Friday, 25 February 2011

It's so tempting to stay here.  I may never come back...


Why aren't I a beautiful, sexy, sun-kissed ski instructor?

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Chocolate Whoopie! Pies (Gluten free and/or Vegan)

The Whoopie Pie.  I hope you can hear my deeply sceptical voice.  Because honestly, who would give a cake such a ridiculous name?

There is some debate online about where it originated, maybe Pennsylvania, maybe New England (can you tell I don’t know the difference?).  There was something about them being an Amish delicacy, but there was lots of claim and counter-claim and I got a bit bored.

One account said that the name was given to them because when schoolchildren found them in their lunch box, they exclaimed ‘Whoopie!’ 

And then presumably they counter-exclaimed ‘Pie!’ (Even though they look nothing like pies). 
And then – and then – some bright spark yelled out, ‘I know! Let’s call them Whoopie Pies!’ and everyone whooped and high-fived everyone else and triumphal, patriotic music welled up and all the action went slo-mo and thus a tradition was born.

Actually, it sounds quite plausible doesn’t it?

You know, despite my sceptical voice and my disparaging tone (you picked up on that, right?) I do love the concept of the Whoopie! Pie.  It is in fact, a cake sandwich.  And whoever came up with that idea, well they deserve an OBE for Services Rendered to the World of Gluttony.

I salute whichever American – Amish or not – created this confection because us staid and sensible (boring? unadventurous?) Brits would never have allowed a cake sandwich.  I can hear my dear Mother’s voice, ‘A Cake sandwich?  Absolute rubbish!’  

She’s right of course.  But now that I’ve crossed over to the dark side and tasted cake sandwich, well, I’m happy to sell my soul to the devilish whoopie pie. 

I’ll say it again,   A. Cake. Sandwich. 

Bloody genius.


Whoopie Pies (makes about 8 whoopie pies)
These probably taste nothing like Whoopie Pies from across the pond, but they are just gorgeous.  A cake sandwich people!  A Cake sandwich!  I've tried to reduce the refined sugar because, well, we're supposed to eat less sugar aren't we? 

All versions:
130g dairy free margarine
175g rice syrup or Agave syrup/nectar (but - whisper - you could use sugar)
60g cocoa powder
50g dairy free dark chocolate or couverture (you could omit this and use an extra 20g cocoa powder)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Gluten free version:
125g brown rice flour
50g potato flour (or corn starch)
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds / flax seeds
¾ tsp xanthan gum 

With wheat flour:
Use 175g wheat flour instead of gluten free flour (keep the linseeds / flax seeds)
Omit the ¾ tsp xanthan gum 

Egg/Egg free:
1 egg (beaten)  
or an egg replacing mix of:
2 heaped tbsps ground linseeds
a pinch of xanthan gum
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
6 tbsps rice milk

50-100ml of rice milk / cows' milk

For the filling: (I made this up as I went along, the following is a guide...)
150g dairy free margarine
Yellow paste food colouring (not the liquid stuff, bleurgh)
170g icing sugar (you can also sweeten with agave syrup, although it makes the icing a lot softer)
1-2 tbps lemon juice (add gradually according to taste)
½ tsp of cream of tartar 

  • Heat the oven to 170˚ Celsius.  Line a large baking tray with baking parchment
  • If using the egg replacing mix, put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk with a mini whisk until all the lumps have gone.  Set aside
  • Put the dairy free margarine and rice/agave syrup into a large saucepan and melt gently over a low heat
  • Add the chocolate/couverture and stir until melted.  Add the cocoa powder and stir
  • Add either the egg (beaten) or the egg replacing mix and stir
  • Add the flour (gluten free or wheat), xanthan gum (GF version), ground linseeds, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and stir
  • Add the rice milk gradually.  You may need to add extra if the mixture seems very thick.  But you need to be able to scoop it out with an ice cream scoop so it mustn't be too runny
  • Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out an even number of scoops (am I really saying 'scoop' over and over?) onto the baking tray to make the tops and bottoms of the whoopie pies
  • I've written scoop so often now, it seems a really weird word
  • Place the baking sheet with the scoops (there it is again!) into the oven and bake for 7-12 minutes until they are risen and springy to the touch
  • Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack
  • Prepare the filling.  Beat the dairy free margarine with the food colouring until soft and yellow and add the sieved icing sugar.  Beat again until smooth.  Taste it, horribly sweet? Add lemon juice.  Not sweet enough? Add more sugar.  You are aiming for a sweet but tart filling with a lovely fatty in-the-mouth feel. Yum!
  • When the pies are cool, sandwich them together with the filling.  Add sprinkles if you wish, or just leave plain
  • Take them on the school run but do not give to your children unless they shriek Whoopie!



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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Chocolate Whoopie! Pies (Gluten free and/or Vegan)

Coming Soon darlings, coming soon...

Well, if I leave you any...

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cake (gluten free and/or vegan)

I love a good bit of cake. 

I sometimes get my kids to imagine that they have a pillow made out of cake and we fantasise about how lovely it would be to eat it.  The last time we played that game my son took it to the next level and imagined a marshmallow duvet.  Inspired.  The boy will go far.

I have a friend who also loves cake, her name is Ali.  Last September Ali came to Paris with Annie to run a short road race with me.  The good thing about a short race (I mean 6k short, not even 10k) is that there’s none of the stress associated with a long one.  The day before is not devoted to carbo-loading (although we did carbo-load just for fun), there’s not the knot of tension in your stomach and you are pretty much free to be tourists in Paris. 

So that’s what we did.

A bit of browsing outside the Sacré Coeur and some mooching around Montmartre.  Some chillin’ on the Champ de Mars and some falafels in the Jewish quarter.  Ahh, Paree, je t’aime. 

It was when we were on the Métro that the conversation turned to cake. 

Ali and Annie talked passionately about a cake they love.  Ali described in detail how the sugary, lemony topping solidifies when it cools and makes a crunchy crust on the soft sponge.  She told of her friend who always requests the middle section of Ali's cake because it is squidgy cake perfection.  Annie recounted how she doesn’t bother adding the required 6 tablespoons of milk, whereas Ali always adds them.  It was a lively, useful debate about cake.

Which cake?  Lemon Drizzle Cake. 

Since the Métro conversation I've tried many times to make Lemon Drizzle without eggs, sans success.  Gluten free with eggs, yes.  Gluten free without eggs, not so good.  

Then, the breakthrough.  My KitchenAid worked her magic and lo! a pillowy, egg-free cake.  Granted, it doesn’t have as much pillow-factor as one with eggs, but I would happily rest my head on it for a good 12 hours.  Possibly longer.

To Ali, Annie, cake and passion.  And a lovely weekend in Paris.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Who would think that a prolonged whisk of the egg replacing mixture would yield such happy results?  Can it really have been that simple all along?  You'll need an electric hand whisk (or KitchenAid!) for this recipe.

Egg free, dairy free, gluten free
2 lemons
3 tbsps ground golden linseeds/flax seeds
¼ tsp xanthan gum

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tbps GF apple/banana purée (like the stuff babies eat)
3 tbsps oil (I used olive oil)
15tbsps rice milk
180g Doves Farm Self Raising Gluten free flour (or other gluten free flour enhanced with xanthan/guar gum)
¼ and an  ⅛ xanthan gum (that's a ¼ tsp plus a good pinch)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps vanilla essence
160g sugar
100-150ml rice milk

Gluten free with eggs
Replace the first 6 ingredients in the Gluten free, egg free version above with:
3 eggs
Then use the rest of the ingredients shown in the gluten free, egg free, dairy free version.

Egg free with wheat flour
Replace the gluten free flour and ¼ &  ⅛ xanthan gum with 180g self-raising wheat flour then use the rest of the ingredients shown in the gluten free, egg free, dairy free version.

Juice of the two lemons plus 6 tbsps of sugar

  • If not using eggs, prepare the egg replacing mix.  Put the Orgran no egg powder, ground linseeds, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum, oil and rice milk into a bowl and whisk with a mini whisk to remove any lumps.  Set aside
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180˚ celsius.  Grease an 18x28 rectangular baking tin and line with baking parchment.  If using real eggs, you can use a slightly larger tin, about 20 x 28 (ish)
  • Remove the zest from the two lemons with a zester or fine grater and place in a large mixing bowl
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a separate bowl (or use a reamer and get the guts as well) and reserve
  • Add the sugar and eggs or egg replacing mixture to the mixing bowl with the lemon zest and whisk using an electric hand whisk/KitchenAid/Kenwood.  The eggs will grow and froth up and show off about being so much better than egg replacer.  The egg replacer will definitely bulk up but will not double in size. Hope that's clear
  • Add the remaining ingredients, but only half of the rice milk.  Mix to incorporate and add the remaining rice milk (or more) to achieve a dropping consistency
  • Scrape into the baking tin and bake in the oven until risen and golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.  About 20-30 mins.  If the top starts to brown but the middle is not cooked, cover the top of the cake with aluminium foil and slightly reduce the heat until the middle is cooked
  • About three minutes before the cake is cooked, add 6 tbsps of sugar to the lemon juice you set aside earlier and stir.  Don't do this bit too early or the sugar will dissolve, you want it crunchy
  • Remove the cake from the oven and spread the sugar and lemon juice mix over the surface.  Use the back of a metal spoon to spread it around the cake.  Some of it will dribble down the sides and will make your cake deliciously squidgy
  • Leave to cool and the sugar topping should go crunchy
  • Best eaten on the same day.  Alternatively you could use it as a pillow and eat it in your sleep

All cake pictured is gluten free and vegan

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