Flowers, Like Stars, Cake Like….Beef?!

Yes, that is a roasting tray.

Double the cake, double the terror of failure.

Halfway: Wobbly. At end: Solid.

It will be, is, or was my birthday, depends on when I publish this really. Birthdays aren’t big here, lots of reasons, Dear Reader, none you need worry about. I do want to share my screwing around with my Buckwheat Flour Simple White Cake. I say it a lot, but you really don’t know who it’ll help. I’m writing this piecemeal so it’s not going to be a comprehensive look at cake making, just a look at what Jack did (Worst kid’s book series ever. Heh). I just wanted to screw around, I’ll be honest, I’m not really bothered about sweet things now. There’s a part of me that could be, much too much so, but the other part is getting stronger, the part that understands my complex relationship to sugar. It’s weird, there’s a gap between the me that was and that is and its widening, there’s just work to go. I hope by my next birthday the surgeries will be over. This is mostly for my nieces and nephew, a few friends and just, again, a bit of fun. Let’s not get heavy. It’s my birthday and I’ll maunder if I want to.

Stick a folded teatowel in between the rack and the cake and flip.

Double baking makes the edges a little hard.

I’m also using vanilla powder, which isn’t all that great. I couldn’t get my usual low alcohol essence.

Like I say I’m not breaking this down, it’s meringue topping, on the aforementioned cake, doubled and a caramel sauce just taken to the desired burnt stage, a hair more it was ruined. Sugar is hard to do, I’ll be the first to admit it. There’s a smell that appears when it starts to caramelize, then it goes, that’s when you pull it off the heat. I’m also doing whipped cream with this. We’re going all out, this is the last cake I’ll eat for a long time, but I have two more to help make and to decorate. I’ll share them here, one is using an icing sheet and the other has plastic toppers. Really basic stuff here, Dear Reader, but it’ll make people happy. Worth it for that really. That’s the reason for the unconventional tin, and fully lining it too, I’ll need two cakes, both rectangles, so I want to check it now rather than get caught when the time comes. More cake for everyone, it’s a win-win.


Have a kettle on the boil to avoid clean up.

It thickens to almost tar as it cools.

I’m going to be taking a lot of photos, or, rather having a lot taken of me. In my jeans. I tell you it was so hard to find jeans in a thirty eight inch leg. Getting the waist and leg was really just a matter of luck, I looked at the right time and bought a couple of pairs since the first fit. I was worried about sagging in places, but they seem to fit just right. I still like tracksuits, I have sensory issues and, honestly? I dress for me, for comfort. No one really notices unless you’re dragging dirt in so I’ll dress up once in a while, after that I’m in the garden and the plants aren’t worried. They’re all in the nude after all. Sorry, I’ve ruined jaunts through the garden, haven’t I?

You come here for my sparkling wit.

Oh, I turned the cake upside down so it sunk as it cooled and mostly evened out.

These really are beautiful. 

They’re so tiny.

Things are still slow, but it’s getting better. Every single year brings different weather, a different experience and different lessons. I still take such pleasure in the small shoots just starting to poke through the soil. My rhubarb crown, the new one, has poked above, it starts to appear and suddenly it’s so large. I should get a harvest this year from it. I seem to have squash seeds that didn’t rot in the compost popping up in the soil, they’re easy be rid of, but I’m really going to do better this year. With the surgery I couldn’t tend to the compost, it is a  living thing after all and needs proper care and attention. If I publish this tomorrow then I’ll try to add a few photos of the cake cut up and assembled. A bit glob of caramel and a blob of whipped cream. It’ll be fun being able to share a cake with people. Okay, that’s it for now, take care Dear Reader.

P.S If I have anything to add I’ll add it below.

I forgot the photo! Just one more slice.

There we go.


Giant Novelty Strawberries and Plastic Curd

The candle fell over after a few minutes.

Oh, that looks fake.

I’ll figure out a buckwheat sponge recipe yet.

Yo, Dear Reader, I mentioned Yesterday that I was baking. I just thought I’d share the photos. The base isn’t gluten free and I’m not eating it because of the curd, but you could easily substitute some pastry like mine: Buckwheat Flour Pastry. Okay, I hate when recipes are teased and not listed until the end of a post so here you go.

Buckwheat Flour Simple White Cake
Meringue Topping (Doubled and without cream of tartar)
Lemon Curd (With a pinch of cardamom)

The cake has a secret that I may neglect to take a photo of so I’ll tell you. There’s a layer of jam in between the two halves. What I did differently this time is I spread a thin layer of buttercream on each half and the iced he little blobs all around the edges, they stuck much better with the buttercream backing. I did the same thin spread at the top and it really helped. There’s a little strawberry jam in the buttercream as well, it really pops. I’ve never been that great a hand at decorating cakes, I usually do them all the same way. It works and there’s always enough icing to cake going so that you don’t end up with just a large chunk of plain cake after you’ve eaten some of it. The one marvellous thing about the cake is that aside from the slightly stronger taste, my brother said it’s like a cake made with brown flour, is that it’s identical to the wheat flour version. Honestly, like most recipes if you didn’t tell people what’s in it they’d likely have no idea. We’re nowhere near as discerning as we like to think and people have a mental block towards anything “different”.

My own birthday is coming next week and I’m undecided on whether I’ll make another cake. I’m the only one who knows how to make this, it’s my own recipe, came about when a cake recipe botched and I only had a single night to make a cake for my nephew. The ideas in the comment section involved more milk and at that stage I just went to Google and did it myself. Buckwheat works for cakes like this as it’s a heavy flour, but these are sturdy cakes, they’re not delicate or crumbly. They’re fluffy, but solid. I’m thinking of perhaps trying it as a round cake in a spring-form pan, it’d end up flatter and I’m concerned that it might lose it’s texture if baked too flat. Or, worse, it might rise too much in the middle and sink. One thing I have learned is that leaving it in the tin too long will cause that soggy, thin layer at the bottom, as will under mixing the sugar and butter. You really need to taste the butter mix to make sure the sugar has fully dissolved. I use caster sugar to make it easier, but ordinary sugar works too.

I mentioned about ditching the cream of tartar and I honestly prefer it this way. I have a high speed hand-mixer and it aerates the eggs really fast. These are the same free-range hen eggs from a friend so the white are really thick and you can see how bright the yolks are in the curd. The eggs I used in the cake are duck eggs and though I haven’t tried it yet, I’m typing this as it rests and awaits tomorrow or today depending on how you look at it, the batter looked better even before baking. It look more silky and smooth. Duck eggs are great for baking, but very strong to eat as is. I opted for the hen eggs for the curd as I wasn’t sure that the duck egg’s strong taste wouldn’t over power everything. The secret to the curd is to use plenty of zest, I just peel big chunks letting the lemon spritz it’s oils into the yolks as I peel, all yolk this time and it had set firm after an hour or so. Even after baking the topping it wasn’t long setting again after cooling. It takes time to get it all together, but it’s a big occasion and when it’s done right, shared with people you loved then it’s a really wonderful thing to create. I’ll leave it at that today, Dear Reader, I’ll try to get some cut photos of the cake and pie.

Baps, Bulbs and Breads

Original Quinoa Flour Bread Recipe here.

For the low low price of: FREE!

Neener Neener my bread is golden hued and delicious.

A Dear Reader, yes, there are a few of you, happened to name me as part of their inspiration for a wonderful recipe, which you can see for yourself here. They also set my brain in motion. See, one of the things that I’ve found in my style of cooking and baking is that I’m very much out of the norm. I’m not getting into this in a big way, but I have often wondered what it would’ve taken for me to, well, fit in. I honestly think it would’ve been detrimental to my recipes, my readership and just generally to the blog. See, if I had followed the idea, erroneous idea, don’t care too long at this, that all free-from baking requires gums and starches, well, I’d have starved, end of. See, I also thought that that was the “correct” way, having learned in time it’s the common way. Is it correct? Depends, nutritionally lacking foods made from bits and pieces that photograph well or can be sold commercially are so ubiquitous that I can take a shot at them and hit everyone. They’re bad, but there are so many shades of grey that it would take a lifetime to go through them all. But what’s important is that if you made Jack’s style a brand say. Jack’s Diet! From Fat To Jack! Etc. Then you’d see it differently, no longer an aberration, but actually a contender. But, that’d entail gatekeeping, lying, sponsorships, shady ones, some are fine, not complaining here just saying, because that’s why the gum and starch side is seen as the only side. It’s not that good, but a starving coeliac isn’t fussy and brand loyalty builds a great defensive line of buyers. I’m hitting the tinfoil hat threshold here, but it’s backed up simply by the blog here. You see recipes made with skill and craft that no one else has. I’m not bragging, if I was I’d be doing a much better job. I’m just reiterating for what feels like the millionth time that there are many kinds of free-from baking and cooking. Try different things out, write posts differently, be yourself, Dear Reader. I no longer care about acclaim or glory. With my scar came a sense of freedom. The free-from world is a mess, the fact I struggle to find recipes, to find ingredients to just find clear information speaks to that. What can be done? Yeah, that’s a huge order, just be open-minded and really look at what you’re eating. I’m not going to wreck my good mood breaking this down again and again. Nor do I want to attack anyone. Let’s talk bread. Let’s enjoy these posts, what more needs to be done?

Pain my my…whoops! Family friendly blog.

I went half again to get a third bap.

Baps are here.

Fluffy, light and so good.

You know I can never understand why quinoa flour is so ridiculously expensive. I keep an eye out on Amazon hoping for a new start-up, which is what this was, that has a cheaper bag of flour in stock, marked as Gluten Free, not naturally gluten free, containing no gluten ingredients or any of those sneaky terms. Not to say that it’s that cheap, but by comparison to a bag less than half the size for more I’d say it was okay. It’s actually a really nice flour, not paid for this, but I have to mention it for anyone struggling to find any. Oh, it’s gone. Sorry. It lasted a few days at least. See? I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s difficult. I’ve found that free-from flours can vary, but rarely by a great deal. Sometimes you get one that’s off colour or just doesn’t work as well. This one is, as I’ve said, a really good quality flour, no bitterness coming through either. Grinding your own leads to a very uneven texture without a very good grinder. So, once every few months I splurge and then bake up a storm. The reason I have so many of these recipes is that I bought a batch of six bags for a pittance that were going out of date very quickly.

Fried in butter with a poached egg…which is invisible.

You know what irks me? Every bags says how it replaces wheat flour, no, no, NO! And that they have a lot of recipes, which they never do. Seriously, how daunting is that to someone trying these out for the first time. You know, way back in the beginning, when I bought quinoa for the first time it had no clear instruction on how to cook it. Ditto amaranth, kaniwa and, I think buckwheat was rough too. Even rice tells you to boil and drain and that’s just wrong. Steam it, always perfect. But complacency is a dangerous thing, Dear Reader, I was miserable in the beginning and I was damned if I was going to eat terrible food forever. Yes, I too ate gummy loaves and loved them, more fool all of us, Dear Reader. Here I am, with crispy quinoa loaves and springy buckwheat baps. See? What the companies rely on is the idea that you can really only get this kind of bread with some kind of special ingredient or by buying their brands. I figured out all of this myself, through stubborn determination and by eating a lot of nasty bread. I’ve talked about the breads in numerous posts so I won’t rethread old ground again. These turned out really, really well.

I’ll just re-pot this and oh…

It turned out to be a rather pleasant day, hence my buoyant mood, I am so buoyant , you shut up! So I went out filling potato pots, getting them ready in advance and decided I should move my poor exposed Canna Indica to a larger pot as it really needs the space. A bulb that cost a Euro and thirty nine cents, yes, I remember, I rooted through a bulb bin and found it in amongst tiny plants, should’ve been easy to move. As you can see the solid mass of roots and new growth argued otherwise. So, I re-potted it by literally placing the whole mass, moved by those nigh unbreakable stems, they’re like ropes, into a pot lined with a little soil which I filled in. Tedious and will be repeated for other established plants like the strawberries. Still, it’s amazing what can be grown in a pot. You’ve seen the sunchokes. You just have to try, I suppose, Dear Reader, you really never know what you can accomplish if you never start. Okay, I’ll pop off to hope for good weather, there are still pots to fill, empty and work to be done. Until later.

Buckwheat Flour, Chia and Egg Pasta

Excuse the light quality. The kitchen bulb is dim.

Jack! You can make pasta? That’s what you’re thinking right, Dear reader? Jack can make anything! Without gums or added starches even. Okay, not anything, but I’m actually a pretty dab hand at all this free-from baking and cooking, I just don’t overvalue myself and brag. I seem to be most searched for my Pastry recipe which is where the skills and knowledge that created this came from, this is just an extension of my soba and bakewell tart recipes. You learn a lot by trying, dear reader, also by not assuming because you can’t do it that it can’t be done. I might not often say it, but I am good at this all, I started from nothing, rarely had recipes I could use and, now, here I am, sharing what I know to help others. A drop in the ocean of food-bloggers, not very noted, or all that know really, but I know what I know is worth sharing. I’m the quiet one who just doesn’t drag out these skills to impress, I’m too tired and jaded for that kind of braggadocios behaviour., dear reader, I’ll leave that to younger, more ambitious perhaps, bloggers than myself.  I just make what few have, with what few ingredients I have. Now, onto the pasta!

The crumb stage. A vital part of all dough recipes.

The unkneaded dough. If it’s sticky, you’ve added too much water.

So, if you’re new to pastry, new to free-from baking, or just new to this recipe then let’s tackle it stage by stage. Even if you think you know these kinds of recipes, buckwheat has a lot of quirks, some are circumvented by the eggs used, but there are still a few remaining, and it will trip you up. Add too much water and just add flour? Hah! You’ll get a cracked mess, no gluten means no room for error. Once you’re at the breadcrumb stage just add a dribble, don’t splash it in, really!, of water and keep adding, mixing and checking until large lumps form. At this stage if you’ve added enough moisture then you should be able to form an unbroken mound of dough, like above. There shouldn’t be any parts crumbling off, nor should it stick to anything if you’ve done it all right. Take your time and you shouldn’t have any worries.

Kneaded it stretches and will snap back slightly.

It should be firm enough to do whatever this is doing.

So, if you’re using just buckwheat it’ll crack, takes an age to come together and will tear, stick and cause any amount of heartbreak. What happens here is that the chia gives it that stretch, probably like gum, I’ve never used gum, don’t want to or need to, and the hen’s egg, you can tell this is the extreme side of free-from baking when I have to name the fowl, gives it additional moisture. In the soba you can just use one or the other, but both make it vastly easier to make it, it also makes it more like pasta than soba, hence the divided recipe. Chia egg, hen’s egg and buckwheat flour, raw, is almost like a cheat. It’s honestly so absurdly good I’m always amazed at how it comes together. I’m an old hand at pastry, but with practice you’ll have no trouble mastering this as with the problems avoided it’s almost as easy as wheat pastry.

Rolling out is simple as it hardly sticks.

I often say I should get a pasta cutter, then I forget.

I’m not skill at fine cutting, or rolling. If you want perfect long, even noodles you’ll ned to fold the pasta in at he curved ends and roll again. I don’t need to go to that hassle as it’s just for me. You could make any length you like as it holds well, though the longer it’s exposed to air the more brittle it gets, the hen’s egg helps mitigate this a bit, but either freeze it fast of have the water boiling. This is fresh pasta and time is of the essence. If you’re awkward like me you can take a sharp knife, don’t drag it as the dough will stretch and deform, just gentle press it along the dough, then when all the strips are cut just scoop it up and toss it onto the tray. It won’t tear that easily, but do be gentle.

Don’t drop either the camera or the noodles!

Sway the noodles gently.

They don’t need excess flour to prevent sticking thanks to both eggs.

Now. The caveat: I have frozen them, I just haven’t tried them from frozen, they should be fine, naturally they’re best fresh, but you can’t always use them all at once. I’ll add a section on freezing later in the week when I get around to trying them. I don’t like doing this this way, I’d rather have it all in one, but if I delay I’ll forget important details. I did boil up a portion, tossed with a little live oil, with chicken and Sautéed Garlic. They’re slippery, a little al dente, yet yielding and you really taste the buckwheat since it isn’t cooked very much. Pasta is daunting and you might have to make a lot of mistakes along the way to the perfect pasta. You’l get here, hey! I’m here making the recipe and who am I? Just Jack, dear reader, who knows that you’ll take this recipe and make it your own. Vary the shape of the noodles, make pasta balls, add herbs, serve them in ways my restricted diet won’t let me. You can do this, trust me.

I do try to cut them thin, I’m just not that skilled with a knife.

Fresh is vastly different from dried. Also surprisingly light for a dense flour.

Okay! I’ve tested the frozen noodles and they’re almost the same as fresh. There is a slight loss of that fresh buckwheat flavour and where the noodles have bent when frozen does tend to break so your long strands might end up shorter. If you wanted to keep it aesthetically pleasing it might be best as a shaped pasta rather than noodles. Perhaps if they’d been cut thinner and curled into nests they might have survived more intact. Still, as it stands they’re great from frozen, just cook from frozen and add a few minutes for them to defrost in the water. I’ll come back here again someday, dear reader. I’ll try for a neater noodle, until then this will more than suffice.


225g Buckwheat Flour
1 Chia Egg (1 Tbsp Ground Chia and 3 Tbsp Water)
1 Medium (45-55g) Egg
Extra Flour for dusting

Makes Four 90g serving.


1. Mix the Ground Chia and Water and leave in the fridge for 10 minutes or until thick.

2. Add Flour to a bowl and then stir in the Chia Egg and Hen Egg with a fork until everything has formed a rough crumb. Add a little Water, mix with the fork again, adding enough water to help it come together, but not letting it get sticky, until large lumps form. Knead the mixture until a dry, firm dough has been formed. Form Dough into a ball and let rest for a few minutes. Dough will be elastic and shouldn’t crack.

3. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough as thin as possible, about 1-8 Inch to 1/16 Inch thickness. Flip the dough and dust a few times while rolling out to prevent it sticking to the work surface.

4. Cut into thin strips with a sharp knife. Shake the Pasta loose using your hands, if they still stick together add another dusting of Flour, but it shouldn’t be necessary. If freezing spread onto a greaseproof lined tray and leave in the freezer for 15 minutes, then remove and divide into bags and return Pasta to the freezer. Cook from Frozen.

5. Bring a large pot of Water to the boil and add Pasta. Cook for 3-5 minutes keeping stirred constantly. The Pasta should be soft and slippery, but not mushy. Drain in a colander when cooked and pour over cold water. Either add to a sauce and cook for a minute or serve cold.

Buckwheat Cakes

Pep's Free From Kitchen

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

Spread with butter and prepare to bake more.

These are…

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Buckwheat Digestive Biscuits

Pep's Free From Kitchen

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

Just as good as wheat based versions.


145g Buckwheat…

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Buckwheat Flour Breads

Pep's Free From Kitchen

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

Standard Bread Batter. Doubled.

I find a tall or two…

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