Cumin Seed Cloud Bread

Cloud bread

As my lovely other half was recently diagnosed as Type 1 diabetic this year. Quite quickly our usual cooking endeavours in low carb and gluten-free for fitness reasons took a more serious turn. This was followed by lots of experimenting in the kitchen, looking into ways to replace daily things like rice, pasta and bread. We still eat those of course, but we’re saving those blood sugar spikes for special occasions.

So here is my take on “Cloud Bread” which has been doing the rounds on fitness and health websites. First of all, as a disclaimer, this is not bread, this is not like delicious chewy floury bread. However, texture wise, it’s a bit eating the tops off soufflés! Out of the oven they a light and fluffy.  They flatten down slightly overnight should you want to take them into a packed lunch, but they still maintain being light and delicious. The original recipe asks for cream cheese, honey or stevia. I have none of those in this version. Only greek yogurt. And as I was making these for a super delicious home cooked vegetarian Indian meal, it seemed fitting to make it savoury.

Makes 6.

Cumin Seed Cloud Bread:
3 eggs
3 tbsp greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp cumin seeds
small pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Prep a flat baking tray with silicon mats sprayed with non-stick baking spray. Or prep some grease proof paper.

In a heavy bottomed pan, take 1 tbsp of cumin seeds and dry roast until fragrant. Set aside.

Separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks into a small bowl and whisk together with the yogurt, salt and dry roasted cumin seeds. Put your egg white into a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) add the cream of tartar and whisk until they form stiff peaks.

With a rubber spatula slowly fold in the egg yolk mixture, careful to keep as much air as possible. Once just mixed, gently fold out six cloud shapes on the baking tray, and sprinkle with the remaining cumin seeds. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, turn your clouds in the oven if need be for uniform colour.

cloud bread prep

Lemon Drizzle Poppy-Seed Cake

Lemon drizzle wedding cake I can only apologise for being so bad at updating my little blog, it gives me great pleasure to see that it’s been ticking away in the background when so much of life happened! In short. I fell in love, got married and took an amazing honeymoon! How exciting. But I’m back now and I promise to update more frequently! So the wedding was wonderful and what made it more lovely was that all the little personal touches. One of which was that all the mums made a variety of wedding cakes for the reception. It was a moving gesture and it meant we could get all the tasty cakes (cheesecake, brownies and lemon drizzle!)! My own mother contributed this lemon drizzle cake as it’s one of my favourites. We went through some taste testing with the bridesmaids (or ‘sisters’ as is the Chinese call them) over a boozy afternoon tea and the consensus was clear: this one was the better of the two. The fine flour, super orange yolked eggs, golden sugar and the poppy-seed mix are all chosen to create the most yellow cake. We made two of these the day before and they were beautifully textured the next day. I would even go as far to say that the cake is better the next day.

Lemon Sponge:
343 g (2 and 3/4 cups) self-raising fine sponge flour
30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
40 g poppy seeds, equal mix of white and black seeds
230 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
400 g (2 cups) golden caster sugar
4 large Burford Brown eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 4 large lemons
juice of 2 large lemons
240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk

 

Lemon Drizzle:
100 g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
juice of 2 large lemons

 

Lemon Icing:
120 g (1 cup) icing sugar, or more depending on the lemon juice
juice of 1/2 a large lemon

Oven to 175°C (350°F). Put an oven rack to the lowest position.

Grease your cake tin, a large bundt tin works well, we did two deep square cakes at around 25cm x 15cm deep.

Sponge time. Sift the flour and corn starch into a large bowl. Add to this the salt, baking powder, baking soda and poppy seeds. Mix together with a whisk and set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld) and beat the butter on high speed for about 1 minute until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for a further 2 minutes on high speed until creamed together. *Scrape* *scrape* scrape* with a rubber spatular, making sure the base of the bowl is scraped through. Now add your eggs and vanilla. *Scrape* *scrape* scrape* with a rubber spatular. Finally add the lemon zest and juice on medium speed. It will look like it’s splitting, don’t panic! Put the mixer on low and and slowly add a third of the dry ingredients you’ve set aside, now 1 third buttermilk, 1 third dry, 1 third buttermilk…and so on until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Pour the thick batter carefully into your cake tin and bake for 40-60 minutes. Until a skewer comes out clean. It’s all dependant on your oven so if you think it needs more time but the top is getting too brown, carefully put a sheet of foil on top of your cake tin. Leave the cake in for at least 40 minutes though, opening the oven mid-bake will make it sink. Once done, remove and set aside in its cake tin for 10 minutes.

While the cake is baking. Make the drizzle syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar has fully dissolved.

Transfer your cake onto a serving plate. Using a skewer, poke a series of holes uniformly into the surface of the cake. Then with a pastry brush, carefully paint and drizzle the syrup all over. The more evenly you distribute the syrup the better. I like to do half of the syrup first, then wait and go again for maximum saturation. Now leave the cake to fully cool.

When you’re ready make the lemon icing. Carefully whisk the icing sugar and lemon juice until you get a thick but still pipe-able icing. You’ll want to adjust the juice and sugar accordingly. Whack it all in a piping bag and pipe away! This cake was such a success that quite a few of my guests asked for the recipe, so here it is, I’m so sorry it’s so late! Mum also recreated this cake for my family back home in Hong Kong who weren’t able to attend the London wedding. Lemon love!

lemon poppyseed drizzle cake

Rather Boozy Tiramisu

Tiramisu

So to follow-up from a dinner of The Carbonara, I made these equally delicious tiramisu pots which I whipped up the night before. Purely so I could use these cute vintage ice cream glasses that I bought recently in a car-boot fair. This is essentiality based on the Polpo recipe, but with rather more booze (in variety and volume) as well as less sugar…because, you know, priorities.

I made enough to perfectly serve 5 ice cream glasses worth and didn’t end up using all the sponge fingers.

Rather Boozy Tiramisu:
6 double espresso shots or 360 ml strong coffee, warm
4 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp Kahlúa
2 tbsp Disaronno
240 g caster sugar
6 medium eggs, separated
120 ml Marsala
500 g marscapone
1 packet of Savoiardi sponge fingers
cocoa powder

Combine the warm coffee with the rum, Kahlúa, Disaronno and 50g of the caster sugar. Stir until combined and set aside.

Separate the eggs into two medium/large bowls. Whisk your egg whites until they are stiff. To the egg yolks add the rest of the sugar and the Marsala. Whisk the yolks until they are pale and fluffy, then add the marscarpone and gently stir in. Now you want to fold the whisked egg whites into to the yolk mixture.

For each pot or glass of tiramisu you want about 2-4 sponge fingers. Depending on your layers and glassware. First you want to dip a sponge finger into the coffee mixture, enough to soak the whole biscuit without it falling apart. Layer this down, or break it in half and only put half in if you’re serving it in tiny glasses. Then dollop a heaped tbsp of the cream mixture and repeat until you’re happy with your layers. I had 2 layers of sponge and 2 layers of cream.

*soak* *break* *dollop* *repeat*

Chill in the fridge overnight for extra yumminess. Or eat one after only 4 hours like we did! Just remember to dust them liberally with cocoa powder when you’re ready to eat.

The Best Damn Cornbread Muffins I Have Ever Made

cornbread muffins

First of all. My apologies. I haven’t posted in such a long time! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to post more, maybe once a week. Oops. But we know how resolutions normally go. Life has just got in the way with all sort of exciting events, trips and parties.

But I’m back now and since Thanksgiving has happened and, though not myself an American, some friends and I gather every year for a Thanksgiving Potluck. Which is *always* something I look forward to in my culinary calendar. This is a recipe from that. I made 2 things that night, a key lime meringue pie and these amazing muffins. I couldn’t believe how yummy these turned out, they’re the savoury variety, gluten-free and made with greek yogurt instead of buttermilk (as I always seem to be too lazy to get to a store that sells it) so I’m going to bravely say they’re healthier too – though I could be lying, they are just too damn delicious. These are way better and less fussy to make than my Spicy Tomato Cornbread so I’m really digging these right now. Makes 12.

Cornbread Muffins:
85 g melted butter, plus extra for frying
 2 x 198 g tins of sweetcorn, drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp whole dried chillies
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
110 g plain flour (I used gluten-free)
140 g polenta or cornmeal, fine variety
2 tsp baking powder
small pinch of salt
100 g sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 eggs
290 ml Greek yogurt
110 ml whole milk

Oven to 200°C. With a pastry brush, generously brush the melted butter in a 12 hole muffin tin. I ended up with about a 5mm pool collected at the bottom of each tin.

Next you want to add a small amount of butter to a frying pan at medium heat, and fry up the onions, garlic and sweetcorn. In a pestle and mortar smash-up the whole friend chillies. This seems like a lot of chilli, but you’ll be surprised how much baking these takes the heat out. This is just enough for a kick of heat as you’re eating them with your meal. No point of adding chilli to anything if you can’t taste it! Now add these crushed chillies, oregano, paprika and cayenne to the flying pan. Fry for about a minute until fragrant.

Mix the flour, polenta, baking powder, cheese and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller mixing jug, whisk your eggs, yogurt and milk together. Pour the eggs and dairy into the mixing bowl with dry ingredients, now add the corn and herbs. Gently mix all of this with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.

Divide this all equally into the muffin tray and bake for 25-30 minutes. They should have nicely risen, smell amazing and look lovely and golden brown. Eat them warmed up, you won’t regret making these. So yummy!

Herby Popovers (Yorkshire Puddings)

popovers Yorkshire puddings

So I was searching for a quick and easy gluten-free bread to soak up all the saucy sauce of my shakshuka and I came over these popovers. A little research, and tasting, has revealed that these are nothing more but the humble Yorkshire Pudding. The staple of so many a roast dinner. What’s nice about these though is that it made me realise that outside of the roast context (and the important toad in a hole context) I’ve never really eaten Yorkshire Puddings with very much. Why is that? Why is it that we don’t eat these delicious morsels more often? Now that I know how easy, quick and fool-proof they are I’ll be making them every time I’m short of bread. These are gluten and dairy free though you can substitute the flour and milk for the real deals in identical portions.

Makes 12.

Herby Popovers:
4 eggs
1 cup gluten-free flour
1 cup dairy free milk
2 tbsp dried herbs (I went oregano and rosemary)
12 tsp veg oil
generous pinch of salt and pepper

Oven to 220°C. When that getting hot, prep your muffin tin by putting a teaspoon of oil into each muffin mould. When the oven’s at heat pop the tray in and get it piping hot. 10 minutes should do. 

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk everything up until it’s lump free. Remove the muffin tin and carefully pour the batter into each mould. It should sizzle as you pour.

Pop them back in the oven and wait for them to ‘pop over’ (oh right, that’s where the name comes from…). Don’t open that bloody oven! After 25 minutes they should be risen and golden brown. These are delectably light out of the oven and very moorish. I’ve just made a batch to have with some courgette soup…you have been warned.

Healthy Pancakes

healthy pancakes I’m not even going to try and convince you why these are healthy. They just are. And they’re delicious. It’s a recipe I’ve found through almost a year of experimenting with “The Healthy Pancake” which is more or less the holy grail of indulgent breakfast desires. But these *are* significantly healthier than your regular pancakes. This combo is a riff off the popular “Two Ingredients Pancake” with the addition of baking flour and a pinch of salt. Which still makes these babies: gluten, wheat, and dairy free. The following makes enough for 8 small pancakes.

Healthy Pancakes:
1 large banana, ripe
2 eggs
1 tsp baking flour
1 pinch of sea salt flakes
Some rapeseed oil

What I’ve found in the past is an issue with flipping these, or even sizing. So I’ve developed a bit of a work around to this which you may or may not want to follow, but I use two pans. One normal non stick frying pan and an egg frying pan to control the size. Because. Well I’m a designer by trade. Anyway, get these both on the hobs at low-medium heat. Add a tiny bit of the oil (not butter as it burns) and with a paper kitchen towel lightly coat each pan with the oil. You’ll need to do this every time you cook a new batch.

In a blender break your banana roughly into 3 segments, add the rest of your ingredients. Pulse until the banana is *just* mixed, I use 4-5 pulses and there are still maybe little bits of banana, this is okay as it helps with the rise of the batter. When your pans are at heat, pour the batter into small rounds, wait a few minutes until bubbles start to form. Use a palette knife to loosen the bases (if not following my slightly anal technique, flip now). Place the other pan on top and flip over! Easy, now let the other side cook for a few minutes while you re-oil and cook the rest. Repeat as necessary.

That’s it! Cook as you may really but this is how I do them. When it comes to serving I smear a bit of almond butter between each layer and top with berries and maple syrup. Maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon…and some butter…Hey! I’m not insane, I said the pancakes themselves were healthy! Didn’t say they had to be tasteless!

Now, what do I categorise these under? I’m going for “eggs” & “cakes”…

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Success! After about two failed loafs I have now cracked a gluten-free recipe for some tasty banana bread. I’ve been experimenting with my own mixture of cornmeal, rice flour and almond flour but the results were too firm and too dry. So I caved and bought some Dove Farm white flour and tweaked my recipe accordingly. I’ve definitely just eaten a slice and it’s really yummy! So I can finally post it up.

To make things even better, in my supreme efficiency (or let’s be honest: laziness) it’s all just 1 pot and so fast to knock up! So if you have a stand mixer, don’t even bother mashing the bananas, if you’ve only got a hand-held one, maybe mash them up a bit with a fork.

Gluten Free Banana Bread:
2 cups gluten-free plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 a block of butter softened (125 g)
3/4 cup light soft brown sugar (150 g)
2 eggs
6 ripe bananas (one set aside for decorating)
3 tbsp soft dark sugar
1-2 tbsp hot water

Oven onto 170°C. In your mixing bowl put the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in. Stir these dry ingredients up a bit. Then add the vanilla essence, butter, light brown sugar, eggs and 5 bananas (remember to set one of the 6 aside).

Now turn the mixer on low to medium speed and prep your bread pan.

Butter the pan thoroughly and place a greaseproof sheet at the bottom. The mixing should be done now so pour in your batter. Slice lengthways your banana for decorating and place on top.

In a small bowl mix the 2 tbsp of dark soft sugar with just enough hot water to dissolve it all. With a pastry brush, carefully  wash the top of the raw batter mixture and banana with 2/3 of the sugar mix. While this bakes it should turn into a crunchy caramel topping.

Bake for 60-65 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. In the final 5 minutes use the remaining sugar wash. Leave the banana bread in the pan for another 10-15 minutes before removing and it should come out really easily after you go round the edges with a knife.

I couldn’t help but try a still warm piece straight away! Honestly, fastest bake to blog post ever.

‘Gluten Sensitive’ & Buttermilk Free: Spicy Tomato Cornbread

cornbread

I was really struggling with the title for this post. But essentially this is a gluten sensitive bread baked with cornmeal and spelt flour, it’s at this point that I should add that if you’re a celiac or very sensitive to gluten you should probably replace this with a gluten-free flour of your desire (rice flour works well). Anyway, I’ve always loved cornbread, but maybe because I’m a bit greedy, I have always preferred the loaded variety. So within the bread you’ll find kernels or corn, bits of chilli, oven dried tomatoes and waves of cumin. This is also a buttermilk free recipe and I’ve substituted it with almond milk, mostly because buttermilk is just so damn hard to find (read: it wasn’t in any of my local shops with in a 100 metre walking radius to my flat)…and I really just wanted to eat warmed slices of this bread with butter and Vegemite dammit! Would also work quite well with plain yogurt instead of the almond milk if you want it to be richer.

It’s a fast bread to make (bonus) and bakes in a large 9 inch bread tin, but I split it into 2 tins just in case it rose too much.

Spicy Tomato Cornbread:
2 cups cornmeal
3/4 cups spelt or gluten free flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp honey
1.5 cups almond milk
2 large eggs
70 g butter - melted
handful cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp paprika
1 small red onion - diced
3-5 birds eye chillies - diced
1 cup corn kernels

First get the oven to 200 °C and prep your baking tins with butter and line the bottom with baking parchment. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and place them on a lined baking tray, evenly space each of the quarters out. Liberally sprinkle with the cumin seeds and paprika with a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper to season. Place the tomatoes in the oven and wait for them to cook down, maybe 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, melt the butter and set aside. Get the cornmeal, flour, teaspoon of salt, baking powder, sugar into a stand mixer (or mix by hand if you’d like, you must have strong arms) on medium speed until well combined. In a separate jug, mix the eggs, butter, almond milk and honey. Poor this mixture in with the dry ingredients slowly until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the tomatoes and all the spices (slide everything off that baking sheet), then add the onion, chilli and corn until everything is gently but evenly dispersed.

Put the mixture into you prepped baking tins and bake for at least 40 minutes. But keep checking with a skewer to see if your bread’s done. It should be golden brown on the top and the skewer should come out clean. Turn out of tins and cool.

I couldn’t resist eating a couple of slices of this hot out of the oven with some butter and said Vegemite. It was a craving that just had to be done. Also had some with Marmite. Just as good. Later in the evening I had this with chicken stew…you know it’s just so damn tasty…

Polenta Pizza

Guys! Guys! Guys! So I’ve not posted savoury food for a while, not because I haven’t been eating (obviously) but because I hadn’t cooked anything that I thought was inspired enough to wax lyrical about. But by the exclamation mark count at a massive three already – here is me waxing lyrical.

Yesterday after what would rank up there as the most Relaxing Sunday Ever where myself and a significant person went for an all day wander through a park which culminated in an impromptu coffee with a friend, said significant person and I decided to make some homemade pizza for dinner. Only what with me not eating gluten we decided to make a polenta pizza and it was so flipping good! Honestly, you don’t even have to be gluten intolerant to enjoy this. Other massive bonus. It can be relatively easy to knock up as you don’t have to wait for the dough to prove. Essentially you’re cooking up some polenta in the traditional manner, but making it as thick as possible so it sets quicker and has a bit more structure post bake. Toppings wise we just went classic with a bit of tomato sauce (but made with plum vine tomatoes), mozzarella, and some slices of cured Spanish ham.

Polenta Pizza Base:
700 ml vegetable stock
170 g polenta, coarse type favoured
100 g grated parmesan
Pizza Toppings:
125 g mozzarella
200 g approx. tomato sauce
6 slices of cured ham - lomo in this case
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finnish
crushed black paper and sea salt

Oil a non stock pan big enough for your pizza.

In a saucepan at medium heat, bring your stock to a boil and while whisking furiously in one direction only (to avoid clumps) add your polenta in a fine stream. Keep stirring at all times to avoid your polenta from sticking to the pan and get this mixture nice and thick and reduced. You want to get it so thick that when you whisk it barely settles back in the pan. At this stage, probably 15-20 minutes down the line (read: strong arms), you want to add the grated parmesan.

Quickly pour your polenta on the previously prepped pan and use the bake of a metal spoon spread out a pizza base shape, complete with slightly raised crust along the edge. Work fast, this will set quickly. Set this aside to cool.

While this is cooling get that oven to 220°C. Make your tomato sauce and prep your toppings. Once your oven is to temperature and your polenta is sufficiently set (cool to the touch and has a nice bounce to it), quickly dress the pizza. Save the olive oil, salt and pepper for when it’s fresh out of the oven. Whack your pizza in and bake it until it’s nice and browned on the crust and the cheese is bubbling. Ours took approximately 20 minutes.

Carefully use a spatula to loosen the pizza from the pan, you should know that the bake is good because it will be crispy on the bottom. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and drizzle that olive oil. Eat immediately.

I cannot express the sheer amount of pleasure this dish produced, if you’re talking about a great dish of soul food, this is certainly up there and resulted in me doing a happy food dance before I chowed down.

Baked Cheesecake

baked cheesecakeIt’s well into February now, are we over the New Year detox yet? This was meant to be a Polish Cheesecake that I made over Christmas for my family in Hong Kong. I have no idea what makes this a Polish cheesecake but there were a couple of baked cheesecakes in my mum’s old recipe book and this is my riff on one of them. Maybe I’ll try the German one next time I’m back and I can tell you which one is better. The reason why this is a riff on the recipe is because of instead of buying normal cottage cheese, I bought one with sliced gherkins mixed in. Don’t worry! This isn’t some crazy cream cheese and pickle cake (although I imagine that to be weirdly nice). I had some cream cheese and milk in the fridge so I used that instead.

Baked Cheese Cake (meant to be Polish):
6-7 tbs crushed digestive or tea biscuits
750 g cream cheese
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
180 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp corn flour
150 ml milk
3 eggs separated
170 ml double cream

Oven at 160°C. Grease 20 cm loose bottomed baking tin. Add those crushed biscuits to the bottom, add more if you want a thicker base.

In a large bowl, beat cheese with lemon juice and rind until smooth. To this add the sugar, vanilla, cornflour, milk and egg yolks. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with an electric beater until stiff. Then in another bowl beat cream until thick. With a spatula you now want to alternatively fold the egg whites and cream into the cheese mixture. When combined pour into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for 45 minutes in the centre of the oven. Then turn the heat off and leave the cake in the oven for a further 30 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar (ram a heat-proof glove in the crack). Take the cake out and leave to cool before removing from the tin.

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