Saturday, 29 October 2011

super delicious lactose free hot chocolate

Ingredients: Kara coconut milk, Callebaut Belgian dark chocolate and Fabbri Vanilla Syrup

I used to enjoy hot chocolate occasionally, but always felt lumpen after drinking it.  Since I went completely gluten free I have discovered that I am quite severely lactose intolerant (the symptoms had been disguised by the even worse reaction to gluten) so haven't had a hot chocolate for ages.  Tonight is cold and I spent the afternoon at an animation model-making workshop in a chilly semi-outdoor space.  I needed warming up.

Sometime ago I bought some coconut milk in a carton, but hadn't tried it yet.  I like coconut and chocolate together so decided to try this as a base for a hot chocolate drink.  A mug full of this in a saucepan, a handful of dark chocolate chips (the ones I use for making brownies) and a glug of syrup usually used in coffee.  Heat while stirring until the chocolate is melted and the drink the temperature you want it to be.   Add the vanilla syrup to taste.  Excellent, safe,  and very little effort.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Best ever easy gluten free chocolate cake

For thirty years our standard family celebration cake was a giant devils food cake from the Cordon Bleu series of cook books.  I used to make multiple tiers in my fifteen inch pizza tins - think of the immense chocolate cake in the movie Matilda.  My copy of the book is annotated with notes on how many times to multiply the recipe to feed sixty, how many times the recipe can be increased before the batter won't fit in the food mixer, and spattered with lots of bits of chocolaty dough (now, of course, a hazard).

I realised I hadn't written up this recipe on the blog.  I looked for it today for another family party tomorrow. Our books are all in heaps as we have had builders doing some repairs to the library walls - a sudden panic when I thought I wouldn't be able to track the recipe down.

2x 8 inch / 20cm cake tins.  Ideally these should have loose bottoms to make turning out easy. Grease tins and line base with non-stick baking paper.

Set oven to 170C / 160C fan

175g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
25g ground almond (optional, helps with richness and keeping)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
285 g sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
125 soft baking margarine (or softened butter)
210ml water
60g cocoa

Sift/whisk flours, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together
Beat sugar and margarine together until light and fluffy
Mix cocoa and water together
Add eggs to sugar mixture, beating well
Add cocoa mixture and flour to sugar/egg mixture - add a bit of one, mix well, then a bit of the other, and so on until all incorporated
Beat until even texture and colour

Pour into prepared tins.  Bake for about thirty minutes at 170C/160C fan.  When baked, turn out onto cooling racks and remove the lining paper from the base.  Leave to cool completely before icing.

Many icings will be good with this.  I usually make a partially cooked one I invented because I was too lazy to spend time beating butter and icing sugar together.  It sets well to a soft fudgy texture, making the cake a little tidier to eat than a normal butter cream.

Icing Ingredients
75g butter
50ml water
30g cocoa
450g icing sugar

Icing method
Melt butter with water in a saucepan
sieve icing sugar and cocoa.  Add to water/butter mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Sandwich cakes together with some of the icing and then use the rest to cover the top and sides.  If you like a fugdy look to the icing let it cool slightly before putting on the top of the cake.  For a glossy finish make sure the icing is hot and pour it on the cake.  If it seems too thick to do this easily add a little water to the icing.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Gluten-free seedy bread with Solanic potato protein

A pleasant soft brown loaf, good for sandwiches.

500g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
30 sunflower seeds
50g buckwheat
20g pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cocoa
1/4 tsp vanilla
20g solanic potato protein
2 tsp agave syrup
700ml water
3 tsp yeast
2 tbsp rape seed oil

Blitz seeds briefly to a texture you like in a blender - or leave whole if you want a rougher texture
Mix yeast into water if using the kind that need pre-hydrating
Mix all dry ingredients together (see note on yeast above)
Mix water, oil, syrup and vanilla together.
Mix wet ingredients into dry. Beat to be sure well mixed.  Pour into a greased tin or into the container of your bread maker.

If not using bread maker
leave to rise for an hour or two in a warm damp place (I use the oven with a tray of hot water in the bottom).  You should be able to see that the batter has risen but don't leave it to double in size.
Bake at 170C for 45 -55 minutes. It should sound a bit hollow when tapped on the bottom.

In bread maker - Panasonic.  Code 01, xl loaf, dark crust.  Pour batter into tin and set programme to run.

I added a bit more liquid than usual to avoid the cross shaped crack on the top, as suggested by the provider of the Solanic potato protein.  This did avoid the crack but left the bread a little too moist - I couldn't adjust the cooking time as I was using the bread machine with its fixed timings.

I sliced this and took it to a family party where half the people couldn't eat wheat or wheat and gluten and the whole party was gf.  Whilst it was impossible to make people fill in questionnaires about the bread it did seem to be appreciated and I have been asked for the recipe.  This bread was somewhat too moist, and could have done with a bit longer cooking.  However, compared to usual gf products which are hard to eat if  not toasted it was very good.  Add to that it has no dairy, no egg and very little fat, then the bread is exceptional.
variable airholes - used Solanic 301 P

Adding the Solanic potato protein meant that I could have a tall loaf with no slumping.  The basic mixture of flours, seeds and cocoa gave a light brown loaf.  This is a good mixture I will use again.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Hagen Daz icecream shop, nr Piccadilly Circus, London - no gf icecream

Wandered along last night in the balmy dark looking for an icecream after a concert.  Found a Hagen Daz shop.  Normally wouldn't buy Hagen Daz as I regard it as a triumph of advertising over quality...but TT really wanted an icecream so in we went.  He was surprised by how good his praline and cream was.  They had three sorbets (lemon, raspberry and mango), and I was trying to decide whether to have all three flavours.

We asked if they had gf cones (not expecting them to, but I figure it increases knowledge just by asking).  The server said no, and also that they wouldn't recommend having any of the icecreams as they used the same scoop in all the tubs.  I asked if they had some sealed small tubs of sorbets for people with allergies/intolerances, but the answer was no.

So, full marks for the staff knowing about cross-contamination.  Minus marks for not having any information available on the menu board.  Minus marks for not dealing with the problem they had already identified.  If they just kept one type of sorbet in individual tubs they could offer that to people with nut, dairy and gluten problems.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

gluten free bread test using Solanic potato protein

solanic loaf

I have been trying out my new breadmaking machine.  Small loaves are very easy to make well, where finished height of the bread is about 4.5cm.  Increasing the dough volume to make a more traditionally sized loaf tends to lead to slumping as the lack of the elastic gluten means the dough cannot retain its air bubbles when baked.  This loaf was 9.5cm high.

first loaf - slumped
solanic loaf - didn't slump

I made a second batch of basic bread adding just 20g of Passionate 201 (  I had been sent samples to try through a Linkedin contact.  This is an additional 4% of dry ingredients in the bread dough.  I didn't try an equivalent loaf with just an additional 20g of my ordinary flour to be sure it wasn't just a reduction in the wetness of the dough that led to the differences, but I have made bread often enough to be sure that the considerable differences seen in bread without the protein and with the protein are due to the potato protein added.

500g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
625 ml water
3 tsp yeast (I have been using a lot more yeast than usual due to short rising time in the machine)
1 tbs agave syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp oil

PLUS 20g Solanic Passionate 201, just mixed in with the flour.  All other processes the same as the previous time - cooked on the large loaf, dark crust plain loaf setting (01) in the Panasonic bread machine.  Mixed ingredients tipped into tin and programme left to run.

As can be seen from the pictures the top of the crust did not sink when the potato protein was used.  The crumb was more even.  I think it was slightly too even to feel like bread - the texture seemed more like a madeira cake than bread. It may well be like a normal standard sliced loaf but I never ate that even before I gave up gluten.  My preferred breads are artisan sourdough types. I'll try it again with a smaller amount of the potato protein.

first loaf - some rolling of dough but cut while still warm

solanic loaf - clean cut, even shape
first loaf - less coherence (blade area of tin) and less even toasting

solanic loaf - even toast ( rolling of bread seen on loaf and also blade hole)

Please note that these bread recipes do not contain any of the usual gums that gluten free bread is made with, or eggs or cheese.  The urid lentils included in the flour give better cohesion than other gf flour options.

Butternut squash and raisin spice gf bread

I had some roasted butternut squash left over from supper last night.  Some went into a lasagna with left-over chilli, and the rest I mashed and based a sweet spicy bread around.  This bread is a warm tawny colour, slightly sweet, slightly spicy, soft in the middle and crisp on the outside.  An excellent snack with a cup of tea, buttered if that is how you like it.  It would be good with honey if you like a sweeter bread.

200g gf flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
200ml water
1 tsp yeast
75g roasted butternut squash, mashed
50g raisins
25g demerera sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp oil

Mix all the ingredients together to a sloppy, lumpy batter.  If you use the kind of yeast that needs to be started in water then remember to prepare that first.

Place in breadmaker and set on basic loaf.  My Panasonic has 01 as the basic setting, and I chose large loaf and medium crust to ensure it had long enough.

In a normal oven I recommend a one pound loaf tin, 170C and about 40 minutes. Place in greased tin and leave to rise in a warm moist environment for an hour or two.  You should be able to tell it has increased in bulk a bit but it won't have doubled in size.

Leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing (though it sliced ok and tasted great when still warm).

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Baking experiments - gf bread in a Panasonic bread machine - Phase 3: large white

Learning how the machine handles seedy bread and that with buckwheat. This time I decided to find out what the plain flour, water and yeast mixture produces - a 'white' bread

side view of loaf

500g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
625 ml water
3 tsp yeast (I have been using a lot more yeast than usual due to short rising time)
1 tbs agave syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp oil

Mix together in a bowl and pour into bread tin.  Set the Panasonic Bread maker on Setting 1 and tell machine it is an extra large loaf with a dark crust.  Lets see what will happen!

Well, what happened is that the batter rose a lot and collapsed when cooking.  Not a surprise really given how wet the mixture was.  If I was baking such a wet mix with so much yeast by hand I would have let it rise about a third more than the initial batter volume and then baked.  This turned out about 2.5 times as tall on the edges as the initial batter.  The batter was 5cm deep in the tin and the loaf is 12cm high at its tallest point.

collapsed top

However, despite the central collapse and the large hole left by the blade, the texture was even.  It hadn't produced the claggy bottom of the previous version, perhaps due to the different setting - but I don't know what difference telling the machine to do an extra large crust with a dark crust does.  There didn't seem to be any difference in the cooking time and there is no read out of the temperature.  I might ask Panasonic what these controls do to the cooking programme.
soft light slice

The bread is very soft and light - quite astonishingly so.  The slight rolling of the dough seen on the slice is probably due to my impatience - the bread was still slightly warm when I sliced it.  I find waiting for bread to cool in order to find out how it worked is the hardest part of baking.

note high sides and blade hole.  Shown next to bread 2
The initial cut through the middle of the loaf shows the dip in the middle and the hole left by the blade.  This may have been exacerbated by cutting before it was completely cold.

The bread toasted well the next morning though I couldn't cut it neatly.  The very light texture and the hole from the blade made this difficult.  As the bread is more moist than wheat bread the blade of the bread knife also tends to stick.

The trick is to manipulated the quantities of ingredients to get maximum lift with minimum risk of collapse.  I have some potato protein I have been sent to test as an aid for gluten free baking, so I think I will replicate this collapsed loaf with some of that to compare.

Baking experiments - gf bread in a Panasonic Bread Machine phase 2

The small loaf of bread I made yesterday worked very well.  I only used 200g of flour so thought I should see if it scaled up OK.  I made the same recipe with 500g of flour, the only difference was no seeds as I had run out.

500g flour (40% urid lentil, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
625ml water
50g buckwheat, partially chopped in blender
3 tsp yeast
1 tbsp date syrup
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into baking machine pan

I set the process going, Rye 07 on the Panasonic, then part way through thought I should tell the machine I was making a large loaf (it has three settings).  It turns out that if you select the rye programme you can't adjust the size or colour settings.  Now, obviously, when I was studying the chart to start with I should have noticed this.  I didn't.

I am also not sure if I clicked the bowl with blade into place properly.  You can't test this by simply telling the machine to do a stir - a simple extra pulse button would be good.  I didn't look inside when it was in the kneading stage.  Yesterday, with the sunflower seeds in the bread, I could see in the finished loaf that the batter had been stirred as all the seeds were oriented by the blade in a circle.  I wondered because the blade was completely inside the loaf with I shook the bread out of the  tin.

I measured the temperature inside the loaf when it came out of the machine.  It was only 85C.  I waited until the loaf was nearly cold before cutting.  It is a little soggier than I would like so have put it back in the normal oven for thirty minutes. It would probably only have needed an extra ten minutes in the initial bake, but now it needs quite a bit of time to get back up to temperature.

When cooled I sliced the bread.  It is fine to eat but does show the slightly claggy layer at the bottom which shows that it didn't quite have the strength to hold the rise.  I would need to reduce the water.  The batter was very liquid.  I hadn't cut the liquid even though I had left out the seeds - I hadn't thought they would absorb liquid to any noticeable degree but it would appear they do.  The white blobs are the whole buckwheat grains - I didn't chop them as much as the previous loaf.

So, a bit more experimenting to do.  I don't think I would increase the loaf size given the dense base layer.  The loaf does produce a reasonable sized slice of bread.

The texture is lighter than a dense rye loaf but has some of the same moistness.  It holds together well and has a good flavour. It has enough integrity to make sandwiches and does not crumble when handled.

It sliced very easily and didn't disintigrate.  I have put the slices in the freezer in a polythene bag with non-stick paper between the slices.  The bread goes weird after two or three days at room temperature so is best stored frozen in individual portions.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Baking gf bread in a bread machine

I have been working on recipes/mixes which are suitable for people who are busy or not confident in baking. The plan is to have these recipes worked up so that when my flour mix is produced by Shipton Mill next month the recipes are available.

One of these is bread using a bread machine.  I bought a Panasonic bread machine last week.  The first test this morning produced excellent bread.

250ml water
200gm flour (40% urid lentil, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
50g buckwheat - lightly smashed in a blender (optional)
15g sunflower seed
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp date syrup
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp oil

I used the rye setting rather than the gluten free setting, as it seemed closest to the timings I would use if making the bread by hand.  The first test produced a short loaf - the ingredients are sufficient to make a loaf in a small bread tin, and the container in the bread machine is large.  I'll run tests with other quantities later.

I had hoped to be able to mix the ingredients before the initial waiting time - all the recipe have this dormant period at the start - I don't know why.  I would normally let my ingredients sit for hours before shaping as this improves digestibility - I use processes similar to making sour dough bread. However, there didn't appear to be a button you could just press to activate the stirring action, so I rather awkwardly stirred things together with a silicon spatula.  Next time I would just mix all the ingredients first in a bowl and then pour into the bread pan.

sloppy mix in pan

I switched on, peering in every now and then.  I worried that the dough wouldn't be mixed as it is more of a batter and the rotating blade doesn't reach into the corners of the bread pan.

I worried it wouldn't rise properly, especially since I used the kind of yeast that should really be started off in warm water for ten minutes before adding to flour and I just chucked it in with the rest of the ingredients.  I worried it would stick to the paddle - after all it gets baked with the paddle still in the bread - so I added the teaspoon of oil and stirred it in.  I worried.

the paddle in action

the dough rising
After three and a half hours the machine went ping and I lifted out the loaf.  A few good shakes and the loaf came out of the tin and the paddle stayed attached to the tin and not stuck in the loaf.  The bread was an even texture and well risen.  The texture was moist. The flavour was delicious - haven't tried the teaspoon of cocoa before but it helped give a warm flavour and 'wholemeal' look.  Cocoa without the usual sugar and milk products is good for you - full of anti-oxidants, so I figure it is fine in a wholesome loaf.

top of loaf

bottom of loaf- hole where paddle sits

loaf pan - released well

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

the woe of the disappearing potatoes - Pizza Express change their menu and so reduce the gluten free options

For a brief period Pizza Express had a side dish of potatoes cooked with rosemary and olive oil.

They were delicious, and meant that a salad without any of the bread products became a meal.  Living with  people that regard pizza as the highest culinary achievement, being able to enjoy a safe meal at Pizza Express is a valued part of my life.  The chefs expressed regret that the potatoes were no longer available - so I don't know why they were discontinued.

I tried a new salad - it had roasted aubergine and artichokes with goats cheese salad.  It comes with lentils, and is dressed with a vinaigrette.  Whoever balanced the recipe obviously tried it with the bread that should accompany it.  On its own the salad tasted thin and not very satisfying.   I had thought the lentils might make up for the loss of the potatoes / usual bread, but there were only a few and they weren't really noticeable.  I asked for extra lentils and some of the balsamic dressing that normally comes with the Bosco salad.  This made the salad more substantial and less sour.  If you try this salad do ask for an extra helping of these if you think they would improve the flavour - after all you are paying for the bread even though you aren't eating any.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Cafe Rouge - what about a gluten free christmas party?

Last year I gave the Cafe Rouge a gold star for a safe and interesting place to eat - provided you can afford the time you need for the meal to be served.  This year I have to take the gold star away even though I did eat there and didn't get ill afterwards. They have had a year to improve and seem to have gone backwards in the choices they offer.

They do publish allergens on the Internet, though it the current one only lasts until Oct 11, so not much use if planning a Christmas meal.  For the first time, I was offered the list when I asked to check something.  However, it is in very tiny writing, and doesn't make it clear which component of a menu item isn't safe.  For example, I wanted a sorbet, then decided to check.  Surely it would be gluten free.  Sorbet is mentioned on the line 'icecream and sorbet' and states it has gluten in.  Is this just the wafer that would normally come with it?  No one knew.  I handed my raspberry sorbet over to someone else to eat.  I don't understand how they can carry foods where they don't know the ingredients.

I ate the duck a year ago - it was said to be safe.  This year that item has gluten in.  The only safe meals were the steaks (some of the sauces have gluten so check), the mussels, and the lemon sole.  After my courageous and unsuccessful attempt to eat a scallop last month I decided not to try a great dish of mussels. Didn't want to eat steak. Had to eat the lemon sole - which was fine, but the accompanying vegetables were too few and not well cooked.  Just as well I managed to give up being a vegetarian before I discovered it was gluten causing all the trouble.

I was eating there as it was a leaving party for an old acquaintance.  Glad to have gone as lovely to see everyone, but disappointed in the meal.

I wrote to ask Cafe Rouge why the duck was on the safe list last year and isn't now.  I have got no reply.