Thursday, 28 May 2009

Jam Biscuits (egg free, dairy free, gluten free, vegan)

In many ways young children are like puppies. They need clear boundaries, a kind but firm manner, and someone to clear up their poo. Now, when young children get old enough to ask for a puppy, the boundaries need to be even clearer, and the manner steely. ‘No’ is the correct answer. When they ask why, explain that there will be no puppy because you already have enough to do, all their toys will be chewed to bits, and there is no way you are going to scoop warm faeces into a bag. That’s how I have remained firm on the puppy issue for the best part of a decade.

Except that I now have four kids and a puppy.

It was a car crash that did it. There we were, rolling along, when a man with four times the legal amount of alcohol in his blood and going like a bullet shot in front of me. I hit him. His car flew for 62 metres. As it span through the air, his arm flapped lifelessly out the window and I was convinced I‘d killed him. His car landed on its roof, crushed. I don’t know how he didn’t die. To compound my horror, in French law I was held responsible because he had come from my right, and I had ‘refused to give way’. Do. Not. Even. Get. Me. Started.

The next day I gave a statement to the police, then set off for a long walk to try and sort out my head. For the second time in twenty four hours, something flew at me from the right. It was whimpering and jumping up and its anxious Mum was sniffing along behind. A puppy. A delicious, chubby, lost puppy curling up on my lap and nuzzling. I sat on the grass and the Mum and the pup went to sleep, on me and next to me. I felt like Jesus crossed with the Dog Whisperer.

Of course I shouldn’t have told the children. Of course I shouldn’t have carried the pup home and settled her and her Mum in the garage. And I’m fairly sure that I shouldn’t have fed them pasta with a creamy mushroom and artichoke sauce, (but someone told me dogs will eat anything). The dogs were still there the next morning and by now it was clear. They had been sent from on high to console me in my time of need. Unfortunately the vet begged to differ. When I called him because I was worried about Mum dog’s health, he told me that a man five miles away had lost the dogs two days before. Bugger.

I will cut this story short, but after giving the dogs back, the man told me the pup was for sale. Thankfully he told me in local yokel French dialect, and the flapping ears of my children didn’t hear. I kept it secret for two whole weeks, then one day in October we paid the man an awful lot of money and brought my puppy home. The kids were amazed. They realised, possibly for the first time, that there is blood, not stone, where my heart should be.

Husband was happy because I was happy, and he even ventured,
‘You know, I think we may have bonded, she’s just been nuzzling my hand’.
Not ten minutes later, the pup ran around in circles, then went - as if guided by GPS - straight to his laptop bag and crapped on it. A big, wet, stinking crap. Good thing they’d bonded beforehand, no?
Aside from the laptop bag incident, oh, and the chewing the rubber trim off husband’s sports car incident, and the scratching husband’s sports car incident, the puppy is a delight. We all love her, (husband not so much) and I am glad that I went back on my word.

You think I’m really weak, don’t you? First I caved on the puppy, then, hello, here I am blogging again, what’s that all about? Well I’ve explained about the puppy, and the blogging…

A dear friend called me in despair about her baby’s eczema. A non-medical person with a little bit of personal experience (me) is a dangerous person to call in those circumstances. I rambled on and on with advice and suggestions, and we both agreed that baby needed to have skin prick tests.

Baby had the skin prick tests. Baby is allergic to eggs, milk, wheat, dairy, nuts and more. Dear breast-feeding friend is suddenly on a restrictive diet, tired, weepy, overwhelmed. Now isn’t that reason enough for me to get my recipe-concocting hat out of the cupboard? Even if it means going back on my, ‘I’m not blogging any more’ word?

You know, you really shouldn’t take me at my word.

Sweet E and baby Z, these ‘Going-Back-on-My-Word Jammy Biscuits’ are for you. I wish I didn’t have to make them for you, but until our babies grow out of their allergies, or a vaccine is developed, (yep, I’m still clutching at any straw that comes along), I hope the biscuits and the blog help.

Going-back-on-my-word Jammy Biscuits (Makes approximately 15 biscuits, well, probably more)
So these are not quick to make, but worth the effort for special occasions (going back to blogging, that kind of thing). I like putting a genteel dollop of jam in the love heart, but my sugar fiend of a daughter insists that they should be completely sandwiched together with jam. Give both ways a try and see what you think. You'll need a large heart shape, and a small heart shape to cut out the inner bit

For GF version:
40g potato starch or cornflour (corn starch)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
230g dairy free spread
130g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tbsp rice milk
Jam for sandwiching purposes
If using wheat flour:
Substitute the first three ingredients above for 335g of white flour
the rest of the ingredients remain the same (including the xanthan gum)
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius
  • Place the dairy-free spread and sugar into a large mixing bowl, and using a wooden spoon squidge and bash it about a bit until it starts to combine into a dough
  • Add the flour(s) and xanthan gum and mix it into the fat and sugar with the spoonWhen you get fed up of using the spoon, dive in with your hands and squidge it through your fingers. You might want to think of a particularly horrible ex as you squeeze and pummel the dough
  • Add the vanilla essence, squidge again until it is all combined. It is quite a sticky dough, so use the rice milk to dampen your hands, it will help you bend the dough to your will
  • When you have a ball of dough, you can chill it at this point for up to twelve hours. But if you're up against the clock, move right along to the next stage
  • Divide the dough in half and flour a wooden board with rice flour (or wheat flour if using). Start to roll out the dough. You'll need to keep picking up the dough at the beginning to make sure it doesn't stick to your board. Keep adding rice flour and hoping for the best
  • Roll out the flour to a thickness of approximately 4mm
  • Using your large heart shape, stamp out two large hearts. Then using your littlest heart, stamp out a small heart shape from one of the large hearts. Are you following? Shall I say heart again?
  • Now to the jammy bit. Place the heart with the small heart shape cut out of it on top of the large heart. Press down a bit on the edges to stick them together
  • Then very daintily take a teaspoon of jam and ease it into the little heart shape. Don't overfill as it will spread during cooking. If you agree with my daughter and want to add more jam, before you stick the biscuits together, cover the bottom biscuit with jam, then place the heart with the small heart shape cut out on top. Bit complicated to explain that, hope you're keeping up
  • Repeat the process until all the dough is used up, then place your babies into the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Watch them though, make sure they don't burn. They may take longer depending on your oven, mine's very temperamental (French)
  • Allow the biscuits to cool and the jam to set. Please don't try them when they're hot, the hot jam will take the skin off your lips
  • Enjoy them, but don't feed them to your puppy, that will encourage poor eating habits and it'll forever be begging when you eat. I do hate that in a dog

© Pig in the Kitchen 2009