Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Warm, Spiced Apple Cake (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)

Warm, spicy, deliciously calorific

Ask an average stay-at-home Mum what she thinks of Twitter and you’ll probably get a dismissive answer. ‘Why would I want to know what someone is having for lunch?’ she might say. Ask that same Mum whether she gets insanely bored doing her tedious, daily chores and she’ll answer in the affirmative.

If only she could see her need for Twitter! Slightly dissatisfied, stay-at-home Mums are the perfect candidates for developing a Twitter habit. With its short, snappy nuggets of information, it is a very suitable distraction from the mind-numbing grind of stay-at-home life.

To get the best out of Twitter, you need Tweetdeck. A dark, slightly baffling screen will appear on your laptop.

It has 'Columns.'

It has ‘Mentions.

It has ‘Direct Messages.’

It is very confusing, in a dark and mysterious way.

It makes me feel like a spy. I know - mental - but see me in this cyber military ops room making world-changing decisions and issuing orders (in 140 characters or less). Very soon the camera will cut to a close up on my furrowed (yet still sexy) brow. And watch me give controversial orders to unilaterally disarm...

You see how Twitter can transport you?

The best bit about Tweetdeck is that every time someone I’m ‘following’ ‘tweets’, a small rectangle appears very briefly in the top right hand corner of my screen. It makes a little chirruping noise and gives me a tiny snippet of information that I can read, or follow a suggested link, or just ignore and think, ‘why would I want to know what you are having for lunch?’

That regular tweeting on my screen reminds me that I’m connected to the vast outside world as I sit contemplating chores in my small, stay-at-home Mum world. And it’s also a perfect excuse to abandon jobs, rush to my laptop and see what’s going on...

A few days ago, I heard the chirrup, saw the rectangle and quickly read the snippet.

What’s this?

Mum's the Blog has thrown down the baking gauntlet, aka 'Pudding Carnival?  They are challenging bakers to produce, to-die-for Autumn puddings? Now that sounds more fun than folding the washing!

With some flicking through recipe books here, lots of tweaking there and plenty of tasting, well, all the time, I quickly came up with a satisfying dish to help you pile on the pounds as we head towards the hibernation season.

I give you, warm, spiced apple cake. It sends my older daughters into paroxysms of delight and makes them beg for more. Oh yeh!

Now.  Time to bang out a tweet.

Enjoying my lunch of watercress and avocado salad. Yum.

Come tweet with me at:

Warm, Spiced Apple Cake (This recipe is based on Clotilde Dusoulier's 'Le Gâteau de Mamy' from Chocolate and Zucchini.  All hail Clotilde...)

I swear I have gained 3 kilos in the last week of trying out this recipe; I think I’m pretending it’s healthy because of the apple bit. Each different variation differs in consistency, but they all have deliciousness in common. I do urge you to include the pinch of Maldon sea salt, it is a gorgeous match with the buttery, appley, sweetness of the cake. Oh that does it, I’m making another one...

All versions:

450g peeled and cored apples (approx 4 large apples)

A squeeze of lemon juice

1-2 tbsps of honey

2 tsps cinnamon

½ tsp Maldon sea salt

1tbsp melted dairy free margarine

250g dairy free margarine (or butter) + extra for dotting the base of the tin

1 tsp vanilla essence

300g sugar

Egg free, dairy free, gluten free

190g Doves Farm Gluten & Wheat Free Self-Raising Flour
3 heaped tsps Orgran ‘no egg’ Egg Replacer

2 tbsps apple sauce/apple purée (I used one for weaning babies)

⅛ tsp xanthan gum

6 tbsps rice milk

Egg free, dairy free with wheat flour

As per the Egg free, dairy free, gluten free version, but replace the 190g gluten free flour with self-raising wholemeal flour

Gluten free with eggs:

190g Doves Farm Gluten & Wheat Free Self-Raising Flour
4 eggs

  • Grease a 23cm x 6cm round cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Dot the base with dots of dairy free margarine. Now line the outside of the tin with tin foil / aluminium in case any juicy apple stuff tries to escape
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C
  • Thinly slice the peeled and cored apples (use a Boysenberry KitchenAid if you have one) and place into a large mixing bowl
  • Add the cinnamon, squeeze of lemon juice, honey and sea salt.  Stir to make sure the apples are coated. Line the base of the cake tin with the sliced apples
  • If making this cake without eggs, put the egg replacer, apple sauce, xanthan gum and 6tbsps of rice milk into a bowl and whisk with a mini whisk. Set aside
  • Melt the dairy free margarine (or butter)
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the sugar and eggs or egg replacer mixture. Add the vanilla essence
  • Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and stir again
  • Pour the batter into the cake tin and place in the oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until risen and golden, but the inside will be runny. Then cover the cake loosely with tin foil/aluminium to prevent the top burning. Continue baking until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. You might need to raise the oven temperature to cook the middle if it seems to be just sitting under its foil tent doing nothing
  • Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for about five minutes. Then place an upturned plate onto the top of the cake tin. Very carefully upend the cake tin so that your cake slides elegantly out of the tin onto the plate. Lean over and inhale the warm, spicy, appley fumes
  • Serve this with dairy cream/coconut cream/rice cream/oat cream
  • Have more
  • Rush to laptop and tweet: ‘Just made perfect apple cake, I rock, you suck.’
  • Actually don’t tweet that or everyone will hate you.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Curious Tale of the Eraser in the Flour...

So I know this is random, but...

There I was trying out an apple and cherry loaf, when a child's eraser, fell right into the flour. 

Was it a sign? 

That perhaps my efforts were misguided and I should erase what I was doing? 
Or does it just mean that I should tidy the shelves above my work surface? 

It was definitely a surreal, Chicken Licken sort of a moment. 

Anyway, it didn't seem to affect the final mix too much, although I'm a bit worried there'll be high notes of 'grubby WhSmith eraser' in this loaf rather than tangy apple and sweet cherry.


I know this post smacks of 'wasting-time-when-should-be-either-posting-a-real-recipe-or-doing-the-reading-for-the-journalism-course-which-starts-again-in-2-weeks', but I thought I would share that with you all. 

And I solemnly promise to post a recipe by Thursday 30th September.  (2010, not 2011.)

In the meantime if you would like to learn about my state of mind now that all my children are in full-time education, wander over to Powder Room Graffiti and have a read of THIS.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Pig masquerades as restaurant reviewer...

Ahh, Paris.  Elle est belle.  Especially when you are sipping a ballon of rouge in the Autumn sun and watching the sparkles and twinkles of ripples on the Seine...

Where was I? Oh yes, in Paris, in a restaurant.  And I've reviewed that restaurant for fellow blogger Baby Dines Out.

You can read my elegant, kind, non-francophobic review by clicking HERE.

Alas, the restaurant I reviewed isn't as beautiful as the one above which I shot whilst wandering the streets of Paris...

Anyway, can't stop, working on my warm spicy apple cake.  Oh yeh baby! 

Pig x

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 20 September 2010

Cake Balls for E (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

The more you ignore a ticking biological clock, the louder it gets. Six years ago mine went something like this.

TICK! I want another baby.

TOCK! Ridiculous! No-one has four.

TICK! But I really want one.

TOCK! How would you fit it in the car?

TICK! babybabybabybabybaby

TOCK! Ugh! You’d have to drive a people carrier...

In the end I bored myself shitless. It got to the point where either we had to do it, or I had to shut up about it.

A year later, my fourth child – my third girl – was born.

With four children, maternal guilt goes into overdrive. I didn’t have to wonder whether I had enough time for her, it was clear that I didn’t.

But I made some interesting discoveries.

Like, it is possible to make breakfast for three young children and breastfeed a fourth at the same time.

Or, by parking a baby on the knees of her TV-watching siblings and telling them not to move, you can get an awful lot done.

And, if your 4 year old goes to nursery with no knickers and is word perfect to Nickelback, (“Everybody’s got a drug dealer on speed dial...”) it really isn’t the end of the world.

You won’t find that in a parenting manual, will you? Consider it a Pig in the Kitchen exclusive.

But here’s the thing; my youngest girl has not suffered. She is the most chilled, independent, confident child I own. From day one she has been cherished, loved, adored and had plenty of ‘me time’ (some might call it benign neglect). No wonder she’s happy.

But it hasn’t all been smiles. Chest infections, eczema and ‘failing to thrive’ were hallmarks of her early months. When her allergies to eggs, cow’s milk, nuts, mustard and about a million pollens were diagnosed, I wasn’t really surprised. It’s often the parents that work it out long before the doctors will agree, don’t you find?

She’s been on a strict exclusion diet ever since.

We moved to France four years ago and the specialists told me that if her allergies hadn’t improved by the time she was three that was it; they were ‘set’. I ignored them because an English specialist told me that she would almost certainly grow out of them by the time she was five.

By the time you read this, my girlie will be five years old. She’s still on an exclusion diet, still having horrible reactions to milk and eggs if she ingests them by mistake and, well, still allergic.

But it’s not the end of the world, is it? We’ve never let her be defined by her allergies; they are just a small part of who she is. Life drops plenty of crap on us and the trick is working out which crap is serious and which crap is just inconvenient.

For my girl’s first birthday, I had no idea how I would bake her a cake. Four years on, she has choice.

She thought long and hard about the cake she wanted. In the end she opted for these –omigod-those-are-good - cake bites rather than one large cake.

Once I’d made them, she changed her mind and wanted a giant-sized cupcake with yellow butter cream icing and pretty sprinkles. Being a soft touch, I obliged. Well, when you have allergies, you can never have enough cake, right?

Sweet E - with your infectious giggle and your ability to light up a room - these bad boys are for you. Without you, this blog and those cake bites wouldn’t exist.

Happy egg free, dairy free, nut free (and gluten free because, why not?) birthday!

You are fab x

Cake Bites (makes about 40)

You remember those Cosmo blog awards in the summer when I asked you to vote for me? Well, thanks if you did, but I didn’t win. Not even a snifter at the shortlist. However, every cloud and all that, because Bakerella did make it onto the shortlist.

I stared jealously at her perfect creations, her perfect recipe book and all sorts of other things more perfect than mine.  Seriously, the women takes amazing photos and makes beautiful, beautiful cakes and she writes well and she...*Pig reaches for Stanley knife to apply to veins...*

 Then I gave myself a little beating with a mini whisk and thought, ‘You know what? I reckon I can make those to suit my allergic lovelies.’ And so I did. But without the - er - finesse of Bakerella.  I think that makes me more, um, approachable.  It means I don't overwhelm you with my brilliance and you secretly think 'yeh well, I can make them look better than Pig's...' (it's ok, I don't mind).

 Enjoy dahlings!

All versions will need:

130g dairy free spread/margarine

120g sugar

110g golden syrup or honey

60g GF, DF cocoa powder

150 ml rice milk / dairy milk (for GF versions, remember liquid measurements are approximate. Always add liquid gradually, using less or more as you see fit)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

GF version:

50g cornflour

100g brown rice flour

25g chickpea / gram flour
¾ tsp xanthan gum

1½ tsp GF baking powder

Egg version / Egg free version

1 egg OR:

1 heaped tsp of Orgran no egg Egg Replacer

1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds

⅛ tsp xanthan gum (that’s half a ¼ if you’re as thick as me...)

2 tbsps vegetable oil

4 tbsps rice milk/dairy milk/

To make these with wheat flour:

Use 175g wholemeal, self-raising flour

To bind the cake balls:

3-4 tbsps gluten free apple sauce (a GF apple sauce for weaning babies would do)

(If you can’t find a jar of apple sauce, use 2 eating apples, 2-3 tbsps sugar, squeeze of lemon juice. Peel, core, chop apples and put them in a saucepan, add sugar, lemon juice and a tbsp of water. Cover and simmer until apple is cooked. Blend with a hand blender, add a tsp of cornflour to bind it all together, blend again to remove any lumps)

To coat:

150-200g dark DF chocolate or couverture (but couverture is the best)

GF pretty decorations, like Carnival Sprinkelz, or yay! The Jelly Bean Factory gourmet beans, gelatine, gluten & nut free. Love it, love it!
About 12 Bamboo skewers/metal skewers for applying the chocolate (you’ll see)

  • For egg free versions: mix the Orgran no egg powder, ground linseeds, xanthan gum, oil and rice milk together using a mini whisk. Set aside

  • Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment

  • Pre-heat oven to 170˚celsius

  • Put the fat and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together (use your boysenberry KitchenAid if you have one)

  • Add either the egg or the egg replacing mixture and beat again

  • Add the flour (GF or wheat), baking powder, xanthan gum (GF versions) and cocoa powder to the bowl and beat until incorporated

  • Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warmed 150ml of rice milk/dairy milk and gradually stir in to the mixture. For GF versions you may need to add more milk to get a soft, dropping consistency

  • Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes until risen and springy. Remove and leave to cool completely

  • When the cakes are cool, crumble them into a large mixing bowl. Add the apple sauce and combine until you are able to squidge the mixture into balls, you may need more apple sauce

  • Lovingly roll little balls of cake in your hands and set them onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. Place the baking tray in the fridge for up to four hours, or at least 30 minutes (or you could whack them in the freezer to speed things along)

  • When you are ready to coat your cake bites, place them in the freezer on the baking tray (for 20 minutes maximum). Then melt the chocolate or couverture over a very low heat in a bain marie. When it has just melted, turn off the heat

  • Skewer one of the cake balls and holding it over the bain marie, use a spoon to drop the chocolate onto the ball. Rotate the ball until covered in chocolate. Keep rotating to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Then place the skewer into a jug/tall thing so that the cake bite is upright. If you have some oasis for flower arranging, put them in that, it works a treat. Put baking parchment over the work surface to catch any dripping chocolate. Decorate with pretty things if you wish

  • Continue coating the cake bites. When you run out of skewers, use a fork to gently remove the first cake bite you covered and place it onto baking parchment to dry fully. Repeat until all the cake balls are coated and drying on the baking parchment. I do hope that makes sense. They can be chilled in the fridge to finish them off

  • These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for ages, at least a week. But really, why wait a week? These babies are good, get them down you!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved