Anzacs cookies: cute version

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I’ve been very happy with the Anzacs recipe I’ve been using, except for the fact that I find the cookies fall apart too easily.

This time I tried making them in tiny paper cups, and it worked really well. I also used baby oats instead of rolled oats for a finer texture.

You don’t lose any oat crumbs as you can simply pour them into your mouth! Plus they look pretty and cute (^.^)

Gluten-free waffles

Gluten-free waffles

Gluten-free waffles

I’m afraid I’ve been very slack at updating my blog. The truth is I have experimented with several gluten-free waffle recipes, one of which was wonderful – but because I didn’t make notes, I can’t remember which one it was now :(!

The last recipe I tried was from the book Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America. This recipe uses ‘Flour Blend #5′ which of all the flour blends in the book, is the one with the highest protein content. As you can read in my earlier notes, I modified the flour mix slightly too. If my inference is correct, this could be the reason for these waffles having a rather bread-like texture. I personally prefer my waffles more crisp, so perhaps I should experiment with using different flour blends with this same recipe.

This recipe also uses additional whisked egg whites to add more lift to the batter (just as my grandmother’s waffle recipe does). Actually I haven’t noticed a huge difference between waffle recipes that used the extra egg whites and those that don’t (although others swear that whipped egg whites are critical). Since I’m lazy and would also prefer not to use up four eggs on one batch of waffles, I’d probably choose another recipe as my basic waffle staple.

One thing I do like about this recipe is that it’s not as oily as the first waffle recipe I tried. Overall, it’s quite a good recipe.

1 1/3 cups (7.7 oz) Flour Blend #5: rice, tapioca, soy flours – see here.
1/2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt [omitted]
1/2 cup (4 oz) sugar [omitted]
2 eggs
1/4 cup (2 oz.) butter, melted
3/4 cup (6 oz.) milk
2 egg whites

1. Mix together dry ingredients.
2. Mix together wet ingredients separately.
3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix thoroughly.
4. Whip egg whites to medium peaks.
5. Temper egg whites by adding one-third of batter to egg whites and mixing gently.
6. Fold tempered whites into remaining batter.
7. Bake in oiled waffle iron.

Related posts:
A waffles novice
Four-grain waffles

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

This is one of the other things I made for my recent tea party. For food intolerance readers, sorry this one breaks all the rules — it’s got sugar, eggs, butter and wheat flour! I was baking for the eating pleasure of others…

I used this basic recipe with some modifications.

115g butter
60g castor sugar [or to taste, less is also ok, especially if you use sweet fruits]
115g flour — used all white flour and substituted two tablespoons with homemade dried okara (simply because I had some to use up)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin [steam or microwave the pumpkin]
chopped walnuts to taste

To prepare the nuts: roast wholenuts over very low heat in a frying pan without oil. I like to chop them by placing in a deep bowl then using scissors. If you chop them first, the very small bits burn easily when roasting. Use a coarse sieve to remove bits of bitter skin or small burnt scraps.

Cream fat & sugar.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Fold in sifted flour and baking power.
Add pumpkin and walnuts this to sponge mixture & mix well.
Put into 1 loaf tin.
Bake 40 mins at 375˚F / 180˚C or until done.

The final result was very light and spongy! However, I did use a bit more flour than the recipe amount and it was a bit dry. I’ve made this basic recipe countless times before and learnt the following:

1) It’s usually very moist, because of the high butter content, so an oily kind of moist.

2) Don’t overdo the amount of fruit puree (banana, pumpkin, peach etc. – anything soft and mashable) as it results in a batter that has too much liquid and you end up with a dense cake (canceling out all the hard work in creaming to introduce an airy texture!).

3) ALWAYS take the trouble to do the creaming stage properly, don’t rush the process. The light and airy creamed mixture will impact the final texture of the cake greatly.

Be careful of emulsification, which happens when you add too much egg at one time, as I experienced before. I now beat all the eggs in a bowl and add it to the creamed mixture one tablespoon at a time.

Read more about creaming here and here.

12 Sep 09 update: Made this cake again today using homemade red bean paste (sweetened to taste) instead of pumpkin. Very successful and delicious!

Improvised gluten-free muffins (basic recipe)

improvised gluten-free pear muffins

improvised gluten-free pear muffins

I remember the time when I was really scared to start gluten-free baking because it seemed so complicated, so many types of flour, so easy for things to go wrong, for the baking to fail. A couple of weeks ago, I baked some muffins (if you can call them that) without following any gluten-free recipe book and amazingly, the product was edible!

All I did was to try a direct substition of wheat flour with a gluten-free flour blend in my original basic muffin recipe. Yes, the very first basic muffin recipe, which I subsequently stopped using when I found basic recipe no. 2 gave better results. Basic muffin recipe no. 1 is so easy that you can easily by heart:

2 cups flour
1 cup milk/liquid
1/4 cup oil/butter
1 egg (2 , if you prefer)
1 tsp baking powder
other ingredients of choice – e.g. 1 chopped apple, handful of nuts/dried fruit etc.

I used exactly those quantities together with a few large chunks of tinned pears, and made up the 1 cup liquid with half milk and half pear juice from the tin. Apart from the pears and pear juice, no added sugar. (If you are avoiding salicylates, remember to choose pears in syrup as commercial pear juice contains the peel which has salicylates. Of course if you are on an anti-candida diet, the syrup is probably worse!)

The gluten-free flour blend is the one I described earlier:

8oz/225g brown rice flour
8oz/225g tapioca starch
8oz/225g soy flour

No xanthan gum, no gelatine.

The batter was extremely wet, but I decided to go ahead without adding extra flour. The consistency (and eventual effect) reminded on a crazy improvisation attempt when I dumped a load of mashed pumpkin into a gluten-free sponge cake recipe, thereby completely altering the ratio of liquid to other ingredients — a crazy attempt which I did not blog about because I can’t even remember exactly what I did (brain must have gone on strike, hence giving rise to the mad improvisation to begin with); started out being utterly disappointed with the result and subsequently very pleased when put aside my preconceptions and realised the texture was quite appealing and the taste pretty good.

The result:

It looked beautiful at the end of baking, but collapsed as it cooled after coming out of the oven, just as this gluten-free bean bread did. I’ve discovered the quick bread gluten-free recipe that doesn’t sink is this one that uses gelatine as well.

Taste-wise, I was very pleased although visitors to my home who tasted a bite responded only with a grimace masquerading as a polite smile :). Texture-wise, I’ll repeat what I’ve said in my other gluten-free baking entries; it reminds me of Southeast Asian kueh or steamed cakes, soft and very close-textured, no ‘crumb’, kind of squishy.

The overall effect of the non-wheat taste and texture is certainly very reminiscent of local desserts, so perhaps if I dropped names like ‘muffin’ or ‘cake’ and called it kueh, people would have different expectations and not react so negatively towards my gluten-free baking!

Weight-volume ratios in gluten-free baking

In my last posting giving a rice, tapioca and soy gluten-free flour mix, I provided the quantities in weight measures:

8oz/225g white rice flour
8oz/225g tapioca starch
8oz/225g defatted soy flour

These are also provided in the original recipe book,  Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America, in terms of volume measures:

1 1/2 cups white rice flour
1 3/4 cups  tapioca starch
2 1/4 cups defatted soy flour

However, it’s worth remembering that different flours have varying weight to volume ratios. Given that ‘alternative’ non-wheat flours can be prepared in many ways, one cannot be sure that the type used by the recipe book author is the same as the one you are using. For example, I’ve noticed that white rice flour produced for Chinese cooking seems to be finer and more white than white rice flour available in Indian grocery shops, and of course these are quite different from the brown rice flour from the organic shop.Even for regular, non-gluten-free baking, it’s always better to use weight measures for accuracy. (See also my page on Flours.)

In Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America, the base measurement is in weight, as each flour blend recipe makes up 1.5lb, so it’s better to go with the weight measures rather than the volume measures.

In my case, I also substitute flours a lot. As I mentioned, I replaced the white rice flour with brown rice flour and defatted soy flour with regular organic soy flour (US product, purchased in Phoon Huat; possibly different from Asian soy flours and homemade soy flours). So if you are a reckless substituter like me — I must be congenitally predisposed to being unable to follow recipes exactly :) — always use weight measures.

After substitution, these are the approximate weight-volume ratios I ended up with — quite different from the ones in the recipe book:

8oz/225g brown rice flour = slightly less than 1 3/4 cups
8oz/225g tapioca starch = 1 3/4 cups + 1 Tbs
8oz/225g soy flour = slightly less than 2 cups

The Muffin Method

Just came across a very detailed explanation of the muffin method with tips on how to do it properly. Much better than the sketchy descriptions I’ve written :).

Please have a look here at the ‘Pastry Methods & Techniques‘ blog.

Sorghum scones (gluten-free)

Happy Lunar New Year and wishing everyone good health (isn’t that the most important thing?) in the Year of the Ox ^_^!

Here is quick bread recipe from The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book but a change from my usual muffins.

Sorghum is grain commonly used in South Asian, where it is known as jowar (see my page on gluten-free flours in Indian cooking). Prior to my interest in gluten-free flours, I had only heard of sorghum in the context of the Zhang Yimou movie “Red Sorghum” 高梁, starring Gong Li, which takes place around a distillery for sorghum liquor.

These scones have a hard, crisp shell, perhaps reminiscent of rock buns, quite different from English scones. Unlike cake-like muffins which can be heated up in a microwave, wrapped in a paper towel, these scones need to be reheated in an oven bring out the crisp texture of the crust.

Gluten-free sorghum scones

Gluten-free sorghum scones

I made some tweaks to the recipe in the book to omit cumin, salt and sugar. Below are the ingredients I used.

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups (175g) sorghum flour
1/ 2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/2 cup (80g) brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xantham or guar gum
1/2 cup raisins

WET INGREDIENTS

4 Tbs (55g) butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (160g) plain yoghurt or 1/2 cup (120ml) milk

1) Preheat oven to 230°C.
2) Mix dry ingredients.
3) Beat the butter with hand mixer as if creaming (the original recipe involves creaming butter and 30g sugar).
4) Add beaten eggs and yoghurt to butter.
5) Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined.
6) Stir in raisins.
7) Spoon the dough into large mounds onto a greased baking sheet, as I did. Alternatively, pat into a large round to be cut into wedges after baking.
8) Bake for 12 to 15 mins. Be careful they don’t burn. You might want to turn down the oven temperature halfway through or cover the scones with tin foil.

Verdict: Super! Tastes great, nice texture, easy to make. Delicious plain or with butter or cream and jam.

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