Why Gluten free Teff Crackers?
As many of our diners and guests know I am a coeliac. Coeliac’s disease is an auto-immune condition and as any coeliac will tell you, eating a gluten-free diet is not a choice. Even a crumb of gluten can cause catastrophic damage so for this reason everything I serve at Knife & Fork is gluten free, such as the gluten free teff crackers for cheese, as I need to be able to taste everything.
When I first set up Knife & Fork I didn’t advertise the fact that I only served gluten free food as I was not convinced that anyone other than coeliacs would come. I didn’t want to be a specialist/alternative restaurant, I wanted Knife & Fork to be somewhere everyone could come and relax, socialise and enjoy delicious food together, regardless of their dietary requirements. I did also want to dispel the belief that all gluten free food is inferior to the ‘normal’ stuff and show that gluten free (GF) food can be just as delicious as any other food; in fact it is normal food where just a few ingredients (wheat, barley & rye) are avoided. “Real food” like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits and nuts is, of course, naturally gluten-free!
Having said that, avoiding wheat, barley & rye does cause a bit of a problem when baking! If any baked goods are not delicious in their own right I don’t bother making or eating them. Poor substitutions are not worth bothering with in my opinion and also nutritionally are not usually any good for us anyway.
As I tell all my guests, the wonderful Naomi Devlin is my gluten free baking guru as well as a friend. Any baking/patisserie is a skill in its own right but to create GF recipes that work and taste amazing really is a specialist area. To test and develop recipes and to make them nutritionally dense is a real skill, which requires patience and perseverance, and one that I prefer to leave to others. As much as I love baking I don’t have the time or the inclination to create my own recipes for bread, pastry and so on. I happily leave that to Naomi who is a self – proclaimed ‘nerd’ who just loves the scientific way these particular recipes have to be developed. All I can say is “thank heaven for Naomi”!
So, what has this got to do with eating at Knife & Fork?
Nearly every weekend I am asked for the recipe for the Teff crackers that we serve with cheese. I point everyone in Naomi’s direction and her lovely book River Cottage Gluten Free by Naomi Devlin. Finally I am sharing the recipe with you. Happy baking – enjoy!
Gluten free teff crackers for cheese recipe (GF)
When I make these crackers I use a GF sourdough starter but I do appreciate that not everyone wants to spend six days making the starter before making the first batch of crackers. Luckily, Naomi has an alternative method, which is the recipe below. Unfortunately, this does mean the crackers are not also dairy free – if you would like to make them GF/DF and/or would like to use a sourdough starter all the details are here on Naomi’s blog http://milkforthemorningcake.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/troubleshooting-for-gluten-free.html.
For the sponge:
60g rice flour
80g live natural yogurt ( or 140g brown rice sourdough starter)
60g teff flour
90ml warm water
2 tablespoons ground linseed/flaxseed
For the crackers:
50ml olive oil
80g rice flour
60g tapioca flour
15g muscovado sugar
6g sea salt
2 teaspoons of psyllium husk
1beaten egg, for glazing
extra sea salt for sprinkling
2 large baking sheets
For the sponge, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, until all combined together.
Cover and set aside at room temperature for 3 – 6 hours.
Now add the olive oil, rice flour, tapioca flour, sugar, salt and psyllium to the sponge mix and mix well.
Knead to a firm dough, adding a little water to bring it all together if it is a little crumbly.
Leave to rest for one hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Fan180C/Gas 6.
Break the dough into 3 or 4 pieces.
Place one piece on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll out thinly – about the thickness of a penny. You can dust the dough and bottom sheet to help prevent from sticking.
Remove the top layer of parchment and place the dough and the bottom sheet of parchment onto a baking tray. Mark the dough into biscuits (or you can bake the sheet whole and break it into shards after it has been baked). Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the crackers are crisp and golden. Check after about 8 minutes as it will depend on how thinly you have rolled the dough and also all ovens vary. Do keep an eye on them and check every few minutes.
Leave to cool. They do crisp up further as they cool down.
Repeat with all the remaining dough.
Store in airtight container and eat within a week or so.
Thank you to Naomi for this great recipe.
Gluten Free Baking Cookery Courses
Naomi runs gluten free baking courses at River Cottage, Dorset and also Otter Farm, Devon. If you have seen the recent channel 4 Grand Designs episode at Otter Farm with Mark Diacono – why not book a cookery course there? You can learn some amazing GF baking skills with Naomi in the amazing kitchen “as seen on TV’!
I buy my vegetable seeds from Mark at Otter Farm and own both of his books too. He is my inspiration for developing a perennial vegetable garden sometime soon – much to John’s horror; he is not sure I have time to run a full size vegetable garden alongside the B&B and restaurant – I just say sleep is overrated – too many things to do and oh so little time …
Even so, I am definitely going to make sure I visit Otter Farm during 2017. I can enjoy another fabulous baking day or two with Naomi and to do it at Otter Farm would be perfect!
If you would like to know more about Naomi’s baking days at Otter Farm do click on this link. You can do all three days or any individual day. Gluten free three day: http://bit.ly/2euM2Cj
You can also book Naomi’s courses at River Cottage, Dorset directly via their website https://www.rivercottage.net/cookery-courses/specialist.
For more of her baking recipes do take a look at her blog http://milkforthemorningcake.blogspot.co.uk