Monday, 1 September 2008

Raisin Buns (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re rolling along as usual and you think you know more or less how the rest of the day is going to go? Then suddenly, whoosh! Look! There goes what you thought was going to happen, and Oh, hello! Here‘s something completely random and unexpected. And when it‘s all over you scratch your head and think,
‘Huh, I did NOT see that coming’.
Ever had a day like that? I have. It happened a few weeks ago.

I’d just driven back to France after three weeks in the UK. Six hours in the car made sitting in the sun outside my house even more delightful. The children were scampering happily in the garden when from nowhere I had a positive and confident thought.
‘What if,’ went the thought, ’you just stopped worrying and tried to enjoy life? Just enjoyed the opportunities that come your way, stopped stressing about whether it’s Right to live in France, and gave up the idea of having a stomach like an Olympic gymnast?’

Well. It’s very unlike me to have a grown-up thought like that, and I was still processing it, when along came another,
‘Fat! That’s what it needs, Fat!’

Lest you think I’ve become a little unhinged after my summer break; here’s some background for you. I’ve not yet mastered an egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free fairy-cake/bun type of a creation. Muffin-type cakes go well, big chocolatey cakes are fine, but the little bun that you want to serve for birthday parties or hand out after school, has not materialised in my kitchen. Oh they might look enticing and positively pumped in the oven, but as soon as my back is turned they slump, or just level off. In addition, they haven’t quite got the springy texture I’m after. So I’ve been mulling about how to get them to work for ages, and on that sunny evening it came to me,
‘Fat!’ I would add some extra fat into my egg-replacing concoction in the hope that it would more perfectly mimic a real egg, and ta-daaaa! maybe it would work.

With that happy thought in my head, I cooked tea for the children, crowbarred them into bed and switched on the oven with every intention of trying out my new fatty fake egg idea. Then I heard the thunder of small feet heading my way. In burst my son looking ashen, and yelled;

‘E (youngest child) has swallowed something!’

You can always tell when children are scared witless. There’s something in the timbre of the voice that sends your feet running up the stairs and sets your heart racing. I found my littlest retching and struggling to vomit. She was drooling, heaving and in a panic.

‘What have you swallowed?’’
‘Money’ she groaned.

For a minute I was stumped. My Mother’s Mental Compendium of Unexpected Medical Ailments (Volume 2) didn’t appear to have a chapter on ‘What to do if your two year old swallows some money’. I tried a bit of fingers down the throat, a bit of a drink of water, a bit of a multiple choice guessing game - ‘Look, here are some coins. Which one did you swallow, was it this one?’ - and then I ran out of ideas. So I dialled the emergency services and they told me to take her to A and E.

All of a sudden my evening was really not going to plan. I did what I often do in moments of stress; called my husband - two hours away in Paris - so that I could rant at him. And when he is not the subject of my rant, my husband is really rather good at helping.

‘Why?‘ I frothed, ‘does this happen to me? I’ve done the choking, the meningitis, the operations, but WHY is it always me with a medical dilemma involving children at night, on my own?‘Husband speaks a little-known maths / engineery patois that I find quite soothing,
‘Well, it’s really just numbers. It’s four children, ergo, it’s trouble to the power of four’.
Oddly enough that did the trick and calmed me down.

By the time we reached A & E it was late. Too late to be dragging four pyjama’d children around. I was seen by a kindly doctor, then sent along to Radiography. Give them their due, my children do rally in the face of a night-time trip to hospital; the three older ones sat outside in the corridor, and the youngest -a lot chirpier now - giggled at the great big lead apron I had to wear, and puffed her tummy out for the x-ray. Sure enough, there it was, a huge-looking coin. The doctor peered at it, then peered at me,

‘Are you sure that it was just a 5 centime coin that she swallowed?’

 Neglectful, shameful Mother who allows her small child access to harmful coins shook her head. She thought it best to not say anything else or he might start to wonder where the Father was and start checking all the other kids for bruises and cigarette burns.

When we finally rolled home and I'd put small people to bed, I was far too wired to sleep, so decided to crack on with the buns and my fake fat egg idea. Would you believe that they worked first time?

Huh, I did NOT see that coming.

Addendum: 48 hours after the coin-swallowing incident, Pig and the piglets were absorbing the sunset on a beach. Mercifully, most people had gone off to have dinner. ‘Mum’ called L, ‘E needs a wee’. I wafted down the beach in my sarong and gently lifted my poppet for a harmless wee.
For too long.
Just a wee’ I whispered urgently, ‘just do a wee, don’t do a poo’.
‘Aggghh, just gotta poo’ strained my littlest as I looked on in horror.

Waves of shame washed over me and I summoned my eldest to help. Between us we gathered plastic bags, wipes and a bright coloured spade so that I could remove the mess and hope no-one had noticed. I bent down to clear up, and then stopped.

Huh! Look M! There’s the coin!’ M bent down for a look, ‘Oh wow!’ she exclaimed, ‘shall I get the others?’

And so it was that we were all witness to the coin evacuation, and in case anyone is interested…a 2p piece, not 5 centimes.

Raisin Buns (makes 10-12 regular buns, more if you use mini cases)

I've not yet had a go at icing these cakes, I wonder if that would work? And I know the list of ingredients is daunting...I'm sorry about that, this allergy cooking malarkey isn't easy is it?
Update, Jan 2009. Have now iced the buns (see below), and also discovered that they work with HERE for the rambling explanation of the banana addition. If you do use banana, the buns have a bit of a muffin look to the top of them, if you don't like it, just cover it up with icing.

Egg-free, Dairy-free, Gluten-free version:

110g dairy-free spread (or margarine if you don't have a milk allergy)

110g raisins (or omit raisins, and add 1 large banana mashed, or 1 and half medium bananas)

½ tsp mixed spice

1 tsp baking powder

120g sugar

10g cornflour/ cornstarch

1 tbsp rice bran

¼ tsp xanthan gum (yes it is a second ¼ tsp of xanthan gum)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds (grind whole linseeds in a blender)
4 tbsps rice milk

Gluten-free with egg version:

Use the first 10 ingredients listed above, then

½ tsp xanthan gum

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp rice milk or dairy milk

Egg-free, Dairy-free with wheat flour version:

Use the first four ingredients listed above, then

110g sugar

110g wheat flour

2 heaped tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer

20g melted dairy-free spread

¼ tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds (grind whole linseeds in a blender)

4 tbsps rice milk
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170° celsius
  • Line your bun tin with pretty cases, or sober and sensible white ones if you prefer
  • If making a 'no egg' version of these cakes, then in a bowl mix together the 2 tsps Orgran egg replacer, the 20g melted dairy free spread, the ¼tsp xanthan gum, the vanilla essence, the tbsp of ground linseeds and the 4 tbsps of rice milk. Whisk it well with a mini whisk and set it aside to work its magic
  • For all versions: cream the dairy-free spread/margarine in a large mixing bowl until it is well blended and a bit paler in colour
  • Add either the egg replacer mix or the 2 eggs, and beat well. If making with eggs, add the vanilla essence at this point
  • Add the raisins (or mashed banana if you wish) and mix
  • For gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free version: Add the four types of GF flour, the mixed spice, the baking powder, the rice bran and the ¼ tsp of xanthan gum and mix well.
  • For gluten free with eggs version: Add the four types of GF flour, the mixed spice, the baking powder, the rice bran and ½ tsp of xanthan gum and mix well
  • For egg-free, dairy-free with wheat flour: Add the wheat flour, mixed spice and baking powder and mix well
  • Ok, now who isn't confused at this point?
  • To recap, you should now all have in your bowls, dairy-free spread, sugar, egg - either real or fake, raisins, vanilla essence, GF or wheat flour, mixed spice and baking powder. Some of you will have xanthan gum, some of you won't, please try not to squabble
  • Is it time we had a drink yet?
  • Make sure everything is mixed up then add a tbsp of rice milk or dairy milk if you are not allergic to dairy products.
  • Mix again and give a gentle magic blow over the ingredients in your bowl, it really helps. Please don't give a magic blow if you are suffering from Tuberculosis, that might not be such a good idea
  • Now, let's fill up your cake cases. Always a tricky moment this, do I err on the side of not-quite-full-enough-but-I-know-it-won't-droop-over-the-top, or do I go for, dollop-it-in-you-can-never-have-too-much-cake-even-if-it-has-drooped-over-the-top. I generally go for just over half full and hope for the best (although when making these with banana, it seemed better to slightly overfill them)
  • Place your babies in the middle of the oven for approximately 15-25 minutes. It depends on which mix you're using and on your oven, just play safe and watch intently
  • They are cooked when they have risen, are a pale golden colour and an inserted cake tester or skewer comes out clean
  • Place on a cooling rack and leave until completely cold; all versions of this are better when they are cold. Don't be having a sly bite when they're still hot and then feel really disappointed because it wasn't the spongey babe of a cake you were hoping for, just be patient, they're better cold.
  • If serving these to small children, please ensure that all surfaces are clear of coins of any denomination

Now then, now then! For the occasion of my littlest's 3rd birthday, I did get around to icing these buns (see above). I used a glace icing and sprinkled with lavender sugar, get me! Oooo and they were good, the icing sets and yum, yummity yum. I'm not good with glace icing measurements, but roughly....
200g icing sugar (sieved) (maybe a bit more?)
a few tbsps of water
  • seive icing sugar into a large bowl, add the water very, very gradually and mix until you have a thick icing. You may prefer thin, runny icing in which case add more water. If it all goes too runny, sieve in more icing sugar
  • Dollop the icing onto the cold buns, and spread/coax it to the edges. Sprinkle on the lavender sugar, quick! before it sets, or add another pretty sprinkly topping of your choice. Carnivel Sprinkelz are fab, pretty, dairy and gluten free, and you can get them from Dietary Needs Direct
© Pig in the Kitchen 2008


Kitschen Pink said...

Well, at least it wasn't paper money - that would be perhaps less interesting medically but really quite an expensive habit! t.x

Iota said...

"crowbarred the children into bed" - a lovely turn of phrase.

Can we ask why? Why did your daughter want to eat money? Just wondering...

Iota said...

Oh, by the way, thought you'd be interested to know that in 12 weeks, yes 12 weeks, in the UK, I was only on my own with the children, without husband or grandparents or friends, for one night, yes one night. And as I put them to bed, I thought, "this'll be the night that one of them is ill". Sure enough, 4.00am and a sound of retching interrupts my sleep - and there was more all morning. Hurrah for English washing machines and Persil (French for parsely, odd choice of name for washing powder - I digress). It was the only illness incident all 12 weeks.

Vegetation said...

Yay! It's good to have you back. I missed your family tales that remind me SO much of my own!

(and the raisin buns sound delicious too!)

Potty Mummy said...

I'm with Iota on this. Why? And if one is going to swallow money, why the BIGGEST coin she could find? Or was that the challenge?

Elsie Button said...

Pig is back Pig is back! Yay!

Choking incident sounds horrific, but glad it resolved and you got to make the successful cakes, even after spending most of the night in A&E. By the way, what became of the coin?

I sit in fear and holding my breath daily as Betty eats her food - she doesn't seem to want to chew her food and does a big cartoon swallow as another whole strawberry goes down...

your cake accomplishment is great, i can't make fairy cakes with eggs and them not go flat.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

KP, paper money, yes, that may have been better, altho perhaps more of a choking hazard?

Iota, ah the metaphorical crowbar. Why is a very good question, especially as she's so damned sensible for a 2 year old. why? Why? Why?

Iota mark2, and yes that sounds about right doesn't it? The inbuilt child sick bug radar...I suppose you can be thankful that it was just coming out of the one end. And 'persil', had not made that connection before, you have now condemned me to a life of pronouncing the washing powder in a francais manner and sounding horribly pretentious. merci.

Sweet Vegetation, I'm glad you're glad that I'm back. Children and calamity, i'm beginning to think it all goes together...

PottyM, Pig sputters in complete agreement, YES! WHY? and WHY the biggest one??? I'm kind of glad that it wasn't a 50p piece, that might have snagged around the duodenum which would not have been good.

ElsieB, yay! I'm back to addictive blogging, yay! The coin, the coin the coin. I'm afraid I left it nestling amongst the lentils (sorry), scooped the whole lot onto some plastic bags, bundled it up, then walked to the bin in a nonchalant, 'what? my child poo on the beach? noooo, that wasn't me that was those other awful British people, look over there' kind of a way.

I like Betty's cartoon swallow, you are trained in the Heimlich manoeuvre for the under 5's I take it??

Iota said...


For some inexplicable reason to do with self-harming, I have just read the posts you link to in this one, to do with hospitals and accidents. (I missed 2 of the 3 of them first time round, somehow.) And then I looked for that one about the birthday party and the glands the size of golf balls and you going la-la-la with your hands over your ears.

I don't know why I did that. I feel all wobbly and goose-pimply. If I ever need a ghost writer for some particularly horrendous bit in a novel about a child being ill and the parent having to cope, I know who I'll be contacting.

Since you so enjoyed the persil/parsely thing, you might also like to know that Colgate is Spanish for 'hang yourself'. Interesting choice of brand name from a multi-national.

Akelamalu said...

Did she retrieve it for her money box? LOL

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Iota, I'm feeling a bit bad now about blah-blahing about my kids misfortunes....but I'll ghost write for you any day! I'd forgotten about the golf ball lump and the midnight trip to hospital, it's amazing what we blank out.

Colgate! of course!, as a command in fact isn't it, 'go hang yourself', or if you were speaking to someone older, or in a more formal setting, perhaps one would say, 'colgase!'. I'm very pleased you brought that to my attention.

Akelamalu, yep, a quick wash in the sea and it was fine ;-)

Miriam said...

Welcome back, good to have you posting again! My late Mum (a nurse)had some fantastic solutions to common problems such as coin swallowing- get them to eat a cottom wool sandwich, they will then effortlessy pass the coin, in time! Look forward to making your buns, I'm so tempted to start now, and it's 22.10, mimi

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Miriam, A cotton Wool sandwich??!! Doesn't that qualify as child abuse? oooo, but now you've got me thinking, that could be a great weight-loss plan for my post-Summer bulge, which alas bears no resemblance to the tummy of an Olympic gymnast.

Off to find some cotton wool...
make the buns, make the buns, MAKE THE BUNS!

Lisa said...

Oh, you are back! I've missed you. As always, a superbly entertaining post. Very glad to read everything turned out well.

Iota said...

I can't imagine saying "go hang yourself" in a formal setting, or to an older person, in Spanish. My only other words of Spanish are things like hasta manana, mui bien, and gracias. But thanks anyway. If I am ever in that situation, I would hate to make a grammatical error and say colgate! instead of colgase! What a faux pas that would be. Phew, glad I'm prepared now.

I think there is probably a website of brand names that mean odd things in different languages. I'm off to browse now, and I'll let you know if I find it.

Iota said...

This is a good place to start
I like the example of the Swedish candybar called Plopp and the Danish candybar called Spunk.

Iota said...

I am philosophically opposed to laughing at people who make mistakes in a foreign language (good for them for trying, I say), and particularly in English, since English speakers make so little effort to learn other languages. Nonetheless, this is funny

Shall I just shut up now?

Lowood6 said...

Hi PITK, so glad to have you back! And wow, what a night for you - glad also that in the end it was ok - and that it came out (and you've seen the 'proof')... ;-)

I hear some other kids will try to shove things up their nostrils - and things do get stuck there and they have to visit the ER... I'm afraid my second child has the tendency to do it..we'll probably have to make the dash to the ER in the near future.

The buns were great - amazing texture (not to mention the taste) for a gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free creation. How could you get it right in one go?!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

That got me giggling! My eldest once decided to empty his bowels in the sandpit at Godstone Farm (no cash coins from his botty though)... I was sat having a jolly old time with friends when I heard the "Whose child is this?" I did think to pretend he wasn't mine. Still... should come in handy when he needs to be bribed later in life.

So lovely to have you back!!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Lisa, hello, you're sweet to have missed me! All ok now, and the mantra in the house is, 'where DON'T we put money?...

Iota x 3, eeewwww, the Danish candybar! I too think it's very bad form to laugh at foreigners, but in a former life when I had to grade oral exams in a French uni, I made copious notes of their of my favs was 'My brother is a cooker'.
Thank-you for your copious research, and please feel free to come and play here on your own whenever the time difference is getting to you!! ;-)

lowood6, up the nose would be far worse wouldn't it? Would you have to blow pepper up the free nostril to try and get them to sneeze?? You've got me all worried now! Sooo glad the buns were good for you, it was one of those happy times when it all came good the first time! Or perhpas I am really a secret culinary genius from another planet?

A@LF, noooooo! in the sandpit! that great big sandpit up at the top with all the diggers and the kids run around barefoot??? (i do like Godstone Farm) Oh that's very shameful, and I can just hear the South-eastern Yummy Mama tone in which that 'whose child is this?' was delivered!

elizabethm said...

Welcome back. Hope your summer was good and the child ok again. I loved your husband's dry response to the "why me?" cry.

Miss Thistle said...

You must have made an interesting sight on the beach! We were staying with relatives when my boy (age 1 at the time) saw a 5 pence piece, and before I could say 'that belongs to somebody else!' popped it into his mouth and swallowed it. Not great fun examining nappies in great detail for the next few - pooey days. Did find it though... don't think I spent it! Glad to have you back and baking - Love Miss T x

Irene said...

Another wonderful and exciting post. Never mind the recipe, I come for the story. It is always very good and when is your book coming out?

Nikki-ann said...

They look delicious!

I swallowed a coin when I was a kid and I shouted down the stairs to my parents "I'm going to die!"... It didn't half shock them! I didn't die though (obviously!). Mum called the Doctor and I had to drink a glass of milk (I've since been told I'm lactose intolerant, so I'm not sure what they'd have got me to drink now!).

Brom said...

I guess the comment "No Change Yet" could be used there somewhere.

WElcome back, I hope you had a good hol... now get baking/caking and posting.

Mya said...

Oh Pig, what a wonderful story. Finished off beautifully by a number 2 on the beach - in every sense of the word.
Welcome back, hon.

Mya x

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

No, thankfully the smaller sandpit behind the cafe. The shame of it. I know the tone you mean.. Were you local then?

Adventure Mother said...

Surely there are loads of scrummy foods to eat in your house without having to turn to the money box! Seriously tho' I would be panicking and don't know how I'd cope in that situation. Scrummy looking buns by the way!

Mom/Mum said...

Ohh send us a bun. Mine never come out looking that good! i remeber at primary school a boy eating a rubber (eraser) and the treacher being on poop watch for the rest of the day!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

ElizM, thank-you. It's so easy to be dry, and calm when sitting at a computer hours away from the drama isn't it??!

MissT, I just hope no-one saw me on the beach? What do you reckon? Don't fancy the guddling thru pooey nappies, I suppose I got off lightly?!

Hello Irene, you are sweet. Book? Pah! No-one in the publishing world loves me....

Nikki_Ann, my children also thought the youngest was going to die. I think it's becoz i've been way too alarmist about swallowing things! My second girlie was almost having a panic attack as I was trying to deal with the youngest. I think I need to dial down my alarming, end-of-the-world predictions.

Oh Brom, bedoom Tsssh! I've missed your razor wit. And ease up, I'm baking, I'm'll see it all in good time!

Oh MYA, do you have to mention the poo on the beach again??!

A@LF, oh ok, the small sandpit is much less shameful. It wasn't me doing the judging, I'm afraid i would have left the child in their poo...I think i have a poo phobia!

Adventure Mum, a very good point, why didn't she just raid the fridge?? At least i've now updated my Mummy Emergency Manual and now what to do in case of coin ingestion!

Mom/Mum, eating a rubber? Actually chewing it? What a freak!

Naomi Devlin said...

So lovely to have you back. Been through that particular drama myself when a teenager with my much younger sister. Strangely also a 2p piece (do you think they appeal to children unaccountably in the same way that magpies are drawn to tin foil?). We spent all weekend of a holiday trip away peering through every potty full - only to find on our return home that she had laid one in a potty at home before we left and psuhed it under her bed - shiny coin, super cleansed by all those gastic juices, glinting meanly on top......

Aquitaine was delicious by the way.

x x x

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Kids - guaranteed to make life interesting! My sister at the age of five got a bead stuck up her nose. This was some 50 years ago when doctors didn't routinely transfer anyone to hospital. It took about two hours with tweezers and knitting needle (I'm not joking!) before he managed to get it out. She bled like a pig!

Grit said...

i love this story so much i keep popping by to read it again!

Iota said...

I've thought of a brilliant punch line to your story. It could be "and ever since that day, every poo she has ever done has contained a 2p piece. Unfortunately, this isn't enough to keep the family in 'goose that laid the golden egg' style, but it is a useful party trick and I'm sure it'll amuse the family when we go back to England this Christmas."

Kath said...

the combination of these two topics made me remember that when we used to go to birthday parties as kids (some forty?) years ago, often there would be coins wrapped in wax paper in the cake as a prize. It was so exciting when you would find a coin in your cake. I guess less exciting when the coin is in your ... oh well, you understand!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

What do the Yorkshire lot say? "Where there's muck there's brass?"...I lived in Spain for a while too and I seem to remember "Bonka" coffee. Rather a good one that.

GoneBackSouth said...

Oh Pig, all's well that ends well then. Better out than in, and all that. I think I would have kept the 2p as a momento.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

I just came here from Irene's blog. This is a fantastic blog, funny and yummy at the same time. I'm gluten and lactose free...and very pleased to have found your blog!

Novablogger said...

Those look really good. I am always trying out new recipes for cooking but rarely find a good one for any kind of baked goods. That said I LOVE muffins. I'll have to try these out and see how they are.

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