Sunday, June 14, 2009

Egg and dairy free chocolate cake

I was invited to a barbecue this weekend and offered to bring the dessert. I normally would make a butter cake or some sort of cookie that would go over well with everyone. Then I remembered that one young boy at this particular party was allergic to eggs and I felt that it wouldn't be fair to him to bring a dessert that he couldn't eat. I didn't want him to miss out so I did some research and found an egg and dairy free chocolate cake.

I was curious to try the recipe because I had read how a lot of egg free cakes turn out like bricks because of the lack of leavening that that the eggs provide. However, this particular recipe uses baking soda and vinegar and anyone who has ever made a volcano for science class knows how much gas is produced when the two meet!! The original recipe calls for the addition of cold water but I substituted chocolate soy milk to boost the chocolatey flavour.

The results were terrific. People who didn't know it was egg free couldn't guess what they were missing. The cake is dense and very moist. One person thought it tasted like a chocolate Timbit (like a small donut for anyone not familiar with timbits). As for the boy with the egg allergy? Turns out he doesn't like chocolate so the cake was left for everyone else to eat - which was probably a good thing because there wasn't a crumb left by the end of the evening!!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate soy milk, cold

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan or a tube pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix well with a fork, then stir in oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. When dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened, pour in cold soy milk and stir until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A trip to the East Coast of Canada - Blueberry Grunt

Nova Scotia is home to one of the largest commercial crop of wild blueberries in the world. Lucky for me I live not too far away from there so I have the luxury of having local, wild blueberries year round. During blueberry season I always buy 5 lb boxes of blueberries and freeze them so I can have my favourite fruit year round.

Blueberry grunt is a traditional recipe found in many Nova Scotia cookbooks. In other parts of the world it would be called a cobbler or fruit dumplings but here it's call grunt - possibly because of the satisfying noise that escapes the eater as they enjoy the first mouthful! Here's a common recipe that will satisfy the sweet tooth and perhaps encourage you to visit our fair province to enjoy this down home treat in person!!

6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp each finely grated lemon zest and lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). In a large saucepan, combine blueberries, 3/4 cup sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 min. Place in an 8 cup baking dish. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, remaining 1 tbsp sugar and salt. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Stir in just enough milk, about 1 cup (250 mL), to make a soft dough.

Divide dough into 8 equal portions and place them, evenly spaced, on blueberry mixture. Bake until biscuits are firm and no longer doughy and blueberries have thickened slightly, 20 to 25 min.

To serve, place a biscuit in each serving dish. Spoon blueberries on top, and top with a scoop of ice cream.
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