First thing in the morning the other day, one of my toddler twins disappeared from the bedroom with my hairbrush. About three hours later, when I finally decided to get dressed I remembered that I would need to find my hairbrush. I briefly contemplated not brushing my hair, as I wasn’t going to be leaving the house during a lockdown anyway, and then decided that I was not yet ready to let standards drop that far. But I fear the day is approaching, and approaching fast, when standards are going to slip beyond just the time that we’re dressed (yesterday I declared we should get dressed before having lunch) but also to what we wear. I am hopeful that we’ll all still be showering and brushing our teeth at the end of New Zealand’s lockdown but I’m not ruling out widespread re-use of clothes (I believe the phrase I used today was ‘reuse if they’re not too muddy’) particularly as I see an opportunity to get on top of the washing if we reduce how much laundry we generate.
You’ll probably gather from what I have just written that I am not very good at routines. However, with children one routine that is firmly in place and hard to budge is meals and snacks. They may not be at the same time each day but I can depend on my big boys to tell me if a meal or snack is due or – even worse – has been missed. I have often had accusatory questions about whether we have had afternoon tea as we’re sitting down for dinner. I have decided that meal and snacktime during lockdown is actually something really good – a time to regroup, reconnect and enjoy. Good food is probably even more essential than normal to keep flagging spirits up.
Last October I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. I’m not going to go into all the details here but for those who don’t know the only treatment is a medically-indicated lifelong gluten free diet. Those who know how much I love food, and especially baking, or who can see that from the old recipes on this blog, might understand how gutting that diagnosis was for me. There are days and times when I struggle not to resent or feel angry that I have coeliac disease; there are also days when I relish the challenge of cooking and baking gluten-free and enjoy experimenting with new and different ingredients and flours that I am unlikely to have ever discovered without my coeliac diagnosis. I am also discovering that global cuisines offer many delicious and naturally gluten foods. One of these is a whole range of cheese buns in the cuisines of different South American countries which use tapioca flour as their main ingredient. I am very aware that many gluten free foods are not as nutritious as their glutenous counterparts and so I often look for ways to improve the nutritional profile of the gluten free foods that I make, particularly through the use of flours that are high in fibre and/or protein. Although I loved the buns that I made following this recipe, I wanted to healthify it a bit and so, with a little experimentation, these were born. They are easy and my kids love them. I’d also highly recommend the original if you’re feeling like something a bit more indulgent. The recipe below is based on a 250 ml mug a equal to 1 cup and this makes about 13-14 buns. You can adjust the butter and cheese quantities according to what you have available. These are best eaten on the day they’re made.
What you need:
3 cups water or milk
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup chickpea flour
Generous pinch of salt
1/4 to 1 cup crumbled or grated cheese (I like feta best but you can also use hard cheese such as Edam or Cheddar)
4 eggs (I have also made this substituting the eggs with 4 chia eggs but I think it is better with real eggs)
What to do:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180º C and grease a couple of baking trays (I usually use butter to grease the pans).
2. Put the water or milk and butter in a large pan on a hot stove and heat until the liquid is bubbly and the butter has fully melted, then turn off the heat.
3. Add the flours and salt to the pan and beat thoroughly into the liquid with a wooden spoon. This is excellent exercise!
4. Add the cheese and eggs to the pan and beat thoroughly again with a wooden spoon.
5. Spoon the mixutre onto the greased baking tray in generous dessertspoonfuls. If you are hungry and/or impatient you can do this as soon as everything is mixed together (which gives you buns that look like those in the photo below). If you are patient and want prettier looking buns, leave the mixture to one side for about 20 minutes, after which time you should be able to scoop up dessertspoonfuls and shape them into rounds, withfloured hands, before putting them on the greased baking tray (see the photo above).
6. Bake the buns in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Once down, remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before eating. These are quite gooey in the middle but will be a little firmer if you wait for them to cool thoroughly before eating. Enjoy!