(Theguardian) – How to bake: A month of dairy-, soya- and egg-free baking starts here – it’ll help stir your creativity
Allergies and special diets can make baking a little tricky, because the characteristics of some ingredients are crucial to the texture and flavour of a dish. Apple tart, say, can easily be transformed into pear tart, but cutting out eggs or butter gets more complex.
Though gluten-free recipes are everywhere, other “free-from” baking ideas are trickier to locate. So the next four weeks’ columns will do without dairy, eggs and soya, essential if you’re a vegan, and canny help if the fridge is a bit bare. And it’s good practice to bake without ingredients you’ve become overly dependent on, helping to stir your creativity.
Water mixed with flour will bind ingredients together in a dull, flavourless way, with none of the richness that eggs provide. So subtle flavours such as malt extract, walnut oil, cocoa and spice help to fill that flavour void.
The malt extract, like egg yolks, helps to give cookies a chewy texture and the nut oil adds flavour and moistness to the crumb. Lovely with a shot of espresso and a smidgen of grappa after dinner.Advertisement
75g shelled walnuts
2 tbsp cocoa
100g dark soft brown sugar
¾ tsp cinnamon
175g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
25ml walnut oil
2 tbsp malt extract
50ml cold water
High-fruit black cherry jam (something like St Dalfour)
Put the walnuts, cocoa, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and whizz until finely ground. Tip into a bowl and mix with the flour and baking powder. In a jug, stir together the oil, malt and water, then pour into the dry ingredients and work to a smooth dough the consistency of soft marzipan.
Roll spoonfuls of the mixture between your hands into walnut-sized balls, line a cookie tray with nonstick baking paper and put the balls on it 4-5cm apart. Flatten the balls slightly and make a deep thumbprint impression in the middle.
Spoon a little jam into the dip, heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for 13-15 minutes, until the cookie crust has set. Leave the cookies on the tray for three to four minutes, until they lose their just-baked delicacy, then use a spatula to transfer to a wire cooling rack.