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

  • 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.   

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The trials and tribulations.....gluten-free bread.

The Lemon
I've been sporadically trying to make gluten-free bread these past months, but success has been elusive. Worse, my resultant gluten-free bread has been disastrous. There are dozens of success stories on the internet (and they have the pictures to prove it) but mine have ranged from bread which can be used as book-ends or door-stops. If  thrown at someone, be forewarned, you might be charged with causing GBH! I'm sure you get the picture. Well, like all the success stories out there, I decided to post the picture of one of my recent attempts at gluten-free bread. Looks pretty good, right? Well, it was a lemon.....literally. I made a sour dough starter, prayed over it for about 3 days, used rice, urad (type of dhal)  and millet for the gluten-free flours and then had the "brilliant" idea to add a pinch of citric acid in the hope that it will improve the leavening effect.....sour-dough with citric acid? Bad idea. Really bad. Might give this a whirl again without the citric acid. Apart from that, the bread was actually quite soft (an improvement from my door-stop days) and the texture was not too gummy. I did not use any xantham gum as I'm still leery about the corn content in it. Maybe I will add some guar gum instead and see what happens. I'll keep you posted. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Father's Day and Gingerbread - Once upon a time........

Egg-free Gingerbread
With Father's Day round the corner, I kept checking with my two what they were doing for Daddy. Finally, we figured that I will bake a cake, the Princess will cook breakfast and Pee-Wee will butter toast (he figured everything else was too difficult and besides, he had made his dear ole Dad an Angry Birds card! Reckoned he had done enough). Mulling over what flavour of cake to bake, I settled on old-fashioned gingerbread. My grandmother used to bake gingerbread when I was really little aand I can still remember the taste and smells from way back when.....This was my first go at making egg-free gingerbread and the resulting cake turned out moist, fine-crumbed and down-right delicious, if I do say so myself. I think the picture speaks a 1000 words, all of them good, yes? Now I'm working on making it gluten free and dairy free. That will be great.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Chocolate strawberry cheesecake!

Creamcheese filled Strawberries
Don't these beauties look yummy? They were! I had a whole lot of cream cheese frosting left after frosting some egg-free Guiness cupcakes (that's a story for another time) and decided to try these out. Just gouged out the centres of the strawberries and piped in the cream cheese frosting. Then dipped each strawberry into melted dark chocolate - a happy combination of chocolate dipped strawberries and strawberry cheesecake. Marriage made in my heaven!     

Cupcake decorating class for kids at IBM, Singapore

Tables prepped for kids decorating class
We did a couple of cupcake decorating sessions for 50 kids at IBM, Singapore. Each child was given 4 egg-free and dairy-free chocolate cupcakes to decorate. The sessions were completely egg, dairy, nut and gelatin free so that at least 4 of the main allergies were covered.

Animal face toppers 
Easy-to-do animal face toppers for the cupcakes were chosen for the decorating workshop, as the kids were ranged in age from 4 to 12. They were taught to make the faces of a pig, cat, bear and elephant (see picture above).
Messy fun!
The elephant was the star of the day. The children came up with some amazingly creative forms of the animal faces shown them. One of them made an incredible elephant face with heavy eyebrows which so reminded me of Snuffulufagus from Sesame Street!
Making animal face toppers for cupcakes
A great deal of free artistic expression was going on, I tell you! A lot of fun was had by all! 

Kiran's Angry Birds Birthday Cake

Kiran's Angry Birds Birthday Cake
My son, Kiran's 8th birthday cake was a real labor of love.....8 mini 'labors' - Angry Bird characters, one for each child at the party. The birds were made of fondant and seated on an egg-free chocolate mousse cake. The cake was a hit with the kids but we nearly had a riot on our hands when, some of the guests wanted the same character! Thankfully, the situation was resolved with minimum fuss and all had a great time.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Guar Gum - a safer alternative

Guar Gum
Gluten-free cookies, with Guar gum

I've started using guar gum in my gluten-free baking in place of xantham gum. Guar gum is made from cluster beans or guar beans. I feel that it gives baked goods a better texture than xantham gum, less gummy!. From what I've read, guar gum appears to have a very low rate of allergic reactions to it, that too only if the guar is contaminted at the source.