Gluten-free baking can seem like the biggest faff in the world, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve spent years trying out gluten-free recipes to make sure my family and friends who are intolerant to gluten can eat them. When I started out years ago the flours available produced very inconsistent results and recipes were limited. Now there are so many recipes about using a huge range of exciting ingredients, and readily available flour blends give great results.
If magazines and Facebook adverts are to be believed, January is a time for post-Christmas self-denial and flagellation. Drink a green juice, exercise until you cry, give up sugar…the list of what we supposedly should be doing goes on and on, and I just can’t be bothered with any of it. The nights are still long and cold with summer almost unimaginably far away, and I still need a bit of comfort. Instead of self-improvement through denial, I’m focusing on using all all those bits and bobs that sit in the cupboard of the fridge for weeks and months and never get used up because the next thing comes along. I’m talking endless half-jars of jam and marmalade and chutneys which stare accusingly at me every time I want the butter or eggs.
Once you’ve got your basic Christmas baking sorted (I’m talking mince pies, truffles, Swedish Pepparkakor gingerbread, German Lebkuchen Biscuits…) you’re going to need a showstopping pudding for the big day. The obvious choice is the traditional Christmas fruit cake covered in marzipan and white icing or a boozy Christmas pudding. With a nut-allergy, both of these choices are usually off the table. In fact, even nut-free fruit cake has never been something I find particularly tasty. So I wanted to come up with a really special nut-free celebration cake. This Christmas Gingerbread Forest Cake is the final product!
Christmas time has all the best foods. I’ve already posted two differently spiced gingerbread recipes (Swedish Pepparkakor and German Lebkuchen) but sometimes you want a festive biscuit that’s a bit less complex to make. These Spiced Orange and Date Cookies are flavoured with all-spice and nutmeg which gives them warmth and depth without overpowering the orange and date.
Chritsmas traditions can make all the difference when it comes to feeling festive. As I already mentioned in my Pepparkakor post, eating the right food at Christmas is really important to my family, as I’m sure it is to yours. The turkey is less important than the roast parsnips (particularly now I’m vegetarian!) and it’s important to have a Pringles sandwich on cheap white bread on Boxing Day.
There’s something about making ingredients from scratch that gives you a better understanding and appreciation of it. For a long time I’ve wanted to try making cheese, partly to see if I could, partly for the bragging rights!
Homemade Paneer was top of my list. It’s one of my favourite cheeses to cook with, and I already have a whole host of recipes to use it up in. I’d also seen several recipes and the process seemed pretty simple.