I’m not brilliant at it. I am not conventional either. I have a stack of cookery books and I don’t want to think about what I’ve spent on food magazines over the years, especially as I don’t think I have ever followed a single recipe to the letter.
When I want to or need to cook, I usually start from a different place to most conventional cooks – I think. I rarely look at a book first, select a recipe and then buy the ingredients. I usually start in the fridge, look at what needs using up, think about what I can make and then check the books to see if there’s a recipe that matches and solves my problem.
Last year I was given a bread machine by my mother in law. The whole family, when catering for Zac, has experienced the frustration of spending £3 on a tiny loaf that falls apart before you can do anything with it, and has great big holes in the slices. My mother in law had a bread machine of her own and suggested I borrow it and see if I could make something more usable and tasty. A lot of the gluten free breads taste pretty rough. So I had a go and the result was pretty disastrous. I blamed the machine! It didn’t have a setting for gluten free bread and I guess that is pretty crucial as the process is quite different.
Back in the summer, when we went to Spain, we discovered some very good gluten free, dairy free cakes that Zac fell in love with. They looked a bit like mini muffins and had a gentle vanilla flavour and very light texture. They were called ‘Magdelenas’ – but Zac christened them ‘lump cakes’ because they had a little ‘lumpy peak’. I have never seen anything similar in the ‘free from’ aisles here and have been searching my allergy recipe friendly recipes books for inspiration ever since. No luck – until yesterday morning. More…
It’s about time I put up a new recipe. Life has been somewhat chaotic of late and I feel guilty for not trying anything new for a while. So as I was running out of ideas, I decided to treat myself to a copy of Simply Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free by Grace Cheetham. I bought my copy from http://www.lovelactosefreelife.co.uk/ – she sells ‘dairy free books’ as well as chocolates. So I popped one in my ‘basket’ last time I put in my ‘Zac chocolate’ order.
It is a great book, full of inspiration and is relatively simple – which is what I think is really lacking. A lot of the gluten free, dairy free recipes look a bit complicated to me with too many alien ingredients and far too many steps. As I said, I have been a bit pre-occupied of late and hadn’t even had much of a look at it, until this weekend when my six year old daughter saw it and started having a look. She is a bit like me and loves ‘looking’ at beautiful food and seems to enjoy flicking through cookery books. I think her eye was initially caught by the beautifully shot little cakes on the front cover, but it was the ginger biscuits that she asked me to make – thank goodness. As I am a bit rusty, I thought it best to start with a biscuit rather than a pretty little fairy cake.
I have to admit I am starting to run out of ideas for different breakfasts now, so have taken to staring vacantly at the fridge and cupboards hoping that inspiration will fly off the shelves. Today the cupboards were a bit bare, except for the abundance of carrots I always have in the house, as they are Sophia’s favourite snack food. She will eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and that is why I started to wonder if I could get them into Zac’s breakfast – he won’t eat them any other way, so how about in a muffin?
My sister makes a fab carrot cake, and I know it is a very versatile ingredient, so I started looking around for recipes. I quickly came across a recipe for ‘carrot and courgette mini muffins’. It was on the I Can Cook page of the CBeebies website. I do remember seeing the episode where Katie makes them and back then I did wonder what they might taste like. As this recipe looked far simpler than any of the others that Google threw at me, I decided to give it a go.
Whilst digging out my Doves Farm self-raising flour, I came across a bag of Doves Farm White bread flour blend sitting at the back of the cupboard. I bought it a while ago when I had my first attempt at making gluten free bread in a machine. It was disastrous and I sold the bread machine!
But I still get irritated by the very expensive, crumbly bread I spend about £10 a week on. So I decided I should try and make it again, this time the traditional way and see if I can make bread that is edible and suitable for breakfast.
I used the recipe on the back of the Doves Farm packaging. Just for once I had all the ingredients, plenty of time on my hands and no excuses not to do it!
Here is the recipe.
450g/16oz Doves Farm white bread flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp quick yeast
2 tbsp sugar
325ml/11fl oz warm milk – I used Kara dairy free
1 tsp vinegar
6 tbsp oil