31 December 2009

German Stollen

dairy free egg free nut free

I did technically bake this on Christmas Eve, but only just managed to find the time to post the results!

Took me a while to choose the right recipe for adaption - many have the traditional layer of marzipan through the middle but I finally stumbled upon the delicious magazine version - by which stage I had about 15 packets of various dried fruits open so I just used what I had left. Again, probably not the most authentic replica of this German Christmas staple, but I tried to follow the original method as best as I could (milk, yeast, flour etc) and I think it turned out beautifully.

I actually would probably double the quantity of mixed fruit for it to look a little more authentic - I don't know why this particular recipe had so little. Still, it was lovely and spicy fresh, with a real brioche taste (minus the egg), and wouldn't you know it, toasts up beautifully also for an aromatic fruit toast breakfast.

Makes 1 loaf

3 cups plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp mixed spice
7g sachet dried yeast
1/2 cup mixed fruits (although making this again, I would at least double this quantity)
2 tbsp cranberries
2 tbsp dried diced apricots
grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
150ml soy or rice milk
100gm dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex), melted
1 egg replacer
1/3 cup brandy (or more rice/soy milk if going alcohol-free)

Place flour, sugar, spices, yeast, dried fruits, citrus zest and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, stirring well to combine. Whisk milk, butter, egg replacer and brandy together, then stir into flour mixture to form a soft dough. Knead dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes until smooth, dusting with more flour if it's too sticky.

Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, turning to grease on all sides. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 C and grease a baking tray.

Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Roll into a rectangle shape and fold both sides into the centre lengthways, then turn over and shape into a long oval loaf shape. Bake for 40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then place onto a wire rack to cool completely. Brush top with melted margarine and sprinkle with icing sugar.

20 December 2009

Italian Panforte

dairy free egg free nut free

I'm not even going to pretend this is close to the original panforte from Siena. My aunt has lived there for most of her life and she would probably be horrified at the state of this recipe. Mainly due to two things: 1) Italians are not known for being very adventurous with their traditional recipes, and 2) to be fair, most panforte in Italy is bought, not made (much like panettone and pandoro, no one I know goes around baking the things). I'm pretty sure that chocolate was not an original feature of panforte, but since everyone's a gourmand these days, there are plenty of versions floating around if you care to google.

Nevertheless - a challenge is a challenge and here it is.

While you can fare quite well by omitting nuts altogether in many sweet recipes, it is a key feature of panforte - whole nuts, not chopped or ground. I recently came across a thing called Chic Nuts - roasted chickpeas made by  Partner Foods. The blessed things look exactly like hazelnuts = brainwave. They do have garlic powder added and while it wasn't overly strong, I did shake them about in a sieve to remove any excess. Though once added to the panforte and combined with the chocolate and figs and spices, it really is a non-issue. Roasted chickpeas also have a more brittle texture than nuts, and a crispier bite. It does the job pretty damn well.

The other thing to note is that you need to make the sugar syrup/caramel to a certain temperature before mixing it in - this is usually done with a sugar thermometer. I have no such thing, so I just waited until I thought it bubbled appropriately (do not stir it once the sugar is dissolved or it will crystallize) and then added it. Tricky to mix as the mixture is very stiff and the syrup makes it even more so. It reminds me of my mother making torrone (Italian nougat) - the liquid glucose is mixed in and requires two people to finish the job - one to hold the bowl and the other to mix the concrete-like mixture before it sets! (Brainwave #2: "chickpea" nougat hmm....)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I'm quite pleased with this :)

Serves 10

1 sheet of confectioner's rice paper (not Asian rice paper)
85gm plain flour
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
190gm dried figs, stalk removed, cut in half
200gm roasted chickpeas (or Chic Nuts) - on reflection, I would halve the amount of chickpeas because of their slightly unusual texture, so add only 100gm and check oven times as it may need a little more.
100gm dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (most 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate is dairy free but the majority have nut traces - so I use Kinnerton Luxury Dark Chocolate Bar)
1 orange, coarsely chopped zested rind only
150gm caster sugar
150gm honey
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 150 C. Lightly grease a 20cm cake pan and line the base with overlapping sheets of rice paper, trimming to fit. Sift flour and spices into a bowl, add figs, chickpeas, chocolate, rind and toss to combine well.

Heat sugar, honey and 2 tbsp water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Do not stir again as it may crystallise. Bring to the boil and cook until mixture reaches 115 C on a sugar thermometer (essentially at liquid caramel stage).  Using a lightly oiled spoon and working quickly, pour caramel over nut mixture and mix well. Spoon mixture into prepared cake pan and smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes, cool and dust liberally with icing sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.

NB: This recipe was adapted from Gourmet Traveller. If you want to make the original nut-laden version, substitute the chickpeas for 100gm roasted hazelnuts and 100gm roasted almonds.

14 December 2009

English Mince Pies

dairy free egg free nut free

Probably more a tartlet than a pie! I made half the recipe using a tiny muffin pan, and the other half using a small patty pan. They turned out to be a delicious morsel of 'buttery' pastry and rich fruity filling. You could serve these at a cocktail Christmas party as a sweet canape - or just make them the standard size (using a regular 12 cup muffin pan) and gorge yourself.

The original recipe I used included finely chopped slivered almonds  for which I substituted coconut, but you could omit this entirely.

Makes 20 using regular muffin pan, or 40 using mini muffin pan

2 cups dried mixed fruit
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
50g dessicated coconut (optional)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
40g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex), melted
2 tbsp brandy (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Icing sugar to dust

2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
160g chilled dairy-free margarine, chopped
1 egg replacer
2 tbsp cold water

Finely chop half the mixed fruit. Place in large bowl and add brown sugar, coconut, apple, margarine, brandy, lemon juice, all the spices and the remaining mixed fruit. Stir until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight (or at least 6 hours), stirring occasionally, to macerate.

Transfer the fruit mixture to a fine sieve over a bowl and stir to remove excess liquid.

To make the pastry, place flour, sugar and margarine in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg replacer, water and process until mixture just comes together. Turn onto a clean work surface and shape into a disc. Cover with plastic and rest in fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Use a round pastry cutter  to cut discs from the pastry. Use a smaller star shaped pastry cutter to cut stars from the remaining pastry.

Line muffin pans with pastry discs and divide the fruit mince among the cases. Top with pastry stars. Bake for 20-25mins (about 12 if making the small ones) or until lightly golden. Set aside in pans for 5 minutes to cool before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar.

11 December 2009

Scottish Shortbread

dairy free egg free nut free

I requested an authentic recipe from the only Scotswoman I know and she sent me a recipe for Petticoat Tails. I'm like "dude, where's the shortbread?!" Then I had to go and convert the quantities to the metric system. Sheesh, the effort! I probably could have cooked these a smidge longer but my oven is fanforce only and I was worried about them getting too much colour and well, as you do, you end up going the other way. My fork markings don't much look like a petticoat but once they're eaten, it's all the same, aye?

Thanks Sheeny :)

225g plain flour
115g rice flour
115g icing sugar
225g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)

Preheat oven to 170 C. Grease baking tray. Cream margarine and icing sugar. Sift in flours and work into smooth dough -  if dough is too dry add a little water can be added to moisten. Turn onto floured board, make desired shapes (either a round or oblong) and prick all over with a fork mark. You can score (mark out) the pieces now or just cut into them when still warm after baking. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden in colour and sprinkle with caster sugar while still warm. Cut into the triangles or rectangular pieces and cool on a wire rack.

Greek Kourambiethes

dairy free egg free nut free

I have delicious memories of one of my best friend's mothers making these for Christmas. They were buttery, almondy and totally divine! They translate very nicely when made allergy-friendly, substituting the nuts for coconut. Winner.

Makes 26 (depending on the size, I went rather large)

250g softened dairy-free margarine
110g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg replacer (Orgran)
300g plain flour, sifted with 1/2 tsp baking powder
90g finely dessicated coconut
1 tbsp brandy (optional)

Beat margarine until pale and creamy, then add icing sugar, vanilla, egg replacer and beat until well combined. Fold in flour and then add coconut and stir to combine.

Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls then roll into 5cm lengths and form into crescents. Place on baking paper-lined oven trays and bake at 160 C for 15-20 minutes or until just starting to colour.

Transfer cookies to wire racks and while still warm, dust generously with icing sugar, then leave to colour. When completely cool, dust again with icing sugar. Should keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

05 December 2009

Round the world Christmas baking challenge

It's relatively easy to eat allergy-free at Christmas except when it comes to sweet things - which is when it can get awfully tricky. Christmas is a time for lots of nutty treats, full of eggs, butter and dried fruits (which, wouldn't you know it, often have traces of nuts).

I'm not a fan of pudding - but I do love the variety of Christmas baking from all around the world. So I'm donning the apron and going about the task of vegan-ising and de-nuttifying all sorts of delectable Christmas treasures...

English Mince Pies - should be a cinch
Scottish Shortbread - pfft, hardly a challenge
Greek Kourambiethes - hello coconut
Italian Panforte - impossible you say? So many nuts - but I have a trick up my sleeve and I hope to hell it works!
German Stollen - if I get this far...I may have eaten my body weight in dried fruit by then

Stay tuned! Christmas is only 3 weeks away, I better get cracking...

30 November 2009

Jam & Coconut Cookies

dairy free egg free nut free

Aren't these the prettiest things!? 

I really had my photography mojo the day I made these cookies. I would have started my blog with this recipe if I hadn't gone and misplaced the printout (which has been mocking me in the background of the next pic for sometime...)

Found it! This recipe is similar to the Linzer cookie, adapted from the famous Austrian Linzertorte - I've replaced the almond meal with coconut to keep it nut free.

Enjoy - they taste as good as they look!

1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
3/4 cup (85g) dessicated coconut
1/3 cup (60g) icing sugar
125g chilled dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex), chopped
1 egg replacer
1 tbsp rice or soy milk
1 cup raspberry jam (or any really)
2 tbsp water
icing sugar, extra to dust

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line 2 trays with baking paper. Place flour, coconut, icing sugar and margarine in food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add egg replacer and milk and process until just combined. Gently knead until mixture just comes together. Shape into disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins to rest.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 3mmm thick disk. Use a 7cm shape pastry cutter to cut out shapes and place on trays. Use a 4cm pastry cutter to cut out shapes from half the biscuits. Place on lined trays. Bake in oven swapping trays halfway through cooking until golden, about 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Combine jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook stirring for 5 minutes until jam is smooth. Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Discard seeds. Use a small palette knife to spread a little of the jam over the solid biscuits. Dust the cut-out biscuits with icing sugar and place over the ones topped with jam. Set aside for 30 mins to set. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 16.

24 November 2009


dairy free egg free nut free vegan

Not everyone likes tofu. Fair enough. Though you probably quite like it drenched in hoi-sin sauce in a stirfry, or don't mind a few little silken cubes in your miso soup. At some point however, dairy-allergics who can tolerate soy should embrace the mighty soybean in its various forms. (NOT however, the uber-processed soy protein - I'll save that rant for another day...)

For all those vegan Greeks out there (hellooooo......?) or for those who like a cheese and spinach pie but alas, dairy is off limits - this is a reduced-fat, damn healthy and quite flavoursome substitute. No really! The thing to remember when cooking with tofu is that it absorbs flavours extremely well so you need to be liberal with the seasoning.

I didn't have alot of filo pastry left but it still fit a tray, and the ratio of filling to pastry is perfect for this tofu version. Thin, delicate and tasty.

1 packet of frozen spinach or a bunch of fresh spinach
1 x 250g packet of organic tofu (firm not silken)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
olive oil (quite a bit, see below)
salt & pepper
about 10 sheets of filo pastry, cut in half so they roughly fit a rectangular tray
grating of fresh nutmeg
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder (Massel is dairy/egg/nut free)
splash of soy sauce
sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Make sure you squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can (both fresh or frozen) before adding to the pan. Saute the onion in the oil until softened. Add spring onion, spinach, herbs and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until any remaining liquid evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.

Crumble the tofu with a fork and mix in the stock powder and soy sauce (or you can blitz together in food processor). Mix into the spinach.

Brush a rectangular baking dish with olive oil. Then brush 10 sheets of filo pastry with olive oil to fit just wider than the dish.  Spoon in spinach and tofu mix. Put a further 10 sheets (also brushed with olive oil) over the top and tuck in any overlap down the sides. Score the top of the pie if you like but do not cut through to the bottom. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

NB: if you think there is an awful lot of olive oil brushing going on, you're right. But filo pastry is really tricky to handle as it dries very quickly and sticks together and then is virtually impossible to separate without tearing. So brushing individual sheets with oil can be even more difficult than it sounds. Apparently a damp tea towel over the sheets while you're working prevents the drying out but I can never be bothered with it. I usually only oil every few sheets - and it still turns out delicious (and healthier).

20 November 2009

Butterscotch Self-Saucing Pudding

dairy free egg free

Pudding recipes are generally very good to adapt because many of them only require one egg to bind, so using an egg replacer is a cinch. This one though is from the RPA's cookbook Friendly Food and is delicious.

I'm very sad to report however that I did not manage to get a photo of it served up showing the lovely gooey butterscotch sauce with some dairy-free vanilla icecream. You'll just have to imagine it, or better yet, get cooking!

Serves 4-6

dairy-free margarine for greasing
190g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
80g soft brown sugar
160ml rice or soy milk
60g dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled
1 egg replacer
1 tbsp golden syrup
160g soft brown sugar (extra)
2 tbsp golden syrup (extra)
410ml boiling water

Preheat oven to 170 C. Lightly grease a 1.25 litre ovenproof dish with margarine.

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, margarine, egg replacer and golden syrup together. Pour into the flour mixture and whisk until a smooth batter forms. Pour into the prepared dish. Place dish on a baking tray.

Sprinkle the extra brown sugar over the batter. Combine the extra golden syrup and boiling water and carefully pour over the batter. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted halfway comes out clean.

Set pudding aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken slightly before serving.

16 November 2009

Nut-free pesto

Technically, pine nuts are 'seeds', but plenty of people who are allergic to treenuts are also allergic to pine nuts. We haven't yet been tested for pine nuts so until then, we'll use this recipe. And it's unbelievably tasty!

You can even omit the "parmesan" if you like or can't find the Parmazano that we use, because in my opinion the pesto-y flavour comes from the garlic and the ground up sunflower kernels. Courtesy of Alice Sherwood's Allergy-friendly Cookbook.

Not so great for the seed-allergic, but if you can tolerate them, go "nuts"!!

Basil "Pesto"


50g fresh basil leaves
45g sunflower kernels
2 garlic cloves
25g dairy-free Parmazano
240ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, blitz all the ingredients except the oil to form a rough paste. Add the oil in a thin stream or a little at a time until it forms a thick paste. Stir through hot pasta. Remember to add a layer of extra virgin olive oil to the container when storing so that the paste is completely covered or it will go rancid very quickly. Not sure how long this keeps - doesn't last more than a few days in our house - but I'd suggest no longer than a week, just to be on the safe side.

Sun-dried Tomato "Pesto"


I experimented with this the other day, and was just as delicious. Using the same recipe, substitute sundried or semi-sundried tomatoes for the basil. To be honest, I can't remember the exact quantities so start with about half a cup of the tomatoes and then blitz away until you're happy with the consistency and taste.

You can also add some freshly chopped parsley to liven things up....

Oops, chef forgot to wipe the plate....

Sour Cherry & Coconut cake

dairy free egg free nut free

Coconut is a nut-allergic person's best friend. (That is, unless you're allergic to coconut. But most people seem to be able to tolerate it). I de-nuttified this lovely recipe from the Sweet Food cookbook by Murdoch Books - which originally had almond meal. It's a delicious afternoon tea cake, or morning tea, or just standing over the kitchen sink and cramming a piece in your mouth kind of occasion...

125g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
185g caster sugar
2 egg replacers
95g dessicated coconut
125g self-raising flour
60g plain flour
125ml rice or soy milk
680g jar pitted morello cherries, well drained

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and flour a 23cm fluted baba tin.

Beat Nuttelex and sugar until pale but not creamy. Add the egg replacers gradually, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the coconut, then fold in the sifted flours alternately with the milk. Gently fold in the cherries, and then spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.

Bake for 50mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in tin for 10 mins before turning onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

14 November 2009

Pizza, Focaccia and all things doughy

Well, sure, most pizza doughs have neither dairy nor egg. But we don't normally get to buy anything from bakeries because of the risk of cross-contamination from other eggy, milky and nutty products. After being scared of yeast cookery for so long and daunted by the prospect of managing huge quantities of flour, I flicked through my Marcella Hazan cook book about a year ago, and discovered a very manageable pizza dough recipe.

Makes a ripper pizza base (about 3 medium), and a gorgeous focaccia!

Preheat oven ....I put mine on maximum.

375g strong plain flour (tipo 00)
250ml lukewarm water
1/2 tbsp salt
glug of olive oil
1 1/2 tsp of instant dried yeast

Dissolve the yeast in a quarter of the water and let sit for a few minutes. Gradually mix in the flour and water (as well as salt and oil) until you have a decent dough, then knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elasticky. Let prove in an oiled and covered bowl in a warm place for at least an hour or until doubled in size.

Stretch onto trays and top with your favourite toppings for yummy pizza - our favourite at the moment is the French pissaladiere with caramelised onions, black olives and anchovies. YUM!

If you're making focaccia, stretch onto a tray,  sprinkle with sea salt, chopped fresh rosemary and more olive oil, let prove for another 20 minutes, dig your fingers in to make the indentations, then put in the oven until cooked, about 10-15mins.

La Crostata (jam tart)

dairy free egg free

This is my mother's recipe, gone dairy/egg free. A classic Italian cake at our house (and there aren't too many admittedly as mum doesn't have a large sweet repertoire, but what she does, she does beautifully). I'm somewhat bemused by the unconventional pastry method - it's essentially a shortcrust base, but instead of flour and butter rubbed together, the butter is melted. Weird, ma! But who am I to argue when it tastes so good...

300gr self-raising flour
1 egg replacer (Orgran)
1 tbsp rice or soy milk
100gr dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
100gr sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tbsp rum (optional)

300gr plum or quince jam
1 tbsp cocoa

Melt the margarine and let cool slightly while you beat the flour, egg replacer, milk, rum, sugar and salt. Pour in the margarine and mix until a dough forms. Remove 1/3 of the dough and set aside for the strips. Press the remainder into a greased 20cm loose-bottom tart pan ensuring the dough comes up the sides. Trim off any excess. The base does not need to be blind-baked but because it uses self raising flour, it should be pressed to no more than half a centimetre thickness.

Mix the cocoa into your jam and spread onto tart base. With the dough you set aside, break small pieces and roll them into long threads, criss crossing your tart. Bake in 180 C pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes. Please check it regularly - mum's original recipe says 30 minutes but with my oven it needed much less.

If it's slightly burnt, you can always dust with icing sugar ;)

13 November 2009

The Perfect Chocolate Cake

dairy free egg free

There are a few dairy and egg free chocolate cake versions around but I think the vegans do it best.

Forget the creaming of your Nuttelex and sugar and faffing about with egg replacers. If you google vegan chocolate cake, this version comes up time and again....and for good reason. It is dense, moist, not too crumbly, and also works brilliantly as a base for decorated cakes. I've increased the cocoa content to make it even more chocolatey.

Incredibly, the magical thing manages to improve each day, with the chocolate intensifying. It's a wonder!

150g plain flour
200g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp soda bicarbonate
225ml rice or soy milk
50ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 20cm round tin and line with baking paper

Sift together in a large bowl the flour, sugar, soda bicarb, cocoa and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and add to the dry ingredients, mixing well until smooth.

Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until risen and firm to touch. Cool in tins for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack. Remove baking paper and let cool completely.

nb. the cake in the picture is a double layer sandwiched with chocolate icing, so double the recipe for two layers.