April 12, 2012

In with the dairy, out with the gluten…

Al and I made it through our dairy free week without too much difficulty – or any midnight cheese raids! I think that it has shown us how often we add butter or cheese to dishes out of habit, rather than because a dish needs it and actually leaving it out often lets the flavours of other ingredients, such as vegetables, really speak for themselves. One of the main issues I faced was that I couldn’t find a single completely dairy free spread in any of the supermarkets in the local Morzine area– all of the vegetable oil based spreads had some form of milk in them somewhere. I couldn’t even track down any goat butter which, considering there is an actual “goat village” not far from the AliKats’ chalet, is pretty disappointing. I’m sure that I will be able to source some better products in one of the larger towns nearby.

Our next dietary challenge is to be wheat and gluten free for a week, so I have ordered some products fromDoves Farm who specialise in organic flours and have an excellent range of wheat and gluten free baking products.

I also ordered a fantastic book called  Cake Angels: Gluten, Wheat & Dairy Free Cakes by Julia Thomas which has tons of delicious recipes that I can’t wait to try out to see which ones will make the grade as part of afternoon tea in the chalet this winter. My first attempt was the spiced courgette cupcakes – they sound a little bit eccentric but are completely delicious and quite healthy! I chose them because they are the perfect cross-over recipe between these two weeks of dietary restrictions, being dairy free but also wheat and gluten free. I did have to cheat slightly with the recipe as my non-dairy spread was not completely dairy free but I’m confident I will have found some good products by the start of the season –  here is the recipe so you can try them for yourselves:

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Spiced courgette cupcakes with orange glacé icing
Makes: 12 cupcakes
preparation: 30 minutes
cooling: 35 minutes
freeze: yes

For the cupcake mixture
45g walnuts
215g wheat & gluten free self-raising flour
1 tsp xanthum gum
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
160g soft light brown sugar
100ml vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
325g courgettes, finely grated

For the orange glacé mixture
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees centigrade or 160 if it’s a fan oven. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases
  • Toast the walnuts by spreading them out on a baking sheet and placing them in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes. Once toasted and cooled, finely chop and put to one side.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, xanthum gum, bicarbonate of soda, gluten-free baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Sift into another mixing bowl.
  • Gradually fold in the flour mixture and chopped nuts using a large metal spoon until just combined.
  • Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cases. Use a level ice-cream scoop of mixture, which ensures an equal amount in each cup. Level the mixture with the back of a teaspoon.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. If necessary, rotate the tins and finish baking for a further couple of minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tins and transfer to a metal cooling rack.
  • Make the glacé icing by mixing the icing sugar and orange juice together, then spoon onto the cooled cupcakes and level with a round bladed  knife.
  • Store in an airtight container for 3 days but don’t store in the fridge.