Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Orange Muffins (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

I’ve always loved trains. I love the soporiphic sway that draws you out of the station, and leads you through unfamiliar, remote landscapes. I love the mounting excitement as you arrive at a strange platform, the anticipation of an adventure about to begin.

When I was 21 I queued up to buy an Interrail ticket. It was to be a whistle stop tour around Europe before starting a work placement in France. A friend and I took the sleeper out of Barcelona and headed north to meet another friend in Nice. There was no itinerary, there was no plan; just an urge to head for strange and foreign lands.

I remember sweating in the 40 degree heat of Budapest, desperately trying to stay focused on thrilling architecture, but so relieved when we could duck into Burger King where they had veggie burgers and air conditioning.

I remember at the start of one long journey, bagging a compartment all to ourselves. We didn’t want to share it so came up with a plan. We removed our stinking shoes and grime-encrusted socks, and shut the window up tight. As hapless backpackers hove into view and eyed our compartment, we broke into seemingly spontaneous laughter. They looked at our stinking, hot compartment filled with crazed, close-knit friends and moved swiftly on.

I remember the sun setting on the flat Hungarian fields. I sat by the train’s open door and watched the world trundle past; I felt so happy, so free. When I returned to the carriage Ian informed me that he could see a nun’s knickers. She was fast asleep, legs akimbo, knickers for all to see. Chickens clucked around her feet; I don’t think they belonged to her, they seemed to be with the unsmiling men in their suit trousers and string vests.

I remember being woken in the night by a train guard, snarling at us in a strange tongue. The panic we felt as we understood that our section of the train was about to stop and only the front section would be carrying on. The mad scramble to get the backpacks, the dash down the corridor and Emma’s big mistake as she went out the wrong door and landed on the track. We hauled her back in by the top of her rucksack and collapsed in a heap in yet another train compartment.

When the guard came and woke us again, we were not in the mood. We grunted and turned over, and awoke much later to a very silent train. A silent train that was not moving. A glance out of the window confirmed that we were in a siding, but where? It was hours before we were due to arrive at our destination. Again the scramble, the heavy backpacks, stumbling along in the siding dwarfed by freight trains, trying to find a platform. We staggered up to the first man we saw, as he appeared out of the early morning mist,
Where ARE we?’
Krakow’ he replied.

We laughed in our hotel room at our fear, the thought of being lost in a siding somewhere in the Eastern bloc. We laughed as we changed up our money and briefly became Zloty millionaires, and we rejoiced in the cheapness of the beer. Yet later, as we walked silently around Auschwitz, there were no more reasons to smile. The piles of shoes, the human hair, the glasses hastily removed; it’s an experience that never leaves you.

A couple of months ago this jumble of memories filled my head as my train pulled slowly out of the Gare de Lyon. I was on my way to Lausanne; no children, no husband, just me, off to visit some friends.

I spent the only hot weekend of the summer discovering a small corner of Switzerland. We went to see the cows coming down from the mountains for winter. Impossibly large bells and their daft, floral hats weighed them down. We watched men perform the gentle art of flag throwing, accompanied by the haunting melodies of Swiss horns. We sampled, light, fresh Swiss wine; so lovely yet so unavailable to the rest of the world. The viticulteurs we spoke to don't export; they have tiny production runs and serve the domestic market. Surely there should be an EU subsidy to remedy this crying shame? We brunched on Sunday by Lac Léman and all too soon I was boarding my train back to Paris.

Before I left, Fran made me some muffins. Deliciously light little babes of muffins. Fresh and zingy, they were gone in a flash. I’ve managed to make them gluten free and they are the perfect snack for a long, thoughtful train journey. Be it to Lausanne, Poland or just for the 7.25 out of Charing Cross.
Orange Train Muffins (makes about 12)
Fran took her recipe from a book called, 'The Best of Annabel Langheim'. The author writes that they were a speciality of her mother. They are indeed very special; I love the blitzing of whole oranges, so simple, so clever.
Gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free version:
2 medium oranges
1ooml orange juice
1 tsp Orgran 'no egg' + 2tbsps orange juice
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds + 1 tbsp orange juice (You can make ground linseeds by blending whole linseeds. Dead easy)
150g sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
For egg-free, dairy-free version:
Use the first 8 ingredients listed above.
Omit the xanthan gum and use 215g plain flour (I used 130g wholewheat and 85g white flour)
Still use the linseeds.
For the gluten-free version: (note, I've not yet tried this version)
Use the gluten-free flours and xanthan gum shown above
use 1 egg instead of the the egg replacers.
Still use the linseeds.
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas 4
  • Line a muffin pan with muffin cases
  • For the egg-free version; mix the egg replacer with the orange juice and set aside
  • Mix the tbsp of ground linseeds with the tbsp of orange juice. Set aside
  • Melt the dairy free spread in the microwave or by gently melting in a small saucepan. Set aside
  • Roughly chop the oranges and remove any pips. Put the chopped orange into a blender and add the 120ml of orange juice. Blend until the mixture is smooth. You might end up with little morsels of orange peel, but it works fine in the muffin, don't fret
  • To the blender add the following: the egg replacer mix / real egg, the ground linseed mix, the melted dairy-free spread. Blend again until it's all mixed together
  • In a large mixing bowl put the flour (GF or wheat), baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and xanthan gum (if using GF flour). Use a mini whisk to make sure everything is combined
  • Add the contents of the blender to the contents of the mixing bowl and stir gently with a wooden spoon until it's all mixed together. Don't beat it, just be gentle
  • Add a good dollopy tablespoon to each muffin case, aim for about half full
  • Bake for about 15 minutes, but keep your eye on them. They may take longer, they may go more quickly. Cheeky muffins - they keep you on your toes
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Amanda at Little Foodies said...

These sound great! Loved your memories of your train trip both recent and long ago. I'd only got to that bit when I was distracted to sit on the sofa with one grumpy, hot, ill child! Glad I was able to come back and finish reading. Like the thought of blitzing whole oranges to cook with.

Kelly Mahoney said...

Mmm, looks tasty!

Mya said...

You'd be hard pushed to find a train running tonight in France. They're all on bleedin' greve!
That said, if I was waiting on a cold platform, those delicious orangey muffins would certainly cheer me up. Yummmmm.

Mya x

Elsie Button said...

i loved reading about your train adventures - so entertaining and funny, as always! I loved 'They looked at our stinking, hot compartment filled with crazed, close-knit friends and moved swiftly on'

by the way i will be using your blog to make some party cakes for betty's birthday - as have a gluten free friend coming... so thank you!

lady macleod said...

Lovely post! I am also a lover of trains and adventure. I must remember the sock-trick!

Suffolkmum said...

You brought back great memories of my inter-railing days. There's something so atmospheric about long train journeys. Always thought I'd like to have beenonthe Orient Express in the 20's. The muffins do sound good.

Iota said...

Trains, so much better than planes.

Why do the cows wear those head-dresses?

missbecky75 said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog. We have just received confirmation that my youngest son (6 months) has both milk and egg allergies. I am so glad to have found you (and your recipes)! :)

Thanks so much for sharing. I'm looking forward to trying your recipes. They look great!


Pig in the Kitchen said...

A@LF, oh dear, hope your weeny one is better, hot children is never good. I'm a convert to the full orange blitzing technique; it sounds a little like a Pilates movement.

Kelly, cheers love

Mya, don't get me started! I left my house at 6.20am today, arrived crazily early at my destination at 6.50 and had to shelter under a sleeping bag in the car with my boy becoz the clinic didn't open until 8am...yes, it is a long, involved and rather strange story! Will the greve run and run?

EB, Thank you for kind comments, i do feel a little ashamed at having acted in such an exclusive way. But it was a long overnight train and who wants to be cramped when you could have the whole compartment?! Hope the cakes turn out and happy birthday to Betty! Umm, I didn't get an invite to her birthday? I'm sure that was just a careless oversight on your part...

LadyM, thank-you. Your life certainly doesn't lack for adventure, the sock trick is a corker.

SuffolkMum, a fellow interrailer, languages graduate, blogger, we are so very linked! The trouble with the Orient Express; you would have had to dress for dinner. Such a bind having to put on all those pearls,a tasselled dress and a bow in your hair. And the Charlston is more complicated than it looks. Or so I'm told.

Iota, I'm all in favour of locomotion that doesn't leave the ground and therefore can't crash catastrophically back down. Have NO idea why the cows wore the head-dresses. Apparently the size of the bell around the neck denotes whether they are a good milker or a great milker. I guess like being an 'A' cup or a triple 'F' cup. Can you be a triple 'F'?

MissBecky75, I'm very sorry to hear about your son, it's so horrid to get that diagnosis. Fingers crossed that he will grow out of it. I hope the recipes will be of help, if you need any help (or just someone to whinge at) feel free to email (or post a comment!)

Frog in the Field said...

I'm not talking to you Pig!
(Good Blog though)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

FITF, I'm gutted! a tiny innocent comment on your blog and you have cut me dead. I shall find it hard to sleep, but when you are ready to forgive, I will be waiting...

Frog in the Field said...

I'll have you know I've just spotted a grey Hair and it's ALL YOUR FAULT!!
You wished it on me (shiff!) oops, I mean sniff!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

FITF, I always suspected that I have magical powers in a gentle, white witch kind of a way. However, if i have magicked a grey hair onto your head by merely thinking of it, I am clearly a satan-worshipper and should be burnt at the stake. My many and heartfelt apologies; my powers go way beyond what I thought...

Akelamalu said...

You have some very interesting memories Pig. The muffins look delicious. :)

creative-type dad said...

Why do I look at the pictures?

I really want to eat these...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

akelamalu, thank-you, they are worth eating!

C-D Dad, i think I should spend more time looking and less time eating. My pigly rump is catching up with me! Thanks for visiting.

Potty Mummy said...

Pig, those look delicious. And I totally agree with your Swiss wine comment. In those far off, halcyon days where I got paid for my work, my frequent trips to Swiss-based clients meant I got to try their wine. Rather too much of it, actually. The job's left me, but not the taste for their wine...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Potty M, phew, you're back! Mother-in-law hasn't tipped you over the edge then. Ahhh, Swiss Wine. It was lovely, so light it went down without touching the sides. How lovely to have been paid for drinking it.

Potty Mummy said...

Pig, yes, I'm back, and loving the chilly weather... I am also no more tipped over the edge than I was previously (draw your own conclusions on that one), although Milly has been doing her best to lure me closer to the precipice. We recently issued the edict that the boys should get only 1 present each from their grandparents at Christmas. So what does she do? Turns up a few days ago with a sack full of the little extras she had planned on giving them at Christmas, and handing them over now instead. Very poor form, I call that.

guineapigmum said...

Mmm, those muffins look/sound good. I may give them a try this weekend. Do you make a gf Christmas cake, by the way? Any good recipes? Just psyching myself up to doing mine.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

potty mummy, glad you survived. Trying to stop grandparents spoiling grandchildren is like the unstoppable force meeting the immoveable object; eventually the immoveable object (us parents) is beaten by the unstoppable grandparental force. It drives me insane too!

guineapigmum, ta- daaaa! My cake is made!