Marshmallow Krispie Cake

img_0134

Well hello! I’ve been gone for a while, life and work has got in the way so the very word “spare time” has been extremely rare. Somehow weeks turns into months, and months  turns into years – which I hadn’t realised! In that time I got a new job, refurbished our  house (mostly DIY), and my children have grown a few years: my not-so-littlest has started school, and my eldest is selecting a secondary school for next year. Yikes.

I’ve still been making things to eat for my lively allergic ones, and lately Mr Normal has been doing it more so, but documenting it is another thing. So let’s kick off with something simple shall we? But absolutely no less delicious….

Ingredients

45 grams butter
300 grams mini marshmallows, plus some extra for decoration
180 grams rice krispies
50g Free From Chocolate

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Add the marshmallows and cook gently until they are completely melted and blended, stirring constantly.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the cereal, mixing lightly until well coated.
  4. Press the mixture into a greased 32cm x 23cm tin / 13 x 9 inch pan; you may have to put on vinyl CSI gloves and press it down into the corners, as it will be very sticky. Flatten the top and then scatter over the edible glitter or sprinkles, if so inclined.
  5. Let the marshmallow crispy squares cool completely in the tin and then cut them into 24 squares.
  6. Break chocolate into cubes and place into a small heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the base to touch the water) and stir occasionally until melted.
  7. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the krispie cake and add marshmallows. Leave to set and when cooled, cut into 12 pieces.

 

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….

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

 

IMG_5167

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.

 

IMG_5161

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.

IMG_5162

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.

 

IMG_5169

Strawberry Cupcakes

IMG_5045

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!

IMG_5044

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!

IMG_5041

More Meringues! Chickpea Style (yes really)

image

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.

image

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

image

  • 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.

Read More »

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?).

IMG_4529

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.

IMG_4528

(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

Gingerbread

Gingerbread
Gingerbread People!

There was a bake sale at Little Two’s baby group so rather than make cakes (which are a bit hit and miss with dairy and egg eaters) I made some gingerbread. Well unexpectedly, they all disappeared like hot cakes! Fortunately I managed to keep a couple for my two but I then had to make another batch since they were so delicious.

The recipe is a Delia Smith one – Queen of all things culinary, and I make these all the time. It has quite intense flavours due to the addition of black treacle, cloves and orange rind but my kids love them. It’s great fun making these together and they love stamping out the shapes from the dough.

Ingredients

175g/3oz Soft Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
1 tbsp Black Treacle
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1 Pinch Cloves
Grated Rind of 1 Orange
95g Butter/Marg
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
225g Plain Flour

Method

  1. Put sugar, syrup, treacle, spices and orange rind into a saucepan with 1 tbsp water. Heat to boiling and stir until dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add butter and bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Beat flour in until a dough is formed. Leave the dough to rest, covered in a cool place for approx 30 minutes until firm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4.
  5. Roll out dough to 3mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out with cookie cutters, using currants for the eyes and mouth or press holes in the dough.
  6. Bake on baking sheets in the centre of the oven for 10-15mins until firm when pressed lightly with fingertips. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray until transferring to a wire rack.

Dairy and Egg Free Scones

I love scones, especially when they are warm from the oven, a nice crust on the outside and warm and fluffy inside. They are a real weakness of mine if I go to a cafe and they’re on the menu, perfect with a cup of tea. My eldest really wanted to try them so I started from a basic recipe and made it into one which would be safe for her. My first attempt turned out a bit like rock cakes, but I carried on looking and found this recipe from BBC Good Food and the results are fantastic. A few tips I found out along the way: 1) Keep the fat cold and handle the dough as little as possible; 2) as mentioned in the recipe, the lemon juice adds acidity which gives the raising agents a boost resulting in more rise and a lighter texture; 3) keep the dough thick which will result in a lovely tall scone.

I usually make these using unsweetened soya milk, but lately my eldest has a penchant for oat milk and they’ve turned out just as nice. My girls love these fresh with some dairy free spread and a dollop of strawberry jam. Enjoy!

IMG_4100

Classic Dairy and Egg Free Scones (Adapted from BBC Good Food)

Ingredients:

  • 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g cold dairy free spread/margarine, cubed (Stork Block margarine gives me the best results)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml dairy free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • milk for brushing

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the spread/margarine, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
  3. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother – the dough should still be quite wet. Pat into a round about 4cm deep.
  4. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. Brush the tops with milk of choice, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
  5. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat while warm!