Chia jam has been all the rage for a while now, but on the whole I’ve failed to see the attraction. However, when eating a low FODMAP diet, one of the things you need to watch out for is high FODMAP jams. A low FODMAP jam is a jam which is made with a suitably low FODMAP fruit, such as raspberries or strawberries, and is made with sucrose or glucose syrup. High FODMAP jams have got added fructose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, honey, agave syrup, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, erythritol and isomalt.
Now that we’re starting to see a bit more sun on a daily basis thanks to the arrival of spring I’m finding myself more inclined to make desserts that incorporate lighter flavours, such as these fruit custard tarts. When I started eating dairy-free one of my best revelations to come from the vegan community was finding out that Bird’s Custard Powder doesn’t contain dairy. I found this really surprising, but I suppose it’s just because you expect such a sweet vanilla-based substance to be already creamy even before you add anything to it. Regardless, I’m grateful!
It feels a bit cheeky to be posting the recipe for these fruit custard tarts because they’re so easy to make, especially when I haven’t made my own custard, but they are really delicious so I figured I’d share it anyway. The pastry is very light and a bit crumbly, but I think that works very well with the sweet custard and berries.
It makes life so much easier if you bake the pastry in tart tins which have a removable base, but it’s not absolutely essential and you can just use a piece of greaseproof paper in the base to help take the pastry cases out of the tins instead. Also, don’t try to take the pastry cases out of the tins until they’re completely cold otherwise they’re more likely to break.
You can use any fruit you like in these tarts. I’d bought some raspberries and blueberries that were reduced to a ridiculously cheap price and that’s what I used, but you could make them more exotic by using coconut oil instead of butter for the pastry tarts and topping them with chunks of fresh pineapple. Whatever you choose to top them with, these fruit custard tarts are light, creamy and filled with flavour, perfect for dessert on a warm summer’s evening (or an optimistic Scottish spring night).
Ingredients for the tart cases:
70g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)
30g ground almonds
1 tsp xanthan gum
20g caster sugar
3 tbsps rice milk
40g butter (or dairy-free version)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients for the custard filling:
1 pint (580ml) rice milk
Make the custard in accordance with the instructions on the pack and set it aside to cool.
To make the pastry for the tarts, put everything except the milk into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it looks like fine sand.
Add the milk a little at a time, stirring all the while, until it forms a dough. (You might not need to use all of the milk. It can depend on the individual batch of flour you’re using.)
Set your tart tins out on a large baking tray and cut out two little squares of greaseproof paper for each tart that are big enough to line the base of your tart tins. (See the photo below if necessary.)
Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.
Put another piece of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and put baking beans on top.
Bake in the oven for 15 mins and then remove the baking beans and bake for another 10 mins (or until the pastry cases are golden brown). Leave the tarts to cool on a cooling rack.
When the tarts and custard are cold, fill each tart case with custard and top with fresh fruit. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.
I really fancied a sweet breakfast muffin yesterday morning and after I remembered that I had frozen blueberries in the freezer I decided I’d make blueberry muffins. These are really easy to make and don’t take very long at all to cook, making them a real winner for a lazy Sunday morning ‘get up, make muffins, go back to bed to eat them with the Sunday papers’ kind of breakfast.
I don’t like blueberry muffins to be too sweet (especially breakfast muffins). There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you’re eating cake for breakfast as opposed to what is actually quite a healthy and nutritious bake. These blueberry muffins contain chia seeds which are packed with protein, fibre, iron, antioxidants and Omega-3 fats. The inclusion of blueberries also adds not only a healthy dose of vitamin C to the nutritional content of the muffins, but folate, potassium and fibre too. So, they’re not as guilt-inducing as you’d think and they’re certainly better for you than a lot of the sugary cereals that we’re all so familiar with.
I baked some of my blueberry muffins with sunflower seeds and some without, but I preferred the ones with the sunflower seeds on top because along with adding texture they added a lovely toasted nut flavour to the muffins. I’d love to experiment with these muffins in future. I’m particularly intrigued by the thought of trying them with fresh raspberries and brambles baked into them when the autumn bounty comes around.
These blueberry muffins are delicious enough and moist enough to be eaten on their own, but after tasting a bit of one I opted to have mine with vegan butter and jam. It’ll be entirely your own choice, but either way you’ll have a delicious breakfast muffin to tuck in to.
200g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)
100g brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
100ml rice milk (or normal milk)
2 chia eggs (2 tbsps of chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsps of cold water and soaked for half an hour before using) (or 2 normal eggs)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g blueberries (they don’t have to be frozen)
50g sunflower seeds
Keeping the blueberries and sunflower seeds aside, put all of the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
Stir the blueberries into the mixture.
Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases and then sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top of the muffins.
Bake for 30-35 mins or until a skewer poked into the middle of them comes out clean.
Leave to cool slightly before serving with butter (or vegan alternative) and jam.
Lately, a couple of generous individuals have gifted me handfuls of rhubarb stalks, but for a couple of reasons I’m not entirely convinced that they’re being given to me entirely altruistically. For one, rhubarb grows like a triffid, producing huge leaves to soak up the sun which they use to create a late spring to early summer crop of deliciously tart harvest produce. The problem with these massive leaves is that they block out the sun for the herbaceous neighbours of said rhubarb plant. As a result, most gardeners will happily prune their flourishing bushes by ‘gifting’ the stalks away to friends, neighbours, or in my case, their daughters.
The second reason for giving away the rhubarb is one that I cannot find fault with though. You cannot blame a gardener for donating an abundance of rhubarb when they know they’ll receive a tasty, sweet rhubarb dish in return. This is the very essence of food produce trading and it’s one which benefits both parties.
Although I sometimes find myself cursing those who give me rhubarb when I’m relentlessly sawing away at the rhubarb trunks before stewing them (because I simply cannot bring myself to just throw them out) I still find myself enjoying the rhubarb as its grassy, lemony, acidic fragrance coats my hands. The smell always reminds me of being a child and every year, as I fondly remember dipping a relatively ripe rhubarb stalk into a poke of sugar as a kid and thinking it was a real treat, I pop a small chunk of rhubarb into my mouth to test whether it really is as tart as I remember and my lips disappear behind my teeth in response to the sheer overwhelming sourness that floods my mouth. Good times.
Even though there are easier, and tastier, fruits out there to cook with I never object to rhubarb though. There’s something rather ancient about it, I think. Apart from the fact that the plant looks as though it belongs in the Jurassic era, its stalks have been turned into delicious confections by optimistic cooks for hundreds of years. Surely this is a tradition which must be continued by those who are willing to do battle with a crop so heavily infused with acidic bitterness?
To make my rhubarb compote I chopped up the freshly washed rhubarb, put it in a large pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and added sugar to it before putting it on a medium heat. The amount of sugar you add is pretty much according to your own taste, so add a few tbsps of sugar to the simmering rhubarb, taste it, and continue to add more until it suits your palate. I generally go with around 70-100g of sugar to 700g of chopped rhubarb. You’ll probably need quite a lot of sugar. Just be careful when tasting it because it’s incredibly hot!
The rhubarb compote will keep in the fridge for a good couple of weeks and you can use it for loads of different things: as a jam for toast or scones; to top porridge or ice cream; folded into whipped cream to make a syllabub; as the fruit base for a crumble or cobbler; or (if you want to pair it with a savoury item) to serve with pork dishes. The list of ways to celebrate such an unexpected, and yet rewarding, harvest is endless. Rhubarb compote may not be the prettiest dish in the world, but I can assure you, it’s delicious. Go find a gardener to befriend and get your hands on some stalks. You won’t regret it and neither will they.