Exploring BLOs

The Hub’s dairy allergy has compelled me to explore the wonderful world of nondairy butter-like objects, and I have had mixed results.  Some simply can’t be used in cooking and are meant only as bread spreads. Of those that can, some have a mild flavor but are mostly water. Others have a strong soy component that gives a funky flavor and color to baked goods. Coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, has worked well except when melted and added to cold pancake batter. It quickly re-solidified and I ended up with chunks of the oil in the pancakes.

I tried a soy-based butter-like object when making cornbread recently and was very unhappy with the results. The cornbread was a funky tan color, very crumbly and tasted strongly of the spread.The Hub ate it. That’s how much he likes cornbread, bless his little heart.

I’ve made quite acceptable scones using coconut oil and almond or coconut milk (the kind in cartons, not cans). So I thought about cornmeal biscuits, which came out pretty darn good. I do drop biscuits. Rolling and I just don’t roll.

Cornmeal Biscuits for The Hub

1 cup flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Heaping 1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 to 1 cup almond or coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar. Use a pastry blender to cut in the coconut oil until it’s in small pieces; do not mash it all in. Stir in enough almond or coconut milk to make a wet dough. Use a large soup spoon to scoop out dough and place in a nonstick rimmed baking pan (I use layer cake pans). The biscuits will rise more if they are close together or even touching so the dough won’t spread out. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned on top.

Makes about 8 biscuits

Coconutty pancakes

In my continuing quest for decent substitutes for milk and butter, I purchased a carton of unsweetened coconut milk. No, it’s not the canned stuff that you make Pina Coladas from, although rum in pancakes would really wake you up in the morning. Or put you back to sleep. Depends on how much.

Since the advent of the dairy-allergic Hub, I’ve been making pancakes using a high-protein recipe which I altered, using unsweetened almond milk and non-dairy margarine, and removing the milk powder. It has done OK, but the almond milk is a little thin, and I miss my good, old buttermilk pancakes. I used the coconut milk to make cornbread recently, and it was much fluffier and more tender than the version using almond milk. And, no, it didn’t taste like coconut cornbread.

Coconut milk is thicker than almond milk. It also contains more fat. One cup of unsweetened coconut milk contains 5 grams of fat, all saturated; 15 milligrams of sodium and 1 gram protein. Unsweetened almond milk contains 3 grams of fat, none saturated; 180 milligrams of sodium and 1 gram protein. Therefore, I thought that the coconut milk might make a richer pancake. I’m going for flavor and texture, not health food. Also, after the success using coconut oil to make scones, I used it instead of the non-dairy margarine.

Now, the original high-protein pancake batter is rather thick, but I could have grouted tile with this stuff. I added more coconut milk, until I had probably doubled the original amount, before I achieved something that would come close to pouring. I lowered the griddle temperature and took more time to cook the patty-like pancakes all the way through. I thought the flavor was good, but the pancakes were a little heavy, even using the full 2 teaspoons of baking powder suggested in the original recipe. I think what I may do is go back to the almond milk – which I do add a bit more of, but not double – and use the coconut oil instead of the margarine.