Pesto Scrolls (Gluten Free)

Bread. I miss it. Soft, fluffy, white bread that rises beautifully and tastes delicious as only bread with gluten in it really can. I feel like I am on a hamster-wheel quest for tasty gluten-free bread that never-ends. But then that is partly my own fault as, when I come up with something delicious, my family all hope that I’ll stop there and continue producing the latest recently-perfected loaf whereas I almost immediately move on mentally and am planning my next new thing. And sadly, for the family, that likely means days or weeks of mistakes for lunch as I experiment and tweak a recipe. Maybe one day, I’ll come up with gluten-free soft, fluffy, white bread but, for now, that is only a dream and an idea as I am also a bit obsessed about trying to keep our main meals healthy and as fibre-full as a gluten-free diet will allow.

I don’t actually remember the genesis of this particular recipe. It comes off the back of weeks of experimenting with gluten-free bread making with no particular end goal in mind. It came together and worked out remarkably quickly. I have given one filling suggestion here; my children love it when I fill it with marmite and grated cheese instead, to make gluten-free ‘ scrolls’ but there are many other fillings that tempt me – cheese and bacon, spinach and ricotta, cheese and onion, sundried tomato pesto and kalamata olives…the options are as endless as your imagination!

As usual, the ingredients below are based on a 250ml cup as equal to 1 cup. This makes about 12 rolls. These are best on the day they are made and not too bad the day after, but if they need refreshing, use my husband’s trick and pop them in the microwave briefly before eating.

What you’ll need for the dough:

3 tablespoons of chia seeds

2 tablespoons of psyllium husk

2 teaspoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of active, dried yeast

½ cup of lukewarm water

½ cup of potato starch

½ cup of tapioca starch

1 cup of buckwheat flour

1 cup of sorghum flour

1 cup of cold water

½ teaspoon of salt (or adjust to taste)

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 eggs

What you’ll need for the filling:

I didn’t measure any of these quantities so the amounts here are a guess – I just used them in proportions and amounts that I liked the look of!

About 3/4 cup of pesto

Few tablespoons of sundried tomato strips

Few tablespoons of olives

About 150 grams of feta

What to do:

1. Finely grind the chia seeds and put them in a large mixing bowl along with the psyllium husk, sugar and yeast. Add the ½ cup of lukewarm water and whisk everything together. This will make a very stiff paste-like mixture (if you have any doubts that your yeast is still active, it is probably best to test that separately before making these scrolls).

2. In another bowl, blend together completely the potato starch, tapioca starch, buckwheat flour and sorghum flour. Take ½ cup of the blended flour and put it in a saucepan with the cup of cold water and whisk together. Gently heat the mixture in the saucepan, whilst continuing to whisk it to prevent lumps, until a smooth, thick paste has formed. The mixture may appear quite lumpy right before it is ready – keep whisking until it is smooth and thick. Once the mixture is smooth and thick, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside for the mixture to cool for a  few minutes.

3. While the mixture is cooling, add the remaining flour/starch mixture, salt, apple cider vinegar and eggs to the yeast mixture. Add the mixture from the saucepan to the mixing bowl and carefully start mixing everything together. If the mixture from the saucepan is still quite warm, try to mix it just into the flour/starch blend as it cools further and then into the yeast mixture at the bottom of the mixing bowl once it has cooled to a lukewarm temperature – if it mixes with the yeast whilst still very hot, it may kill the yeast. Or you could be less impatient than me and just wait until the mixture from the saucepan is lukewarm before adding it to the bowl! I prefer to do the mixing at this stage by hand, but you could also use a stand mixer.

4. Once the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, they should form a relatively stick dough. Generously sprinkle buckwheat flour over the surface on which you plan to roll and fill the scrolls, such as your kitchen counter, as well as on your hands, rolling pin and the top of the dough ball in the mixing bowl. Remove about half the dough from the bowl and knead it on the floured surface until it loses some of its stickiness and is easier to work with. Reflour your work surface, place the dough in the centre of the flour and then roll out a rectangle of dough which is about ½ cm high. If the edges of the rectangle aren’t straight, trim them with a butter knife so that you have a roughly-straight edged rectangle which is about 25 cm long and a multiple of 5 (any number) wide.

5. If making pesto scrolls, spread pesto over the top of the dough, followed by crumbled feta, sliced olives and sundried tomato pieces (I cut mine a little smaller than they came), scattering these evenly across the dough. If using a different filling, use this instead of the pesto filling. Carefully roll up the dough starting at the end that is a multiple of 5 cm (so the 25 cms of dough get incorporated into your roll of dough as it is created – hopefully the photo below will help make it clear!). Cut the roll of dough into sections approximately 5 cms across and place each section slightly apart on a buttered baking pan.

6. Repeat the above process with the other half of the dough and then with the trimmings from your dough rectangles until all the dough has been turned into scrolls on your baking pan. If your dough has been rising in the bowl while you were making the first batch of scrolls, as is likely, you may need to aim for a thickness for the dough that is slightly higher than the ½ cm mentioned previously.

7. Push down each scroll slightly with a flat hand to flatten a little and make the shape a bit more round. Cover the scrolls with a damp tea towel and set aside somewhere warm and draft-free to rise. I left mine for about an hour and they rose to about 1 1/3 to 1 ½ times their original size.

8. Once the dough has risen, boil the kettle and turn the oven on to 180°C. Place a baking tray on the bottom shelf of the oven and then fill the tray with boiling water from the kettle. Close the oven door and leave for a few minutes while the oven pre-heats and a steamy atmosphere is created by the hot water.

9. Remove the damp cloth from the scrolls and put the baking pan in the middle of the pre-heated oven. Bake the scrolls for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown and obviously done. They should sound hollow when tapped when they are done but I have found that they can sometimes sound hollow before being golden brown, in which case, leave them in the oven until the colour changes.

10. Once the scrolls are cooked, remove the baking pan from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes so that the cheese is reasonably solid and won’t melt everywhere when you take the scrolls out the pan. Finally, remove the scrolls from the pan, one by one, and place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling before eating (or eat still warm if your family is like mine and can’t wait any longer!).

I hope you enjoy them!

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