Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Foraged apple bakewell tart- refined sugar free, gluten free and delicious!

Right now it seems I have an eye for apples. I see them everywhere while out and about, though it seems that everybody else does too- there's always loads at the top of the trees just out of reach, while the lower branches are bare! I did find a good few good 'uns in my village however- near the park- that were ready and reachable for foraging.

I was going to make a crumble with them but fancied something almondy, so decided on an apple bakewell tart. Has this been attempted before? I couldn't say for sure, but most likely somebody has tried it! Has it been made gluten, refined sugar and dairy free however? Most probably not!

The result of the experiment was really delicious and it's something I'll definitely make again. It was also a great recipe to make with the girls as the pastry needed no rolling out, just pressing into the pan which is great 'messy' fun, and there were plenty of apples to grate too.

My amounts for this recipe are complete guesstimates, so you may not want to try this if you like to work with exact measurements. You'll need something of a trained eye to make sure the consistencies are right, but I'll describe them best I can to help you out. I've said it before, but I think cooking this way is pretty liberating, just kinda throwing it in and using your eye to get it right. It may not have a perfect pastry or finish that would get past the judges of 'The Great British Bake Off'- but who cares! It's tasty and pretty healthy and relaxed to make, I'm ok with that...

Just please excuse the photo's, as I couldn't find the camera anywhere, I was in a rush and I resorted to my camera phone. I'll re-photograph at some point!

Pastry ingredients:
2 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup brown rice flour
2 tbsp coconut oil
A good glug of olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
Enough water to bring it to a soft dough

Add the flours, oils and salt to a food processor. Combine till it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Keep the machine on and slowly add water, a little at a time, until it suddenly clumps together to create a ball of dough. Be careful to only add a little water at a time as it suddenly comes together- too much water and it'll be sticky.

Tip the dough into a 9 inch spring form cake pan and with your hands, press the pastry to cover the bottom and about 5cm up the sides of the pan to form a crust. You could use a loose bottom flan dish here too- whatever you prefer, as long as it is deep enough to hold the filling. When it is at about 5cm high and pretty even depth on the bottom, use your knuckles to press the edge down slightly- this gives a pretty crimp and a finished pie depth of around 4cm.

Middle layer Ingredients:
3 tbsp fruit juice sweetened jam (I used apple and elderberry- raspberry or blackberry would work well too)
5 apples, skin left on, cored and cut into quarters. You can use whatever variety you like- this actually works well with cooking apples for a less sweet finish.

Grate the apples and set aside in a bowl- this is a great job for older children!
Spoon the jam evenly over the bottom of the pie crust- you want enough to cover the whole bottom but it shouldn't be too thick.
Next make a layer of grated apples, pressing them gently down to compact them slightly in the pan.

Topping ingredients
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup (ish) almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 tsp sugar free almond extract
2 flax eggs
1-2 tbsp maple syrup or rice syrup
125g ground almonds (I know its this amount as I used a small packs worth!)
1 tbsp brown rice flour
3 tbsp arrowroot flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Add the flours, almonds, lemon zest and bicarb to a bowl and combine.
In a jug, add the lemon juice, almond milk, almond extract, maple and flax eggs and whisk together. Tip the contents of the jug into the dry and mix to make a smooth batter- a similar consistency to if you were making a sponge cake. You can add extra milk to loosen the batter if you need to, to get it to this consistency.

Pour over the apples and bake in the oven for around 30mins until a cocktail stick comes out from the centre clean, and the pastry edge is golden.

Cool in pan for 5 mins before removing to cool.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Bye summer, hello Wedding vow planning!

Well what a summer! We have had a holiday in a yurt, weekends away, family from abroad, visiting families in the UK, birthday celebrations, hanging out with old friends and visiting new, foraging and playing and it has all been great! Today I looked out the window at the rain and wind and realised that summer is truly over, a good excuse to put on a cosy jumper and write a little on here....

Earlier in September I mentioned working on my daughters raw birthday cake. She requested a raw chocolate cake that looked like a fairy meadow! It worked out great, though unfortunately our fairy chocolate moulds weren't so great so there were not as many fairies as we wanted, but still, it looked very pretty and she was so pleased it hardly matters. I made chocolate avocado 'mud' frosting and the 'grass' icing was made green with spirulina. The meadow was awash with edible flowers with a goji berry fairy path. It looked pretty sweet and here's a picture of the final cake in all it's glory. That saw the end of the Bedford families brithdays for this year- phew! Now time to plan a raw 10th wedding anniversary cake!

Will and I's 10 year wedding anniversary is coming upon us fast! We always said we'd renew our vows at 10 years, but boy did it sneak up on us.....

So why renew our vows you might say (actually alot of people say)?

For us, a few reasons. Our original wedding was very beautiful but not without its stresses! Will didn't arrive in the UK till just a few weeks before our wedding so he wasn't able to be involved in the planning at all - in fact I remember at one point being pretty concerned he'd even get the airfare together to come over!

It was a stressful time financially and we were without a home, staying at various family members houses while we could work out a plan. Will had just graduated and we had no money at all, we relied on the generosity of family and friends to make our wedding happen, and they pulled off some pretty impressive stuff to make it happen for us so for that we are so very greatful - but it just didn't feel very 'Ellie & Will'. And as beautiful as my dress was, even that I think didn't feel quite right somehow! I was so worried about things that I spent the whole of our wedding day with a migraine, it so bad I hardly ate and only managed a sip of the toast!

But lets not get carried away. I am not regretting the way it happened, it happened because we had amazing family and friends to help us. It happened this way because we just wanted to be married as quickly as we could so we could be together and start our life together (was slightly tricky with the 'pond' between us!). The rest of the stuff is not as important as exchanging our vows and becoming Mr & Mrs Bedford - it was all this latter part which made it special. As special as it was, we knew it would be important to do it again in a way that was exactly Ellie and Will one day.

It now seems to us there is an even bigger reason to renew our vows 10 years down the line. We have grown together as a couple, proven our love and commitment. We got through the first few years of living on pearl barley and carrot 'stoup' and come out the other end! We've reached a place more meaningful and even deeper than we were when we originally met. We've had two amazing girls who have changed us in ways we'd never have imagined and taught us so much about life. This has got to be worth celebrating right?! Back then, we we marked out our 10 year anniversary as a date for this ceremony, it also happens to be the infamous 21.12.12 - which having met in Belize studying the Maya we think is pretty awesome a date for our 10th anniversary!

So the planning starts now! We have lined up an amazing venue, which is built up on ethical values - so amazing and true to our beliefs. I'll tell your more about it when we confirm! For now lets talk about the dress....

Is it right to wear a wedding dress at a vow ceremony? The jury according to the rules of etiquette is out! Some people say yes, some say no. Most agree the dress can be pretty formal and red carpet worthy - which to me often do look like wedding dresses. A few years ago Kate Moss wore a vintage 30's silk wedding gown for a celebrity bash so I say this is quite a blurry line! I'd agree no head dress and veil, but flowers I think would work, you wear a corsage to a prom, so why not flowers at a vow renewal? Most etiquette agrees that you can re-wear your old wedding, but my dress is way too big on me now, and anyways, it doesn't feel very 'me'. Anyway, when did I ever listen to etiquette! ;)

My dress has a story, and a very cool one at that. My Mum happened upon an amazing 1930's velvet and lace dress in Sussex, just by chance. Or fate you might say. I adore the style of the 20's and 30's and love velvet so when the lady who owned the dress let mum bring it up to Oxfordshire for me to try it on (I know!) and it fit EXACTLY, my decision was pretty much made! It feels like it was made for me. I love it. My mum is so clever :)

It does have quite a bit of staining though so if anybody has tips on how to remove it, please suggest away!! The local eco dry cleaners said even regular dry cleaning would not remove stains that old so would be a waste of money, and I hear once velvet has a stain it can be doomed.... Never one to be defeated I'm sure there is a way to at least reduce the staining, and I have 3 months to find it!

Monday, 3 September 2012

As the Summer fades, celebrate Autumn with a pear ice lolly!

As the blazing (ahem) days of summer come to an end and the colourful crispness of autumn begins, we still have a little extra time before the freezing cold sets in to make and enjoy an Ice lolly or two. Especially one using autumnal fruits and warming spices.... The first pears are ripe and ready right now so I was inspired to create a creamy pear Ice lolly to celebrate this changing of the seasons.

Ok, so this isn't rocket science- but it is a nice flavour combination you may not have thought of for a lolly, and I need some slack at the moment - I am working on my raw fairy cake masterpiece for Fia's 6th birthday.... ;)

Pear Ice Lolly's (makes 6-10 depending on mould size)

2-3 big juicy pears- they must be super ripe, great way to use up slightly bruised pears!
1-2 cups of fresh or pre-made almond milk
1 tbsp honey (optional)
Pinch of cinnamon

Blitz together in a blender until smooth, pour into Lolly moulds and freeze for around 4 hours until set. Easy.