Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Have a merry (allergen free) Christmas!


Gluten free Christmas cake
Cake decorating courtesy of my fabulous eldest daughter #proud

Hope you have a wonderful festive season! Stay safe and happy and see you for some indulgent feasting in 2014 :-) 






© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas mincemeat cakes (gluten free, egg free, dairy free, vegan)



gluten free cake
Icing à la 5 year old
This time last year, I had a bit of a brainstorm when it came to decorating the tree. I insisted on trying to make it look 'chic'.

When the kids protested - kids have the worst taste in the world - I responded with a candour brought about by fatigue, and probably a glass of mulled wine.

'I can't bear another year with a tree that looks crap!' I may have said.

Daughter number two was furious.

'Well,  I can't bear you trying to make our tree look like it belongs in a hotel lobby!' she retorted.

I know. Pretty good comeback, right?

Yeah, but it didn't stop me sending her - and the rest of them - upstairs to bed. I then spent a pleasant hour tying red ribbons on the evergreen boughs with Bing Crosby crooning in the background.

This year though, I've seen the light. 

Not only did I let them have free rein for Halloween, I'm taking a similarly chilled approach to Christmas. 

This is the year that I let the kids vomit decorations onto the tree, although I am drawing the line at tinsel and an inflatable Santa in the garden.

Daughter number two is pleased with my rehabilitation.

'You see Mum?' she said the other day, 'You're doing really well, you're really relaxed this year!'

(She's right. Do you think it's because of the Evening Primrose Oil I'm taking? Astonishing stuff.)

I'm also taking a relaxed approach to cake decorating. I'm calling a fatwa on faux chic and 'lifestyle' photo shoots. This year it's all about slopping glacé icing onto cakes, nibbling on crisps and drinking wine.

It makes me more relaxed, the kids love it and I'll worry about my liver in the new year.

So here are my shabby chic bakes. It was totally therapeutic to not get stressed about making them look pretty. I commend this haphazard approach to you all. This could be one of the merriest Christmases EVER!

And, in my new role as laid back baker, I'm offering you a choice of decorating techniques.

First up, what I'm calling the 'no technique'. That's right, throw out the rules and eat naked cake. Coffee was made for naked cake.
egg free cake recipes
Naked as the day it was baked

Next, your icing runneth over. Drip on the icing - who cares if it runs off the edge - then drop on the silver balls. If you look really closely, you'll see that the silver coating from the balls has 'bled' onto the icing. That totally encapsulates the spirit of laid back Christmas, love it. 

Get your drizzle on. Well, if you can. I discovered that I'm not really down with the whole drizzling thing. I managed it for this cake, but the rest of the mini cupcakes were more...splodged. 


Festive baubles on mini cupcakes are a joy to behold. Observe the dollops of icing. Not intentional and not a problem.


If you're really pristine, this may be an icing/cake stacking step too far. But how's this for a sort of cake snowman effect? Double cake. Bonus.


And THIS is how casual Christmas should look:


It's a mishmash of well intentioned baking plans. And if they've gone a little awry? It matters not one jot.

Merry Chilled Out Christmas!!

Mincemeat cakes (makes approximately 16 cakes, or 1 loaf)

The easiest way to make these is with a mixer. If you don't have one, well it's nearly Christmas and you can totally justify rushing out to buy one. If you want to make this as a loaf, use a 22cm x 12cm loaf tin. You'll need to cover with tin foil halfway through the baking to ensure the centre cooks and the top doesn't burn. (Can I just say, I'm not a fan of loaves? They are such a faff to bake. But maybe you have superior loaf-baking skills? I wish you well.)


The 'fully free from' version
(free from: eggs, dairy, gluten, wheat, soya, nuts)

175g dairy free margarine
150g dark muscovado sugar
225g GF, nut free mincemeat (recipe here)
1 tbsp treacle or Golden Syrup

4 tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer
1 tbsp ground linseeds
Coconut milk/apple juice to mix

225g Doves Farm gluten free plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½tsp baking powder
Coconut milk to mix

For the icing:
200g icing sugar
Water or lemon juice to mix

Gluten free, egg free cake decorations
Gluten free (dairy free) with eggs

 175g butter or dairy free margarine
150g dark muscovado sugar
225g GF, nut free mincemeat (recipe here)
1 tbsp treacle or Golden Syrup

2 eggs

225g Doves Farm gluten free plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½tsp baking powder
milk to mix

For the icing:
200g icing sugar
Water or lemon juice to mix

Gluten free cake decorations
Egg free with wheat flour

175g butter or margarine
150g dark muscovado sugar
225g mincemeat (recipe here)
1 tbsp treacle or Golden Syrup

4 tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer
1 tbsp ground linseeds
milk/apple juice to mix

225g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½tsp baking powder
milk to mix

For the icing:
200g icing sugar
Water or lemon juice to mix

Egg free cake decorations (beware the egg white in some decorations!)
Dairy free with wheat flour and eggs

175g dairy free margarine
150g dark muscovado sugar
225g mincemeat (recipe here)
1 tbsp treacle or Golden Syrup

2 eggs

225g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½tsp baking powder
Coconut milk to mix

For the icing:
200g icing sugar
Water or lemon juice to mix

Cake decorations


























Method

If using an egg free version of the recipe, put the egg replacer powder and linseeds into a small bowl and whisk to a paste with the milk/coconut milk or apple juice. Set aside. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases, or if making a loaf, line the loaf tin with baking parchment. Heat the oven to 180°Celsius / Gas Mark 4.

Put the margarine/butter, sugar, eggs or egg replacing mix and syrup/treacle into a mixing bowl/KitchenAid (or similar). Beat or blitz until combined. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and mix again until incorporated. Add the mincemeat and mix. Add enough milk/coconut milk to give a soft dropping consistency, about 2-4 tablespoons.

Spoon tablespoons of the mix into the cupcake cases (or scrape it all into a loaf tin) and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cakes have risen and are springy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.(For a loaf, expect to bake it for about an hour/hour fifteen, until it has risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Once the loaf has risen - after about 30 minutes - cover with tin foil so that the centre bakes and the top doesn't burn.) 

For the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough water to make a fairly runny icing. This is a trial and error process, so you may end up sieving in more icing sugar until you get the consistency you require.

Then set your creative spirit free. Drizzle, splodge, smear, splatter, sprinkle. Anything goes and everything is OK. (I may make that a motto for life.)

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 6 December 2013

Gluten free Rocky Road (egg free, dairy free)


gluten free rocky road
20 days to go. That's two lots of ten or four lots of five. Whichever way you cut it, we ain't got long

I spend most of my life feeling like a freak. 

I dress differently to most people (for 'differently' read 'scruffily'), I'm a little offbeat and I am the queen of the inappropriate comment in polite society. (I'm still squirming over a comment I made at a swimming gala last weekend. Whole other story.)

And never do I feel more out of step than at Christmas.

I watch in amazement as sane, rational peers - who presumably grew up like me in the '70's when Christmas meant a Tiny Tears and a Chocolate Orange - drop bone shuddering amounts of cash on their offspring for Christmas.

This isn't me being a fiscal prude, I am talking £500 per child. At least £500 per child.

To put this in context, £500 would buy me a week long ski pass to the Quatre Vallées and still give me change for vin chaud at the top of the Veysonnaz. A much more reasonable way to spend £500, I'm sure you'll agree.

Does no one else feel a little bit sickened by an iPad here, a Wii there and a pair of Ugg boots over yonder? All ripped open and cast aside with a careless thank you and a shifty look under the tree for the next expensive present.

I know I sound humbug-ish and of course I'm going to treat my kids, (and the music teachers, swim coaches, class teachers, babysitter, neighbour and the postman) but the gifts are going to be modest.

Because - news flash - my kids will still have a lovely Christmas with a good stash of thoughtful gifts, a hearty family meal, crappy crackers, a silly hat and a box set of Mr Bean. Yes they might wish for an iMacpadAir (or whatever) but if wishes were horses...

So is it impossibly whimsical and schmaltzy to say, 'Christmas is about family rather than greedy consumption'?

Well I've said it anyway and that's what I truly believe.

Apart from when it comes to chocolate.

When it comes to chocolate and Christmas, it's perfectly OK to gorge until you are actually sick. (In fact vomiting might even be necessary so that you can carry on consuming.)

So to facilitate your chocolate excesses, I've made some gluten free, dairy free Rocky Road.

More critically-minded readers will see that this is an easy way to get a festive post in before the grim reality of Christmas hits and there'll be no more blogging from me because I'll be rocking in a corner in the foetal position.

Gluten free Rocky Road

Although Rocky Road is usually made with ground up biscuits, I pretend to myself that using rice cereal makes this healthier. Tesco does a gluten free rice cereal, although the 'May Contain' lists nuts and soya. You could opt for your usual brand of 'safe' biscuits instead, or you could bake a batch of my GF, EF, DF ginger biscuits and crunch them up.

Ingredients:
125g dairy free margarine
300g gluten free, dairy free chocolate
3 tbsps golden syrup
200g gluten free rice cereal (or GF, DF, EF biscuits)
100g gluten free, dairy free, egg free marshmallows (here are some vegan marshmallows
festive gf sprinkles

Method:

Line a brownie tin with baking parchment and set aside. In a large saucepan, melt the dairy free margarine and chocolate over a low heat. Add the golden syrup and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and spoon about five tablespoons of the chocolate mix into a bowl and set aside.

Add the rice cereal/biscuits and marshmallows to the saucepan and stir until everything is coated in chocolate. Yum! Scrape the mix into the brownie tin and level with the back of the spoon.

Drizzle the reserved chocolate onto the surface of the Rocky Road and use the back of a spoon to spread it around. Don't worry if you don't coat the surface evenly, no one is going to care.

Sprinkle the surface of the Rocky Road with pretty, festive sprinkles and place the brownie tin in the refrigerator until the Rocky Road has set. 

Slice into squares and cram into your mouth to alleviate Christmas stress and the horrors of Western consumption.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Gluten free corn tortillas (wheat free, dairy free, egg free)


gluten free corn tortillas
Sturdy, homemade corn tortillas, gluten free and gorgeous
My blog was born in a pokey little kitchen in a suburb of Paris. And when I say pokey I mean stupidly small. There was about a metre and a half of work surface, some seriously dodgy electrics above the sink and a smell of drains when it rained.

Looking back, I'm amazed that I managed to bake so prolifically in such a teeny space with an oven that burnt cakes to a crisp in no time. That oven is the reason that many of my earlier recipes give quite vague cooking times and include the disclaimer 'but do keep an eye on the cake, all ovens are different!'

Anyway, although the kitchen was small, in Paris my blog was at its most fertile. I lived and breathed allergy recipes, always trying to figure out which classic recipe I could bastardise and make allergen free. There were highs and some spectacular lows.

The time I tried corn tortillas was one of my more farcical attempts at making a stand for allergy baking.

Corn tortillas require corn flour, right? As in 'cornflour', you know, that stuff that we Brits use to thicken gravy? Easy! I can get it here in Paris, wow, I'm going to have this recipe cracked in no time.

The warning bells did chime a bit when I weighed out the cornflour and added water. This was not really looking like a 'dough' that I could roll into neat balls.  

In fact, it was looking like...goo.

But I soldiered on adding more and more cornflour as I sought to make a 'dough'. I think I presumed that some magic alchemy would happen when I placed a spoonful of the goo onto a hot crêpe pan.

tortillas with gluten free masa harina
'Fill me with vegetable chilli!' 

My presumption was wrong. 

The cornflour mass oozed across the pan, bubbled and...that was it.

I was furious. WHAT was I doing wrong? HOW could I have created such a mess and was I actually mentally subnormal?

(I take my baking failures very personally. Self-loathing, tears and chocolate consumption always follow a baking débâcle. I'm telling you that just in case you'd mistaken me for an 'I've got it all together' type person.) 

Anyhoo, turns out that I was using comPLETELY the wrong flour.

Masa Harina is what you need peeps if you want to make authentic corn tortillas. Although I would love to recommend P.A.N masa harina because the retro packaging is so gorgeous, I gave the importers a call and they can't guarantee that it's gluten free.

Lovin' the packaging, alas not certified gluten free 
Bob, of Bob's Red Mill, on the other hand, happily certifies his corn flour (note the gap between the two words) as gluten free. Yes it's a bit pricey, but definitely worth it.

Packaging - meh - but certified gluten, wheat and dairy free
Whatever the size of your kitchen, forge on allergy bakers, learn from my hideous mistakes and feast on these badass tortillas!

Arriba Arriba! (Felt duty bound to include some Mexican.)

Gluten free corn tortillas (makes approximately 10)

Although 'normal' corn tortilla recipes don't call for the addition of xanthan gum, I've tried without and let's just say that's an hour of my life that I'll never see again. I HATE it when recipes don't do what they say they'll do.  

Ingredients:
2 cups / 325g Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina flour, plus extra for rolling out and fine-tuning the 'wetness' of the dough
1 tsp salt
2½ cups / approx 520 ml water 
a 15cm bowl/cutter/plate to cut out the tortillas (I'll explain in a bit)
baking parchment for rolling
2 crepe/pancake pans

To make the dough:
Place the flour, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and gradually add the water until you have a firm, slightly sticky dough. Ideally, you'd leave the mix for 20 mins as it seems to 'firm up' and become less sticky, but if time is of the essence, you just use more flour as you roll out the dough. Flour your work surface with Masa Harina (or other gluten free flour) and break off a handful of dough. Squash it down and sprinkle with flour, then place a sheet of baking parchment over the top and roll out gently with a rolling pin until about 3mm thick. You might find that this takes a few goes if the dough is very sticky and by the end you may not even need the baking parchment to roll out.

Place the bowl/cutter/plate upside down over your circle of dough and use a knife to cut around the edges to form a circle. Roll the circle of dough back over the rolling pin and set aside, or if you're cooking one by one, see instructions below. Continue rolling out circles of dough until it is all used up. If you find the dough is impossibly sticky then please add more flour, it can't do any harm. 

To cook:
Lightly oil the crepe/pancake pans by dipping a square of kitchen towel in oil and smearing it around the pan. Heat the pan until it is hot, but not until the oil is smoking. Place the circle of dough onto the pan and brush the surface lightly with oil as the underside cooks. The surface of the dough will start to form bubbles (see picture below). Check that the underside is golden (flip up the edge with a knife and take a peek) then use a spatula to turn the tortilla. When the tortilla is golden on both sides, slide onto a plate and fill it with goodness, why not my vegetable chilli?

how to make gluten free corn tortillas
They sort of look like bubonic plague bumps, or is that just my weird imagination?


gluten free corn tortillas
From the humble, healthy corn comes a tortilla filled with fattening yumptiousness. Amen

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Egg Free Pumpkin Cupcakes

egg free baking
Even spiders can't resist my baking
Ah the annual curse of Halloween is upon us. As I've said before, I'm not a fan.

And yet, this year something is different.

It might have something to do with the village rules about Halloween. The protocol is to leave a pumpkin at your door if you welcome Trick or Treaters (T&T-ers) and, for some reason, I like the idea. It seems quaint and hints at a community spirit. (After five years in a transient expat community, I'm still getting to grips with 'village life' and 'community spirit'.)

Also, rumour has it that apparently someone in the village leaves a polite notice saying that T&T-ers are not welcome because T&T-ing (keep up) is an ungodly practice. People are great, aren't they?!

So this year, I've not groaned quite as much, and I've even come up with a plan to avoid me dealing with annoying brats poorly disguised as mini ghouls whining at the door for sweets that they've done nothing to earn. (Ooops, for a minute there I slipped back into my old ways of hating T&T-ers.)

I've suggested to my older girls that they invite their mates for a spooky night in, while I take my younger kids for a round of T&T-ness in the village. I've bought decorations, trashy ice cream and a ton of glucose-fructose syrup masquerading as sweets. 

Of course the real plan is that my girls deal with the absolute torture of having to open the door to annoying sprogs and watch as their thieving, grasping hands dive into a bowl of sweets trying to get as many as they can without looking like the greedy pigs they are. (I'm not really cured of hating Halloween I don't think...)

So everyone is happy.

I'm happy to wander around the village trying to make friends and watching my utterly cute neighbour's son get completely overexcited (we love you Freddie!) and the girls are happy at the idea of a grown up night in.

And by the time the girls realise they've drawn the short straw...well it won't matter then.

And anyway, I've baked them a ton of pumpkin cupcakes, so they should be grateful.

Wow. I sound like an old curmudgeon, don't I?

And a happy Halloween to you all.

eggless cake recipes
These are too good for pesky Trick or Treaters. Keep them hidden

Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes

I think one year I went through the tedium of scraping out a pumpkin's innards, boiling up the innards and making pumpkin purée 'fait maison'. And then I discovered Libby's pumpkin purée in a can. Americans, I bow at your superior pumpkin feet.
You can also make these as bigger cupcakes, the mix approximately 24 mini cakes and 12/14 larger cakes.


The 'fully free from' version (free from: eggs, dairy, gluten, wheat, soya, nuts)

110g dairy free margarine
120g sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
150g Libby's puréed pumpkin
1½ tsp GF baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1-2 tbsp coconut milk

Egg replacer:
1 heaped tbsp ground golden linseeds
6-8 tbsps coconut milk to mix  
¼ bicarbonate of soda, (added just before baking)

Lemon glacé icing:
150g icing sugar
Lemon juice to mix
Gluten free (dairy free) with eggs

 110g butter or margarine
120g sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
150g Libby's puréed pumpkin
1½ tsp GF baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1-2 tbsp milk (non dairy milk)

1 egg

 Lemon glacé icing:
150g icing sugar
Lemon juice to mix

Egg free with wheat flour

110g butter or margarine
120g sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
150g Libby's puréed pumpkin
110g plain flour 
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1-2 tbsp milk (non dairy milk)

Egg replacer:
1 heaped tbsp ground golden linseeds
6-8 tbsps milk/non dairy milk to mix  
¼ bicarbonate of soda, (added just before baking)

Lemon glacé icing:
150g icing sugar
Lemon juice to mix

Dairy free with wheat flour


110g dairy free margarine
120g sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
150g Libby's puréed pumpkin
110g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1-2 tbsp coconut/soya milk 

1 egg

Lemon glacé icing:
150g icing sugar
Lemon juice to mix





























Method:

Line a mini muffin tin with cake cases. When ready, heat oven to 80°C.

If using egg replacer, place all the ingredients into a small bowl - apart from the bicarbonate of soda - and use a mini whisk to combine and remove lumps. Set aside (you may need to add a little more coconut milk before baking).

Place the dairy free margarine/butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together. If using egg replacer, add the bicarbonate of soda to the mix and whisk. You may need to add more coconut milk; you're aiming for a consistency that mimics beaten egg. Add the egg replacer or one egg to the mixing bowl and beat to combine.

Add the puréed pumpkin and beat, don't worry if it looks curdled. Add the flour, spices and baking powder and mix until combined. Add 1-2 tbsps of milk/non dairy milk and divide the mix between  the cupcake cases, filling them to about half full (that's about a teaspoon of mix if using mini cases). The surface of the cakes will seem a bit uneven as the mix is quite thick, so using the back of a teeny teaspoon smooth the surfaces. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until risen and springy. Lean in and inhale, smells amazing, right?

Leave cakes to cool and get started on the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, then gradually add the lemon juice until you have a thick glacé icing. When the cakes are completely cool, dollop the icing generously over and adorn with edible Halloweeny trinkets.

Beware the Trick or Treaters. Try not to show them that you hate them...

egg free pumpkin cake
Happy Halloween!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 21 October 2013

Ginger biscuits - gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free



gluten free ginger biscuits
What these need is a good cuppa Yorkshire Tea
Of the 24 years since I turned 18 (yes, go on, work out my age!), I've spent 11 years living abroad. Five months in South Africa here, six months in Barcelona there, three years in China, and the rest of the time spent quaffing wine, shrugging elaborately and using my horn to drive in various parts of France.

Living outside the UK has given me plenty of time to consider what it means to be quintessentially British. And after much deliberation, I think I've narrowed it down to one element.

Biscuits.

I'm convinced that you can tell a true Brit, regardless of creed, colour or political persuasion, by their ability to participate in a conversation that involves mention of Custard Creams, Jammy Dodgers and the universally loathed Bourbon biscuit.

(What, you don't loathe Bourbons? Don't tell me you like Viscount biscuits? Oh dear...)

Why is it that biscuits unite us as a nation? I suspect it stems from an unhealthy (puerile?) relationship with food.

Yes, we can put Jamie Oliver on the telly and pretend we're down with focaccia, and we can nod knowledgeably about the relative merits of snail porridge, but actually? We'd probably be just as happy having some Hob Nobs in the evening as an exquisitely seasoned tender rack of lamb.

Why do you think that is?

Is it because we love a good brew and if you're having a brew then you definitely need a biscuit?

Is it because Masterchef has tired us out with all the complicated reductions and talk of goose liver fricassée of balsamic jus à l'orange?

Or is it because the Great British Bake Off creations just make too much washing up?

I don't have the answers and I don't really care. I just love our national obsession with biscuits.

I love that you can have an earnest interaction with any Brit in the biscuit aisle about whether Nice biscuits should exist or whether Garibaldis count as one of your five a day. (I also love the fact that we have a 'biscuit aisle' and that we carry out polls of favourite biscuits.)

I'll go further and say that biscuits are a unifying force for the nation that created Malted Milks.

I propose that we dispense with parliamentary debate as a way to implement reforms. I vote that we bring controversial matters such as burqa-wearing, UKIP and the spare bedroom tax to the (biscuit) table. Let's gather all the dissenters together, get the kettle on and crack open a packet of Party Rings.

I reckon we'll have the fissures in our national identity plastered over in the time it takes for someone to say

'Ooo, have you got any Chocolate Digestives?'

And we'll feel proud to be biscuit-loving and British.

Ginger biscuits 

So why all the talk of biscuits? Well I couldn't believe it when I made these and they tasted JUST like the Ginger Nuts you get in the biscuit aisle! There was gingeryness, crunch and all round yumptiousness. I was particularly proud of the crunch. Finally, I've got GF biscuits to crunch!

The 'fully free from' version
(free from: eggs, dairy, gluten, wheat, soya, nuts)

350g Doves Farm plain GF flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g fresh ginger, peeled & grated (freeze it before you grate)
200g light brown soft sugar
125g dairy free margarine
85g golden syrup

Egg replacer:
1 tbsp ground golden linseeds
2-4 tbsp apple juice to mix
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda added at last minute

Gluten free (dairy free) with eggs

350g Doves Farm plain GF flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g fresh ginger, peeled & grated (freeze it before you grate)
200g light brown soft sugar
125g butter/dairy free margarine
85g golden syrup

1 egg
Egg free with wheat flour

350 g plain flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g fresh ginger, peeled & grated (freeze it before you grate)
200g light brown soft sugar
125g butter/margarine
85g golden syrup

Egg replacer:
1 tbsp ground golden linseeds
2-4 tbsp apple juice to mix
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda added at last minute

Dairy free with wheat flour


350 g plain flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g fresh ginger, peeled & grated (freeze it before you grate)
200g light brown soft sugar
125g dairy free margarine
85g golden syrup

1 egg
























Method:
Preheat oven 180° Celsius when you're ready to bake.

If using an egg free version, whisk the linseeds and egg replacer with the apple juice and set aside. (The mixture may thicken when you set it aside, add more apple juice if required, you're aiming for a consistency that's similar to beaten eggs.) Keep the ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda ready; you'll add it just before you add the egg replacing mix to the rest of the ingredients.

For all versions, line two baking trays with baking parchment, then melt the butter/dairy free margarine in a saucepan and set aside to cool. Put the flour (GF or wheat), ground ginger, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and sugar into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Grate the fresh ginger and beat the egg (if using).  

When the golden syrup and margarine/butter is cool (it can almost be completely cold) add the egg replacing mix (remember to add the bicarbonate of soda!) or egg and whisk to combine. Pour the liquid into the mixing bowl and stir to combine and form a dough. If you are making a gluten free version, you may find that the dough is too wet. Don't panic. Set the bowl aside for about 30 mins (in refrigerator if possible) and the gluten free flour will absorb the liquid. This only happened once when I was trialling this recipe, the other times were fine. Gluten free flour does like to mess with the mind...

Take small chunks of dough - the size of a walnut - and roll them into small balls. Flatten and place on the baking trays, leaving a gap as the gingernuts will spread and flatten as they bake. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Place the baking trays into a preheated oven (180° Celsius) and bake for approximately 10-20 minutes. All ovens are different, so just keep looking! When the biscuits are golden and slightly risen, reduce the oven temperature to 140°C and continue baking for about 20 minutes more. This dries out the biscuits and when they are cooled, gives them the elusive crunch. You can also remove the biscuits after the first 10-20 mins, leave them to cool completely and then put them back into the oven at 140°C for 20 minutes to dry them out. That is the more labour-intensive option, but if you're trying to squeeze in baking between school runs and get interrupted...well it's always good to know you have options!

When the biscuits are completely cooled, remove from the baking trays and serve with a cup of tea.

Dunk, and feel proud to be British. 


© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Food photography and food allergies

gluten free baking
Here are my tools

I've been reading Helene Dujardin's book Plate to Pixel about food photography. 

One of the phrases that jumped off the page was:

 "The only wrong way to do food photography, is not to do food photography". 
(Or something along those lines.)

So, today, I've been 'doing food photography'. And these are the results.

Can you guess what I baked?? (Recipe coming soon.)

egg free baking
My father-in-law made this scoop. He's so clever

dairy free baking
I love love love Lyle's golden syrup tins. They make good pencil pots

food photography
Hmm, not sure I've mastered the whole shutter speed thing. Getting there...


vegan baking
Forget the lady of the lamp. Meet the lady of the grater.

baking for food allergies
She is beautiful
© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Growing out of an egg allergy

egg allergy in children
A table laden with anaphylaxis? Or dinner?
If you're old enough to remember Edwina Currie, then you know all about the propensity of eggs to bring about someone's downfall. But salmonella and Edwina aside, (although what about Edwina and John Major? Still can't get my head around that one) for the last eight years I've had other reasons to fear eggs; my daughter's egg allergy.

Growing out of an egg allergy
So pretty, is it really OK to eat them?
It was diagnosed when she was about six months old - she's now eight - so avoiding eggs became a way of life.

And then came the doctors with their subversive talk of desensitising. "Bake her a cake" they said, "and see what happens."

So one day, alone in rural Normandy with four kids, I did. Let's see, lip swelling, fine rash over the face, stomach cramps and a sudden urge to fall asleep.

Yeah, I'm not really loving this feed-the-egg-allergic-child-egg idea.

But then came Croissantgate and Freshpastagate. Hmm, weird.

And it all came to a head this September as the annual allergy appointment loomed. Due to a mix up in appointments, the senior dietician called me prior to the appointment and as we chatted, he told me to feed my daughter a bit of boiled egg. I didn't quite say WTF? down the phone to him, but nearly.

children and egg allergy
Are all eggs born equal? Or are quail eggs different...
But I'm a law-abiding gal, so the day before the appointment, we cracked open a warm, hard-boiled egg. "Mmm, yummy!" said my daughter and asked for more.

24 hours and one teaspoon of hard-boiled egg with no reaction later, we bounced into the skin prick testing room at Leicester Royal Infirmary, hoping the test would prove negative.

It did! My daughter and I gazed at each other in delight.

I could barely contain my joy. No, not because she's cured, but because FINALLY I could make a proper Vic Sponge! Hell, I might even be able to get my brownies to do that special waxy thing that I secretly think only Americans can do properly!

It was Very Good News. And also? Totally surreal.

anaphylaxis and eggs
Breakfast 
I've spent years making sure the egg spatula doesn't go near my daughter's plate, kept omelette well away from her personal space and should any raw egg splatter on the work surface? I was all over it with Mr Muscle (and regular readers will know that is totally not my style).

And yet suddenly, the egg world is open to us.

Lemon meringue pie? Why not?
French toast? Mais oui!
Soufflé? Forget it. Do you know how hard it is to make a soufflé?

And if you're reading this and your child still has their egg allergy, well I imagine a teeny part of you is sort of hating me. I know you feel like that because I've felt the same when other people have shared their thrilling news on Twitter or Facebook.

But fear not, I will not abandon you my egg allergic friends. I have spent too many years tutting in disgust at free from products that contain eggs. And I also understand the importance of consuming cake on a regular basis. For a life without cake, is a life less lived.

Or something like that.

Back soon!

Pig x
egg allergy
Lunch

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