Monday, November 26, 2012

Fallen off the baking wagon

We've not really been baking much in the homestead over the last couple of months as there has been a lot of building work going on.  I really didn't want to have a bowl of Sourdough fermenting on the worktop whilst demolition and re-plastering works coated the house in all sorts of airborne dust particles!   Needless to say, Herman is on arctic holiday probably until the new year.  Although one of his off-spring will no doubt make an appearance into the jolly, holiday glow of December.

We have tried, and failed, to make either gluten-free Herman scones or gluten-free Herman bread.  The gluten free sourdough so far has been working fine for cakes, muffins etc, but bread and scones just fell flat - and dense - even with extra xanthan gum and baking powder.  I shall not be thwarted tho.  As soon as the house is back in order experiments shall continue!

In the meantime tho I will post some other cooking/baking things that are successful, and firm favourites.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moroccan vegetable nut roast

Great seasonal alternative for vegetarians.

Serves: 8
Approx cooking time: 1hr 20 mins

4 large red onions
2 red peppers
1 medium aubergine
1 butternut squash
3 tbs olive oil
400g can chickpeas, drained
125g peeled almonds, toasted
125g shelled pistachios
75g butter, melted
200g pack of Filo Pastry
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves of garlic crushed
5cm piece of ginger
handful of fresh coriander


  1. Pre-heat the oven 180 degs C (GM4, 350 degs F).  Butter a 28cm 11 inch loose bottomed flan tin. 
  2. Cut shallots into wedges, de-seed and dice the butternut squash, cut the red pepper into strips and dice the aubergine.  Mix all together in a roasting tray with olive oil, spices and garlic.  Toss everything well to coat and cook for about 20 mins.
  3. Peel and finely slice the ginger.  Mix in a bowl with the drained chickpeas, the chopped coriander, toasted almonds and shelled pistachios.  Stir this mix into the roasted veg once cooked.
  4. Lay 2 sheets of Filo pastry in your flan tin.  Use a pastry brush to brush on melted butter.  Add 2 more sheets and brush on butter again.  Keep going until you have used all your sheets of Filo Pastry.
  5. Gently tip in your veg and nuts running a spoon over it to even everything out.  Fold over the excess pastry which is hanging over the side to make generous folds and crinkles on the surface.  Brush on the remaining butter and place in the oven again to bake for approx 40 mins.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve.

Approx nutritional information per serving (just as a guideline, cannot guarantee):

Calories: 515
Sugar: 10g
Fat: 31g
Saturates: 8g
Salt: 0.2g (this will mostly be coming from the Filo pastry)

I will post a picture of this the next time I get around to making it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Maple & Walnut Scones

Himself has become quite partial to the Hairy Bikers' "Maple Syrup, Walnut & Buttermilk scones" which we've made fairly often with gluten free flour and had great success.

  • Add a teaspoon of xanthan gum.  
  • I swap salt for bicarb of soda, but more often than not don't use either.
  • No oatmeal? No worries!  Whizz up some oats in the food processor.
  • No buttermilk?  Use half/half plain yoghurt and semi-skimmed milk.
  • Try not to be too upset about the amount of maple syrup you need!
  • GF Brown or wholegrain flour seems like a decent enough sub for wholemeal.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sourdough: Banana & Walnut Muffins

Sourdough Experiment #2 

To make more invididual sized cakes/muffins with Herman and also a trial with Juvela all purpose gluten free flour.


110g All-purpose, gluten-free flour
110g light muscovado sugar
half tsp baking powder
quart tsp Xanthan Gum
80 ml Veg Oil (I used Walnut oil for this)
1 egg
half cup of chopped walnuts [2]
2 ripe bananas, mashed
half cup (or half portion) of Herman starter [1]

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Line a muffin tray with cases - 15, if cupcake size, 12 if muffin size, or grease a cake/loaf tin ready for your mixture.

  1. Sift together the flour, sugar, powder and gum into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together veg oil, egg, mashed banana and your half herman portion.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients into your dry, add the chopped nuts and combine well.
  4. Spoon out into your tin/cases.  For Muffins bake about 20-30 mins.  For cake tin/loaf tin bake for about 50mins - 1hr (see notes).


[1] Lots of people measure out their Herman differently.  Some work by a cupful, some by ladlefuls, millilitres etc, you get the picture.  Apply your particular preference accordingly, but only use a half measure.

[2] You could use any kind of nuts you fancy, of course!

If making a loaf/cake with the mixture you might need to put a greaseproof/tinfoil 'lid' on top, just to stop the surface of the cake getting burnt.

Juvela is a very odd flour to work with.  I feel it has the consistency of icing sugar, with the same 'crunchiness' (think freshly fallen, powder snow) and might not work so well with scones, but thats an experiment for another day!

These Muffins were really light, but quite sticky, best eaten with a spoon! ;)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Sourdough: Triple Chocolate muffins

Sourdough Experiment #1

Herman - he of Amish Friendship cake fame, and a sweet sourdough - has continually been bubbling away in our kitchen for some weeks now.  We've only made two fairly standard cakes with the mixture and I knew there would be scope for all sorts of applications.

So therefore experiment 1 was twofold.  Individual cakes, using our bubbly little friend and also just for the sake of experimentation, to make something that didn't contain fruit or nuts (as much of my baking often does).

I cannot however take any credit for the inception of these, as I was inspired by Catherine over at Bellaandwill who has been experimenting with Herman. Although I deviated a bit, the core of the recipe must be credited, with many thanks, to Catherine.


225g all purpose, gluten free, white blended flour
25g cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
half tsp Xanthan Gum
75g each of dark, milk and white broken chocolate pieces [1]
1 egg
284ml carton buttermilk [2]
85g veg oil
half cup of herman

pre-heat oven to 200 and line a muffin tray with cases. [3]

1.  In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients; flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, soda and gum.  Add the chocolate chips.

2.  In a separate bowl combine all wet ingredients; egg, buttermilk, veg oil and half herman.

3.  Pour wet ingredients into dry, mix together, but don't overwork.  Spoon into your cases and bake in the over for 15-20 mins (depending on your oven, 17 mins in mine).

4.  Leave to cool then enjoy!


[1] Catherine's original recipe here calls for 85g of each, which is probably a better amount.  Mine was less as I was using up supplies that we had.  I do think it suffered from being slight on the chocolate.

[2]  Lacking in buttermilk. I used half plain yoghurt/half semi-skimmed milk (140ml each) whisked together which I often use as a reasonable alternative to buttermilk in a pinch.

[3]  I used silicone cupcake cases so got 15 in the batch, instead of 12.

Also worth noting; I used an extra 25g of flour and the half tsp of Xanthan Gum because it was gluten-free baking.  Follow any of the links to Catherine's blog, and her non-gf recipe.

The texture is really lovely, very light and fluffy.

Triple Chocolate muffins (in silicone cupcake cases)

Admittedly this is not the best photograph of them, but I have to also admit that they didn't really last long enough to get a decent photograph... ooops!

I will probably be making these again so will try and take better pictures - and 'process' shots too - next time!

Starting anew

This blog is ancient and was largely abandoned. Its been dusted down, given a freshen up, and is about to become a catalogue (of sorts) for kitchen experiments. This will most likely be of a baking and cooking nature but every so often might also contain other home made things. It will almost certainly contain a healthy measure of nuts ;)

There are a few reasons why I'm getting more creative in the kitchen;

  1. I'm trying a dietary change and eliminating gluten as best I can.
  2. I really enjoy baking but am finding gluten-free (gf) flour to be a bit of a mystery.  Each brand differs in texture and the variety available now is vast.  My biggest challenge will be to create a perfectly light scone.
  3. I've started experimenting with sourdough.  We used to have a bowl of sweet sourdough on the kitchen counter when I was a teen and thought it might be interesting to see how well, or perhaps badly, it works with gf products.
  4. The kitchen table is often used to 'make stuff' of all sorts.  My interest recently has largely waned.  The muse had left the building.  I'm hoping now that we're entering Autumn and I'm being creative in other ways that the muse will once again come and rest here for a while.