Sunday, 29 January 2012

English Muffins

So here is another recipe, like my choc chunk cookies, that only requires the egg whites and not the yolks. Perfect for using up the left over whites after a custard or ice cream making session. And the addition of the whisked egg whites gives a wonderfully light texture to this traditional English recipe. I love to eat these lightly toasted and topped with a couple of poached eggs as part of a lazy Sunday brunch….a perfect way to finish off any weekend!


1 ¼ cups of luke warm water
4 cups strong flour
2 ½ teaspoons of instant yeast
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 egg whites

Put the water into a large bowl and add the yeast, baking soda and 2 cups of the flour. Mix well to form a smooth paste and allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes.

Put the egg whites into a separate bowl and whisk until you form stiff peaks.

Gradually add the egg whites to the dough mixture a spoonful at a time, folding it gently into the paste until combined, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Gradually add the rest of the flour along with the salt to the mixture, again folding the remaining flour in gently.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough has an elastic type consistency and the dough bounces back to its original shape when you make an indentation with your thumb.

Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and leave in a warm room for an hour to rise.

After an hour turn the dough out onto a floured surface again and roll it out until it is about ½ inch thick. Then cut out circles roughly 10cm in diameter, either using a circular cookie cutter, or using a knife, carefully cutting around something like a pint glass to provide a circular guide.

Allow the circles of dough to rest for 45 minutes and then cook them using a frying pan or griddle. If using a frying pan lightly grease it and place over a medium high heat. Place the discs into the pan, or onto the griddle once it is heated up and cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side, repeat this twice cooking the muffins for a total of 16 minutes.

Then enjoy freshly cooked or toasted the next day. These can also be frozen to be enjoyed at a later date.

Recipe from

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Sugar free bitter chocolate cupcakes

Since embarking on my quest to fill a blog with recipes that have some vital ingredient missing I have had a couple of friends ask me if I have ever made a cake that doesn’t contain any sugar. One particular friend wanted to find a recipe suitable for a diabetic colleague to indulge in. According to Diabetes UK it is a myth that people with diabetes have to eliminate sugar from their diet completely, but it is important to follow a balanced diet that is generally low in fat and includes carbohydrates that have a low glycaemic index so that the consumption of these won’t affect blood glucose levels too much. But I was still open to the challenge of making a sugar free cake (well a no added sugar cake) and set about making these mini chocolate cupcakes that rely on the natural sugars found in fruit to provide a little sweetness. The cakes themselves are quite bitter but if you are a fan of dark chocolate you will love these, and the icing (which can easily be made suitable for a vegan diet) gives a slightly sweeter kick to cut through the bitterness of the cake.


120g butter
250g of sugar free jam (I used St. Dalfour’s ‘Rhapsodie de Fruit’ jam which just contains fruit and uses grape juice concentrate as a natural sweetener)

200g self-raising flour
120g cocoa
120g ground almonds
4 eggs

Makes approximately 40 mini cupcakes

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degC or 350 deg F

Place the jam and butter into a small saucepan and gently heat until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Sieve the flour and cocoa into a large bowl, add the ground almonds and stir until combined.

Add the melted butter and jam to the bowl and mix well until the ingredients are well combined. Then add the beaten eggs and continue to stir until quite a thick cake batter is formed.

Line a mini muffin tin with mini muffin cake cases (you can make larger cupcakes but because this mixture produces quite bitter little cakes I found mini cupcakes provided the perfect bitesize portion!). Divide the mixture between the cake cases and then place into the oven for 10-12 minutes until the cakes are firm and a skewer placed into a cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the icing
250g pitted dates
150ml apple juice
50g cocoa
1-2 tablespoons milk

Chop the dates into small pieces and place in a small saucepan with the apple juice.

Gently heat the contents of the saucepan until the dates begin to soften and the apple juice is absorbed into the mixture. Then remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor, blitzing until well combined.

Add the cocoa to the mixture and blend again until all of the ingredients are mixed together well and a smooth paste is formed. If the mixture becomes a little stiff and dry add a tablespoon or two of milk to loosen (or to keep the icing as a vegan recipe swap the milk for a non-dairy alternative, or add a little more apple juice).

Finally spread the mix onto the top of the cooled cupcakes.

Cake recipe adapted from the Rich Chocolate Cake recipe on Sugar Free Recipes

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pao de Queijo - (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

This time last year I was lucky enough to spend some time travelling around South America. My travels finished in the colourful country of Brazil where I enjoyed beautiful weather amongst beautiful people, and discovered the joy of samba dancing, caipirinhas….and pao de queijo! My first encounter with these little doughy cheese balls was actually in Sao Paulo bus station but they can be found across the country with bakeries dedicated to their production. Best served straight from the oven the warm pao de queijo have a moist, chewy texture. This is down to the main ingredient…tapioca flour, which is also known as ground cassava. I actually had a bit of trouble getting hold of the appropriate tapioca flour locally (I think I need to hunt through my local ethic food shops a bit more thoroughly) but fortunately one of my colleagues is Portuguese and she was kind enough to bring some flour back from Portugal when she was visiting family at Christmas. So although I am in the midst of a rather grey northern winter I was able to inject just a tiny little bit of that Brazilian sunshine into my kitchen when I got around to making these cheese balls at the weekend. And because tapioca flour is used this recipe is naturally gluten free!!


½ cup water
½ cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
250g tapioca flour

2 eggs
½ cup finely grated parmesan
½ cup finely grated mature cheddar

Makes 18-20

Pre-heat the oven to 220degC/450degF

Put the water, milk and oil into a saucepan and place over a medium heat until the mixture begins to boil.

Once boiling remove from the heat and add the flour and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well combined and the mixture forms a sticky ball.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and in the meantime grate the cheese using the finest holes on your grater producing very finely grated cheese.

Add the cheese and eggs to the mixture in the saucepan and work all of the ingredients together, again mixing with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry if the mixture seems quite wet, this is what you want.

Lightly oil your hands to prevent the mixture sticking to your fingers and then shape small quantities of the mixture into little balls (I made mine slightly smaller than the size of a ping pong ball). Place these balls onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leaving space between the balls as they pretty much double in size when you cook them.

Then place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20/25 minutes until lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly…but don’t leave it too long before you sample your pao de queijo as these little stodgy treats are best eaten warm!

This recipe was adapted from the instructions on the back of the tapioca flour packet as brought back from Portugal by Jonana….thanks Jo!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Vegan orange and coconut ice cream

It may be the middle of January but we are currently experiencing unseasonable mild weather here in the UK…and I don’t think there is ever a wrong time to eat ice cream, I certainly don’t let winter get in the way of my scoffing gallons of the stuff!!! So last weekend I set out to make vegan ice cream and was pretty pleased with the results. Don’t be put off making this if you don’t have an ice cream maker either because I don’t, a little bit of patience and a food processor produce a rather professional final product!

100g caster sugar
100ml water
The zest and juice from 2-3 large oranges
150ml coconut milk (try and choose a thick creamy variety)
50ml rice milk
1 teaspoon orange blossom water

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Zest two of the oranges and add the zest to the sugar solution. Now juice the oranges measuring the juice produced until you have 300ml. This may only require 2 oranges depending how big and juicy they are so don’t juice the 3rd orange until you know if you require the extra juice. Then add the juice to the sugar solution. 

Leave this solution for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to infuse, if you have time leaving it in the fridge overnight is even better.

After a couple of hours, or the following morning, sieve the orange sugar solution to remove the zest. Add the coconut milk, rice milk and orange blossom water to the mixture. You can replace the rice milk with extra coconut milk if you want, I just added the rice milk to prevent the coconut flavour from becoming too overpowering. Additionally the orange blossom water can be omitted but I find it gives an extra depth to the orangeyness of the ice cream (if orangeyness is a word?!?!).

At this point if you have an ice cream maker bung the mixture into your machine and let it do its magic.

Alternatively put the mixture into a large sealable container so that it forms quite of a shallow layer and stick it into the freezer for a couple of hours until it begins to solidify. At this point transfer the mixture into a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Transfer the mixture back to your freezable container and stick the mixture back into the freezer. Leave again for a few hours and then remove and blitz in the food processor again. Repeat this process again after another couple of hours, blitzing the mixture for a third time, this should break up the ice crystals in the mixture enough to prevent the ice cream turning into one large ice cube, producing an easily scoopable result instead.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Carrot Jam

So now for a jam recipe without any fruit in it! Well technically speaking there is a bit of fruit as lemon and orange juice add a little zest to this recipe but otherwise this is an all vegetable affair. And this slightly unusual jam recipe goes great with cheese on toast…or alternatively as I recently discovered a large spoonful also adds an unusual twist to a couscous salad.

1kg carrots, peeled and grated
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 2 lemons
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 1 orange
900g granulated sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp grated nutmeg

Put the grated carrots, lemon and orange juice and zest and sugar into a large saucepan and mix together. Add the cinnamon sticks to the carrot mixture and leave overnight for all the flavours to infuse together.
The following day add 900ml of water to the mixture and add the grated nutmeg.
Slowly warm the mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring the mixture to the boil and allow the mixture to bubble until it reached setting point.
Jam reached setting point at about 105 degrees C so a sugar thermometer can be used to test for the setting point. Alternatively place a couple of side plates in the freezer before you start boiling up the jam, once the jam has been boiling for about 30 minutes put a blob onto one of the cold plates, let it stand for a minute then push the blob of jam with your finger and if the surface wrinkles and there is a clear path on the plate where you have pushed your finger through the jam then it should have reached setting point.
Although you should start testing the jam after about 30 minutes I found that this jam didn’t reach setting point until after about 50 minutes.
Once the jam has reached setting point carefully remove the cinnamon sticks and then transfer the jam into sterilised jars-it should fill about 3 average sized jam jars (follow the method for sterilising jars from my earlier mincemeat recipe).
Store the jam in a cool dry place until ready to tuck in!