Recipe 67: Simple gluten-free fairy cakes

August 24, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Posted in baking | 2 Comments

Having made disappointing fairy cakes using gluten-free/wheat-free flour last year, I wanted to have another attempt. So a meeting at work was the opportunity to try out the gluten-free cupcake recipe in the Love Bakery book. The book promises that no-one will guess that these cakes are any different from wheat-y versions – so I thought it was worth a shot as a quick bake, without having the fuss of separating eggs.

Making them: It was a simple sponge cake. I used dairy-free margarine as well to make it even more palatable for my boss who also avoids dairy – although there was some milk put in add the end to ensure it was soft batter. The cakes were easy to make – I made them while nattering to friends who had come for supper and it was “the work of moments” as Nigella would say! Instead of making 12 big cupcakes, I made 24 fairy cakes. I decorated them with a simple glace icing (although I did use a serious quantity of purple food colouring).

Eating them: Unlike the previous attempt, these were soft and delicious! The cupcake cases came away from the cakes, so they looked a bit of a mess  (sorry no photo because I forgot). But their slightly wonky presentation did not undermine their eating appeal. The meeting went well – I’m sure the cake made a positive contribution to that!

Next time: I might replace the milk with lemon juice to remove dairy entirely. It might be taking the experiment too far. but if it works then I’ll have a simple wheat, gluten and dairy-free cake in the repetoire.

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I hate seperating eggs

August 14, 2011 at 10:09 am | Posted in baking, musings, puddings | Leave a comment

One cooking task that I find deeply dull is separating eggs. I’m reasonably successful at the task thanks to a clever little separator-spoon that I bought years ago that holds the yolk and lets the white drip into a bowl. Making something requiring only egg whites is even more irritating as then the yolks have to be thrown away (or if sufficient eggs have been broken it’s an reason to make a gateau breton). So when my friend Ali told me about Two Chicks pasteurised egg whites in a carton – I was seriously excited!

Two chicks egg whites come in  carton of 15 egg whites. I used up 2 eggs white – which is 60ml of liquid to make meringues. Thanks to the Kenwood making meringue is incredibly simple – just leave it to whirr away!

The egg whites behaved totally normally when whipping them up. I created 8 little nests (and as I still haven’t conquered my fear of the piping bag, I just piled it up using a spoon to shape). We  enjoyed them with raspberries and softly whipped cream for dessert on Sunday. While I slightly overcooked the meringues to my taste  they tasted great (and that was not the fault of the ingredients, just my miscalculation).

So all in all – I think these egg whites can be considered a wonder ingredient! It makes meringue much quicker and easier to produce – and that can only be a good thing if it means that I can make the chocolate pavlova more often! The potential downside is that 15 eggs whites is a huge quantity – so I have lots left over:  time to start exploring savoury options using egg whites… watch this space!

Recipe 66: Roasted red onions and tomatoes

August 13, 2011 at 10:45 am | Posted in savoury | Leave a comment
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Summer has turned into that classic British mix of sunshine and showers: every day seems to have both glorious moments of sunshine and near-torrential downpours. All this makes meal planning rather tricky, and certainly makes outside meals a gamble! Last Sunday,  Richard and Ailsa came for Sunday lunch (and we were also joined by Dimity who is staying with me at the moment). I wanted lunch to be summery (as it could have been a scorcher of a day) but also sufficiently robust if it was a damp squib day.  So I decided to cook some pork chops (from the supermarket, but from the “quality” sub-brand and outdoor reared therefore being pork with flavour, not cheap pork which has no flavour at all and only the texture marking it out as porcine protein) and alongside it was a perfect opportunity to try out the roasted red onion and tomatoes recipe from the Vicar’s Wife Cookbook. Admittedly roasted vegetables don’t really need a recipe, but this was a combination that I had not tried before…. so helpful to have Elisa Beynon’s prompting to try something different.

Making it: Really simple. Quartered some red onions, chopped some tomatoes in half. Sprinkled over some garlic and basil oil (one of Waitrose’s brilliant flavoured oils). Shove in a hot oven for about 30 minutes. Finally added a big splosh of balsamic vinegar and then put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Eating it: we ate inside (I wanted to eat outside, the others were more sceptical – and they were wise – as after lunch was dished out – it chucked it down!). The roasted onions and tomatoes were delicious: a lovely summer-y flavour (as if we were at an amazingly good BBQ – but without getting damp). The splash of balsamic vinegar deepened the taste and it worked really well with the roasted pork chops

Next time: perhaps I will get to eat it outside…. but there will be a next time as this is a great combination alongside some simple grilled meat. It would be great as part of a BBQ buffet, as it would taste still taste good having been out of the oven a while.

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