Thursday, 30 January 2014

Jumble cookies

I absolutely love to bake. Since I have been diagnosed lactose intolerant I have managed to keep baking pretty well, tweaks include using almond milk, lactose free spread, soya yoghurt etc.

When searching for dairy free recipes I more often than not come across vegan baking. Vegan baking is a whole new challenge that scares me though, why? The lack of eggs, eggs are normally a glue that binds everything together, how will my baking turn out? Still some of the pictures of the vegan recipes made me want to eat my computer screen, they loked so good. Mind you looking good is all very well but what about the taste.

I decided I wanted cookies and so looking round a few blogs I ended up making these jumble cookies. A mix match of a few recipes and what was in my head.

Oh my god. These are one of the best cookies I have eaten. I can't say for certain that it is solely down to the fact that they are vegan. The flavours together are simply divine. Oats, pecans, chocolate, raisins, vanilla. I am very surprised that the texture is so good without any dairy but I am so so pleased with them.

They are so insanely good that the two of us have managed to polish off 28 in 4 days.

Jumble cookies

makes ~28

100g pecans
180g oats
75g plain flour
tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of sea salt
100g light brown sugar
30g coconut oil
tsp vanilla paste/extract
100ml maple syrup
2 tablespoons almond milk
35g dark chocolate
50g raisins

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Toast the pecans in a frying pan until they are releasing their fragrance. Add the pecans and half the oats to a food processor and pulse until the texture is that of coarse sand.

Tip this into a mixing bowl along with the remaining oats, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and light brown sugar.

Gently warm the coconut oil in a pan until it melts. Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla, maple syrup and almond milk. 

Mix the wet ingredients briefly into the dry ingredients. Add in the raisins and chocolate and mix until evenly distributed. 

Roll tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets and then flatten with you hands. 

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden. When done remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

I am really rather sad that these cookies are gone and will definitely be making them again. Perhaps with different nut and fruit combinations.

Now I am all out of cookies, its time to bake again and I might just get adventurous and try some more vegan baking very soon.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Dairy free pancakes

Just occasionally I can be tempted away from porridge. Especially on a lazy Saturday morning when I can have fluffy pancakes topped with banana and maple syrup. Yum.

Now most pancake recipes have dairy in so I have had to do  little searching and tweaking to make a recipe I am very very happy with.

It is a pancake flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon. It has apple and coconut in the batter, they do not contribute too much flavour but combined with the other ingredients offer the pancake sweetness. Especially as this recipe has no sugar, just some maple syrup in the batter.

I used a little spelt flour in the mix for a nutty more robust pancake. My other half declared them the yummiest ever so I guess I am on to a winner.

Dairy free pancakes

makes 8

110g plain flour
25g spelt flour
30g desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
175ml almond milk
100ml water
tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla paste/extract
1 apple

Preheat the oven to low about 50-80C. Mix the flours, coconut, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. 

Mix the almond milk, water maple syrup and vanilla the whisk into the dry ingredients until no lumps remain. You may need a tiny bit more water, I needed an extra tablespoon. Grate in the apple. 

Heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan. I used an american measuring 1/4 cup per pancake, if you do not have these it equates to 50-60 ml a pancake. You could put your mixture into a jug and pour into the pan .

Cook for a couple of minutes until the underside is golden and the top has little bubbles. Flip over and cook for a further minute. Transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Keep going until you have used all the batter.

One of my favourite toppings is sliced banana and maple syrup. The sweetness the two provide is just right with the pancakes. You may have your own favourite toppings. How about berries and honey. Or adding some blueberries to the batter instead of apple and topping the whole stack off with more blueberries and maple syrup. Let me know if you have any favourite ways to top your pancake!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Yellowman (cinder toffee) and chocolate cookies

The deadline for this months alpha bakes has quite suddenly snuck up on me. Before I knew it the 20th January was upon me and I needed to get moving and think of something. The letter this month is Y. I toyed with the idea of yoghurt, and also my home place of Yorkshire. I had not happily settled on anything so I asked Mark if he could think of anything or help me nail down a recipe. Without missing a beat he said 'Something with Yellowman' and that was that.

Yellowman is an Irish version of honeycomb or cinder toffee. As far as my research went I did not find that the recipe differed, there are simply different names for a similar product.

I made my own yellowman, then crushed it up into vanilla cookies, a few chocolate chunks were added. just because!

Yellowman and chocolate cookies

(Makes ~ 20)

150g caster sugar, white us best
45g golden syrup
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125g butter (I use lactose free alternative) 
100g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2 eggs
250g self raising flour
50g of milk chocolate, chopped

First make the yellowman, begin by lightly oil a baking sheet. Place the caster sugar and golden syrup into a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir but swirl the pan occasionally. When a lovely golden caramel colour remove from the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda, the more whisking the lighter the yellowman will be. Tip onto the greased sheet and leave to cool.

Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN . Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together. Add the eggs one at a time and beat the mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and chocolate it the bowl, weigh out 100g of your cold yellowman and crush/ break into the bowl.
 Using a spatula fold in the flour, chocolate and yellowman until the cookie dough has no streaks of flour and the chocolate and yellowman is well distributed.

Drop heaped teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Once golden remove from the oven, allow to cool on the sheets for a minute or two then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

The yellowman cooks down to a chewy toffee like substance in the cookies. Mark seemed very pleased with them, I do not think I will get away with making them only once for this challenge.

The leftover yellowman could be used for other baking endeavours, that is if it does not get eaten by 'helpful' kitchen assistants.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Coconut spiced caramels

This is the last of my homemade Christmas gifts. I made these for Mark who loves coconut and I liked the idea of the spicing.
It is an Annie Rigg recipe, from her amazing book Sweet Thing adapted ever so slightly considering what I had in the cupboard.

Coconut spiced caramels

vegetable oil for greasing
400ml (can) full fat coconut milk
6 cardamom pods
1 large cinnamon stick
50g dark brown sugar
100g light brown sugar
75g golen syrup
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
225g caster sugar
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut

Grease the base and sides of a 17cm square baking tin and line with baking parchment.

Put the coconut milk into a saucepan and add the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Set over a low heat for 4-5 minutes to infuse the milk with the spices. Add the brown sugars, golden syrup, butter, vanilla and salt. Once the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved remove from the heat.

Put the caster sugar into a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Set over a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Do not stir. If sugar crystals form on the sides dissolve them with a pastry brush dipped in hot water. Bring the syrup to the boil and cook steadily until it becomes a pale coloured caramel, swirl the pan occasionally to make sure it caramelises evenly.  

Working quickly bring the coconut mixture back up to just under the boil. Continue to cook the caramel till it becomes maple syrup coloured. Take the pan from the heat and slowly strain the coconut milk mixture into it. Be careful, the mixture may hiss and splutter.

Return the pan to the heat and stir till smooth, and to dissolve any caramel that has hardened. Pop a sugar thermometer into the pan and bring to the boil. Stir frequently and continue to cook until the caramel reaches 118C. I used my thermospatula so the pan was not over crowded.

Remove the pan from the heat, whisk the caramel util smooth then pour into the prepared tin.

Lightly toast the coconut in a non stick frying pan over a low heat util golden. Scatter over the caramel and leave to set for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Tip out of the pan onto a chopping board and cut with a greased kitchen knife. Wrap each caramel in a piece of parchment paper, twisting the ends.

Best eaten within a week, though will keep for a couple.   

Annie adds ginger and star anise to the coconut milk along with the cardamom and cinnamon. I a) had neither of these, and b) one of my recipients is not so keen on ginger.

I do not think it mattered too much, the flavour of the spice comes through and makes a very different but delicious caramel.

I got the 'Sweet Thing'  cookbook for Christmas and I cannot wait to get properly stuck in and making some treats!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Butterfly buns

I have a leaky roof and an  unhabitable bedroom, I also have a cold, and its raining. With this in mind I wanted to bake but something very very simple, not tasking and not requiring any ingredients not currently residing in my house.

I was flickiing through my new Mary Berry book and there they were, butterfly buns, the cakes of my childhood. And I felt like being a child just then so these were the perfect choice. 

I did swirl some rhubarb and ginger jam through the vanilla buttercream, mainly for prettiness but it does actually add a nice zing. This is purely an optional twist, you may want to keep your butterfly buns the pure vanilla goodies you remember from your youth.

Butterfly buns

makes 12

100g butter
100g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2 medium eggs
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk

30g butter
100g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
tablespoon milk
1 tbsp jam, to swirl (optional)

Line a cupcake tin with liners and preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN. 

Beat the butter and sugar under light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg until thoroughly combined. Beat in the flour and baking powder until just combined then finally neat in the milk.

Divide the batter evenly between the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and springy. Make sure you check after 15 minutes, mine were done then.

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool. To make the buttercream beat the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk together until light and fluffy. If using the jam take a tablespoon and lightly swirl it through the buttercream using a spatula (or spoon)

When the cakes are completely cold cut a round from the top of the cakes. It does not have to be too big. Divide the buttercream between the cavities you have made in the buns. 

Cut the excised piece in half and insert into the buttercream to look like butterfly wings.

Sometimes the simple things are the best, a butterfly bun is a delicious treat (its really just a precursor to the cupcake), full of memories. Yum.  

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Salted- chocolate dipped- caramels

I have a few blog posts to catch up on thanks to arriving back home after Christmas to find a leaky roof and very damp bedroom....

This post is a short and sweet one. I wanted to make caramels for my parents as part of their Christmas present. Caramels that hold their own shape and can be wrapped up individually but that are definitely caramel not toffee.

There are a few recipes out there but in the end I plumped for this one from .
The only tweaks I made were to salt my caramels with sea salt and to dip them in chocolate. I actually made a mistake when buying the chocolate. I thought had bought lindt milk chocolate but when opening it I discovered I had bought their truffle in bar form. Not to worry though, it melted beautifully and I actually lightly salted the chocolate too.

I half dipped the caramels in the chocolate and left them on baking parchment to set. When the chocolate was nearly nearly set I placed an individual flake of sea salt on each caramel.
I sampled one of these, quality control you understand, and it was divine. Soft caramel with a hint of chocolate and salt, delicious. The recipients seemed to enjoy them too.