I have come to the sad realization that I do not play nice with gluten. However, as this is a food blog and not a medical text, I’ll spare you the details. Fortunately I’m in good company in this decade, so let’s just get to the pastry, shall we?
One of my favorite foods to enjoy with coffee is le pain aux poires, or loosely translated: pastry with pears. As far as I’m concerned, flour is simply a carrier for the luxurious butter in this pastry. So I began the quest this morning to create a gluten-free version.
Truth be told, I began last night. The pastry requires a bit of forethought in that you whiz all of the ingredients together and allow them to rest overnight. But I rather like it that way. It’s not one herculean task that leaves your kitchen a wreck and your feet aching.
I awoke this morning at seven--as it was my morning to get up with the kids--and by the time Rich woke up, I was pulling le pain aux poires out of the oven. You’re all smarter and more patient than am I, so I trust you’ll allow them to cool before diving in with a fork.
A quick note about gluten-free flour. I use Dove’s Farm, a variety available in UK markets. It is similar to Bob’s Red Mill but has a starchier quality. So if you do use Bob’s GF flour, combine it with about 25 percent arrowroot, for a total of 1 1/4 cups.
One last note, this recipe is inspired by Nigella’s Danish processor pastry, in How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
Yields 6 pastries
1 ¼ cups gluten-free flour, plus ¼ cup for dusting
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon active rapid-rise yeast
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
½ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons hot water
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
½ cup mascarpone cheese
1 egg plus 1 egg white
3 pears, peeled, halved and cored
In a food processor, whiz together the flour, salt, yeast, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add the butter and blend until pebbly. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, hot water, xanthan gum and egg. Add the butter and flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until just combined. It will be very sticky. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, turn the dough out onto a liberally floured surface (gluten free, of course). Allow to warm to room temperature for about 20 minutes then sprinkle with more flour and roll to about ½ inch thickness.
Fold in thirds as you would a business letter. Roll flat again and repeat, dusting with flour as needed. As you no doubt know, this creates flakiness in the finished pastry. Repeat several more times, rolling flat to finish.
Slice in six rectangles and transfer these to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Shape these into oblong discs that resemble the profile of a pear by folding in the sides, as you would a galette. Allow to rise in a warm place until soft and puffy, about half an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the sugar, mascarpone and egg. Place a generous dollop into the center of each pastry and top with a pear half.
Whisk the egg white with one tablespoon cold water until almost frothy. Use a brush to cover the edges of each pastry with the egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Longer is better, but I understand if you’re too excited.