I was so excited when I stumbled across a gluten, dairy and soy free ‘Almond Feta Cheese’ recipe from Ricki over at Diet, Dessert & Dogs a couple of weeks ago. It’s easy to make and really delicious!
Ethan really misses classic bakery style foods. However, the pastry products that you can buy frozen from the supermarket, often end up quite tough and chewy when reheated. So, armed with wonderful new found feta recipe, I went to work to replicate one of his favourite bakery foods…..Spinach & Feta Pastries.
A good friend of mine, who taste tests my creations, suggested it would be nice with a little apple sauce. Although at first I wasn’t convinced, I had just made another batch of these, so that morning we put her suggestion to the test. To my surprise, the flavour combination really worked. But it all comes down to personal taste, so it’s not a mandatory condiment!
Unlike their shop brought cousins, these pastries freeze really well. Even after being frozen for some time, the pastry remains soft and flaky once they are thawed out and re-heated.
UPDATE: I’m slowly adding ounces and cup measurements to my older recipes. I’ve also updated the pictures and slightly changed and added further instructions. The only other minor changes I made was to increase the sweet rice flour by 1 gram, the potato starch by 3 grams and the lard by 2 grams. The reason for this was to make it easier to convert to cup measurements. For accurate cup measurements, I sift the potato starch before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
I use frozen spinach portions, so it was a bit tricky to try and work out the cup measurement. Once I defrosted the spinach and then squeezed out the excess liquid, I was left with a firmly packed ¼ cup.
96g (3.4 ounces or ¾ cup) sweet rice flour
50g (1.8 ounces or ½ cup minus 2 scant tablespoons) super fine white rice flour
33g (1.2 ounces or 3 tablespoons) potato starch
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) xanthan gum
50g ( 1.8 ounces or 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) gluten and dairy free butter
52g (1.8 ounces or 4 tablespoons) lard
1 extra large egg
2 tablespoons (30ml) cold water
1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
1 eschalot, finely chopped (approximately 3 tablespoons)
1 small garlic clove, minced (a slightly heaped ¼ teaspoon)
200g (7.1 ounces or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) almond feta cheese
100g (3.5 ounces see above for cup measurement) chopped frozen spinach, defrosted – weigh from frozen
Large pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
To make the dough, place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and give a quick blitz to combine.
Add the butter and lard (if using) to the dry ingredients and continue to process until it resembles fine crumbs.
Whisk the egg into the cold water and add it to the mixture, then process until it comes together to form quite a thick dough that’s soft and really easy to work with.
Sprinkle a little rice flour on a clean surface and gently work the dough into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of at least half an hour, although it’s best left chilling for an hour if you can. While the dough is chilling in the fridge, make a start on the filling.
Gently sauté the eschalot and garlic until it has softened and then set aside to cool.
Now take the defrosted spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as you. If there is too much moisture your pastry will become soggy.
Add the almond feta to a bowl and, using a fork, combine the cooled onion, spinach, nutmeg and a little salt and pepper in to a thick mixture.
Preheat your oven to 170C and line a tray or baking sheet with baking paper or parchment.
Take approximately 85g (3.0 ounces) of the dough and roll between 2 sheets of baking paper/parchment until you get it to approximately 2mm in thickness. Keep the rest of the dough covered in plastic wrap, so that it doesn’t dry out.
Gently peel back the top layer of paper and very lightly sprinkle the dough with some white rice flour. Place the same sheet back on top and flip it over. This helps to stop the dough from sticking to the paper when you’re making the pastries. Gently peel back the top layer of paper and, using a pizza cutter, cut around a saucer to create the shape for your pastry. Add the trimmings back to the ball.
Take approximately 55g (1.9 ounces) of the spinach and feta mixture and roll it into a 10cm sausage shape with your hands. Place it on the dough about 2½cm from the edge of the pastry. Now shape the mixture so it gently curves towards the edges (like a crescent moon) and flatten it slightly, before egg washing the edge of the circle. Then, using the baking paper, roll the pastry over the filling and gently press down to seal.
To prevent the fork from sticking to the dough when sealing the edge, put some white rice flour in a small container and dip your fork as required. Use the fork and gently press along the edge to seal the pastry. Then poke a few holes into the top to let the steam escape. Next, use the pizza cutter to trim off the excess, so that you’re left with a neatly sealed pastry. Add the trimmings back to the ball.
Using the baking paper, flip the pastry onto your hand and gently place it on the prepared tray. Repeat the same process with the remaining dough and filling.
Once all the pastries have been made, lightly egg wash over them and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately transfer them to a cooling rack.
Eat straight away or let them cool completely before freezing. Just ensure you pop them in to airtight zip lock bags if you do, as this will help avoid freezer burns to the pastry.
You can then defrost and reheat gently at 130C (fan forced) for about 8-12 minutes or until heated through.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8