Friday, 16 November 2012

Home-made Baking Powder

Gluten-free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes made with home made baking powder



My daughter's Nanna Barnes gave her a fascinating cook book of recipes by the pioneer women of Western Australia. The recipes were amazing. They showcased meals which were tasty and put together quickly and most importantly they used ingredients which came from the land. Naturally, there were recipes for cooking kangaroo but apart from what we consider exotic, there were recipes for making soap and baking powder. At a time and place where the farmers wife could not get herself over to the neighbourhood shop whenever she ran short on something, she had to make do or too it herself. So there was an easy recipe for baking powder which I'm passing onto you. I know that there are several recipes out there floating about on the internet, but I used this one myself and made some gluten-free baked goods with it. The brownies and cakes turned out beautifully, without any soda after taste.

                                           

They were delicious! The best part about this is, this baking powder is gluten-free and does not contain aluminum!! How great is that??? Plus if you are sensitive to corn, the cornstarch in the recipe can be substituted with potato starch or super-fine rice flour, like the ones from the Asian food shops. So go for it and try it the next time you bake something that needs baking powder. I can guarantee that the results will be stunning as the just mixed baking powder, which is fresh, will help your baked goods rise beautifully!  

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Egg-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake



Egg-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake
This cake started off as a regular egg-free chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Then the devil showed his hand! In a flash of sinful inspiration, I thought, why not sandwich the layers with dark chocolate mousse? And then, frost the luscious layers with rich peanut butter frosting. Turned out to be like a deluxe version of a chocolate peanut-butter cup! This one is really for those who love that chocolate-peanut butter combination.....mmmm, maybe next time, I'll coat the sides with crushed toasted peanuts!

Egg-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake

Dry ingredients:
2 1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup fine sugar
1/3 cup soft brown sugar

Wet Ingredients:
12oz water
9 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius or 350 degrees fahrenheit. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix till well combined. Pour into 2 7" shallow cake pans and bake for 20 minutes to 30minutes, till done. Cool completely before turning out of tins. Sandwich with Egg-free Dark Chocolate Mousse and frost with Peanut Butter Frosting.

Egg-free Dark Chocolate Mousse

This makes more than you will need for the cake filling but then, hey! more mousse is good news, right? Pipe left-overs into small glasses, chill and tuck in!

7oz dark chocolate
1 cup thickened cream

Method: Heat cream till bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Don't let it boil or cream will curdle. Pour heated cream onto the chocolate and stir till chocolate melts completely. Cool and chill for several hours. When completely cold, beat with a mixer till soft peaks form. Mousse is now ready to eat or use in cake.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1/4 shortening
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

Method: Beat everything together in a mixer on medium till light and fluffy. Use to frost cake.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Nut-free Egg-free White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Tiramisu

White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Tiramisu
Alright already! Don't get all excited!! I know this not a real tiramisu but surely, it looks like one! It is made up of layers of egg-free vanilla bean sponge cake, soaked in Baileys liqueur....mmmmmm!!!...and sandwiched with egg-free white chocolate mousse (insert more 'mmmmmm!'s here), and dusted over with pure cocoa powder.....mmmm..mmmm...MMMMM! Totally sinful and delicious! Time taken to make it is a little lengthy but believe me, it is worth it. Excellent dessert for a party due to the do-ahead factor, presentation and decadence value. Hope you enjoy this recipe.

A slice of heaven


Nut-free & Egg-free White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Tiramisu

For Sponge Cake:
Dry ingredients:
160 gm self-raising flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
70 gm fine sugar

Wet ingredients:
190 ml water
67.5ml /4 1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/4 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed

White Chocolate Mousse
White chocolate melts - 200gm
Cream - 200ml
Cold Whipping cream - 400ml

Baileys Chocolate Liqueur - 4 tablespoons
Cocoa powder - 1 tablespoon

Method: For Cake: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line 2 6" cake pans with baking paper and spray lightly with canola cooking spray. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and add all the wet ingredients in and mix together with a whisk. Stop once batter is lump free.Divide between cake pans and bake for 15 - 20 minutes till done. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Once cooled, remove just one cake from tin, leaving the other cake in its tin.

For White Chocolate Mousse: Place white chocolate melts in a heat proof bowl. Warm cream in a separate pan till bubbles form around the edges, and pour over the chocolate melts. Stir with a wooden spoon till chocolate is completely melted. Cool and chill till completely cold. Whip whipping cream carefully till gentle peaks form. Fold in the cooled ganache into the whipped cream. Keep chilled till needed.

To assemble dessert: Sprinkle each layer with 2 tablespoons of liqueur. Then cover the cake layer still in tin, with half the chocolate mousse. Place the second layer of cake on top. Cover the whole with plastic wrap and return to the fridge for 2 hours. Remove after 2 hours, remove from tin and cover sides and top with remaining mousse. Sift cocoa powder over the top of cake and return to the fridge till ready to serve, at least 2 hours. This desert easily serves 6 insane or 8 sane portions!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Nut-free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with fondant Cheetah topper


Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes




Prince Pee-Wee is presenting his first ever videoblog on baking! Kiran felt that lately, he had suffered through enough baked goods in flavours that just did not sit well with him, namely, chocolate :)! So into the kitchen we went to present a very easy peasy ;) recipe for vegan vanilla cupcakes with a cheetah-face topper made of fondant. Kiran has an egg allergy and this recipe is his favourite, next to lemon cupcakes. We'll save that one for another time! Watch this video. It's really child's play!!!

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

Dry ingredients:
1 1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup fine sugar

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cup unflavoured soda water
4 1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method: Place all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and whisk or sift together to blend thoroughly. Add all the wet ingredients into the dry and give it a quick whisk to mix everything together. Scoop into cupcake liners and bake at 180 degrees celcius or 350 degrees fahrenheit. Makes about 8 regular cupcakes.

Vegan Vanilla Frosting

1/2 cup vegan spread
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method: Beat all the ingredients together in a mixer at medium to high speed. Use to frost cupcakes.



Thursday, 11 October 2012

Nut-free Vegan Chocolate bread pudding


Doing things a little differently here. We're playing with our "toys', i.e. the video function on my iPhone and so, pardon the bloopers.




I present you today with my Vegan Chocolate Bread Pudding. Check that the chocolate spread is vegan and we are good to go. This started with my brother waxing lyrical over a warm chocolate bread pudding he had eaten recently. It was served with warmed chocolate spread, drizzled over  just before you dig in. Sounds heavenly! So here's my take. It can be made just egg free, using milk and regular chocolate spread or veganised with dairy free milk and vegan chocolate spread. So just suit the recipe to your preference.

Ingredients for Chocolate Bread Pudding


Vegan Chocolate Bread Pudding

French Bread Slices - 18, 1" thick pieces
Chocolate spread - as needed
Rice Milk (regular milk) - 3 1/2 cups
Custard powder / Corn starch - 4 tablespoons
Vanilla - 1teaspoon
Sugar - 1/4 cup
Fine salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Butter - 2 tablespoons, softened

Method: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius or 350 degrees fahrenheit. Whisk the custard powder/corn starch, vanilla, salt and sugar into the milk and set aside. Spread the chocolate onto the bread slices and make into sandwiches. Line a glass dish with the sandwiches laid side by side neatly. Pour the milk-custard mixture over the bread and leave to soak for 1 hour or till the liquids are fully absorbed. Dot with butter and bake for 30 minutes till top is browned. Cool slightly and serve with melted chocolate spread.



Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Nut-free, Egg-free Eggplant Patties



                                          

I'm soooo not a fan of eggplant. But when I made these for my husband, it was love at first bite!! The eggplant flavour is not overwhelming and the patties came together beautifully. A healthy option as these patties are not fried but baked. They're perfect made into croquettes or mini burgers for parties. They taste great and are really quick to put together! That spells perfect in my world!


Ingredients for Eggplant Patties

Egg-free Eggplant Patties

Eggplant - 2
Onions - 2, chopped
Garlic - 2 pieces, chopped
Grated Mexican-style cheese - 250gm
Soft bread crumbs - 2 cups or more
Taco seasoning - 2 tablespoons

Method: Split eggplants lengthwise in half. Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30 - 40 minutes till the insides are soft. Leave to cool. Then scrape the soft flesh out into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If the mixture is a little too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Form into patties or if preferred, into croquettes. Spray over lightly with canola spray or butter-flavoured spray. Bake in hot oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 10 - 15 minutes. Cool and serve in hamburger buns or on their own with salad.

Egg-free Eggplant Patties

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Nut-free & Egg-free Blackforest Gateau

Nut-free & Egg-free Blackforest Cake
I baked this moist, delicious egg-free Blackforest cake today. It's made up of layers of melt in your mouth chocolate cake with kirsch-soaked morello cherries baked right into the cake. Then, each layer is spread with cherry jam and topped with pitted black cherries and gently whipped cream. The whole cake is then slathered with more whipped cream, coated in grated semi-sweet chocolate and crowned with a circle of glace cherries.....don't you just wish you could have a bite? Well, here's the how-to....

Nut-free & Egg-free Blackforest Gateau

Dry ingredients:
135g self raising flour
25 g cocoa
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Wet ingredients:
200ml cold coffee
4 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 kirsch-soaked morello cherries, drained

Cherry jam - 2 tablespoons
Canned Dark cherries - 8, drained and each split in 2
Kirsch - 2 tablespoons * optional
Whipping cream - 2 cups, cold
Semi-sweet chocolate - 100gm, grated
Glace cherries for decor

Method:
Preheat oven at 180 degrees celcius. For the cake, sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add all the wet ingredients and whisk till combined. Stir in the morello cherries. Pour cake batter evenly into 2 lined 6" round cake pans. smooth tops and bake in the centre of the oven for 10 - 15 minutes. Test with a toothpick after 10 minutes. When done, take out of oven and cool on a rack till completely cold.

Whip cold cream till soft peaks are formed. Place some in a small piping bag to decorate the top of the cake later.

To assemble cake:

Place one layer of the cake on a cake plate or board. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon kirsch (optional). Spread with cherry jam. Cover over the jam with the split canned cherries. Gently spread 4-5 tablespoons of whipped cream over the cherries and top with the second layer of cake. Sprinkle with kirsch and cover the sides and top of cake with the remaining whipped cream. Smooth the sides with a palate knife as you go along. Chill for 20 minutes. Then cover the sides of cake with the grated chocolate. Pipe swirls along the outer edge of the cake and top each swirl with half a glace cherry. Chill for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Nut free, Egg free and Dairy free (Vegan) Doughnuts

Nut free, Egg and Dairy Free Doughnuts

I've been playing around with doughnut recipes for a while. Mostly they have been egg free recipes and gluten free ones. The results have been mixed and varied. This one is the best so far - without egg or dairy. I'll have to work on my Gluten free Vegan doughnuts further and get them post-worthy! When that happens, I'm sure you'll hear about it! But for now, here are my.....

Nut free Vegan Doughnuts

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup strong flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 tablespoon soy or coconut yoghurt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Method : Combine all the ingredients together and knead to a soft and elastic dough. Cover and leave to rise till dough doubles, about 30 minutes. Roll out to 1/4" thick and cut out doughnuts with a cutter. Cover cut out doughnuts with a damp tea towel and leave to rise again. Lift out carefully and fry in hot oil over medium heat. Glaze them as you wish or toss in cinnamon sugar. Note not to over fry, or the doughnuts become hard. Best eaten fresh.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

F1 Musings in Singapore...revving down memory lane...

Formula 1 cake for Team Renault 2008

The F1 night race in Singapore is on for this weekend and I'm really excited! I've been an armchair follower of the happenings on the circuit for over 10 years! Bit of a departure here, on this blog, from the usual subject matter, but hey, I do have some Formula 1 cake stories and photos to share around.

Presenting Fernando Alonso with cake

I have been a follower of F1 Driver, Fernando Alonso for a very long time and when I was given passes to a pre-race launch by Renualt (this is 2008, I'm musing about, folks!), naturally I jumped at it. While watching the qualifying rounds of the race, I played around with some fondant and shaped the 2008 Renault Formula 1 car. ........I'm remembering that moment when Alonso clocked the best time during the qualifiers!

The smile and thank you!!

So here I had a sugar crafted car, that needed a cake as a base. Fast forward, a Chocolate fudge cake with dark chocolate frosting, covered with pale yellow fondant featuring a checkered flag motif was created to be taken to the party. A grand one it was and I had my moment in the sun, when I was asked to present Fernando Alonso with the cake.  He accepted it with a sweet smile and a thank you........4 years on, I'm still basking ..........

F1 Ferrari cake with hand painted prancing horses



Friday, 7 September 2012

Nut free & Gluten free Vegan Vege-balls (meatballs)

Pasta with Vege-balls

Here's a great recipe for a vegan vegetable based spaghetti & 'meatballs' dinner. The millet (told you, millet is my mantra!) in the recipe helps to bind the other ingredients together. The beet adds meat-like color and sweetness to the vege-balls. Shitake mushrooms or if you like, porchini better, add flavor and some bite to the them. These are baked in the oven, not fried, once again a personal preference. Add them to your favorite pasta sauce just before serving and you are set to go. These vege-balls freeze really well so you can freeze left overs for a rainy day. Yum!

Nut free Gluten free Vege-balls

Nut free & Gluten free Vegan Vega-balls (meatballs)

1 cup millet
2 cups tomato juice or vegetable stock
1 cup grated beetroot
2 cups chopped shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoon oat bran (I'm sneaky in that way)
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Method: First cook millet in tomato juice and keep aside. Next, in a separate pan, sauté onions in olive oil. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté till soft and any liquid from the mushrooms evaporated. Add beetroot next and keep cooking till mixture is dry. Next add the cooked millet, oat bran and chopped parsley. Mix well and adjust seasoning. While the mixture is still fairly warm, form into small balls, spray with cooking spray and cook for 10 minutes till browned in a hot oven (200 degrees celcius). Take out from oven, cool before stirring into prepared pasta sauce. Serve with your favorite pasta.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Nut-free & Gluten free Vegan Gravy - Millet and Rice

Nut-free Vegan Millet Gravy and Rice Flour Gravy
Here are a couple of recipes for easy and delicious gluten free vegan gravies which are great on burgers, with meatloaf, on mashed potatoes and just about anything else. Toasting the flour lightly before adding the oil or vegan spread increases the flavor by lending it a nuttiness. Millet flour tends to take on more oil than rice flour. As a personal favorite, I like to use a mushroom-based stock but that's just a matter of taste. So here are 2 of my mainstay gravy recipes.

Rice flour gravy

Nut free & Gluten free Vegan Gravy with Rice Flour

2 tablespoon brown or white rice flour
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegan spread
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method: Lightly toast rice flour over medium heat, stirring all the time so that the flour does not burn. Then add the olive oil or vegan spread and keep stirring. I like using a balloon whisk from this point onwards, to work out any lumps that may form. Gradually add the vegetable stock, stirring briskly. Let the gravy simmer till it thickens. Add chopped parsley and remove from heat.


Millet flour gravy

Nut free & Gluten free Vegan Gravy with Millet Flour

1 1/2 tablespoons millet flour
1 tablespoons vegan spread or olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method: Add olive oil or vegan spread to pan. When heated/melted, add the flour, stirring all the time so that the flour does not burn. I like using a balloon whisk from this point onwards, to work out any lumps that may form. Gradually add the vegetable stock, stirring briskly. Let the gravy simmer till it thickens. Add chopped parsley and remove from heat.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Nut free & Gluten-free Millet Burgers with Mushrooms

Nut free & Gluten free Millet Burgers with Mushrooms

The kids who are confirmed carnivores, voraciously so, won't eat anything green if they could help it. I have been trying all sorts of vege burger variations, hoping to hit on the magic number. I have tried bean burgers, rice-burgers, mashed potato burgers..nah-uh! No way. They poke, prod and leave a mess of disintegrated vege burger-effort on the plate. Then I tried this easy recipe with millet.

Princess Pumpkinseed gave it a high 5, while the Prince gave it a cautious thumbs up. Cautious because he is pathologically opposed to anything remotely related to a vegetable. He ate it, albeit with suspicion that Mommy was sneaking vegetables into his food again! I served it as patties with a tomato salad on the side and gluten free gravy. Hope you enjoy this humble offering of mine!


Nut free & Gluten-free Millet Burgers with Mushrooms

1 cup millet
2 cups canned tomato or vegetable juice

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, any combination of types
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup finely diced red peppers
1/4 cup chopped parsely
1/4 cup chopped spring onions or finely diced onion
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil for sautéing

Method: Cook carrot and mushrooms in olive oil till soft. Then add the peppers. After a minute, add the millet followed by the juice. Stir an cover till cooked, about 7 to 10 minutes. All the liquid will be nearly absorbed completely. Then stir in the chopped herbs. Leave to cool slightly then using a 1/4 cup measure, form into burgers. Do this while the millet is still warm as it makes it easier to form into patties. Leave burgers o cool on a piece of baking paper. Put the burgers still on the baking paper onto the baking tray. Spray burgers lightly with cooking spray and grill till done.

Nut free Gluten-free Vegan Gravy
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 tablespoon vegan spread
1 cup vegetable broth or stock of your choice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Method: Melt vegan spread and add rice flour and stir till its lightly brown. Add the stock stirring all the time, till gravy thickens. Adjust seasoning. Add chopped parsley.



Friday, 10 August 2012

Nut free & Egg free (Dairy free) Yoghurt Cake

Fluffy Nut free & Egg free Yoghurt Cake
Here is a Yoghurt cake that started life with eggs and dairy ingredients in it. But, because of my son's allergies, I came up with an egg & nut free version which can of course be made dairy free as well. Substitute the yoghurt with a non-dairy version like soy or coconut. Personally, I love the coconut one. So here it is, with the pictures and the recipe. Honestly, it was so delicious, light and fluffy with a lemony sugar glaze on top, why would anyone want the version with eggs?? And or dairy?

Nut free & Egg free (Dairy free) Yoghurt Cake

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup castor sugar

Wet ingredients:
170g pot low fat vanilla yoghurt (substitute with non-dairy yoghurt, if you like)
2 tablespoon water
4 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Lemon Glaze
1/4 sifted icing sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Method:  Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together in a bowl. The mixture will be very thick and gloopy. Don't be tempted to add more liquid or cake may become dense and compacted. Pour the cake batter into a rectangular 8"x 5" tin. Smooth top. Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 20 -25 minutes. Check with a toothpick after 18 minutes. Top will be well browned when done. Remove to rack and cool. For glaze, mix just enough lemon juice into icing sugar to form a thick paste. Drizzle onto top of cake and sprinkle with grated lemon rind. It's ready!

For a Non-Dairy-free version, substitute soy yoghurt or coconut yoghurt in place of the regular one in this recipe.



Friday, 3 August 2012

Nut free & Gluten free Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

The first attempt

The Real Deal


Here is the promised recipe for my Gluten free Vegan Choc fudge cake. This is a wonderfully moist cake that is oh-so-delicious! Even the non-gluten allergy sufferers loved it and it was demolished in short order. They could not tell the difference. Feel free to adjust the cinnamon in it as some may find the quantity used in the recipe a little overwhelming! 

Gluten free Vegan Chocolate Cake

The dry:
1 1/4 cups gluten free self-raising flour
1/4 cup pure cocoa
3/4 cup soft brown sugar
3 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

The Wet:
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup plain rice milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Method: Mix everything together with a hand whisk till well combined. Pour into an 2 6" shallow pans or 1 7" pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 180 degrees celcius. Check for doneness with a toothpick, after 20 minutes. Remove to rack and cool in tin. I prefer to chill the cakes in the pan before turning out. Turn out and frost as you wish. I used my Non-dairy frosting from my chocolate cupcake recipe, for frosting this cake. Enjoy!

A piece of cake!





Monday, 30 July 2012

Casein allergy

A glass of milk

Baking this weekend for a gluten and casein allergy sufferer. I have been baking gluten free cupcakes for a while now but this will be my first attempt at a layer cake. What's the big deal right? Well, the deal is, I'm afraid that the cake will crumble while assembling or after. So I'm trying to work out the best way to go about it. While I'm processing that in some corner of my mind, I'm checking out this casein thing. With a lot of help from the internet, this is what I gathered in a nutshell.......I think I'm beginning to sound archaic. Must be the early hour. It's just after 5am here, so a little hard to sound hip at this hour. Again an age thing.
Casein is a milk protein and it's found in a whole lot of stuff including some supposedly non-dairy spreads - how scary is that? Whey is the other culprit for dairy allergy suffers. So we have to read the list of ingredients very carefully to make sure that there is nothing toxic hidden under fancy words on the list. Stuff like lactalbumin, which is albumin found in whey, is a no-no! See, this is really hard work. In fact, it scares me so much, that I make sure I recognize everything I read on the back of a package. And fewer the number of ingredients, the better as its less processed and closer to the real deal.
Gluten free Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

Here is the egg free, dairy (casein) free, gluten free chocolate fudge layer cake I baked this weekend. I will follow up with the recipe really soon. Cheers!

A slice from the above cake

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Flax seed in Gluten free baking

Whole flax seeds

Previously, I only knew flax seed as a powerhouse of nutrients, great for a gazillion things, from fighting heart disease to cancer to diabetes, naming just a few - flagship of natural foods, so to speak. It was when I started exploring gluten free baking that I came across it as an essential player in replacing eggs and acting as a binder to keep cakes from crumbling. In fact, dare I go so far as to claim that it is a blessing to gluten free bakers? It certainly is for me!

Ground flax - Flaxmeal

Flax seed is a plant-based source of omega-3. Ground flax seed (aka flax meal) acts a binder in baking and is a natural egg substitute. It is commonly referred to as flax egg and gives a slightly nutty flavor to baked goods. Mixing 1 tablespoon flax meal in 3 tablespoons hot water will give the equivalent of 1 egg.

Flax egg

There are 2 common types - golden and brown flax seed. There does not appear to be much difference between the 2, nutrition wise. It's more in the appearance. Both work the same way but it may be better to use the golden flax seed in light cakes like a gluten free vegan vanilla sponge. Then when the cake is cut, it won't have a speckled appearance.....hopefully. I buy whole flax seed and grind it in the spice-ginder attachment of my food processor. Works out more economical than buying pre-ground flax meal and as has the added advantage of being fresher as I grind only what I need, when I need it.    

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Chocolate frogs anyone?

Chocolate Frogs?
My children's friends bought them some chocolate frogs at extortionist prices from the Harry Potter exhibition, here in Singapore. Well, here is my take on chocolate frogs as a 'thank you' for the gift and for being such great friends as well! Egg-free and dairy-free chocolate cupcakes with dairy-free chocolate icing, topped with a cute fondant frog. Sorry, mine don't come with cards! This ones' for you two - Priya and Prakash Nair!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Platinum Yoga Cupcakes with Figurines

Ouch!Splits!
The new fad in my life, is yoga. For years I have refused to even think about attending yoga classes, let alone giving it a try. I mean, why would anybody want to twist their body into pretzel shapes or force their arms and legs into hundred and eighty degree angles, right? Wrong.....I do. I'm addicted to hot yoga, Hatha yoga, hot flow yoga.....you name it and I'm right there in a studio "comfortably" warmed to 40 degrees Celcius, which is 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Brilliant! This weekend was the 1st anniversary celebration at Platinum Yoga where I work out. We have two great instructors, Anil and Ana. These 2 egg free and dairy free cakes were for them, as a little gesture of appreciation for all the grueling sessions of yoga I have endured..I mean enjoyed, with them. As for yoga being a fad? I don't think so. This one's for the long haul.         

 Zen


My Grandmother's Rice Milk recipe.

A glass of rice milk

Rice milk is so easily available now in most grocery stores and has been hailed as a vegan replacement to milk. It is a godsend for many dairy allergy sufferers too, provided rice is acceptable to you. Here's a little secret about rice milk. It has been a part of the poor man's diet, in Asia for centuries as a  frugal source of nutrition and not as a vegan alternative to dairy milk! Even to this day, the poor of India drink the water that rice has been boiled in as they consider it strengthening. It helps to stretch out their consumption of rice as well. It is also the poor mans' electrolyte! Yup, you read that right! Especially for babies. Babies are too small to be given commercial electrolytes and I fed my babies when they were ill, with home made rice milk as it is safer option. It's just some rice boiled in water till very soft with a little salt added to it. Sipping home made rice milk, when you are suffering from stomach flu, helps replace important nutrients in the body and prevents dehydration. I do this for my family when anyone of them is ill, throwing up and purging. Some commercial brands of rice milk add fats to give more body and mouth-feel to their rice milk as well as vitamins. Well and good, but I like my rice milk the old fashioned way - how my grandmother taught me to make it.  

My Grandmother's recipe for Rice Milk

1/2 cup long grain rice, brown or white
3 to 4 cups filtered water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Method: Put rice in a dry pan. Lightly toast it over a low flame for a couple of minutes till its lightly brown. Pour in the water and cook till the rice and water has mushed up completely. Add salt. You may have to add more water if the water level runs low before rice is porridgy. Cool and sieve through a mesh sieve. Can be processed in a food processor as well. You now have your rice milk! Store in the fridge. Does not have a long shelf life as its preservative free so it has to be consumed fairly quickly.  

Friday, 13 July 2012

Nut free Gluten free Vegan Brownies

Nut free Gluten free Vegan Brownies with glace icing
The very first gluten free recipe I tried making was brownies. Figured that it will be the most forgiving one. So it has proven to be. But since that first one, my recipe has undergone several revisions. I tried replacing xanthan gum with guar gum and found that it gave the brownies a slightly weird gel-like feel in the mouth. Too strange. I read up further on guar gum and found that it works best in cold foods, presumably ice-creams and such. It thickens without heat and a little goes a long way. Well, here's the recipe for gluten-free brownies. It contains xanthan gum, as I used a gluten free self raising flour mix to which xanthan gum had been added already. Feel free to use any flour mix of your liking in its place and add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the recipe. I have used all rice flour and it turns out just fine. As I said, it is a very forgiving recipe.

Nut free & Gluten free Vegan Brownies

The Dry
1 1/4 cup gluten free self raising flour
1/2 cup pure unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
3/4 cup light brown sugar (increase the sugar by a 1/4 cup if you like as these aren't very sweet)

The Wet
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup rice milk
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with 3 tablespoon hot water (aka flax egg)
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1 tablespoon rice milk - extra

The Glaze
1 cup pure icing sugar
1 - 2 teaspoons cool water

Method: Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius. Mix wet ingredients with the dry using a spoon or your hands. It will be crumbly, almost like a cookie dough. If it's very dry, add 1 tablespoon of water or rice milk. Press into an 8"x7" rectangular pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Check with a toothpick after 10 minutes. When ready, remove pan to a wire rack to cool. When cool, mix the glace icing and drizzle over brownie. Chill for at least 2 hours before cutting into squares. For glace icing, slowly mix water, teaspoonful at a time into icing sugar, till a thick sugar paste is formed. Use a fork and dribble over brownie.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Kinda' Gluten free, Nut free Vegan Cornbread

Nut free & Gluten free Vegan Cornbread
Cornbread? Perfectionists may not think this should be called cornbread but then, my version did start out as rice pancakes and evolved! Sorry but I do tend to make these huge fantastical leaps of faith and and mostly end up in a muddle. But this time, perhaps I got it right. This recipe contains cooked rice, rice flour and cornmeal to which I added corn(obviously), peppers and herbs to liven things up and mask the obvious gluten-freeness of the recipe. The full recipe follows so have a look, a try and bring on the comments and suggestions, please!
Chockfull of delicious herbs and veg!


Gluten free vegan cornbread

The wet
1 cup tomato juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sunflower or coconut oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoon hot water (aka flax egg)
1/4 cup soft cooked rice

The dry
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 cup white or brown rice flour
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon fine sugar

And the Wild
1 cup cooked corn kernels
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely diced red pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions

Method of madness: Place the dry and the wet in a food processor and blend till well mixed. Then add the interesting stuff and mix by hand till well combined. Pour into an 8"x5" rectangular pan or muffin cases and bake for about 25 minutes at 180 degrees (medium oven) for the pan and about 15 minutes for the muffins. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before turning out and cutting into whatever shapes you like. I grilled the leftovers in a grill pan and they were great the next day.

As muffins.....

Btw, these can be baked in muffin cases as well, for great easy to grab-and-go corn muffins. Brekkie and lunch box friendly.



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

More trials.....half a loaf is better?

Yet another Gluten-free Bread attempt 
Here's the next episode in my on going gluten-free bread-making saga...lots of hyphens there and more to come! I'm trying to make a (here it comes!) gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, yeast-free, corn-free  (no xantham gum), soy-free and gelatine-free bread using a gluten-free sour dough starter. Till now, my sour dough starters have been non-starters (sorry,couldn't resist). At last, in my latest attempt, the starter turned out the way I perceived it should. I was so excited! Then I got into the actual mixing and baking. For this loaf, I used a store bought gluten-free bread mix. It was a premix of rice, tapioca and potato flour with xantham gum added. I know I keep going on about xantham gum having corn in it but I figured I'll give the premix a go to see if I could actually make a reasonable tasting gluten-free bread. The bread flour with the sour dough starter mixed up fine. I kept it in my oven with just the light on to let the bread dough rise. Then when I carefully transferred the beautifully risen loaf to a heated pan, poof! My bubble burst......literally. The dough started sinking and I ended up where I started.......with a bookend! Back to the drawing board..........sigh. 

A note of caution about Xanthan Gum

Thought I would share something interesting about the use of Xanthan Gum in gluten-free vegan baking. Xanthan gum is a plant derivative commonly found in commercial foods. On the food packaging label, it can be listed as food additive E415, or simply as xanthan gum. Many gluten free vegan cake recipes include xanthan gum as a binder to thicken and hold the batter together. But take note - those sensitive to corn - xanthan gum is usually made from corn


Xantham Gum

In some of my gluten-free vegan recipes like my gooey, fudgey brownies, I replace xanthan gum with flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed). The bake turns out fine. Next time, I will have more about flaxseed. Until then, Happy Baking!


Brownies, with flaxseed meal

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Is it really gluten-free?

Hi there! Be warned before you proceed any further with your reading. I'm about to embark on one of my pet peeves - the lack of allergy and content information in foods. The latest incident to trigger of my spiel on this happened yesterday. I was at local food fair, held at one of the malls close to home standing in a long and winding line to buy rice flour cakes, when I overheard a man asking the lady behind the counter if the tapioca pancakes she was cooking on the hotplate were wheat free. Despite the crowds, his question caught my attention as this is an area very close to my heart. We of the label/disclaimer-reading lot would totally understand this guy's query, right?  Not so the lady behind the counter. Her answer was a vague, "Just sugar, water and tapioca flour. Would you like to try one?" Well, the gentleman decided to bite the bullet and bought one. But this brings me to my pet peeve. The tapioca flour used to make the pancakes was probably not certified as being wheat-free. It probably IS wheat-free but without the guarantee of certification. See where I'm going with this? There is a huge grey area here which is a real nightmare zone for those of us dealing with with allergies and food intolerance on a daily basis though a minute by minute basis would be more accurate. We are living it.

Store-bought tapioca pancakes - are they gluten-free?
Much of the local food products in Singapore, while having the ingredients listed, do not carry allergy information.  The ingredients lists can be vague as well. A packet of tapioca flour from the local market, would list under ingredients just tapioca flour, which is fine. Cheap too. But there is no assurance or disclaimers that it contains just tapioca. For that, we have to head for over-priced specialist organic food shops. Even then, the range of products available is pretty limited. This leads to a great deal of frustration for most of us with allergies to contend with in our daily lives, especially when we call home, a real food paradise! Hopefully, this will change soon and we will have a better range of well-labelled food products with all the necessary information at lower prices available at local markets.....sounds like a dream.   

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Animal Safari fondant decor workshop



Busy at work with the animal toppers
Ong Sansan and her two boys, Nathaniel and Immanuel have been such staunch supporters of my cakes from the the early days of my baking career, with Foodinfinity. I have been making their birthday cakes for them for over 3 years. Last year, we did things a little differently! All of us together, baked and decorated the birthday cakes for the boys. A real family effort with just a wee bit of input from yours truly. 


Beautifully decorated cupcakes!
Here are the pictures from our latest cake decorating venture together. A few weeks ago, I did a decorating class for Sansan. There were 6 kids including Sansan's two sons, and between the lot of them, we had a whole gamut of allergies. The cupcakes I baked for the class were egg-free and dairy-free chocolate cupcakes with dairy-free icing. They were nut-free as well.

Animal Safari cupcake toppers
"Animal Safari" was the theme for the fondant decor and the toppers for the cupcakes were a reflection of that. There was an elephant, tiger, lion, monkey, snake and hippo.I did a set of toppers so that the kids could have some idea of the finished result. But apart from the basics, I left it to them to make their own toppers as they saw fit. We had a great time, and so did my hired hands - the Princess and Pee-Wee. Thank you Sansan, for bringing together your wonderful kids, their cousins and friends for the 'Animal Safari' theme workshop 

A very pleased little cutie with her elephant cupcake


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Easy Gluten-free Vegan Rice Pancakes

Decorating gluten-free brownies
I had the greatest pleasure in having Dr Melanie Phuah (nutritionist and GP), her 2 lovely, lovely, lovely kids(did I mention that they were lovely?) and their wonderful housekeeper, Mary over at the So Intricake! studio for a gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free pow-wow. One of Dr Phuah's daughters suffers from a host of allergies including yeast, egg and dairy. So we made fudgy gluten-free vegan brownies together. The children enthusiastically, did the sifting and mixing and after the brownie was baked, they decorated the warm brownie with glace icing. While waiting for the brownies to be done, I made rice pancakes for everyone and served them with pure maple syrup and a vegan spread. Big hit! Served a vegan gluten-free cornbread as well, to balance out all the sweet flavors. Here's the recipe for the Gluten-free Vegan Rice Pancakes. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Kids approve of rice pancakes!

Gluten-free Vegan Rice Pancakes


1 1/2 cups rice flour (brown or white)
1/2 cup soft cooked rice
1 tablespoon fine sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups rice milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoon applesauce
1 teaspoon sunflower oil

Method: Blend everything together in a food processor till smooth. Make each pancake using a 1/4 cup measure. Lightly oil a frying pan, keep it on medium heat and pour batter to form a circle (hopefully!). When bubbles start rising to the top, carefully flip pancake over and cook other side for about a minute. Slide onto plate, add favorite topping and tuck in!

Note: You may want to thin it down a wee bit with rice milk and try making crepes. Let me know if you do!


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Gluten-free Egg-free Dairy-free Chocolate fudge Cupcakes

Gluten-free Egg-free Dairy-free Chocolate Cupcakes
After playing around with several recipes, I hit on this combination that works, at least, I think so! First of, let me tell you, that here in Singapore, it is very difficult to find ingredients which are properly labelled and certified as being free of this and that, namely egg, dairy, gluten and nuts. Make no mistake. You can get a whole range of stuff but just can't be sure if there are traces of any of the baddies in them. So I work with what I have available and whine about what's easily available to the rest of the world. The recipe had to be egg, dairy, gluten and nut free. I did not want to use xantham gum, because of my issues over its origins and I'm not crazy about the overwhelming taste many gluten-free flours have. So this is what I came up with. Cocoa and cinnamon do a great job in gluten-free recipes to add flavor and yummy aromas while masking the "graininess" of the millet and rice in the cupcakes. I used guar gum as the binder. The cupcakes did not crumble after baking so I think that works as a xantham gum substitute. Maybe, next time I'll try them without guar gum, add more applesauce and ........well, lets see where I go with this....I'll let you know. Current recipe, as is, follows. Let me know what you think.

Gluten free Egg free Dairy free Choc Fudge Cupcakes

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder 

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup rice milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tablespoon hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened apple sauce
Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy spread
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1/4 cup melted gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate

Cupcake Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Mix wet ingredients into dry and beat with a whisk until well combined.
  3. Half-fill cupcake cases.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Check with a toothpick after 8 minutes.
  6. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
  7. Top with egg-free, dairy-free choc fudge topping.
  8. Makes 6 to 8 cupcakes.

Frosting Method:

  1. Beat all ingredients together till smooth.
  2. Swirl on the top of cooled cupcakes.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Millet is my Mantra!

Millet Risotto and Meatloaf  with Millet
Yup! That's right. You have not imagined it. Millet is my mantra. I love millet in all its forms. I love the taste of cooked millet. I use millet flour in a wide range of gluten-free baking. Millet tastes amazing in risotto replacing rice, or in millet tabbouleh in place of cous cous or bulgar wheat. I use it in my meat loaf as a binder instead of breadcrumbs or eggs (junior is allergic to eggs and I suspect, is gluten intolerant as well). My gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free meatloaf turned out brilliantly. The kids did not have a clue to the actual contents. They have a tendency to object to anything new on the principal that it is new....I cooked my millet with half tomato juice and half chicken stock in place of water till it was stodge and mixed it in with the rest of the usual meatloaf ingredients. Used about half cooked millet and half meat to form the meatloaf, without the inmates cluing in. I'm trying to cut back on the amount of meat we eat at home, you see. The sleight of hand worked. The millet based meatloaf was vanquished. Not a crumb was left over and even the picky eaters were happy. That was a success story.