Crunchy Oat Cookies

I love a good biscuit, and so do my kids. It’s easier to buy a pack when you’re busy but there are only a few around which are dairy, egg and nut free and they are starting to tire of the same old stuff. And to my dismay I only found out yesterday that Jammie Dodgers – which I’ve been merrily buying for years – now contain whey. Unfortunately we found out the hard way: my eldest said she had an itchy mouth after eating one I’d put in her school packed lunch, so I checked the ingredients and they now contain MILK (the b******s!). I am going to have to start reading every label in the supermarket again to avoid making that mistake again. Anyway, they are now off our list of safe foods.

So time to make my own again, and I need it to be quick and easy so Thank Goodness for Mary Berry, these definitely do the trick. Everything I have is in the cupboard so here goes….

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Makes approx. 28 cookies

Ingredients

175 g self-raising flour
75 g porridge oats
175 g granulated sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
175 g dairy free spread/margarine
2 tbsp golden syrup

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Put the flour, oats, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl.

3. Put the dairy free margarine and golden syrup into a pan, heat over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted and combined with the syrup. Pour into the mixing bowl and stir until combined. Use your hands to press the dough together.

4. Turn out of the bowl onto a work surface and divide into about 28 and shape into balls, about 2cm thick. Arrange on 2 baking trays and flatten slightly, leaving some space between them as they will spread a little during cooking.

5. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and using a fish slice, transfer to a cooling rack to cool and firm up.

 

Instant Frozen Berry Yoghurt

This is the quickest dessert to rustle up, it’s ridiculously easy to make and very forgiving so I don’t even have to bother measuring ingredients anymore. There are only 3 ingredients: frozen berries, soya yoghurt and liquid honey. That’s it. And what it creates is something so nice to eat and the good thing is, it’s healthy too – so no guilt involved.

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It does need to be eaten straight away though, as it starts to melt the instant you’ve made it. Alternatively if it’s looking a bit too melty put into the freezer to firm up. My kids love this as it’s just like ice cream and it never lasts long; they also like to add a bit of fresh raspberries or blueberries on top.

Ingredients (for 2-3 servings) 

200g Frozen Berries
1/2 of a 500g tub Plain Soya Yoghurt
2 – 3 tbsp Liquid Honey (or to taste)

You will need a liquidiser/blender.

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Method

Put all 3 ingredients into a blender, and whizz until combined. Add more honey to taste if required and mix again. Spoon into glasses/bowls.

The quickest recipe I ever had to write!

 

Easy Banana Bread

 

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This is one of the first dairy, egg and nut free bakes I made and whenever I have any overripe bananas hanging around, I rustle one of these up. It goes down a storm and people don’t even notice that it’s dairy and egg free – and it’s so easy the kids love helping to make it.

 

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I have to admit to having a couple of disasters with this even after making it for years, resulting in a loaf which was dense and doughy in the middle no matter how long I cooked it for… I couldn’t understand what was going wrong and thought I had lost my baking mojo – but I eventually figured out the reasons:
i) Too much liquid. I let my bananas hang around for a bit too long to the point that they were not only soft, but really, really quite squishy. They had turned into an almost purée-like consistency inside and the resulting cake mixture was too runny. This does not make a good cake.
ii) MASH your bananas but DO NOT blend! For a quick shortcut I decided to stick them into my blender for a few seconds, which resulted in a liquid purée and yet again too runny a cake mixture. Texture in your bananas are definitely required.
iii) Don’t use baking powder that has expired (duh). While I was scratching my head trying to figure out why my cake didn’t appear to rise very much, I decided to check the expiry date and lo and behold, it was nearly a year out of date! Binning it and using a new one fixed that.

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Ingredients

225g Plain Flour and
3 tsps Baking Powder
OR
225g Self Raising Flour and
2 tsps Baking Powder

100g Dark Brown Sugar
3 Medium Overripe Bananas (or 2 Large)
75g Vegetable Oil
50g Raisins
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Method

  1. Preheat Oven to 200C/190C Fan. Peel the bananas and mash.
  2. If using dark brown sugar, make sure to remove any lumps beforehand. Mix well with the bananas, oil and vanilla essence.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder, then fold into the wet mixture and stir in the raisins.
  4. Bake in a greased and lined 500g loaf tin for approximately 1 hour. Check if the loaf is browning too quickly halfway through cooking and cover with foil if it is.
  5. Once cooked allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.

 

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Strawberry Cupcakes

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Recently it was Little Two’s birthday. My sister had already baked a lovely vanilla sponge cake the week before but on her actual birthday I decided I needed to come up with something different. Funnily enough she is not overly keen on the cake part itself so I’ve been experimenting to see if she’ll be satisfied by one of my creations.

This is a recipe I usually roll out all the time to make cupcakes, my kids really like it and the sugar content has been reduced so it’s not too sweet. I decided to use a 50:50 ratio of coconut milk/soya milk to give a different flavour to the sponge.

I’m still at the amateur stage of cupcake decorating so have been trialling with the piping bag, they do have a rustic look about them. If it was the summer I would have decorated with a fresh strawberry on each, but as it isn’t I let my 8 year old do the rest of the decorating and let loose with the sprinkles which kept her occupied for an evening!

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Ingredients (Makes 12 hefty cakes or 24 small ones)

200ml/7floz dairy free milk (I used 100ml of KoKo coconut milk and 100ml of unsweetened soya)
20ml (4tsp) cider vinegar
200g/8oz self raising flour
150g/6oz caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
80ml/3floz vegetable/sunflower oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Strawberry Buttercream:

180g/7oz icing sugar
25g/1oz dairy free margarine
25g/1oz Trex (hard white vegetable fat)
1 – 4 tsp dairy free milk
1/4 tsp strawberry flavouring
pink food colouring

Plus:
Various cake decorations, e.g. sprinkles, balls, edible glitter, glitter sugar
Piping bag plus icing nozzle (Star shape size 1M used for the ones in the picture)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Line a 12 hole bun tin with cupcake cases.
  • Measure the milk out into a jug, add the cider vinegar and give it a stir. After a few minutes it will appear to curdle which is a result of the milk proteins being broken down. This allows it to perform better as a substitute for dairy which normally reacts with the raising agents.
  • In the meantime place all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and combine thoroughly. Pour in the curdled milk, oil and vanilla.
  • Using a metal spoon gently fold the dry into the wet mixture together until just combined. For best results do not overmix, a few flecks of flour are ok.
  • Spoon the batter into the cases; just over 1/2 or 2/3 full will give you a decent size cake. You will see the raising agent at work and small bubbles on the surface of the mixture.
  • Just before you put your cakes in the oven give the tin a gentle tap on the worktop to pop the bubbles, which will stop the raising agents from working too quickly. Bake in the oven for around 10-15 minutes for small cakes or 15-20 minutes for large until they are golden brown on top. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin then put on a wire rack.
  • To make the icing, this can be done by mixer or by hand:
    Place the fats into a bowl and beat together until smooth. Add half of the icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of milk and the strawberry flavouring. Mix until combined.
  • Add the rest of the icing sugar, another teaspoon of milk, a couple of drops of food colouring and mix again. You may need to add more liquid a little at a time to achieve a smooth and creamy consistency, but stiff enough to hold its shape. Food colourings differ so you may need to add more depending on how vibrant you like your icing.
  • Pipe the icing onto the cakes, then decorate with sprinkles or whatever you fancy!

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More Meringues! Chickpea Style (yes really)

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The baking had stalled and I’ve been offline for a bit since a) My kitchen mixer had developed a ‘wobble’ and had to be sent off to be fixed and b) My laptop screen broke, courtesy of Little Two. In fact it’s still broken since I have to take it to the Apple Shop for a quote and there isn’t one near me for miles, so I’m using Mr Normal’s computer instead.

Following up on my last post about egg free meringues, I’ve found a different way to make them. The last time I was putting an order in with my local health food shop, I was ordering Organ Egg Replacer and mentioned I was making meringues with them. The chap I was speaking to said: “Do you know you can make them with chickpea water? I read about it in a vegan magazine”. Wow, really? So off I went to Google, and it’s true. The liquid, also known as aquafaba can be used as an egg replacer. It’s a recent discovery and there is yet to be adequate research into how this works but there’s a site dedicated to the stuff and recipes popping up all over the web.

So when my fixed mixer arrived back (hooray!) it was back to business as usual in the kitchen. I have to credit Mr Normal with making the meringues actually as he’s quite the culinary adventurer himself and is going through a bit of a baking obsession phase. The method is easy and all he did was this:

Ingredients

One can of chickpeas
Caster Sugar (at least 100g)

Method

  • Drain chickpeas and reserve the liquid. Weigh the liquid (ours  was 100g) and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl weigh an equal amount of caster sugar.
  • Start whisking the liquid at high speed for 3 minutes or until a thick foam has developed. With the whisk still on, gradually add the sugar.

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  • Continue whisking at high speed and the liquid and sugar should combine to develop soft peaks resembling meringues.

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  • Spoon out in small heaps onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Bake in the oven at 120C for at least an hour (more for bigger meringues), turn off  and leave in the oven to  dry out further.

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Egg Free Meringues (with Egg Replacer)

This is the recipe for egg free meringues I found on the back of a box of Orgran No Egg Egg Replacer. I have to say I only got it right on the third batch. The first lot collapsed after the oven door was opened mid cooking (not by me I hasten to add), and the second attempt just stubbornly remained liquid and flat despite being whipped for ages.

The results? Not bad actually. I do detect a slight chalkiness after eating but as my children had never had the pleasure of meringue before they didn’t mind one bit. I also used it in a raspberry and soya cream combo as featured in my post about  SoyaToo! Spray Cream.

Ingredients

80g Orgran No Egg Natural Egg Replacer
½ teaspoon citrus pectin (e.g. Certo)
250ml ice cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g pure icing sugar

1 Tbsp soft brown sugar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 130°C (260°F)
  • Blend Orgran No Egg & pectin together thoroughly while dry, and then add to cold water in mixing bowl. Mix on high for 5 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and sugars 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue mixing on high for a further 5 minutes. The foam will increase in volume.
  • Spoon or pipe meringues on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake at 130°C (260°F) for 2 hours.
    After 2 hours, turn the oven off without opening the door and allow the meringues to dry out until the oven is cool.
    If not serving immediately, store in airtight container.
  • Tip: When baking smaller individual meringues, reduce the cooking time to 1hr and 15 minutes

Dairy and Egg Free Trifle

This is a wee project I’ve been planning on doing for a while, and I’ve finally got around to it. It’s somewhat unfair that we always get to eat these lovely cakes and desserts while my poor girls just get to eat the same old stuff every time, so it makes me really happy to create something new for them.

It has lots of different elements to it, and it took a couple of days to make having to wait for each of the layers to set. First, jelly and fruit on the bottom – I used fresh raspberries but any soft fruit works; followed by a sponge layer, homemade; and then some dairy free custard. For the custard I used a 50/50 mix of soya/coconut milk (the KoKo brand) as personally I find the coconut is quite neutral tasting and masks the overpowering taste of soya.

However the success of this is all down to this fantastic product I found called Soya Too which I got from my local health food shop. It comes in a carton, and weirdly comes out in a kind of semi-solid block, but it whips up like double cream and for those that have had dairy before, tastes like Bird’s Dream Topping (remember that, ’80s kids?).

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The “cream” tastes quite sweet and dessert-like, though don’t go too overboard if like me you don’t like things too sugary. They also do a spray version in a can which I’m hoping to try out soon, so there are lots of things we could do with this. How exciting!

Anyway back to the trifle – I have to say it was a resounding success, and everyone had double helpings all round. Definitely one to try again, and it is very easy to tweak by substituting with different ingredients and quantities.

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(Apologies for the poor picture quality, by the time I finished it was the evening and the lighting in the kitchen isn’t great for taking photos)

Ingredients

Jelly Layer:
1 packet of jelly (makes up to 1 pint)
Fresh soft/tinned fruit (I used fresh raspberries)

Sponge Layer:
200g (7oz) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g (4oz) caster sugar
55ml (2oz) sunflower oil
200ml (14fl oz) dairy-free milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Custard:
1 tbsp custard powder ( I use Birds)
250ml dairy free milk (I used 50/50 soya/coconut)

1 packet of Soya Too! Soy Whip

Instructions

  1. First make up the jelly according to the instructions, you may want to use around 50ml less water if you wish your jelly to be firmer. Pour into a large glass serving dish.
  2. When the jelly has cooled add your fruit making sure they are evenly spaced. Put in the fridge to set (this will take all day if you have made it in the morning or leave overnight).
  3. While the jelly is setting make your sponge:
    a)  Preheat the oven to 180C and line a springform cake tin(23cm/9inch is ok) with baking parchment.
    b)  Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a large mixing bowl and mix together. Whisk together the sunflower oil, milk, syrup and vanilla in a jug and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, mix together gently until thick and creamy.
    c)  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until risen and cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin, then remove and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Make the custard up according to the instructions. You want the layer to be quite firm and not too liquid so I use double the recommended quantity of custard powder. Put in a jug to cool and cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming.
  5. When everything has cooled and the jelly has set it’s time to assemble! Cut the sponge cake into slices, you can make these as thin or as thick as you like – I did mine quite thin so it wouldn’t be too filling. Arrange these over your jelly layer.IMG_4521
  6. Pour over the cooled custard and spread evenly.IMG_4522
  7. Whip the Soy Whip according to the instructions in a large bowl, then spread over your custard. It’s now ready to eat and enjoy!IMG_4526 2