Madeleines

egg-free, dairy-free madeleine

Its been a long journey to create a Madeleine recipe that actually works, that’s actually just like the real thing. Madeleines, if you don’t know, are iconic little shell shaped cakes immortalised by Marcel Proust in ‘A la recherché du temps Perdu’ and are held close to every French persons heart. This is how Marcel Proust describes them with reference to involuntary memories;

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea. — Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Definitely an experience worth recreating!

So how to recreate such an iconic classic – it was hard to get the right taste and texture without the essential ingredients of milk, butter and eggs, and many of my initial attempts looked good but simply didn’t have the right texture. This recipe on the other hand is spot on – the addition of aquafaba has lifted the fluffiness and and the sponge has the correct density. It is essential to have the correct madeleine pan, otherwise you’ll have to make mini cakes instead!

chocolate dipped dairy-free egg-free madeleines

Madeleines

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan madeleines

3 tbsp aquafaba

100g caster sugar

100 g plain flour

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp dairy free milk

3/4 tsp baking powder

75g dairy free margarine, melted

1 tsp syrup (or honey if you are not vegan)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Grease and flour the Madeleine mould and place in the fridge to firm up.
  2. Whisk together the aquafaba and sugar until slightly foamy, then whisk in the lemon juice and dairy free milk
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and again whisk in.
  4. Then with the whisk running, gently pour in the melted margarine and syrup/honey and whisk until you have a gorgeously shiny, silky dough
  5. Transfer to a piping bag and if possible, place in the fridge for a while to cool.making vegan madeleines
  6. Pipe into the moulds so they are filled level with the top
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and risen. To get the correct domed tops, briefly open the door of the oven after 3-4 minutes, then continue cooking.
  8. Cool in the tins before transferring to a cooling rack.
  9. Serve dusted with icing sugar or dipped in melted chocolate

dairy-free madeleines

Strawberry and Rose tart 

dairy-free strawberry tart

We were off to a friend’s house for a lovely lazy BBQ Sunday and having reminded them of our considerable dietary requirements, I felt that I really needed to make an effort to bring something nice to make up for all the extra effort they were going to. I sometimes forget, because we’re so used to all our varying dietary requirements, that it’s a bit of a minefield for others – if you’re not used to checking ingredients and thinking about traces its all a bit mind boggling! Anyway, our friends were delightful and happy to cater for us all, even me, the difficult vegetarian! I made a firm favourite, Devils food cake for pudding as everyone loves it, but then felt that maybe it wasn’t fresh and summery enough for a sunny BBQ! In fact I spent the whole night thinking it was the wrong choice and maybe I should make something else – I just didn’t know what, and certainly didn’t want to go shopping early on a Sunday morning!

So it was a case of get up, rummage in the fridge and larder and then get my thinking hat on! I had some frozen puff pastry and apples but apple tart wasn’t quite seasonal enough! Then I spied my bowl of slightly overripe strawberries – perfect; a fine strawberry tart was going to be ideal.

In fact I’d recommend this kind of tart for any impromptu get together – so simple to make but also pretty enough to impress! It would work with most fruit and is simply fruit, thinly sliced and layered over puff pastry, sprinkled with a fine layer of sugar and then baked. Once out of the ven, a coating of nappage (warmed, thinned jam) gives the perfect glossy finish. I chose some gorgeous rose petal jam form Confiserie Florian in Provence but apricot or strawberry would also work well.

Strawberry and Rose Tart

vegan strawberry and rose puff pastry tart

(dairy-free, egg-free,nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Serves 6

1/2 sheet puff pastry [ensure it doesn’t contain butter!]

100g strawberries, finely sliced

1-2 tsps caster sugar

2 tbsp rose jam

  1. Roll out the pastry to a large square or rectangle. Lightly score around the edge to give a ‘frame of pastry’ which will rise up.
  2. Layer on the sliced strawberries and sprinkle with caster sugar
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade/gas mark 5 until the pastry is golden around the edges.
  4. Cool and then brush over warmed, thinned [add a few drops of water] jam.

pretty rose tart, freefrom

Egg-free Tuiles/Wafers

 

tuile basket egg-free, vegan

I’ve dreamt of making delicate, light and crispy tuiles for a long time, but my egg-free attempts never worked. Whilst the results had been passable but they certainly weren’t good enough to be classed as an authentic wafer-thin tuile. It’s such a versatile classic recipe in which the paper thin, lightly scented biscuit or wafer is moulded into a variety of shapes – the classic tuile literally translates as ‘roof tile’ thanks to its gently curved shape. They add the finishing touch to any fine dessert when curled into straws (as often found in ice creams and sorbets), or they can be moulded into baskets or folded into cones.

The key feature of a tuile is that it has to be wafer thin. To achieve this, the dough needs to be thinly spread over a template, baked, and then a few seconds after coming out of the oven, carefully removed from the baking tray. To do this requires a palette knife and the tuile needs to be moulded straight away. Delay by even a few seconds and you’ve missed your chance; the tuile will shatter and break rather than be pliable. As speed is key I would suggest only baking a couple at a time, which makes this a laborious process, but there’s no real way round it.

I have to say that I am utterly delighted with the results of this recipe, they are so authentic that I dare anyone to taste a difference between these made with aquafaba ( water from a tin of cooked beans or pulses) and those made with the traditional egg white. We can’t. D said he was immediately transported back to childhood holidays with the French side of his family, eating lemon sorbet with a crispy tuile straw tucked into the frozen delight. So the results must be pretty good for a comparison like that!

lemon sorbet and dairy-free tuile straw

So lemon sorbet seemed to be the right thing to serve mine with (this one from New Forest Ices is egg, dairy and nut free) which went down a total treat. I also moulded some into baskets which is another classic tuile shape and filled that with creme pat and fresh fruit – yummy!

Egg-free Tuiles (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

egg-free tuiles

 

Makes plenty!

1/2 cup dairy-free spread or margarine

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp aquafaba

1 1/2 tsps vanilla essence

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup plain flour

  1. First cut a template out of cardboard, you want two circles with a diameter of 10-20cm. Then either line a cookie sheet with parchment and lightly grease, or use a non-stick baking mat. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade or 375 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Whisk together the spread and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Whip in the aquafaba and vanilla. (If the mixture starts to split quickly add 1tbsp of flour). Whisk in the rest of the flour and the salt until you have a smooth, velvety dough.
  4. Spread a thin layer of dough inside each template, being as even and careful as possible. Remove the template.tuile template
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until starting to turn a light goldenIMG_6643
  6. Remove from the oven and wait a few seconds, then start to manoeuvre a palette knife under the tuile. As soon as it it removed from the baking sheet, mould into preferred shape. It will cool and hold the shape within seconds.
  7. Store in a sealed container until ready to use.

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To make a classic tuile:

Once removed from the baking sheet immediately lie the cookie over a rolling pin and it should form the correct curved tile look

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To make a basket:

Once removed from the baking sheet, press around the base of a glass to form a basket

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To make a straw:

Once the palette knife has made sure the tuile is no longer attached to the baking sheet, gently roll around the handle of a wooden spoon.

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More Adventures in Egg-free Meringue

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Have you heard of chickpea meringue? If you haven’t, where have you been? Well, probably anywhere but the vegan online forums where chickpea meringue has taken over the world in 2015! It hasn’t really hit the allergy community yet, but it’s BIG in the vegan one.

The world of egg-free meringue has changed forever thanks to Joel Roessell of Revolution Vegetale who I believe is the true originator. The idea seems crazy, and perhaps a little bit… gross even, but it works a treat. His idea is using the discarded water (brine) from a tin of beans or chickpeas to be whipped up into an egg white substitute. Then Goose Wohlt, who can be found at www.aquafaba.com brought the concept to the masses (by which I mean the online vegan community). If you are tempted to try, and I urge you to, do think of posting your recipes on the Facebook page Vegan Meringues: Hits and Misses, as the recipe has been developed as a collaboration ( and do join the FB page as there are some amazing experiments taking place).

I first heard of the idea from my online friend Somer McCowan of Vedged Out fame and I have to say I was sceptical – a meringue made from the water from a tin of chickpeas and some sugar! To be honest, it does sound utterly bonkers doesn’t it? Besides I’d previously created my own egg-free meringue of which I am inordinately proud, surely my recipe couldn’t be trumped by a can of chickpeas, could it?! Well, I still stand by my recipe – when it works it gives fantastic results, but it can be a tricky beast – there are a fair few processes and unusual (and expensive) ingredients and sometimes it does fail – but when it does work the taste is absolutely perfect.

But I had to try this new kid on the block. So with some trepidation I gave it a go. Surely a meringue made of chickpea water isn’t going to be nice? But the first thing I noticed is how easily you can create the soft fluffy, meringue peaks, those voluminous pillows of meringue cloudy fluff with just two ingredients – you simply cannot fail to be impressed. A stand mixer helps because it really does need serious high speed whipping, but seriously you get clouds of the stuff from one tin of chickpeas (or more accurately I should say the water you’d normally throw down the sink) and half a cup of sugar. Having tried the recipe a few times I believe that a pinch of Xanthan gum gives a better finish, but plenty of people prefer just the bean water and sugar. The flavour… well, GREAT was the first feeling. But I’d add that a slight beany flavour comes through as the meringues sit so would encourage you to consume them as fresh as possible. And using vanilla as well as the sugar in the making is a nice touch for flavour.

So over the next few weeks I’ll be taking you along on my journey of discovery of previously thought impossible egg-free meringue-based dishes. As mentioned before, have a look at that Facebook page for further inspiration. I’ve got one or two ideas that I don’t think anyone has tried yet, so keep watching here too.

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So, starting with the basics…..

Egg-free Aquafaba Meringue (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes a good 3-4 trays of meringues!

  • 1 tin of chickpeas or other pulses (standard size)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar, plus 3 tbsps (whizzed in a blender to become finer, if you use icing sugar beware of brands that contain cornstarch as that prevents the meringues from working)
  • 1/4 tsp Zantham gum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

– Drain the chickpeas letting the liquid fall straight into your bowl and put the pulses to one side (you’re going to have to start eating a lot of chickpea/bean based dishes!!)
– Add the Zantham gum and whisk on high speed until you have piles of soft pillowy clouds of mixture
– Start adding the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, letting it fully combine between each addition.
– Once all the sugar is incorporated whisk in the vanilla
– You should have stiff peaks of meringue fluff
– Pipe or spoon onto lined baking sheets
– Bake at 120 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes
Then turn down the oven to 90 degrees centigrade and cook for a further 1 hour
Turn off the oven and leave them to cool for another 1 hour
– Peel off the paper and try not to gorge yourself on too many! Keep in an airtight, dry container.

 

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Fondant Fancies (French Fancies)

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Fondant fancies with their beautiful pastel hues and elegant stripes were always my favourite cake as a child – well, what’s not to like about a sponge cube coated in sweet icing? They always seemed like the right choice for a tea party for my dolls – pretty, dainty and oh so appealing. So their recreation for my girls was a must – how could they miss out on such a gorgeous childhood treat?

As it turns out, fondant fancies aren’t hard to make dairy, egg and nut-free – they’re mainly an assembly of vanilla sponge, buttercream blobs and thick but pourable water icing. Not hard at all, but definitely a labour of love in that they take time. You’ll need to leave aside a good couple of hours to fit in the different stages and the final icing is certainly a bit of a challenge. Whilst I was happy with my results, the final appearance was a little more knobbly than a shop bought version!

Having said that, the delight on the girls faces of being able to eat a fondant fancy like their friends made it all worthwhile 🙂

Fondant Fancies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 18

Vanilla sponge

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  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 150ml oat milk
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 5

– Line a rectangular baking tray with parchment.

– Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar.

– In a separate bowl, mix together the oat milk, bicarb, lemon, vanilla and oil.

– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix, until well combines.

– Fill the baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden and a knife comes out clean.

– Cool on a wire rack.

– When completely cool, cut into squares with a serrated knife

Buttercream

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  • 2 tbsp vegetable fat (such as Trex)
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free spread (such as Pure)
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp cup oat milk

– Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat.

– Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the oat milk, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.

Nappage

  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp water

– melt the jam into the water. Keep warm.

Water Icing

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  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • water
  • food colouring

– gradually add  little bit of water at a time until you have a thick but pourable icing

– place 2 tbsp in a icing bag with a narrow tip

– colour the rest with a lovely pastel food colouring

Assembly

  1. Once the sponge is totally cool, slice into even sized cubes, around 5cm in diameter is about right, discarding the edges
  2. Paint the cubes with nappage (warmed, thinned apricot jam) to stop the crumbs getting mixed into the icing
  3. Pipe or spoon a dollop of buttercream onto the top of each sponge, then place in the fridge to firm up (about half an hour
  4. Spoon some water icing over each fondant fancy and then using a palette knife, evenly coat the sides. If you have time, put two coats on each fancy for an even finish. Drizzle over white icing lines.
  5. Leave to set
  6. These fancies keep well for up to 4 or 5 days

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Profiteroles

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Profiteroles – those cream filled, chocolate topped choux buns – are so tempting and the ideal wow pudding for any special celebration. I’m thinking, these will be perfect for Valentine’s Day. The recipe works particularly well with my egg-free creme patissiere as the filling and chocolate sauce topping both soften the pastry making those vegan choux buns taste even more authentic. Proud of these as I’ve not found other vegan profiteroles online and they really have come out a treat.

So, this is mainly an assembly of other recipes…

You will need to make:

– Make a hole in each bun and using a piping bag fill with the creme pat
– Place them decoratively into a tower on a plate
– Then make the chocolate sauce and drizzle over the buns

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Chocolate Sauce (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

  • 50g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free cream
  • 1 tsp honey or syrup

– Melt together until smooth and luscious. Drizzle over the choux buns.

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