Lazy low FODMAP ginger biscuits

Picture of a white plate with a white mug of tea and a couple of spicy ginger biscuits or cookies, one of which has a bite taken out
Deliciously spicy ginger biscuits with a mug of Yorkshire tea: perfect dunked or crunched.

My fibromyalgia has been getting in the way a lot these last few weeks. It plays hell with lots of things, and for the last couple of weeks it’s meant parenting in survival mode while S is away on a business trip. I get up long enough to get H out of the door to school, then rest until he is home and needing dinner and parenting until bed time.

I’ve long since learned not to sweat the small stuff at these times. Granted, I’ve never had a fibro flare last quite this long before, and it’s enough to make this grown woman cry on occasion. It hurts, and I have no energy or strength. And while nobody will die if the house doesn’t get hoovered for a week or two and things get a bit untidy, when it reaches the point where I struggle to stand long enough to cook dinner, it’s a bigger issue. We’re no longer living somewhere we’re surrounded by take-away options, and while the village store has a really amazing range of things for village this small, what it doesn’t have is biscuits we can eat. And sometimes, dear reader, a biscuit – or a cookie, for my American readers – is very much what is called for. This is one such time.

H has a tendency to bemoan the lack of a biscuit option in the shops, because a lot of the gluten free ones you can buy in the shops contain things that are incompatible with a low FODMAP diet. Fortunately, these ginger biscuits hit the spot for a crumbly, satisfyingly spicy mouthful to dunk in a cup of Yorkshire tea, and they don’t require much work: just put the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer and let it do its thing then, like today, leave the dough to rest until a willing 12 year old comes home from school and can do the hard work of rolling and cutting the dough and putting things in the oven to bake.

Yield: 100

Spicy gluten free ginger biscuits

Spicy gluten free ginger biscuits

Spicy, GF and low FODMAP ginger biscuits: easy to make and a great way to get kids in the kitchen

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 450g plain GF flour (e.g. Doves Farm)
  • 210g caster sugar
  • 140g butter
  • 3g baking powder
  • 11g ground ginger
  • 10g ground cinnamon
  • 2g cayenne pepper
  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 95g maple syrup
  • 30ml cold water

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour, salt and spices into the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you're doing this by hand)
  2. Add the sugar and butter to the dry ingredients and start the mixer on a low speed, or rub the butter into the ingredients by hand until the mixture is a lightly crumbed texture
  3. With the mixer still on a low speed, add the egg and the maple syrup to the mixture and leave to mix. Depending on how thirsty the flour is - not all gluten free flours are created equal - you may need to add all of the 30ml of water to the mixture as well to achieve a stiff, even dough. As you've probably gathered, you can do this step by hand as well, but if I'm making these it's usually because I'm not feeling up to doing much, and the mixer wins. Every. Single. Time.
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour to rest.
  5. When you're ready to make the biscuits, preheat the oven to 180 C and sprinkle some flour over your work surface. Roll out a quarter of the dough on the surface until it's around 5mm thick. Using a 2 inch cutter, cut circles of the dough and place on an oven tray lined with baking parchment. Again, we're going low effort here, so it's worth spending the extra on siliconised parchment rather than greaseproof paper.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, then leave for 5 minutes before transferring the biscuits to a cooling rack. Using a 2 inch cutter should get you 95-100 biscuits/cookies. The dough will happily keep for a day or two in the fridge if you want to split the baking. I've not tried freezing it for future use, but I suspect this would freeze fine.
  7. When the biscuits are cool, transfer to an airtight container, where they will last as long as your willpower dictates. Now you know why I've not tried freezing the dough yet!

Notes

Suitable for the following diets: gluten free, lactose free, low FODMAP, vegetarian

These are also excellent when crushed and used as the base to a baked cheesecake.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

25

Serving Size:

4

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 163 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 25mg Sodium: 61mg Carbohydrates: 25g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 11g Protein: 3g
The nutritional values given here are an estimate and provided for guidance only.

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Yorkshire more…

…autumn happened. As the months have gone by up here, I hadn’t become immune to the beauty of the place, but I had become accustomed to the stunning landscape that surrounds us. Every now and then, I’d have to stop the car to appreciate how the hills looked in a certain light, or when there was mist, or indeed any other variable that might make me look again, but I’d at least reached the point where I could drive without distraction from the view.

So I was perhaps a little complacent about it as we moved almost overnight from summer into autumn. There had been little hints as some leaves yellowed, but then suddenly autumn was there, in my face, jumping up and down like a toddler who needs you to look right now at what they drew. It’s just that the results here were a little more spectacular (I’m still trying to forget the time S let H play with a bag of flour while I was working, so that doesn’t count.)

I could write pages and pages about autumn. It’s my favourite season, where the prospect of being able to light the fire and choose how warm I get is available, instead of wondering how on earth I can cool down. Everything is colourful and pretty: a bit like London Fashion Week for the tree community, where each tree tries to outdo the next for sheer colour and style. I get to make stews again, and soups are suddenly deeply appealing and one of the best perks of working from home. An occasional slice of cake feels permissible to ward against the cold, and fruit tea replaces cordial as my daytime tipple.

Despite all that, and all the muttering about how autumn couldn’t come soon enough during the heatwave even Yorkshire saw this year, it felt very much like it had snuck up on me, waiting to flip the light switch and yell “Surprise!” I was driving down the valley towards Grassington and suddenly it felt like a different place. I realised I’d slowed down to something like ten miles per hour as I looked at the trees and the hills and tried to take it all in, eventually conceding and pulling in to a lay by in order to just get out of the car, breathe, and look. Nature one, Melanie nil.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here nine months. There is no doubt that we chose to come here, but I would never have believed we would feel so strongly that we belonged in such a short space of time. It’s no longer an experiment but a choice, one made all the easier by new friends and kind neighbours who have welcomed us all into our new community. At today’s Christmas craft fair in the village hall, I went in and recognised – and knew by name – the first three adults and both children we met and greeted and chatted to others as we continued around the stalls.

Kettlewell is a special place, and its people are creative, imaginative and entrepreneurial. They’re also supportive of each other and of our shared home, determined to prevent a rural community withering away. We’ve come home with a Christmas card holder craft project sold by Caroline in her Giggle Squiggle craft shop under the village shop, all set for H to decorate it and create part of our new family Christmas tradition. We also bought some Christmas cards made in the village by Laura, who also sews lovely things for sale. A crocheted bookmark from another stall so that I can spare my books, now I’ve started reading again. And H’s choice of one of the cat collars made by Rhona, that he felt eminently appropriate for our no-longer-so-feral Gwinny.

Other stalls carried ceramic items, home-made hair bows, home-made blankets and other wonderful things, as well as the usual excellent range of home-made cakes at the refreshment stall. Home-made everything, with skill and care in every item. As we wandered home, H suggested I should start planning my own stall for next year, that I dig out my beading materials and play.

This makes me pause, and I realise I’m looking for an excuse even before I’ve considered it: too little time, no energy, not creative enough, no brain space to be creative… all the traditional reasons why I would rule something out without further thought. I stop myself, because this has been a year where I’ve had to be open to new things, to doing things differently for fear of always making the same mistakes. Fail better, that’s the thing, and it’s served me well. I have a year until the next one and no idea what will happen in that time. And so the afternoon ends on a maybe: it’s perfect.

Yorkshire Day

One of the main things I’ve enjoyed since moving to the Dales has to be the food. In London, locally-grown produce is unsurprisingly in short supply – a quick trip to Spitalfields City Farm was our best bet.

Up here, though, we’ve been enjoying the proud dairy tradition, as well as growing our own produce. There’s an excellent farm shop in Skipton that pulls together a mixture of locally-grown fruit and veg, as well as providing an outlet for excess allotment produce to be sold. They also sell local meat and, where minced steak from the supermarket is a bland affair, making a burger from Keelham’s mince makes you completely reconsider how good it can taste.

As an old git in training, I was used to thinking that food always had more flavour when I was a child, and put it down to nostalgia and the rose-tinted specs of memory. Now, I’m more inclined to trust my memory and instead turn from supermarket meat to the better quality local meat from the farm shop, which is also very reasonably priced.

Lunch today was simple but full of flavour. Bright, peppery radishes, sumptuous figs, local vine tomatoes, and two Yorkshire cheeses: Wensleydale and a mild, citrussy sheep’s cheese, Yorkshire Fettle.

And as I sat there after, looking out over the garden, I realised there was nowhere I’d rather be. I will probably always sound like a southerner. But in Yorkshire I’ve found my home.

Raspberry and lemon roulade recipe

Delicious layers of meringue, creamy filling and raspberries combine to make a simple but indulgent dessert

One of the things we’ve been having to get to grips with recently has been having H on a low FODMAP diet, as advised by the GP. Even for someone as used to dealing with food intolerance and allergy as I have become, this one is a bit daunting. I suppose the big issue is that with a nut allergy, or gluten-free, or lactose intolerance, the substance you’re avoiding is relatively easy to spot in the ingredients and in most cases doesn’t lead to huge problems when creating meals without them. Not so with FODMAPs.

FODMAPs – Fermentable Oligo- Di- Mono- And Polysaccharides – are in lots of different things, and this can make having a varied diet difficult. One of the chief problems is with the allium family. No more onions. No more crushed garlic. The tender white part of spring onions and leeks? Nope. You can still have garlic-infused oil, or the green part of those spring onions and leeks, but since so many things contain onions and garlic, because they taste delicious, it has a big impact on eating out, buying stock cubes, the taste of so many favourite recipes, etc. And then fruit: no more stone fruit, no apples, no bananas unless they are speckle free, because the state of ripeness impacts the type of sugar in the fruit. And that’s just the start of it.

So you can imagine that trying to sort out a birthday cake for H was not as simple as it once was. In the end, we went less cake and more dessert, and kept things as simple as possible. The main objective was to give him something that was uncompromisingly delicious, and so we called on an old favourite, the roulade. H has a bit of a thing for lemon curd, but given the propensity of manufacturers to add fructose and other potentially problematic sugars, we went for home-made, which also meant we could use the egg yolks left over from the meringue.

The final curveball to negotiate was that this slightly fragile dessert was going to have to travel 35 minutes in the car on a warm day to the birthday party. Fortunately, Tesco have started selling a rather good lactose-free mascarpone, so instead of folding the lemon curd into whipped cream, I whipped cream and mascarpone together to make the filling stiffer and less prone to collapse, and gave the whole thing a couple of hours in the freezer for a little extra staying power, which meant it still looked – and tasted – as delicious on serving as it had in my kitchen.

I will at some point see what happens if you freeze it and serve it direct from freezing, because it seems logical that it would be a nice pseudo ice-cream.

Variations:

Naturally enough, this is a base recipe on which many variations are possible.

For example, Lakeland Artisan make a delicious Great Taste Award-winning chocolate orange curd that could be used in place of the lemon curd I used here, and you could swap the raspberries for blood orange segments, and pop a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder into the meringue.

Alternatively, passion fruit curd and mango pieces, lime curd and strawberries… there are many winning combinations you could use according to what’s seasonal or on offer. I’d love to see your versions in the comments if you make this at home 🙂

Yield: 10

Raspberry and Lemon Meringue Roulade

Raspberry and Lemon Meringue Roulade

The perfect indulgent dessert for coeliacs and people on a low FODMAP diet that leaves nobody feeling they're compromising.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes

Ingredients

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 260g golden caster sugar
  • 30g flaked almonds, lightly toasted (optional)
  • 9 x 13 inch baking sheet, lined with baking parchment

For the filling:

  • 250ml Lactofree cream
  • 250g lactose-free mascarpone (ours came from Tesco)
  • 220g lemon curd (our recipe will follow as a separate post)
  • 200g raspberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6
  2. Line the tray with the baking parchment - I use a dab of oil in the corners of the tray to anchor the paper
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they're stiff, but still smooth
  4. Start adding the sugar, spoonful by spoonful. You can use either a teaspoon or dessert spoon for this: the idea is to slow you down so the sugar gets properly incorporated before more is added. So with my arthritis, I use the larger spoon but add it slowly.
  5. When all the sugar has been mixed in and the mixture looks all glossy and is stiff enough to hold the pattern made by the whisk, you're ready to transfer it to the tray. This is a no-fuss operation: spoon it out over the parchment and spread evenly with the back of the spoon as you want it all the same thickness.
  6. If you're using the toasted almonds, sprinkle them evenly across the surface. We didn't to avoid nut allergy issues.
  7. Place the meringue in the oven - near the top if it's not a fan oven - and bake for 9 minutes to get the golden surface colour, then turn it down to 160°C/140°C Fan/Gas 3 for a further 9 minutes, so it's firm to the touch.
  8. Prepare a sheet of baking parchment while you're waiting and, when you take the meringue out, place the parchment over the top and, holding the parchment tight to the edge of the tray, flip it and place it parchment side down onto a cooling rack. Peel off the lining paper.meringue base for roulade
  9. Put the lemon curd and the mascarpone in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  10. Whisk the cream until stiff
  11. Add the curd and mascarpone mix a spoonful at a time until it's all incorporated. If you're not using a stand mixer and this feels like a faff, you can instead loosen the curd mix with a little of the whipped cream, and then fold it carefully together, trying not to knock the air out of the cream. You'll get a stiffer mix with whisking, which was what we wanted to make it easier to transport.
  12. Spread the resulting mixture over the meringue, leaving a 2 inch gap at one edge, which makes it easier to roll.meringue roulade ready to roll with cream topping and raspberries
  13. Scatter the raspberries (or strawberries, blueberries, etc) over the creamy filling until you're left with something like this:
  14. Starting from the long edge with the uncovered gap, gently roll your roulade. Once the first edge is carefully folded forward onto the filling, I find it easiest to use the baking parchment to help me keep it in shape and roll it evenly.

 

Notes

Low FODMAP, lactose-free, gluten-free, coeliac, wheat-free, vegetarian

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 398 Total Fat: 26g Saturated Fat: 15g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 92mg Sodium: 192mg Carbohydrates: 40g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 37g Protein: 5g
The nutritional values given here are an estimate and provided for guidance only.