Dairy-free Pain au Chocolat – New Improved Recipe

 

One of the true joys of a French holiday are morning trips to the boulangerie to buy fresh crusty baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat for breakfast. Every morning, little S would come and buy the fresh bread and pastries first thing and then look enviously at our pain au chocolat on the breakfast table. So I made a promise to make a batch on return.

Since last summer’s wonderful holiday in Corsica, I’ve got in the habit of regularly making friendly pain au chocolat for the girls. It’s been a mixed blessing, they’ve got rather used to freshly made viennoiserie for breakfast, so I end up making them often which takes time, but my croissant dough skiIlls have improved dramatically.

This new improved recipe has been gradually tweaked over the last year and I think we’ve finally got a jolly authentic, flaky and ‘buttery’ dough. The lamination has proved the tricky part of the recipe. Besides being the most time consuming aspect, I suffered for months with the layers simply disappearing which is really demoralising when you’ve spent hours putting them there in the first place! After some in-depth research it seems the crucial detail for lamination is that the fat content of the ‘butter replacement’ has to be around 82%. It’s that precise. In the UK our dairy-free margarines are predominantly water-based with fat coming way down the list of ingredients. If you use such a margarine the water just makes steam and you get a bready dough rather than buttery flaky layers. Makes total sense doesn’t it.

After much experimentation I’ve found that it works best to combine a mixture of dairy-free margarine such as Pure with a baking spread such as Stork (in the foil wrapper) and a touch of flour. This combination makes a great fat-rich butter substitute which also provides the right ‘buttery’ flavour.

Surely a good flaky Pain au Chocolat is possibly the most perfect breakfast item ever ūüôā

Dairy-free Homemade Pain au Chocolat

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

makes 16

500g strong bread flour

90g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

10g salt

100ml dairy-free milk (I used Oatly)

250ml cold water

150g dairy-free margarine

150g baking fat

1 tbsp flour

160g dark dairy-free chocolate chopped into batons

a sprinkle of caster sugar

melted dairy-free margarine for brushing

  1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt and yeast.
  2. Pour in the dairy-free milk and water and stir. Once come together, knead well to form a soft and springy dough (about 5-10 minutes).
  3. Cover and leave to rise for a couple of hours
  4. Meanwhile, put the dairy-free margarine on to some cling film, sprinkle with the flour and then top with the baking fat (making a kind of sandwich affair) and loosely wrap. Roll out to a square shape, and place in the fridge or freezer to harden.
  5. Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a floured surface and knead until a smooth dough. Cut a cross on top of the dough ball and roll out the leaves (see photo below)
  6. Place the cooled ‘butter’ in the middle and fold the four flaps over the ‘butter’ making sure it is entirely encased with dough.
  7. Roll out and fold into thirds twice
  8. Place back in the fridge for thirty minutes or so, then roll out and fold back into thirds twice more. Repeat two or three times.
  9. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes more.
  10. Roll out to form a large rectangle. Cut into four long strips, halve each.
  11. Place a line of chocolate at one narrow end and roll over to cover. Add another chocolate baton and continue rolling up.
  12. Loosely cover with cling film and let rise on the baking tray for 30 minutes.
  13. Brush with the melted margarine and sprinkle with caster sugar
  14. Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes 

 

Homemade Dairy-free Digestive Biscuits

The latest in my ‘recreate a classic’ series, which I work on occasionally.

Digestives. We all know the digestive in the UK. They come as plain or chocolate covered. No plate of biscuits, selection box or office meeting is complete without a few of these tasty but wholesome biccies, and they’re normally the first to be eaten. There is something about the combination of wholewheat, and that sweet/salty balance which gives such a great all round flavour. Digestives are big hitters in the biscuit world.

It’s extremely difficult to come across dairyfree digestives. Doves Farm make some but otherwise they’re normally a no¬†go for us. And that is how these experiments come about. How did mine turn out? Pretty close ¬†I am happy to say. Dunk them if you are that way inclined (not me thanks!).

Dairy-free Digestive Biscuits

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

makes about 14

225g wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

100g icing sugar

120g dairy-free margarine

30ml dairy-free milk

50g dairy-free chocolate (for chocolate coated biscuits)

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and icing sugar in a bowl.
  3. Rub in the dairy-free margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  4. Stir in the milk and bring together to form a soft dough
  5. Using plenty of flour, roll out and stamp out circles.
  6. Place onto greaseproof paper and prick with a fork or skewer
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden.
  8. Cool on a wire rack
  9. For chocolate coated biscuits, melt the chocolate and spread over one side of the cooled biscuits, making an attractive pattern on top.

Dairy-free Vanilla Panna Cotta

I have to admit that I’m obsessed with Masterchef. I religiously watch every episode of every series, I can’t really think of a programme I enjoy watching more! Obviously as a veggie who does a lot of vegan baking most of the dishes aren’t really my cup of tea, but the do inspire ideas and experiments. The pudding of choice seems to have moved on from a chocolate fondant (see a winning recipe here) to a panna cotta. They’re all doing panna cottas all the time, probably because they’re fairly easy to make in advance and then make look pretty on the plate kind of dessert – ideal when you’ve got a last minute panic going on!

I’ve never attempted a panna cotta before because the main ingredients for this sweetened set cream are gelatine and cream, not exactly suitable for a dairy-free veggie friendly blog! But surely I could make a tasty friendly version? I’ve had a few disasters with over rubbery dollops or hardly set puddles, but this recipe gives a great finish and beautifully sweet vanilla taste. There’s a good wobble but none of the rather unappealing bounce from too much gelatine! As it turns out dairy-free cream and veggie gelatine make perfect substitutes. I opted for Oatly cream, added lots of vanilla and a touch of sugar and the taste was great. I had wanted to use agar as a readily found veggie gelatine alternative but couldn’t find any ūüôĄ¬†so this recipe uses something called Vegetarian gel sachets from Sainsbury’s which is made from carrageenan and one sachet sets 570ml. Just make sure the setting agent you use sets similar proportions.

Since the Masterchef final is tomorrow night, this might be a suitable pudding to enjoy while watching!

Dairy-free Vanilla Panna Cotta

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

makes 3 or 4

250ml dairy-free cream

3 tbsp icing sugar

1/4 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)

1/2 tsp vegetarian gel

  1. Pour the cream into a saucepan. Add the vanilla, sugar and vegetarian gel. Stir until the gel powder and icing sugar have dissolved
  2. Bring the mixture to the boil for 1 minute.
  3. Pour into the ramekins or moulds and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours
  4. When ready to serve, un-mould and decorate with berries and chocolate soil (crumbled up biscuits)

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Have you ever had an an American style coffee cake? Not a coffee flavoured cake which were so popular in the U.K. in the 80s but a spiced cake made to be eaten with coffee?

A few years back I worked on a project in the US Virgin Isles (beautiful Caribbean waters), and we ate an American style diet and as we were very busy, convenience was the key. I have to say the catering, which we took turns to help with, was not always very inspiring, however, crumbly topped spiced coffee cake was one flavour which stayed with me. If I remember correctly, it was a boxed cake mix we used, but certainly not a familiar style of cake in the UK.

 

I’ve tried to recreate my memory with little success over the years, but¬†now I think I’ve cracked it. The sponge is moist and spiced and the topping is sweet, crunchy and crumbly – and indeed does go rather well with a coffee. Handily enough it also makes a great pudding when served with custard. Double bonus to have a recipe with multiple uses up your sleeve.

 

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup Bird’s custard powder or corn flour
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free¬†margarine, such as Pure
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soya yogurt, preferably vanilla flavour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup oat milk

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup¬†soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, such as Pure
  1. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling and set aside.
  2. In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar and cinnamon for the streusel topping. Rub in the margarine with your fingertips to make a crumble like consistency. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4. Grease and line a spring-form cake tin
  4. Sift together the flour, custard powder or corn flour and bicarbonate and set aside
  5. Mix together the yogurt, oat milk and vanilla and set aside
  6. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy
  7.  Alternately add the flour and yogurt mix (about 1/3rd of the mix each time) and whisk well between each addition.
  8. Pour 1/2 of the mix into the cake tin and level off.
  9. Sprinkle over the cinnamon/sugar mix on top, then pour the rest of the cake mix over the top.
  10. Scatter over the streusel mixture and then bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife cones out clean
  11. Cool briefly in the tin before unmoulding.

 

Homemade Crunchie Bars – dairy-free

 

Thank Crunchie it’s (almost) Friday!

Whilst the range of dairy-free chocolate is getting better all the time, it pales in comparison to the ‘regular’ chocolate selection in any shop. So regular blog followers will know that every now and then I try to experiment with an everyday and iconic bar to enable the girls to get a taste of what their friends eat.

The most popular so far have been my dairy-free KitKats and Creme Eggs¬†– I was pretty pleased with both of those (excuse the boast). This time I thought I’d experiment with Crunchie bars, yet another¬†‘classic’¬†and a childhood favourite.

Homeycomb in itself is pretty easy to make, and it’s lots of fun watching the caramel turn into a bubbling volcano of sugary foam ( but do be extremely careful as honeycomb is burning hot).

It’s also very easy to make uneven shards of honeycomb but I wondered how to make it into even bars like real crunchies. The answer is to pour the honeycomb into oiled silicone chocolate bar moulds and once set you have the most perfect honeycomb bars. Not that it makes any difference to the taste but¬†as my goal is to recreate the original as best I can, it seems important.

I know original Crunchies are coated in milk chocolate but the dark chocolate contrasts really well¬†with the ever-so-sweet honeycomb and actually makes a far better bar. Have fun dipping the honeycomb into the chocolate… messy but satisfying.

Dairy-free Homemade Crunchie Bars

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

makes 12 bars

200g caster sugar

 4 tbsp golden syrup

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g chocolate, melted

  1. Oil the chocolate moulds, or a baking tray with sides.
  2. Gently melt together the sugar and syrup (in a high sided saucepan which has plenty of spare space) until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a bubble and simmer until it turns lightly golden (this won’t take long).
  3. Remove from the heat and pour in the bicarbonate of soda, stir briefly to ensure the whole thing is foaming.
  4. Pour into the moulds or onto the baking tray. Leave to set.
  5. Un-mould or break into shards.
  6. Melt the chocolate and dip the bars/shards to totally cover.

 

Waffles – egg-free and dairy-free

waffles, egg-free and dairy-free

It’s nearly Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day and the perfect reason¬†for some mid week baking! I’ve got plenty of pancake recipes on my blog, from traditional, crepes to American style puffy fluffy ones. So this year I thought I’d share my trusty waffle recipe.

waffles and blueberry compote

It obviously helps if you have a waffle iron/maker but if not the recipe also works well in a clean greased griddle pan, which provides the necessary dips to give the iconic waffle shape and also hold the delicious fillings. I was lucky enough to get a waffle maker for Christmas so they’ve become a regular feature to our weekend breakfasts and puddings.

Despite having no egg or egg replacer in, this recipe makes fantastically light waffles which turn beautifully golden and crisp around the indentations. Delicious! In fact, Little S asked for¬†this quote added “They’re the best breakfast I’ve ever had’ – well, that’s a good review isn’t it!

We often have them with maple syrup but here I’ve served them with a sweet but tart blueberry compote and vanilla ice cream for a crowd pleasing pudding.

homemade dairy-free egg-free waffles

Egg-free, Dairy-free Waffles

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

vegan waffles

makes 6-8

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp melted dairyfree margarine (I prefer Pure) or flavourless oil

1 cup water

  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir.
  2. Pour in the wet ingredients and whisk to form a smooth but thickish batter.
  3. Lightly oil your waffle iron or griddle pan and heat well.
  4. Pour a dollop into each waffle compartment (I find a level ladleful is the perfect amount for my waffle maker). Close and cook until golden on both sides.
  5. If using a griddle pan, cook dollops of batter in the pan until golden on one side and then carefully turn over.
  6. Serve straight away, or keep for later and reheat for 5 minutes in a hot oven before serving.

nut-free waffles