Gluten-free date & nut drop scones

A big thank you to Pattycake for this terrific recipe! My family has been enjoying them as well, which is amazing because my ‘alternative’ baking usually does not go down well with them :D — proof of the success of this recipe.

What’s amazing is also the combination of healthy grains: brown rice flour, chickpea/garbanzo bean flour, as well as flax seed meal!

I got some dates from the fresh fruit section of the supermarket. There are several different varieties in both Cold Storage and NTUC. As a dried fruit, dates are not recommended for those avoiding high salicylate foods or on an anti-candida diet.

My tweaks:
– reduced maple syrup from 4 Tbs to 2 Tbs. With only 2Tbs, maple syrup taste is very subtle, probably wouldn’t have noticed if I’d omitted it altogether.
– anyway, the dates are so sweet, there’s no need for any additional sweetener! I can’t even eat these these jam because the sweetness would be overwhelming.

Have a look at the wonderful texture:

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Improved recipe for gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread

I loved this recipe so much that I made it again with twice the quantities and with some tweaks to try and improve the result.

I modified the quantities of ingredients given in the recipe in my last posting. The quantities this time I used were:

FOUR FLOUR BEAN MIX
chickpea/garbanzo bean flour – 1/3 part
green/mung bean flour – 1/3 part
sorghum/ jowar flour – 1/3 part
tapioca starch – 1 part
cornstarch – 1 part

DRY INGREDIENTS
Four Flour Bean Mix (see above) – 4 cups
Xantham gum – 3 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

[omitted brown sugar and egg replacer]

WET INGREDIENTS
Eggs – 4
Butter, melted – 6 Tbs
Light argave syrup [in place of honey] – 2 Tbs
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
Water about 1/4 cup

METHOD: Muffin method

Having had problems with tunneling of large airholes and heavy texture the last time, I did away with the use of an electric mixer to avoid over-beating. I made this in exactly the same way I make muffins – quick and easy, by hand.

1) Sift all dry ingredients thoroughly.

2) Mix wet ingredients.

3) Mix dry and wet ingredients until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

4) Pour into greased baking tins. Do not fill tins more than half-full as the batter will rise about three times its volume. This happened even though I reduced the amount of baking powder to the same quantity I use for my muffins.

5) Bake at 180°C for 55 to 60 mins, covering with aluminum foil after 30 mins.

When the loaves come out the oven, as they cool, they will rapidly deflate (see photo above). I’ve never seen this happen before with other baked goods. However, the final result was still pretty good. The photo below illustrates the light crumb texture that looks remarkably like ‘real’ bread.

Gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread

Today I tried out the basic yeast-free bread recipe from The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman, using the Four Flour Bean Mix described in my previous posting with the standard supermarket flours using in Indian cooking (Mustafa being the only supermarket I know that stocks them, though!).

The result was rather uneven: some parts did not rise much – the very smooth, close-textured parts – and other parts had huge air bubbles.

However, taste-wise and in terms of ‘mouth-feel’, I’m pleasantly surprised! The very green smell from the green bean flour disappeared after baking, and the bread was springy to the touch, much like real bread (despite the cake-like appearance). Actually, the texture reminds me very much of kueh lapis!

I tried it with a variety of savoury and sweet toppings as well as plain with butter, and it tasted fine every time. I couldn’t stop eating… how wonderful to be able to eat ‘bread’ and not be worrying about exceeding my wheat & gluten limit.

The recipe for a small loaf:

DRY INGREDIENTS

2 cups Four Flour Bean Mix : I used 1/3 part chickpea flour, 1/3 part green bean flour, 1/3 part sorghum flour, 1 part cornstarch, 1 part tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
3 Tbs brown sugar [which I reduced to 2 Tbs – still rather sweet]
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Egg Replacer [omitted; Hagman uses this to provided additional protein and leavening power]
1/2 tsp salt

WET INGREDIENTS

Eggs – 2 plus 1 white [I used 3 small whole eggs, also because I omitted the Egg Replacer]
2 Tbs melted butter [replaced with ghee as I was too lazy to melt butter!]
1 Tbs honey [replaced with light argave syrup]
3/4 cup buttermilk [used substitute]
approx 1/3 cup water [used much, much less]

[Hagman also uses optional dough enhancer, which I have omitted completely here.]

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease loaf pan(s) and dust lightly with rice flour.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg white(s). Add melted butter, honey and buttermilk. Blend with mixer on low speed.

Add dry ingredients and continue to blend on low speed.

Add ‘sufficient water to make the dough the consistency of cake batter.’ This was the hard part! What is the correct consistency? I’ve seen a whole range of consistencies of cake batters. Anyway, using my judgement, I only needed to add about a tablespoon of water. The batter was strange-looking because of all those sticky flours, the cornstarch and tapioca starch, not at all like cake batter.

Beat 1 minute on high.

Spoon into prepared pans and bake for 55 to 60 mins, covering with aluminum foil after 30 mins.

Problems

* The bread rose tremendously in the oven the collapsed afterwards, which suggests that I should reduce the amount of leavening agent next time.

* The texture was very uneven, it did not affect the taste, but certainly is less than ideal. Bette Hagman constantly gives strict instructions to follow recipes exactly as substituting ingredients may end up with a different result. As usual, I can never follow a recipe precisely so I guess I will have to keep experimenting.

* Hagman also suggests that overly dense texture might be due too much liquid, and from my experience with muffins (which is what this essentially is – a muffin method, dry + wet ingredients then mix) is that it could also be case of over-mixing. I might just make this by hand next time; the mixer is unecessary and might have contributed to the over-mixing.

Verdict

Whatever the problems, I was really pleased with the result. I fear the little test loaf in the freezer won’t last long at all. Am definitely making this again, and at double the quantity :).

Here are Hagman’s quantities for a large loaf:

DRY INGREDIENTS
Four Flour Bean Mix (see above) – 4 cups
Xantham gum – 3 tsp
Brown sugar – 1/3 cup
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Baking powder – 1 rounded tablespoon
Egg replacer – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

WET INGREDIENTS
Eggs – 3 plus 2 whites
Butter, melted – 6 Tbs
Honey – 2 Tbs
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
Water (more or less) – 1/2 cup

31/10/08 Update: experimented with this recipe a second time, making some tweaks and getting a much better result. Read more here: Improved recipe for gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread.

Chye tau kueh (fried savoury radish cake)

Recently, some friends gobbled down two plates of chye tau kueh from the hawker centre in front of me whilst I munched on my gluten-free carob muffin. They felt a bit guilty comparing their fried dish with my healthy snack but actually I really wished I could eat chye tau kueh too!

I came home and flipped through my mountain of cookbooks and finally found a somewhat poorly-written recipe for ‘Singapore-Styled Stir-Fried Turnip Pudding 星洲炒蘿蔔糕’ in a Hong Kong produced cookbook called Asian Snacks Cooking Course 亞洲小食製作教程.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a more authentic recipe in any of my Malaysian cookbooks (an excuse to buy even more :) ?!?). Anyway, it worked really well so am sharing here with you. You may want to compare this recipe with the one from Lily’s Wai Sek Hong.

This is a great snack option that’s wheat- and gluten-free, also no sugar. As long as you don’t find fried foods too unhealthy :).

INGREDIENTS FOR STEAMED RADISH CAKE

960g white radish/daikon
320g rice flour

Wash, peel and chop the daikon.

Use a blender to puree it, then using a sieve, squeeze out as much juice as possible. You need 3 cups of daikon juice.

Mix rice flour with daikon juice in a pot over low heat. The original recipe only uses the juice, but I put in all the daikon pulp as well so as not to waste it.

Stir until it the mixture thickens. This part requires careful attention as it can take quite a while to thicken on low heat but if the stove is too hot, it will clump together very quickly.

Pour the thickened batter into a greased mould, such as an aluminium cake tin. A 9-inch round tin is actually better than the one I used in the photo because it won’t be so full, and because the cake won’t be in such a thick layer, it will take a shorter time to be fully cook. Dark-coloured heavy cake tins are not good for steaming, they don’t seem to conduct heat very well.

Steam for 1 hour. Test for doneness with a chopstick, which should come out clean.


FRIED RADISH CAKE

Cut the steamed and cooled cake into cubes.

Fry ingredients of your choice until fragrant, such as garlic, shallots, minced meat, red or green chilli, spring onions. Add seasonings of your choice.  Traditionally, this is cooked with thick dark soya sauce and preserved turnip and preserved Chinese sausages are a must, with a special chilli sauce for those who like it spicy.

Add the steamed radish cake cubes and fry until browned.

Push ingredients to one side of the wok (or remove from pan), add a beaten egg and when semi-cooked, toss well with all the other ingredients.

My version shown below is cooked with salt (or organic tamari), garlic, stir-fried shallots, green and red capsicums, and topped with raw spring onions and deep fried shallots.

Verdict: close enough to the real thing to keep me happy! Loved the distinct daikon taste in the cake. Now if I can just figure out how to make preserved turnip or chye poh at home, the other members of the family might actually enjoy this as much as me :).

Nearly 1kg of daikon makes a lot of chye tau kueh and I had this in my lunch bento for days!! Next time I’ll only make half the quantity!

Gluten-free pumpkin muffins with carob topping

Here’s another experiment with alternative flours and this one is actually gluten-free, adapted from The Best Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book. This is my first completely wheat and gluten-free recipe made with alternative flours intended to mimic the result of wheat flour.

I didn’t have the exact combination of flours used in the book’s recipe for Squash Muffins, so I improvised from things I had in the kitchen, and I was pleasantly surprised by the palatable result. So you too should not shy away from experimenting with alternative flour mixes. To be on the safe side, I added 1 tsp of xantham gum, which not required in the original recipe.

The original also calls for pure cocoa powder, which I replaced with carob powder.

The pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient – from savoury dishes to sweet desserts, that I often like to have one lying around in the fridge as a staple, which explains the frequency of pumpkin recipes on this blog.

gluten-freecarobpumpkinmuffins-0.jpg

WET INGREDIENTS
170g butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed — i didn’t have enough so made up the remainder with pureed canned pears (which I have frozen in ice cube trays for easy usage) and 1/2 cup of red lentil dip. The latter was added by accident as I thought it was pureed pear! I wasn’t concerned about the mix-up though, remember how Jessica Seinfeld puts all sorts of vegetables into sweet cakes in her Deceptively Delicious recipes.

DRY INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup sugar [reduced to 1/4 cup]

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 tapioca flour
1/2 cup sweet potato flour

3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins, coated in a bit of flour to prevent them sinking in the batter
1/2 cup hulled sunflower or pumpkin seeds, oven dried and ground in a coffee grinder

TOPPING
2 Tbs carob powder
2 Tbs butter [I guessed the amount, and ended up with probably about twice that amount!]
2 Tbs cinnamon
2 Tbs brown sugar

1) Preheat oven to 200°C and grease muffin tins.
2) Beat butter and sugar until light & fluffy.
3) Beat eggs and add into butter/sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time and beat well after each addition.
4) Add mashed pumpkin and mix well.
5) Sift the dry ingredients together to mix thoroughly.
6) Add dry ingredients, raisins and ground seeds to wet mixture. Mix well
7) Spoon into muffin tins,
8) Spoon on topping mixture.
9) Bake in lower third of oven at 200°C for 20 minutes or until well done.

Verdict: The flours I used seem to have a relatively neutral taste and this muffin tastes less ‘odd’ than the Kamut cranberry muffins. The carob topping seemed far too liquid, although it hardened nicely. Could have done without the carob topping. Can’t detect pumpkin taste. I like the way the ground seeds add body and protein to this muffin.

Incidentally, I recently came across this excellent baking blog, Pattycake.ca, that includes many recipes for those facing gluten-free restrictions (and other special diets). Like me, the author enjoys the creative challenge of food restrictions!

Okara sponge cake

Here’s another way to use the leftover lees from making soya bean milk, as well as a way to work with alternatives to wheat flour. This recipe from Shurtleff’s Book of Tofu doesn’t do away with wheat flour entirely, though, so it’s more for those who are interested in some degree of food rotation rather than those with a true wheat intolerance problem.

okaraspongecake-0.jpg

Ingredients

1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup fresh okara [if using dried okara, add about 3/4 cup of soya bean milk to reconstitute to consistency of fresh okara]
3 eggs, separate yolks and white
4 tablespoons honey [replaced with light agave syrup]
1/2 tsp vanilla

Method

1) Sift together dry ingredients.
2) Beat egg yolks, then combine with okara, honey and vanilla.
3) Stir dry ingredients into egg-okara mixture.
4) Whisk egg whites till stiff peaks form. Fold gently into the rest of the mixture.
5) Spoon into lightly oiled pan and bake at 200°C. If making cupcakes, they will take at least 20mins or until toothpick comes out clean. The high temperature gives a strong browning effect to the cake.

You can see I made this into cupcakes, which is what I normally do with cake recipes. It’s easy to freeze the batch and take out one or two for a snack bento. I usually wrap them individually in paper towels which soak up any moisture from defrosting cakes, and also help to keep them from drying out should I decide to microwave them before eating. Most of the time though, cupcakes and muffins which defrost on their own inside my snackbox taste great without any microwaving at the time of eating.

Next time, I won’t use paper casings. As there’s no fats in this cake, it sticks like crazy to the paper :P.

okaraspongecake-1.jpg

The texture is distinctive, more bouncy than normal cakes and also light and airy. It reminds me of some Chinese New Year mini sponge cake. Perhaps this is the kind of texture that’s created when no fats are used. It’s also flavourful without being sweet. A good change from same old muffins in my snack bento.

Buckwheat pancakes with red bean paste

Buckwheat red bean pancakes

As I wrote earlier, using buckwheat is one way to rotate foods and keep food intolerance reactions at bay. With a 1kg bag of buckwheat flour to use up, I made some more pancakes today. I was inspired to make these red bean rolls from photos of various wagashi in the recipe books I have.

I found the all-buckwheat pancakes the last time a bit too brittle in texture and deduced that this was because of the low gluten content of buckwheat. So instead of simply mixing it with plain all-purpose flour, I chose bread flour which has a higher percentage of gluten, and thus I figured would produce a more pliable pancake.

Pancakes

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup plain bread flour/high-gluten flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
approx. 320ml soya milk [or any other kind of milk]
2 tsp melted butter

Mix flours & baking powder together.

Mix beaten egg into flour, then add milk a bit at a time until consistency of pouring cream is reached.

Beat in the melted butter.

I cooked the pancakes in a 10cm blini pan on medium-high heat. Low heat means that they are in the pan longer and a hard surface develops, whereas I wanted soft pancakes that could be rolled.

Red Bean Filling

There are clear instructions from Just Hungry – but leave out the salt and sugar and if you are short of time, there’s no need for overnight (or any) soaking, although soaking will shorten the cooking time and save electricity/gas. Like 日式和菓子, one of my wagashi recipe books from Hong Kong, Just Hungry tells us to boil the beans quickly once, throw away the water then boil again.

As I already had cooked red beans in the fridge from the day before, I simply put some in a skillet and gently stirred it around over low heat with sugar added to taste (which can be omitted if so desired). This dries out the cooked beans to make it into a paste and you can mash the beans up at the same time. Don’t overcook or it will get too dry and have crispy bits forming – at the crispy stage, it will have become the equivalent of Mexican refried beans (inspiration for a whole new dish ^_^?)!

If the red bean paste is too crumbly and not sticking together, mix in oil till you get a nice paste consistency. I used cold-pressed organic safflower oil but it imparted a distinct taste when I compared it with the oil-free red beans; although I didn’t notice the safflower oil taste when I ate the dish later in the day. So remember to use a flavourless oil, or choose one that will enhance the dish. Coconut oil might be worth a try, but can be overpowering so best to mix with another oil. Butter would probably be good. I’ve heard that the reason red bean paste in Chinese restaurants and food stalls tastes so good is because lard is used :).

Finally, spoon some red bean paste in the middle of a pancake and roll it up!

Leftover pancakes can be frozen (with paper or cling film in between the pancakes) and I usually leave my cooked red bean in the fridge, where it soon disappears into many different dishes.

I put a couple in today’s snack bento, but they fell apart and also weren’t that nice cold. I popped them into the microwave and yumminess was soon restored (^_^)!

9/2/08 update: In my second attempt to put these into a bento, I deconstructed the pancakes & filling as illustrated below. It worked much better this way.

bento buckwheat pancakes redbean 400