Rachel Allen’s Gluten Free Orange, Chocolate, Polenta Cake

While I have no problem experimenting to find ways of adapting recipes to be gluten free it is sometimes nice  to find someone else has already done the work for and I can be sure the recipe is going to work without any trial or error.

Rachel Allen’s cook books are reassuringly user friendly while still being full of interesting recipes. A great everyday book is  her Easy Meals, this is the book to go through before you do your big weekly shop as you will definitely find plenty of inspiration for mid week dinners, thereby avoiding that dispiriting wander around the grocery store picking up and putting down random vegetables and trying to figure out yet another use for chicken breasts.

This recipe is for a gluten free Chocolate Polenta Cake which, as all good cakes should be, is as good served warm with a scoop of ice cream or cold with a  cup of tea. If you are new to gluten free baking it is also a great recipe to begin with as there is no messing around with unfamiliar gluten free flours,  just make sure that your chocolate is gluten free.

Ingredients

200 grams of gluten free dark chocolate

100 grams of butter

225 gams of caster sugar

5 eggs, separated

75 grams of polenta ( fine cornmeal)

grated zest of 1 orange

Butter a 10″ baking tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Preheat your oven to Gas 3, 160, 325f

Break the chocolate in to pieces and place in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Put the pan over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to melt. Once melted remove the bowl from the heat and allow the chocolate mix to cool slightly.

Whisk together the egg yolks and 150 grams of the sugar until it has increased in volume and is light in colour, this should take about 5 minutes.

Fold the cooled chocolate mix in to the egg / sugar batter.

In a clean, dry bowl whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, add in the remaining caster sugar and whisk until you have stiff, glossy peaks.

Gently fold the polenta, orange zest and egg whites in to the chocolate batter and then spoon in to the prepared tin.

 

Place the tin in the oven and bak for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

 

 

Allow the cake to rest and cool slightly in the tin before removing it from the tin and allowing to cool on a wire rack.

Serve still warm with cream or ice cream or cooled with a hot cup of tea.

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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If Valentines fell on the weekend you could go mad with hand made chocolates or an elaborate meal for the beloved in your life however it is a Tuesday and we are all either out at work or working from home while wrangling children, the bottom line is only a few  very committed people will have the energy or inclination to spend a few hours in the kitchen this evening prepping an intricate Valentines dinner.

What most people really want is to spend a couple of quiet hours with the one they love over good food, a higher quality wine than we might usually purchase or perhaps a glass or two of prosecco while happily ignoring the pile of washing in the corner or the toys all over the floor. The one essential component of a Valentines meal is  desert, even it is just a bar of gluten free chocolate  but these gluten free cookies are so simple I can assure you that you can make them this evening without causing yourself any stress. These manage to be both crisp and chewy and are lovely when sandwiched with a good ice cream. You can also just pile them on a plate as a treat to be enjoyed while snuggled on the couch watching a movie or whatever netflix series you are both currently engrossed in. These are also perfect as a  handmade Valentine’s gift,  just wrap them in cellophane and tie with a ribbon, I would much rather 12 of these than a dozen roses.

When I think cookies, I think of butter, sugar and chocolate and of course that leads me straight to Ina Garten, the queen of all things luxurious and indulgent in the kitchen. I slightly adapted her recipe for chocolate chunk cookies, mainly to make them gluten free but also because I adjusted the amount of chocolate and nuts, increasing the nut to chocolate ratio slightly. I also used milk chocolate instead of semi -sweet because sometimes that is just the chocolate I want.
Ingredients

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450 grams of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of light soft brown sugar
½ cup of caster sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups of Doves Farm Gluten Free self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon sea or Maldon salt, use less if you are using table salt
2 cups of roughly chopped walnuts
400 grams of milk chocolate roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to gas 4/ 180/ 350f

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• Line two baking sheets with baking parchment, I ran out of parchment and baked the cookies on buttered baking sheets and they were fine but your life will be easier if you use the baking parchment.
• Place the softened butter and the 2 sugars in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
• Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla extract.
• Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the batter and beat in on slow speed until just combined.
• Using a wooden spoon stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate.
• Place a round tablespoon of the cookie batter on the baking sheet, evenly spaced and the cookies will spread as they cook so leave a bit of space between them, I fit 6 on each baking sheet.
• Bake for 15 minutes, the cookies will be soft when they come out but will crisp up as they cool.
• Allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray before carefully moving the cookies to a cooling rack with a palette knife.
• Repeat the process, you should get about 36 cookies out of the batter.
• Once cooled you can store the cookies in an airtight container.

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Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Gluten Free Corn Bread

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My two weeks Christmas break from posting was extended due to flu, tiredness caused by the flu and a hectic return to work where two weeks break led to three weeks of manic catch up where I fell home every evening barely capable of putting a gluten free frozen pizza in the oven before collapsing on the couch. January has not been a fun month.

To make things better and to use up ingredients in my cupboards before they all went off I went looking for something comforting and quick and found this recipe for Corn Bread from Ina Garten which I altered slightly, adapting it to be gluten free and also substituting crispy lardons of bacon for jalapeños.

This batter works very well with gluten free flour and rises like a soufflé when you add the wet ingredients to the dry which is very reassuring. It is delicious with stews, chilli and breakfast eggs or simply pulled out of the freezer, defrosted in the microwave, halved, toasted and slathered with butter. Golden, savory with bacon and cheese this is a very good bread to cheer this miserable month.

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Ingredients

3 cups Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour

2 teaspoons of pysllium husk

1 cup fine yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup caster sugar

2 tablespoons for gluten free baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups milk

3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

8 ounces of butter, melted

8 ounces mature cheddar cheese, grated

1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts

1 cup of bacon lardons

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

Butter and line with baking parchment a 9 x 11″ hight sided, baking tin or roasting dish

Fry the bacon lardons with the scallions over a medium heat until the bacon is cooked. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine the GF flour, psyllium husk, cornmeal, caster sugar, GF baking powder and salt, stir with a fork to break up any lumps.

In another bowl mix together the milk, eggs and melted butter and then our this batter in to the dry ingredients stirring with a wooden spoon until just combined, do not over mix.

Stir in two thirds of the grated cheese and the cooked bacon and scallions.

Scrape the batter in to the prepared baking dish and scatter the remaining cheese over the top, allow to sit a room temperature for 20 minutes.

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Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes  until a cake tester comes out clean.

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Allow to cool in the baking dish for a few minutes before placing the bread on a cooling rack. Once cooled cut in to large squares. Serve with soup, stew or chilli and wrap any left over squares in cling film and freeze.

Gluten Free Trifle Sponge

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I can’t believe I almost forgot to re-post this very important Christmas recipe. I had a couple of grim years where there was no trifle for me as we couldn’t find a gluten free sponge that would stand up to soaking in sherry and being submerged in jelly. Proper old school trifle is my favourite desert, I don’t know why exactly but it ticks all the boxes required in a sweet to make me sigh contentedly as I reach for a second helping.

Chiffon cake is great to make with Gluten Free Flour and is the closest thing I can find to the sweet, light, dry trifle sponges that we bought and used every year for Christmas Trifle. Trifle is the one Christmas food tradition I could not do without, steeped in sherry, set in proper jelly and topped with custard and then a layer of whipped cream it is the perfect desert to follow Christmas dinner.

 
This quantity will make enough for two trifles and as the sponge freezes beautifully you can make it well in advance of Christmas Day. If you don’t feel like making two trifles use the second half of the sponge for Tiramisu, I guarantee it will be delicious.
Ingredients

1 & 1/3 cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Self -Raising Flour
1 & 1/2 cups caster sugar: use I & ¼ cups for the cake batter, and use ¼ cup for the egg white
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cool water
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs separated

Preheat the oven to Gas 4/ 180 /350°F.

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• Line a deep roasting dish with parchment paper
• Sift the Gluten Free plain flours, 1 1/4 cups of the caster sugar, baking powder and salt together twice into a large bowl.
• In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the water, oil, and vanilla until smooth.
• Add the egg batter in to the flour mixture and fold in until smooth.
• In a clean dry large bowl whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage, then add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, continue beating but stop before you reach the stiff peak stage or your cake will shrink.
• Use a rubber spatula or large flat spoon to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the cake batter to loosen it slightly, then gently fold in the remaining whites , be gentle but keep going until there are no streaks of egg white visible.
• Pour the batter into the lined roasting dish.
• Bake for forty to fifty minutes until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out.

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In my house there are a few traditions around the trifle. The trifle and custard are usually made by my brother who is so precious about this desert that he makes it himself just to make sure the job gets done. The process often begins after Midnight Mass and a few festive tipples, if he has one tipple too many then my Mum will step up. The trifle is made with two packs good old fashioned Birds Raspberry or Strawberry jelly, dissolved as per the instructions on the packet. The sponge is sliced in to inch wide fingers, split and sandwiched back together with jam. The jammy fingers are dipped in to a saucer of sherry and then layered in the trifle bowl with two sliced bananas. The dissolved jelly is poured over the sponge and the trifle is left to set.
While the trifle is setting it is time to make the custard, if you do not feel like making your own custard there are plenty of good pre made gluten free custards on the market.
Once the trifle has set and the custard cooled, pour the custard over the trifle and place in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Just before serving whip some cream to soft peaks and dollop over the surface of the trifle.

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Cold, soft and sweet this desert is perfect after a heavy Turkey and Ham dinner with all the trimmings and although I do love a traditional Christmas Pudding I prefer to leave that for a late evening treat to enjoy while watching a Christmas Movie in front of the fire.

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.