Saturday, 28 February 2009

gluten free bread and stuff

Being gluten free can make you miserable. Even after the anger at not having access to the contentment that wheat can give you, walking around you soon realise that bread rules, especially when it comes to convenience food. Pastry, pasticceria, cakes, croissants, goodness croissants, that's what I want, the flaky fat pleasure you get from a mouthful of croissant. If it's not a sandwich it's pastry, reminding you what you're missing. Flaky pastry... filo pastry... all the lightness that can be created with wheat, that's why it rules supreme. And if you're not that into chocolate consolsation is slim. 

So I've been on a quest for gluten free bread that doesn't drive me back into the arms of wheat.

I've tried all sorts. Some I've even taken pictures of. None has given me bready satisfaction. Some have pretended to be bread, but once I'd taken a mouthful I felt like I was chewing through mud in bread's clothing. I'm all for earthy - but not in the form of bread.

My best alternative so far has been assorted pancakes. I'll run up another batch and pop the recipe in later. Some pancakes can be very bread-y. But fried, with loads of fat and eggs. Also I am desperate for toast, and that's not something a pancake can do, really. I think I want the bloated feeling, it is rather comforting. 
I'm going to go for rye. Of which, more later,

Thursday, 26 February 2009

birthday cake

It's my birthday tomorrow and I'm going to make my own birthday cake. It'll be wheat free and it'll be oranges and lemons. It'll be based on quatre quarts with extra eggs.  No icing per se. It'll be giving a nod to tipsy drizzle cake, with invisible drizzle. If you put it on when the cake is hot, it should pass through, so that when you turn it out you just get a bit of stickiness one side and moisture all the way through. I'm going to add extra baking powder to make it a bit airy, or I may whisk up the egg whites. 

whatever I do with the cake, I expect to raise my cholesterol significantly by eating the foie gras Nigel gave us 1 Jan, and drinking the wine he also gave us. I'll have a lovely green salad in between as a treat for my system.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

wheat free apple lemon cake

As part of my new regime I am not eating wheat. It's annoying, but it seems to be helping my breathing, so I am giving it a go.

I've already cooked quite a bit without wheat, for family and friends, so at least it hasn't been a shock to the cooking system. I do buy gluten free flour, for convenience, but it's quite expensive, and I resent the price difference, so I've now bought a large bag of fine cornflour and a matching bag of rice flour. I already had a bag of grits, or polenta flour, not sure why, as I hate polenta. I love lemon cake, so I came up with this recipe.

I'm about to go on about my logic for putting this recipe together. I'm no Heston B and it may be seriously flawed, in scientific terms. You might do me a favour by not reading this bit, in case I expose my ignorance, also you may not find it useful or interesting. You'll make up your own mind, whatever I write. The demerara sugar is intended to open up what's likely to be a close-textured cake. Another way would be to separate the eggs and whip the whites up, this might result in a cake that doesn't keep well at all. The topping/puree is a way of giving moisture to would be a very dry cake otherwise.  

I think I've spent enough time exposing my internal debate. The point of the recipe is to make something tasty to eat. So now I'll just knuckle under.

apple lemon cake

1 cup/mugful apple puree
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
zest of one lemon
1 cox's apple
handful of coarse cornmeal

100g rice flour
100g fine cornmeal
200g demerara sugar
200g margarine or butter
juice of one lemon
3 eggs
1tsp baking powder

  • line your cake tin with non-stick baking paper
  • set oven to gas mark 5 /375 F / 190 C moderately hot
  • 9"/20cm round cake tin or a 10"/23cm long loaf-type cake tin
  • put the apple puree in a pan over a low heat, stir in three heaped spoonfuls of dark brown sugar, stir until the mixture bubbles, take off the heat and add the zest of one lemon. 
  • set aside to cool
  • while apple puree mixture is cooling 
  • wash one cox's apple, remove core and cut into thin slices
  • pour apple puree mixture into lined tin, spreading to cover base
  • sprinkle some coarse polenta evenly
  • spread sliced apple evenly over the apple puree mixture
  • beat the fat and sugar together until blended
  • add the eggs and beat together until blended
  • add the flours and baking powder and beat until blended
  • beat in the juice from one lemon
  • pour the cake mixture into the lined tin
  • spread mixture out to make it level
  • put mixture into preheated oven, cook for 40minutes
  • insert skewer/sharp knife into cake - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked
  • leave to cool on rack for 10 minutes
  • turn out the cake onto a plate - for safety, put the plate over the cake and turn it holding the plate and tin in a kind of sandwich
  • lift the tin off and gently lift the baking parchment off - have a knife or spatula handy and ease any topping sticking to the paper back onto the cake
  • eat hot or cold 

If you cook much you'll do what we all do. You read a recipe and decide to give it a go. You know you haven't got all the ingredients, so you think you'll just substitute a few things. Feel free, not that you need my permission. I'll be doing the same, and it's my recipe! I've already thought of a few changes... ...

use more apple - it'll make it wetter, and slices will fall apart more: live dangerously

forget the apple - you could use jam, thin it a bit with water and still use the coarse cornmeal, I wouldn't forego the lemon zest

use lemon curd - with or without the apple, still use the cornmeal