Saturday 20 January 2018

Getting Husky... with some magical fairy cakes

A muffin to service your sweet tooth and your pipes, says Susan Jane White. And your inner Gwynnie

Susan Jane White
Susan Jane White

Susan Jane White

Imagine a seed husk that offers medicinal benefits, culinary craic, and barely any taste at all? Psyllium husks will make you feel like Paul Daniels in the kitchen. This magical ingredient transforms gluten-free baking, because the husks give bread and muffins much-needed structure. A coeliac's dream. Soak the psyllium husks in plant milk to make vegan-style 'buttermilk'. Hardly any chefs and food writers use psyllium, which is a Herculean shame. Let's try to change that.

Similar to slippery elm, psyllium husks are used to treat both constipation and diarrhoea. How so? The husks of the psyllium seed are indigestible and they swell to 10 times their weight. This then creates very beneficial mucus for the intestinal tract, and lowers 'transit' time in the bowel. Obviously, this has repercussions for cholesterol scores too, given soluble fibre's ability to bind to cholesterol in the bowel, and evict it faster than immediately.

You can purchase psyllium husks in many savvy pharmacies and in most health food stores, for less than a packet of laxatives. Just saying.

French Fairy Cakes, with vegan buttermilk

Makes 12.

A splendiferous taste of Rue de la Reine. These French-style fairy cakes are egg-free, nut-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free and gluten-free, for all ye free-fromers out there. Coconut sugar makes it a better choice for diabetics too.

For the 'buttermilk', you will need:

2 tablespoons psyllium husks

375ml (13fl oz) plant-based milk (try almond milk, soya milk or oat milk)

125ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the muffins, you will need:

50g (2oz) potato flour

55g (2oz) chickpea flour

125g (4oz) brown rice flour

120g (4oz) coconut sugar

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

18 fresh raspberries

Fire up your oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4. You'll need a regular 12-seat muffin tray, lined with paper cases.

Start by making the vegan 'buttermilk'. Whisk the psyllium husks with the plant-based milk. (I use almond milk, but if you need to keep the fairy cakes nut-free, organic soya milk or oat milk would be a better option.) Add the extra-virgin olive oil and the vanilla extract. Leave the buttermilk mixture aside for 10 minutes to thicken (or all day in the fridge, it won't matter).

In a separate bowl, combine the potato flour, the chickpea flour and the brown rice flour, the coconut sugar, the baking powder, the sea salt flakes and the fresh raspberries.

Now, pour in the plant-based 'buttermilk' to the bowl and beat with a fork. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases in the muffin tray and bake the fairy cakes for 28-30 minutes. When they're done, gently take the tray out of the oven. Expect some deflation as the air escapes. Remove each fairy cake from the tray and let them cool in their paper cases for 10 minutes, before tearing them open with a velocity normally reserved for Dracula. These fairy cakes should kick off some serious toe-tapping abilities.

Got a suggestion for Susan Jane? Tweet@SusanJaneHealth

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