I am delighted to be taking part in the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, this month hosted by Silvana at Silvana's Kitchen.
My Mum always taught me that baking is an exact science. Before I was born she worked in a laboratory and when she later went to catering college she was asked how her previous occupation could lead her to want to train as a chef: she explained, cooking is chemistry - if you understand the latter, then all you need are technique and creativity to do the former. As a child, I loved to perch at the kitchen counter and watch as she made scones and explained how all the various elements in the recipe combined and the chemical reactions that took place. Knowing all of this gave me the confidence to bake any recipe. After I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I lost that confidence - without gluten, I couldn't be sure that what I knew was still applicable - then I was further dispirited by some major flops in the kitchen (sausage flavour chocolate cookies, anyone?!).
It was time to go back to basics. I learned to accept that, with the right ratios, you can substitute regular flour for gluten free alternatives, Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking was a great starting point. Understanding the ratios of flours to fat to eggs to liquids, etc is the basis of successful baking; if you know the ratio, you don't even need a recipe - you are free to improvise and invent. Then I read about the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally on Gluten Free Girl's blog and I knew that I wanted to sign up.
Each month a growing group of bloggers will be focusing on one gluten-free baked good and coming up with recipes to inspire you. This month it's quick breads and muffins, the ratio for this is: 2 parts flour:2 parts liquid:1 part egg:1 part fat. Check out Silvana's Kitchen for the other recipes
Cardamon Banana Bread
It might sound like an odd combination of flavours (I could actually hear my Dad wince over the phone when I told him what I was baking!) but trust me... Not just for curries, cardamon is a hugely underrated spice, it is warming and soothing, and works equally well in sweet or savoury dishes.
I have found that using a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda gives me a lighter texture than baking powder, but you can substitute these for 1 level teaspoon of baking powder (check it's gluten free) if you wish.
106g brown rice flour
50g buckwheat flour
68g tapioca flour
2 level tsp (8g) cream of tartar
1 level tsp (6g) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 large eggs
112g butter, softened
110g banana, pureed
114g natural yoghurt
100g golden caster sugar
10 green cardamon pods
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius/325 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas mark 3.
- Squash your cardamon pods and remove the little seeds from inside. Using a mortar and pestle, finely crush the cardamon seeds and salt together.
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and crushed cardamon seeds/salt mixture.
- Beat together the eggs, pureed banana, yoghurt and softened butter. Add to the dry ingredients and combine using an electric whisk. The mixture will be a bit lumpy, don't worry about that.
- Pour the mixture into a greased, 2lb loaf tin. Bake for 1 hour, you'll know it's ready when a metal skewer comes out clean.
My Husband insists that the best way to eat this is warm, with custard, I like it with a dollop of yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. Or as is, with a cup of tea!
(The joy of the ratio is that if you don't do dairy, for example, you can use margarine and all banana instead of yoghurt, or, if you don't have one, or any, of the flours, you can swap it for whatever you have got!)