Clementine chia pudding & a struggle with pastry

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A cry for help...
I have a love/hate relationship with pastry even though I've been making it for years. At times it goes wonderfully, rolling like silk and forming a beautiful smooth circle that encompasses our friendship. But other times, well let's just say I've been know to hurl the damn stuff across the room, then watch, full of regret as the abandoned mixture limps down the wall (true, I promise).

I guess it's down to conditions - the heat in the kitchen maybe, or my levels of patience on that particular day. Recently, pastry and I have been spending quite a bit of time together, not all good but not all bad, I'd call it experimental with varying results. I have nothing against pastry made with white flour and sugar, and would never deny myself a traditional mince pie and what is a family Christmas kitchen staple. But my lifestyle is based on healthy and natural food, something I wouldn't want to compromise just because it's Christmas.

This year I wanted to create a healthy pastry recipe, that doesn't rely on white flour or refined sugar - easier said than done. Removing the sugar is not the issue, it's the lack of gluten that is causing problems, as I expected it would. So far I've been using different combinations of ground almonds, buckwheat flour and oats, with butter, an egg and a splash of water if needed. The mixture comes together with no problems, much like normal pastry. So after a stint in the fridge to firm up, I begin to roll, and that's the problem, it simply doesn't. The pastry is void of any kind of stretch, and despite continuously dusting with flour, it simply sticks to my rolling pin and countertop. I've tried making the pastry drier and wetter, but to no avail. My instincts are telling me to ditch the ground almonds, so instead I'll look in hope to coconut flour, or maybe brown rice flour as the experiments continue. 

If someone out there is reading this and can offer any words of wisdom, I'd love to hear from you… please!

Now, on to the chia pudding, which can never go wrong I assure you. Winter warming porridge has been gracing my table (well, desk actually) most mornings recently and jars of chia pudding topped with fresh summer fruit and herbs seem like a distant memory. But with an abundance of clementines filling the supermarket shelves these past few weeks, I’ve been playing around with different ways of using them.

This recipe is for a classic chia pudding that works well with any fresh fruit, but the real star here is the topping - it’s bursting with flavour and I just love how the crunch contrasts with creamy yogurt and slices of sweet juicy clementines. Easy to prepare and assemble I think it’s fair to say this pudding could easily stand up as a dessert as well as a breakfast.

Ingredients, serves 4
Chia pudding
3 tbsp chia seeds
4 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 cup milk (I use almond or oat milk)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Crunchy topping
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp oats
2 tbsp puffed quinoa (find here)
1/4 cup almonds roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries roughly chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp coconut oil
Drizzle of honey (optional)

To serve
3-4 clementines
Yogurt of your choice

Method
To make the chia pudding combine all the ingredients and mix well. Leave in the fridge to set for at least an hour or overnight.

For the crunchy topping place all the dry ingredients in a frying pan on a medium/high heat and allow them to warm through - you’ll hear the pumpkin seeds start to pop. This releases so much flavour and smells wonderful. Then add the coconut oil and honey mixing together until melted. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

To assemble, spoon out the chia pudding into 4 small bowls. Place your clementine slices on top then add a heaped spoonful of yogurt. Scatter, pour or consume the bowls with the crunchy topping and enjoy.