So unfortunately my brownies did not make it into the finals of the U of T brownie contest. Too bad, because I was hoping to show that a vegan and gluten-free recipe could stand on its own among all those recipes that many of us could never eat. Still, it was a fun thing to do, and I will certainly keep baking!
So I entered my vegan, gluten-free coconut brownie recipe into a brownie contest at the University, and I have made it into the semi final. It takes place next week, and “professional bakers” will test the recipe and rank it against 7 other recipes. The top three will be voted by students on December 1st. Pretty exciting 🙂
I haven’t been doing much interesting cooking lately, as I have been pretty busy marking and writing papers. However I did make arepas last weekend! I picked up a bag of Harina P.A.N, the precooked Venezuelan corn flour which is especially made for this stuff, and just followed the instructions on the package to make the masa (dough) and then an online recipe for how to cook them. Basically you form the batter into discs that are about 6-7 cm across and 1 cm thick. Then you brown them for a while in a hot pan, and finally you finish them off in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they sound hollow.
They were pretty tasty, especially cut in half and slathered with butter 🙂 (I didn’t have any cheese). I also used them as “hamburger buns” for some black bean burgers I made (for which I won’t post the recipe because they ended up pretty bland…)
Arepas are naturally gluten-free, which is great. However, the special process of pre-cooking apparently removes a lot of the nutrients from the corn. This special pre-cooking thing also means that you cannot substitute normal cornmeal for the PAN brand flour in this recipe, so you can only really make it if you find a Latin American supermarket. But this is definitely nice for a change as a gluten-free bread substitute, and if you ever find a Venezuelan restaurant or snack bar you know you can eat arepas without worrying too much about gluten.
I cooked a whole pacific salmon last night, in tin foil, and here are some of the leftovers. It was initially served with boiled potatoes and a cucumber salad. For my bento, instead I made a potato salad with a leftover boiled potato in a simple mustardy vinaigrette (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper) and just put some slices of cucumber. There is also a bit of leftover apple cake in the left side compartment, which I again forgot to photograph in its prettier entirety.
My mother’s “raw” apple cake, reimagined gluten-free
I don’t actually know the measurements or recipe for this cake by heart, though I have made it several times over the years. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that my play-by-ear improvised gluten-free version tasted just like I remembered the cake tasting. It’s a rather unconventional cake, consisting mostly of chopped apples, which also makes it rather apt for gluten-freedom. You honestly can’t tell that this is some sort of ersatz cake! It’s also pretty forgiving with measurements etc, so this is not a very accurate recipe. As I said, I don’t actually remember it… My mother calls this the “raw” apple cake because it is very moist and apple-y, and to distinguish it from her other apple cake, but it is not actually raw.
- 200 ml flour (all-purpose if not gluten-free): I used 100 ml rice flour, and 50 ml each of millet and tapioca
- 150 ml brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cardamom (to taste, but it is pretty powerful stuff)
- 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3-4 medium/large chopped apples (relatively small chunks)
- 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil (liquid/melted)
- some apple sauce
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Chop the apples and toss with the flour mix (They don’t brown as quickly when they are coated in flour, hence the order). Add the butter or coconut oil and incorporate. If that is not enough liquid, you just add apple sauce little by little and stir to combine just until you don’t see any more dry/loose flour in the bottom of the bowl. So you just go from having apples coated in flour to having apples barely coated in batter. It’s not supposed to be very liquid at all, don’t add too much apple sauce – just enough to combine.
Spread the mixture into a buttered spring form or square cake pan, compacting it and pressing down a bit with a spatula or the back of your spoon, and bake at about 190C for 35-45 minutes, until golden and cooked through. The apples will be soft and it will taste delicious. If you are lucky, the bottom will also be nicely caramelized and you can flip it like a tarte tatin.
I unfortunately didn’t remember to take a picture of the first batch, but I made an excellent gluten-free bread yesterday which is probably the closest I have got to a standard wheat bread. It rose well and had lots of little air holes, and it tasted good too!
- 50 g rice bran
- 50 g tapioca starch
- 50 g sorghum flour
- 150 g millet flour
- 100 g brown rice flour
- 1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
Mix these dry ingredients very well.
In a separate, big bowl, mix the following well and set aside for a few minutes while the yeast proofs and the other binders get gooey:
- 500 ml lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp psyllium husk
- 2 tbsp flax meal
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp honey
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 heaped tbsp dry active yeast
Add half the flour mix to your wet ingredients and stir very well. Then, incorporate the remaining flour and process for a couple of minutes.
Add dough to an oiled loaf pan. Leave to rise for 35-45 minutes. Bake at about 200-225 C (unsure about my oven temp) for about 45 minutes, until golden, and until it sounds hollow when you knock on it.
Leave to cool completely before slicing.
I just moved a week ago and we are still settling in. I am also still getting to know my new oven, and it seems that the thermostat is a bit off — judging by the bread I made the oven is colder than it claims to be…
I did make an absolutely perfect gluten-free version of my mother’s apple cake last night, but it was made completely randomly without proper measurements, and it was too dark to photograph it. This morning it was all gone… But I will recreate it in the near future and write about it! It is truly divine!