Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Date and carrot cake - no processed sugar, dairy and gluten free

An afternoon with my stitchy friends called for a cake that had no processed sugar. This super-quick cake is delicious, and gets all its sweetness from the dates and carrot.  You could cut the amount of oil if you planned to eat the whole thing the day you made it- if you want to keep it longer the oil will keep this moist for several days.

Set oven to 175C
I used two small paper loaf cases - if using metal tins grease or line with baking paper


  • 150g dates
  • 1 egg
  • 100 ml vegetable oil
  • 175g grated carrot - 1 large (I used a food processor, ready-grated or hand grater would be fine)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g self raising flour (mine is 40% urid lentil, 40% tapioca, 20% rice, with 1.5tsp baking powder to 100g)
  • water if needed to slacken batter

Blitz the dates with the egg and oil in a blender to get a slurry.
Tip into a bowl and add the other ingredients, stirring well to ensure you don't have lumps of dry flour hiding in amongst the grated carrot.  You want the batter to be a bit sloppy, so add some water if it is hard to get off the spoon.

Put batter in two loaf cases and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-35 minutes, checking to be sure that a knife comes out quite clean to show it is cooked.  I didn't get mine quite even, and the smaller one took 25 minutes, the larger 30.  If you put all the batter in one tin add extra time, but drop the temperature if the top begins to get too brown.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Blueberry crunch cookies

I hadn't planned to write any more posts, but lately I've been mildly exasperated when I make something delicious and have no idea how to replicate it- and I get asked by others for recipes, and my usual, "bung a few things together and see what happens" is not helpful for them.
So, I'm reopening this blog for occasional use as my recipe file.

I made some delicious crunchy cookies a few days ago, and really wanted to be able to make them again.  Fortunately I had put some of the dough in the freezer, so I had raw dough for comparison and also could cook a bit of this dough to do the baked comparison.  It took a bit of tweaking, but here is a recipe that is very delicious, crunchy without being crumbly, and dairy free as well as gluten free.  I tried a bit of the dough without egg but it just splidged and disintegrated when baked, so I can't say that if you need to skip the egg just add a bit less flour- I haven't done a successful egg-free test yet.

I included the hemp seed as we had some available, and I like the added omegas and also I think it gives a lightness to the texture and some visual interest.  If you haven't got any substitute your favourite seeds or just add a bit more flour if your dough is sloppy.


160g coconut oil (solid at room temp)
160g demerera sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
300g self raising flour (I use a mixture that is 40% urid lentil, 40% tapioca, 20% rice, with 1.5tsp (7.5g) baking powder to 100g of flour)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mixed spice
40g hemp
80g dried blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 175C
Warm the coconut oil to make it easier to get out of the jar.
Mix oil and sugar
Add in the egg (make sure your oil isn't hot before you do this or you will scramble the egg!)
Mix in vanilla
Add in flour, hemp and spice
Mix in blueberries

The dough should be quite stiff.
Roll into rounds between palm and press onto a lined baking sheet, or dollop with two teaspoons if you prefer.

Bake at 175C for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.  Keep an eye on them- they go from brown to burnt quite quickly.  It is better to get them out too soon then put them back for a bit longer than to go away having set the timer, coming back too late.

Slide the baking parchment with cookies onto your cooling rack and let them sit until they begin to stiffen.  Move them off the paper onto the rack and leave until cold before putting in a cookie jar.

If you want to keep some dough for later just form into a roll, wrap in freezer paper and over wrap with clingfilm.  Slice and bake when you need some more.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Farewell- eat well and goodbye

I haven't written much on this blog lately.  Life has changed, both my own and the general food environment.  Travelling in Cornwall the other day I stopped at a Starbucks cafe and was able to have a  gluten free sandwich, and my sister emailed me from Kolkata to say she had been to a spaghetti place and had gf ravioli!

So, despite the fact that much still needs to be done to improve food quality, both aesthetic and safety, and availability, and I still encounter waiters who look startled and completely nonplussed when I ask if things are gluten free, I am not going to write this blog any more.

Thanks to all of you that made me feel my work helped you a little too. Goodbye.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Triple ginger freezer biscuits - gluten and dairy free

This sticky dough is easy to handle if rolled in clingfilm and frozen.  Slice and bake a few biscuits at a time for a warm spicy aroma in the house on a cold winter day and a lovely crunchy treat.


200g ground almonds
200g flour (40%urid, 40%tapioca, 20% brown rice)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground ginger (add more if wanted- this gives quite a mild ginger flavour)
100g sugar
120g dark brown muscovado sugar
75ml oil
2 eggs
20g grated fresh ginger
75g crystallised ginger, chopped
belgian waffle pearl sugar or sugar crystals for topping if wanted.  The pearl sugar keeps it shape, is crunchy but not too hard.

Oven 170C fan, ten minutes from frozen, seven or eight from room temperature mix.  Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before moving onto a baking rack.

Mix the dry ingredients together.  My muscovado sugar was a solid lump so I hacked off the right amount with a large knife and heated it in the microwave with the oil to get a slurry that was easy to mix into the flour.  If you do melt the brown sugar make sure the mixture is not too hot before you add it to the eggs - you don't want scrambled egg at this stage.

Mix liquid ingredients together and add to dry.  I used the food mixer for this as it was quite a lot of work to do by hand. Add in grated fresh ginger and chopped crystallised ginger and mix.

You can bake this in blobs on your lined baking sheet.  This amount of dough will make a lot of biscuits.  The dough holds its height when baked like this so flatten a bit with a damp spoon.

Alternatively lay on clingfilm in a log, wrap, put in freezer on a baking sheet until firm.  Once firm the baking sheet can be removed. There is a risk that the dough would sag around your freezer racks if you put it straight in unsupported and so get stuck in place.

When you want to bake some biscuits just slice off thin layers, sprinkle with sugar if you want to, and bake on a lined baking sheet.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Packing for my holidays.....bagging gf bread flour

I am spending part of the summer in my campervan in Cornwall.   For three days I will be on a painting course in Newlyn, and for a week I will have my sister staying with me.  I thought that bread would be helpful for picnics- which means making sure I have plenty of my own flour available.  I can eat M&S bread as it doesn't have any xanthum gum, but I find it doesn't hold up well for sandwiches.  I did finally find one of their ready-made gf sandwiches at a motorway service station the other day, and bought it even though I had to remove the cheese.  That did seem to hold ok, but it was packed in a protective plastic holder.

So, as part of my summer packing, this morning I ground two kilos of urid lentils, and mixed the resulting flour with two kilos of tapioca flour, and one kilo of brown rice.  I also added 2% of the Solanic 301 potato protein, which makes gf breads work so much better.  It stops them slumping once the get over a couple of inches high, and improves the texture.  My usual supplier of urid lentils is now offering urid flour that has not been packed in a facility that also handles wheat, so when my current supplies run out I think I will switch to ready ground flour.  That would make travelling a lot easier, as well as reducing the need for me to travel with multiple packs of unlabelled powder; having had the campervan stopped and thoroughly searched by French Customs once in the middle of France on our way back from a Surprise 60th Birthday in Geneva  I prefer not to look suspicious.

Once mixed I bagged the flour in 300g packs and heat sealed it.  This will allow me to make a small loaf (1lb tin) with ease by adding a teaspoon of yeast and enough water (about 250ml) to get a sloppy dough, leaving it to rise and baking in the campervan oven.  It will also work for flat breads like pizza, which bakes great on the barbeque.

I had 130g of flour left over so made four pannetone flavoured buns, with the peel and flavouring I got from  BakeryBits.

Spiced sweet-potato cake; gluten and dairy free

This cake is soft and reminiscent of the filling in pumpkin pie.  Not surprising really, when it has mashed sweet potato as its main ingredient.

To do ahead of time

Cook sweet potatoes in the microwave (or oven if you have it running for something else) until they are soft.  Mine took about eight minutes - four small sweet potatoes. Leave to cool then remove the peel and mash.  I found it easiest to cut an end off and scoop the sweet potato out with a circular action with a fork.  Do this ahead of time so you don't be tempted to work with them while they are very hot and burn yourself.   Keep the peel and spritz with oil, put on a baking sheet, and cook for 20-30 minutes in the oven for a crisp scoop for spicy salsa.

My muscovado sugar is always a solid lump.  Hack enough sugar off and leave put in a bowl with the oil and eggs so it dissolves - this will make the rest of the cake making much easier.

400g mashed cooked sweet potato - mine was 460g whole (4 small)
125g muscovado sugar
125 ml oil
3 eggs
125 g self raising flour (mine is 40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20% rice, with 1 tsp bp for each 100g)
1 tsp mixed spice /pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the sugar, oil and egg and leave for the lumps of sugar to dissolve if needed.
Mix in the cooled mashed sweet potato, flour and spices.

Pour the sloppy cake mix into a greased/lined tin.  I used a 9inch square tin as I wanted a shallow cake.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, 175C fan, for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Leave in tin for a few minutes on the cooling rack to allow it to firm slightly, then remove from tin and leave to cool, or eat hot as a pudding with icecream.  If you want a firmer cake add some more flour or cut down on the sweet potato.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Posh Dogs - Marks and Spencers gluten free outdoor-reared giant sausages

M&S gluten free 'posh dogs'

Another visit to a motorway service station and a hunt for something to eat in the M&S.  A hand of tiny sweet bananas and a fruit jelly....and a packet of 'Posh Dog's for later in the campervan. These are large sausages that beg for a soft roll, mustard and a pile of softly cooked onions.

These sausages say they are best cooked on the barbecue, but I just did them indoors in a pan as it was late and I was hungry.  They take a while to cook, but are very good and well worth adding to your repertoire, particularly if we get a summer where eating outside is possible.  We ate these hot and also cold with chutney.

They do contain sulphites, but none of the other standard allergens.  They are made from outdoor reared pork.