Gluten free blueberry muffins

Posted in gluten free, information, recipe on June 25th, 2019 by stuart — Be the first to comment!

When you have a load of nice local blueberries, one feels obligated to bake with them.

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups gluten free flour (recommended: buckwheat, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your GF flour blend contains it already)
  • 1 cup fresh, frozen or canned blueberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • WET INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup fruit/vegetable oil(e.g. avocado oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • STREUSEL TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup GF flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • If using canned blueberries, drain them in a strainer. Rinse fresh or canned blueberries with cool water, and discard any crushed ones. Do not thaw frozen blueberries. Pull off any stems from blueberries.

    Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, adding the blueberries last. Stir thoroughly to mix all ingredients.

    Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl.

    Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix thoroughly until all the dry is mixed and wet.

    Heat the oven to 400°F. Spray just the bottoms of 12 regular-size muffin cups with the cooking spray, or line each cup with a paper baking cup.

    Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, dividing batter evenly. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If baked in a sprayed pan, let stand about 5 minutes in the pan, then remove muffins from pan to a cooling rack. If baked in paper baking cups, immediately remove muffins from the pan to a cooling rack. Serve warm or cool.

    WHAT IF I AM NOT GLUTEN FREE?
    Start preheating your oven before you mix any ingredients. Instead of the first 2 ingredients just use plain / all-purpose flour, likewise for the streusel topping.

    THIS COMES OUT TOO SWEET, WHAT CAN I DO?
    In the streusel topping substitute a good quality cooking oil such as avocado oil or regular (not extra virgin) olive oil. If you use a finishing sugar or other large grain sugar you get a nice crunch on the top as well as an almost savoury edge from the fruit oil.

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    Gluten free flour blends

    Posted in gluten free, information on June 25th, 2019 by stuart — Be the first to comment!

    One of the frustrations with gluten free baking is that you suddenly have to deal with multiple different flour blends depending on what you are making. They usually involve ingredients that can be hard to come by or that are expensive.

    And let’s not get into how much more expensive the GF flour blends are than regular flour. It’s not good for my blood pressure.

    I have, however, pretty much decided that my GF pudding flour blend is fantastic, if you bear in mind the rules of GF baking.

    I recently bought Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. The recipes are fantastic and this book deserves a place in the gluten free baker’s library.

    She also provides the recipes for her 2 main flour blends. One of these is responsible for me crying, because it made a sandwich bread that tasted and felt like bread, not weirdly plain pound cake! That same bread flour blend is responsible for the amazing blueberry muffin recipe I’ll be posting shortly.

    Go have a poke around Annalise’s website. It’ll be time well spent.

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    Gluten free blueberry coffee cake

    Posted in gluten free, information, recipe on June 16th, 2019 by stuart — Be the first to comment!

    Thanks to my friends at Bear Mountain Blueberry Farm I have 1.5 gallons of lovely blueberries to play with. What better way to start using them than by making a blueberry coffee cake?

    INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • scant 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your GF flour blend already has some)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans or similar (optional)
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gently fold in blueberries. Get a separate bowl, put the egg, milk and butter in then whisk together. Mix into the dry ingredients, careful not to mush the blueberries. Pour into a buttered/oiled 8-in. x 8-in. baking pan.

    Make topping to sprinkle over batter (put on last).

    Once you have everything apart from the topping mixed, start preheating the oven. This will allow the xanthan gum to set before baking. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until top is light golden brown. Can be served warm or room temperature.

    WHAT GLUTEN FREE FLOUR CAN I USE?
    Pretty much any of them. There are 1-to-1 substitute blends in the stores, you can use my pudding flour, or you could use a flour made from a psuedocereal. I used millet flour and it turned out nicely – next time I will try buckwheat flour to see if the nuttiness in the buckwheat comes through.

    WHAT IS A “PSEUDOCEREAL”?
    A pseudocereal is a seed grain that isn’t a grass, but that is used like it’s a cereal. Millet, buckwheat, and quinoa are 3 examples of seeds that are used like a cereal. They do not contain gluten.
    A cereal is a grass derived grain such as wheat, rye, barley. They usually contain gluten.

    WHAT DOES “SCANT” MEAN?
    You want to have a concave surface instead of a flat or convex surface. If you force me to guess, I’d say about 0.8 tsp? But I will not judge you if it’s 0.7 or 0.9 tsp… only your tastebuds will!

    WHAT IF I AM NOT GLUTEN FREE?
    Use plain/all-purpose flour instead of the first 2 ingredients. Start preheating the oven before you start mixing.

    TOPPING VARIATION
    I made the topping with raw sugar, which comes in larger, crunchy sugar crystals. It made for a nicely crunchy topping.

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    Gluten free baking

    Posted in information on February 23rd, 2019 by stuart — 2 Comments

    While making scones recently with my gluten free pudding flour, I realised that I am finally getting a grasp on some of the differences between baking with wheat, and baking without wheat.

    1. Know your flour. Each gluten free flour blend is slightly different, especially if you make your own. You will need to experiment several times with each blend to grasp it characteristics.
    2. Liquid. Be prepared to add up to twice as much liquid as you would do with wheat flour.
    3. Cooking time. Because of the extra liquid, you may need to add cooking time. This will have to be an experimental approach. Any small children (or teenagers) in your family are usually happy to help dispose of the failures!
    4. Leavening. You may need more leavening as there is no gluten structure to help lift the dough, and the binding agents (such as xanthan gum) have different characteristics to gluten.
    5. Thrash the dough. No, seriously. Wheat baking has taught you to just mix till it comes together: gluten free baking needs the dough to be thoroughly thrashed otherwise the complex mix of starches, flours, and gums may not come together and thus fail to rise, or you may end up with an oddly “gritty” texture.
    6. Resting time. I have no anecdata to back this, but it seems to depend on what you are making whether or not you need to rest the dough after soundly thrashing it. My gut feeling is that no resting time is needed except for pie dough, but my GF pie dough experiments have not filled me with confidence.
    7. Texture. I have discovered that the flour mix frequently results in a much more delicate, airy texture in quick breads and bakes and has resulted in a change in preference decisively towards the gluten free flour blend.

     

    The key takeaway from my experiments is that flexibility is needed. You may wish to enlist experimental test subjects willing participants in your tests. Small children and colleagues are usually happy to help you in this endeavour!

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    Tomato Ketchup

    Posted in information, recipe, sauce on January 10th, 2019 by stuart — Be the first to comment!

    Home made tomato ketchup is always demoralising. You spend a whole day, and a load of not-cheap ingredients, all to make something which is almost as good as you can get in the store.

    Then I discovered this recipe. It actually makes sense how it all comes together, and it’s delicious. It’s not the same as store bought, but it exists in a different place on the same plane. Enjoy!

      • 2lb / 900g ripe tomatoes (or equivalent in canned, crushed tomatoes – a large 28oz/795g can)
      • 1 onion
      • 6 cloves
      • 4 allspice berries
      • 1 oz / 25g fresh ginger, sliced
      • 6 black peppercorns
      • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
      • 1 parsnip, peeled, quartered, and roasted OR 1 celery heart
      • 2 tbsp light brown sugar *
      • 4.5 tbsp / 65ml raspberry vinegar *
      • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
      • 1 tbsp salt

    Peel and seed the tomatoes (or open the can!) and place in a large saucepan. Peel the brown papery leaves from the onion, leaving the roots and the tip intact. Stud the cloves into the onion and place in the pan.

    Put the allspice, peppercorns, and ginger into a spice bag or tie them into a small bag of cheesecloth and place into the pan.Chop the parsnip and add to the pan with the sugar, vinegar, garlic, and salt.

    Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to low heat and simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring regularly, until reduced by half. Blend until smooth in a food processor or with a handheld blending stick, then simmer for another 15 minutes. Store in the fridge.

    * I ended up doubling both of these to get the taste I was looking for. By doubling these it has also increased the shelf life. I would not recommend boiling water bath processing this recipe as it has not been checked by the USDA. The raspberry vinegar was a pest to acquire – you can make it yourself with raspberries steeped in vinegar, or you can try it with other vinegars such as malt, cider, wine, balsamic….

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    Gluten free pudding flour

    Posted in information, pudding, recipe on November 3rd, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    I recently discovered that I can’t eat wheat, which is a major downer when making pudding. After a lot of poking around and trying out various flour substitute recipes from various gluten free sources, I found this recipe:

    • 700 grams cornstarch
    • 500 grams tapioca starch
    • 300 grams white rice flour
    • 200 grams brown rice flour
    • 200 grams nonfat milk power
    • 100 grams potato flour
    • 20 grams xanthan gum

    This does, indeed, make a wonderful substitute for wheat flour. However… however, there’s a lot of weird ingredients there. They are also quite costly. I wasn’t going to let weird and expensive get in the way of making pudding, now was I?

    So let’s break this list down.

     

    • 700 grams cornstarch

    OK, this is a dirt cheap and common ingredient.

     

    • 500 grams tapioca starch

    OK, not cheap in your local grocery store.

     

    • 300 grams white rice flour

    Not readily available, and certainly not cheap.

     

    • 200 grams brown rice flour

    .. what the what now?

     

    • 200 grams nonfat milk power

    OK, back on normal ground.

     

    • 100 grams potato flour

    … you’re kidding, right?

     

    • 20 grams xanthan gum

    You’re definitely kidding now, that doesn’t even exist, does it? … it costs HOW MUCH?!!?

     

    OK, time to take a deep breath and break down the weird and expensive stuff. The ingredients break down into 3 categories: whole grain flour, starches, and support ingredients.

    WHOLE GRAIN FLOUR (sort of)
    Brown rice flour, Buckwheat flour, Corn (Maize) flour, Mesquite flour, Millet flour, Oat flour, Quinoa flour, Sorghum flour, and Teff flour all work as “whole grain flour” for the purposes of this recipe.

    STARCHES
    Arrowroot flour, Cornstarch, Potato flour, Potato starch, Sweet (also called glutinous) rice flour, Tapioca flour, White rice flour, are all starches for this purpose.

    Wait, what about potato flour? If you have instant potato flakes and a food processor or spice grinder, you have potato flour!

    SUPPORT INGREDIENTS
    Dried milk powder is available in pretty much every store. Shop by price. Xanthan gum is more difficult, and expensive. It is there to be a thickener/binding agent to replace gluten. There are some other options for the thickener such as psyllium husk powder. These kind of ingredients can be found in health food type stores such as Whole Foods or Sprouts in the USA, or online at Amazon.com. Unfortunately there is no real substitute for these ingredients, and they are expensive. Thankfully you only tend to use a very small amount in each recipe. Shop by price.

     

    So, let’s break down the flour recipe.
    700 grams cornstarch + 500 grams tapioca starch + 300 grams white rice flour

    That’s 1.5kg of starches from different sources. Check out the starches list above to see which you can get for a decent price near you.

     

    200 grams brown rice flour – use whichever of the “whole grain” flours above you can source at a good price.

     

    200 grams nonfat milk power – shop by price.

     

    100 grams potato flour – no need to substitute this. You’ve got the potato flakes and food processor, right?

     

    20 grams xanthan gum – yeah, OK, that’s expensive. Bite the bullet and put it in, it’s only a couple of tablespoons worth.

     

    By percentages: 75% starches, 10% whole grain flour, 10% milk powder, 5% potato flour. Add your xanthan gum, mix thoroughly, and label clearly.

    So why should you, person who doesn’t have a problem with wheat and/or gluten, make up an exotic concoction like this? Because this mix makes the most ridiculously light and fluffy puddings, muffins that evaporate in your mouth, and allows your friends or family who do have wheat/gluten issues to enjoy some delicious pudding!

     

    PIE CRUST

    When using this blend to make a pie crust, the good news is you don’t have to worry about over-working and making a tough crust: no gluten! You do, however, need to work it a bit more thoroughly than wheat flour to make sure all the fat is fully incorporated into the flour. I have also found this blend to be a little more “thirsty” than wheat, so be prepared to add a little more liquid to make your pie crust.

    Mind you, if you’re making your pie crust with butter (as you should!) you’ll probably be OK on the extra liquid!

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    Spotted dick pudding

    Posted in British food, dessert, pudding on November 2nd, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    Also known as spotted duff or spotted dog, the words “dick, duff, dog” all derive from the word “dough”. Any other suggestion comes from a smutty mind 😉

    Spotted dick is your basic steamed pudding. These ingredients will show up frequently here…

    SPOTTED DICK PUDDING

  • 8oz / 240g self raising flour
  • 4oz / 120g unsalted butter OR suet
  • 3oz / 80g caster / powdered sugar
  • *pinch of salt if using unsalted self raising flour
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until just combined (note: not the creaming method, just incorporation). Beat in the flour.

    Add

  • 8oz / 240g dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, goldens, craisins, cherries….), soaked in brown liquor, then drained
  • to the batter.

    add up to

  • 160ml / 5.5oz cold milk
  • to the batter, just enough to bring it together in a somewhat firm dough.

    Place dough in a well buttered pudding basin and steam for 2 hours OR microwave for around 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. Microwaving time will really depend on your own experience with your micro – for me, about 5 minutes nuke then rest for a couple of minutes.

    Your duff/dick/dog is ready when it is just set. Serve with lashings of freshly made custard and a nice cuppa tea.

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    Duchess’s Pudding

    Posted in British food, dairy, dessert, pudding, recipe on October 22nd, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
  • 120g/4oz unsalted butter
  • 120g/4oz caster / powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150g / 5oz self raising flour
  • 60g / 2oz mixed fruit
  • 30g / 1oz glace cherries, chopped
  • 30g / 1oz chopped walnuts (or more dried fruit, to your taste)
  • almond essence to taste
  • milk
  • Butter your pudding basin.

    Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the egg to the creamed mix, beating well after each addition.

    Sift in the flour, add the fruit, nuts (if using) and almond essence. Add just enough milk to make a soft, slightly wet dough (dropping consistency). Pour batter into the pudding basin, cover, and steam for 2.5 hours OR microwave on high for 5 minutes (based on 750W microwave, adjust to your micro).

    While cooking, make up some fresh custard. Enjoy!

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    Yorkshire Polony

    Posted in British food, recipe, sausages on September 10th, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    First things first: no, this is not a recipe for Baloney / Bologna / etc. This is for Yorkshire Polony, a mild cooked sausage from Yorkshire, NE England.

    You will need some special equipment here: a meat grinder, a sausage stuffer, and inedible fibre sausage casings.

    In this ingredient list I will give you percentages of ingredients rather than weight.

  • Lean Pork 100.00%
  • Pork fat 33.33%
  • Cold water 20.00%
  • Rice Flour 13.33%
  • Rusk 13.33%
  • Salt 3.32%
  • White Pepper 1.03%
  • Ground Mace 0.41%
  • Ground Coriander 0.21%
  • Ground Nutmeg 0.21%
  • Ground Cinnamon OR ginger 0.10%
  • All the ingredients are listed as a percentage of the weight of the pork. This makes sure that all the ingredients are in proportion, and you already have a set of digital kitchen scales, don’t you?

    In the case of the mace, this is a difficult and expensive spice to find, so I just add its weight to the weight of the nutmeg and use previously ground nutmeg instead (the kind you buy in the spice aisle of your grocery store). The spice fade will allow the nutmeg to present in a more mace-ish way rather than pungent nutmeg.

    TECHNIQUE
    Blend the rusk, rice flour, and water, and place in the fridge for 1 hour before you progress to the next step. If you have made your own rusk, keep a couple of chunks of dry rusk back for the end of the grinding process. Place the meat grinder into your freezer at this time so it can get super cold.

    Cut the pork according to directions on your meat grinder then grind the pork using the finest grinder setting into a very cold bowl.

    Grind the fat into the pork, similarly cut according to instructions. If you kept some dry rusk back, run this through the grinder now as this will help clean out the remnants from the grinder – this just helps with cleanup.

    Add all the salt and the ground spices to the ground meat and fat.

    Add the soaked rusk and flour to the above.

    Work the mix thoroughly with your hands until it all comes together in a sticky mess – this takes a while, probably 5 to 15 minutes to be decisively vague! You will know you have the right texture when it is a huge old sticky mess that won’t fall off your hands. If you’d like to see what this looks like, Scott Rea has a fantastic sausage making tutorial on Youtube.

    Place the sausage mix into your fridge and thoroughly chill for an hour. While this is chilling, put your sausage stuffer into the fridge as well. In sausage making, “keep it frosty” is your motto 🙂 Place your fibre sausage casings into warm water at this time, according to the instructions with the casings.

    While this is all cooling down, set up your largest stock pot or sous vide system with lots of water. You are looking for a temperature of 175f/80c.

    Stuff the casings with a generous amount of stuffing. You want them full, but don’t stuff them rigid, you need to allow some room for expansion while cooking. If you leave a generous space at the end of the casing (a half inch to an inch?), you should be OK.

    (Once all the casings are stuffed, you may have a little of the sausagemeat left over. If you have a frying pan this isn’t a problem…. yum.)

    Tie off the casings and place in your stock pot / sous vide container. Cook for 90 minutes. Pull out the casings and place directly into a bowl full of ice water to crash cool the sausage. Once thoroughly cooled, place in your fridge. Allow the polony to sit at least overnight before you break into it.

    HOW TO COOK
    Cut off however many slices you want and gently fry in butter till golden brown and delicious. Serve as part of a full English breakfast, or make it into a sandwich, or just eat it with knife and fork. Or fingers. I won’t judge you 😉

    HOW TO MAKE LOW FAT POLONY
    Don’t.

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    Velveeta

    Posted in cheese, frugal living on August 8th, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    Now that I have your attention…. here’s how to make a home made version of Velveeta, only from actual cheese!

  • 1/4 ounce packet unflavoured gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) boiling water
  • 1 pound (16oz/450g) shredded cheese
  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.

    Put gelatin and powdered milk into a blender. Add boiling water and process immediately until smooth. Add cheese and continue blending until mixture is very smooth.

    Pour mixture into pan and smooth out with a spatula. Cover with more plastic wrap then refrigerate until firm.

    Use in any recipe that calls for melty cheese… with the added advantage that you control which cheese it is. I use a blend of cheaper orange block cheese for the bulk of the cheese, then add in a stronger cheese for flavour. You can totally play around with this, using offcuts and bits of leftover cheese to make a cheese loaf that suits you perfectly… then melt it over some delicious burgers, or use it for Mac N Blue Cheese….

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