I never want to make, eat or serve in my cafes a gluten-free or dairy-free or anythingelse-free dish that is less good than its conventional equivalent. However, we do get an increasing number of customers looking for gluten-free food and this had got me thinking. Then a few weeks ago I tried a gluten-free brownie in the café at the top of the Tate Modern that overlooks the Thames and the City and I thought this brownie was pretty good.
So I embarked on a voyage of experimentation in the world of gluten-free cooking. I don’t think I’ve ever tried quite so many different versions of, ostensibly, the same thing. And many of them I have to say were really quite nasty. So I felt like Einstein discovering relativity when after considerable tinkering I came up with what I think is a stunning and reliable recipe. You will create love and adoration amongst gluten-avoiding friends if you make these for them. Or better still come and buy them from us!
The only weird ingredient is Xanthan gum which is used to replace the gluing-together effect of gluten. Xanthan gum is a natural product but fairly potent. You can buy it in powdered form from health food shops or the ‘free from’ sections of supermarkets. Be careful of your measurements and use proper chefs’ measuring spoons. If you put in twice what you need it will make the brownies too solid. Use the correct amount and they’ll be perfect.
Salt might seem an odd addition, but it is the making of these brownies. The Americans know a thing or two about brownie cookery and a little salt is alway there in a classy American brownie.
|500g||good quality dark chocolate||chopped into 2cm – 3cm chunks|
|325g||salted butter||cut into 2cm – 3cm pieces|
|400g||light muscovado sugar|
|250g||Dove’s gluten free flour|
|½ tsp||Xantham gum powder|
- Grease and line with baking parchment a straight sided baking tray 32cm x 25cm or similar
- Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over a very low heat. Put to one side to cool.
- Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until the mixture has tripled in volume and is much paler in colour and texture. (Either use a handheld electric whisk or a Kenwood-type mixer with the K blade)
- Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg/sugar mixture and quickly mix. Then quickly mix in the flour/salt/Xantham gum
- Pour into the prepared baking tray and bake for 30 minutes at 150C in a fan oven (a bit hotter for a non-fan oven) until crusty on top but only just set. One of the world’s worst crimes is overcooked brownies….but they’re not nice when they’re not properly cooked either. They start to crack just a little on the surface when they’re ready.
- Leave to cool and then portion.