The World's Best Pastries Are Gluten-Free. This Woman Is The Reason Why

Watching the meteoric success of San Francisco's Tartine Bakery, either from the daily line snaking down the sidewalk of Guerrero Street or from the feature stories in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, and every other publication covering food, you'd have to assume that on the path to culinary stardom the Tartine team hit every green light. In fact, Elisabeth Prueitt, who with her husband, Chad Robertson, founded the bay area staple, was dealt a uniquely paralyzing blow when, before opening the doors to her bakery, the pastry chef was diagnosed with gluten-intolerance.

What happens to the pastry chef who's diagnosed with gluten intolerance? Does she quit her job, turn an occasional hobby into her livelihood and her livelihood into a hobby? Does she accept sickness and suffering as her everyday experience? Liz Prueitt developed a way to bake that is better than ever, finding new creative fulfillment within the constraints of disease.

In 2002, Tartine was all glittering morning buns and crackle-crust loaves. Fifteen years later, the empire has grown to encompass not only the original storefront and a line of cookbooks but a showstopping 5,000-square-foot Manufactory housing a restaurant, ice cream parlor, coffee counter, and pastry case—the stars of which are Prueitt's wheat-free masterpieces: salted buckwheat chocolate cookies, chocolate-almond cakes, ginger spice cookies—each perfect pastries, lacking in nothing.

After stepping away from baking to care for her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, and founding a nonprofit camp for children with motor disorders, the Conductive Education Center of San Francisco, Prueitt returned to Tartine in 2014 to find the climate ripe for her new brand of baking, as a renewed interested in wellness had pushed ancient grains, gluten-free diets, and nut flours toward popularity. Leading up to the opening of Manufactory and the release of her latest cookbook, Tartine All Day (published this month), Prueitt's Instagram was a treasure trove of mid-test recipes and photos. Her latest creations aren't relegated to the pastry case, they're artful salads and rustic stews, roast fish and hearty cereals: food to live by.

Elisabeth Prueitt's Granola Bark

Makes about 16 servings

I have been auditioning granola bars for my son Archer, and I finally decided to make something in between the snack and the cereal: granola bark, a granola that forms a thin bar and then is easily broken into smaller pieces. Two recipes come to mind as those that shock home cooks the first time they make them: mashed potatoes, for how much cream and butter is used, and granola, which also has a surprising amount of fat and much more sugar than expected in a healthful snack or breakfast. So I’ve cut back, opting for the lower-glycemic sweeteners like maple syrup and coconut sugar. I use olive oil, but other healthful fats, like coconut oil, would do just as well, and of course, butter is a delicious option. The egg white and plumped flaxseeds help bind the granola and make it extra crispy, doing the job that additional sweetener often does. I enjoy this bark over yogurt with fruit for breakfast, and I include it in Archer’s lunchbox as a snack bar.

Ingredients

  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups/300g rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1¼ cups/175g almonds, chopped
  • 1¼ cups/60g unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup/80g flaxseeds or chia seeds, whole or ground
  • ¼ cup/35g sesame seeds
  • ½ cup/60g almond flour or hazelnut flour
  • ½ cup/120ml maple syrup or honey, or ¼ cup/60ml of each
  • ½ cup/75g coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup/60ml water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅓ cup/80ml olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg white, whisked until frothy

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. Combine the cinnamon, oats, almonds, coconut, flax or chia seeds, sesame seeds, and almond flour or hazelnut flour in a large bowl.
  3. Combine the maple syrup or honey or a mix of both, coconut sugar, water, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and let cool to warm room temperature.
  4. Add the olive oil and egg white to the cooled syrup mixture and whisk to incorporate. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly across the prepared baking sheet. Using another same-size baking sheet or the bottom of a pot, press the mixture down firmly to compact it before baking. Bake for 45 minutes or longer, until dark golden brown, rotating the sheet after about 15 minutes to promote even browning. While the granola bakes, open the oven door a couple of times to release steam.
  6. Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack until the surface of the granola is crisp. Leave the oven on. If the surface is still tacky to the touch once it has cooled, return the pan to the oven and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. Don’t let the bark get too dark, or it’ll taste bitter.
  7. Once cool, break the bark into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Note: The recipe works without the egg white, but the bark is slightly more crisp with the egg white.

Excerpted from Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook by Elisabeth Prueitt, with the permission of Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2017. Photo Credit: Paige Green © 2017.

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