Thursday, 31 January 2013

Dolly can't have milk...

'Dolly can't have milk,' Baby told Daddy, solemnly, this morning, as she climbed into the 'Big Bed.'

'Oh!' I said brightly, when I was informed, 'well, that's alright, she can have soya milk like you, then, can't she?'

Baby didn't respond quite as I expected - which was to agree happily. That is, she did agree but didn't look too happy about it, as she continued to discuss her dolly's options. It's given me pause for thought.

'Baby Ananbelle'
Like many little girls, Baby is the proud owner of several dollies. Usually, she just does all the normal dolly things you would expect - reenacting all the things that I have done with her - feeding, bathing, nappy changing etc. However, her favourite, Annabelle, has also been a vehicle through which she has expressed her feelings. 

Once or twice, when I have got really cross, she has picked up her dolly and cuddled her extra tenderly, as if to say, 'See Mummy, I need a cuddle too!' Or when I have refused her a treat (like chocolate) I have found her very obviously giving her doll the thing she has been refused, as if she's underlining her desire for that very thing.

Yesterday and over the weekend she has been among close relatives who have been eating things that she can't have - because they're made with milk. She's been very good about it, including when, in a pub on Sunday her Grandma ate a chocolate brownie with ice cream; sharing it with her cousin and Grandad. Grandma often shares a dessert with Grandad, when out for a meal - it makes her feel like she's not indulging too much, if it's shared.

Both Baby and her cousin had been served the same dessert, which looked rather fun - jelly topped with marshmallows, which resembled a bubbly froth. But Baby has previous experience of jelly. She doesn't like it. The marshmallows interested her for a bit... but interest waned about the same time as her cousin stopped eating hers and started helping herself to a bit of Grandma's pudding.

Baby's dessert
Chocolate, cake and ice cream (probably in that order) are three of Baby's favourite things, yet she made not a murmur as they ate it in front of her, although she did go rather quiet and stared intently at them, all the while. I felt like I was watching her die a thousand deaths. Fortunately, the manager of the restaurant saved the day, by unexpectedly offering the girls some candyfloss, which he made then and there, right in front of them!! We've never had THAT in a pub before!!

The magic of candyfloss manufacture!
The Hub and I don't usually do desserts and definitely not those that Baby can't eat - ever since a disastrous occasion when Baby was a bit younger. When others have food or treats that she can't have (like at parties or toddler groups) I've usually thought ahead and compensated in some way, with an attractive dairy free alternative. So I suppose we have shielded her, in a way, from the fact that she is different to others. 

THAT day all I had was a packet of Kelkin gluten and dairy free jaffa cakes - usually an attractive proposition, but faced with chocolate brownie and ice cream... 

As she gets older, it's becoming more and more apparent to Baby, that others are able to eat things that she can't but would rather like to eat - they look so scrummy. And usually I am the one who's apparently denying her, by saying that she can't, because it contains milk. I don't know if she feels it as badly as I think she does, but I have noticed her behaviour worsening, not actually on but rather after the occasion. 

Temper tantrums are, of course, normal in toddlers, but she has kicked off BIG time recently and normally after we have spent time with the rellies. I thought that it was because she was missing the extra attention, but now I am wondering if it's a knock-back following the food issue - especially as she saw Grandma yesterday and we had the conversation about dolly, this morning, AS WELL AS the tantrums today.

Yesterday, she ate her sandwiches quite happily, sat next to Grandma, as Grandma tucked into hers, but there was a conversation at some point about whether there was milk in Grandma's sandwich. Later on, there was the same conversation about some cake. It's almost as if the conversation with Grandma is to verify what Mummy has been saying to her about food - and things are clicking into place.

The time before it was another cousin's birthday and there was an enormous cream cake at stake - from Patisserie Valerie, no more, no less! There was an alternative for her, but... everyone else (except me, but I don't count) had the other... That evening, after we got home home she was horrendous!!!

So now I'm left wondering what to do for the best. Do I ask the rellies to politely refrain from eating this stuff in front of her? Do I continue to try to laden myself with food for every eventuality? How do I address the hurt and confusion that I think she's feeling? I've deliberately tried to be calm and matter of fact and not go into it too much (sort of never complain, never explain, although we have had a basic discussion about how the milk makes her tummy sore) up to now. And of course, I often have to go without food, for some reason or another, myself.

I would really like to hear back from people who have been through similar issues with their little ones, or who have had allergies or intolerances as a child and experienced similar situations. It would really help, to talk this one through. As although I developed some of my allergies as a child, having to forgo fresh fruit, that I'm not too bothered about, is hardly the same thing as being forced to forgo chocolate cake, now, is it??

Found this article which help help those experiencing the same kind of difficulties, with their children.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Baking With Baby 9 - Dairy Free Lamingtons

It seems that Saturday, being 26th January, is Australia Day. Suddenly, Lamington's have become a topic of conversation, on Twitter - all on account of Dan Lepard of the Guardian posting his recipe for these revered bites, which are apparently favoured by many Antipodeans. 

Have you heard of Lamington's before? I have to admit, neither had I, until recently. Basically, they're small squares of cake, dipped in chocolate icing, and rolled in desiccated coconut. Here's ours:

As made by baby and me!
Apparently they're named after some Lord (Lamington) who had some surprise guests and asked his chef to come up with something quick. Personally, I very much doubt the 'quick' as the recipe takes two days - unless of course the chef had some day-old cake and just shoved some chocolate on it to hide the fact. Now THAT I could believe, as a layer of chocolate could quite possibly hide a multitude, so to speak!

Somehow my journeying 'Down Under,' about ten years ago, which lasted all of three weeks, did not bring me into contact with said little cakeys. I was in New Zealand, mind you, but it seems the recipe for Lamington's is a hotly debated issue between Aussie's and Kiwi's - just like Pavlova's. If you ever want to create a diversion in a room which contains Aussies and Kiwi's, just start up a conversation about where the recipe came from - *KA-BOOM* I can assure you that one will run and run!!

SO, just how did they come to my attention? My lil' sis' just so happens to be married to an Aussie (our family is a bit like the United Nations) and posted Dan's recipe on Face Book, the other day. 

Intrigued, I hunted a bit further and found an allergy-free version of the same, on another blog (this site looks really beautiful, take a look), BUT once I discovered that chocolate Lamington's were not considered the genuine article, I hunted a little further, to find one that was. I then came across a recipe, posted by Queen Bee Allergy Free, which looks excellent for anyone who's Vegan or allergic to eggs. As she's Australian, I'm guessing it must be the genuine article!

The recipe I've chosen to follow, however, is a completely un-allergy-friendly recipe. I chose it on purpose partly because it looked authentic, - although, I must admit, it does come from a UK website!! However, it also looked 'doable' (simple, if you prefer) - using weights and measures with which I'm familiar - and it looked as though I could use my normal dairy and gluten free baking substitutes. I don't believe in complicating matters and do believe that with good dairy free and gluten free ingredients, you can achieve pretty decent results (although gluten free flour sometimes requires a bit of extra help). In this case, I've used Dove's gluten free Plain Flour, Pure Sunflower Margarine and Kara Coconut Milk - all available in decent UK supermarkets.

There are two things to note, if you decide to make these yourself: first, you need an awful lot of icing sugar (450g/1lb according to this recipe, although we had a bit left over) and dessicated coconut (two 200g bags this recipe says but we used only one - with plenty left to spare), and second, you really need two days to make Lamingtons. Once you've made the cake, it is then left for a day, before being iced (otherwise it's too soft).

I have to admit, this bit worried me slightly, as Baby tends to like things to happen immediately, so I had to make sure that I explained this to her first. This is because now that 'Baby' is really a full-blown toddler, baking with her is not so simple as it used to be! 'I want to do it!' is a cry frequently heard in our house. Full tact and diplomacy are required, as are patience and a sense of humour (beginning to sound like the job description for a teacher here). 

All explained and ingredients prepared, out came her little pink spatula (blagged off the MIL, when we stayed at hers after Christmas), and off we set, on our Lamington adventure!!
Watch out! Baby at work!

The recipe itself, was fairly straightforward... to begin with. Despite the power tussles, all seemed to be going well, until we got to the actual baking part. Baby wandered off to watch the telly, leaving me to clear up the inevitable mess, left in her wake. I put the tray in the oven and started the washing up, only to discover some minutes later, that I had neglected to set my trusty timer. 

At this point I wanted to obey the slogan on my new cake tin, BUT I'm trying to be 'good' at the mo, so I resorted to watching the cake instead.

I watched the bake like a hawk, not daring to open the door until at least what I imagined must be twenty minutes later (I've heard you shouldn't open the door for at least the first fifteen to twenty minutes). But it took several stabs with the cake tester and several prods of the finger, until I dared to believe it was fully baked. Hence my poor cake looked a little worse for wear, once it finally DID come out of the oven!!

Oh dear! Far from perfect!
As you can see, it was also burnt, in places. I'm not dismayed by such things, oh no! I have shaved many a cake in the past, but I must admit, at this point I was glad I'd watched the Comic Relief Great British Bake Off, the other night, and witnessed one contestant shave the burnt bits off his cake quite successfully, with a fine grater (beats sawing at it with a bread knife, which can cause further damage).

Next day, we duly got prepared to ice the cake. This takes a little preparation. One tip I picked up from another recipe was to place some grease proof paper under a wire tray, to allow for drips! It was definitely worth doing!! As, preparation over, it all got a bit interesting (think fondant fancies, in the last season of the Great British Bake-Off)!! It's all rather messy (I'm still picking up stray bits of coconut from the floor), but Baby LOVED it!

Baby's job was to chuck the chunks of cake into the chocolate icing mix. Mine was to cover the cake in chocolate with a spatula, before fishing it out with a pair of chopsticks (you could use forks). 

You can tell when we've been at work!
At this point, it is advisable (in my humble opinion) to allow the chunk to drip for a few seconds, and place it on the wire tray for a bit, before transferring it to the bowl of coconut, otherwise you may see the coconut coating drip off with the excess chocolate icing. After it's beginning to set, just slightly, place it in the coconut and shower it a bit, with more, until it's coated a bit. Then it's ready to be rolled around, to finish off.

All done!
After you've placed them back on the tray, you leave them to set, which really didn't take that long. Well, Baby never waits for long anyway, so she ate this one just before it was really ready!
The taste test
Now, I am very well aware that our cakes look a little rough around the edges - far from the perfect-looking specimens on other people's recipe pages, but in my defense, I was baking with Baby! And surely, it's the taste test that counts!!

Similar Posts:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Lunch at Starbucks!!

Despite the warnings of snow, we had to go the other Saturday. It was somewhere we knew well, so we were fairly confident that we could get something to eat. But, following a tip-off on Twitter, that week, we headed to Starbucks.

Now there's been a lot of bad press about Starbucks recently, and I'm not saying I agree with the way they've been running their business in the UK, but I am a huge fan of their coffee (not to everyone's taste, I know) and, as of yet, they're the only cafe on the street that we visited that day, that sold a cake that was both gluten and dairy free.

My 'usual'
This time, though, we were not in search of cake, but something a little more substantial. 

I could have had their Ham Hock Box. I've had it before, and it's not bad, but half the salad contains Edamame beans, which are basically soya. As I can't eat soya, I don't see the point in spending the money on a box that I'm gonna fish half the contents out!

No, what I was after, was their Tuna Nicoise Roll - made with Genius gluten free bread. It turns out that it's also dairy free. It does, however, contain egg, mustard and fish. It also carries a warning about nuts. The bread roll doesn't actually contain any nuts, but it does contains seeds which may have been packaged in a facility handling nuts. And here it is:

My pre-packaged roll

I have to say, it didn't look all that big, and the contents weren't exactly oozing out the sides, but the roll did keep me going all afternoon... with the help of half a pack of ready salted crisps, that is!! The roll was a little dry and crumbly, but, funnily enough, still tasted quite nice. 

Baby's lunch consisted of a Bacon Butty. These are sold cold, in sealed packets, but Starbuck's staff can heat them up for you, if you like. We opted for Baby's to be heated, but, stupidly, I didn't check to see that they avoided cross-contamination in the grill. The Hub thinks they line it with something. You might want to err on the safe and side and check, just to be sure.

Baby's Bacon Butty
Baby washed her lunch down with water (she could have had juice) and I had my usual - black decaffeinated Americano. 

One mistake we didn't make today, though, was to offer Baby a soya milk Babyccino. No, we stay away from those now, having made that mistake in the past. I know they clean the frothing spout - but with the same cloth that they've been using all day (by the looks of it) which will of course have picked up milk proteins, along the way. I'm guessing that's how Baby ended up with a tummy ache and sore bum anyway. Baby can, however, have a cup of their soya milk (un-frothed) as that has never caused her a problem.

So, we came, we ate, and we didn't have any nasty consequences. Result!! Well done, Starbucks!! Come on the rest of you!! It's not that difficult, surely??

My dream lunch would be a gluten and dairy free BLT with a Kara hot chocolate. Anyone out there listening??

What would you like to see on the menu of our high street cafes??

P.S. A little note to all those dairy free peeps who'd like a bite of this - from time to time the menu changes slightly and the gluten free option reverts back to cheese and pickle, so just be warned!!

Update November 2013:
Starbucks have discontinued the chocolate and hazelnut loaf. I'm very disappointed. We also no longer let 'Baby' have the bacon butty - she began reacting, probably due to the fact that they use the same equipment to heat sandwiches etc. leading to cross-contamination. In fact, I now believe that 'Baby' is sensitive even to the tiny particles of steamed milk floating around in the air. If I nip in for a quick takeaway she's fine. If I linger, a tummy ache follows an hour or so later :(

Update June 2014:
The gluten free rolls are now discontinued. Starbucks have replaced these with 'Veggie Good Wraps'. They are not made with dairy, but may be unsuitable, due to the place where they're made. See packets for further details.

At present, It isn't possible for us to eat out at Starbucks. I gather their fruit bread is dairy free (without the butter), but I can't eat that and 'Baby' won't - shes' not a fan of dried fruit.

Update: 2016
Good news!! Starbucks now offer coconut milk as well as soya milk, as an alternative to cow's milk. However you'll have to pay extra for it! Also, be aware that if you're allergic to milk and are sensitive to traces, having a frothy drink would be tricky unless they can guarantee making it using a steam arm that is only used for dairy free drinks - an explanation of this can be found here

Other posts about Eating Out:

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Away over Christmas? How do you manage it?

Happy New Year, all ye who are dairy free!! I wonder if, like us, you went away over the Christmas season, to meet up with family and friends. And, if you did, how did you cope, with the whole dairy free thing? I don't know if you have to do the same as us, but when we go away, I have to try and avoid taking half the larder!! 

It would be nice to be able to go away and travel light; I like to think we've got better at going away with Baby. We used to take a whole people-carrierful of stuff. Now it's probably half that amount (unless it's Christmas - think roof box). There's no longer the breast pump, the bottle sterilizer, the bottles, the change mat, the stacks of nappies... but we still can't manage to go away without the Baby monitor and a whole load of dairy free and gluten free food!

If we have an overnighter at a hotel, with breakfast 'included', I tend to take my bread and hope that they'll do me a fried or poached egg, which will get washed down with black coffee. Baby's usually OK with their egg and sometimes sausage or hash brown (I always check) but I'll have to take along some of her 'giraffe' milk. 

Wherever we go we take this with us, even if we only get to use a fraction of it's contents (once opened it needs to be refrigerated).

'Milk' for Baby

It's not an ideal situation - if there's nowhere to keep the milk. I hate waste! However, sometimes there's a big enough mini bar. If not, we have been known to take an electronic ice box!!

Then there's the weekend (or slightly longer) at The Parents. Although the Parents don't live beyond the reaches of civilization (although living on the Isle of Wight, The Hub thinks they do) and knowing we can get hold of Pure margarine at the other end (although these days The Parents usually get some for us, along with some Dove's gluten free flour), as well as the 'Giraffe milk', I may take the following:

Kara Coconut milk - the only dairy free, soya free and rice free milk that can be bought in small cartons. I don't use it in drinks, so much, but, mixed with a bit of Bird's, it makes a rather nice custard! If you're wondering about the 'rice free' by the way, you might want to read this post.

'Milk' for  me!

I used to take some nut-based milk as well, to make porridge (with Nairn's gluten free oats) but I'm giving my gut a rest for the mo - it's been feeling sensitive and I'm trying to work out what's causing it. I'm not sure if it's the oats, or the 'milk'.

Marigold's reduced salt bouillon also comes in very handy. Gluten and dairy free, this makes a good gravy substitute for a Shepherd's Pie (although we tend to make it thicker than it says).

Useful in stews and Shepherd's Pie

If a roast chicken (or turkey) is on the menu, then Anthony Worrall Thompson's instant gluten free gravy (also dairy free) becomes the order of the day. 

Orgran dried gluten free pasta and a pasta sauce also make it into the bag - both useful in case of a Spaghetti Bolognese. The sauce pictured is not technically gluten free, by the way - but it contains no obvious gluten-containing ingredients and I seem to be fine with it.

Useful for a quick(ish) meal.

The pasta I really prefer is Dell 'Ugo's fresh gluten free chickpea fusilli, but I can only get it in certain branches of Waitrose or from Ocado (who don't deliver on the Island). That's where the dried Orgran pasta comes into its own.

The other essential item on the list is my gluten free bread. Gluten free bread tends to be widely available these days, unless it is my own, it has to be Antoinette Saville or Genius Original (if not, my trips to the loo become more frequent) and as they are only available certain places, I tend to find it easier to take my own.

Some favourite treats, have to come too, of course, and might be the following: 

Kelkin's gluten free Jaffa cakes (which also happen to be dairy free, and are beloved by 'baby'); Original Pom Bears; Hale & Hearty Flapjacks and Nature Valley Oats & Honey. The Nature Valley bars are purely for Baby - sadly not gluten free!

We can't go without a few treats as well!

Over Christmas, in the interests of feeling a bit more like a 'normal' human being, I added a few more items to this list:

Mince pies by OK Foods and Hale & Hearty

Hale & Hearty Christmas Pudding

Village Bakery Christmas Cake

Soyatoo Coconut Whipping Cream

Celtic Fine Dark Chocolates Selection Box (You knew I'd have to mention the chocolate sooner or later, right?)

This list was augmented by a trip to Waitrose for some of Bessant & Drury's ice cream and Askey's waffle ice cream cones (no gluten free, just for Baby) as well as to Holland & Barrett for some 'Cheezly' dairy and soya free cheese. The Parents had also thoughtfully bought me some Celtic Chocolates fine dark after dinner mints.

Only Askey's waffle cones are made without milk.

Next time, I'm gonna check out Stotesbury's Fish and Chip Shop in Newport (the main town on the Island). Apparently, they do gluten free fish and chips. Soooo Wish I'd known that one!

Mind you, we didn't go without this Christmas. I think I had all my bases covered... until I tucked into the Christmas Cake (not it's fault, I think it was the spices) but that's another story!

UPDATE - 2014:

I tend not to buy gluten free loaves now, so will probably take Warburton's Wraps or Genius multi-seeded rolls.

For an indulgent brekkie, I might treat myself to some Genius Croissants or Brioche (both dairy, as well as gluten anfree)

AWT's instant gravy is no longer available - we use pots of Masterchef concentrate now, instead!

Biccy of choice is probably now O'Choccos (see here), as the soya flour in the Kelkin's Jaffa Cakes and Hale and Hearty's Flapjacks gives me trouble! Such a shame as both products are great!

My favourite mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are now by Baked to Taste, although they're slightly tricky to get hold of - only online via their website!

Celtic Chocolates selection box seems to have disappeared now, so a box of Booja Booja choccies will do the trick, quite nicely!

The ice cream I'll be taking is Mint Choc Chip Almond Dream (see here), from Waitrose. 

Meanwhile my cheese tastes have shifted too! My 'cheese' of choice is Violife, from Tesco!!

I might also have to pick up some Co-yo (see here) and Pudology (see here), whilst I'm at Tesco too!

Related Posts:
We're all going on a dairy free summer holiday
Center Parcs revisited
Treating Father Christmas
Dilemmas of the Christmas Cake Variety

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Cat and the Cream Artisan Cakes

Okay, I know it's traditional to diet at this time of the year, and if you're trying to do so, look away from the screen now!! If not... feast your eyes on this, all ye dairy free, egg free, soya free and wheat free folks! Before too long, you stomachs could follow... if you are in reach of Ocado, or the Whole Foods Market, that is!! 

Drool! Drool!
Apologies (once again) to those of you who cannot get Ocado, just yet, for the hot news is, that Cat and the Cream will soon be supplying Ocado with their Vegan Artisan cupcakes.

Amazingly enough, although they look like the kind of cupcakes you can buy in fancy bakeries, these days, they are (as I have already mentioned) free of all sorts of stuff - most noticeably, for me, soya! So many Vegan products use soya as a substitute, that I was gobsmacked, that these don't!

This one (pictured above) I bought today from The Whole Foods Market cafe, in Clapham Junction, whilst out for a bit of a jaunt with my lovely lil' sis'. It was arranged last week that we would rendezvous, and so we did - taking ourselves and Baby off to Clapham. I was in need of a mood boost, having had a stressful week (which began with a broken boiler) and this trip soooo did the trick. The chocolate cake pictured here, definitely helped!!

I first came across Cat and the Cream on my birthday. The Hub lacking not the skills, but certainly the time, for cake-making, bought me a selection of three of their Artisan cupcakes. And, complete with a singing candle, these made up my birthday cake!

I had wondered where on earth The Hub had got to, the morning of the Saturday before my birthday. It wasn't much fun being left with a fretful Baby, to get on with things by myself, whilst he was meant to be out last minute shopping, for my birthday present. Well, it turned out that he had trekked all the way into Clapham, to obtain these little beauties: 

Decisions, decisions, which to choose?
The three he chose were a Chocolate Mint and Raspberry, a Chocolate and a Pear, Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip. There was another available, at The Whole Foods Market - Chocolate and Banana - which looks yummy, but is a complete no go for me (unless I want to give myself severe gut-ache) as it contains cashews.

I didn't eat the cakes all by myself, you might be relieved to know, but I certainly sampled each of them - in the interests of research y'now!? Now, everybody's tastes are different, so what appeals to me, might not appeal to you (and vice versa, of course) but this is what I made of the three cakes...

The Pear, Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip appealed least to me, visually speaking, due to the brownish lump perched on the top, next to the hazelnut. Now, I do love hazelnuts, but that cake didn't cut it for me, partly because it contained huge chunks of pear, which made it a bit soggy and partly because I didn't find much chocolate chip in mine. However, the brownish lump on the top (praline actually) turned out to be the most divine thing I had tasted in a long while. It was kind of fudge-like and gorgeous.

The Chocolate, Mint and Raspberry (the one with pink icing on the top) was obviously the prettiest cake of the three. It sounded like quite an interesting combination. I'm not a foodie, but I was quite intrigued as to how raspberry and mint would interact with one another. I wasn't convinced by the idea, but I needn't have worried about the two flavours competing against each other as, to be quite honest, the cake didn't taste as strongly of either flavour, as I thought it might. In fact, come to think of it, I didn't taste much chocolate either.

My favourite cake of the three, which is probably no surprise to those of you who know me quite well, by now, was (yes, you've guessed it) the Chocolate! I had wondered whether all that frosting on the top might be rather artificial tasting and far too much, but au contraire! Actually, the cake was perhaps less sweet than it might have been, which left plenty of room for the sugariness of the topping, which I really enjoyed. 

When I first tried the cakes, I wasn't sure whether, ordinarily, I would have paid the price for them, but obviously I did as I bought one today (as a treat, mind you)! However, today I willingly paid the price, and thought it worth it - just because I could walk into a cafe, sit down with a drink and a cake (just like everyone else) and know that it was safe!!

Originally, I referred to the cakes by Cat and the Cream as gluten free. I thought they were, because the Hub (who first bought them) is usually careful about checking labels. However, it has been brought to my attention by Gluten Free Mrs D that these cakes are not strictly gluten free. 

Investigating Cat and the Cream's website, I discovered that although they believe they are careful to eliminate all traces of gluten (they describe their recipe as 'gluten free') they cannot be 100% sure that the ingredients that they use are completely free from cross-contamination. 

I ate them, and (as far as I know) didn't come to any harm, but then I have not been diagnosed as a coeliac. However, if you are coeliac, or sensitive to gluten, you may want to consider carefully how safe the Cat and the Cream's statement makes you feel. This advice, from the FSA, may help you make your choice. 

Since I didn't come to any harm sampling the other three cakes, The HUb has treated me to another, since they are now available through Ocado. It was Chocolate, Coconut and Raspberry with Chocolate Icing. Very nice it was too - in fact the nicest flavour so far, in my humble opinion. Just as well it wasn't for a special occasion, though, as it arrived a little squashed!!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Baking with Grandma - Pandan Cake

Disaster always seem to strike when one is least prepared for it and it turns out that the boiler (no respecter of time and place) broke sometime over Christmas, whilst we were away. In search of somewhere warm to stay (somewhere which also had hot water and that wasn't too far away) we ended up at The Mother-In-Law's house. Naturally MIL was overjoyed to see her son and grand-daughter, and welcomed us with open arms. 

Now MIL, has some times found it a bit hard to get to grips with Baby's problems with milk, and mine with gluten, but one thing that she has grasped hold of, with great delight, is that Baby can have Pandan Cake - what Baby has christened 'Smudgey Cake'. Pandan Cake (in case you don't know) also known as Chiffon Cake, is a cake originates from Malaysia. Usually it is green in colour - the colour coming from the Pandan leaf extract, that is traditionally used to make it. 

However, you can make the cake without the Pandan extract; it ends up looking like this:

Pandan Cake minus the Pandan
A few years ago, I attempted to make this cake for The Hub's birthday. It was NOT a great success - whether the tin (which I thought I had gone to great lengths to obtain) was wrong (it was non-stick); or whether I didn't beat the eggs enough (I thought I had followed the recipe to the 'T'); or the oven was the wrong temperature (I bought an oven thermometer not long after, which showed the oven wasn't working properly) I don't know, although I suspect the latter. 

Whatever the problem was, this is what I ended up with:

Here's how NOT to do it!
You might like to note that the top half has risen, but the bottom half didn't. My Malaysian friend suggested that the problem might be the cake tin, as the tin she uses is non-stick and she told me the cake needs to rise up the sides of the tin.

The tin I bought was an angel cake tin, just like this one from Amazon. I notice that one reviewer has also used it for Pandan Cake and hers turned out fine, so I tend to think the tin was not the problem. My sister-in-law has since told me that you don't actually need the tine and can make muffins with the mix, instead, which I am tempted to try, as the tin can be a pain to clean.

Since then, I haven't attempted Pandan Cake again, although I am tempted. However, every time we go to MIL's, she makes it, anyway. I probably would give it a go, now that I have my oven thermometer, BUT it is a HUGE cake, and the three of us couldn't possibly eat it all by ourselves!!

Note how low the batter looks in the tin. It will rise right to the top!
So, this morning, Baby and Grandma made it again, and I thought I'd share it with you, as it is naturally dairy free. With Dove's gluten free flour, or rice flour, it can be made gluten free, but since an incident when MIL thought she had made it gluten free but hadn't (as I later discovered, when my gut reacted) we've steered clear of that one!

There are various recipes online, but the one that MIL uses is this recipe, by Diana's desserts. She doesn't use it completely as written but omits the 'ovalette,' Pandan paste and Pandan extract, and uses just a third of a can of coconut milk (the thin stuff rather than the thick stuff) - topping up with some water to add extra moisture. It still makes a great cake, though.

The other thing to note is that the egg whites take a LOT of beating! The MIL's acid test is to hold the basin upside down over her head!! If the mixture doesn't fall out, that's a promising sign. This is where a Kitchen Aid would come in handy. Unfortunately neither we nor the MIL has one, which is where a Toddler Aid comes in very handy!!

Toddler at work!
The cake takes some patience, after all the whipping, cooking the cake takes some time and once it comes out of the oven, it needs to cool (for about an hour, according to MIL). This is what the MIL does with hers:

Yes, it is upside down!
The finished cake should be fluffy, light and moist. NOT like the that one I made - the top half was okay, but the bottom half definitely didn't rise and wasn't cooked. I find the cake doesn't last well, if it's not kept in a cool spot. The danger of this cake is not going stale, but going mouldy, so I think it needs eating within about three to four days.

A slice for Baby

Hmm! Having smelt the cake baking and looking at the slice pictured here, I think I might just have to give Pandan another try after all!

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