Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thank you to Winget Art Studio for the coolest cupcake clipart ever!!!

I would like to send a huge thank you to Susan Winget for allowing me the privileged of using her oh so cool cupcake clipart on my blog.  I LOVE IT!!  Thanks so much!  Also, for anyone who this appeals to, she does loads of different artwork.

Comfort food ... Gluten and Lactose Free Brownies

My neck/shoulders have gone all spasm on me again and spent the night on muscle relaxers and painkillers.  I was in the mood for some comfort food and had given all my cupcakes away.  So, I had a box of Gluten Free Brownies in the pantry that were easy to make as take little mixing (shoulder is too sore to mix).  So, I whipped them up in a hurry and then put the left over turquoise frosting on them.

Ironically for some reason, you can actually see the true color of the frosting in this pic, unlike in the photos from the pot below this one.  I LOVE the brown/turquoise combo together.

They are so yummy :-)   I feel a bit guilty for not making them from scratch, but I usually have a box on hand in case I need them in a hurry and don't have the ingredients to make them myself.

The brand is Bauckhof and they make several other gluten free mixes.  I have had the falafal (quite nice) and the pizza dough (would never buy again).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Coffee Cupcakes with Turquoise Frosting (Gluten/Lactose Free)

Please note that the actual color is closer to the one like the upper right corner.  I only have a crappy point and shoot and I can never capture the true color to things up close in unnatural light.

If you would like the recipe, please message me. I don’t really want to put up the recipes until I get them right.  As these are ongoing experiments to create nice flavors of gluten and lactose free cupcakes.

I have been dreaming of making turquoise frosting ever since I saw a pic of a choc cupcake with brilliant turquoise frosting.  A friend brought me the colors needed to mix (Wilton Sky Blue (6x) and Lemon Yellow (1x)) and I did not want to make the chocolate ones just yet as still experimenting with different flavors.  I needed a reason to make some cupcakes and tomorrow is my last physio session for a while and I love my physio therapist.  She has done miracles for my neck/shoulder/back and I thought a perfect way to say thank you.  I chose the coffee cupcakes as she once told me how much she loved coffee (drank it all day, including evenings) and also her practice colors are white/turquoise - so this was perfect!

What I did different this time:
I used a mix of Amaranth, Millet and Corn Starch.  I also excluded the Xanthium Gum this time.  I used a bit more baking powder and some sea salt as well.  They are a great improvement over the last batch.  I chose not to do the coffee frosting as well, thought it might be just a bit too much overkill (lesson learned from the lemon cupcakes).  So, I did a simple Butter Cream frosting.

I also tried several different tips to do the icing.  With the icing being too thin (I ran out of powdered sugar) it did not turn out so well.  I really need to find some tips to get. Perhaps will have a look online this evening and see what I can order from the UK, as not found a good place for tips here.  So, each cupcake is pretty much a bit different - was just playing around :)

What I did wrong:
I followed directions ;-) I should learn never to do that!  The timing was just too long (although was ok for the last few batches).  Luckily, this batch made enough to make 19 cupcakes, so I have plenty that are ok to give away.  I also did not want to dip into my treasured supply of Crisco (super expensive here (and if you really want to know what it is used for here, send me a message.  It is sold only really for 1 purpose in Germany ;-)  And I do know better, but this time - since I was only experimenting, I decided to go with it.  What is "it"?  Well, German butter is different than US butter.  German butter is very yellow and is always unsalted.  The unsalted butter in the states is very light in color and you can get a pretty white frosting with it. But here, you get yellow frosting, no matter what (unless you used the cherished Crisco).  So, I thought since it uses 1 part yellow anyway - I may still be able to get my brilliant turquoise frosting that I am after (I will put a pic at the end of the cupcake I am addicted to perfecting!).  so, while the turquoise is indeed turquoise and not teal or blue as I have tried before, it is not as brilliant as I would like. So, when I do make my dream cupcake - I will use the Crisco and no butter - this will give me a pure white to start with before adding my colors.

I also did not double check before I started baking (not that it would have done me any good, as nothing open anyway on Sundays in Germany >-( - But I did not have enough powdered sugar.  The frosting turned out ok, just a bit too runny to keep it's nice pipped frosting.  I put them in the fridge though - this should stiffen them up.  I will leave the there til I take them to Iris tomorrow :-)

My dream cupcake which I will perfect beyond perfection to make for my 40th Birthday in January :)

Please note, I do not know who to give credit to for this picture. This is a pic that keep popping up on adverts on my facebook and yahoo.  I have searched and searched, but can not find it.  So, apologies!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Oh Happy Day!!

My friend Kat brought me some supplies from the US.  I can not make prettier cupcakes now that I have proper piping bags, cupcake liners and colors (all very very difficult and sometimes impossible to find in Germany.  She brought me some cool other things too including 2 homemade carry bags :-)

Thank you so much Kat!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flours in my pantry

So, since I was diagnosed and spent the first bit of my GF years in the States, I of course took on the standard GF flour blend (rice/tapioca/potato).  But since living in Europe and trying for many years to produce nice baked goods, but always coming up with mediocre (and those you can buy, even worse), I started experimenting. I now find that I can substitute ANY recipe with a mixture of my flours and it turns out just as nice!  It  may take a couple tries and changing a few other ingredient amounts, but in the end, it always works.  I discovered this when I was trying to make Nan bread (the one thing I still have not perfected, close, but not as good as the real thing) and experimented with Teff.  I now use that as one of my main flours.  

One MAJOR thing that is an absolute must with GF flours is to measure by weight.  If you need to convert to grams, use an online converter (link at very bottom for the best one that I have found-even has butter conversion).  1 cup of Wheat flour does not equal a cup of GF flour.  And 1 cup of Teff does not equal one cup of Corn Starch.  You have to find the density of the flour and convert to grams.  Not all flours are listed, you have to do a little searching, but you can find them all.  If you can't just choose the flour with the closest texture to convert. The link I have below does this for you.  This is my biggest and most valuable lesson that I have learned.

As for the Lactose Free part.  I simply substitute lactose free milk (in Germany I use only the fresh MinusL brand, not the HMilk (ie long life shelf milk) and I also use the MinusL butter.  Things just dont work out nor taste as nice with margarine.  MinusL ( also do quark and yogurt as well as cheese and several other things, so you can nearly always make things lactose free without losing any flavor at all.

I am actually Milk Intolerant.  I do not on a normal basis even drink/use the MinusL (I do this as my partner is lactose intolerant).  I switched to Soy milk (only the one that is only soy/water, not the sweetened stuff) but just do not like it and do not like the outcome of baked goods with it.  You can bake with it (but it  MUST be the soy that is 100% only soy/water - hard to find) but I prefer not to.  My intolerance is not so bad yet that I can not handle a tiny amount in baked goods when using the Lactose Free, so this is what I do. 

My partner now eats 100% GF when at home now and to be honest, I don't think he even can tell the difference anymore.  This is how good you can cook GF - DO NOT let anyone tell you you have to put up with the heavy, doughy, expensive pre-packaged breads/cakes/sweets they sell on line or in health food shops.  YOU CAN do this on your own and make wonderful light/airy/inexpensive wonderful baked goods.  It only takes a bit of practice.

Happy Gluten Free Baking!!

Here are the flours I have in my pantry that I use quite often:
Teff (from Teff Grass)
Almond (nut flour)
Corn Starch
Buckwheat (not wheat at all)
Quinoa (actually a seed)
Graham (aka chickpea/Garbanzo bean)
And here are the others that are their, but hardly ever used:
Sweet Rice (only used for pie crust - pie crust to die for that is ;)
Potato starch
Potato flour (only used to make German Knodel)

Things I can not find in Germany:
Brown Rice Flour (I use Teff instead)
Almond Flour (I have a friend bring this to me when she comes over) 
Xanthan Gum (you can get this, but in teeny tiny packets.  I have someone bring me over the large container of it.  But to be honest, I rarely add it unless I am making bread. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

OK, so I had to cheat a bit on these.  They call for 1 Tbsp of sour cream.  They do not make Lactose Free sour cream here, so I used normal.  Since I knew they would not be completely LF, I went ahead and used normal butter and milk.  But they are Gluten Free :)  Also, I am out of piping bags (a friend is bringing me some this weekend) so I used the old fashioned technique - a knife ;)  So they are not as pretty as usual.

I am not a big lemon fan, so can't really tell you how they taste.  We will have to wait for Karen and her colleagues to tell us that.  They turned out a nice yellow (could not get that in the pic) and I have loads of frosting left over :(  

What I did - Again, I used Amaranth flour (trying to use it up as well as corn starch and another flour (not sure to be honest, as is unmarked in  one of my glass jars - but it is def GF).  I also added the baking powder this time - made a HUGE difference.  I also added the Xanthum Gum, which I think I will leave out of my GF cupcake recipes for good.  It just makes the batter more glue like. It does not change the taste and think it is great for bread baking (it is a binder to replace the gluten) - but in cupcakes and muffins - it just makes the batter a weird consistency. 

10 of these will go to a friend of mine for her work, 4 will stay here for me and Guy to eat.  I hope they get good reviews!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mostly Cupcakes, but also so much more...

So, while the main focus of this blog will be about my cupcake mission (turning every cupcake from this awesome cupcake book I have into a lovely edible Gluten/Lactose Free cupcake) I also make loads of other "experiments" too.  Here are just a few.  If you would like the recipe (or approx, again, I am horrible at writing down what I actually do, just let me know.

Homemade Cherry Pie.  Made from fresh cherries.  This was the absolute best pie crust  I have ever ever made (or eaten for that matter, including ones with wheat flour).  I also put sliced almonds in this and on the top. It really made it taste that much better.  With a little warm milk and brown sugar sprinkled on top - it was marvelous!! 

Focaccia made with tomatoes and rosemary.  This was my first attempt at anything like this and it turned out great.  Would use different flours next time though (think I used Teff in this one).  We sliced it while warm and ate with freshly grilled chicken breast and grilled red peppers.  The rest was saved for breakfast, but we ended up eating it all in one day.

"Normal" Cupcakes" made with wheat flour. I made these for a friends birthday.  They were so nice looking :-)  With the spinkles and each had a little animal face on them.  I also learnt that day that sprinkles were also known as Jimmies on the East Coast and Hundreds and Thousands in the UK.

Mixed Paella.  I got this recipe from MaWithFlavor. It was so awesome!!!  I found some GF Chorizo.  This is definitely something we will make again!

Carnitis with homemade Salsa.  This was a whole day task.  I made 3 different types of salsa and the carnitas took hours to cook. We also made homemade corn tortillas.  These are something you can not find in Germany, so must make them ourselves.  Which ensures they are GF.
Chipotle Steaks with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes.  This was yum yum
Bhuna Ghost (Lamb Bhuna) with Onion Bhaji. My absolute favorite Indian meal.  I make some sort of curry several times a month.  It is also my favorite to eat out, as is one of the few types of restaurants where wheat flour is not used in the cooking (only the Nan bread).  We only use whole seeds and spices - roast them and grind them for our curries.  Makes all the difference in the world.

The lucky cupcakes to be made first - Earl Grey cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting

My partner LOVES Earl Grey - so I decided to try these first.  To get the flavor - you bring milk (in this case MinusL brand) to almost a boil.  Then you remove and put in 4 Earl Grey teabags (please use actual English bags, not the German ones, they suck) cover and let it steep for 30 min. 

What I used: MinusL brand vollmich and Butter (for cupcakes and butter cream frosting).  Earl Grey teabags from UK.  For this recipe I also used Amaranth and corn starch (as was out of my other flours, so need to make a trip to the Bio market tomorrow).  I also used my partners muscle :)  I have a swollen shoulder at the moment so could not do the endless mixing (this recipe had loads of mixing to get the right texture) so he did this for me :)

What I forgot to do (yes, I did this very late when I got home from a long day as was so excited to start making something from my new book! was since the original recipe called for Self Rising Flour - I forgot to add some baking powder (and again, here use US or UK powder, not the German stuff and if you have to use the German stuff - use twice the amount).  I also forgot to put Xanthum Gum in it as well.  But they turned out beautiful even with these 2 items forgotten. 

I LOVE cupcakes

It is not so much the making of them, but the decorating of them that I love (cakes too). The other day I bought a cupcake book and decided I would make every cupcake in the book - but adapting the recipes to be Gluten and Lactose Free.  I am actually milk intolerant, however, it is not as bad as the Gluten so for these I can have a bit, but the Lactose Free does help.

I tend to make up recipes as I go along. I never follow a recipe at all, even a great GF one.  I always change things.  However, I am horrible at actually knowing what I did.  My goal with this blog is that I start to note down what I change so I can make it better the next time and also remember when it turns out awesome.  I once made the best corn bread on Earth - but can not do it again, as no idea which flour blends I use. :-D

2 important things I do. I always use electronic scales (none of this "cups" crap from US recipes - just does not work with GF)  One cup of wheat flour does not equal one cup of another type of flour.  I also never use the typical US GF blend of Rice/Tapioca/Potato - I use Teff, Amaranth, Quinoa and other flours. They turn out SO much better!!!

For more info on Gluten Free

For more info on  Milk Intolerant

For a GREAT conversion site (including flour weights)