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I’ve been thinking a lot about wheat and dairy recently – more specifically the fact that I am not comfortable with the quantities in which I consume them. At the same time, I have been reading more about paleo/grain free diets and, while I am not about to go hard-core paleo, take photos of my belly and post them on Instagram or give up running in favour of Cross Fit (although I have briefly considered each option), it does make sense to me.

But I miss bread. Good lord how I love toast. Even when I know it doesn’t love me back or make me feel good. So I made a loaf of chia seed, buckwheat and quinoa bread using this recipe from Quirky Cooking (I love that website). And it was delicious. I mean, hideitinthefreezerandtrynotthinkaboutit delicious. I’m not sure I should make it again. But I probably will.

Unbaked bread after 1 hour of proving

Unbaked bread after 1 hour of proving

Baked bread basking in the sun

Baked bread basking in the sun

Bread porn

Bread porn

I also made paleo chocolate beetroot brownies, which look pretty tasty. Unfortunately they were not particularly delicious. I think it was because they relied partly on the sweetness of the beetroot (I must have used a fairly tasteless one) and partly on rice malt syrup, which just isn’t sweet enough for me. And that is saying a lot, given that I prefer my baked goods to be low on the sweetness scale. I think I will give it another chance but will use dates instead of rice malt syrup. Actually, on reflection, I don’t think that rice malt syrup is even an “approved Paleo sweetener”, although it is a favourite of the anti-sugar brigade. I guess I’m just confused as to which current food fad I want to join in on.

Deceptively delicious looking chocolate beetroot muffins - nut, grain, fructose and taste free

Deceptively delicious looking chocolate beetroot muffins – nut, grain, fructose and taste free

I also made my third batch of coconut yoghurt and feel quite confident that it will be my third consecutive coyo fail. Damn you coyo.


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I’m not under any illusions about my ability as a baker and cake decorator. I know too many people who are genuinely talented to indulge such fantasies. All I aim for is to make something that is recognisable and which makes the relevant birthday child feel happy and loved. Having said that, this cake came the closest to meeting my artistic vision of all my previous efforts. Yep, it’s lopsided and yep, the fondant icing melted in the humidity yet again (when will I learn? Or move to somewhere less melty). But it was fairly recognisable as a stage and backdrop and the birthday girl was beaming. To this relative success I owe thanks to:

1. A simple concept;
2. A very clever mother in law who brought me a whole stash of paper ballet dancers; and
3. The good fortune to find a lost Lego swan down the gap between the car driver’s seat and the park brake.

Here is the unadorned cake before the icing backdrop and curtains melted.


Here is the finished cake. Cool swan eh? Or, as my 4 year old Mr R referred to it, “that duck from Swan Lake”.


Happy birthday to my clever, funny, won’tputherbookdowntogetdressedforschool, beautiful 6 year old Miss B.

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I’m staying at my parents’ beach house this week as the husband was meant to go to China for business and the thought of not running for a week was completely unacceptable. As it turned out, the husband was not required in China and now has a child-free, wife-free week. Not jealous of that at all, no no no…. Anyway, the beach house has been undergoing extensive renovations for a few months. I thought the presence of hungry builders would be a good opportunity to bake and when I heard that one of the builders was gluten intolerant I decided to explore some new territory. I don’t do that much deliberate gluten free baking, largely because I don’t need to, but I am conscious of trying to limit the amount of wheat we consume.

I made two items – buckwheat chocolate chip biscuits using this recipe – and mince tarts using this recipe from the Healthy Chef.

The biscuits were very well received, even by my dad, who is very sparing with his praise. Here is a photo of the biscuits (my dad is unlikely to agree to publication of his image).


The tarts were less successful I think. The fruit mince (which I modified by using a combination of orange juice and brandy instead of apple juice) was tasty but the almond pastry was deemed too soggy. I have a jar of mince left over so will make some more using regular short crust pastry over the next few days. I think they looked pretty though. Perhaps pastry is just not meant to be gluten free? Disappointing but I guess educational.





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I actually did the last Daring Bakers’ Challenge (although not well, from memory) but never got around to blogging about it. And then I went and had another baby, as you do, so that has taken up most of my energy recently, along with my capacity to bend over and move with any semblance of grace. However, beautiful baby number 3 is now here and we are all back home together. In celebration of this fact, and just because I wanted biscuits, I made these ginger flavoured biscuits from Wholefood Simply. They took me about 5 minutes and were delicious! Next time I will follow a suggestion made by Kim of Twitter’s @lifeinsurryhills and add some grated lime zest too.

Here they are before and after baking. I used some biscuit stamps I bought in the UK – they are a bit cheesy but cute enough to get away with it I think!



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Monte Carlo Biscuits

The husband and I approach carbo-loading for races quite differently. I really hate it and therefore try to get away with just adding a few more slices of toast and jam. He doesn’t enjoy it either, but will dutifully plough through extra cereal, packets of lollies (Starburst Gummi Fruits being the favourite) and huge tubs of carbohydrate powder. And biscuits. So many biscuits. He always gets through at least one packet of Monte Carlos, sometimes accompanied by a packet of Butternut Snaps. It’s an unusual method, but one which seems to be paying off for him this year, with a number of wins and selection in the Australian Long Distance Mountain Running Team. So for his latest win I promised him some home made Monte Carlos. Injury, crankiness (due to injury), pregnancy and fatigue (due to pregnancy) all meant that the promise was not fulfilled straight away. But here, after 3 weeks, are the Monte Carlos.

I used this recipe from Good Food, largely because it contained coconut. Some of the others didn’t, so I didn’t trust them. I also upped the coconut factor by using coconut sugar in place of brown sugar. No real reason for that, just because it was at the front of our tetris-like pantry.

Biscuits in the pre-baking stage


Baked, un-assembled biscuits




I’m ready for my close up


I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out, although I can only comment on their appearance. They met with a thumbs up from the husband though, which is the most important thing.

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Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies!

We were given a choice of 4 pies to bake but I knew as soon as I read the challenge that I would start with the crack pie. I’ve long had a fascination with all things David Chang, despite having never made it to one of his restaurants (including the one I could, at a stretch, walk to). His book Momofuku is the most entertaining cookbook I’ve ever read. The only downside is that it doesn’t have the recipe for crack pie or compost cookies. Luckily, the recipe for crack pie is available online.

So how does a pie earn the title of “crack pie”? By being packed full, almost to the point of bursting, with butter, sugar, and cream. The base is a rich, sweet, oat biscuit which is then crumbled and combined with more butter and sugar. The filling is a mixture of cream, egg yolks, butter and sugar. The end result is an intensely rich, gooey heart attack waiting to happen. Not my idea of crack, but we’ve covered the fact that I do not represent the majority of the population in previous posts.

On to some pictures:

The biscuit base

The filling waiting to be baked

The filling after baking

Ta-da! Finished product

Close up action shot

I took the pie to a party, where there was some confusion about why I would bring a cracked pie. Having dealt with that, it was eaten with varying degrees of gusto. I saw some people scrape their plates soon while others sat back, visibly defeated. It’s a hard core pie.

Thanks Rachael! And thanks David Chang for your cookbook and for loving brussels sprouts.

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Feeling inspired by last month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge, I spent some time reading other people’s creations for the challenge. I came across a black bean brownie recipe on a site I enjoy called The Gingered Whisk. It had a bit more sugar than I usually like to use but I had received consistent feedback recently of insufficient sugar in my baked goods (I just need to complete their reprogramming). So I decided to make the recipe exactly as Jenni had recorded it. The only change I made, inadvertently, was to use a Chinese black bean (not like the salty bean used in black beans sauce but not the same as other black beans I have seen). It seemed to work out ok.

Here is the link to Jenni’s recipe – brownies

Feedback has been very positive, including from the husband but also, more significantly, from my dad, who offered a “good”. I am not sure it will become a regular, given the sugar, but I’m definitely happy I tried it.


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