Monthly Archives: November 2014

Spelt, dairy-free, English Muffins

DSC08229Yes! No butter needed!  and they are as tasty as the traditional ones. They are fluffy, lovely toasted and perfection itself with strawberry jam or a bit of Marmite. They also make amazing sandwiches…

DSC08232Ingredients (makes 8 muffins):

230g white spelt flour

200ml lukewarm water

15g coconut oil.

1 teaspoon instant yeast.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon demerara sugar (or 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar)

1/2 cup Fine semolina

How to:

1.- In a small bowl or cup dissolve the yeast and sugar in 50ml of the lukewarm water. Let it stand until it froths.

2.- Melt your coconut oil and let it cool to room temperature.


3.- In a bowl mix the flour with the salt and make a well in the centre.


4.- Add the yeast, coconut oil and remaining lukewarm water and mix until you form a dough.

DSC081925.- Pour it into a floured surface and knead gently for a minute so that all the ingredients are combined. It will be a rather sticky dough, but try to resist the urge to add too much flour or you’ll end up with tough muffins.

DSC082026.- Place in the bowl again and let it rest, covered, until doubled in size. Typically this will take 1 hour, but it can be longer or shorter depending on the temperature in your home.

7.- After an hour or so, place the dough in a surface dusted with semolina. Semolina will keep your dough from sticking to your working top therefore making the whole process of shaping and cutting your muffins a lot easier. It will also give them a nice crunchy layer.

Roll the dough out till it is 1.5 cm thick. Remember muffins will rise some more during cooking.

DSC082038.- Cut discs of 5-6 cm diameter. Or , if you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can make small balls (the size of a golf ball) and then flatten them, to get the shape of a muffin.

You can also use the rim of a glass to cut the discs, just make sure to dip it into flour before using, that way, it won’t stick to the dough.

DSC082059.- Place your muffins carefully in a tray covered in semolina. Let the muffins rise for 20 minutes, covered.

10.- After 20 minutes, place a pan on a medium heat. Paint with a bit of coconut oil or other oil of your choice.

Add as many muffins as your pan will take, allowing for a bit of space between them, as they will puff during cooking.

11.- Cook for 5 minutes on one side, then flip.



12.- Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the fire and keep warm by wrapping them in a clean tablecloth, while you cook the remaining muffins.

Then can be eaten warm, straight out of the pan, or you can split them in half and toast them, for extra deliciousness.

DSC08236Have a great Tuesday!

Soon to come… the first of the Christmas Baking!!



Hand-held Apple Pies

DSC08295Icy morning in London! I woke up to find my garden covered in frost, as well as the rooftops of every house I could see from my upper windows.

Now the sun is out and the ice has melted. This was the first frost of the season… I think. I haven’t really been paying attention to…the world, I guess. I seem to live inside my book at the moment; when I’m not writing or correcting it, I’m thinking about things to add, quotes to research or books to check.

But I made myself some space this weekend to make these lovely apple pies so we could have them for breakfast on Sunday. Great decision, as it rained the WHOLE DAY, and I can safely say, that the best thing about our Sunday were those little pies.

DSC08293They might taste a bit like the fast-food chain version of apple pie and look like a pop-tart, but they are surprisingly light, amazingly appley, completely dairy-free and extremely scrumptious.

The coconut oil makes for a different sort of pastry, one that tastes a bit as if it’s been fried rather than oven baked…and we know fried things always have a tastier flavour, even if they are not always the healthiest option.

You can also freeze them and then bake straight out of the freezer, so you can make loads and just keep them in the freezer for when you have a party… or a craving 😉 Serve them with ice-cream…or cream…or custard…or icing sugar…or simply as they are.

DSC08300Onto the recipe, but first things first, this pastry needs resting time of at least 1 hour, for optimum results 2 hours, so take that into account.

Ingredients (makes 6 apple pies):

For the pastry:

100g coconut oil

300g plain flour

2 egg yolks

50ml cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the filling:

2 medium Gala apples

2 tablespoons of sultanas

1 fat teaspoon honey

1 & 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

Pinch of nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

How to:

1.- In a bowl place the flour and the salt. Mix together and then add the coconut oil.

DSC082382.- With your fingers rub the coconut oil into the flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs.

DSC08239Coconut oil isn’t as pliable as butter, so it is harder to rub it into the flour. The little lumps of oil are tougher than their butter equivalents; but be patient, as you see in the photo, it can be done.

I haven’t tried using a blender so I can’t tell you whether that will work as well. You can try it though, and if it works, then making these pies will be a breeze. (By the way, if you do, and it works, let me know, and I’ll add it to the post!)

3.- Make a well in the centre, add the egg yolks, vanilla essence and the water. Mix everything by hand until you have a dough that comes off the sides of the bowl. Don’t overwork the dough or it will make a tough pastry. Just mix enough for the wet ingredients to permeate the dry ones and then press everything together to form a ball.

DSC08244You will still be able to see little pockets of coconut oil, I have found it impossible to fully mix the oil with the flour in the couple of times I’ve made this recipe. But don’t worry, the final result is great.

4.- Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 1 hour, ideally for 2. While the dough chills, make the filling.

5.- Peel and core the apples. Cut into small squares.

DSC082466.- Place a small pan on a low heat, add the lemon juice, chopped apples, sultanas, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and finally the teaspoon of honey (make it a fat one, as there is no sugar in the pastry, all the sweetness will come from the filling):

DSC082487.- Cook until the apples are beginning to soften (15 mins), and then add the cornstarch and mix until you see the cornstarch disappear and the liquid at the bottom of the pot going thick. Remove from the heat. Using cornstarch will prevent you pies from “leaking” during baking and all the filling will remain in them.

Let the filling cool completely before using.

8.- After 1-2 hours, take the dough out of the fridge. You can then lightly flour a surface  and roll out your dough; or you can spread a rectangle of cling film on your working top, place the dough on it, and then cover loosely with another cling film sheet and roll out the pastry through the cling film; that way, the dough doesn’t stick to the rolling-pin and you avoid using too much flour, which will also make your pastry tough. Roll out, preferably in the shape of a rectangle and not in the shape of an amoeba like I did, to a 3mm thickness.

DSC082569.- Cut rectangles of your preferred length; I cut mine  of 12 cm x 6 cm, but I think next time I’ll make them slightly smaller (10cm X 4cm).

DSC0825810.- Take two rectangles; spread 1 -2 teaspoons of the filling into one of the rectangles (depending how big your rectangles are), then paint around the edges with a bit of water or egg white so that the top of the pie will stick to the bottom. Take the second rectangle,  prick it with a fork and place on top of the filling.

DSC0826011.- Use a fork to press the edges together and seal the tarts….

DSC0826312.- Place in the fridge for 30 mins and then bake or freeze them wrapped in cling film.

13.- To bake them: Preheated your oven at 200 C. Place the pies on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

14.- Let them cool a bit before eating because the filling is a million degrees hot when it comes out of the oven.

You can prepare a simple glaze with 1/2 cup of icing sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to cover them once they are cold.

I like them just as they are: crunchy, appley and not overly sweet.

DSC08299These are probably the nicest apple pies I’ve ever had. Hope you like them too.

Have a great Monday!