Baking oven-tures

I’ve had a lot of crappy ovens in my life.

In our first rental, the oven looked straight out of the 50s. And probably hadn’t been cleaned since then. It cooked a main meal ok, but baking was a challenge. Gas, but no fan.

Our first apartment in Beijing had no oven. But we had 5 kuai noodles at the doorstep… who needs to cook? Plus, in a department store, we learnt how to make a cake in a wok. Sorted.

Our second apartment also had no oven, but I was beginning to itch. We bought a little convection oven, which we kept on the indoor balcony as I was a bit alarmed at how hot the outer surface got, and thought it might melt bits of our rental kitchen. Supposedly you can roast a whole chook in these. Supposedly.

Surprisingly, our third apartment came with an oven! Again, possibly from the 50s, so maybe 80s China? Gas, no fan, also no temperature gauge. Basically, the longer you left it on, the hotter it got. This was probably the biggest baking challenge by far. It was also imperative that you decided which cutlery you needed before the meal because once you got that baby going, there was no chance in hell you could open the quickly expanding drawers up against the oven. It also had a non-functioning side-warming compartment. Useful for storing objects that didn’t melt.

I wish I had a photo… will keep looking…

Back to Australia, and I was a bit disappointed to find that our kitchen was electric, rather than gas. It took me a long time to get used to it, yet still I burnt things on the outside, and had to be so careful and attentive.

And then it died.

And got replaced.

And I realised that baking is a million times easier with an oven that works. My first meal of ‘The Petite Kitchen’s’ lavender chook was the most delicious ever… and I’ve been cooking it for ages. My eyes widened as I realised the baking opportunities, and threw myself into a baking frenzy. Especially after finishing uni and not having an oven for 10 days or so!

So, I wish to share two exciting recipes with you.

The first is a Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake from the Coles magazine. Woah. Hold onto your pants with this one. I’m looking forward to playing with this recipe and trying out some different flavour combos.

The second is a low-FODMAP, vegan-friendly banana pudding. The original recipe has been tweaked from Donna Hay Issue 81, p132.

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  • 250g coconut oil, melted 
  • 2-3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chia, 6 tbsp water, briefly mixed and soaked (as an egg replacement)
  • 1.5 cups of GF SR flour (I used the Aldi one)
  • Dark chocolate pieces, to taste

Mix the first 5 ingredients, stir through the chocolate, and bake in individual ramekins at 180 for about 15-20 mins.

Note: These are quite oily, but they don’t feel heavy, as it is coconut oil, rather than butter. But you may wish to put less oil.

Whilst the puddings are baking, make the caramel. This isn’t a true caramel, because of being vegan, but it is still delicious! I found that it was actually quite hard to dissolve the sugar in the coconut oil. I’m not entirely sure why… I’m sure science would tell me. Also, the sauce separates quickly quickly as there is less fat, so give it a good whisk before serving.

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk

Melt the oil in a saucepan, add the sugar and dissolve as much as possible. Add the coconut milk carefully and continue to cook until it thickens slightly.

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Mmm.

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Low FODMAP salted dark chocolate delicious tart (egg-free)

My favourite tart recipe in the world is Donna Hay’s Dark Chocolate Pretzel Tart. Dark chocolate and salt? The best combination ever. Ever.

(Her recipe is in Issue 64 2012)

And here is my egg-free, FODMAP-friendly version:

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  • 120g gluten-free digestive biscuits
  • 120g gluten-free pretzels
  • 180g butter, melted
  • 375g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp of your fave liqueur (I used drambuie)

Process the biscuits and pretzels to crumbs and add the butter until combined. Press into a tart tin and throw in the fridge for about an hour.

Place dark choc, coconut milk and liqueur in a saucepan and stir over low heat until melted. Pour into biscuit base and refrigerate until set.

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The above pic is decorated with coconut chips – they are delish and have no preservatives added.

If you have extra pretzels and chocolate leftover, dip the pretzels in melted chocolate and use them to decorate the top.

Low FODMAP desserts

One of my besties is on the low-FODMAP diet to help with some health problemos. I cook for her regularly, and at first I freaked out quite a lot when I looked at the no-go list. And then add to that dairy and egg allergies from other family members!! Desserts become quite difficult…

But I’m getting it sorted now, and I’m particularly proud of two desserts that I pulled out for Christmas, and then her birthday.

And here is Christmas in a Glass (low-FODMAP, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free):

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The bottom is a layer of coconut tapioca pudding. I boil 3/4 cup of tapioca pearls in water, drain them, stir in a tin of coconut milk and let it set in the fridge.

On top is cinnamon-salted popcorn, a candycane, fresh blueberries, coconut chips (these are McKenzies brand and are beautiful) and gingerbread. I altered a Donna Hay recipe (from Issue 78, pg 150) for the gingerbread.

Gingerbread dough (more FODMAP friendly):

  • 125g butter or nuttelex, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup treacle
  • 2 1/2 cups GF plain flour
  • 1 tsp bi carb soda
  • 3-4 tsp ground ginger (depending on your palate!)
  • 1-2 tsp mixed spice (depending on your palate!)

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the other ingredients and beat until it comes together in a smooth dough. Press into a tin and bake for about 30 mins at 160 degrees.


 

Then, as a birthday cake, I made a layered pudding! The tapioca is the same again on the bottom. The next layer is frozen banana (freeze bananas, then whiz them in the food processor until they look like icecream) and topped with ganache. I made the ganache using 2/3 cup of coconut milk and 90g of dairy-free dark chocolate. And again, sprinkled with coconut chips.

Looking back, I realised that this is actually a pretty healthy dessert – the only sugar is in the dark chocolate!

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