Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Santa Lucia buns freak out

So, I was tasked with making the allergy kids' Santa Lucia buns this year. Great. It is the 2nd Grade's job to hold this festival at the school. No idea why. Maisie signed me up to do the baking for the kids with food allergies (like there was anyone else who would do it). For some reason I was totally stressed by having to make these buns. Something about making egg free bread and having to make them "pretty". Pretty is not something I am good at. Tasty treats, yes. Pretty, not so much.
Anyway, long story short, I got some advice from gluten free friends and googled up this recipe:
Challah Bread
1/3 cup warm water
1 package rapid rise gf yeast
1 tsp. granulated cane sugar
1 cup vanilla dairy or non-dairy (soy or coconut yogurt) at room temperature
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
5 large egg yolks at room temperature (slightly mixed)
1/3 cup canola oil
4 Tbs. honey, agave nectar or molasses
4 cups Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour*
3 Tbs. + 2 tsp. granulated cane sugar
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder1 large egg, mixed
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, or other topping or mix-in (optional)
Directions:Preheat your oven to 200 F, then turn it off; if you have a warming drawer, you may set that to low/moist setting instead. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar to proof the yeast; set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until combined. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. After 5 minutes of proofing, stir in the yeast-water mixture into the wet ingredients (note: if your yeast isn't bubbling at this point, throw it out and start again with fresh yeast). Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until fully integrated, then mix 2 minutes more on medium speed.
Once the dough is combined, divide it in half and divide each half into three equally-sized balls. Roll each ball out into a coil or long log on a clean, flat surface dusted lightly with Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour. Pinch together one end of each coil, wetting them slightly with water to help them join together at the top, then braid them, finishing by connecting them to the top of the other end in order to form a crown, or circular shape. You will then have one round challah loaf. Gently transfer it to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for the second set of three balls. In the alternative, you can simply divide the dough in half, roll out into a flattened coil, then twist upon itself and join at the ends to form a circular loaf; repeat with the other half of the dough ball.In a small bowl, mix the extra egg together and brush over each loaf well, coating the entire top surface.
Sprinkle the seeds or any toppings at this point, then place the tray (covering the loaves with wax paper sprayed with cooking oil) in a warming drawer set to low heat, or into the preheated oven for approximately 20 - 30 minutes. (Don't expect the bread to rise much at this stage).Once risen slightly, place the uncovered tray in an oven preheated to 350 F (static) or 325 F (convection) for 20-25 minutes. Remove to cool on a wire rack and cut after slightly cooled.
Of course, the recipe was just close to what I needed some ingredients didn't work with the food allergies I had to work around or were things I didn't have in my kitchen. So I had to wing it. Instead of yogurt, I used potato milk. Instead of egg yolks, I used egg replacer for 3 eggs,. Instead of canola oil, I used coconut oil (to help the the texture lost from not using yogurt). Instead of Jules' Flour I used Bob's Red Mill. Who's Jules? "Everybody know Bob!" (Nana quote) Instead of Kosher salt I used regular old Christian/Devil Worshiper salt. Maybe it was Lot's wife. Or would she, as a Jew, be Kosher?
The thing about cooking this way is the prep work. you have to mix and let sit the egg replacer. Then heat the coconut oil up so it's not solid. And you have to mix the potato milk up (it's powdered) and let it set up. Plus the normal setting of the yeast. It makes for a lot of dishes. Hey look! It actually made a giant dough ball!
Then instead of braiding the dough into a loaf which would need to be cut I made individual mini buns. No cross contamination issues with sharing knives, cutting boards. They're heart shaped. 'Cause I had a heart cookie cutter. And because that was as creative as I could be in that moment. Maisie's teacher suggested I use some sort of a something-er-other to make an impression in each bun. Huh? I just nodded and smiled, not having any idea what I would use and not about to go hunt down and buy something I'd use once. I did sprinkle the buns with a little cinnamon sugar before sticking them in to bake. Cinnamon sugar makes everything better. And brushing the tops of each bun with egg replacer didn't seem like that great of an idea.

My cookie cutter has Sharpie on it from a previous adventure cutting out felt hearts for Valentine's Day. But hey, it still cuts cookies and can shape dough!
Here they are, going into the warm oven to rise. Not that gluten free bread really rises much. But whatever, I was trying to follow the directions (I do that occasionally).
Fresh out of the oven. Did you notice I forgot the saffron to color the dough yellowish? Oops. Oh well, it saved me the trip to the store. I don't own saffron. I've never used it in a recipe before. I had a thought yesterday to use turmeric, but I forgot the plan about the same time I forgot about having to go get saffron.
Rooster comes in to do a taste test. Her hand is freakishly red from cold. She was outside helping Dave and Julia put up the Christmas decorations.
See - they're kinda, almost pretty. And, what's more, they taste good!
Finally, I bagged and labelled the buns with each allergic child's name and class. Dave said "Maisie gets to hand those out right?". Uh, probably not. Only the oldest girl in the class gets to be Santa Lucia. The rest of the class have to be her groupies. It's lame. One kid gets all the glory. But whatever. Dave's decided Maisie gets to had out the allergen free buns. He thinks he's going to go to school tomorrow and tell Maisie's teacher this. I'll believe it when I see it. I've got plenty of other things to argue about with her teacher. Next year, 3rd Grade, is the gardening year and Maisie's teacher thinks she might have the class grow, harvest, and bake with wheat, oats and rye. I'm working on altering the lesson plan to rice, potatoes and corn.
So my freak out is all done. One less holiday thing to do. Now to wrap the presents, mail crap, try to make the kids pose for a Christmas picture, bake, clean, shop for people who are impossible to buy for, drink...


  1. Well done!! Very pretty!! I hope Maisie gets to hand them out. :)

  2. Maisie did not get to hand anything out. She and the rest of the St. Lucia groupies walked along and sang behind the ONE kid who got to be St. Lucia. A parent (yes, how lame is that) passed out the GF buns I made.

    I boycotted the whole deal. I irks me no end that there are as many children in 2nd grade as there are classrooms at school but they couldn't each kid have a turn to be St. Lucia. Just because it's tradition doesn't mean it doesn't suck eggs!