If you’re new to gluten-free baking, there are a couple of ingredients for these gluten-free sultana scones that you may not already have in your store cupboard.
Top of the list is rice flour, preferably an organic, wholegrain rice flour. I use rice flour in many of my recipes. Of all the gluten-free flours, I think that rice flour is the most versatile and neutral in flavour. If you can get your hands on a wholegrain brown rice flour blend, it has a similar body and texture to gluten-containing flour. And with its higher fibre content, wholegrain rice flour is a healthier choice compared to the refined white version.
Another ingredient you may not have in your pantry is potato starch. Potato starch lends a light, fluffy texture to baked goods and helps with moisture retention. It’s also very useful to have in your kitchen for thickening sauces or coating meats before roasting/frying.
Of course with these ingredients being gluten-free, we’re missing the structure and elasticity that gluten gives to baked goods. In this recipe I use psyllium husks and xanthan gum to combat these shortfalls. Psyllium is a dietary fibre derived from the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata. Xanthan gum is an indigestible polysaccharide, produced by bacteria called Xanthomonas camestris, used as a binder or thickener in many products. Neither are ingredients that you would normally include in your weekly shop. However, if you intend that your gluten-free baking will ‘recreate the real thing’, you need to pop these in your shopping basket.
The only other ‘unusual’ ingredient in these gluten-free scones is chickpeas – although not an unusual ingredient per se, you may find it strange to find chickpeas here. Chickpeas are naturally rich in protein, fibre, and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. So where traditional gluten-free products are generally lacking in nutrition, chickpeas give these gluten-free scones a nutritional boost, as well as improving their sensory profile. Decide yourself whether you have the time and energy to soak and cook your own dried chickpeas – of course they’d be nutritionally superior but “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” For convenience you can use drained chickpeas from a can.
While these gluten-free scones are best eaten within a day of baking, they also freeze well. So you can batch bake and pull some from your freezer if you’ve unexpected visitors or you feel like an afternoon treat.
Enjoy these gluten-free scones warm with butter or splurge and load them with jam and clotted cream.
For a gluten-free dairy-free scone, substitute the butter with a dairy-free margarine, and replace the buttermilk with another acidic liquid such as fruit juice or coconut kefir. The liquid needs to be acidic to activate the bicarbonate of soda.
These are sweet scones and as such should only be consumed as an occasional treat. For those of us concerned about curtailing our sugar consumption, I will be posting a healthier scone recipe soon.
- 180g rice flour, you'll need additional rice flour for dusting.
- 45g potato starch
- 1/2 level teaspoon xanthan gum (1g)
- 1 1/2 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (6g)
- 1 level teaspoon baking powder (2g)
- 35g butter
- 12g psyllium husk
- 120g caster sugar
- 60g sultanas
- 1 medium egg (50g)
- 90g canned chickpeas, drained
- 150ml buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celcius (425 degrees Fahrenheit). Lightly dust a baking sheet with rice flour.
- Sieve together the rice flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.
- Using your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into this mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar, psyllium husk and sultanas and mix through.
- Blitz together the egg, chickpeas and buttermilk to a fine purée using a stick blender or food processor.
- Add this purée to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. The resulting dough should be quite soft and tacky.
- Gather the dough together into a ball and leave to rest in the bowl for 10-15 minutes.
- Liberally dust a clean work surface with rice flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured work surface. The dough should be handled as lightly as possible.
- With floured hands, gently press the dough to a thickness of 2.5cm (1 inch).
- Cut out the scones using a floured round cutter. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bring the trimmings together gently and repeat the process, cutting more scones until you've used up all the dough. A 6.5cm scone cutter yields 8 scones.
- Brush each scone with a little egg wash or milk and bake in the middle of the oven for 12-14 minutes until they've risen and turned golden brown in colour.
- Transfer to a cooling rack.