One of the things I love most about gluten free baking is the challenge to make as close to authentic international food as is possible using gluten free flours.
I was given a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem for my birthday some years ago and completely fell head over heels in love with him (who wouldn’t) and his fresh and vibrant recipes.
One of the recipes I found was a filled pastry where he used a filo-like pastry called brick or warqa. This of course is available for purchase in specialty stores but it’s not gluten free. So I embarked on a journey to find out how to make it. I found a page called the spruce Eats and very loosely followed the ingredients and the method. I say loosely because I changed almost all the quantities and ingredients to make a workable gluten free flour base to make it with.
The method of making this pastry is where you have a crepe pan set over simmering water and you literally brush the runny batter onto it in a circular motion. Once you get into a rhythm and try to avoid a steam burn, everything goes well and it’s really quite fun. The end result is a transparent soft dough that crisps up once fried. I suppose it resembles Thai rice paper sheets that have been dunked in water to soften.
I added sugar and rice bran to add some colour and flavour to an otherwise pure white crepe. Gluten free flours do not tend to caramelise and this can sometimes look unappealing.
I realise that my ideas of fun are different from yours maybe. I really like to tackle a challenging gluten free conversion and this is probably the most challenging. Though once you’ve mastered it, you have a light and crisp pastry to make into parcels or pies that you can decorate with pretty ribbons of pastry.
Being a fan of lemon and ricotta and deciding to go the Middle Eastern route, I have made the ricotta using goats milk. Of course, it’s a cheats ricotta, but it is heavenly, and a great ricotta for ravioli or baked ricotta too. The lactose in goats milk is easier on the stomachs than cows milk too.
Gluten Free Brick Pastry (warqa)
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rice bran
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
Sift the flour, rice bran, gum, sugar, and salt together, then whisk lemon juice and olive oil in. Slowly add the water, whisking to eliminate the lumps, then add more water slowly to make a runny batter. Set aside.
Place half a litre of water or so in a pot or pan large enough to hold a crepe pan. Bring water to a rapid simmer and place a crepe pan or frying pan over the pot. This is similar to using a double boiler to melt chocolate. Check every now and again to make sure you still have water in the pot.
When the crepe pan is hot, brush with olive oil all over then wipe off.
Wake the batter up with a quick whisk. Dip a silicone pastry brush into the batter then paint the batter onto the pan, working from the outside to form a spiral shaped very thin pancake. Paint any gaps with a little more batter. Warqa is meant to be thin and latticy so go easy with the batter.
Cook for 3 minutes on one side then turn out onto a plastic separator or baking paper and cover with another sheet to avoid the pastry sticking together.
When cooking be mindful as you are playing around steam. You may wish, as I did, to wear an oven mitt to avoid any painful steam burns or scalds.
Continue on with the rest of the batter until you are finished. There is no need to add any more oil to the pan as it is seasoned.
These pastries are freezable as long as you keep them separated. Take care when using so as not to tear the delicate pastry.
For the lemon and goats milk ricotta filling:
Goat Milk Ricotta
1 litre goat milk
Up to 1ts salt
60ml lemon juice
Bring milk to a simmer with bubbles just forming on the outside, stirring so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. The bubbles on the outside indicate a temperature of around 70 degrees. Stir in salt and lemon juice and allow to sit for 5 minutes before passing through damp double muslin or a chux until firm to your choice. Chill. Grate the zest of 1 lemon into the ricotta prior to assembly.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
In a pot, add water and sugar and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon juice and simmer for up to 10 minutes, not stirring, till thick. Once a syrup has formed remove from heat and cool.
– have pre-made sheets of brick pastry ready
Working with one sheet of pastry at a time, spoon a little goat milk ricotta into the centre of the pastry, then bring in the opposite edges to form a parcel. Seal with a dab of water. Continue until you have finished.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil until hot in a pan on medium-high heat. Fry pastry on one side until brown then turn over and brown the other side. Drain on a crumpled paper towel to drain excess oil
Serve hot drizzled with lemon syrup with a sweetened tea, à la Morocco
Original gluten free recipe from https://www.thespruceeats.com/homemade-warqa-recipe-moroccan-brick-pastry-2394436