Tag Archives: coeliac

The Icing on the Cake

Rainbow Cake

I should probably warn you in advance: I suspect this post is going to be a bit boring.  My aim has always been to create a blog that makes you feel like you’re sitting at my kitchen table having a chat.  Well, today I think it might be me droning on a bit and you might need to alternate between nodding politely and staring wistfully out my virtual kitchen window.

The thing is, I’ve given up sugar.

I’m not usually a candidate for the latest fad diet.  I like to eat food and most of the time, I’m happy enough with how Iook, bingo wings and all.  But I’m sick of feeling sick, and I think this might be the solution.

For at least a year now, it seems I couldn’t eat anything without blowing up like a balloon (stop casting knowing looks at my belly: I’m NOT PREGNANT) and yearning to snuggle down for a nice, long nanna-nap.  I thought I might have Coeliac disease, like my mum, but the test came up negative.  I gave up gluten anyway and it seemed to help, but the problem didn’t completely go away.

I’ve always had a bit of a mania for sweet things (remember this and this?) and sugary foods seemed to give me a reaction as well (though I was very reluctant to admit it).

It was my mum who worked it out.  “I was thinking,” she said to me one Monday afternoon, “you might have”, she lowered her voice, “thrush.”

The temperature of my face rose by several degrees. “Uh, nope, Mum, all fine in that department, thanks!”

“No, I mean, in your intestines.”

“Is that a thing?” I whispered.  I’m not sure why we were whispering in my kitchen, but it seemed right at the time.

It turns out it is a thing.  In the garden of my small intestine, the yeast plant used to live in harmony with all the other germ flowers.  But now it’s all overgrown and causing all manner of troubles.  Symptoms include bloating, tiredness, sugar mania, brain fog and … sorry … um … what were we saying?

One of the ways to control this monster is by cutting off its food supply.  This means no sugar (or grains or lactose).  A second is to dose up on natural yoghurt and probiotics.  And finally, I needed to attack the yeast with some anti-fungal pills from the chemist and natural remedies like garlic.

I got really keen on the whole diet idea.  I wrote a long shopping list and filled my trolley with nuts and salad and hommus and plain corn chips and salmon and steak.  Every time I cooked a meal for myself I felt compelled to photograph it.  Look:

Omelette

Mmmmm….

Pumpkin Soup and Salad

Ohhhhh…

healthy snack

Aahhhh…

Steak and salad

Yummm…

So you can see I had plenty of good food to eat and no need to go hungry.  Things were going pretty well on Day 1 of the diet.  I spent the whole morning feeling all virtuous and smug.  I am now Healthy Woman.  I will battle this gut thrush with everything I’ve got!  Natural yoghurt?  Yes please!

But then it was 3:30pm.  I wanted something sweet.  It was feeding time for the Yeast Beast and the Yeast Beast wasn’t happy.  I had the sugar shakes.  I started pacing around, fantasising about drinking maple syrup and eating sugar by the spoonful.  This wasn’t just a change in diet.  This was going cold turkey on a strong chemical addiction.  I went to bed early that night to escape the withdrawal symptoms.

The second day was not much better.  On the third day I thought I’d try a home remedy.  Garlic was supposed to be good at attacking yeast and raw garlic even better.  So I chopped up two whole cloves, stirred them in some natural yoghurt and tipped it on my salad for lunch.  It burned my mouth when I ate it, but I continued with grim determination: take that, gut thrush!

Garlic was my constant companion for the rest of that day.  I could taste it in my mouth, I could smell it, I could feel it coming out my pores.  It was so intense.  I was a walking garlic cloud.  All I could think about was garlic.  It was a nice change from fixating on sugar all the time.

I’m a week into it now and while I’m feeling a lot healthier and more energetic (and thirsty when I need to drink, and sleepy when I’m tired), it’s still a struggle.  I realise now just how much sugar I used to eat, from the hidden sugars in sauces and processed foods, to all the little bits of sweet food I would eat throughout the day, like an alcoholic taking nips from her hip flask.

Today is Halloween, and more than any other year I am cursing the American holiday that is growing in popularity over here.  Everywhere I go I see decorations of sweets and lollypops.  I’m scared I’m going to relapse and go demand lollies from my neighbours dressed as a half-crazed sugar junkie.  “Trick or treat, damn you! TRICKORTREEEEEAT!!”

I think I need to go munch some garlic…

Gluten-Free Sticky Tape Pudding

Time for another recipe post!  This is my best-ever recipe and so much fun to make.  I get lots of requests for this recipe, and not just because it’s gluten-free.  There is plenty to keep little hands occupied as well, so a good recipe for engaging children who would otherwise be painting the carpet with Jalna Natural Greek Yoghurt.  Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

1 cup dates (chopped)
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup boiling water
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup gluten-free plain flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons (40g) butter

Butterscotch Sauce

2/3 cup thin cream
50g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla

You will also need:

A mixing bowl
A whisk
Some sort of medium sized (over 2 cup capacity) and heatproof jug or bowl (for dates and boiling water)
A measuring cup
Scales (for the butter, but if you don’t have any, you can estimate by the way you cut it, or measure with a tablespoon)
A 20cm round cake tin, lined with baking paper (the shallow sort you would use two of to make a sandwich cake) – this is the same tin you would use to make the Half-Eaten-Apple Teacake

A saucepan and wooden spoon for the sauce

kitchen helpers

Oh I love this photo so much.  Look at my boys in their aprons!  I need to pull this photo out every time I feel like I’m failing as a mother.   Step one is to chop up the dates.  This is a good ones for the kids to do (with butter knives) whilst you sneak about measuring the other ingredients and doing the messy stuff.  Preheat the oven to 160 C (325 F).  Oh, and put the kettle on, if you haven’t already done so (cup of boiling water, remember?)

dates,hot water and bicarb

Once you’ve chopped about a cup’s worth of dates, put them in your heatproof bowl or jug and add  a cup of boiling water and a teaspoon of bicarb.  Gather the children around to watch it fizz!

dates and butter

Then add the butter, whilst the water is still hot, so it melts into the hot water.  Put this mixture aside to cool.

DSCF4937

Now crack your egg into the big mixing bowl and use the whisk to beat it.

brown sugar

Then add the packed brown sugar (it’s like a sandcastle!  This is Christopher Robin’s favourite part)

mix it

Stir it in with the vanilla (or you can put the vanilla in with the date mix, it doesn’t really matter – I didn’t have any vanilla on the day I made this one anyway!)

flour

Now add all the other ingredients (flour and date mix).  I tend to alternate between the two – mix in a little flour, then some date mix.  Repeat.

in tin

Tip it into the cake tin.  Don’t worry if it seems a little runny:  that’s how it’s supposed to be!

Bake it in the oven for around 50 minutes.

baked pudding

At this point, you could just serve it as a date cake, but nothing beats sticky tape pudding, so pull out your saucepan and put the butter, cream, brown sugar and vanilla into it.  Warm it up over a medium heat until it boils, then turn it down to low and let it simmer for five minutes or so.  Keep stirring it the whole time.

saucepan

Here, we really need a money shot of a slice of the pudding with the sauce on top and a scoop of icecream melting slightly against it.  Or, perhaps a series of such gratuitous pictures.  But the problem is, whenever it gets to this point in proceedings, I get so excited I end up eating it before I remember to take a picture.  This has happened on multiple occasions.

Instead, here are some pictures that Google has to offer:

pudding porn 1

pudding porn 2

pudding porn 3

I hope I don’t get into trouble for sharing these pudding porn photos.  Please don’t sue me – I’ll take them down if you want me to!

This serves 8 to 12, depending on how small you cut it.  Enjoy!

Half-Eaten-Apple Teacake

I’ve decided if I’m going to be a serious Mummy blogger, I’d better start posting some recipes.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?  Here’s one of my favourites.  My great aunty used to bake apple teacake with me when I was small so it comes with warm and comforting memories.  I always wanted to be the sort of mum (does she even exist?) who has some sort of teacake ‘on hand’ when friends drop by.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  A girl can dream.

Hmm.  A girl can read a little too much Anne of Green Gables than is healthy for her too.

This particular recipe is gluten free.  Of course, you can use regular flour if you like, but I’m just saying it works really well as a gluten free cake – not all cakes do.

OK, enough waffling, on to the recipe!

half-eaten apples

My son is incapable of eating an entire apple.  Why finish this one when I can just trot off and start another?   It drives me to distraction.

There are lots of things you can do with these discarded apples, I suppose.  Some people stew them, some juice them, Mr Knightley cuts them up into coin shapes and rebrands them as “apple money” which the kids think is the best thing ever.

But when I was feeling a craving for apple tea cake, I realised all at once that I could make something wonderful from these little green cast-offs. So here we go.

I should probably point out here that these pictures were taken during my first attempt at the cake and I’ve learnt some extra things since then.  The most important point being that you really only need enough half-eaten apple to make up one full-sized one.  I have far too many in this picture!

bad bits cut off

So: chop off the bad bits (that big apple would have been enough…)

sliced apples

And slice them up.  Slice them as thin as you can – I’ve done it a bit too chunky in this picture.  Why include this picture if it shows far too many apples all sliced the wrong way?  Because I took it, by gum!  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to photograph what you’re doing whilst baking a cake with two little boy helpers?  No?  Well sit down and stop complaining!

Ahem!  Sorry, I got a little carried away there, dear reader.  No more berating, I promise.  Here’s our ingredients list:

65g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup gluten-free self-raising flour
1/3 cup milk
thinly sliced half-eaten apples – 1 apple’s worth

Cinnamon topping

10g butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons caster sugar

You will also need:

A mixing bowl
An electric mixer (handy, but not essential)
A wooden spoon
A 20cm round cake tin, lined with baking paper (the shallow sort you would use two of to make a sandwich cake)

The best thing about this recipe is that you can make it from things you already have in your cupboard.  I have no time for recipes with exotic ingredients!

Now, before you start, preheat the oven to 180 degrees (or 160 fan forced)  (that’s 350 / 320 Farenheit, for my American friends)

cake batter

So beat up the softened butter until it gets a little paler, then add the sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Mix with an electric mixer (or stir up heaps with a wooden spoon).

cake mix

Turn off the electric mixer and hand out the beaters to lick.  That should get you five minutes worth of peace.  Now stir in half the flour and half the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.  Make sure nobody dips their beater back in once they’ve licked it clean.

fake cake

Now pour the batter into the cake pan.  I forgot to take a picture of this stage, so I stole one from the Internet instead.  Shhh.  Don’t tell anyone.

Arrange the apple slices on the top and bake for 25-30 minutes.

bakedcake

Mary looking at cake

Mary looks impressed.

While it’s still warm, rub the 10g (a little knob) of butter onto the cake so it melts.  Or, if you’re like me and forget, melt it in the microwave and brush it on later.  Then sprinkle with the sugar mixed with cinnamon.

finished cake

This tastes best if it’s still warm, but still pretty good when it’s cooled.  I made this for my mummy friends on Friday and thus fulfilled one of my life’s ambitions as a stay-at-home mum.  Bliss.

The first time I made this, of course, I had far too much apple left over.

Anyone for apple money?