This post is gluten free.

Buttered Crumbs is not into food fads and trendy diets. I don’t stress about the various fashions in healthy superfoods or the latest media hyped this-food-will-give-you-cancer-and-make-you-ugly scares. But I do have a tummy ache.

And bloating, lethargy, brain fog, windy pops etc. Getting a bit fed up with it, so I’m going to try going gluten free for a month to see what happens. I seem to have inherited all of mother’s other health problems, so why not this one too?

What bugs me though is the general assumption by the internet community, that you also want to be paleo, low carb, low fat, sugar free, vegan, raw and “clean” whatever that means!

I’m sorry, but I’m an English woman not a cave man. I like my food cooked. With enough fat, sugar and carbs to make it taste nice. I don’t want weird gloopy substitutes, just food that tastes good in it’s own right, an averagely balanced diet that won’t make me bang my head against the wall in frustration. I like meat and dairy and eggs and cultivated grains and sugar. And nothing will ever convince me that cauliflower is a valid alternative to rice/pasta/pizza base. PIZZA BASE! ARE YOU CRAZY?

For the record, I’m not predjudiced. I like healthy food. I like fruit and veg. But like I said, I’m English, if I don’t get my tea and biscuits I can get pretty cranky.

I did try detoxing once when that was all the rage. A most unpleasant experience! Also, not so long ago while in the local organic food shop, I was tempted to try the (very expensive) raw chocolate bar. The taste was indescribable, indescribably gross that is, I can’t compare it to anything because it was like nothing else I’ve ever tasted! I spat it out. Small Boy spat it out. Eldest Son spat it out. Mr Crumbs…said it was o.k and ate it.

Actually going without bread doesn’t bother me too much. While pregnant with Small Boy I developed a violent antipathy towards sandwiches and have never really recovered!

The next few weeks will be an interesting adventure, I hope you will join me.

COTM: Ladies and Lavender

So, the lemon marmalade and caraway cake didn’t quite work (see “A Proper Seed Cake”), why not just ditch the caraway? Also I used lemon and lavender marmalade so why not make it a lemon and lavender cake?

The cake was tested by the ladies at my craft group, it went down very well indeed, even with those not keen on lemon. Very moist, tangy, with just the right amount of aromatic lavender. Children however, might find this cake a bit too much.

You can get lavender sugar at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and www.cotswoldlavender.co.uk in the U.K, or you can make your own. Use lemon and lavender  marmalade if you can get it, otherwise use ordinary lemon marmalade. I used Mike’s Gourmet available from www.mikeshomemade.co.uk

Lemon and Lavender Marmalade Drizzle Cake

  • 7 oz self raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 oz ground almonds
  • 5 oz soft butter
  • 2½ oz sugar
  • 2½ oz lavender sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3tbsp lemon marmalade
  • 2 floz milk

Grease and line a deep loose bottomed or springform cake tin. Pre heat the oven to 170°c (150 fan/ gas mark 3)

Beat the sugars and butter together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and lemon zest.

Sift over the flour, soda and ground almonds and beat well. Add the marmalade and milk and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for around 40 mins or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. If the top is browning too much before the middle is done, cover with baking paper.

While the cake is baking, combine the juice of the lemon with 3.5 oz (105g) of lavender sugar in a small bowl. Sieve out about half of the lavender flowers and discard.

When the cake is done and while it is still hot, poke the top all over with a skewer. Pour the lemon and lavender syrup over the top, it should set to make a lovely crunchy crust. Cool on a wire rack.

Lavender oil is consider to have antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties, it’s relaxing odour can be useful in treating insomnia, depression and headaches. Try a few drops in a hot bath!

 

 

Ice cream of the month: Bah Humbug!

Hah! I bet you were expecting Christmas flavour ice cream. Tough! Not even the imminent death of Tiny Tim will convince me to join in with the festivities.

Enjoy December’s ice cream of the month: Humbug. A mint flavoured brown sugar ice cream with a caramel ripple.

This time I used a tin of Carnation caramel, but feel free to make your own.

Humbug Ice Cream

  • 300ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp natural peppermint flavouring
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tin of caramel or dulce de leche

Beat the eggs, sugar and cornflour together. Heat the milk to boiling point.

Pour the hot milk onto the eggs, beating the whole time. Pour the mixture back into the pan and over a medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the custard is the thickness of single cream.

Pour into a jug and add the peppermint flavour and the cream. Put in the fridge to chill.

Churn according to your machine’s instructions. Layer the ice cream in a tub with the caramel sauce and swirl gently with a knife.

Freeze until firm.

A Proper Seed Cake

Sometimes I already know which cake to feature as cake of the month, sometimes it’s a recipe that I have just made up, which happened to turn out well or an old favourite. Other times it’s quite a journey from initial idea to perfect cakiness.

So dear Crumbies, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…It all started one afternoon, Buttered Crumbs was taking a well earned tea break in front of the telly, watching “At Bertram’s Hotel” a 1987 BBC adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. For me she is the definitive Miss Marple, none of the others can quite match up to her performance.

Anyway, Bertram’s Hotel, as well as being a hotbed of crime and intrigue, is known for it’s excellent afternoon teas and traditional cakes. When one of Miss Marple’s cronies is offered seed cake, she asks “Is it proper seed cake?” Hmmm. So what constitutes a “proper” seed cake? Miss Marple is pretty old by this point, the book was first published in 1965 and she was described as a “white haired old lady” in 1930! We can assume that a “proper” cake would be one that they remembered from childhood or the recipe that they used as young women in their own homes. You’re looking at Victorian times then.

The oldest seed cake recipe I have is from the well known Mrs Beeton, not that it was her recipe of course, she merely collected recipes for publication. Her seed cake is flavoured with (caraway seeds, obviously) nutmeg and copious amounts of brandy. Recipies from my 1930’s and 1950’s collections are flavoured with lemon and mixed peel. A modern “traditional” recipe from Darina Allen, is flavoured with vanilla.

Adapting the Mrs Beeton recipe to contain less brandy and so on, gave a moist buttery cake with a lovely flavour of caraway seeds. I decided to try a lemon flavoured one too to see how it compared. Alas, I was trying to be clever, I don’t liked the mixed peel you buy in shops, which is nasty, tough and bitter. So I used lemon marmalade instead, though the only one I had was actually lemon and lavender marmalade, a treat we picked up at the Ludlow festival. The cake was pretty good, as a marmalade cake, the caraway seeds detracted from it’s deliciousness somewhat. But it did give me the final idea for cake of the month.

In the meantime, here is the recipe for a good old fashioned seed cake:

“A very good seed cake”

  • 7oz (210g) Self raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1oz (30g) ground almonds
  • 5oz (150g) caster sugar
  • 5oz (150g) butter
  • 2tbsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp ground mace or nutmeg (mace is nicer)
  • 2 tbsp brandy (if you don’t have any and don’t want to buy a big bottle, just get a minature)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2floz milk

Grease and line an 8″ round springform or loose bottom cake tin. Pre heat the oven to 170ºc (150 fan, gas mark 3).

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Sift over the flour, bicarb and mace and mix well.

Beat in the milk, brandy and caraway seeds. Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 mins. If the cake is browning too much before it’s cooked in the middle, cover with a piece of baking paper.

Cool on a wire rack and invite your Maiden Great Aunt to tea.

Miss Marple first appeared in a short story in 1927 and her first full length novel was “The Murder at the Vicarage” 1930.

Go Bananas

Buttered Crumbs approves of the war on waste. According to the Love Food, Hate Waste website, the items most frequently wasted are:

  1. Sliced bread
  2. Milk
  3. Potatoes

After that come fizzy drinks, cheese and apples. While bananas are in the top ten, I’m suprised they aren’t higher up the list. In my experience bananas are either green and under ripe or spotty and over ripe, perfect ripeness existing in theory only. Although sadly guilty of chucking out the aforesaid food stuffs on a regular basis (except milk), the amount of bananas that end up in the compost bucket would make a monkey weep.

What is even more shocking is that an over ripe banana can be popped in the freezer until you have enough to make banana bread or suchlike. Mr Crumbs insists on buying bananas that are very ripe, so in a couple of day’s they are inevitably squishy and brown, with that horrid vinegary smell. I can only eat a banana that is slightly green around the edges AND sliced into rounds. Peel one and eat it? Don’t disgust me!

Banana bread, cake and muffins are all good ways to use up fruit past it’s best, though I get put off by the weird black squiggly fibres, why are they black anyway? A different way to use them up is to make these delicious soft bake flapjacks, good for breakfast, snacks and lunchboxes.

Banana and Maple Syrup Flapjacks

  • 10 oz (300g) rolled oats
  • 4oz (120g) butter
  • 4oz (120g) brown sugar
  • 3 small or 2 medium very ripe bananas
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Grease and line a traybake tin. Preheat the oven to 170°c (150 fan, Gas mark 3)

Weigh the oats into a large bowl. Mash the bananas with a fork.  Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan. Pour the melted stuff over the oats and mix well. Add the mashed bananas.

Pour the mixture into the tray and level the surface. Bake for around 20 mins or more, until the top is golden brown.

Cool in the tin then cut into squares. Makes 12 to 18 squares depending on how big you want them.