Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!! Zero Allergy, Maximum Flavour Good Ol' Pumpkin Pie

Hello crazy caterpillars....

and a Happy thanksgiving to you all xx

Now here in Scotland, Thanksgiving is not something that we traditionally celebrate however the holiday is slowly but surely making its way into our homes and (most importantly) our bellies.

I’m not a skinny-minnie and therefore any excuse really to eat excellent home cooked grub is fine by me and I just love some of the dishes that find their way into family tables at this time of year.  I have a few American cookbooks that I’ve purchased over the years and through my travels and I was struggling to decide what I’d put in my thanksgiving blog but the more I thought about it the more the easy the answer became.  Pumpkin pie.  You cannot surely have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?  That would be wrong and punishable by law, surely?

Everyone I talk to seems to have a different way of making it.  Some have a short crust pie case others have a biscuit base, some have marshmallows and some have nuts but all have the creamy and sweet pumpkin filling that is so synonymous with this time of year.  It’s a really harvest dessert and I think it should be eaten any time of year, not just thanksgiving, it’s that good.

In the States it is easy to buy cans or tins of pre-made pumpkin puree but I’ve never seen these here (in the UK) so this recipe includes how to make your very own pumpkin puree from scratch.  Yes it is another step and if you can find a can of pre-made puree in the shops or online then feel free to skip this step, but it’s not rocket science and just adds to the baking pleasure.

This particular recipe is vegan, nut safe and gluten free and is utterly delicious.  I love this stuff and if you haven’t tried it then you haven’t lived.

If you’re lucky (and stingy with the portions) this might feed about 8 but if you’re Scottish (or just really hungry) this will make about 6 portions.  Be realistic, you’ll have more than one helping so don’t pretend you’re watching your waistline!

So here we go,  

The Carefree Bakers Zero Allergy with Maximum Flavour 
Good Ol’ Pumpkin Pie!

Ingredients


For the gluten free, vegan short crust pastry

480g of your favourite gluten free flour (rice flour alone also works very well)
240g dairy-free spread (straight from the fridge, it needs to be really cold – even put it in the freezer the night before and grate it into the mixture!)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
120 g sugar 
4 – 8 tablespoons very cold water


Pie Filling

2 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (~1 1/2 15-ounce cans) OR 1 medium pumpkin (prepared as below – you need about 700 grams of thick puree)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk
1 tablespoon of olive oil OR melted coconut oil
2 and a half tablespoons corn flour OR arrowroot powder
1 level teaspoon of cinnamon
Half a teaspoon of ginger
Pinch of salt


Instructions

If you are making your own pumpkin puree then remove the skin of the pumpkin, cut in half (being careful), remove the seeds and chop into small (roughly an inch square) pieces.

Put the pieces into a pot and pour enough water into the pot so that the water goes at least half way up the side of the pumpkin.  You really want to steam this rather than boil all the goodness and taste out of it so don’t put too much water in.  Put the lid on the pot and leave to steam over a medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the pumpkin is very soft. 

Drain off any excess water and return to the pot to steam for a couple of minutes over a very low heat.  You’re just trying to get the excess water out of the pumpkin so that it’s not too watery.  You want a nice thick but creamy puree that’s not diluted by water.

Once it’s steamed, pour the pumpkin pieces into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a thick puree.  If you don’t have a mechanical kitchen slave then use some elbow grease and use either a potato masher or potato ricer but you’ll probably need to beat the mashed/riced pumpkin until you get a smooth consistency.

Or you could open a can, if you can find one but where’s the fun in that!

Anyway, onwards.... It’s pie crust time..

The principles of ‘regular’ pastry apply (e.g. half fat to flour plus sugar for sweet pastry) and although the results are slightly different they are very satisfying.  The pastry produced is slightly lighter in colour and more crumbly in texture. 

You can use a food processor to make this but be careful not to overwork it. Making the pastry by hand is also easy but takes a little more time and effort.


Method

1.                  Sift the flour and xanthan gum in to a food processor or mixing bowl
2.                 If you’re using a food processes, cut the margarine in to cubes and pulse in the processor, or, if you’re working manually, grate the hard margarine into the flour and then use a dry knife to make sure the margarine gratings are coated in flour and not just gathering into one large lump.  Then use your finger tips, lightly run the mixture until the mixture begins to resemble breadcrumbs.  Your hands transfer heat and you don’t want the mixture to get too hot, so just use your fingertips very lightly, not the palms of your hands.
3.                  Add the sugar now and mix gently using a cold clean metal spoon or fork.
4.         Add the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse (or stir using the fork) until the mixture begins to form a dough. Pull the mixture together in to a ball and kneed very gently until smooth (~1-2 minutes)
5.         Wrap in cling-film or put in a freezer bag and place in a fridge until required.
6.         The pastry will keep for up to a week in the fridge and also freezes well but let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour before rolling out.
7.         Use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry to the required size of your tin.  You want the rolled out pastry to be large enough to completely cover the inside of your tin and up the sides too. Put some baking parchment down on your work surface and a small quantity of rice flour to stop the dough from sticking or roll it out between two sheets of cling film or silicone sheets as this will help get one even thickness.
8.         Using the rolling pin, very gently pick up the rolled out pastry and lay it into the tin.  Make sure you get the pasty right into the corners of the tin and all the way up the sides.  There should be enough pastry to spill over the sides of the tin, do not trim this, just leave it be, the pastry will shrink slightly during cooking and by leaving the excess over the sides this will make sure that after it’s baked the pastry will still cover all the sides.  
9.         Very lightly fork the sides and base of the pastry.  Don’t put your fork all the way through though.  Then using a piece of greaseproof or baking parchment, place over the pastry and fill the tin with a good amount of baking beans or dried pulses. 
Blind bake at 180 (or 175 degrees C for fan ovens) for about 15 minutes.
11.       Remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes to make sure it is golden brown and completely blind baked.  We don’t want any soggy bottoms.
12.       Remove from oven and put to the side.
13.       Once cooled, take a sharp nice and skim the excess crust from the top of the tin.  You should have a nice, smooth crust now.
 14.       For the pie filling, add all pie ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. The spices in this recipe can really be adjusted for personal preference so if you like more cinnamon, add more cinnamon, if you like more ginger..well, you get the idea.  Once you’re happy with the taste, set it aside.
15.       Pour the filling into pastry case and bake at around 175 degrees C (fan assisted) for 30 minutes (but check after 25 to be on the safe side). The crust should be light golden brown and the filling will still be just a bit jiggly and have some cracks on the top.
16.       Remove from oven and let cool completely before loosely covering with tin foil and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set for 4-6 hours, preferably overnight.

17.       Serve a huge chunk of this bad boy with either your favourite 
            shop-bought ice cream or vegan whipped cream (recipe here). 

Eat and enjoy.

So happy thanksgiving y’all; give thanks and be thankful.

Hugs

xx

Monday, 21 November 2016

Coconut Lime Mallow Squares - Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Nut Safe Sweets/Candy

Good evening my tasty custard creams,

I know that I’ve done a marshmallow recipe before but this isn’t technically a marshmallow (even though it does have very similar ingredients).  I saw this recipe on a website that I was on and thought it looked really tasty.  Albeit the original version is neither dairy free nor vegan (as it contained animal gelatine) I wanted to see if it was easily adaptable and lo’ and behold it is.

Now I’ve used agar-agar here so let’s discuss for a second.

Agar Agar is a flavourless gelling agent which is derived from cooked and pressed seaweed.  Agar is available flaked, powdered, or in bars.  For best results, grind the agar-agar in a coffee grinder or food processor and then cook it, stirring it regularly until it dissolves. When used in a recipe, agar-agar sets in about an hour and doesn’t require refrigeration to gel. For a firmer gel, add more agar-agar, and for a softer gel, add more liquid.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, you can fix a faux pas simply by reheating the gel.

Here’s a general guide on how to use agar in recipes:


• Substitute powdered agar-agar for gelatine using equal amounts.

• 1 tablespoon of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 teaspoon of agar-agar powder.

• Set 500 ml (about 2 cups of liquid) using either 2 teaspoons of agar-agar powder, 2 tablespoons of agar-agar flakes, or one bar.


For this recipe I am using agar-agar powder which I bought off of Amazon (100g for £3.69 – free delivery). 

This is more of a candy than a dessert/pudding but I think (during the holiday season especially) your table can never have enough sweet bounty and therefore I think that everyone will love this, not just the vegan in your life.

Cut these in to small squares and give them as presents or stocking fillers (along with the tablet, of course!).
So here we go,

The Carefree Baker’s Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free and Nut Safe

Coconut and Lime Mallow Squares


Ingredients

Icing sugar – for dusting
2 quantities of chickpea, Aquafaba (see here for recipe) in stiff peaks
12 grams of Agar-Agar powder
250 ml of coconut cream
250 ml of coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
250 ml of water
Juice and zest of 1 lime
35 grams of caster sugar


Line a baking tray (at least an inch deep) with grease-proof paper.
Lightly dust the paper with icing sugar.
First, make the agar-agar sugar syrup by putting the agar-agar, sugar and the cold water into a pot. Bring to the boil and let this simmer for about five minutes until the water becomes completely clear and both the sugar and agar-agar have dissolved.  Put this mixture to the side.
Mix together the coconut cream, coconut milk, lime juice and lime zest.
Mix together the agar-agar water and the coconut cream mix.
Gently fold in the aquafaba to combine; try to use light strokes so that as much of the air is maintained.
Pour contents into the prepared baking sheet.
Dust with some more icing sugar (and more lime zest if you like)
Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, but into small squares.
Eat and enjoy!


Now you could do this with different types of milk if you so wished.  You could try flavoured soy milks (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, banana) or you could even try with a nut milk for a nutty version (obviously not nut-safe) but this gives you an idea about the variety of things you could try.  A little bit of agar-agar and some aquafaba and you’re on your way to making sweet treats you never thought possible.

Well, until the next time my lovelies,

Hugs
xx








Thursday, 17 November 2016

Traditional Scottish Vegan Tablet Recipe - Step by Step photo's - An Idiot's Guide to Soya Condensed Milk

Good evening my cuddly bunny mittens,


Now I apologise in advance, for some this may feel like déjà vu because I have written a blog about this before.  However, I was making a fresh batch of this stuff for a couple of school fayres I’ve got coming up and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get the old camera out and take lots of pictures.

I’m talking about The Carefree Baker’s Vegan Scottish Tablet.  Now in my original blog (see here), I wrote a very descriptive blow by blow account of everything you need to make the tablet but when I was making it this time I made a lot more soya condensed milk than I had previously.  This is itself is no issue as it means that I could make more than one batch of tablet (as I have two fayres coming up) and therefore I might not have to make the condensed soya milk next week too.

But, rather than making 2 x 400ml of soya milk, I ended up with about 650ml instead and this required maths.  Yes, this evening I stood in my kitchen and did some good old fashioned arithmetic and my bemused son looked on and said “d’you need a hand mum?”  No thanks Son, I got this!

So let’s start at the very beginning.  This post will not be as descriptive as my original blog, but I wanted to show you the steps.

For this recipe, as I stated I ended up with 650ml of soya milk so I adapted the recipe slightly. 
As 650ml is 1.625 times the original amount (400ml), I multiplied the rest of the ingredients (here) by 1.625 as well.  But you probably won't have to do this..

As you can see I used Lidl's own sweetened Soya drink - it's the cheapest and it does the job!  I used two litres in the slow cooker (which was set at LOW).  Remember NO LID.




Put in slow cooker along with 100 grams of caster sugar.  Stir gently and then leave it.




Now, I've been perfectly honest in my original blog that this will take hours and hours and hours and ... (well you get the picture). 

Because I had used two litres of soya milk this took about 18 hours to get down to 650ml.  

Every hour or so give it a stir.  There will be a film over the top of the milk as it begins to evaporate (like a skin you get on top of hot milk if you leave it to sit).  Skim this off as and when necessary.  As the mixture reduces you'll see the lines down the side showing you where it started so you'll be able to (roughly) guess how much it has evaporated.
 So I took it out of the pot after about 18 hours.  I could have left it longer but to be honest I was going out and didn't want to leave it alone for a full working day so I took it out probably earlier than I should.

You can see in the picture it was about the same consistency as double (heavy) cream, It would have got thicker and darker had I left it.  This is no bad thing.  I covered the mixture in cling film.
 I let the jug of condensed milk cool down before I popped it in the fridge overnight.

The next day (today), I took it out the fridge to let it get back to room temperature and prepared my other ingredients.

As you can see I have rice milk, olive oil Pure (vegan and gluten free) dairy spread and caster sugar.

 This is my trusty 10 litre soup pot.  It weighs a ton but it is perfect for tablet.  You need a big pot but I've explained that in my original blog.

Melt the butter, add the sugar, the condensed soya milk and rice milk.  Let these melt together and stir regularly so that ingredients don't catch on the bum off the pot.

Let the mixture get up to boil.  It will rise up the sides of the pot quite dramatically, just reduce the heat slightly to make sure that it doesn't boil over.  Watch your fingers and hands.  You need to stir this every ten minutes or so and it is molten sugar lava.  It hurts like hell so please be careful!




 Prepare your tins.  I used two lined with grease-proof paper.  Make sure that these are ready to go before you enter the final stage of operation Sugar Lava!




 As the mixture reduces right down (it took slightly longer for me because I hadn't reduced the soya milk as much as I could have).  TIP:  the more condensed the soya milk is in the previous stage, the quicker the the tablet mixture will reduce at this stage.  To get to this point took about an hour for me, but it may take happen any time after about 35-40 minutes so keep an eye on it.  Vegan tablet takes longer to get to this stage than the conventional recipe so don't panic if yours takes longer, this is perfectly normal.

When you're stirring towards the end of this final stage, you'll notice that the mixture clears the bottom of the pot when you move the spoon.  As soon as you can see the bottom of the pan you know that you are ready to move on to Operation Whisk.
Using a hand held mixer, take the pot off the heat and whisk whisk whisk for at least 3 minutes.  You'll see the tablet change colour as more air gets into it.  It changes consistency too and becomes lighter in colour.

Being very careful, pour the mixture into your pre-prepared tray(s).  The majority will pour out easily but you'll have to spoon the rest out as it will begin to harden and stick to the sides of the pot.  This is why some of the above mixture looks smooth and the rest looks granulated.  It begins to harden really quickly so try and get it out of the pot as quickly as you can.

Using the back of a spoon, try to make sure it gets into all the corners of the tray.

Before it sets, cut lines into the tablet; this will make it easier to cut after it sets completely.

Leave it to cool and set for at least a couple of hours.

Cut and store in an air tight container.  

As this is vegan it keeps for as long as you need it (or as long as your sweet tooth will let you!).

I hope that this helps you all start making tablet.  Honestly it's not as hard as it seems and after a couple of tries I bet you will have mastered it.

Nighty night my lovelies,

Hugs
xx




Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Carefree Baker's Road Trip Down Memory Lane Lemon & Blueberry Cheesecake (Vegan Nut-Safe, Gluten-Free)

Merry morn my resplendent troubadours,

I remember when my Gran used to bake cheesecake it became a road trip.  A road trip you say?  Yes, a road trip.  To explain, back in the days of yore (early 80’s), we didn’t have the convenience of supermarkets and the small local stores did not sell such exotic items as cream cheese.  So, if we wanted a cheesecake then my grandparents would pack us grandkids (three of us) in the back of their tiny Ford Fiesta and we would head down the coast.  The reason for this trip, which usually involved a picnic, was because there was a small delicatessen in a town called Troon that sold proper unpasteurised cream cheese which was the main ingredient of my Gran’s cheesecake. 

I remember there was a health scare in the 80’s whereby it became illegal to sell unpasteurised cheese and we couldn’t get it anymore, my goodness my Gran was livid; she’d have to start using Philadelphia like the normal folk.

It’s strange, my memory of cheesecake as a child involves a long car journey and a picnic but I can’t actually remember the cheesecake itself. 

My mum’s idea of a cheesecake was the one that was found in the frozen aisle of the local supermarket; bless her, she hates puddings and therefore the idea of actually making one from scratch would have filled her with dread.  So my sister and I grew up in a family of dessert extremes; my Gran would travel for hours to get first class ingredients and my mum would buy whatever was cheapest in the supermarket.  I think I took my baking gene from my Gran; no bad thing surely.

I have my own family now and they all love cheesecake.  My eldest son loves a good New York cheesecake; thick and creamy with just vanilla as its’ flavour, my eldest daughter loves all things chocolate (as does her wee sister) but my youngest son will just eat anything sweet and is therefore non-plussed as long as it’s a great big “dodd” (Scottish slang for huge slice/piece).

None of my immediate family are allergic to the usual components of a cheesecake so I’ve always been able to follow a conventional recipe, however when making this for family members with varying dietary requirements it’s not actually any more hassle. 

This recipe is a no-bake bad-boy and therefore is really an assembly job rather than a “baking” job.  I’ve chosen lemon and blueberries but you could really use any citrus fruit and berry combo that you like.  Lemon and raspberry are also a smashing combination, so there your excuse to make it more than once!

So here we go...


The Carefree Bakers Vegan, Gluten-Free and Nut-Safe Lemon and Blueberry Cheesecake

For the base:

250 grams plain vegan, nut safe and gluten free biscuits (I used Tesco Free-From Digestive Biscuits)
100 grams of dairy-free spread
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon


For the squidgy bit

200 grams of dairy-free cream cheese (I used Tesco Free-From variety) at room temperature
140 grams of vegan whipped cream (see here for recipe)
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
250 grams of blueberries


Method

Gently melt the dairy-free spread in a pot.
Put the biscuits into a food processor and pulse until you get a fine mixture; you don’t want sand but a fine rubble will do.  If you are having a rubbish day, or you don’t have a food processor you could also but the biscuits in a food bag and whack whack whack with the back of a ladle or a rolling pin.
Once you’ve got your fine rubble, stir through the sugar and the lemon zest.
Add in the melted butter and mix it all together until everything is overly familiar.
Using the back of a spoon, press the crumb mixture onto the base of a spring-form pan (roughly 6-8 inches diameter).  Press it firmly so that the mixture is tightly packed.
Chill it in the fridge for at least one hour or until it is set firm.
While the base is chillin’, make the whipped cream (see recipe here).
Whip the cream till it is able to hold its’ own shape.
Whip together the cream cheese (should be at room temperature), sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar.
Gently fold in the whipped cream to combine.

Remove the base from the fridge and put a layer of berries directly on top of the crust, but save some for the top of the cheesecake.
Pour the lemon cream cheese filling on top of the berries.
Put the remaining berries on top of the cheesecake.
Put the cheesecake back in the fridge to set for at least eight hours until.
Serve it chilled with more of the decadent whipped cream (and fruit if you’re feeling guilty).
Eat and enjoy
  
See, no hardship, no trauma, just cheesecake.

Until the next time troops,

Hugs,
xx





Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Sunday Night Sensation to March off Monday Morning Malaise - Good Ol' Fashioned Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding

Don’t like Monday’s?  No?  Me neither, Monday’s suck.

Have you ever spent the day thinking about something and you just HAVE to have it.  I’m not talking “yeah, I quite fancy a wee bar of chocolate or maybe a bit of cake”, NO, I mean “oh my goodness, I MUST have...” (keep it clean lol), well today has been one of those days for me.  I was staying at my friends house last night (yes I occasionally have a night off) and the weather on the way home was so abysmal and cold and wet and windy that I just started to really hanker for something hot, steamy and sweet.  Then I remembered the various jams and marmalade that I had bought at the Good Food show last week and started to ponder the wild and wonderful things that I could conjure up in my kitchen.  But then I decided, nah, I don’t want anything to wacky.  I want good ol’ fashioned steamed pudding and if I’m gonna have a good ol’ fashioned steam pudding it has to be made with golden syrup.

The recipe for a traditional a steamed sponge is really simple and only has a few ingredients so when I modified it to make it gluten free and vegan I admit I was a bit concerned about the texture and taste.  The traditional recipe relies on the eggs to give it its usual taste and texture and whatever I did, I didn’t want to sacrifice those crucial elements.

So I gave it a try and I can’t believe how well the first attempt came out.  This is properly tasty.  My son calls it his dream pudding and has already had two bowls of it so far.

So here we have it.....

The Carefree Bakers’ Vegan, Gluten-Free and Nut-Safe Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding. 

Please note that you will require grease-proof paper and either a large rubber band or string (I used a rubber band).


Ingredients

175 grams dairy-free spread at room temperature (plus extra for greasing)
175 grams caster sugar
Three quarters of a cup of dairy free yoghurt
1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
175 grams of gluten-free self-raising flour
1 tbsp dairy-free milk
100 ml of golden syrup (about 4 large tablespoons) (or jam or curd, or treacle or whatever syrup takes your fancy!)
Pinch of salt

Method

Prepare a 1.2 litre (roughly two pint) pyrex or heatproof dish by thoroughly coating it with a good layer of butter.  Don’t be stingy with the butter, get it slapped in there and give it a full fat coating – none of this tiny little smear nonsense. 

In the bottom of this buttered dish add in your golden syrup (or other preference).
In a small bowl place your dairy-free yoghurt and you bicarbonate of soda.  Mix until combined and then leave the mixture to the side to become frothy.
As this mixture increases in volume, use this time to prepare your grease-proof paper “hat” for the pudding.  You’ll need a piece of grease-proof that is about 20 inches (40-50 cm) long.  Create a fold in the centre of paper and then create a pleat that is at least 2 inches (5cm) wide.  The reason for this is because as the pudding steams, it will rise up and the fold in the paper will allow the paper to expand along with the sponge rather than ripping a hole in it. 
On the side of the pleated greaseproof that will be touching the sponge, give a good smear of butter (no this recipe is not suitable for dieters!).
Fill and boil the kettle.

In another bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the frothy yoghurt mix into the butter cream mixture and lightly combine.
Sift in the flour and salt and lightly combine.  Do not beat.
Loosen slightly with the milk and stir this through to combine.
Scoop the lightly fluffy mixture on top of the golden syrup.
Place over the grease-proof pleated hat.
Using the rubber band or string, secure the paper around the bowl.
You’ll need a pot that is big enough to accommodate the bowl, pour a little of the boiled water from the kettle into the bottom of the pot but not too much. 
Place the bowl into the pot and see how far the water comes up the sides of the bowl and add more water until the water is about three quarters of the way up the side of the bowl.

Put on the lid and over a low heat, let it steam for about 2 and a half to three hours.

You will probably need to add more water so don’t leave the house or go anywhere!
Keep the water topped up so that the pot and pudding dinnae burn!
After about two and a half hours use a skewer in the middle of the pudding; if it comes out clear, it’s good to go.
Very carefully remove the bowl.
Place a clean plate over the top of the bowl and flip it over.

Because you used all that butter at the beginning you shouldn’t have any bother getting the pudding out of the bowl.

Scrape out any of the syrup from the bowl and add to the top of your steaming luscious pudding.
Serve immediately with as much sensuous creamy custard abandon as you can handle.
Take a large spoon and dive right in!
Ignore everyone else and enjoy.
  
So there you have it.  Once you’ve mastered creating the “hat” this pudding is a doddle and should be your weekly go-to dessert.

 
Happy Sunday night guys, this pudding should stave off the Monday blues for just a bit longer.

Hugs
xx




Friday, 11 November 2016

Revenge of the Carrot Tops! Gluten-Free, Vegan & Nut Safe Carrot Cupcakes with Vegan Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Good evening my nesting little hens,

I was looking through the fridge today and I found, in the salad drawer, some carrots that were a bit worse for wear.  I don’t remember buying them and I’ve obviously stuffed them in the back of the fridge thinking that I would use them at some point in time.  They weren’t the prettiest of things but in essence there was nothing wrong with them.

My kids hate carrots; they won’t touch them cooked or raw and I’ll be honest, those orange little roots ain’t my favourite either but as a grown up I feel that I am supposed to be a positive influence on my kids and eat all the colours of the rainbow.  I do try but I often fail and this results in the delinquent limp veg that I found this afternoon.

Now, if there is one thing that you need to know about me is that I hate waste and I mean, I REALLY hate waste.   We just don’t have the budget for randomly throwing stuff away and even my dodgy looking carrots were no exception.  So as I stared at them lying there all pathetic on the counter-top I thought “now what will I do with you?” and it hit me.

Little carrot cakes; surely my kids would eat carrot cakes?  It would also be a great way of hiding a vegetable in something that they adore (cake).  Now I am not advocating that you use a sugary treat as a way of getting your kids to eat their five a day, no, I’m really not endorsing that idea, but this may just be a way of sneakily getting something healthy into them in the form of something unhealthy.  That’s psychology that is!

So here we are..

The Carefree Bakers Gluten-Free, Vegan and Nut-Safe Carrot Cupcakes with Vegan Orange Cream Frosting.

Ingedients

200 grams of gluten-free self-raising flour – sifted for extra air
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
175 grams light brown sugar
zest of 1 whole orange
100 grams of raisins
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Half a cup of vegan yoghurt
150ml sunflower oil
200g carrots, finely, grated


For the icing

300 grams vegan soft cheese (I used Tesco “Free From” variety) – at room temperature
100 grams butter, softened - at room temperature
150 grams of icing sugar, sifted – no lumps please
1 to 2 tablespoons of juice (from the zested orange)

  
Method

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.
In a small mixing bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda to the vegan yoghurt and put aside while you deal with the rest of the ingredients.  The mixture will increase in volume and become frothy.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon, raisins and orange zest.
Stir the grated carrot into the dry ingredients to coat both the carrot and raisins with flour – this should stop them sticking together in one large clump.
Add the oil and then stir in the frothy yoghurt mixture.  Mix until familiar but do not beat!
Divide the mixture evenly between the cases and bake for approximately 20-22 minutes until a skewer poked in comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack before icing.
For the icing, beat the vegan butter until really soft, then beat in the soft cheese, icing sugar and orange juice – you might not need to add all the juice – use your judgement, you want a nice thick, creamy and smooth butter cream.
Use a palette or cutlery knife to swirl the icing on top of the cakes.
You could grate a little extra orange zest over the top of the icing if you fancied being creative.

So, what’s stopping you?  Go, on, get the oven on!

Eat and enjoy my lovelies,

Hugs

xx

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Gluten-Free, Vegan and Nut Safe Poppy Seed and Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes.... A tribute to my Papa. Lest we Forget...

Hello my carefree friends,

First of all I need to apologise for not having posted in so many days.  My household has been a hot bed of bugs and viruses this week and I have been dealing with my kids being ill, my husband being ill and also my own stomach flu. 

There are so many things to enjoy about this time of year but man oh man my washing machine has been working overtime for the past few days just trying to keep up with the influx of contaminated bed linen and towels.  Seriously, it hasn’t been pretty!

But, I am here, I have returned and today I want to pay tribute to someone who was the most amazing person you could ever have hoped to meet.  In acknowledgement of Remembrance Day this Sunday (the 13th of November) I want to pay tribute to all those brave souls who went to fight in the war.

My Papa was a Normandy veteran and as a child I never understood what that meant.  When I grew up and waited for him to talk about his experiences during WW2, he never did.  He was just like that. He visited Normandy on several occasions after the war but these were very quiet and respectful affairs and still he didn’t discuss with us the horrors that he had witnessed.  I don’t know whether he was just trying to spare us the details or whether it was because he himself didn’t want to dwell on the pain, suffering and fear.

When he passed away in 2009 a huge part of me died too and it wasn’t until we were clearing out his personal possessions that we found papers and documents relating to his time on board one of the war ships that participated in the Normandy landings that we learned how he actually felt during that most terrifying time.

I feel almost sheepish because there is no way that I feel I can truly honour him.  I can wear a poppy, I can light a candle in his memory and I can tell his grandchildren what an amazing soul he was, but other than that I don’t really know what else to do.  I’d give anything for a cuddle sometimes, no matter how old I get.

But he was lucky.  I was lucky.  I knew my Papa, and my grandfather who also fought.  Both my maternal and paternal grandfather’s returned from the savages of war but so many didn’t. 

Please wear a poppy, light a candle.  Pay your respects. Just be thankful; lest we forget.....

It seems a bit crude writing a recipe but I haven’t done one in a while so I feel that I really should.  I thought about Poppy’s and thought about making cakes with red iced poppy’s on top but I just don’t think it’s appropriate.  No, I wanted to bake something that I know that my papa would have loved with a good cuppa.... Gluten-Free, Vegan and Nut-Safe Poppy Seed and Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes, so here we go!

Ingredients:

For the cupcake batter

380 grams of gluten free self raising flour
21 grams of poppy seeds
Quarter of teaspoon xanthan gum
Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
Half a teaspoon salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
180 mls of dairy free yoghurt
110 – 120 mls dairy-free milk
Two tablespoons of golden syrup
50 grams of dairy free spread
65 grams of caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

For the drizzle

200 grams of icing sugar
Remaining juice of (the above) lemon


Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Lightly grease 10 cups of a 12-cup cupcake tin or use cupcake/muffin cases.
In a small bowl mix the yoghurt and the bicarbonate of soda together and set aside.  As you prepare the other ingredients this mixture will begin to increase in volume.
Whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, xanthan gum, salt, and lemon zest.  Mix until all these dry ingredients are well combined then set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, cream the dairy free spread with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Into the butter/sugar mixture add the milk, vanilla, lemon juice, golden syrup  and mix until smooth.
Add the yoghurt mixture into the butter mixture and fold ingredients to incorporate but don’t beat!
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently combine but do not over mix.  Do not beat this mixture as you will make the cupcakes stodgy.
Divide the batter equally between the cupcake cases.
Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes or until a knife comes out of the centre of the cupcake clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack.
Once the cupcakes are cool enough to handle, remove them from the cupcake tin and place directly on the rack.
Using a toothpick, make two or three small holes in the top of each cake.
Mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice; the drizzle really soaks into the sponge.
Using a teaspoon, drizzle a little of the icing on top of each cake and let it ooze into each cupcake.
Eat and enjoy!

Whatever you do this weekend guys, please take two minutes to be silent and remember those who have fought for us....

Hugs
xx






 

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