Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Spelt Chocolate Chunk Cookies © www.foodbabylife.com

Well the house is officially ours!!! We picked up the keys this afternoon and the boys were thrilled with the big yellow bow tied on the front door.  So now it all begins in earnest. We have trades booked to start sanding and polishing the floors upstairs first thing in the morning as well as measuring the stairs for new carpet. So much to do and so little time! Moving day is Monday 14th so we are officially on a countdown now.

I knew this afternoon would be a whirlwind so I took the time this morning to make something easy and delicious for afternoon tea. These are easily the best cookies I've made for ages. The rice flour gives them a little shortbready crunch and the big chunks of chocolate are a great surprise. SO tasty and they were mixed, baked and ready to eat within 30 minutes.

I guarantee you'll have happy little campers if you make these for afternoon tea!!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 ts bicarb soda
1/4 ts salt
4 tbs rice malt syrup
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
1 ts vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate (Lindt 70% is good for this), roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius. Line  baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on the prepared tray.

TMX - place all ingredients except chocolate in mixing bowl and mix for 10 secs / SP 4. Add the chocolate and mix on reverse / 6 secs / SP 3.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. They will still be soft but will firm up once they cool to become crunchy around the edges and chewy in the middle, just the way I like them!

Makes approx 16.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy birthday to me! and a chocolate-orange celebration cake

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Cake © www.foodbabylife.com

Actually that should read happy birthday to us as my husband and I are lucky enough to share the same birthday! Being Sunday we had to get up early to get the kids to swimming for 8am and also do some more packing and cleaning in preparation for our move. But after lunch we got to relax a little and we had family over for birthday cake for afternoon tea and Indian takeaway for dinner (I refuse to cook dinner on my birthday!).


Now some people might think it's a bit sad having to make your own birthday cake but as a baker I really enjoy it and bonus, I know exactly what's in it and can tweak the recipe to suit our needs.

Chocolate and orange is one of my all time favourite combinations and after much (much, much) thought I decided to make a chocolate cake, sweet orange curd, orange jelly and a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. Wow it sounds decadent when you write it out like that!

We are mostly sugar-free (fructose-free) in this house and while I wanted this cake to be special I didn't want to go overboard on the sugar. My sweeteners of choice these days are rice malt syrup (which although processed is fructose-free and a great alternative to honey and golden syrup) and coconut sugar (which does contain fructose but is unrefined). I also wanted to use spelt rather than wheat flour and no dairy other than the grassfed butter we use everyday.

I made a few small changes to the recipes I found and was really happy with the result. Everyone loved the cake and it was certainly impressively tall! It had all the flavour I was hoping for and it wasn't too sweet.

I popped the cake in the fridge for an hour or so which was a mistake as it seemed to dry the cake out a little (I know it was really moist before that as I got to eat the trimmings - cook's privilege!).  It would be much better to simply assemble the cake as close as possible to serving and leave it at room temperature until ready.

I especially loved this cake and it will become my go-to spelt chocolate cake from now on!

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Layer Cake © www.foodbabylife.com

Spelt Chocolate Cake
Slightly adapted from Bake with Spelt
makes 2 x 8 inch cakes

230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ts vanilla extract
300g white spelt flour
40g raw cacao
1 tbs aluminium free baking powder
80ml (1/3 cup) rice milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius fan-forced. Grease and line the bases of 2 x 8 inch round baking pans.

Using a stand mixer, thermomix or electric beaters, beat together the butter and coconut sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cacao and baking powder then add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. The cakes will have pulled away from the sides a little, spring back in the middle and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean (mine took 31 minutes).

Leave in the pans to cool for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.


Sweet Orange Curd
Adapted from Tenina

200g rice malt syrup
zest of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
200g fresh orange juice
240g cold butter, cut in cubes
1 ts corn flour
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

Place butter into the thermomix bowl and chop 5 seconds / SP 5.

Add all remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes / 80 degrees / SP 5.

Cook for a further 3 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 6.

Pour into sterilised glass jars. Place in the fridge once cooled.


Fresh Orange Jelly

500ml fresh orange juice, strained to remove the pulp
1 1/2 tbs gelatin powder (I use Great Lakes)

Grease and line the base of an 8 inch round cake pan.

Place the orange juice into a small pot over low heat. Once the juice is just warm to touch, turn off the heat and sprinkle over the gelatin, whisking continuously until it is completely dissolved and there are no lumps.

Pour immediately into the prepared pan and refrigerate until needed.


Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Slightly adapted from Thermomix Recipe Community

85g egg whites, at room temperature
170g coconut sugar
pinch of salt
340g unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
100g 85% dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Make sure the thermomix bowl is completely clean, dry and free of grease.

Weigh in the coconut sugar and mill for 1 minute / SP 9.

Weigh in the egg whites and salt and mix for 3 minutes / 60 degrees / SP 3.

Check that the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a small amount of the mixture between your thumb and finger. It should be completely smooth. If not, repeat for another minute or so.

Insert the butterfly and whip for 10 minutes / SP 4 until the bowl is only slightly warm and the mixture is glossy and has double in volume.

With the machine running on SP 3 for 6-8 minutes, add the butter a few pieces at a time. Once it is all incorporated, pour in the melted and cooled chocolate and whip until light and fluffy.

Use immediately or keep in the fridge until required (bring back to room temperature and re-whip with the butterfly on SP 4.

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Layer Cake © www.foodbabylife.com

To assemble the cake

Choose your favourite large cake plate or stand and place a small dollop of the buttercream in the middle to secure the cake.

Trim the tops from each cake if they have domed and then slice each cake evenly in half horizontally so you have 4 layers.

Place one half down on the plate and top with 1/3 of the orange curd. Spread evenly to the edges. Top with another cake half and press down lightly. Smooth over a tablespoon of curd and then carefully place on the prepared jelly. Top with another tablespoon of curd and another layer of cake. Repeat with another cake layer and 1/3 orange curd.

Top with final layer of cake.

Cover top and sides of cake with buttercream icing.

Best assembled close to serving and kept at room temperature until ready.

Serves 12 (at least)

So there you go!! A marathon recipe but none of the components are too tricky and best of all, I was able to keep it free of wheat and refined sugar!






Monday, August 24, 2015

Banana Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze (SRC)

Banana brownies with chocolate peanut butter glaze © www.foodbabylife.com

Secret Recipe Club reveal day seems to have come around very quickly this month, which is a bit of a worry because that means it is exactly 3 weeks today until we move and there is SO much still to do!

Luckily Lynn from my assigned blog for this month Turnips 2 Tangerines has provided lots of inspiration for snacks to keep us going amidst all the boxes and associated clutter.

I was excited to learn that Lynn is from Wisconsin as that is where I spent a very happy semester finishing my law degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee. I have so many great food memories from my time there including buttery chargrilled corn at Summerfest, visiting Bella's Fat Cat for frozen custard and enjoying brats on the grill at a 4th of July picnic (oh and the brats MUST be cooked in beer first before being grilled for best results).

I spent ages on Lynn's blog and lots of recipes caught my eye. Lynn's Chicago Style Hot Dog looked just like what I remember but unfortunately we can't get any of those authentic ingredients here in Australia. I also drooled over her Popcorn and Peanut Mix which my boys would love and these Gingerbread Scones with Maple Syrup Glaze sound amazing and very Christmassy.

But if you have spent any time here you will know we love bananas and peanut butter so when I came across Lynn's Banana Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze the search was over.

Banana brownies with chocolate peanut butter glaze © www.foodbabylife.com

Now I was in Wisconsin during summer and it was gorgeous but in her post for these brownies Lynn mentions the high for the day was going to be -5. That's -20 degrees Celsius and so cold I can't even imagine it! Where I live it is considered freezing if the maximum doesn't go above about 15.

You really can't go wrong with a combination of chocolate, banana and peanut butter and these brownies don't disappoint. Moist and sweet and completely moreish, my boys devoured these and they were all gone in a day.  Perfect for afternoon tea with a big glass of milk.

We only had medium peanut butter so my glaze wasn't smooth but the little bit of extra crunch just added to the deliciousness.

Banana brownies with chocolate peanut butter glaze © www.foodbabylife.com

Banana Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze
Adapted from Turnips 2 Tangerines

For the brownies:
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup coconut sugar
3 tbs raw cacao
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ts vanilla extract
1/2 cup gluten free flour
1 ts baking powder
1/4 t salt (I used salted butter so left this out)
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (I used 2 small bananas)
1/2 cup 85% dark chocolate roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 11 x 7 baking pan and set aside.

In large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cacao, baking powder and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, mashed banana and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and fold through. Stir in the chocolate.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake.

Once cooled, pour over the glaze. 

For the glaze:
1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate roughly choppped
2 tbs natural peanut butter
1 tbs rice malt syrup
pinch salt

In a small pan over low heat, combine the chocolate, syrup and peanut butter. Stir until smooth and immediately pour over the brownies and smooth the top.

Thanks for a great recipe Lynn, it has become a family favourite!!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Healthy Orange Jellies

Healthy orange jellies © www.foodbabylife.com

When you think of healthy foods I'm pretty sure jelly isn't the first thing that springs to mind! But did you know you can make a jelly that is not only delicious but healing too?

I've been reading about and experimenting with all sorts of gut healing foods lately and one ingredient that continually appears is gelatin. Not all gelatin is created equal though and it is important to source a high quality product. I use Great Lakes Gelatin (red label) which I bought online from iHerb at less than half the price you can buy it in Australia.

Gelatin is packed full of protein, collagen and minerals all of which help to support healthy gut and immune function. A great source of gelatin is bone broth which I have been making all winter as a base for soups and casseroles and even just drinking warm with a pinch of salt. You can read about the benefits of bone broth here and here.

Two of my three boys love bone broth and the savoury meals I make with it but Mr 4 won't go near it in any form. This jelly however has become a favourite treat and I know he's getting all the health benefits he needs.

The ginger, turmeric and Manuka honey are all brilliant for coughs and colds and combined with hydrating coconut water and the vitamin-C from the orange juice this makes one seriously healthy jelly!

Healthy Orange Jellies
Adapted from Well Nourished

1 cup coconut water
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I got enough from 3 large oranges)
2 cm piece of fresh ginger
1/4 ts dried turmeric
1-2 tbs Manuka honey
3 tbs good quality gelatin powder

Oil and line a small slice/brownie pan and set aside.

Squeeze your oranges and measure out 1 cup of juice into a heatproof jug (mine was pyrex).

Place the coconut water, ginger and turmeric in a medium pan over low-medium heat. Bring to the simmer and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

Pour the coconut water mixture through a sieve into the orange juice. Stir to combine then return to the pan by pouring through the sieve again to remove any orange pulp (my juice was cold from the fridge so my mixture was just luke-warm. Allow to cool slightly before adding the Manuka honey if your mixture feels hot to touch).

Add the honey and stir to combine.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the warm liquid, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the gelatin is completely absorbed. If you have lumps of gelatin return the pan to the heat but don't let it get more than luke-warm.

Pour the mixture through the sieve into the prepared pan and place in the fridge to set for a few hours.

I give the kids a couple of pieces a day and it lasts for about 1 week in the fridge. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gluten-free Orange Shortbread Cookies

gluten free orange shortbread cookies © www.foodbabylife.com

With citrus so abundant and so delicious at the moment I've been looking for different ways to use it. One of my favourite things is a whole orange and almond cake which I've been meaning to blog about for ages. Today though I felt like making biscuits and came up with these little gems.

I've been doing lots of experimenting with different flours for baking lately and while none of us have coeliac, I know I at least feel so much better when I limit the amount of gluten that I eat. You can buy some great gluten free flours these days but I prefer to make my own as it lets me choose the recipe that best suits what I am baking.

My top 2 gluten free flour recipes are from The Holistic Ingredient and Gluten-free-Girl.

For these shortbread cookies I used the Gluten-free-Girl recipe which gives a light, crisp and slightly crumbly result, perfect for shortbread. This one doesn't contain xanthan gum so I added a tablespoon of linseed meal which has similar properties.

You will notice there is a lot (a LOT) of butter in these cookies and as you mix them up you will probably see butter beginning to ooze out of the mixture. When I first made them I wondered whether I'd made a huge mistake but actually the end result is amazing and there is no extra butter to be seen - just perfect little shortbread cookies which are crisp, short and crumbly and beautifully fragrant from the orange zest. The house smelt spectacular while they were baking and made for a delicious afternoon snack with a cup of ginger tea.

Whether you need to be gluten free or not, with treats like these you certainly won't feel like you are missing out!

Gluten free Orange Shortbread Cookies

2 1/4 cups gluten-free plain flour
1 tbs linseed meal
1 ts baking powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
zest of 1 large orange
1 ts vanilla extract
250g salted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line 2 trays with baking paper and set aside.

Place the dry ingredients into a large bowl and add the orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the flour mix until well combined. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.

Roll into small balls and place on the prepared trays. They don't spread very much so they can be placed quite closely together.

Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for approx 12 minutes. They will be golden brown and firm to touch. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before placing on wire racks to cool completely.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.



Friday, August 14, 2015

Delicious Dairy-free Lasagne

Dairy free Lasagne © www.foodbabylife.com

One of my all-time favourite meals is lasagne. Always has been and probably always will be! It has also been a favourite of my kids and I have some gorgeous photos of each of them on their first birthday pretty much covered in it from head to toe! Now that they are older they get to choose what they want to eat for their birthday dinner and Oscar, bless him, still always choose lasagne.

When I first had to give up dairy I really thought there was no way I could give up cheese. My husband used to call me a cheese-freak but now I haven't touched any for more than 18 months. Go me!

After so many dairy-free months I have perfected my dairy-free white sauce and use it for all sorts of recipes from tuna mornay to macaroni and 'cheese' and of course lasagne. I use the thermomix to make it because it's just so easy but you can of course do it on the stove top and I have included those instructions as well.

Go ahead and try it, I promise you won't miss the cheese at all!!!

Dairy free White Sauce

500ml rice milk (or any non-dairy milk)
50g olive oil
50g rice flour
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 ts salt
1/8 ts nutmeg
pepper to taste

Thermomix - place all ingredients in the mixing bowl and cook for 7 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 4.

Stove top - heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice flour and whisk  together. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly then add the milk and whisk to combine. Once smooth add all remaining ingredients and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Use immediately.

To assemble the lasagne just alternate layers of Vegie-loaded Bolognaise sauce with lasagna sheets (gluten free work well) and dairy-free white sauce ending with lots of white sauce on the top. Bake for approx 45 minutes at 180 degrees C or until the pasta is tender and the top is bubbly and golden.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Spicy Carrot Loaf Cake and some news

Spicy Carrot Loaf Cake © www.foodbabylife.com

Oh it feels like ages since I've been here! The last month or so has been a bit of a blur of phone calls and emails but it feels like the right time now to share our news ... we bought a house!!! After being in a rented townhouse for the past 5 years we are thrilled that soon we will have a house of our own. We are moving in the middle of September and have already started packing. We've accumulated a lot of stuff as well as had 2 more children since we moved in here and there is a lot of sort out. I'm loving the chance for a clear out though and we have passed on bags and bags of stuff to the Salvos already.

In all the busyness my diet has slipped a little and my health started suffering as a result. Nothing major but constant colds and the stress of studying for exams and house-hunting took their toll on my thyroid and I've been feeling exhausted. After trip to the naturopath I am back on the right path and taking the time to cook and bake for all of us properly.

I'm really loving my spices at the moment. Not sure whether it's just my body's way of wanting to warm up this winter but whatever the reason, I can't get enough! I needed to make something for afternoon tea and decided to use up some veggies at the same time. This cake used 4 medium carrots but you could use pumpkin, zucchini or even parsnips for this recipe or even a combination of these.

This was an easy and absolutely delicious cake. My boys loved it and Oscar told me it was the best cake I'd ever made! I of course loved that it go some extra carrot into them along with the amazing health benefits of cinnamon, ginger and turmeric in winter.

I left the walnuts out of this batch but if you don't have littlies add them in for some yummy crunch.

Spicy Carrot Loaf Cake

250g grated carrot
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1 ts baking powder
1/4 ts bicarb soda
2 ts cinnamon
1 ts turmeric
1 ts ginger
1/4 ts ground cloves
pinch salt
1/2 cup natural raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius / 150 degrees fan-forced. Grease and line an 8 inch loaf pan (mine was pyrex).

Place the carrot, eggs, oil, syrup and raisins in a large bowl and mix well. Sift the flour and spices together and then add to the wet mix, folding through until only just combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Bake for approximately 1 hour. It will be golden brown and fragrant and the middle will spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for half an hour before turning out onto a wire rack.

Slice and serve with butter (if not dairy free).