The Green Tea Brack Experiment
I mentioned in my last recipe inspiration post that I was experimenting with a recipe for a vegan green tea brack. I thought I’d add the recipe I first used here because – I liked it.
Up until now all the gluten-free baked goods I’ve made have been made with ground almonds replacing the wheat flour. I’m very fond of these sorts of treats but if I’m ever going to have any hope of making a decent gluten-free pastry or pizza crust then I’m going to have to start using a wider variety of flours.
I also have been using eggs for the binding agent in these recipes. Gluten, when activated, is what makes wheat flour so bound together but elastic, so you always have to add something to gluten-free dough to make it bind together. Eggs are an easy and natural solution but I would like to be able to use some vegan-friendly alternative every now and then.
I make an ordinary tea brack sometimes – just using grounds almonds and the other usual brack ingredients. So I was thinking about trying to make a gluten-free vegan tea brack. I don’t quite remember what made me think about using green tea in it – I think I was worried that gluten-free flours might taste a bit off somehow and I thought the odd taste of green tea might nicely cover this.
I haven’t done any proper baking with gluten-free flour – apart from some attempts at banana bread with a bought gluten-free flour mix I made before starting this blog, it was truly awful and put me right off the idea of going gluten-free at the time. Since then though I’ve bought and tasted so many things that are gluten-free that are really great that I knew it was a case that I just had got the thing wrong somehow.
So I bought some different flours and tried a mix of quinoa flour, rice flour and corn meal. The corn meal was finely ground but I found that it was still gritty in the dough. I had experimented with corn meal before a few years ago but I had forgotten that it can be gritty. Corn meal has a lovely mellow taste to it and I thought it would be good in this. In order to get rid of the grittiness you can soak it before using it. Or you can soak the dough that it’s in, by this I mean make the dough to a pancake batter like consistency and chill it for a couple of hours to soak up the liquid. I did not know this before starting on this brack. I discovered it while making it and desperately searching online for ways to reduce grittiness of corn meal. This is the page I found and if you’re thinking of using corn meal for the first time in a recipe I’d recommend reading it first.
I bought the green tea powder in an Asian supermarket. Most things in the Asian supermarkets are amazingly cheap – so I nearly fell in a weakness to discover that the, admittedly very fancy looking, tin of 100g of Matcha green tea powder costs over €18. I want this blog to feature vegetarian recipes that use everyday ingredients. I’m not sure that this Matcha green tea powder qualifies. However it is reputed to be really really good for you. And I did end up loving this. Even though I do still need to tweak it a bit.
What makes this taste so great is the mix of avocado, lime, coconut oil and maple syrup – it is so good. This mix is in both the cake and the topping. And I am already thinking of different recipes I could use it in – like an incredibly healthy key lime pie…
I added in a mix of dried fruit into this because there is dried fruit in a brack normally. But in fairness this isn’t really a brack. It doesn’t have the texture of brack and it’s a completely different taste. But I really like the name Green Tea Brack so although the recipe needs correcting the name’s staying. And so is the dried fruit (a mix including golden sultanas, dried cranberries, currants and dried cherries). I was worried that there are already enough flavours in this and the dried fruit would just be too much but actually it worked well.
So you are probably wondering why if I like this so much do I want change the recipe. Well, I want to add more of the topping, I think I might replace the cornmeal with coconut flour, I want to take out the baking soda and I want to somehow give it more of a cake-like, as opposed to fudge-like texture. And I don’t know if I’ll manage the whole texture change so I wanted to add this experiment here. Because it’s really not bad at all.
Serves 6 – 8
- 120g rice flour
- 40g quinoa flour
- 40g corn meal
- 1 tablespoon Matcha Green Tea powder
- 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 75 – 100ml maple syrup (to taste)
- juice of 1.5 limes
- zest of 1 lime
- 100ml of coconut oil (melted)
- 1 tablespoon of whole chia seeds
- 300ml warm water approx.
- 100g dried fruit mix
- 1/2 avocado, mashed
- 50ml coconut oil
- juice & zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon green tea powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
- Sieve the flours, green tea powder and baking soda together through a metal sieve into a bowl.
- Add the avocado slices, lime juice and zest, coconut oil, maple syrup (first add 75ml), whole chia seeds and 100ml of the warm water. Mix until smooth. Taste it and if you don’t find it nicely sweet add more maple syrup.
- Add the liquid to the flours and mix it together with an electric whisk. Stir in the rest of the water. The mix should now have a pancake batter like consistence (a thin consistency) and then stir in the dried fruit. Stir around well. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This is to get rid of the cornmeal grittiness and also the batter will become more solid. After the first hour take it out and give it a good stir around. Re-cover and leave for at least another hour in the fridge. When the batter is ready it should be thick enough that once sufficiently mixed around the dried fruit does not sink to the bottom and is even distributed throughout it.
- With the cake batter ready put it in a greased rectangular baking dish (I used an 11″ x 7″ one) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for an hour. When it is done take out and leave to cool.
- For the topping: Mash half an avocado, and add this to a blender along with the zest and juice of one lime, 50 ml of melted coconut oil, a half teaspoon of Matcha Green Tea powder mixed into 2 tablespoons of hot water, and 50 ml of maple syrup. Blend until it’s as smooth as possible. Taste and add more maple syrup if not sweet enough or more lime juice if not tangy enough. Spread the topping over the cake. Leave in the fridge for the topping to set – 1 hour or so. It sets to a butter like consistency.