Gluten Free Mince Pies

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Once you have allowed your mincemeat to fully develop its flavour over a few weeks you can start on the mince pies. There is nothing like the smell of a baking mince pie, it is better than any Christmas scented candle for making your home smell festive. The pastry recipe here has always been my go to but this year I have been experimenting with psyllium husk instead of  xanthan gum and  I would add 2 teaspoons of  psyllium husk instead of the 1 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum to the 12 ounces of flour in the recipe below but feel free to use whichever you have to hand, both will work but adding either to the flour does make a pastry that is easier to handle

It is now getting perilously close to Christmas, this week for me is going to be full of the madness of finding and decorating a tree, starting my gift shopping, going to a couple of Christmas parties and trying to wrap up work for the year, in other words this is going to be a stressful  few weeks. As an antidote to this I am planning on spending as many evenings as possible wrapped in a blanket on the couch watching Christmas movies and eating nice things.
A good mince pie should be full of flavour, ideally a bit sticky from syrupy juices that have bubbled up over the crust during baking, it should be golden brown, crisp and very moreish.
I have had a few dodgy experiences with bought Gluten Free mince pies in the past, one exploded in a cloud of sweet dust as soon as I bit in to it and I spent the next ten minutes choking on icing sugar and crumbled pastry, this was not pleasant. I am sure things have improved but to be honest I like my own so much that I am not going to spend ridiculous money on GF mice pies just to see if they are any good.
The pies I make use a pastry that is a version of the pastry I make for quiche and savoury tarts as I find it stands up well to a rich fruit filling. This basic recipe is embellished with sugar, orange zest and juice and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to give it a seasonal flavour.

Ingredients
12 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
1 &1/2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum OR 2 teaspoons of pysllium husk
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
3 ounces of butter, chilled
3 ounces of lard, chilled
Zest and juice of one large orange

1 egg beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon caster sugar mixed with a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon for sprinkling

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  • • In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, xanthan gum (or psyllium husk), salt and orange zest
    • Grate or cut in the chilled butter and lard.
    • Rub in the fats with your fingers until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency
    • Make a well in the centre and add enough of the orange juice to make a nice firm dough, if you don’t get enough juice from your orange you can add a bit of water.
    • Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for at least a half hour.
    • While the dough is chilling pre heat the oven to Gas 6, 200, 400f
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    • Butter your baking sheet, I use a bun tray as I like a deep filled mince pie but use whatever mould you like.
    • Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a floured surface, roll it out to a thickness of about ¼- ½ cm.
    • Using a pastry cutter or a giant wine glass, cut the pastry to fit your baking tray.
    • To top the pie you could use another circle of pastry to make a completely closed in pie, you could use a star cutter or any other shape you like or you could cut your pastry in to strips and create a lattice work effect on the pie.
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    • Fill each pie with about a teaspoon and a half of mincemeat and brush the edges and the top of the pie with the egg-wash.
    • Sprinkle the surface of the pie with the cinnamon sugar mix and pop the trays in the oven. This amount of pastry made 2 trays of 12 pies and I swapped shelves halfway through the baking to ensure even cooking.
    • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, keep an eye on them towards the end of the baking time as they can go from pale gold to charred in a matter of minutes.
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These pies freeze really well, just defrost and heat in a warm oven and they should crisp up nicely. Enjoy on their own, with a good dollop of whipped cream, or brandy butter but definitely enjoy them with good company and as much festive cheer as you can muster.

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Gluten Free Mincemeat

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 I should have posted this about two weeks ago but Christmas has just snuck up on me this year and I have absolutely nothing done, no mincemeat, no pudding and no cake. This means that the next few weeks are going to be busy but at least my kitchen will smell amazing. 

Making your own mincemeat gives you so much control over what goes in to your pies. If you don’t like currants ( fruit of the devil in my eyes) than you don’t need to add currents, you can substitute another dried fruit instead, if you hate candied peel again you can use something else, in the past I have used dried papaya, pineapple and mango instead of mixed peel and the results were delicious. I use flaked almonds in my mincemeat, my Mum thinks these resemble nail clippings so she uses chopped almonds. As long as the quantities work you can feel free to experiment.
What makes this Gluten Free is that I use lard rather than suet as suet is often dusted with flour to stop it sticking, if you want a vegetarian version of this you could use butter. Prep your jars by washing thoroughly and leaving to dry in a low temperature oven, Gas 1 or the equivalent. Store the mincemeat in a cool dry place.

Ingredients
400 grams of raisins
400 grams of sultanas
115 grams of dried cranberries
115 grams of dried cherries
350 grams of soft dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons of mixed spice
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ nutmeg grated
50 grams of slivered almonds
450 grams cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated.
225 grams of lard, grated
Zest and juice of 2 lemon
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
6 tablespoons of brandy

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1. Place the dried fruit, sugar, spices and almonds in a bowl and stir with a fork to combine.

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2. Add the grated apple, grated lard, the zest and juice of the lemons and orange and stir through the fruit until thoroughly mixed.
3. Cover the bowl and leave to sit in a cool, dry place for 12 hours or overnight.
4. Heat your oven to Gas ½, 120c / 225, and place the mincemeat in an oven proof dish. Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven for 3 hours. This process melts the lard which will then coat the fruit preventing fermentation taking place.

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5. Remove the mincemeat from the oven and leave to cool completely, stirring now and then to stop the lard from setting in pools, you want to make sure the lard is evenly distributed and fully coats the fruit.
6. When the fruit is cool stir in the brandy and spoon in to your prepared jars. Cover with wax discs and seal tightly.

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Store the jars in a cool dry place until you are ready to use it. Try to give the mincemeat at least a few weeks to mellow and for the flavour to develop before using.

Gluten Free Pecan Pie

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I had long believed  pecan pie to be a very complicated thing to bake but I am happy to report that I was very wrong. Using a recipe  adapted very easily for a gluten free diet from my go to resource for delicious food, Smitten Kitchen, I made what I think may be my favourite pie ever. The recipe  for the pie crust has an unusual proportion of butter to flour but creates an amazing pastry that works unbelievably well with gluten free flour. The filling is simplicity itself and although I always though this pie should be served warm with cream it is actually ten time better cold, so if you have the patience to allow this cool for a few hours once it is out of the oven the wait will be worth it.

Gluten Free Pecan Pie adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Pastry
155 grams Dove’s Farm gluten free plain flour  mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of pysllium husk
1 1/2 teaspoons  caster sugar
115 grams cold salted butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) very cold water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed

Filling 
3 ounces of butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup golden syrup
225 grams pecan halves
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs

For the pastry

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Butter a deep sided 9″ loose bottomed pie dish

  • Stir the GF flour, pysllium husk and caster sugar together in a bowl.
  • Grate in the cold butter and use your fingers to rub together to the breadcrumb stage.
  • Stir in some of the cold water, keep adding and mixing with a fork or your fingers until the pastry comes together in a smooth ball, you may not need all the water.
  • Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge to chill.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge while you butter your pie dish. This recipe makes enough for a 9″ pie but my pie dish is quite shallow so I got one 9″ and two 3″ pies out of this recipe.
  • Role out the pastry between two floured  sheets of baking parchment and use the bottom sheet of baking parchment to carry the pastry to to the pie dish, lower the pastry in and press in to place with your fingers, patch any tears or cracks that form.
  • If you want to par- bak the shell line the pastry shell with more baking parchment and fill with baking beans.
  • Place in a preheated oven ( Gas 6, 400f, 200)  for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and  take out the paper and baking beans and allow to cool a bit before filling.
  • If you do not want to par-bake the shell place the pastry lined pie dish in the fridge until your filling is ready.
  • I have tried this pastry shell both ways and I feel it works better if you do not par- bake the shell. I found that the filling leaked through even the most minute crack in the baked shell and meant that the finished pie was glued with caramel to the pie dish.

For the filling and to bake the pie

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Pre Heat oven: Gas 4, 350°f, 180°, gas .

  • Roast the pecans by spreading them on a baking sheet and toasting in the oven for  10 minutes
  • Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat and allow the butter to melt, bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.

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  • Remove the pan from the heat pour the mixture in to a bowl before stirring in the cider vinegar, vanilla essence, whiskey (or bourbon) and toasted pecan nuts.
  • Set aside and allow to cool for ten or so minutes before adding the eggs
  • Once cooled slightly stir or use a hand whisk to mix in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Pour the mixture in to prepared pie shell and place in the pre heated oven
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the edges are set and the centre is just firm to the touch but not completely set. By that time your house will smell delicious.

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Cool the pie in the dish on a rack before removing from the dish and serve either warm with cream or ice cream or cold, I recommend cold.

Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This post should be about a lovely warming ginger loaf, golden and studded with finely chopped stem ginger and glazed with ginger syrup, a bake that was beautifully soft on the day it was baked and then the next day it was fit only to be a doorstop, to say the recipe needs a bit of tweaking would be an understatement . While I work on that here is a repost of a very old fashioned cake but as retro is in so enjoy this perfect autumn warmer with some softly whipped cream.

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This is a desert that is more of a pudding than a cake. My Mum used to make this when we were small and maybe that is why I think of it as great comfort food. I hadn’t made it in years and then a friend of mine was saying that she loved pineapple in deserts and I remembered how much I loved this. I love deserts that are served warm, with whipped cream or ice cream melting over the sides. When tipped out this pudding cake should be a deep caramel colour and should smell amazing.

This is also very retro, having come from my Mums Margaret Patton cookbook, a book that has long since lost its spine from use and age. It is adapted here to be GF, for a non GF version just use regular flour and omit the xanthum gum.

The original recipe calls for glace cherries to be placed in the centre of each pineapple ring but I haven’t been able to get a clear answer anywhere on whether glace cherries are GF. The internet failed me there so I just left them out.

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Ingredients

  • 5 oz / 140 grms butter
  • 5 oz / 140 grms sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6oz / 170 grms of Doves farm plain flour
  • ½ tsp of xanthum gum
  • 1 ½ tsp of GF baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons milk.

For the topping

  • 2oz / 56 grms butter
  • 2oz / 56 grms dark brown sugar
  • I small tin of pineapple rings in juice

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and light, use a gentle speed at first otherwise you will end up with butter and sugar all over your walls, the counter and yourself!
  2. Whisk eggs with a fork and beat gradually into the butter mixture, this is a pain if you don’t have a standing mixer as you keep having to start and stop unless you can convince someone to hold the mixer while you pour.
  3. Sift flour, xanthum gum and baking powder in to the batter and fold in, mix the milk and vanilla and fold alternately into the creamed mixture.
    The mix should be a soft dropping consistency, if it isn’t then you could add a drop more milk or a tablespoon of the pineapple juice.
  4. For the topping melt the 2oz butter in a 8 or 9 inch cake tin, I used a nine inch as I prefer a ratio of more pineapple to sponge. I have a heavy bottomed tin so I melted the butter in the tin over a low heat you could also just melt the butter in a pot or in the microwave and pour it in to the tin.
  5. Top the melted butter with 2 oz brown sugar and arrange pineapple rings over the butter / sugar mix. If you are going to use the glace cherries now is the time to place them in the centre of the pineapple rings.
  6. Spoon over the cake batter and smooth out, gently, with a spatula or knife.
  7. Bake at gas mark 4 , 325f, 160c for an hour. If the top starts to brown you can loosely cover the tin with tinfoil. The cake is done when the sponge has pulled away from the sides of the tin and springs back when you press it or a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then run a knife around the edge to loosen. Place your serving plate over the tin and carefully turn it over so that the cake slides out on to the plate.
  9. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.

Rachel Allen’s Rhubarb Crumble Cake Gluten Free

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We are properly into Autumn now so I am happily breaking out the big soft scarves, bookmarking all my favorite winter warmer dinners and planning all the deserts I can enjoy with a generous serving of warm custard as an extra indulgence. Stewed fruit, crumbles, pies, cobblers anything warm, puddingy and comforting that is what I am looking for to match this crisp cool weather.

My boyfriends Mum has a garden I truly envy, she can grow anything there from cabbage to courgettes and is very generous with the harvest. This year she had a bumper crop of rhubarb and gifted me huge bundle of pink and green streaked stalks. Not wanting to waste any bit of this bounty I washed, chopped and froze what I didn’t use so on a day a month later when I really wanted desert I had a stash of fruit ready to use.

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Crumbles are always lovely but I am a massive fan of fruit sponges, apple squares and the like so this Rachel Allen recipe combining fruit, sponge and crumble was exactly what I was looking for and happily worked really well with gluten free flour.

Rachel Allen Rhubarb Crumble Cake adapted for Gluten Free

Pre heat the oven to GAs 4, 180, 350f

Butter and line a 9″ loose bottomed tin

For the rhubarb filling

400 grams rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2 to 3cm chunks

100 grams light soft brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Place the rhubarb, sugar and ginger in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water and simmer on a low heat, with the lid on for about four to six minutes.

You want the rhubarb to be just cooked but not too soft.

There was a lot of juice at this stage and as gluten free flour is very high in starch I was worried that it would absorb too much of the juice and end up stodgy and damp rather than beautifully moist, to avoid this I strained the juice and poured it back in to the pot, simmering over a low heat until it had reduced down a little to a light syrup. Allow both the syrup and the rhubarb to cool.

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Crumble

100 grams Doves Farm gluten free plain flour

1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

75 grams cold butter, cubed

75 grams light soft brown sugar

25 g flaked almonds

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl,

Using your fingertips rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs

Use a fork to stir in the sugar and flaked almonds

Place the bowl with the crumble topping in the fridge to chill while you start the sponge

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Sponge base

100 gram softened butter

100 grams soft light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons of milk

175 gram Doves Farm plain flour (or you can use GF self raising flour)

pinch of salt

3/4 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl or in an electric mixer until soft and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add in the ginger and milk beating until combined

Sift over the flour, salt and baking powder and fold into the cake batter.
Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth it out evenly

Place the cooled cooked rhubarb on top of the sponge and pour over the cooled syrup.

Spread the crumble topping over the rhubarb and place the tine in the pre-heated oven

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and cooked in the centre

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Leave the  the cake to cool a bit before removing the tin and placing on a serving plate. Serve this puddingy cake slightly warm or at room temperature with some whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or lashings of warm custard.

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Chicken & Chorizo Bake

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My Mum has been telling me about this Nigella Lawson recipe for quite a while now, apparently it is a winner every time she cooks it and is also a one tray wonder and I love those, the less washing up the better. When I looked this up online I thought the original recipe looked great but there were a few tweaks I wanted to make. Not that I would ever second guess the lovely Nigella I can’t think of chorizo without adding red peppers so I through a couple in, I prefer wedges of roasted onions to chopped and I boned my chicken thighs and cut them into chunks to cut the cooking time and also so to ensure the crispiness of  skin because I hate to waste crispy  chicken skin.

This was indeed a one tray wonder and I served it in the cooking tray because sometimes I can get away with saying I am being rustic when in fact I am being lazy. This will serve four and add a crisp green salad or some crusty, or GF bread depending on your mood, a glass of red wine would not go astray here.

  • 750 grams potatoes, scrubbed or peeled if you prefer and cut in to cubes, roughly 2″ x 2″
  • 300 grams of chorizo (make sure it is gluten free)
  • 1 red onions peeled but with the root left
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Sat and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200/gas mark 7/425f.

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Place the cubed potatoes in to a pot of salted water, bring to the boil and reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes

Drain the potatoes and set them aside

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Pour the oil in to a large roasting tray, two if you only have small trays

Cut the red onion into narrow wedges, the little bit of root should stop the wedges from falling apart

Place the potatoes, chicken thighs, chopped peppers, chorizo and onions on to the tray, sprinkle over the oregano, paprika and grated orange zest

Season with salt and pepper  and mix so everything is well coated in the oil and seasonings, your hands are the best tools for this

When everything is mixed, turn the chicken thighs skin side up so the skin will crisp.

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Place the tray in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes , making sure to stir and baste in the everything in the lovely chorizo flavored oil half way though. Check to make sure the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes tender before serving on the cooking tray or you could transfer to a warmed serving dish if you are feeling fancy.

Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cornmeal Muffins

 

vo125cornmealmuffins5aWhile I am a fan of luxurious deserts and cakes the Autumn does put me in the mind for something a  bit more substantial, cakes that are served with a pot of tea or a mug of coffee on a grey afternoon. I found the recipe for these lemon drizzle muffins while looking for things to do with the large bag of cornmeal I got while testing recipes for pizza dough which has been sitting in my baking cupboard ever since. There is something inherently cheery about corn meal, with its primrose yellow, add to this some  lemons, butter, almond flour a couple of cups of deeply purple blueberries and you have the makings of a very comforting gluten free muffin.

The recipe I found was on  Tracy Benjamin’s lovely site Shutterbean  and was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe and I have taken it one step further and added a drizzling of lemon syrup to keep the muffins moist.  I also upped the quantity of blueberries from 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups as  two packs of blueberries equalled two cups and I hate waste however if you would like less berries than just use the  1 /2 cups. As I don’t have a muffin tin I baked these in a bun or cupcake tray so I got a few more than the 12 muffin sized cakes this recipe should make.

Ingredients

Muffins

4 ounces of butter, softened

2 cups of ground almonds

1/2 cup of fine cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder

3/4 cup of caster sugar

grated zest of 1 lemon

3 large eggs

2 cups of blueberries

Syrup

grated zest of 1 lemon

juice of 2 lemons

6 ounces of caster sugar

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Preheat the oven to 190/ gas 5 / 375f

Line a muffin or bun tray with papers

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer cream together the butter, lemon zest and sugar until pale and fluffy

Whisk in the eggs one at a time

In a separate bowl stir together the cornmeal, ground almonds, baking powder and then add to the batter, beat until just combined

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Gently fold in the blueberries

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Spoon the mixture in to lined bun tray and place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes

Bake until the cakes are golden and firm to the touch, test with a cake tester to make sure they are cooked through.

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Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes while you make the syrup

Put the lemon juice, zest and sugar in a small pan over a medium high heat and bring to the boil reduce the heat and allow to simmer for five minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency

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Pierce the still warm muffins with the cake tester and spoon over the hot syrup, allow them to sit int he tin for another few minutes and then remove the cakes from the tin and allow to cool fully. Store in an airtight container.