Sunday, 31 October 2010

Piecrust for thanksgiving pumpkin pie

A good versatile piecrust for savoury or sweet pies. You will need to handle with care if you roll it out or you can just press it into the pie dish with your fingers. I haven’t tested this yet with non-dairy fat – I’ll post results when I do.

Adjust the amounts of pastry to suit your pie dish using the same amount of fat as you would normally.

This piecrust freezes well. Roll any leftovers into the size you want and freeze flat for an easy quick pie or tart – place flat on baking sheet and pile with sliced bell peppers and goats cheese for a quick easy meal. Alternatively, freeze in a ball but then you will need to let it defrost before using., or slice pieces off for and press into shape.


100g urid lentil flour

100g fine cornmeal if it is course ground you will get a gritty texture)

100g tapioca flour

150 butter

water if needed


Whizz fat into flours in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs, or rub in by hand. If it will hold together easily without water then carry on and press it into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and leave to rest for fifteen minutes if possible to allow time for the flours to absorb the moisture, which will help the dough not distort in baking. If it needs water add a little at time until it forms a softish dough.

If you don’t have enough moisture in the pastry will crack and be hard to roll out. If you have too much it will be sticky and squidgy so just add some more tapioca flour and use plenty of flour on your board and rolling pin. If you are just pressing the dough into shape it doesn’t really matter.

You can bake blind using baking parchment and beans if you want, but the dough doesn’t tend to bubble the way wheat pastry will so lining and weighting is less important. For quiche or other pies where the filling needs less time than the pastry, or you want to be sure the pastry is crisp, bake until just beginning to go golden in a medium oven, 180C (about ten minutes). Add filling then bake until filling is set or cooked. – this will vary according to your filling recipe – long and cool for cheese cake, short and hot for jam tarts.

This produces a crisp light pastry. If you use Doves Farm gf flour the dough is easy to handle but the pastry is very hard and people tend to eat the filling and leave the pastry.

I have used this open tarts, for individual steak pies, apple pies and quiches. It is good to eat and copes well with being frozen in both cooked and uncooked states. I made several individual steak pies and quiches and we ate some before freezing and some after they had been frozen and we couldn't tell the difference.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Quinoa - a eulogy

I have realised that many people aren't sure what to do with Quinoa. For a start they are put off by the fact that this lovely word is actually pronounced Keenwa, though I don't see why we shouldn't rise up as a people and declare that we will say it the way it is spelled.

I use a lot of quinoa as it has all the essential amino acids. It is, in effect, a complete protein, a bit like having beans on toast, or meat. It is quick to cook compared to brown rice, easier and more forgiving in technique than white rice, and goes with a wide range of flavourings. My husband is put off by the acrid taste it can have, but I have found that if you rinse it before using it this flavour vanishes. To cook it whole just put a little over twice the volume of water to quinoa (I use an espresso cup full for me) and cook over a gentle flame until it has absorbed the water. When it is cooked it will have a visible white line that seems to separate off - there is nothing wrong with it, so don't assume you have done something terrible and throw it away.

I use it on cold wintry days instead of porridge ( I don't eat oats). I serve it with apple sauce, raisins and cinnamon, with a touch or sugar, or, for preference, agave syrup.

It is great with roasted winter vegetables and a spicy tomato sauce. It is good with a vegetable curry when you want to increase the protein of the meal.

It is a good cous cous substitute, dressed with vinaigrette or other salad dressing and loaded with feta and olives or any other intense flavours you like. This works well as a lunch box salad, as it gets better as it sits.

It is also good for baking. I make flatbreads from it as well as using it in cookies and crispbread. It gives a flexible high-protein bread, especially if combined with tapioca flour. You can buy quinoa flour but this does get that unwelcome flavour I mentioned. Instead, rinse whole quinoa and dry it in the oven. Grind using a flour mill or other grinder to a flour. Mix with water to a stiffish dough and roll into flat circles. If this feels like too much work, get a tortilla press- the plastic ones work well and are cheap. To make life easier get a sheet of the silicon baking material and cut two circles the same size as the press. Place one in the press, put a floured blob of dough on, place the other circle of silicon on top and press. Open the press, rotate the dough sandwich a bit and press again if you think it needs evening out. Place on a hot griddle and cook on both sides.

If you look at websites about making tortilla they will say place the dough in a sandwich bag to make it easier to handle. This is a much messier solution that is also more wasteful as you need a new bag when they distort or tear. I am still using the same two circles of silicon as I did when I started a couple of years ago, and they were cut out of a sheet that was getting too ragged for normal baking use. The other advantage of the silicon is that you can place the breads on the griddle even if they are a bit stuck as the silicon doesn't melt instantly the way a plastic bag would - in fact the silicon makes this easier to handle at each stage.

The crispbreads I have a recipe for elsewhere on this blog are made with quinoa and urid and polenta flour. Adjust your mix to get the flavours and textures that you want.

Don't be afraid of the quinoa. It is an easy to use, nutritious food that is very versatile.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Holland & Barrett Vit B

I asked Holland & Barrett if their Vitamin B had wheat or gluten in it...having carefully read all the ingredients and looked up any I wasn't sure about I thought it was probably safe but also thought I was feeling a bit worse when taking them, which I do every now and then on a precautionary basis. After all, we are constantly bombarded with the dire effects of vitamin and mineral defficiencies when we have a gluten intolerance.

Time passed...and then an email arrived. It does have both wheat and gluten in. I have written back to ask them how I can tell in future if their products have wheat or gluten in . I await their reply and will post when it come.

29th October 2010

Assigned Case Ref: CAS01770

Dear Lois Parker,

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to contact us about Holland and Barrett Complete B.

We can confirm that, unfortunately, this product does contain wheat and gluten.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Assuring you of our best attention at all times.

Yours sincerely

Laura Rossborough
Customer Service Team.
NBTY Europe.
The home of Holland & Barrett, GNC, Julian Graves, Nature's Way and De Tuinen.

Rice – does it matter what you use?

A while ago I spent time researching rice as I was trying to figure out if it mattered what type I used. I was looking up the rice used in idli, the soft steamed bread used in Southern India for breakfast. There they use, surprisingly, a rice they call idli rice, and this is available through Spices of India. But did it matter what I used?

Well, I read vast amounts of food technology abstracts and decided that it did. I ordered the idli rice, used them with the urid lentils in the bagels I was developing, but gradually decided I like a mix of urid lentils and tapioca better and forgot all about the ‘rice question’, ignoring the large bag of rice in my cupboard.

Today I had a query about ‘sweet rice’ which turns up in American gf recipes. What is it and why is it used? I hunted around again, and found a clear simple explanation on

Essentially, rice differs in the amounts of two polysaccharides there are in the starch, amylose and amylopectin. To make something soft and that sticks together you want amylopectin and not amylose, which is what sticky rice has. Risotto and short grain rice also stick together rather than hardening as separate grains when cold. Long grain rice stays separate when cooked and goes hard when cold; it has the most amylose which is a long straight starch molecule.

Amylopectin is a branched polymer – so think of it as being a bunch of branching twigs tangled together.

Amylose is a straighter polymer that tightly packed (a bundle of straight twigs), is insoluble in water and tends to be slower to digest, bringing the Glycaemic Index down. The higher the proportion of amylase the less the gel strength (

So, yes it does. If you want discrete grains of fluffy rice for a biriani, use long grain rice with its high number of straight molecule that stay stiff and tidy. If you want to be able to pick up a ball of rice with chopsticks, or have a soft cold rice pudding, or make gluten-free bread that is soft and holds together, go for the gelling qualities of the short grain rice, the one with the tangled web of branching molecules.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

lasagna and crispbread

Lasagna made with gluten free pasta tends to form a mush, and is very poor when kept and eaten later. This is a shame as it used to be one of my standby foods when I needed to feed large numbers of people but I didn’t know when they would arrive or they were going to turn up in the middle of the night (the kids after clubbing.).

I made some great crispbreads this week, and just to see how far I could take my new dough, made from urid lentils, quinoa and polenta, I had rolled them so thin I could see through them – the small amount of tapioca gel makes the dough very easy to handle.

It occurred to me that they might work well layered with tomato and cheese and used as lasagna. Astonishingly I appear to have no tinned tomatoes or cartons of passata in the house, but I did have milk and cheese. A quick cheese sauce and a small ramekin allowed me to build a tiny layered sort-of lasagna and bake it along with the supper.

First reports are very favourable. The layers were intact, soft but not mushy. A report on how it will be after a few hours will have to wait, but I am charmed by the idea of a snack food morphing into a meal food. I can see if this really works these crispbreads will have to be made in bulk and distributed to others who are mourning the loss of a great standby dish.

Timing counts

I have just discovered a new problem in the world of designing foods. Time. Not the time to think or experiment, or the time it takes for foods to stale. A whole new issue confronted us this morning when I ran the five day test on the Cranberry and Pumpkin Seed brunch bars I made last week.

They were still the same shape. A bite showed that they were still moist and didn’t fall apart. A powerful whack of banana flavour hit, then a shift to a more subtle taste, then a long slow sweet finish. A single mouthful could keep your taste buds going for a minute, the way a really good wine does. However, my expert on flavour profiles, Mr Taster, said there was a gap. What did he mean? He liked these bars, said he would be happy to eat them anytime, but there was a gap in the flavour. The first hit was the sweet aroma of banana, the long slow finish was deliciously sweet and satisfying, but there was a moment when the aroma had faded and the taste hadn’t kicked in.

I think maybe a little orange zest would fill in this missing bit of time. It’s just that it had never occurred to me to think about the speed with which aromas and flavours were processed and how they lingered. I suppose you have to think about tastes the way you think about music- they are a time and pitch based event.

Is it really gluten free?

I hesitantly bought some bread from 'Artisan Bread Organic' as they seem to be the only UK based company that make gluten free bread that is made from organic ingredients and without weird gums. I never ate sliced white bread when I ate gluten, making my own sourdough, so am not interested in attempts to recreate this by the large manufacturers.

It arrived; dense small squares. There is a law that says bread over 300g must be sold in units of 400g, a legacy from a time when bakers tried to get more money for less product by various cheats. As any of you will know if you have eaten gluten free bread, it is dense and heavy. A 400g loaf won’t fill a standard one pound loaf tin - tins are still talked about in old money of one pound two pound etc sizes. This leads to tiny pieces of bread that get lost in toasters, a significant problem as most gluten free bread is even more disgusting if not tasted immediately prior to eating.

I cut a slice. It had an even texture and very moist crumb. It looked and felt a lot like the loaves I make myself, which was a relief. One of the main reasons for buying it was to check on the standards of my loaves as well as to allow me to make recommendations if appropriate to others looking for gf bread. I had thought I would try to be an artisan baker to my locality, but that seems like such a lot of work that I am backing off the idea.

I put it in the toaster. It toasted ok. I photographed it, of course. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Why not? After all I had ordered it. The problem was that the packet says ‘may contain gluten’. I normally don’t buy anything that has those words on the packet. Even a bar of chocolate can say that because at some point the production line used flour as a release agent. When I first came across the company a year or two ago I didn’t order bread precisely because of these words.

On their website they say “Why do your breads suitable for a gluten free diet say: 'may contain gluten’? We make every effort to keep our gluten-free breads free from gluten, including a separate area with dedicated mill, mixing bowls, baking tins, containers, utensils, but we also make bread with gluten in the same bakery. Our risk assessment concluded that we cannot guarantee that every loaf will be 100% gluten free. We have many satisfied customers for our gluten free bread, including coeliacs and those with gluten intolerance - see 'What people say'. 

They say they are taking the only route allowed as they also make gluten bread in other parts of the bakery with other utensils, and common sense descriptions of the risk are no longer allowed. “May contain is the only legally allowed phrase if there is the slightest risk.”

Why, I wonder, haven’t they taken the obvious route to reassuring intensely gluten-intolerant people like me? To use the words ‘gluten-free’ is not illegal, and won’t be even after the labelling laws change in January 2012. All you have to do is pay for a laboratory test annually (ELISA). Ok, so that can be expensive. When I looked into it my nearest lab cost £250 for the first test and about £50 for each test after that. For a big company that is nothing, but for small producers it is a significant issue. On top of that, if you want to use the Coeliac Society’s logo you have to pay an annual licence fee, which at it’s cheapest the last time I looked was £500. I wrote to them saying that this would seriously discourage small producers and innovation, but got no reply.

Even if each of these products weren’t annually tested I would have been reassured by a note saying that they randomly tested for gluten or at least acknowledged that there was a real way of being sure their exclusion processes were sound. I bought a product called imutest Gluten Flow Test (, which comes out at about £10 a shot. It doesn’t meet the current laboratory standards for being able to state gluten free on products, but it seemed like a great idea for small producers to have on hand to test new products or suppliers. The company also do a swabbing test kit which would be good to have if I ever have to use other kitchens for training, so I’ll look into those another time. The product assesses the presence of wheat omega gliadin, so presumably wouldn’t pick up the similar proteins in rye and barley which ‘gluten-intolerant’ people cannot handle. It also says that highly processed foods like low-gluten breads may not be a reliable with this kit and an ELISA method may be required.

UPDATE from company

"For your information, all of our gluten tests, including GFT detect rye as well as they do wheat but barley to a much lesser extent, detecting perhaps 100ppm.

Perhaps you could amend your blog accordingly?"

So, as I said, I couldn’t bring myself to try the bread. I react so badly to even tiny amounts of gluten I just couldn’t bring myself to voluntarily put myself at risk, even though I could argue that precisely because I react badly I could use myself as a test kit.

I ran the imutest on this new bread. I only just got the test kit so did two other tests as well to increase my confidence in the results. I tested the urid lentil flour I use in all my baking as a control for gluten-free, and a small wheat biscuit as the gluten control. The foods have to be pulverised, so I ground up a bit of the bread in the blender, washed the blender then ground the biscuit. The lentils were ground in my flourmill that has never had wheat or any other gluten-bearing foodstuff in it.

The kits are really quite cute and easy to use, and it is amusing to play at scientist for half an hour with pipettes and vials and testing pads.

I can confirm, that according to this test, neither my urid lentil flour nor the ABO bread have gluten levels above 20mg/kg gluten level, which means they comply with the Codex Standard for labelling foods “gluten-free”. The wheat biscuit does show positive for gluten.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

sourdough bread keeps you satisfied longer

It looks as if sourdough bread makes you feel full for longer, keeps your blood glucose levels down and reduces insulin responses. And it tastes good.

“The bread products with lactic acid or sodium propionate both lowered blood glucose and insulin responses. The bread with sodium propionate also prolonged satiety. The reason for the lowered metabolic responses with sodium propionate was probably a lowered gastric emptying rate”

Delayed gastric emptying rate as a potential mechanism for lowered glycemia after eating sourdough bread: studies in humans and rats using test products with added organic acids or an organic salt.


Liljeberg HGM; Bjorck IME


Department of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Chemical Center, University of Lund, PO Box 124, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden, E-mail:


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AM J CLIN NUTR), 1996 Dec; 64(6): 886-93 (40 ref)

Gluten free vegan crispbread

Crispbreads have many uses, to shovel delicious dips, act as a platform for cheese, or to tuck into a box to take to work with some salad for lunch. All the gluten-free crispbreads I have tried seemed more reminiscent of packing material than food (admittedly what I remember of glutened crispbread wasn't usually much more inspiring).

Here is an easy to handle, thin, crisp, elegant crispbread. It takes a quite a long time to make as it is a slow fermented sourdough style crispbread, but it doesn't matter much how long you leave each of the stages. I have also made it using a gluten free sourdough started culture by Sekowa, which gave a powerful tang to the finished crispbread. This method uses ordinary bakers yeast (gf of course)


100g urid lentil flour

¼ tsp yeast

120 ml water

60g quinoa flour (I wash the whole grain, dry it in an oven, then grind it. This takes away the rather acrid taste it can have)

100g polenta/cornmeal

30g tapioca gel

optional – salt, sugar or other flavourings

Note on ingredients:

You can vary the flours to suit your taste and availability. I use Urid for its elasticity and binding qualities as well as the protein. Quinoa is a complete protein so it is good to include this in baked goods if you like it/have it/ aren’t intolerant to it. A complete protein is one that provides all the essential amino acids in the single food. Cornmeal makes things crisp, so I include it in baked goods where I want a good crunch.

Tapioca gel: made with 100ml water and 10g tapioca flour. Stir flour into cold water then cook until clear. Store in fridge in a jar and use as egg white. Wash the saucepan and utensils thoroughly with cold water before putting in the dishwasher or into hot water. This will make your cleaning much easier.


Whisk the urid lentil flour and yeast into the water. Leave to sit for several hours to begin fermentation. Add in flavourings if used, and then beat in the tapioca gel. Add the rest of the flours and knead together until it forms a coherent ball. Shape into small balls (I like about 13g balls) and roll out very thin. Dust your work surface and rolling pin thoroughly with tapioca starch or other smooth flour.

Place on baking sheets and leave in a warm humid place to rise until you can see a few shallow bubbles forming. You can bake straight away if you are in a hurry.

I keep these in the oven with a tray of hot water in the base, or in my stacking cooling racks with a wet cloth over the whole lot. If you let them get too dry they will rise less.

Bake for about 8 minutes in a 180C oven. Keep an eye on them. As they are so thin they go from needing a bit more time to burnt really fast and I have wasted several batches before learning to treat the task the way I would boiling milk.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool. If they need longer to make them crisp put them back in the oven for a couple of minutes. If you just think it will be fine to finish off by leaving them in the cooling oven they will probably over-cook and burn.

Exercise control. These will keep you going quite a while and it is worth getting them right. Also, I haven’t found a single good use for burnt crispbread – perhaps they would do as kindling….


If you want a pumpkin or other seed crispbread, take a teaspoonful of your tapioca gel (yes, it really is worth making it) and dilute it with a bit of hot water so that you can paint the crispbreads with a thin layer before baking. Sprinkle seeds on crispbreads and press lightly. These will now stick in the oven and in the storage container. If you don’t do that they won’t stay. Sticking them on this way also seems to stop them burning before the crispbread is cooked.

slow rise hot bake - increased anti-oxidants in pizza dough

I have my bagel mix first batter (urid lentil, yeast and water) doing a long slow fermentation, so am trawling the data available on the impact that has on digestibility and nutrition. This is an article about wheat pizza crust, not a gluten free dough, but it seems likely that at least some of the action are likely to be the same.

"Increasing baking temperature from 204 to 288 °C with a 7 min bake time increased all evaluated antioxidant properties by as much as 82%. Increasing baking time from 7 to 14 min with 204 °C baking temperature might increase some antioxidant properties as much as 60%. The results from this study suggest that longer dough fermentation times and increased baking time or temperature may be potential approaches to increase the antioxidant availability in whole-wheat pizza crust."

J. Agric. Food Chem. 2009, 57, 832–839

Effects of Baking Conditions, Dough Fermentation, and Bran Particle Size on Antioxidant Properties of Whole-Wheat Pizza Crusts

JEFFREY MOORE,† MARLA LUTHER, ZHIHONG CHENG, AND LIANGLI (LUCY) YU* Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742

Chickpea sourdough culture

Doing some research on the impact of sourdough processes and long slow fermentation on the digestibility and bio-availability of nutrients. Came across this interesting article which describes a method for creating a chickpea sourdough culture. I haven't tried it yet - they were using it to improve the keeping qualities and nutritional level of wheat bread, but I'll try it with other gluten free flours.

Extracts on article about chickpea sourdough accessed Oct 26 2010

“The use of sourdough in bread making contributes to the production of flavor compounds in bread. Additionally, it gives bread better keeping properties (Gobbetti et al. 1995; Collar 1996; Martinez-Anaya 1996; Martinez- Anaya et al. 1998; Corsetti et al. 2000; Katina et al. 2004; Hansen and Schieberle 2005). Sourdoughs are becoming important as consumers move away from pan breads to specialty products. Also, sourdough may stabilize or increase the levels of bioactive compounds and also may be useful in the production of breads with slow starch digestibility and hence low glycemic responses (Katina et al. 2005). Sourdough prepared from chickpea and added to durum wheat flour is a traditional way to prepare good-quality bread from durum wheat flour alone.”

“Preparation of the Chickpea Sourdough

Sixty grams of chickpea seeds were crushed in a pestle and mortar, and the fine fragments were removed by sieving through a sieve with a 1.5 mm slot width. The coarse fragments were put together with 180 mL of hot water in a water bath at 35C. Fine fragments of chickpea should be avoided because they are carried away with the bubbles and transferred into the dough. The mixture was left overnight at a constant temperature of 35C and then small bubbles started making their appearance – possibly due to fermentation. The bubbles were collected and mixed with flour and water at 35C. The collecting and mixing procedure was continued as long as bubbles were produced (about 2 h). The total amount of flour used was 60 g, while the water used was approxi- mately 50 mL, plus the liquid (about 10 mL), carried away with the bubbles.

The dough was preserved at a temperature of 30–34C until it doubled in volume. This mixture was used as the chickpea sourdough and was adequate to ferment 240 g of durum wheat flour.”



1Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Faculty of Food Technology and Nutrition Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki PO Box 141 GR, 57400 Sindos, Greece

2National Agricultural Research Foundation Cereal Institute PO Box 60411, 57001 Thermi, Greece

3Laboratory of Biochemistry School of Chemistry Aristotelean University of Thessaloniki 54006 Thessaloniki, Greece

Received for Publication October 8, 2007 Accepted for Publication July 18, 2008


It's a cold wet day here and so stew and dumplings seemed the right thing to have for lunch. I made a stew using the stock from the chicken carcass, and then added carrot, sweet potato and cabbage. As all the vegetables were in small pieces I put the dumplings on top of the stew as soon as it came to the boil and put on the lid. In the time it took for the vegetables to cook the dumplings were done. Actual work time to make these is about one minute.


For four dumplings – one hearty, two modest portions

50g gf flour (Doves Farm)

¾ tsp baking powder

pinch thyme

pinch garlic salt

20g hard white fat (Trex)



Mix baking powder into flour. Cut/grate fat into small lumps in flour – you don’t need to rub it in completely as the rough texture is fine. Stir in seasonings. Mix in water to make a loose but not sloppy dough. The amount of water will depend on the fat, the flour and the humidity of the day.

Shape the dough into four golf ball sized pieces. Place on top of your boiling prepared stew/soup and cook for about twenty minutes. The outside should look glazed and shiny and the inside fluffy.

Bagels gluten and dairy free


500g urid lentil flour

500g tapioca flour

250g Doves Farm or other GF flour – more if necessary

2 eggs

¼ tsp yeast (more if in a hurry) Check GF

900ml water

½ to 1 tablespoon sugar / treacle

½ to 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)

egg yolk for glazing if wanted

Options – add seeds to mix, or cooked onion, or any other flavour wanted

These are very good made with just the urid and tapioca flours. Doves Farm flour is cheaper so adding some reduces the cost, and at these levels the bagels are still soft and chewy.


First Fermentation

Whisk urid lentil flour into water to make sloppy batter. If you add the water to the flour it is very hard to get rid of lumps.

Add yeast while at this semi liquid stage using the technique specified on the packet, and sugar or other sweetener of choice. Leave to ferment for several hours.

You can make bagels quicker by adding more yeast, but you may lose nutritional value from the slow fermentation producing changes in the bioavailability of zinc and iron. Traditional urid fermentation allows over twice the bio-availability of zinc and three times that of the iron[i]. This recipe is based on the Southern Indian Idli batter, where rice and urid lentils are soaked first, ground and then fermented for up to 24 hours using the natural yeasts. You can do this process but the flavour is less reliable – I once produced a fish-flavoured bagel batter and threw it away! I have tried bagels with the traditional mix of urid and rice, but found the tapioca worked better.

It can be useful to leave this overnight, then you have the whole day to manage the other stages.

Additional ingredients, shaping and second fermentation

Mix in eggs. If you can’t eat eggs or forget them the bagels will work without but they are not as good.

Add tapioca flour and salt (if desired). Leave fifteen minutes (the tapioca takes a while to absorb the water) and add just enough extra flour to make a dough that is handleable. Let the dough sit for a few minutes then shape into rings and place on floured surface. I like to make these with 125g of dough each as that suits my family. Make them as big or little as you want. I place mine on silicon baking sheet as it makes them easy to manage.

Leave to rise until nearly double in size. If they stick scoop off with plastic fish-slice. The surface was pitted but the texture better than if I stopped the rise while they were still neat.


Place very carefully in boiling water. I ran test without the boiling and the crust was less good. I ran test of one, two and three minutes boiling each side – not much difference but think two minutes just a bit better than one. Turn over onto correct side before putting to drain – they look better.

Drain on a rack over a tray.

Brush with egg if you want a shiny glaze. If you want seeds to stick apply them when the egg is wet. If you egg wash when they are still on the rack you won’t get little pools of egg on the bottom of the bagel.


Place on oiled non-stick baking sheet or baking parchment. Bake about 180degrees C until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Place on cooling rack. Don’t try cutting them until they have cooled as the dough will tend to stick to the knife.

They are ok for a couple of days but the best thing to do is freeze them; then just defrost in microwave, toast if wanted and they are fine.

The same dough makes good flat breads/ pizza bases and even pan loaves if baked without the initial boiling stage.

[i] [i] European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 342–348 & 2007 Influence of germination and fermentation on bio accessibility of zinc and iron from food grains S Hemalatha, K Platel and K Srinivasan

Monday, 25 October 2010

Crisp spicy chicken egg-free

My husband gets cravings KFC fried chicken - a left-over from when he had a flat in the middle of London by himself. This is an attempt to make sure he doesn't feel neglected while he eats gluten-free food at home with me. I have been experimenting with egg substitutes, and tried tapioca gel (pre-hydrolysed tapioca starch) which is easy to make at home from flour and water.


Chicken breasts

Spicy rub

1-2 tsp Tapioca gel (100ml water and 10g tapioca flour mixed while cold and cooked until clear. Store in jar in fridge and use instead of egg white).


Cut chicken breast into strips. Roll in spicy rub. Massage tapioca gel into chicken pieces and then roll in cornmeal/polenta.

Heat frying pan with a small amount of oil. I used part groundnut for its high smoking point and part olive for the flavour.

Fry chicken on both sides until crisp and golden. Either continue frying until cooked all the way through or put in hot oven for a few minutes. Check cooked all the way through by cutting a large piece in half or using a thermometer to check internal temperature 170F, 77C.

Place on paper towel to drain.

cinnamon swirl biscuit - vegan and gluten free

100g Pure margarine or other dairy free

70g urid lentil flour

65g sugar

65g tapioca flour

65g ground almonds

½ tsp cinnamon


1 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)

3 tsp sugar

Rub fat into flours, mix in sugar and half teaspoon of cinnamon.

Squidge together to make dough. Don’t worry about over-mixing, you wont make it tough.

Roll out dough. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar onto dough and roll up into a sausage. Cut slices from this sausage, lay on baking sheet and press lightly with fingers until you get flattish cookie.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 170C.

These cookies are crisp on the edges and chewy on the swirl. Vary the quantities and type of spice in the swirl to suit your taste.

Urid / urad lentil flour

I realise many of you will be put off these recipes because you don't know what urid lentil flour is or how to get hold of it.

In the UK you can get it from Spices of India, who do very fast mail order

In the USA you can get it from I have never ordered from them so cannot report on their service, but it looks pretty straightforward to order from them,

Urid (or urad) lentil flour is made from a small pale cream coloured lentil ( it has a dark skin which is taken off first). It is used to make pappadums, idli, dhosa and other southern Indian pancakes and buns. It holds baked goods together much better than soya flour or chick pea flour, and doesn't leave any noticeable flavour or extra colour in the finished goods I make plain shortbread biscuits/cookies and vanilla cakes using it and people don't realise they are made without wheat.

I grind my own from the whole lentil because it amuses me and I have a beautiful Swiss stone-grinder flour mill. These packs of flour will make it easy to have good gluten free food that is suitable for anyone unless they have specific problems with intolerance to this lentil.

If you have any questions I am happy to try to help.

Vegan Apple Pie

I have lots of Bramley apples (that is an English cooking apple that reduces to a pulp when cooking) on the tree this year, a great pleasure after it was half knocked over in a storm a couple of years ago and had to be heavily pruned and propped.

Yesterday I made a pie for supper using my usual recipe, which uses butter. This morning I noticed a post on Facebook from Glutenfreegirl asking about good vegan pastry recipes so I immediately had to run a test ( I'll get dressed later)


100g Pure margarine or other dairy free

70g urid lentil flour

65g sugar

65g tapioca flour

65g ground almonds

Rub fat into flours, mix in sugar. Squidge together to make dough. Don’t worry about over-mixing, you won't make it tough.

Roll out pastry to fit pie dish

Fill with apple mix – I pre-cooked these Bramleys to make a soft filling

Roll out topper and place over pie, squeezing edges of the two sheets of pastry together

Bake at 170C (fan) for about 25 minutes.

This pie worked very well. The pastry is crisp and light. I removed it from the pie dish while it was still hot to see how it held up and it did collapse a bit, but not enough to worry about.

A bit tragic to have to test hot apple pie at ten in the morning ( could be why I can't fit into the clothes I was going to wear to Sara's wedding) but hey, research is more important that elegance.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Apple and raisin cookies- vegan gluten-free

80g eating apple cut in small chunks
50g raisins
50g urid lentil flour
50g tapioca flour
50g gf flour mix or cornmeal
50g sugar (more if you want a sweeter cookie)
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2tsp baking powder
20g nuts – whatever you like
60g sunflower margarine
Juice to mix to sloppy dough – I used pear puree, amount will depend on flours used.
Sift flours and baking powder and spice together. Beat margarine, sugar and flour mix together. Stir in raisins, apple and nuts and add juice to get texture you want.
Drop onto greased cookie sheets or baking paper, leaving gaps for spreading. Bake at 170C for 10-15 minutes for chewy cookies. If you want crisper cookies turn the oven off and leave in for another ten minutes. Cool on rack.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Gluten free vanilla cake / cupcakes

Vanilla Cake – for cupcakes or birthday cake

Adapted from Romantic rose cupcakes, BBC Good Food

Makes about 12 deep cupcakes or one 7inch cake. Double recipe for a layer cake suitable for a party.


150ml pot natural yogurt

3 eggs, beaten

1tsp vanilla

175g golden caster sugar

120g gluten free flour mix such as Doves Farm

120g ground almonds

3 tsp baking powder

175g unsalted butter, melted

White chocolate frosting

100g white chocolate

140g unsalted butter – room temperature

140g icing sugar

Line cake tins and set oven to 190C, fan 170C


In a jug, mix yogurt eggs and vanilla extract.

Sift flour and baking powder together, add almonds and sugar and mix well.

Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon into tin /cupcake cases.

Bake approx 4 5-50 minutes for large cake, 20-25 minutes for cupcakes. Test with skewer to see if comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack. Eat within three days or freeze as soon as possible.


Melt chocolate in microwave, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool.

Beat butter and icing sugar until soft and light. Beat in chocolate. Cover and chill for up to one month.

This cake freezes well, and can be frozen with the frosting. Eat within two days of defrosting.

Vegan cranberry and sweet potato muffin Gluten-free


60g sugar

60g sunflower margarine

50g grated sweet potato (unpeeled)

30g cranberries

gel – 10g tapioca 60ml water

25g urid lentil flour

15g tapioca

15g polenta

1tsp baking powder

1/4tsp ginger

0.3tsp baking soda

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix in margarine then stir in sweet potato and cranberries. Mix in gel – this takes a bit of effort; just keep going until evenly dispersed. Place in muffin cases and bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp and golden on top and springy to touch. Oven temperature 170 degrees C.

These muffins are light and the cranberries shine like jewels. The hint of ginger isn't obvious, just adds a touch of warmth to the flavour.

Views of Mr Taster

"The fabric of the matrix holds together in a way that is much more like something with gluten in it. It is springy and doesn't collapse when you bite it or press it with your tongue, keeping its three dimensional structure. Sweetness is evenly distributed and the top has crunchy sweetness - did you sprinkle it with something? Works very well."

Vegan gluten free carrot muffin

Carrot muffins are one of my favourite snack foods and great to keep in the freezer. I put one in a tub for a day out when I don’t know if there will be anything safe to eat. My usual recipe is gluten and dairy free but does contain eggs, so this is an attempt to find a good vegan recipe.

I made two batches of muffins, one with pre-gelatinised tapioca starch and one with the same amount of water and tapioca added to the rest of the ingredients. The second batter was very sloppy so I probably should not have added so much water, just mixed in water until the texture was right, but I haven’t retested this yet.

The muffins were quite different.

The one made with water was wetter, the muffin stuck to the paper case, and the individual ingredients were very visible. The pieces of carrot will still very clear. The taste was light, the texture moist, but this moistness gave a gelatinous feel. The muffin did hold together and was fine to eat. Considering there was no gluten or egg it had a lot more coherence than I had expected, presumably because the carrot strands gave structure.

The one made with the pre-gelatinised tapioca starch (gel) was quite different. If you haven’t seen the earlier instructions on this all I did was mix 10g tapioca flour with 60g cold water and heat, stirring continuously, until it looked like thick wallpaper paste – a clear very sticky gel. Be warned, you need to clean the pan and spoon with paper towel before putting in the dishwasher or you will find blobs of the stuff left in the dishwasher at the end. It really does stick together. Technical papers I have been reading suggest the temperature you cook this to makes a difference as to how it performs but I didn’t do anything other than cook until clear and thick.

I had to work harder to mix the batter, so I started with the gel and worked first the sugar, then flour, then margarine, then carrot and raisins into the mix. As I was making a tiny amount I did this with a wooden spoon; it may well be that in a food mixer it would be easy.

This carrot muffin was lovely. I gave a blind taste test to my resident Mr Taster, who has a fine palate, an analytical mind and a good descriptive capability (he writes novels while I bake). His words were ‘If I came across one in Starbucks I would make a note to have it again. It has a deep, complex mature flavour; an extremely good taste experience.”

In the photo the ‘gel’ muffin is on the left with the reddish colour.

Ingredients (makes four muffins about 70g batter each)

60g sugar

60g sunflower margarine (usually use oil but tried Pure margarine)

50g grated carrot

30g raisins

gel – 10g tapioca 60ml water

25g urid lentil flour

15g tapioca

15g polenta

1tsp baking powder

1tsp cinnamon

0.3tsp baking soda

Place about 70g of batter in each muffin case and bake at 17degrees C for approx 25 minutes until skewer comes out clean.

When cool, ice with a glace icing made with icing sugar and lemon juice.

I’ll run some best-before tests – my usual carrot muffins are still great after seven days. That, of course, needs time. I’ll report back.

I note that lots of sites suggest flax seed as an egg substitute. I’ll try that when I get some, as they have a nutritional advantage over tapioca starch. Will report later.

This recipe will give less protein than the usual one made with egg but is a great way to have a gf, dairy and egg free portable treat.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Cranberry and pumpkin seed brunch bar

Cranberry and Pumpkin Seed Brunch Bars

I have a challenge to make sweet treats for a group of people on a craft course in Spain. Between they have allergies or intolerances to a very long list of things, including gluten, dairy and egg. I always make gluten free food, but I don’t tend to make things without eggs. Here is a scrummy bar of seeds and fruit.

I haven’t done any tests to see how well it keeps at ambient temperatures; that will come later. I also haven’t worked out the nutrients yet.


20g pumpkin seed

30g dried cranberries

40g mashed ripe banana

50g urid lentil flour

30g pregelatinised tapioca ( tapioca flour cooked with water to make a thick transparent gloop)

40g dairy free margarine

30g soft brown sugar ( I found this too sweet so will reduce next time)

cream sugar and margarine and add banana. Stir in tapioca gloop. Add flour. Mix well. Stir in cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Place on lined greased tray and bake for 20-25 minutes at 170degrees C until golden brown. Place on rack to cool.