Recently Panasonic asked me if I would like to try their breadmaker for their Ideas Kitchen. I’ve never used a breadmaker before, so I was really excited – especially when the delivery guy turned up with a beautiful, shiny machine the following day. In truth, it’s very, very simple, and it saves you having to do the hard-work-mixing (ie whisking the water into the dry ingredients to aerate the dough) – either by hand or in a stand mixer/food processor – and cleaning the messy bowl. Just mix together the dry ingredients, pour the water into the machine, and then the dry mix. And leave the breadmaker making little noises every now and then (much to Zoë’s delight) and creating delicious aromas.
I made an Easter loaf – with chopped apricots, ground mixed spice and lemon zest. It’s sweet from the small amount of sugar and the apricots, and the flavours sing through. It came out wonderfully moist, with a good rise and a fantastic crust.
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Makes 1 loaf Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 1 hour 50 minutes
- 60g potato starch
- 60g cornstarch
- 150g brown rice flour
- 50g maize flour
- 50g gram flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- zest of ½ lemon
- 150g unsulphured dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
- 1 tbsp dried active yeast
- Remove the bread pan and set the kneading blade.
- Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl, add the salt, sugar, spice, xanthan gum and lemon zest and, using a metal whisk, mix thoroughly.
- Pour 350ml tepid water into the bread pan.
- Add the flour mixture, then add the chopped apricots. Wipe the outside of the bread pan to remove any flour or liquid.
- Put the bread pan into the Bread Maker, turn slightly clockwise and close the lid.
- Place the dry yeast in the yeast dispenser.
- Select the bake menu number 12 by pressing the Menu pad.
- Press the Start pad to start the machine.
- When the machine has finished, press the Stop pad, remove the bread and leave to cool on a wire rack.
*If your Panasonic breadmaker does not have a yeast dispenser, then add the yeast with the flour as per point 4.
Please note, when I tested this I found that the paddle remained in the loaf which may be caused by the gluten free flour used.
I made pizza for Zoë’s 4th birthday party this year. We had 16 little ones running around our home and garden and Zoë had a great time. (The mess at the end, though, was jaw-droppingly terrible!) Most kids love pizza – and it’s one of Zoë’s absolute favourites. Of course it’s delicious but it also makes a great finger food meal for them when they’re learning to eat, so they usually start eating pizza from an early age and know that they love it.
We didn’t do a formal sit-down tea, so the pizza worked well (along with hummus, carrot and cucumber sticks and ice cream) as they could run around, dipping into the food whenever they wanted. I also made a Pink Dragon Cake – but I’ll tell you about that another time…
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Serves 2 Preparation time 25 minutes, plus 1 hour rising Cooking time 15 minutes
- 6 tbsp passata
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 80g/2¾oz/scant 1 cup drained, bottled or tinned chargrilled peppers oil, cut into slices
- 50g/1¾oz Parma ham, thinly sliced
- 8–10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 30–60g/1–2¼oz/⅓–⅔ cup soya cheese, shaved
- 85g/3oz/scant ½ cup brown rice flour, plus extra for rolling the dough
- 85g/3oz/¾ cup gram flour
- 30g/1¼oz/¼ cup maize flour
- scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- To make the pizza dough, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and, using a metal whisk, mix thoroughly. Add the oil and mix in. Pour in 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water and, using either a wooden spoon or your hands, mix to form a soft dough. Alternatively, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a food processor. Add the yeast and blend to mix together. Add the oil and blend well. Add 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water, a little at a time, and continue blending to form a soft dough. Process for 3–4 minutes to aerate the dough. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Turn the dough out again onto a lightly floured surface and knead a little, then shape it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly, roll it out into a large circle about 5mm/¼in thick and neaten the edge, using a sharp knife, if you like. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.
- Put the passata and tomato purée in a bowl and mix well, then spread it over the pizza base and sprinkle with the peppers, ham and tomatoes. Bake for 12 minutes until the base is starting to turn brown and the tomato sauce is bubbling. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle the cheese over the top, then return to the oven for 3–4 minutes until the cheese has started to melt. Serve immediately.
Zoe’s favourite part of the kitchen is the cupboard where the dried fruit and nuts are stored (unless there’s some cake or cupcakes in the kitchen, in which case her focus switches immediately…) Her favourites at the moment are dried cherries and coconut so when she wanted to make pancakes, she pulled those out of the cupboard. We soaked the cherries for a little while and toasted the coconut, but if you’re in a rush, you don’t need to do that. When they were made, we drizzled honey over the pancakes – mountain honey that we’d brought back from Thollon, France – delicious!
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Makes: 4–6 Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus at least 10 minutes resting Cooking time 20 minutes
- 3 large eggs
- 50g/1¾oz/heaped ¼ cup rice flour
- 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup gram flour
- 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup maize flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 300ml/10½fl oz/scant 1¼ cups soya milk or dairy-free milk, plus extra if needed
- 30–40g/1–1½oz dairy-free margarine
- 75g/2½oz/heaped ½ cup unsweetened dried cherries
- 50g/1¾oz/1 cup coconut flakes, to serve
- clear honey, to serve
- Put the dried cherries in a bowl and pour the soya milk over. Leave to soak for as long as you can – up to 30 minutes. Strain through a seive into a bowl and leave to one side, and reserve the soya milk.
- Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl, then sift in the flours, gluten-free baking powder and salt and stir together. Slowly beat in the soya milk, gradually drawing in the flours to make a smooth batter. Cover and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes at room temperature or up to 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the coconut flakes and dry-fry, stirring continuously, for 2–3 minutes until just beginning to brown. Remove from the pan and leave to one side.
- Add a little of the dairy-free margarine to the pan and heat until melted, making sure it covers the base of the pan. Using a small cup, pour a cup of the batter into the pan to form a circle. Sprinkle a small handful of the cherries over the top, distributing them evenly, and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the base of the pancake is golden. Using a large spatula, flip it over and cook for another 1–2 minutes until golden.
- Repeat with the remaining batter to make 4–6 pancakes, melting more margarine in the pan as needed and adding a little more soya milk if the batter seems too thick. Stack the pancakes between sheets of baking parchment to prevent them from sticking together and to keep them warm. Scatter coconut flakes over the top, drizzle with honey and serve hot.
I’ve been on a quest to make gluten-free baked goodies all taste wonderfully soft and moist inside. It’s hard to get the right balance of flour to liquid when you’re baking gluten-free, and cakes, cupcakes, muffins, biscuits, bread and all such things, and they can easily come out of the oven too dry and crumbly. Generally, I reckon you need to use more liquid than when cooking with flour that contains gluten, as gluten-free flours generally soak up liquid when they’re cooking. But the difficulty is that different flours and starches soak up different amounts of liquid…
In the past, I’ve sometimes had to test and retest until the recipe is right. (Peter and Zoe have never minded tasting up to 3 versions of a cake, so it hasn’t been a problem!) I would dream up the recipe in theory, and then work out how to make it. But recently I’ve been working much more instinctively, and finding that it’s a better method. I made these muffins on the spur of the moment – with ingredients from my storecupboard and fridge – and making it up as I went along. I mixed everything I thought should go in, tasted it and decided what else it needed. And I poured in the amount of dairy-free milk I was expecting to use and then just added more and more until it felt right. And you know what, these muffins worked perfectly. They came out of the oven with a lovely firm texture on the outside, and a gorgeously soft, moist inside. And they taste great. Yay! From now on, I’ve decided that I’m going to trust my instinct more – and wing it more – and see what happens…
gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, nut-free (unless using nut milk), seed-free, citrus-free
Makes 6 Preparation time 15 minutes Cooking time 20 minutes
- 100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup rice flour
- 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup gram flour
- 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup maize flour
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 100g/3½oz dairy-free cheese, grated
- 6 drained, bottled sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 75g/2½oz dairy-free margarine
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 175ml/5½fl oz/scant ¾ cup dairy-free milk
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and put 6 paper muffin cases in a muffin tin.
- Sift in the flours, gluten-free baking powder, xanthan gum and salt into a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Add the dairy-free cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and mix in well.
- Melt the dairy-free margarine in a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Pour into another mixing bowl and whisk in the eggs, tomato purée and dairy-free milk until thoroughly mixed. stir quickly until mixed.
- Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and gently mix in with a metal spoon. Be careful not to overmix, and don’t worry if there are some lumps in the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until well risen, golden brown and just firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and eat the muffins warm or transfer them in their paper cases to a wire rack to cool.
Making gluten-free bread is much easier than you might imagine. Generally I use a lot more liquid than in normal bread, so that the bread doesn’t burn or go too brown on top. And I find that potato flour works brilliantly in bread. This is based on a classic Italian rustic bread which is often filled with pieces of pancetta and cheese. But I’ve gone for a simpler version, using just some rosemary and oil.
Preparation time 15 minutes, plus 1½ hours rising time Cooking time 45–50 minutes Makes 1 loaf
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
- 1 tbsp easy-blend dried yeast
- 200g/7oz/heaped 1 cup rice flour, plus extra for dusting
- 200g/7oz/1¾ cups gram flour
- 100g/3½oz/⅔ cup maize flour
- 100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup potato flour
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1½ tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp sea salt, crushed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the yeast and 350ml/12fl oz/scant 1½ cups warm water and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
- Sift the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt into the bowl of a food processor with the dough blade attached and blend to mix together. Add the eggs and 4 tablespoons of the oil and blend again, then add the yeast mixture and process for 5 minutes to aerate the dough. The dough will be sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour.
- Liberally dust a clean surface with rice flour and transfer the dough onto the surface. Cover your hands with flour and gently roll the dough on the floured surface until you have shaped it into an oblong sausage shape. Gently pat the dough with the palms of your hands to flatten it into a thick rectangular piece, dusting the surface with more rice flour whenever needed. Sprinkle the rosemary over the top and drizzle the remaining oil over. Taking one side of it in your hands, carefully roll the dough like a Swiss roll. Transfer to a piece of baking parchment and place on a baking sheet. Cover with cling film, leaving room for the dough to rise and leave for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Remove the cling film and bake for 45–50 minutes, until it is golden brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before serving.