A few days ago I found Silly Yak pastry at my local Tesco’s. Normally I would have walked on and not given it a second look but I decided it was time to park prejudices aside and give it a try.
A few days before I had been at The Great Taste Awards as one of their judges. On my table this year, I was delighted and surprised to see quite a few gluten free pastry entries. Sadly, none of them were great. The problems ranged from no flavour due to lack of salt, soggy bottoms and weird texture.
It was interesting to see my fellow judges reactions to these gluten free products. Immediate prejudice and low expectations abound. Despite my attempts to persuade them otherwise, and trying my hardest to dispel the myth that gluten free food isn’t horrible, I had to admit, these offerings were not great. To compensate for the lack of stars, I was keen to make sure my comments were uber constructive and encouraging.
I confess, my expectations for Silly Yak pastry were low. I kept thinking of my fellow judges scornful faces and felt I too was falling into the trap of judging before trying. Looking at the list of ingredients, I felt my heart sink. I was also alarmed by the white colour of the pastry block. On the positive side I could see layers of lamination. This was exciting.
Rolling out the pastry was straightforward. It did stick a bit to my board and rolling pin, but a more generous dusting of flour sorted out the problem. It cut well and was very pliable, so not overly delicate to handle, another big plus.
I made some sausage rolls and anticipating some possible blandness, made sure I added some mustard to the filling and a little sprinkling of sea salt and sesame seeds on top for extra flavour and crunch.
I used the remnants to make a few jam tarts. I left these unglazed so I could judge the pastry in its natural state.
You can see the baked results. There are flaky layers and the pastry when glazed looks nice and golden and very appetizing. Less so when unglazed, but still acceptable. Taste wise, I was impressed. (Just for the record, I’m not easily impressed). Although a little on the hard side, the pastry had a good clean flavour and the texture was crispy. It shattered when you bit through it and this in itself will be music to your gluten free ears.
I found the flavour a bit bland, but actually this isn’t a bad thing. The pastry is the vehicle for other ingredients and this gives you the opportunity to season and flavour to your own requirements. What can be construed as a negative, can actually be a positive. And so much in the gluten free world is overly sweet, so in fact, I welcome this blank canvas approach.
With my judges hat on I would love to see some more butter in this and less or even no funny stabilizers and chemistry set ingredients. Just the addition of butter would send this pastry into another galaxy. I can understand how these added ingredients sneak in, Someway along the way, the creators of this marvellous product have been persuaded to make it more manufacturing, shelf life friendly. I really wish they had kept to their standards and fought harder to make this a more natural product. But this is me being an idealist. I understand there are commercial pressures at work. Price, shelf life and ease of manufacturing are always going to take a centre stage often at the cost of the quality of the product.
This brings another comment from the Great Taste Awards judging to mind. We tried a wide range of bacon products, some with expensive ingredients added to the curing process. The judges were not fooled. Whilst they appreciated all the effort placed on the seasoning and curing, the quality of pork used wasn’t great. And one of the judges summed it up well. You can put as much lipstick on that pig as you want, but at the end of the day, it’s still an ordinary pig. A good lesson for all of you out there producing better quality gluten free products. Go back to your ingredient list and make sure these are top notch. Because if the ingredients and the recipe is top notch, you will be looking at a three star rating and that really is worth having.
Silly Yak Gluten free pastry is very good and I can see myself using this again.( It's on my shopping list for this week as I prepare the menu for Lulu's Birthday party.) It’s easy to use, the texture is good and it’s readily available. Please do try it and let me know your thoughts.
On a final note, I quite like the sense of humour in the name and the playful kid friendly packaging. It isn't trying to sell itself as a gourmet, ladida product. The price per 400g is a very reasonable £1.75
Please Note: This post is not sponsored. I chose to review this product, I purchased it and the views expressed are entirely my own.