Dessert

Banana bread

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I had nearly given up on gluten and dairy free banana bread.

It’s not that there aren’t a lot of recipes out there. There are plenty. But they never quite worked for me – the texture was not quite right, the taste a bit off, the ingredients a bit too complicated for my liking.

Perhaps the bottom line is that I don’t like baking with Xanthan gum. I find a lot of gluten free flours a bit bitter. And I always prefer to find recipes that are “naturally” gluten and dairy free, without relying on substitution products.

When I spotted this recipe by Tom Kitchin on the internet, I knew I needed to try it immediately. Several dozen loaves and a few tweaks later, it is a firm favorite with my children. And my children’s friends. And my children’s friends’ parents.

Which might explain how the loaf I baked yesterday was reduced to crumbs within minutes, before I even managed a slice for myself.

Gluten and dairy free banana bread (adapted from a Tom Kitchin article in The Scotsman)

4 medium bananas, peeled – about 300g

200g caster sugar

6 large eggs

200g ground almonds

1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

Makes 10-12 slices

Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

On a plate or cutting board, mash up the bananas into chunks using a fork. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the sugar.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Pour into to the banana mixture, and mix well.

Fold the ground almonds and baking powder into the batter, then transfer to a lined, greased loaf pan. I use a 25 cm silicone loaf pan greased with ghee (which is casein free), but you could also use a bit of sunflower oil to grease the pan.

Bake for one hour. I have no idea how long the cake can keep because it always gets devoured immediately.

Dessert

Chocolate Macaroons

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Last night I hosted my book club and I decided at the last minute to treat everyone to some chocolate macaroons. I nearly always have the ingredients for this recipe in my pantry. It’s also a very quick recipe, both in prep time and in baking time. Which last night was a good thing as I needed a few minutes to refresh my memory on some key plot points.

sugar

The recipe calls for sifting the dry ingredients – to get rid of any lumps – but to be honest when I am truly pressed for time, sometimes I don’t bother. The macaroons still taste great, just with a slightly rougher texture. But I did sift the dry ingredients last night. Book club can be a tough crowd.

sift

Now if you were so inclined, you could think about piping the batter through a pastry bag into beautiful uniform circles and sandwiching them together with jam or chocolate or some other sticky filling. However, then they would be macarons, not macaroons. Personally I like the free-form look of these fudgy, squishy macaroons. And I don’t own a pastry bag.

uncooked

What I love about this recipe is that it is gluten and dairy free, but it doesn’t read like a science experiment. The recipe has just five ingredients that can be found at any supermarket. To me, that is what gluten and dairy free baking should be about.

By the way, the book we read was A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And the macaroons were a hit too.

cooked

Chocolate Macaroons

150g icing sugar

75g ground almonds

40g unsweetened cocoa powder

3 large egg whites

100g caster sugar

Makes 30-35 macaroons.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Combine and sift (if you can be bothered) the icing sugar, the ground almonds and the cocoa.

In a large, clean bowl, beat the egg whites while gradually adding the caster sugar, until they form stiff peaks (about 2 minutes). I use a hand-held electric mixer, but if you have a standing mixer so much the better.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites.

Using two spoons, drop evenly spaced mounds of the batter onto the lined baking trays, about 2 tablespoons of batter for each macaroon.

Bake for about 15 minutes. When they are done the macaroons should have a hard outer shell but feel wobbly to the touch. The macaroons will have a crunchy outside with a gooey middle. If you prefer a drier texture, bake for a further 5 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack, then eat immediately with a good book or store in an airtight container for a day or two.