When you don’t have the time of patience for making your own, it’s very convenient to use certain ready-made products such as béchamel (white sauce). I have discovered that this is one product that is worth making from scratch. All you need are 3 ingredients and one shallow pan to make the basic béchamel sauce which you can then include in your recipes or make into other sauces e.g. cheese sauce. It’s also rather easy as long as you have some patience and quicker than I imagined it would be. The taste is incomparable in my opinion; once you get the consistency right, you will be tempted to lick the spoon!

I found the simplest recipe around and went ahead to tweak it into having a lower carbohydrate content.

I first tried it with Spelt flour with very good results – the sauce was delicious and its consistency perfect once I’d added all the milk. Don’t be alarmed if at first your mixture seems very lumpy; as long as you keep stirring (enthusiastically) you should have a smooth and creamy sauce when you’re done.

My second attempt was with Spelt flour once again but this time I used soya milk rather than cow’s milk. The result was sufficiently good but in my opinion not as good as the one with cow’s milk. The colour was slightly off, not the white you would normally expect from a béchamel sauce. The consistency was also less smooth, although I imagine that you could opt for using a hand blender to improve on this.

You will need (these quantities make about 1 and 1/2 cups of sauce):

–          25g unsalted butter

–          25g flour

–          300ml milk

On low to medium heat, gently melt the butter. Then add the flour and stir until you get a paste. This is called a roux. Cook for one minute and lower the heat, cooking for further 3 minutes.

Now add the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously until it is absorbed into the paste before adding more. Do not let the milk start to boil.

At first your sauce will look lumpy, this is a normal stage in the process – so don’t give up or freak out and throw your pot across the room at this point. Continue adding a little bit of milk at a time, keep the heat on low and keep stirring patiently.

When your sauce starts looking smoother, add the rest of the milk and cook until it all blends in. Your sauce is done cooking when you can run a finger along a wooden spoon and the sauce holds its shape.

Optional ideas

–          grate a pinch of nutmeg into the sauce towards the end of your cooking

–          add grated cheddar / Leicester / parmesan / Stilton to make cheese sauce

–          use in your lasagna or any pasta dish

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