, after all!!!???! Ah hubris! Lurking in the shadows with a banana-skin to chuck under my feet when I wasn’t looking. And down I went, squarely on my backside.  A salty, yeasty-smelling cowpat of a loaf. And nothing like the scrumptious-looking offering in the book. Which isn’t surprising really and is absolutely no reflection on Hannah Miles’s recipe. I let it go stale in a bowl and whizzed it up for breadcrumbs. But even these were a bit odd. This all goes to show that you mustn’t play fast and loose with recipes that others have sweated blood and tears over to get right in the first place.

So, imagine my chagrin when I discovered that I had forgotten to put my customary loaf of Genius multiseeded on the Tesco delivery order. Desperate measures were called for. I knew I needed to make some bread but the memory of the focaccia filled my nostrils with a somewhat yeasty stench. I decided to make some flatbread wraps. A lot less to go wrong… and thankfully I was right. The recipe below is actually 3-for-1: there is a basic wrap recipe (not pictured) but I’m never happy unless I’m tinkering (I never learn), so there is also the option to make garlic and herb ones or multiseeded ones as well. I discovered, as I was making them, that I’m not a huge fan of millet so I’ve drastically reduced the amount I put in at first but, if you like it, feel free to up the quantity. The garlic and herb ones are beautifully soft and flavoursome.

Gluten-free garlic and herb/multiseeded flatbread wraps

Makes 6 wraps

For the basic wrap recipe:

375g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
75g tapioca flour
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp salt
150ml tepid milk
2 tbsp olive oil
160g Greek yoghurt, 0% fat (I used Total which comes in a 170g tub but when I weighed it, it only came to 160g)
1 egg, lightly beaten

To make garlic and herb wraps, in addition to the basic recipe you will need:

1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme

Or to make multiseed wraps, in addition to the basic recipe you will need:

2 tsp millet seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Sift the flours, yeast, caster sugar, baking powder and xanthan gum into a large bowl. Add the garlic and dried herbs OR the millet, sesame and poppy seeds and the salt and stir with a balloon whisk to distribute them throughout. In a smaller bowl, lightly beat the milk, oil, yoghurt and egg together. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the milk, yoghurt and egg mixture. Make your hand into the shape of a claw and gradually incorporate the flour into the liquid by making circular movements with your hand. As the mixture comes together as a slightly sticky dough, start to knead. If it is a bit dry, add a little water, i.e. a tablespoon. As soon as the dough has come together, tip it out onto the work surface and knead for about 3-4 minutes until it has a soft, satiny texture. It shouldn’t be that sticky that flour is needed.

Divide the ball into 6 equal portions*. Wrap each ball in microwave-proof clingfilm**. When you are ready to cook them, put each ball of dough (still in the clingfilm) on a microwaveable dish and warm in the microwave on ‘high’ for 10 seconds and leave in there (or somewhere warm) for about 20-30 minutes. The ball of dough should have puffed up slightly. Remove the ball of dough from the clingfilm and roll out on a lightly-floured surface until it is about 1mm thick and about 25-28cm in diameter. I always keep a palette knife handy to loosen the rolled-out dough from the surface, should it stick. You won’t get a perfect circle – it will have raggedy edges, but I’ve decided that that’s part of its charm…

Heat a large, non-stick frying pan with a few drops of oil over a high heat. When the pan is hot, place the rolled-out dough in it (I find draping it over the rolling pin makes it easier) and toast each side for a couple of minutes, or until the surface is browned and slightly blistered. Remove from the pan and serve with your choice of filling.

* I’m terrible at dividing bowls of mixture into equal portions by eye and always end up with all different sizes. My technique is quicker to do than to explain but it works every single time. I weigh the mixture to find its total weight. Then I divide this by the number of portions I need to work out how much each portion should weigh. Then I set the scales to 0 and take out mixture until the scales read that weight as a negative value and make my portion. Then I reset the scales to 0 and start again. I carry on until all the mixture is used up.

** If you don’t want to cook all the flatbreads at once, put the balls of dough wrapped in the refrigerator now. They should keep for 3-4 days. When putting in the microwave, give them 15-20 seconds on high.

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