Strawberry Scones

The sun’s out and I feel inspired and buzzing with fresh ideas. There really isn’t anything like the end of Winter to make me feel ready to attack the spring and summer with gusto – it’s amazing what a bit of warmth and sunlight can do!

We had a lovely trip to see the sea of bluebells last weekend, which is a bit of a yearly tradition in my part of the country, which culminated with cool drinks in a National Trust cafe. All the other customers seemed to be tucking into cream teas (obviously it was drinks or nothing for us!), which got me thinking about making a batch of scones. Scones, with their association with cream teas and strawberry jam always seem rather summery to me, so perfect for my current vibe. So here is a cracking combination of scones and strawberries  so we can tuck into a cream tea at home.

I’d really recommend using freeze-dried berries in sweet recipes, as you get all the flavour and none of the ‘sog factor’, so there’s no need to adjust the indigents to factor in extra moisture.

 

Strawberry Scones

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

Makes about 20

450g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

75g dairy-free margarine

75g caster sugar

300 ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

1 tsp berry essence, if you have it

1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries , roughly chopped

To top: 2 tbsp oat milk 2 tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 6. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets.
  2. Rub the margarine into the flour, sugar and baking powder until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
  3. Pour in the essence and dairy-free milk and very gently bring together to a soft dough. It’s very important not to work scone dough. Add the freeze dried berries.
  4. Gently pat out the dough until its about 1 inch thick. Using a 2inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place on the baking sheets Continue, gently bringing the dough back into a ball and cutting out, until all the dough has been used up.
  5. Brush the top of each with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with sugar Bake for about 20-25 minutes until starting to turn golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Maple Syrup Flapjacks and the stress of being an ‘allergy family’

Flapjacks must be the ultimate energy giving treat, packed full of oats and sugar and easily transported, they’re definitely the bar to take when snacks will be hard to find, or pure energy is needed due to strenuous activity. I’ve tried many flapjacks recipes and believe me, there are a lot of bad ones out there which resemble sweet sawdust more than an indulgent treat. This recipe on the other hand, is knockout, resulting in such wonderful sweet gooey bars, you’ll definitely be reaching for another one!

If you follow me on FaceBook you may be aware of my recent additional stress from being an ‘allergy mum’. At age 14 we have finally agreed for Big S to go on her first foreign school trip. It has always felt like too much of a responsibility to hand to the staff before, but she’s growing up fast and we had to say yes sometime. Obviously when the trip was first advertised I had a long conversation with the lead teacher about Big S’s requirements. She’s only allergic to milk but they’re going to Northern France where dairy is used in lots of cooking. I was reassured that the hotel had been spoken to, she would safely be catered for, and arrangements could be made for her not to go into an environment where lots of milk could be present in the goats cheese making farm visit. We knew that nonetheless food would still be an challenge, but so far so good.

Then, it all went pear-shaped 😦

Last week we had the presentation about the trip. There was mention that on the final day the children will have to buy their own supper at the shopping centre, or on the ferry on the way home.  I started to feel a bit stressed, her command of French isn’t huge and while we can pack her off with ‘allergy cards’ to show, would she even understand the reply to be confident enough to eat the food? So many worries….

Then it got worse….. I spoke to the lead teacher and she said there was a problem. GULP! The hotel has refused to provide any food at all for Big S. To compensate, the school, has arranged for them to eat supper in a local restaurant which knows of the milk allergy and is happy to cater for her. BUT, she will not be provided with any breakfast or lunch for the entire trip, that’s 4 days! We’ve been given a slight refund and she can take her own snacks, or buy her own food in France. That’s all very well, but how can you take enough food for 4 days? We also know from experience that ready to eat food that is dairy-free is hard to find in France. She’s also a teenager who desperately doesn’t want to stand out as different. So much stress and worry on so many levels! We’re going to have to make plans, research and be extremely organised! I know she will survive (she’ll be very hungry) and still have a wonderful time, but it’s awful to think of sending my daughter to another country with little food provided and little ability to buy much there.

I’ve spoken to many people in the past few days as I’ve been so very stressed and rather tearful about the whole thing, and it’s made me realise that non-allergy families have no idea of the stress we live under all the time. My FaceBook community who ‘get it’ have been extremely supportive, understanding and helpful. Others, who don’t see the issues, much less so. It’s been suggested that i just send her with a few cereal bars and she’ll be fine. Yes, she’ll be fine, but how would they feel about sending their daughter to another country with only a few cereal bars? She can’t go and buy a bar of chocolate to keep herself going. She can’t join her friends in eating a McDonald’s hamburger or buying a crepe in the market when they get hungry. She’ll survive, but a cereal bar doesn’t quite cut it! I guess, as an allergy-mum and in writing this blog, creating safe-recipes etc. I’ve made it my priority to ensure my children are well catered for; it goes against everything I stand for to send her away to such unknown!

Anyway, I will send her with cereal bars (and much much more!), and some of these devilishly good flapjacks. Hopefully she’ll share them with her friends and they’ll provide a good hit of home-made energy and goodness!

Maple Syrup Flapjacks

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

makes about 24

200g dairy free margarine

200g demerara sugar

100g golden syrup

100g maple syrup

400g oats (preferably not giant oats)

1/2 tsp salt (preferably fleur de sel)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line a 30×20 cm (approx.) baking tray with foil
  2. Melt together the dairy free margarine, sugar, syrups and salt
  3. When the sugar has dissolved mix into the oats and spread into the lined baking tray
  4. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden
  5. Cool well before cutting into bars/squares. Or freeze whole and cut when defrosted.
  6. Try not to eat too many!!

Mexican Chocolate Earthquake Cookies

I love these cookies – they’re rich, chocolaty, soft and scrumptious! I had a brief time before having children when I wanted to start a cookie business and back then these were some of my absolute favourites.

It does sometimes surprise me which recipes are most popular on my blog. Out of the 500+ recipes, it so often comes back to the same ones again and again. There are many winning recipes that don’t seem to get a second chance, maybe they’re just less known about and therefore less searched for? I first posted this recipe when I initially set up my blog in 2012, and I still absolutely love these cookies. Here I’ve added a variation using aquafaba, so you have a choice of aquafaba or flaxseeds as the binder. Do eat these cookies quickly, they’re best eaten warm for the oven. Or reheat for a couple of minutes before eating to enjoy the crisp exterior and soft cakey centre.

Mexican Chocolate Earthquake Cookies

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

makes about 24

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup melted dairy-free margarine

2 tbsps golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

use either:

1/3 cup oat milk and 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

or use; 1/4 cup dairy-free milk and 3tbsp Aquafaba

100g melted dairy-free chocolate

250g plain flour

2 tbsps cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking powder

large pinch of salt

1 cup of icing sugar to roll dough in

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Sift the icing sugar onto a plate and set aside
  2. In a bowl mix the sugar, dairy-free margarine, syrup, vanilla, oat milk, flax seeds (or aquafaba) and melted chocolate
  3. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. It should produce a soft dough
  4. Take tablespoons of mix and roll in the icing sugar. Place on a lined baking sheet and press down slightly
  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.
  6. Best eaten straight away, or next day will do (invite people over or send into school/work!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Happy Valentines Day! I hope you are all enjoying spending time with your loved ones and have received little signs of appreciation for your love.

In honour of St Valentine’s Day and all things red, and to show some appreciation to all my lovely followers here is a red velvet cupcake recipe. I haven’t posted a cupcake recipe for an age, despite them always being one of my most requested baked items. I guess it’s the fact that when you have a cupcake, you get the whole thing, with the decoration complete – a perfect little mini cake for one, making it the ideal bake for handing to a loved one.

These red velvet cupcakes adorned with velvety white buttercream and freeze-dried strawberry powder are perfect for Valentine’s Day to fit in with the all things red theme. My red velvet cakes are not so red as I didn’t want to use too much food colouring – just double the amount for extra red if you wish!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

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

makes 20-24

375g self-raising flour

200g caster sugar

25g cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

200ml sunflower oil

300ml dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice (or vinegar)

1 tsp red food colouring gel or paste (use 2 for greater red effect)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade and fill the cupcake trays with liners
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and bicarbonate of soda
  3. Mix together the milk, oil, vanilla, lemon and food colouring, pour into the dry ingredients and mix well
  4. Half fill the cupcake cases and bake for 15-17 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
  5. Cool on a wire rack, then decorate with the buttercream and a sprinkle of something red

Velvety White Buttercream 

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

enough to ice 24 cupcakes

12 tbsp vegetable fat (such as Trex)

3/4 cup dairy-free spread (such as Pure)

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

1/4 cup oat milk

  1. Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat. (the fat adds stability to the icing)
  2. Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the oat milk, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.
  3. Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes.

 

 

Chocolate Pancakes with Rich Chocolate Sauce

Everyone loves pancakes, and it is essential to have a good few recipes for creating quick and exciting breakfasts or puddings, and obviously for Shrove Tuesday a.k.a. Pancake Day 🙂

It would be logical to presume it wouldn’t be possible to make nice pancakes without the milk and eggs, because in essence a pancake is just milk, eggs and flour. But you would be very wrong, it is in fact very easy to make delicious, authentic tasting and looking pancakes without any milk or eggs in sight. I have, mind, eaten some bad rubbery vegan pancakes along the way, but these are not them. These turn out as lovely light, puffy pancakes (yes no egg needed involved!). Perfect for eating from a stack and smothered in sauce.

We’re generally a sugar and lemon, or golden syrup household, but the picture on the cover of this month’s Waitrose food magazine of these chocolate pancakes tempted me in. Chocolate pancakes covered in chocolate sauce looked so deliciously double chocolatey good, that I had to have a tweak of the recipe to make it dairy and egg-free.

And they’re good. We had them as a dessert, as I am not sure I can cope with that rich chocolate sauce at breakfast time. But you never know! There’s a sinful breakfast right there if you want one.

Happy Pancake Day to all. I hope you enjoy these deliciously chocolatey pancakes as much as we did.

Chocolate Pancakes

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

makes approx 10-12 pancakes

1 cup plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 tbsp flavourless oil, I used sunflower

1 cup dairy-free milk

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, sugar and salt.
  2. Pour in the oil and milk and whisk to make a smooth batter. If possible leave to rest for half an hour before using.
  3. Heat a frying pan to medium hot, wipe with a dab of oil and fry ladlefuls of the batter. You will know it’s time to turn them over because the bubbles will rise to the surface of the pancake showing it’s time to flip.
  4. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Rich Chocolate Sauce

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

50g dairy-free chocolate

1 tbsp dairy-free margarine

1 tbsp maple or golden syrup

2 tbsp dairy-free milk

  1. Gently melt all the ingredients together, either in a saucepan or in the microwave.

Homemade Speculaas Biscuits

I really love making biscuits, I think I like making them more than any other food. There’s something about it that I find relaxing and rewarding. Perhaps I should be listening to myself, maybe a cookie business is the way forward!

Anyway, I’m constantly on the look out for inspiration, be it in supermarkets, bakeries, magazines or online. Seeing something new to experiment with and recreate makes me happy, and happiness in certainly needed in the cold dark days of January. The inspiration for these speculaas biscuits comes from the gorgeous Ottolenghi cookbook ‘Sweet‘ which I got for my birthday. I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and his food, and as you can imagine a recipe book of his sweet treats is right up my street. These homemade Lotus biscuits caught my eye straight away, and I have to say that with a few tweaks and experiments the resulting ‘friendly’ biscuits are spot on. The spice [and if you can get hold of genuine speculaas spice then all the better – The Speculaas Spice Company makes a really delicious spice blend or use this recipe to make your own] and crisp nature of the biscuits make them the ultimate accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee.

You may ask why bother when Lotus biscuits are ubiquitous all over Europe? Well, they may be easily found, but in my opinion homemade is generally best and these biscuits would win hands down in any ‘cookie-off’.

Homemade Speculaas Biscuits

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

 

makes about 30

220g plain flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1&1/2 – 2 tsp speculaas spice mix

pinch of salt

125g dairy-free margarine

160g soft light brown sugar

20-30ml dairy-free milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C/190 degrees C fan/Gas Mark 6
  2. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, add 20ml dairy-free milk. The mix may split after this addition, if so add an handful of the flour.
  3. Sieve in the flour, spice, baking powder and salt and bring together to a firm dough. If it remains too crumbly add an extra splash of the milk.
  4. Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and cut out shapes. Place slightly apart on lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes, turning the trays round half way through so they brown evenly. Cool on the trays before moving to a wire rack.
  5. These biscuits keep really well for about one week.