Saturday, 25 February 2012

The uses of Amaranth flour. Or, well one, at least.

One of my flatmates is lactose intolerant and also allergic to gluten, which makes cooking for her a bit limiting.... but it also leads us on an ever increasing search for really amazing recipes that vegan and gluten free people can eat, that are also yummy and not full of really weird substitutes.  The other by-product of this is that people randomly give her alternative food stuffs that they have found purely on the basis that they are gluten free.... even if they don't know what they are, how you should use them or what else they contain.  It is at once perplexing and also amusing.  One such occasion recently she was given several bags of amaranth flour and scoured the internet for recipes she could make with it.  She got hold of this gluten free biscuit recipe and we gave it a go:

Pistachio and Amaranth biscuits

3/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp rapeseed / canola oil
2/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup rice flour
1 cup amaranth flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda/ bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp chinese five spice

 - Set the oven at 175 degrees C / 350 F and grease some baking sheets.
 - Grind the nuts to a fine powder in a food processor, then add water, oil and syrup and mix.
 - In a separate bowl, mix the flour and all of the other dry ingredients together.
 - Stir the nut mix into the flour mix
 - Form into biscuit shapes.  These biscuits do not rise much, they stay the same shape that you make them in so you can form them into balls, or flatter circles... this doesn't make a pastry really but you could try cookie cutters if you wanted to.
 - Put the shapes onto the greased baking sheets and cook in the oven for 8 - 10 mins or until a little brown around the edges

Ta dah!
They are quick and easy to make, and quite lovely if you are having guests round that have allergies that normally don't get to partake in any biscuits or baked goods.  They are not too sweet either, so if you know someone who doesn't like too much sugaryness then these are great for them too.

In the end we added a lot more of the spice than it said in the recipe, but even so the taste was quite mild.  The amaranth flour gives the biscuits a quite particular taste and texture:
(The white dots are the amaranth)
I had a couple to get used to the taste and then we both decided we really liked them.  We're going to try modifying the recipe to see how hazelnuts and cinnamon would work, or even blue cheese and rosemary.  I'll keep you posted.

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