Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Gluten Free Brown Bread - from your bread maker. A Revolutionary Loaf!


This is a sandwich......... Not any old sandwich. No. This sandwich is special..... Not for what it contains, but because it has been made with my amazing newly-developed gluten free brown bread, made with a combination of flours, including oat, brown rice and brown teff....... in the bread maker!!....... 'Gluten free? Are you kidding me?' ......... I kid you not!

Do you see any crumbling? Do you see any cracks? Is it falling apart? Does it look dry, tasteless and lacking nutrition? Uh Uh! This sandwich, my lovely readers, is a revelation.....

If you thought we gluten-avoiders were left out in the cold as far as a decent sandwich goes, then think again. Months in the making and tested over and over again, the loaf that made this sandwich is the result of an extreme determination...... no, make that 'obsession'....... to create a bread-maker brown bread that not only has a perfect texture, but also a great flavour, fantastic nutritional content and holds together to make a robust sandwich that you can pick up and bite without the need for a bib.


You would not believe how excited I was when I sliced my first 'good' prototype...... It was more than I could do not to leap around the room, dash for my lap top and announce to the whole world what I had achieved. I managed to restrain myself....... just. I knew I needed to test, test and test again to be absolutely sure it wasn't a fluke and that I had really achieved the coeliac's (bread-deprived) utopia.....

We have now eaten twenty-plus of these loaves and they have been consistently amazing. You can safely cut really thin slices (yes..... I said thin) without it falling apart and it even stays fresh (wrapped in cling film) for 3 to 4 days at room temperature. The other day, I caught my husband making a sandwich for my daughter's packed lunch...... The man on the moon would have seen my smile as I heard Mr GF mumble 'wow... look at that bread!'


Flavour-wise, this loaf tastes a little like my memories of Irish 'wheaten' loaf, but with a slightly more moist crumb. It gives an almost 'wholemeal' experience...... the colour from the teff and the texture that comes from the oat flour tell you this bread is healthy bread. Yet it also has a hint of soda bread on account of a weeny addition of bicarbonate of soda which provides extra airiness to the bake.

Best of all, Miss GF loves it...... really loves it. And I can be happy that rather than eating the nutritionally-empty white rice-based commercial loaves, she is getting some fantastic nutrition from the ingredients in the bread and not just the filling it surrounds.


So how have I done it? I think probably by a little judgement and a lot of luck........

You may recall that I went on a gluten free bread course at Braxted Park with Adriana Rabinovich back in October last year. One of the tricks she showed us to provide structure to her bread recipes, was to add a little gelatine to the mix (or vege-gel for vegetarian bakes). Not so much that it was detectable, but just enough to help it hold together. All the breads she demonstrated however were hand-baked, but it got me thinking whether the technique might work with the bread-maker....... Creativity took hold and I set to work formulating, tweaking, re-formulating, testing......... Boy there were some gross loaves in that lot!

I will be honest...... I don't actually like the idea of putting gelatine in a staple food, so I have worked this recipe to be perfect whether you choose gelatine or vege-gel...... The texture and taste are equally amazing, so I for one will be using the vegetarian option!


Anyway....... somewhere along the line of testing and tweaking, I got a bread that tasted great and held together fine, but the overall texture was...... well..... just too 'gluten free'. If you've ever made gluten free bread in a bread-maker, you will probably know what I mean by that comment..... It lacked the desired 'breadiness' which is a 'given' if you eat gluten.......I wanted my new bread-maker loaf to be softer, fluffier, squidgier......

My bread-developing journey has been an exciting one since going gluten free and I have some great bread recipes that I have posted on this blog..... Don't get me wrong..... I love every one of them....... and each is an important evolutionary step towards gluten free yeasted enlightenment. I am particularly proud of my Perfectly Fluffy Oat Bread, which has been a great staple in our house. It is however hand baked and I don't have the time to make it frequently enough alongside long working days, to accommodate the family's bread-eating needs. So the necessity of getting a bread-maker recipe right became compulsive......

The eureka moment was a decision to add a tiny bit of bicarb to see what would happen. The difference it made to the texture was unexpectedly wondrous....... my brown bread-maker bread was born........ soft and moist, it is the best sandwich bread I have made.


I have tested it on a number of gluten eaters as well as avoiders and have already had lots of requests for the recipe......  it must be good! A couple of them have even told me I should hold the recipe, as it might be worth a bob or two...... But I don't do this for the money and if somewhere out there, someone benefits from my efforts and gets to enjoy bread again, then I am a happy bunny!

As far as bread-makers go, I use a Panasonic SD 2501 which has a gluten free setting (set to medium crust, which takes 1 hour and 50 minutes for the full baking cycle and only rises once). I have never used any other bread-maker, so am unable to say which would be the best setting on other machines, but I am sure that a quick read of the manual may help determine the route to take. I always remove the loaf from the machine as soon as it is baked and leave it upright to cool completely on a wire rack (uncovered). Unlike many gluten free breads, this is one which is amazing to eat fresh and warm!


Don't be put off by the list of ingredients....... I tend to keep a designated airtight container and when I have a spare moment, I weigh out the dry ingredients and set aside so that they are ready without the need for further preparation when I want to make the loaf.  It is worth making sure that the dry ingredients are really thoroughly mixed and broken down for the most even textured bake. All the flours are found in my local health food shop, so hopefully they will be easy for you to source too.

You will also see that I have been fairly specific about the temperature of the water that is added to the pan.  Having had a few 'fails' in loaves previously where I have either under or over judged the liquid temperature when measured by hand, I have become increasingly pedantic about accuracy, to be sure that the yeast is quickly and effectively activated for the best dough rise. It is really worth investing in a reliable food thermometer to help you with this. Having been sent a Thermapen 4 to review before Christmas, I can thoroughly recommend it as a fantastic tool (you can see my review here). You may also note that I have weighed the water, again for accuracy.


I'm not sure I have much more to add...... I just hope that this recipe brings those of you who try it as much bready joy as we have had...... Let me know if you try it!

I'm sharing this incredible loaf with the following :


Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma











Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum








Bake of the Week with Casa Costello











Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse











Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum









Gluten Free Brown Bread (from the bread maker)

Ingredients (all spoons are levelled)

100g brown rice flour
40g brown teff flour
160g GF oat flour (easy to make as in this post)
50g potato starch flour
60g tapioca starch flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4½g vege-gel powder - I used Dr Oetker (or 8g gelatine powder)
3 tablespoons milk powder

3 large eggs
1 tablespoon runny honey
370g (by weight) hand-warm water at 46 C/115 F

1½ teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons sunflower oil

14g active dry yeast (for bread machines) - I used Allinson's Easy Bake Yeast

Method

  1. Weigh and whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, salt, bicarbonate of soda, gelatine/vege-gel and milk powder, making sure the ingredients are fully and evenly combined and all lumps are broken down.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, honey and warm water until fully combined, frothy and airy. Pour into the bread pan.
  3. Add the lemon juice and oil to the bread pan.
  4. Next add the dry ingredients to the pan so that they evenly cover the liquid. 
  5. Finally add the yeast, sprinkling on top of the flour.
  6. Set your bread maker to gluten free setting (I set mine to GF medium brown crust, which takes 1 hour and 50 minutes for a full bake cycle). Leave to bake!
  7. When the bread is baked, remove immediately from the pan onto a wire rack (place upright) and leave to cool (uncovered). 
  8. Best eaten completely cool or slightly warm. Will stay fresh for 3 to 4 days!
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Banana, Melon & Strawberry Smoothie


Just a quick post today.... Time seems to be skipping away this weekend and not for any particularly exciting reason..... I think it has been consumed in a flurry of dusting and ironing (my two pet-hates.....) and other household chores.

But I did manage (in amongst the more banal end of domestic activity) to make this smoothie.....

The other night I woke up thinking of melons...... All very strange..... More specifically smoothies made with melons...... I find it fascinating what depths of curiosity the brain will probe when we are asleep....


I've never actually put melon in a smoothie before. I have no idea why as it is one of my favourite fruits (and one of Miss GF's too). I love melons..... particularly Galia melons (preferably chilled) for their fresh, fruity sweetness, which is amazingly refreshing when you need to quench a thirst.

And they remind me of my father..... a wonderful and very compassionate man who died many many years ago when I was little more than a child, from the awfulness that is Cancer. In his final days (which we were fortunate enough to have him home for), all he seemed to want to eat was liquidised Galia melon..... It seems very random thinking about it now, but at the time it all seemed very normal.... his failing body needed that particular fruit and we duly found it for him.


Even more than 30 years on, I miss my father terribly..... he was my rock and my hero who was taken away before I was ready to lose him. But that's how it is in this world..... time may be infinite, but our lives are not and when time is up, there is little we can do to stop it. Thank goodness we have the ability to store precious memories to tap into when we need them most...

I've just read the above back to myself...... I apologise for that little bit of self-indulgence, but will leave it in anyway..... I remind myself that this blog is essentially my daughter's record for her future and one day, she may read these little snippets which will add another small piece to the jigsaw of her history......


Now back to melons and more importantly, smoothies..... With January not yet at an end, I am still trying my best to inject a little healthiness into my daily routines..... I am continuing to get down the gym when I have time and have managed to avoid making an excess of puddings and cakes. Smoothie does seem like a positive choice to get a little sweetness into life without refined sugar...

Recent media reports would suggest the jury is currently 'out' on whether regular consumption of smoothies is a good or bad thing..... The hidden calories that we woolf down with each glass may weigh against them slightly, but in my head, I am still getting plenty of vitamin and mineral rich fruit. Blended with a carefully considered base..... in this case I added a small pot of coconut milk yoghurt...... I figure I could be eating a lot worse. It is a wonderful healthy replacement to a sugar-laden traditional dessert and that for me is a big tick..... well deserving of the large halo of virtuousness that I intend to wear as a result of said consumption!

This smoothie contains a happily nutritious fruity fusion of the melon, banana, strawberry and lime. It tastes like you are drinking magic juice....... divine....... Miss GF reckons this smoothie is the best ever...... Maybe. Maybe not. But it is definitely worth a try...... maybe even take to work for a refreshing breakfast boost!


I am sharing a bottle or two with the following linkies :


Meat Free Mondays with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes











Alpha Bakes with Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, this month celebrating G, or in my case, Galia melon.









Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.











Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.











Cook Blog Share with Snap Happy Bakes.













Banana, Melon & Strawberry Smoothie

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 bananas - peeled and cut into large pieces
8 to 10 large strawberries - hulled
½ Galia melon - deseeded, skinned and cut into cubes
juice of 1 lime
125g pot natural coconut milk yoghurt (I used Coyo brand)
1 tablespoon maple syrup.

Method

Put all the ingredients in a blender and zap until completely liquidised.
Enjoy!

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Mini Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Cakes with Coconut Whipped Cream (gluten, dairy & egg free)


There's something about the idea of a 'vegan cake' which seems a little baffling to a non-vegan like myself........ and that is the absence of egg. When I first learnt to bake, egg was always a fundamental component in cake, so I have always been intrigued by the idea of cake that is egg-free as well as the question of whether it could be made to be as good as traditional 'egg-infused' sponge made by traditional baking methods. If you don't need to make cake without egg (because you are not either vegan or egg-intolerent) then choosing to make one will likely be the result of a very conscious decision or something that needs to be made for a specific egg-free occasion.........


Enter my (newly designated vegan) niece-in-law.......... I developed this particular cake recipe and made it for the first time when she came to visit a while back........ Rather than panic and give her fruit for dessert, I turned to Mr GF and said....... uh uh...... 'This is a cake house and we will have vegan cake on the table when she comes to tea.....'

Whilst I am confident that I know what to do in substituting for dairy milks, yoghurts and fats, replacing egg is less familiar. Being clear that I didn't want to use a commercial 'egg replacer' or an obvious specific egg-substitute (on the rare occasions that I have used them, I have been unhappy with the results), I challenged myself to bake a cake with a soft sponge that did not compromise quality and that even the most hardened egg-eating cake addict would love.


A bit of basic research on vegan baking later (actually there is nothing particularly 'clever' about it at all) and my very own vegan chocolate cakes were born...... My niece was really chuffed that I had made a special effort and everybody else really enjoyed them too. They were so good, that I decided they needed to make another appearance in my kitchen and also to be shared with the world.

The great thing about vegan recipes is that they naturally also fall into the category of both dairy and egg free, which makes these little beauties perfect for those who have to avoid either or both of these categories for other health or allergy reasons. I also needed to make them gluten free to fit in with our own dietary needs linked to Coeliac, so that's an extra benefit.....

Whether you are intolerant or allergic to any or all of these ingredients....... rest assured that you too can have your chocolate cake and eat it!


And for an added guilt-free bonus, I have made them as healthy as possible by using unrefined coconut palm sugar and also coconut oil, coconut milk and some ground almonds for good measure.

The sponge is deliciously chocolatey with a good punch of cocoa....... Although the crumb is quite dense, it is by no means over-firm, with a texture that remains soft and perfectly cakey. Sandwiched with a contrastingly fruity red cherry conserve and topped with whipped coconut cream, these mini sandwich cakes are as decadent as they are tempting...... Topped with a few blueberries and a sprinkle of dark vegan chocolate and a little glitter, they are sure to put a smile on the face of all who are lucky enough to eat them.


Another great idea for Valentines? I think so!

Not wanting to keep this discovery to myself, I am offering my Mini Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cakes to the following :


#FoodYearLinkUp with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen, celebrating Veganuary









We Should Cocoa with Lovely Appetite on behalf of Choclette at Tin & Thyme. This month's theme is for 'simple recipes'...... These may be vegan, but they are really easy to make!









Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.











Cook Blog Share, this week with Haley over at Snap Happy Bakes.









Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.







Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse











Mini Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Cakes with Coconut Whipped Cream (makes 12 mini sandwiches or approx 15 cupcakes))

Ingredients

140g GF plain flour mix (without xanthan gum) - I used mix A from this post but minus the xanthan.
45g ground almonds
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
40g cocoa powder
240g coconut palm sugar (or soft light brown sugar)
90g (80 ml) coconut oil - melted
200 ml coconut &/or almond milk
3 tablespoons (45 ml) dairy free yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Coconut Cream
1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk (left upside-down in the fridge overnight) or 1 x 250 ml carton coconut cream
1½ tablespoons icing sugar or 1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder or paste.

Filling
Red cherry conserve or your favourite jam to fill

To decorate :
dark Vegan chocolate - grated 
fruit of your choice

Method

  1. Pre-prepare for making the coconut cream, by placing the tin of coconut milk (or the coconut cream) in the fridge (upside-down) overnight.
  2. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cocoa powder and sugar.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  4. Prepare your cake tins/cases. I used a mini sandwich cakes tin (which I base lined with baking paper), or you may prefer to make cupcakes. 
  5. In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil either over steaming water or in the microwave on medium (30 second bursts until liquid).
  6. Put the milk, yoghurt, vanilla paste and vinegar in a large bowl, add the melted coconut oil and whisk until well combined. If the coconut oil begins to solidify and go lumpy, place the bowl over a dish of steaming water and whisk, to enable it to remain liquid.
  7. Add the dry ingredients and whisk all together until completely combined (whisk over a dish of steaming water if there is any hint of oil solidification, so that your batter becomes really smooth).
  8. Spoon into the cake tins or cupcake liners (about two-thirds full) and bake for about 20 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool.
  10. Meanwhile, make the coconut whipped cream : Remove the tin of coconut milk from the fridge and turn the right way up. Open the can and pour off the liquid (which should now be at the top of the can) into a glass (enjoy as a drink or add to a smoothie)
  11. Scoop out the coconut cream into a medium bowl and add the sweetener and vanilla.
  12. Whisk the cream until thick, then set aside in the fridge for at least an hour or until ready to use.
  13. When the cakes are cold, slice in half horizontally or core a small hole from the middle (saving the cake cap) and fill with red cherry conserve or your favourite jam.
  14. Top each cake with a spoon of coconut cream, fruit and grated vegan chocolate.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Vanilla Marshmallow with Strawberry Swirl (gluten, dairy and nut free)


We're half-way through January and I'm wondering how many of us are sticking to our healthy eating intentions and exercise boost?

Actually, I'm doing pretty well with sticking to an increased exercise regime............ Okay...... 'regime' may be a little strong...... but I am managing to do more than the recommended 10,000 steps most days (except when work ties me to my desk for an excess of hours due to report deadlines), have managed a fair few gym sessions and have stuck (almost) rigidly to the 5:2 for a good couple of weeks. I'm not seeing much of a difference on the scales, but am working on the theory that muscle weighs more than fat and that this increase compensates the flab that (must be) dropping off!!! No? Oh well...... I feel better and far more energised, so that's good enough for me!

I know I should be posting lots of healthy stuff at the start of the year, but I made this lovely marshmallow a little while before Christmas for a friend's birthday (as well as to put my new Thermapen food thermometer through its paces) and it has been sitting around in my drafts box, waiting for an appropriate moment ever since.


I considered not posting it at all on account of being less than happy with some of the photos, but then decided on balance, that since they are way better than the photos I took in my early days of blogging and the recipe is too good to keep to myself, I should go ahead anyway.

Besides...... Valentines is round the corner and it seems a good time to get it 'out there' ready for the lovey-dovey sweetie celebrations! If you are thinking ahead on the gift front, you can do a lot worse than home-made marshmallow (and you can prepare it way in advance of the big day......).

The last time I made marshmallow was when I was a child. It was a very different recipe to this and (if I remember rightly) didn't contain any egg white. The recipe that I have concocted here is way better than my childhood efforts....... It is light and airy and very very squidgy! It also has added yumminess (and prettiness) from the fruity swirl running through it, which you may choose to 'alcoholise' or not.

Marshmallow may not be your 'thing', but I have a serious weakness for the stuff and consider myself to be quite a conosieur........ If I see a mallow that I have not spotted before, it is more than I can do to avoid it leaping into my basket (once I have checked it is also gluten free)....... Often snaffled from secret supplies after hubbie has gone to bed (do I need to join 'Marshmallows Anonymous'??), I mostly eat it 'neat', but it also finds its way into cakes, biscuits, toasted on the barbie, or used as cake decoration. One of my favourite-decorated cakes used a whole load of them to make a surface of spring flowers!


I digress and distract........ This recipe makes darn good mallow and is really not that tricky either, providing you have a decent sugar/food thermometer. The Thermapen came good on this one!

Although you can eat it freshly-made, it tastes best when it has been coated in a cornflour-icing sugar mix and then left to dry for a couple of days so that it is less sticky to handle with a slightly firm outer-crust, yet still has a soft, fluffy, squashy, pillowy middle....... Just as it should be!

I am sharing a handful with the following linkies this month :


Tea Time Treats with Janie over at The Hedge Combers (and Karen at Lavender & Lovage)








Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma











Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse











Cook Blog Share, this week with Sneaky Veg









Vanilla Marshmallow with Strawberry Swirl (makes about 20 marshmallows)

Ingredients

10 gelatine leaves (9 + 1 - see below)
100 ml cold water
1½ tablespoons berry liqueur or cordial
vegetable oil (for brushing the tin)
60g egg whites (approx 2 medium/1½ large egg whites)
200g granulated sugar
100g liquid glucose
60 ml water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g runny strawberry jam (smooth/sieved)
freeze dried strawberry powder for sprinkling (optional)
40g cornflour
40g icing sugar

(you will also need a sugar/food thermometer)

Method

  1. Using a flat bottomed dish, soak 9 of the gelatine leaves in 100ml cold water to soften (adding them one at a time to the liquid and ensuring all are fully immersed). Soak for 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate dish, soak the 10th gelatine leaf in the liqueur/cordial (you can break up the leaf if easier to ensure immersed) - set aside and leave soaking.
  3. Fully line a 23 cm/9 inch square (3 cm deep) baking tin with baking parchment and brush with oil.
  4. Using a stand mixer (for preference), whisk the egg white in a large bowl until very stiff, then turn off the mixer and set aside.
  5. Pour the water-soaked gelatine and its water into a small saucepan and warm gently over a low heat, stirring continuously until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. In a separate (heavy-based) medium saucepan, measure out the sugar, liquid glucose, and a further 60ml cold water. 
  7. Gradually bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer and stir occasionally until the mixture reaches 118 C/244 F on a sugar thermometer (this will take about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat immediately the temperature is reached.
  8. Turn the mixer on again with the egg whites to a low speed and carefully pour in the sugar mixture in a slow and steady stream, as the mixture continues to whisk.
  9. Gradually add the liquified gelatine, still continuing to whisk.
  10. Finally add the vanilla extract and turn the whisk speed up to medium, continuing to whisk until the mixture thickens.
  11. Increase the whisk speed still further to high and whisk for about a further 10 minutes until the mixture has quadrupled in size and reached a thick, glossy, liquid-marshmallow consistency.
  12. Whilst the whisking at point 11 is taking place, heat the jam in a small pan (do not boil) until very warm and runny. Remove from the heat and add the remaining gelatine and liquid (liqueur/cordial) that it has been soaking in. Stir to dissolve completely (if you need to heat it a little more to ensure the gelatine liquifies, then do so over a low heat).
  13. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. 
  14. Drizzle the jam-jelly mixture over the top and swirl through with a knife.
  15. Sprinkle with a little freeze-dried strawberry powder (optional).
  16. Cover the tin with cling film and leave to set for 4 to 6 hours (or overnight) in a cool, dry place (not the fridge).
  17. When completely set, tip the marshmallow block onto a large piece of baking parchment and peel off the paper from the base.
  18. Sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl and mix thoroughly together.
  19. Use a hot knife (dip in very hot water and then dry) to cut the mallow into cubes. 
  20. Toss each piece of mallow (one at a time) in the cornflour mixture until coated completely. 
  21. Set aside on a tray lined with baking parchment and leave to dry out (this will take several hours up to a couple of days depending on how you like your mallow).
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Ginger Cookies/Biscuits - gluten free (with optional dairy free)


These cookies are amazing. Quite possibly the best gluten free cookies I have made! Or are they the best biscuits? Depending on which part of the world you come from, they are one or the other... or maybe both.....

It's an interesting conundrum though..... I grew up with biscuits simply being...... well..... biscuits. Cookies only really entered my consciousness with the Cookie Monster appearing on Sesame Street in the UK when I was somewhere in primary school, or maybe later (it wasn't a programme I watched much). I think even then, I didn't actually make the semantic connection with the sweet, flat treats we continued to call biscuits.


So when did they, in the UK, start to morph into 'cookies'? I have no idea! But somewhere along the road of treat-eating life, the supermarket shelves became stocked with them...... and the term 'cookies' entered popular British language.

If I think more deeply about my own use of the word, biscuits are generally distinguished from cookies according to the crunchiness of the bake. Biscuits (in my head) are crisp with a good 'snap' and you hear them crunching loudly in your ears when you eat them. Cookies have a tendency to be soft and quite chewy as well as often spreading more when they bake so that they have a less defined shape.


Sadly for my waistline, I like both, and will choose 'biscuit' or 'cookie' according to my mood or what I am eating them with. Ice cream, mousses, brûlées and other soft desserts demand the crunch of a biscuit. Cookies can be eaten as pudding on their own and often seem sweeter, larger and more filling.

Whichever you prefer, this Ginger Cookie/Biscuit recipe can be either. They taste fantastic whether crunchy or softer and the only difference is 3 to 5 minutes extra bake-time for a snappier result.


A classically-flavoured ginger cookie, these are made with the rich, earthy depth of treacly molasses, a warming punch of ginger and a measured hit of cinnamon. The additional twinkle gained from rolling in sugar before baking adds both beauty and texture and makes them appear confidently professional.

They look as good as they taste.... there is no masquerade behind the sparkle..... but beware...... they are very very moreish and you may find the pile 'evaporates' as quick as it appeared. Perhaps they are magic too........?


I am sending a few of these yummy cookies over to a handful of linkies this month :


AlphaBakes with Ros over at The More Than Occasional Baker ( and Caroline Makes) - The random letter for January is G for Ginger.










Tea Time Treats with Janie at The Hedge Combers (and Lavender & Lovage) who have an open theme for the tea table this month.








Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.














Cook Blog Share with Kirsty at Hijacked By Twins.









Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.











Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.



Ginger Cookies (makes about 40 biscuits)

Ingredients 

60g white rice flour
60g brown rice flour
60g cornflour (cornstarch)
60g sweet rice flour (Mochiko)
60g tapioca flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon GF baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
170g unsalted butter (softened) or dairy free alternative
200g granulated sugar
45g molasses (black treacle)
45g golden syrup
1 large egg

granulated sugar for rolling

Method

  1. In a bowl, weigh and combine the flours, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and spices and whisk lightly to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Add the molasses and golden syrup and beat, then add the egg and beat again to thoroughly combine.
  4. Add and fold in the dry ingredients until the mixture comes together as a sticky dough. Tip onto a sheet of baking paper or cling film, wrap and chill for about an hour to firm up.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
  6. Pour a little granulated sugar into a bowl ready for dipping the cookies.
  7. Take the chilled dough and roll small pieces into walnut-sized balls. 
  8. Roll each ball in the sugar and flatten with the palm of your hand to a disc about 5 cm/2 inches in diameter. Place on the baking sheets allowing a little room (a couple of cm either side) for spreading.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookies are firming up on the top. For a crunchier cookie, bake for an extra 3 to 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
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