Marbled banana and chocolate buns

Marbled banana and chocolate buns

Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen’s Marbled Banana Bread

I’ve called these little treats buns, although they are not yeasted.  I derived the recipe from one for a banana bread, and they don’t rise as much as a muffin and retain a heavier texture than a regular sponge.  So I’m going with buns and you can’t stop me!  I’ve also left these nut-free so it would be safe to feed a herd of kiddy-winks over the summer holidays without fear of anyone whipping out their epi-pen.  I’m starting to get pre-school nut fear.  Not because C is allergic, but because almond milk is my go-to non-dairy milk and I just don’t think about it being ‘nutty’.  I know people can be allergic to pretty much anything so it’d be difficult to avoid everything that might set someone off.  They play with salt dough made with wheat at pre-school so I’m thinking of sheep dipping C at the front door on her return every day!  We’ve been told though to avoid nuts and kiwi fruit.  I should be able to do this very easily, but I still have the fear that I’ll send C off one day with some fairly boring leftovers to consume and then be running back down the street some minutes later shouting, “Nooooooooooooooooo”, because I’ve put almond milk in a biscuit I made four days ago and just forgot.  Maybe I’ll have to tape a note to the front door.  Perhaps it should just say, “NUTS”, because some days that could help me on a number of levels.

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Fancy flapjacks

Fancy flapjack

Adapted from Kids’ Baking by Sara Lewis

Why are these flapjacks fancy I hear you all cry?!  Because you will need TWO saucepans people to make these.  Not just the one you might be expecting, but two whole saucepans.  Fancy, right??  (Note: if you only have one saucepan, do not despair!  There is nothing to say you can’t just wash up your one saucepan in between making the two bits of this.  I’m just lazy.)  The reason you will need two is because they have a special layer of apple and date goo and it makes them fabulous.  I like flapjacks well enough but sometimes I can find them a bit dry.  No chance of that with these.  The extra layer makes them moist and moreish!  I think the book they came from is out of print, and I came by it when the book van came to our office.  It feels like a million years since I worked out there in the big real world (actually it’s been getting on for 5 years) but I can’t imagine the book van isn’t still a common thing.  I think the premise is books that have been published for a while are sold at discount prices because the stock has been bought wholesale.  Anyway, as soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it.  I didn’t have a child then so I didn’t buy this so a youngster could make the recipes, it was entirely for me!  What I liked was how easy the recipes seemed, no unnecessary faffing about, and no fancy ingredients you’d never use again.  A solid workhorse of a cookbook.  I even bought a copy for my mum after she ate the banana gingerbread (another recipe that is really good).  If you happen to come across a copy you should pick it up as it won’t disappoint.

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Jam coconut sponge

Jam coconut sponge

While I was away visiting the parental units in Dorset we spent some time at the beach.  C enjoyed digging in the sand/pebbles and my parent’s dog, Martha, enjoying chasing the ball along the shoreline.  Happiness all round.  It also just so happens that there is a fine fish cafe nearby where we stopped for lunch before heading home.  As well as several naturally gluten-free options on the menu (I had a baked Dover sole with boiled new potatoes and salad, yum, yum), they also had not one, but two, gluten-free cakes in their dessert cabinet.  You can just stop by for tea or coffee and a cake, and they do breakfast, but I’m off at a tangent.  There was the ubiquitous gluten-free brownie.  I do love a brownie but because it is so easy to do gluten-free it does get a bit repetitive (yes, I know I should be more grateful, I really do).  But they also had a gluten-free carrot cake.  My stomach did a little dance of joy!  Not that I had any in the end because I was too stuffed from the fish.  But you know, it seemed above and beyond the requirement (stand up and take a bow, Hive Beach Cafe).  However, they also had a cake that wasn’t gluten-free but gave me a sudden rush of nostalgia.  If you’re from the UK, eating school dinners in the 70s and 80s at least, then you must have had this?  Soft vanilla sponge, seedless raspberry jam, and desiccated coconut.  Simple, but pretty, and delicious.  The table of four behind us had a serving each.  And I was a bit envious.  But no more!  Here it is – perfect with a cup of afternoon tea in the sunshine.

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Chocolate tiffin squares

Chocolate tiffin squares

First up I’d like to draw your attention to a fundraising effort by Brooke over at brickiepedia, who is running a 10K to raise funds for the World Food Programme.  As she quite rightly points out it is appalling that there are people in the world who still go hungry when some of us have so much.  Please check out her post here, and if you agree and are able to support her then please do so.  I’m sure she’d really appreciate it.

As for my post, well today I’m giving you another really easy recipe for a number of reasons.  The first is that my long-suffering guinea pigs, ahem… sorry I mean friends, have had a few weeks of crazy things.  New recipes mid-tweak that weren’t inedible by any stretch, but something about them wasn’t quite right yet.  Slightly puzzled expressions and a few hesitant, “remind me, what is that supposed to be exactly?” comments, but I’m still hardly ever bringing home leftovers which is encouraging.  I know I’m heading in the right direction at least!  Anyway, I thought I should make something I knew they would just like because it’s definitely the finished article.  Secondly, at least half my audience of testers are children and although they come with the benefit of directness, “I don’t like this mummy”, as they dump a licked or partially chewed morsel into their poor mother’s hand (usually their only spare one as they’re also holding a second child), it is nice to know something will meet with almost guaranteed approval instead of constantly running the gauntlet of toddler total honesty.  Thirdly, I’ve been away again this week visiting my dad for his birthday.  Another lovely break with C and another set of grandparents.  Happy times indeed but it does mean I neglect the old blog a bit.  So I wanted to ease back in with something that has almost universal appeal.  Lastly, I like to think that someone might pop by this blog who doesn’t have to eat gluten-free but wants to make something for someone who does, adult or child, and so are looking for something that would suit most situations.  Perhaps they are also not entirely confident in their cooking ability but they want to make rather than buy on this occasion.  This recipe is for you.  I guess if you know your audience doesn’t like chocolate, dried fruit, biscuit or coconut, you might want to give it a miss.  Otherwise, get the bowls out because you’re making cake!

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Easter nests (chocolate cornflake treats)

Easter nests (chocolate cornflake treats)

Here is the obligatory Easter recipe.  I’ve gone old school with chocolate cornflake nests with eggs.  I’m particularly pleased with myself because not only are these gluten-free, they are also vegan, which means all my friends can enjoy them (oh yeah baby)!  Also, even a two year-old can help with this – obviously not the melting the ingredients bit, but stirring, paper case filling and ‘egg’ placement are all completely within the grasp of a toddler.  As is the mixture, which means quite a lot might not make it into the paper cups, but no worries.  As this is ‘no cook’ and egg-free there is nothing in here to worry about.  And those ‘eggs’, well I couldn’t be more excited about those.  Obviously milk chocolate is off-limits, so Cadbury’s mini eggs (the usual choice I would say) aren’t going to cut it.  I looked into jelly beans.  Jelly Belly do a natural range (which are apparently “buffed with beeswax” which might put off some vegans, but they do not have any animal-based ingredients) but the cost!   Wow.  That’s all I can say.  Wow.  So I did a little test with Jelly Tots – friend to the gluten-free AND the vegan (no gelatine as they use starch, but they appear on the Nestlé list of safe products for those avoiding gluten so I suspect it is corn derived).  If you squish the Jelly Tot, between thumb and forefinger just a little bit, it bulges out and looks like an iddy, biddy, little egg.  I give you nests AND eggs people.  Happy Easter!

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