Monthly Archives: February 2010

Marble Loaf

*DEEP BREATH*

It’s a typical Saturday night for me. Home, smelling like a cupcake, satisfied, slightly over’eaten’ and happy that there’s still Sunday to go. But on this Saturday night, I feel slightly nervous. Who knew that at 21, I could feel so tiny as if I’m 17 again, faced with exam stress and stage fright.

My basic theory test for my driving is on Tuesday and after having failed once, it’s clearly a case of once bitten twice shy. The cool ‘I-can-wing-it’ attitude is nowhere to be found, buried under ‘geez-I-can’t-fail-this-again!’ instead. The excuse of not knowing how the format of the test was, isn’t going to work twice. So while I’m busy memorising what white lines and bus lanes do, I am also frantically trying to recall what I had read the page before. Obviously nervous, as you can tell. So stop telling me it’s easy- it isn’t helping!

And as for the stage fright? Well the Loewen Garden Farmers’ Market is on this coming Saturday, March 6th! Over-excited would be an understatement, but so would ‘terribly-nervous-I-am-worried’. There is a problem with fantastic first-times and that’s keeping up with it. I am still preparing myself mentally for any setbacks that may occur. It’s hard to keep my hopes on the ground, it’s like a helium filled balloon.

But to whet your appetite, here’s peek of what Sweets By Vicky has on offer this coming Saturday, March 6!
1) Hungry Monkey: Roasted Banana Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream
2) Summercup: Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
3) Vegan Jam Thumprints (egg-free, dairy-free)
4) Fudge Brownies (dairy-free)
and 2 more cupcake flavours, cookies and loaves!

How can you say no? I’m hoping they’ll find a happy home in your tummy.

Needless to say, I had to bake something for me to stuff my worried face with, to calm me down. And as a compulsive reader of cookbooks, I decided that I really should bake something from the one book I’ve been flipping through, incessantly. Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

And since I felt all sorts of emotions running through me, twirling my mind about, a marble loaf would be more than apt. The waves look alot like how I would look like if you cut me open!UNFORTUNATELY, this is where the story starts getting a little…tragic.

Trying to convert a recipe to gluten free AND dairy free, while also aiming to use up a banana that doesn’t even belong in the recipe, is really a sign of overachieving. And while Chemistry may not be my strongest subject, I can pretty much tell that it wasn’t going too well when  it still hadn’t risen at all after half an hour in the oven. The batter tasted weird too (I licked the spoon) since the banana (as mentioned before) wasn’t part of the flavour mingling. By the end of 50 mins, the loaf had risen (thankfully) and it looked so promising I was ready to give myself a big pat on the back. Imagine how amazed I was that it LOOKED like a marble loaf, and was sturdy as I imagined it would be.

HAHA! It was too sturdy, quite damp-ish and quite sticky, making it a real challenge swallowing it in larger chunks. Why does this keep happening to me? Any gluten free experts out there who care to share how the flours can be manipulated?! Or maybe super-seasoned bakers can shed some light on why this might have happened? I seem to be facing it a fair bit. What happened to the fine crumb I used to get? And the tenderness? I haven’t had a cake to squeal about in awhile it’s getting quite rotten in here.

All’s not lost though, I’m determined to make it better! Well, eventually anyway. I’m afraid all the marbling is making me lose my marbles. Guess the recipe isn’t quite ready to make it’s debut so bear with me. Thanks for listening to me pour my heart out!

AND! All the lovelies in the PACIFIC NATIONS…please watch out for the TSUNAMI WARNINGS! I just read about the catastrophic earthquake in Chile and the massive damage it has done. According to Japan’s meteorological  agency, all countries in the Pacific are monitoring tsunami risks. My problems has dwindled to the size of a pea now.

*CROSSES FINGERS* The boy is in Aussieland, I hope hope hope for the best.

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Filed under Breakfast, Events, Inspired

Pumpkin & Coffee = Pure Logic

Between you and me, I think it’s time you know that I’m not the one who always has ‘logic’. In fact, sometimes I stare at sentences, re-reading them, trying to find the logic in it. It’s quite a funny sight, especially when I’m trying to memorize understand my basic driving theory. And don’t even get me started on the conversations I have with the boy, when I drive him absolutely insane from my logic, which, isn’t really logical. But I had a point, I swear, I just can’t remember how I derived it.

It might be a case of selective memory but I seem to remember very clearly how I logically arrived at today’s recipe. It goes something like this (witness my conversation in my head)

Head: MMM, coffee smells nice

Tummy: I want coffee! Must bake something with coffee

Head: Pumpkin in the fridge, remember to use it.

Tummy: Must bake something with coffee.

Head: GRRR, FINE! I wonder if pumpkin goes with coffee? Well, pumpkin goes with chocolate and rum. Coffee goes with chocolate and rum. So, pumpkin must go with coffee!

Tummy: Must bake something with coffee!

And that’s how I arrived at today’s pumpkin slice with coffee glaze. The slice was slightly flour-heavy when it came out. It was light as a feather when I looked at it, but it tasted heavy…It’s must tastier the day after. Then again, I know why, logically, it turned out this way. When (half) this recipe called for 220g of pumpkin, I only had 190g, which explains why it may be dry. I should’ve added 2 tablespoons of applesauce, and that’s where my logic failed me.

Sweets By Vicky’s Logical Pumpkin Slice with Coffee Glaze

1 1/4 cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
220g steamed and smashed pumpkin (puree)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp grated orange peel

1) Preheat oven to 180degreesC, fanforced, grease a 8×8 inch pan

2) In the bowl of a kitchenaid, add the eggs and sugar and whisk until double in volume (pale and light). Add in the oil and whisk for another 30 seconds.

3) Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a seperate bowl.

4) Once the eggs are whisked, add in cinnamon, orange peel, vanilla, mix well.

5) Then add in the flour mix and on low speed, incorporate. Beat for another 30 seconds.

6) Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (Sorry, I didn’t quite keep track of the exact time) or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

7) Once baked, cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out and cooling, right side up. Drizzle coffee glaze over cake!

Coffee Glaze

2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp warm water
4-5 tbsp icing sugar, sifted

1) Dissolve the instant coffee in the warm water. Add in the 4 tbsp of icing sugar and mix until smooth and no lumps are present. If glaze is still flowing very easily, add in another tbsp of icing sugar and mix. Glaze should flow quite thickly from a spoon.

*Brought it into work today, it was gone before I knew it! Guess it’s a sign!

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Filed under Breakfast, Coffee, Inspired, pumpkin, Recipes

Sunday Morning Pancakes

A conversation topic has been floating around our household lately. My sister and dad have been deciding what they would like to abstain from, for Lent. If I’m not wrong, it starts from Ash Wednesday and ends on Good Friday. In this year’s case, the last day of Lent would be 2 April. So dad’s now the anti-betting-on-football king and my sister has decided to temporarily break-up with the TV. Well as for me, while I may not be Catholic, I’m ready to join in, just to do something different for a change to to feel committed to a cause. And what am I avoiding? DAIRY!

I am technically dairy intolerant but I haven’t had much reaction to it in ages. Yet it does cause the occasional uneasiness in my body, and aggravates my eczema so I can’t see a better time to try abstaining from dairy for awhile. Luckily dark chocolate is dairy-free.

And here’s a funny story about how my mom found out I was dairy intolerant. Apparently when I was a baby, after I passed the breastfeeding stage, she would feed me milk from a bottle. Unfortunately for her, whenever she did, the milk would end up 2m from where she was standing. I imagine it must’ve been quite a funny sight…no? Like a milk fountain.And unfortunately for me, she never told me this whenever I used to eat carbonara which always made me feel sick. Gluten-FULL pasta + cream-based sauce = toilet hugging.

Okay I’ll stop being gross. In the spirit of being dairy-free, I made some dairy-free pancakes for Sunday morning breakfast!

The pancakes are fluffy, and border on being a little too dry. My advice is to add 1-2 tablespoons of milk (as I will highlight in RED) and be generous with your maple syrup (you’ll thank me for this!)

Sunday Pancakes (makes 8)

1 cup – 2 tbsp GF flour blend
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tbsp oil (Suggestion: 2 tbsp more!)
1 large egg, seperated
1 tsp vanilla extract
olive oil spray for frying

1) In a mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and baking soda.
2) Gradually whisk in the egg yolk, milk, oil and vanilla until very smooth. Let stand for 5 minutes
3) In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry peaks form. Carefully fold into the pancake batter.
4) In a large nonstick pan, over a medum high heat, spray a light coating of olive oil spray. Pour one ice-cream scoop (1/4 cup) of batter onto the pan. When bubbles start showing up on the surface, flip it over into it’s belly and fry for another 2 minutes or until brown.
5) EAT with REAL maple syrup. THE ADDITION OF BACON IS ADVISABLE.

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Macaron Day 2

“This time baby, I’ll be bulletproof”…

As I happily sang along to my current song-of-the-day by La Roux, I saw it as a sign. A good sign! The macaron shells will be bulletproof! I followed all that I’ve read and made sure my batter was “flowing like magma” before I carefully scooped it into my piping bag. Baking sheet- check. 160 degreeC oven (conventional), check. And I even had a little rhythm as I piped those cute little buttons of almond goodness. There were tiny pointy bits (that resembled a woman’s chest) but I remembered that a reader told me I could fix that with a little water on my finger and a gentle press. No sweat, positive thoughts!

So I decided to conduct a minor experiment. I left 1 batch out for 15 minutes and popped them into the oven. Result? Slightly cracked tops on some, and little feet, not poofy enough.

Batch 2 (pic above) was in 30 minutes after I had piped them. Result? Poofy feet, no cracked shells, but not matter how hard I tried to rap the tray against the table to get rid of the slight pointy bit, it was still there. *sigh*

Batch 3 was in 30 minutes (same as batch 2) but I placed it under batch 2. Result: NO FEET, a big mound of crunchy almond mountain-ness.

The improvements from this try was that…all of the shells were easy to remove, hardly any ‘innards’ were sacrificed. Hardly any crackly tops, most of them resembled macarons! Like, cousins, once removed.In fact, I’d say it was a big improvement. And I made sure the almond + icing sugar mix was as fine as I could manage, I even sifted it.

BUT! it seemed to turn soft-ish, chewy-ish. Not like the crunchy shell I imagine it to have. Can I be annoying and attribute this to the humid weather here? I mean, cookies die at the humidity’s mercy. And if you’re wondering about the recipe, I used this one from Syrup and Tang. It’s supposed to be the more reliable macaron! Maybe I should try the French macaron method?

I’m feeling really down now.I think I’ll go window shopping online.

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Lemon Curd + Macarons Day 1

The past few days of festivity-filled goodness has led me to believe that my stomach has indeed expanded in order to increase Lunar New Year eating capacity. And I’m sure a few other friends out there will probably agree. And for those who still have their bouquets of roses (or whichever flower you prefer to love) sitting proudly on their tabletops, you probably have expanded tummies from the joy of indulging with your significant other (or mom).

But it’s okay, I suppose you can always make yourself feel better knowing that you have a whole 10 months to fit into that holiday dress/suit again before Christmas and New Year happily roll around in which case, signifies the starting of belly-upsizing. But don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy eating those goodies because I know, at the back of your head, you told yourself so quietly…I promise this is my last cookie…

Okay, I’ll stop making you feel guilty. In fact, I’ve got a yummy dairy-free lemon curd recipe to share today, which makes breakfast this much sunnier! And is a good deterrent to reaching for the jar of pineapple tarts that just needs to be finished. Plus, it’s really quite simple without having to worry about tempering egg yolks and that.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Lemon Curd (adapted from Rebecca Reilly’s Gluten Free Baking)

8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
Juice and grated zest of 3 lemons
3/4 stick dairy-free spread (I used Nuttelex), alternatively, use butter if you aren’t dairy intolerant

1) In a medium saucepan, whisk the yolks and sugar together. Do not ribbon the mixture because you do not want to incorporate too much air.

2) Whisk in the lemon juice and zest

3) Cut the dairy-free spread into small chunks and add.

4) Over medium heat, sirring constantly, cook until the dairy-free spread melts. Then, the curd will begin to thicken but not boil. The thin layer of foam (that forms while stirring) will disappear at the point when the curd is done.

5) Strain into a clean bowl and immediately place a piece of  plastic wrap over it, touching the surface to prevent bacteria from forming and a skin from developing.

6) Refridgerate until ready to use. Spoon dollops of it into greek yoghurt and sprinkle berries and nuts over! :)

And onto Day 1 of macaron making…I’m just like most of everyone else. No feet, peaked tops, yummy shells, ugly shells. So, I did some reading and realized I probably didn’t have my batter ‘satiny’ or ‘flowing like magma’ although I don’t quite know what magma flows like. But ‘dissolving ribbons’ seem more descriptive but again, I didn’t have that. Mine was too stiff (which I thought was a good thing) but I guess sponge cakes and macarons like their peaks different. DAY TWO on FRIDAY. Wish me luck. I really don’t want pointy conical-bra shaped macarons.

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Filed under Fruit, Recipes

Gluten Free, Starbucks Worthy

I woke up this morning to find that I had, again, been attacked by 7.30-body-clock-itis. Fun.

And so when I made my way to the kitchen, as I do,m even in zombie-like states, I realized I was in an upside down aquarium. At this point, I was quite ready to settle that this was a dream. But no, after a double blink, I found out that it was just me, in my pjs, standing under a ceiling my mom had so painstakingly decorated to evoke the Chinese New Year spirit. And my heart started to have a slight skip and my foggy mind, unfoggied. Today was the eve of CNY!

I suppose I’m so used to waking up dreading to find out what day it is that knowing we have four (I repeat, FOUR) days of food, family and firecracker-filled goodness makes me just euphoric. I mean, this is the day that I look forward to all year! And as you must have heard from everyone else, this year’s CNY falls on Valentine’s Day! BOOM!

Double happiness. You know why? If you have a date, then YAY, celebrate, If you have family dinners, then YAY, party! If you have no date, you have CNY, then YAY, you’re not alone. If you have no CNY, then YAY, you have V.day. If you have none then, go to a Chinese friend’s house, and eat their food. We love you eating our food, we have TOO MUCH!

The boy thinks my logic is funny, but hey, after watching Valentine’s Day (which was an awesome star-studded, big bowl mix of chick flicks and stereotypes I LOVE), Feb 14 does have some psychological effect on many! So it’s good this year that everyone can just celebrate CNY if you really don’t like this commercial ‘holiday’. (It’s not a holiday because we don’t really get a day off)

Okay, somebody shut my overexcited nerves down now!

Well, moving onto to the GF, Starbucks worthy chocolate chip muffins…

These are ugly. They’re one of those ugly-real-muffin-not-pretending-to-be-a-cupcake kind of thing. And that’s why I love it. They rise a substantial amount, and has a light crumb that most GF items really don’t have. I may go on to say that they might even be a little dry and it’s probably from the cocoa powder since it does a good lot of liquid-absorbing. So my thought was to increase the liquids in the mix, but apparently it wasn’t enough so I’ve added in another 2 tbsp of oil in this recipe since I think it would benefit from it. Don’t worry, these muffins are big-ish and don’t have frosting (duh! It’s a muffin) so…it’s definitely still less fattening which can only really mean one thing…CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST!

Vicky’s Gluten-Free, Starbucks Worthy Choc Muffins

1 3/4cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup cocoa (I used dutch-processed)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xantham gum
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp chocolate milk (normal/ dairy-free milk should be fine too)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup 55% chocolate chips & white chocolate chips, mixed

1) Preheat oven to 170 degreesC, fan-forced. Lightly spray a non-stick muffin tin with veg-oil spray

2) In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and xantham gum together. Give it a stir. Mix in sugar.

3) In a medium bowl, blend the milk and oil together until emulsified. Add in the  eggs and give it a good mix.,

4) Add the wet ingredients into the dry. Mixture will be stiiicckkyyy but not so much that you can’t stir it properly. Then toss in the chocolate chips and mix.

5) Distribute the mixture evenly between the muffin cups (I wanted mine big, breakfast like so I only had 11 muffins)

6) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

ADDITIONAL INFO: You may, so accidentally, pour in a little more choc chips (oops!)

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Filed under Chocolate, Recipes

Lemon Squares

Recently I discovered a problem with me. And I’m proud to say that I’m probably not the only one. I’m sure that even as I’m typing this, someone is guilty of commiting this ‘problem’. And how can anyone blame you? It’s not your fault that you don’t always have fresh nutmeg to grate or vanilla sugar you so dutifully prepare every time you have a vanilla pod just…lying around. So what do we do? We improvise, and change, and sometimes, invent.

But you see, the big problem with that, my friend, is that I don’t really know how a recipe from my stash of cookbooks is really supposed to taste like. And that, is a problem. How can I tell if this is the best possible way to do something if I don’t know the original way it’s supposed to be done! So I decided, I shall follow a recipe for once, just this once, and see how it turns out. Okay, so I cheated and used a book I had utmost faith in, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of something horrid coming out of the oven.

I made Rebecca Reilly’s Lemon Squares from her Gluten Free Baking book. The squares were really, and I mean really simple to make. And quick and most importantly, absolutely tasty. The shortcrust bottom is not to thick or dense, but doesn’t crumble too easily, a fault many GF cookie bases suffer from. The lemony filling? Slightly sticky, sour and easy to cut through and impossible to mess up.

Gluten Free Lemon Squares from here

2 c GF flour blend
1/2 c almond meal/hazelnut meal
1 stick of butter, diced and kept in the freezer for 5 minutes
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp xantham gum
1/8 tsp salt

1) Preheat the oven to 175degreesC. Lightly grease a 13 x 9inch baking pan for thin bars or an 8inch square pan for thicker bars. Line the pan with buttered parchment paper.(I didn’t do this because my pan was non-stick)

2) To make the crust, mix together the gluten-free mix, almong flour, icing sugar, xantham gum and salt. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. You want to have a crumbly texture. (To test if it was ‘wet’ enough, I lightly squeeze the crumbs to see if they would form a dough) Press the mixture ino the prepared pan and bake for 20 mins of under slightly golden brown. (Mine ended up slightly undercooked so I recommend baking it for a little longer, maybe 23 mins)

Filling

3 eggs
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1/3 c fresh lemon juice

1) To make the filling, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add in the lemon juice and whisk.

2) Pour the filling over the hot crust. Return to oven and bake for another 20 mins. The edges will begin to brown. Cool before dusting with more icing sugar. Cut into about 2inch squares.

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