I’m still somewhat in the doldrums health-wise and all I can do about that is rest a lot and be patient. But starting a fresh new year and a visit from my brother has, thankfully, given my spirits a bit of a lift. So, in between long rests (when I mentally plan things I haven’t a hope of achieving!), I’ve been joining the rest of the world in doing a bit of space-clearing.

January is traditionally a month for eating from the store-cupboards, sorting out what needs to be used up and chucking out the lost causes. Since I started on (relatively) low-carb eating a few things have languished in the cupboards including some odds and ends of dried fruit. I did consider giving the tired old raisins etc to the birds, but having a) reached my target weight (yay!) and b) not had any Christmas cake or mince pies during the festive season I decided to have a go at making a gluten-free teabread.

My original recipe (which I’ve had since my teens) is as follows:

3/4pt cold tea
7oz soft brown sugar
12oz mixed dried fruit
10oz SR flour
1 beaten egg

Put cold tea, sugar and dried fruit in a bowl and leave to soak overnight. Stir in flour and beaten egg to make a smooth sloppy mixture.
Pour mixture into a greased and lined 8sq” cafe tin or 2lb loaf tin.
Bake at 180C for approx 1 hour (until skewer comes out clean).

Heaven know how long it is since I last used the recipe, but my mind boggled at the ingredients – SEVEN ounces of sugar?! As well as all that dried fruit? Yukkity yuk! Gluten-free flours are sweeter than wheat too, which would have made the end result inedible as far as I was concerned, so I left the sugar out. I also added an extra egg hoping it would reduce the GL a bit.

Actual ingredients:

large mugful of strong cold redbush tea
300g (approx) dried fruit and mixed peel
80g ground almonds
150g buckwheat flour
50g rice flour
30g chopped walnuts (because they needed using up too)
2 medium eggs
splash of lemon juice

The fruit hadn’t taken up all the tea after soaking overnight, so I spooned off some of the excess liquid on the basis that I could add it back if necessary, but wouldn’t be able to extract it of the mix was too runny. This turned out to be a Good Idea especially with the extra egg.

The result is very good indeed, though still on the sweet side for my taste. After several experiments to establish the optimum slice to butter ratio, the loaf been portioned and frozen for times when I crave a sweet carby treat. It’s amazing how much my appetite for sweet things has diminished lately. I’m not sure if it’s a feature of getting older or simply because I eat so little sugar nowadays that my tastebuds have become more sensitive to sweetness.

Do you have a favorite teabread recipe?


Rice slice

This recipe is my version of Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney’s gluten-free breakfast bars from their book “Healthy Gluten-Free Eating”.

8oz rice flakes
juice of half a lemon and water to make up 7fl oz (or apple juice)
3oz butter
1-2oz brown sugar
2 eggs
1oz chopped or flaked almonds
1oz sunflower seeds
4-5oz dried fruit (eg sultanas and figs, or figs and dates, or sultanas and dates)

Heat oven to 180C
Line a shallow 7″x11″ pan with baking parchment

Soak the rice flakes in the liquid for an hour or so.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until well-combined. Stir in the other ingredients and decant into the lined pan. Level the surface with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 20-30 minutes and allow to cool in the pan before slicing. Makes 12-14.

I’ve been experimenting in the hope of making it resemble bread pudding, so I used mixed dried fruit and added a teaspoonful of ground mixed spice to the recipe this time. It’s delicious, but not really much like proper bread pudding à la Delia. Maybe I should have left the nuts and seeds out. Next time…

Gluten-free carrot cake

8oz gluten-free flour*
2.5 teasp baking powder
.25 teasp ground mixed spice
5 tablesp oil suitable for baking (I use a light olive oil)
1 beaten egg
1-2oz dark Muscovado sugar
5oz finely grated carrot
1 coarsely grated medium eating apple (I use a Granny Smith)
2-3oz raisins
2oz chopped walnuts
1oz chopped candied peel
milk or water to mix

Heat oven to 170C

Combine egg, sugar and oil in a small mixing bowl. In a separate larger bowl mix flour, baking powder and spice. Add the wet ingredients to the flour with all the other ingredients, stir thoroughly, adding just milk or water to combine the mixture.

Place mixture in a greased and/or lined a 2lb loaf tin and level the top. Bake for about 40mins – check with a skewer to check that it’s cooked through. Remove from tin and cool on a rack.

The cake can be iced, if you wish, but I like it as it is.

*I used 4oz rice flour, 3oz buckwheat flour and 1oz cornflour.

Pancake Day – gluten free

It’s a miserable cold, wet, grey and windy day – perfect for staying indoors and making gluten-free pancakes for the first time!

50g buckwheat flour
50g rice flour
a pinch of salt
1 large egg
15ml oil (I used light and mild olive oil)
150ml milk
100-150ml water

Sift flours and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and add oil and egg. Gradually pour in milk and water whilst beating the mixture with a hand-held electric whisk until smooth. The batter should be about the consistency of single cream, so add the last of the liquid slowly and stop when it looks right.

Leave the batter to stand for 20-30 minutes before making pancakes in a hot non-stick frying pan with oil or oil and butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned, turning once or twice.

I had a couple of pancakes spread with a tomato, celery, onion and courgette sauce as a main course, then a few more with lemon and Demerara sugar for pudding. Then another one. And another… And still I wasted a bit of the batter, so I’ll probably use a small egg next time and reduce the other ingredients a bit.

As you can see from the picture these break more easily than wheat-flour pancakes, but they all tasted excellent and had a nice texture.

Peanut biscuits and a thank you

A big big THANK YOU to my friend B who came over and did some housework for me yesterday, so today I’ve actually had the energy to bake, blog AND plant bulbs. Not that I really needed to bake because lovely generous B also brought me lemon drizzle cake (and bulbs and gorgeous photos – am I a lucky woman or what?!), but I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for ages and I needed to test it before writing it down. I tend to cook as I go and sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly what went into a batch of biscuits or a cake…

peanut biscuits

8oz gluten free flour
half a teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
2oz butter
4oz roasted salted peanuts (I actually use a 100g bag, but a few more nuts wouldn’t hurt)
1 egg, lightly beaten
water to bind

Mix dry ingredients together, rub in butter, add peanuts (can be lightly crushed first), stir in egg and enough water to make the mixture just hold together.

Use your hands to squish the mixture into a greased shallow baking tray (mine is 11.5in x 7.5in, slightly bigger might be better). When it is fairly evenly spread use a fork or the back of a spoon to smooth it out. Mark into squares or fingers before baking. Alternatively shape into balls and flatten them onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake at about 180deg C for 20-25 minutes. Check halfway through and adjust timing if necessary. Cook until the bars are browning a little at the edges and shrinking – the idea is to get them as dry as possible. Cool on a rack.

Should work with any flour, but cooking time may vary. I use 1oz ground almonds, 3oz buckwheat, 4oz brown rice flour.

This recipe makes fairly plain biscuits, I suspect most people would prefer more sugar, so adjust to your own taste, especially if using wheat flour.

It occurred to me when it was too late that it might be nice to mix in half or two thirds of the peanuts and press the rest into the top of the mixture, so they get nice and toasty when cooked. Next time!

Courgette and cheese loaf

After a bit of Googling for recipes for courgette and cheese bread, I created my own gluten-free version this afternoon and am very pleased with the result. It’s going to be a good addition to my portable-food repertoire and a few thickly-buttered slices went down very well with a bowl of delicious homemade tomato soup for my supper. And it’s a quick and easy way of using up some of the courgette glut…

8oz gluten free flour*
2.5 level teaspoons baking powder
1.5oz butter or hard margarine
4oz grated courgette
1oz finely chopped leek (or onion)
3-4oz well-flavoured hard cheese cut into small cubes (I used Lancashire)
a sprinkle dried herbs (I used a Provencal mixture)
2 beaten eggs
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 170º.
Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment (I use pre-formed liners).
Mix dry ingredients together.
Rub in butter/margarine.
Mix in courgettes, leeks, beaten egg, and enough milk/water to bind everything together with a sticky consistency.
Spoon mixture into tin, level the top and bake for about 40 mins until a skewer comes out clean.

* I used 3oz buckwheat and 5oz rice for this recipe, but commercial gluten-free flours should also work fine. The recipe should also work with wheat flours, maybe half wholemeal and half white flour.

Marmalade cake

My lovely friend and former neighbour Annette gave me her quick and easy all-in-one recipe for marmalade cake many years ago. The original version uses ordinary plain wheat flour (either wholemeal or half and half wholemeal and white), but now I have to follow a gluten free diet I’ve adapted it to suit my needs. It’s been a miserable we day here today, so cake-baking (and eating!) seemed the perfect cheer-up.

1oz ground almonds
3oz buckwheat flour
4oz rice flour
scant quarter teaspoon Xantham gum (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
4oz well-softened butter
2-4oz sugar
2 medium eggs
3 heaped tablespoons marmalade

Make sure butter is well softened before you start.
Mix dry ingredients together, then pop everything in a mixing bowl and whiz with a hand-held electric cake whisk for 15-20 seconds.
Decant into a greased/lined 2lb loaf tin, level the top and bake at 150° for about 50 minutes.

The ground almonds can be replaced by flour if preferred.
Adjust the amount of sugar according to personal preference.
Any marmalade can be used, but add a bit more sugar if using the robust chunky type.
If you want to use wheat or spelt flour just replace the rice flour, buckwheat flour and xantham gum the same weight of wheat flour.