Thursday, 27 August 2009

August Daring Bakers! Chocolate, mmm

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

My torte is both vegan and gluten free. It is chocolate and lime flavour. I served it up with lime nougat and vegan raspberry ice cream. I used Karina's recipe for the sponge from her blog as the gluten free goddess and used substitutions for the original recipe elsewhere. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Making home made tofu

In my area it has become increasingly difficult to purchase silken tofu and I was getting very aware of not having had "cheese"cake in quite some time. My only options were to pay a fortune in the city or, of course, make my own.

So I began researching the process involved in making tofu and found further obstacles. Most recipes called for a product called 'nigari' (a natural coagulant) which I could only find online. Others used epsom salts which I found in my local pharmacy but after some research discovered that too much magnesium (the epsom salts) could be harmful to your health. Not keen to take that risk I opted for the less popular use of lemon juice which 'tends to produce a more sour taste'. This time I only made a small batch due to the uncertainty of my results. But it came out so good I will definitely be making more, and my nigari is in the post.

Here's a rough recipe with instructions below:

Scald 400ml soya milk
simmer for 5 mins
turn off the heat
add 150ml lemon juice
allow to sit for 15 mins
pour into cloth covered/pierced box
put weight on top
leave to drain for a while.


This produces a silken type tofu and is ideal for cheesecake or other cheeses.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I decided to go savoury on this one. I am very used to making things from cakes and really wanted something to challenge this routine. The bread is made from a hand made loaf that I made earlier in the week. The rest are vegetables. The cross stitch is really threaded through some holes. I ate all this at the end. It was a very edible sewing box!

Monday, 27 July 2009

July and My Mallow Battle

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

This months challenge really proved to be a challenge. Vegan marshmallows are something which I have tried many times and have been developing a recipe for some time. However there is always something which isn't quite right; the mallow doesn't set, it all gloopy etc. This time I came extremely close but still my mallow was a bit soft. I think this could also be to do with the fact that I use fruit sugar in my cooking rather than traditional cane sugar so the properties of the foods are altered even further. But I gave it a good bash and hey it tasted delicious.

The mallow recipe:

5 tsps agar flakes
1/2 cup warm water (not quite boiling)
2 tsps arrowroot
3/4 cups fruit sugar
1tsp vanilla (or other flavouring)
5 tbsps soy protein isolate powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps cream of tartar
1 cup water
3tsps ener-g with 4 tbsps of ice cold water, whisked together

1. Soak the agar in the warm water for around 30 mins. Dust a pan with some corn flour or other similar light flour.
2. Simmer in a saucepan until dissolved.
3. Add in fruit sugar and arrowroot stir until dissolved, continue simmering. Mixture will thicken so keep an eye on it. Add in vanilla.
4. Meanwhile, with an electric beater whisk up the soy powder with the water, this should resemble a butter cream consistency so add more water if necessary but don't be too liberal.
5. Continue mixing and add in the cream of tartar and bicarb until stiff and fluffy. Then add in the ener-g mix.
6. If agar mix is now thick and gloopy, gradually poor into your fluffy mix while beating. Contine for another 10-15 mins. You want the mix to be as stiff as you can without the agar gelling together.
7. Pour mix into your pan, spread and dust with more flour. Leave to cool.

I made two different flavours:

Gooseberry and Blackcurrant, with vegan dark chocolate and mixed nuts

Spiced apricot and Redcurrant, with vegan milk chocolate and cinnamon.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

June Daring Bakers!!!

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Hooray! I did mine today and made them especially as a father's day gift. I played with the rules a bit and my pastry is in the shape of a bow rather than on the bottom. I also made the frangipane vegan and wheat free. They are strawberry flavoured and the only non fruit sugar used is the wee dots of icing on the tops. I found this challenge very therapeautic. Nice one.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Finally cracked the cookies and something of interest...

It has taken me many failed attempts to crack this and boy was I determined this time. I followed Dreena's Homestyle Cookies recipe but made a few adjustments so the recipe looks more like this:

1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 cup fruit sugar
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
1⁄3 cup apricot syrup (see note)
1⁄4 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 - 1 1⁄2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup melted soya margarine
1⁄3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
In a bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Add the sugar and salt, and stir until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the apricot syrup with the molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chocolate chips, and stir through until just well combined (do not overmix).
Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little.
Bake for 12 minutes, until just golden (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out).
Let cool on the sheet for no more than 1 minute (again, to prevent drying), then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 8-10 large cookies.

Note: I didn't have the maple syrup and had bought these amazing organic dried apricots the other day, you know the dark kind, not the orange, sulphur coated ones. I soaked these in some water and then poured the lot into a food processor until it resembled the consistency of a syrup.

I also got a bit experimental and had some left over pineapple, mango, banana and apricots which was getting to the fermenting stage so instead of throwing it out I popped the lot in a pot and boiled it all up. God the neighbours might have thought I was developing my own brewery. It got pretty heady in my kitchen. But I was off out and left the mix to cool. When I returned I had decided to try making flap jacks with the mix and this is what I came up with:

Tropical Mango and Basil Flapjacks:

1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1/2 cup chopped mango
4 dried organic apricots (the dark unsulphored kind)
1/4 pineapple juice
1 chopped ripe banana
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
handful finely chopped fresh basil
2 1/2 cups porridge oats

Put all the ingredients in a container and let sit for a few days in the fridge until things get pretty perfumed. I think it's the pomegranate that aids this process but I'm just guessing.
Transfer to a pot and bring to the boil, let simmer until everything gets soft, add more juice if necessary. Cool slightly.
Preheat oven to gas mark 5/200 C/375 F.
Whizz the lot with a mixer until pureed.
Add in the basil and oats (adjust the amount of oats accordingly, mix should be quite dense but not too dry).
Spread evenly into a dish lined with greased parchment paper.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden on top.
Turn out onto a cooling rack.
Once cool, refridgerate overnight. These will be much more chewy in the morning.
...and enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

This recipe did worry me a little bit as gluten and I aren't the best of friends but it was surprisingly straight forward and had the most impressive results. In fact, I found the whole process extremely therapeutic, using my whole fore arm to stretch it out. I filled my strudel with blackcurrant and raspberries and served it up with some blueberry ice cream. Will do this one again!

(OOOh, just look at all that sticky juice bursting under the pressure of a plait!)

See the layers, can you seen 'um?!