Monday, 13 February 2017

Gluten-free raspberry & lime friands




Recently I came across this recipe from the taste.com.au website and I have to say, it's a keeper. The friands are delicious & simple to make. The combo of lime & raspberry is a winner - the flavours go so well together. These gluten-free raspberry & lime friands will delight your tastebuds - whether you are gluten free or not.

A couple of pointers on the recipe. I would recommend using fresh limes and raspberries if you can source them. Otherwise, frozen raspberries will do the trick, but just be wary of the amount of liquid that will come from them once they thaw. When baking with frozen raspberries, I always prefer to sit them in a sieve over the top of a bowl & allow them to thaw so that some of the liquid drains from them.

For my Australian readers, here are pics of the gluten-free flour I used - which I found in the gluten-free isle of my supermarket.


Here is the gluten-free pure icing sugar - I found this with regular icing sugar in the baking isle. It's much coarser than the usual soft icing sugar.


Now all you need to do is bake them & enjoy!


Ingredients

5 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups almond meal
2 generous teaspoons of finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 1/2 cups gluten-free pure icing sugar, sifted
2/3 cups gluten-free plain flour
150g melted butter
A punnet of fresh raspberries or approximately 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries


What to do
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190 C static or 170 C fan bake.
  2. Grease your 12 hole friand tin (or use a 12 hole muffin tray instead)
  3. In a large bowl add the dry ingredients (remember to sift the icing sugar) followed by the lime juice & zest.  
  4. Melt butter & set it aside to cool slightly.
  5. In a separate bowl, lightly hand whisk the egg whites until they are frothy - but don't overdo it. You just want to get some air into them.
  6. Add the egg whites to the dry ingredients.
  7. Start stirring the mixture & then quickly add the melted butter. The reason you need to stir whilst adding the butter, is to prevent the butter from cooking the egg whites. Hopefully your butter will have cooled down enough by now to prevent this.
  8. Divide the mixture evenly between the friand or muffin holes.
  9. Place three or four raspberries onto the top of each friand & press down lightly. If your frozen raspberries have turned mushy, you could spoon them on the top instead.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until the friands are golden around the edges, risen nicely & are firm to touch.
  11. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
If you're serving these for morning or afternoon tea, arrange on a plate & dust with a little icing sugar.

Click on the following link to view the original recipe

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Jamie Oliver's pistachio, apricot & dark choc energy bars



I don't know about you, but we eat a lot of muesli bars in our household. They're just so handy to take to work for a snack. It got me thinking, surely I could find a recipe for something tasty that I could bake myself which would still fit the bill of being a  delicious, semi-healthy snack.

Cue Jamie Oliver's recipe for pistachio, apricot & chocolate energy bars. If this recipe didn't sound good enough by the name alone, it has medjool dates AND maple syrup. It also has something I had never tried before, almond butter. Turns out almond butter is quite delicious & it could almost be said it gives peanut butter a run for it's money.

Now, one of the main aims of my blog is to give you handy tips & tricks to avoid recipe failure. Often times I've tried to bake something & it hasn't quite turned out the way I expected, so I always make sure I steer you in the right direction to avoid this happening to you. This energy bar is no exception. Having made it once before, I encountered a couple of little snags, like the chocolate melting through the mixture when I added it. Rather than staying in melty bits throughout the slice, the whole slice turned chocolately brown. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but it's not like it looked in the picture. So for my second attempt, I waited for the rolled oat mixture & the sauce to cool, so that when I added the chocolate it held it's shape. The second thing was that I had problems getting the slice to hold together once baked. I think this might have been because I thought I could get away with using normal dates rather than the fancy medjools. Turns out I was wrong. The reason for using medjool dates is that they are much bigger, plumper & more gooey than your average 'cooking' variety date which is much drier. When cooked in the sauce, the medjools really help to thicken it up.  I also think that the slice needs a little longer in the oven. I would recommend leaving it in for more like 30 minutes give or take, at least until it is golden brown & feels firm to touch.

The recipe calls for 100g of mixed seeds. On my first attempt I used a seed mix which contained poppy seeds - & I noticed that the poppy seeds seemed to brown very quickly, almost to the point of burning. This makes complete sense in hindsight of course as they're so small. So for my second attempt, I opted for sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds (AKA  pepitas). These worked a treat given they were similar in size to the rolled oats & chopped pistachios. The recipe also asks for smooth almond butter. I couldn't find smooth, so had to go with crunchy, which hasn't hindered the slice in any way - so don't worry if crunchy is your only option.

Now that I've shared my pearls of wisdom with you, let's look at the recipe.

Ingredients

75 g shelled pistachios
100 g mixed seeds
250 g rolled oats
8 medjool dates
100 g dried apricots
50 g good quality dark chocolate (70%)
100 ml maple syrup
4 tablespoons almond butter

What to do

  1. Heat your oven to 180C static or 160C fan bake.
  2. Prepare a flat baking tray & a square (roughly 20cm x 20cm) baking tin, by spraying them with cooking oil & then lining each one neatly with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Chop the pistachios, then add to a bowl along with the mixed seeds & rolled oats. Give everything a quick stir, then pour out onto your baking tray. Level off & then pop it in the oven to roast for around 20 minutes. Watch it like a hawk & be sure to remove it every now & then to mix it up a bit to avoid any corners from burning & to ensure a nice even roast. Once toasted, remove from the oven & leave somewhere to cool.
  4. De-stone (& remember this bit - for medjool dates still have the stones in them) & roughly tear up the dates, chop the dried apricots & chocolate.
  5. Grab a small saucepan, chuck the dates in along with the maple syrup, almond butter & 150 ml of water. Heat gently for around 20 mins until you have a thick, sticky sauce. I mashed the dates as they softened with a potato masher - just to help things along a bit. Once your sauce is ready, set it aside to cool.
  6. In a large bowl, place the cooled rolled oat mix, the apricots & chocolate & mix to combine. Then add the cooled sauce & mix quickly to combine.
  7. Pour the mixture into your baking tin & use a spoon to press it in & level it off.
  8. Bake for around 30-35 mins or until golden brown & feels firm when you push down on it. Just keep an eye on it as every oven varies & wit ill also depend on the depth of your tin. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Thanks to Jamie Oliver for another delicious recipe. Follow this link to check out the original recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chocolate-recipes/pistachio-apricot-dark-chocolate-energy-bars/#BrfCpygGv4iplgs3.97 

Enjoy :)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

You little gem.

Ginger Gems


I want to start by explaining what a ginger gem is, because it seems that these little cakes might have originated in New Zealand - therefore quite a few of you won't have heard of them before.

Imagine if you will a super light & fluffy, mini ginger loaf. That is essentially what a ginger gem is. What makes them unique is the tin that they are traditionally baked in, called a ginger gem iron. Made from cast iron, the gem iron is heavier & sturdier than your average aluminium muffin tin. It must be pre-heated in the oven to 200 Celsius (392 Fahrenheit) before you spoon the mixture in. Whilst cast iron takes slightly longer to heat up than aluminium, it retains its heat for much longer.  

I'm always interested in finding out the history & origins of a recipe, but for the humble ginger gem this information is as light as the texture of the gem itself. It does seem look as though the recipe originated in New Zealand & has been around for many years.

Cast iron ginger gem irons are hard to find these days.  Your best bet is to look out for a second hand set. My gem irons were recently gifted to me by my Mum for my birthday. She enlisted the help of my Aunty to look online for a second hand set & luckily came across some on the website Trade Me, which is essentially the New Zealand equivalent of Ebay.

The flavour & texture of a ginger gem is a special thing. Not only do they have that lovely gingerbready flavour, but they also have a buttery after taste given that half teaspoonful's of butter are dropped into the hot gem irons before the mixture is spooned in. What results is two fold. The butter prevents the gems from sticking to the irons & it gets absorbed by the gems which makes for a delicious taste.

If you manage to get your hot little hands on a set of ginger gem irons, then the recipe I would recommend making is none other than the one from the iconic Edmunds Cookery Book. The trusty Edmunds Cookery Book was first printed in New Zealand in 1907, so you could say that it has become an essential ingredient in the history of baking in NZ.

Ingredients

50g butter (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 egg
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
Extra butter

What to do
  1. Place gem irons in the centre rack of the oven & pre-heat to 200 C static or 180 C fan bake.
  2. Place 12 lots of 1/2 teaspoonful's of butter onto a tray or plate & set aside for later. 
  3. Using a handheld or freestanding electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar & ginger together until light & fluffy. Add the egg & beat well. You want to get some air into the mixture at this point, so be sure to beat the egg in really well - scraping down the sides of the mixture so everything is well combined. Beat in the golden syrup.
  4. Sift flour from a height (to get more air through) into the creamed mixture & then stir by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.
  5. In a separate jug, dissolve the baking soda in the milk & pour into the mixture. Grab a hand whisk & whisk the mixture well to ensure your mixture is smooth & creamy.
  6. Grab your oven mitts & remove the gem irons from the oven. Grab your tray or plate of butter & drop one piece of butter into each gem slot. The butter will start sizzling away.
  7. Spoon the mixture into each slot, filling to within a couple of millimetres from the top. Return to the oven & bake for 10 minutes, or until the gems are well risen & beautifully golden brown.
NOTE: The Edmunds recipe states that it makes 12 gems, but my mixture went a lot further & I ended up with 16. Just keep any leftover mixture aside & as soon as your first batch come out of the oven, carefully remove them from the gem irons using a butter knife to assist. Pop the gem irons back in the oven to get them back up to 200 C & then repeat the process again.

Best enjoyed warm straight from the oven with a strong cuppa.