Baking

Gluten Free Caramelised Onion and Goats Cheese Cornbread

There is something deeply comforting about a good cornbread, it has substance, is savoury but has a slight sweetness to it, the texture and flavour means it stands up well to thick soups, stews and chilli’s and on its own, still warm from the oven, slathered in butter it is a delight.

Plain cornbread is great but on occasion it is nice to guild the lily a bit and add some extra flavours. I was looking for something to bring to an afternoon get together, something that could be cut in to small squares and left on a table to be grabbed by people as they passed. Given that so much of Deb Perelman’s cooking is about food as something to be shared social events I went straight to Smitten Kitchen where I found this recipe and adapted it ever so slightly by using gluten free flour and psyllium husk and also adding a scattering of crumbled goats cheese over the top of the bread before it went in the oven.

This worked really well with the gluten free flour, it had a soufflé like center, light and moist and it didn’t crumble and fall apart when cut which can sometimes happen with home baked gluten free breads. It was also delicious and very moreish, the only change I would make for the next time I bake this would be to stir the onions through the batter rather than scattering them on top as some of my onions charred a bit.

This is a recipe you have to start the night before you want to eat the bread so bear that in mind!

If you don’t have an oven safe skillet would can also make this in a 10” cake tin.

Ingredients

6 ounces of cornmeal, if you are celiac make sure to check the package to ensure it was produced in a gluten free environment.
2 cups of buttermilk
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of sliced red onion
8 ounces Doves Farm or Aldi gluten free flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of psyllium husk.
1 1/2 tablespoons of gluten free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounce of very soft goats cheese. I used one with the texture of a cream cheese and it blended very evenly in to the batter.
2 tablespoons of honey
2 ounces of  granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ounce of butter, melted
16 ounces of fresh / frozen / canned (drained, if canned) sweetcorn
1 ounce of butter

6 ounce goats cheese log, crumbled

Night Before:

The night before you are going to bake the corn bread place the cornmeal in a bowl with the buttermilk and allow to stand so the cornmeal can soak up the milk and soften, this will stop the bread having the gritty texture you can sometimes get in cornbread’s. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

Next Day:

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

Slice the onions in to thin half moons,

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onions. Cook them slowly until they are well caramelized. Season with salt and set aside.

Sift together the gluten free flour, psyllium husk, gluten free baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the soft goat cheese until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl between each.

Add the melted butter, honey, sugar and cornmeal/buttermilk mixture to the egg batter and mix until smooth.

Stir in the flour mixture until combined and then gently stir in the sweetcorn.

It is at this stage I would also add the cooled onions to the batter rather than scattering them over as I did the first time I made the recipe.

Place two tablespoons of oil  in a 10” round cake pan, I used a 9” round cast iron skillet. Place the pan or skillet in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the oil gets very hot.

Carefully remove the pan/skillet and tilt it gently to evenly distribute the oil over the base and sides.

Pour in the batter, spreading it evenly and sprinkle crumbled goats cheese over the top.

Place back in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cornbread is firm and springing and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If you feel the top of the bread is browning too much you can loosely cover it with a foil lid.

Remove the pan/skillet from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before turning it out on to a cooling rack, allow to cool for another 15 minutes before slicing.

If you are going to serve the bread as a nibble to go with drinks slice it into 1.5” squares if you are serving as a side with a meal you can make your squares a little larger.

Rachel Allen’s Gluten Free Chocolate, Orange and 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 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 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 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.

Gluten Free Raspberry Brownies

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Yesterday was a truly miserable day that involved having to get off a bus ten minutes in to my trip because some eejit in an Audi TT decided to attempt to cut inside a bus while turning a corner, luckily no one was hurt but both vehicles were left wedged in place blocking traffic for hours. The rain alternated between a drenching mist and thundering downpour as I trudged home with my sneakers full of water.  What else is there to do on a dark and rainy August evening except eat meatballs, drink a good red wine and bake some brownies?

I knew I would be full from the meatballs but I wanted the meditative work of baking to help me mellow out and as these brownies require a good amount of cooling and then chilling time before eating they were the ideal thing. Fudgy and soft, way more chocolatey than the 55 grams of chocolate in the recipe would suggest, these brownies are the ultimate in delayed gratification deserts as they need to be cooled and then put in the freezer for at least two hours before you can attempt to cut them in to squares. If you wanted to serve them warm from the oven you would have to spoon them from the tray to the plate as they will just disintegrate but topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream that might not be a bad thing.

The brownies are adapted from a brownie recipe by Gary Rhodes that does not seem to exist on the internet, my sister had to send me the recipe from a cookbook and as it is one of best brownie recipes I have tried I am glad to be putting it up on the site.

Ingredients

55 grams of 70 % dark chocolate (gluten free)

115 grams of salted butter

225grams of caster sugar

55 grams of gluten free self- raising flour, I used Aldi’s

1 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

2 eggs, beaten

125 grams of raspberries, quartered

100 grams of pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180/ Gas 4/ 350f

Line and butter a 7” x 11”  baking tin or deep roasting tray. You can use baking parchment but I used tinfoil

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Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over lightly simmering water until both have melted.

Sieve together the flour and baking powder and stir in the caster sugar.

Add the flour mix to the melted chocolate and stir to combine.

Stir in the beaten eggs and chopped nuts,

Fold in the raspberries, some people like to leave the raspberries whole but I prefer to have streaks of disintegrated raspberry running through the brownie rather than the odd whole one here and there.

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Scrape the batter in to the prepared tin and place in the pre heated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, the brownies will still be very soft at this stage but they will set as they cool.

Allow to cool completely and then place in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and lift the brownies from the tin, place face down on a piece of fil or baking parchment and then carefully peel back the foil that lined the tin.

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Gently turn the brownies over and then slice in to squares. These are best eaten from the fridge of freezer as they will get melty and fudgy at room temperature.

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Enjoy with a cold glass of milk.

Gluten Free Banana Bread

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My kitchen is suffering a plague of tiny, extremely irritating fruit flies and in an effort to get rid of them I have taken to keeping all my fruit and vegetables in the fridge, the downside of this is that I forget what produce I have and so I keep finding wrinkled old apples and weeping, leathery mangoes rolling around the vegetable crisper. This week I found three very black bananas and what can you do with these except make banana bread, every cloud, silver lining and all that.

I rang my Mum for her recipe and she started laughing, my sister had called her not ten minutes earlier looking for the same recipe as she also had some sad bananas to use up.

I tweaked my Mums recipe slightly as I like to use soft dark brown sugar with bananas as  think it gives a lovely caramel flavour, I also added some vanilla and also a teaspoon of psyllium husks. A pet peeve of mine is wet rather than moist banana bread and I was hoping the psyllium husks would give me a moist sponge rather than a dense damp loaf. It definitely worked and although mu Mum does make a gluten free version of this bread without psyllium husks and it works really well so please consider it optional, I have a bag that needs to be used so I am going to experiment with it in as many recipes as I can.

Ingredients

3 ripe bananas

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 &3/4 cups of gluten free self -raising flour ( I used Aldi as it is what I had to hand)

1 teaspoon of psyllium husks (optional)

1 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

Pinch of salt

125 grams of unsalted butter

1 cup of soft dark brown sugar

light brown sugar for sprinkling

preheat the oven to Gas 3/ 170 / 325f

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Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy

Beat in the eggs one at a time

Mash the bananas very well and add to the batter with the vanilla extract, beat until everything is combined

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and then fold in to the batter

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Pour the batter in to a buttered and lined loaf tin and sprinkle on a good bit of light brown sugar

Bake in a pre -heated oven at  gas 3/ 170/ 325 f for 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

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This recipe couldn’t be easier and is delicious warm from the oven or a day old slathered in butter. I left a loaf in my office kitchen and it was demolished in about a half hour by people who aren’t celiac and they all gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Easy Gluten Free Pizza Dough

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While there are good gluten free pizza’s available in supermarkets the toppings  tend to be quite basic and if you want something  a bit more interesting then you are better off making it yourself. I used always use the recipe for pizza that was printed on the back of the Doves Farm Gluten Free White Bread mix and it does make a good base but it involves a lot on ingredients and I wanted to find a way to make gluten free  pizza dough that is as simple as possible. As I had such a good result with the psyllium husks in the Naan bread I decided to try them in pizza dough. I was going to try using a regular pizza dough recipe and just sub in the GF flour with added psyllium husk and see how it went, I figured the worst that would happen is that it wouldn’t work and I would have to suck up the cost of the ingredients and move on, however  what if it did work….

I started by looking for the Doves Farm Gluten Free Bread Flour but as has been the case for the last few months I could not find it in any health food store or supermarket in Dublin city centre. As I was determined to go ahead with this project I picked up a pack of the Marks & Spencer’s Gluten Free White Bread Mix and decided to see if that would work.

The process of making the dough was simple. Mix flour with salt and psyllium husks, mix the warm water with sugar yeast and olive oil, combine  the two, knead and allow to rise and hey presto I had a dough that had doubled in size.

My first attempt failed at the baking, thinking I was being clever I pressed the dough out on the baking parchment and transferred it to a heated baking tray in the oven on the parchment, it cooked beautifully but then stuck firmly to the paper. To salvage dinner I had to tip the pizza topping side down on the plate painstakingly peel back the parchment, I was to put it mildly raging. The upside was that I knew the dough had worked so the very next evening I tried again.

This time I scattered coarse corn meal on a preheated baking sheet and having pressed the uncooked dough on to baking parchment I then turned the pizza dough on to the tray and then peeled back the parchment paper, the dough was still a bit sticky but using a pallet knife I scrapped any pieces that stuck of the paper and pressed them in to place to mend any tears in the dough base. Next time I am going to try cling film.

This time the cooked pizza slid off the tray and on to a board without issue and this was honestly the best gluten free pizza I have ever had. The base was firm but still soft, crisp but chewy rather than biscuit hard at the edges.  I really hope you try it.

I will definitely try this with the Dove’s Farm GF Bread Flour as soon as I get my hands on a pack!

Ingredients

250grams Marks& Spencer’s Gluten Free White Bread Mix

2 teaspoons of psyllium husks

½ teaspoon of salt

1 & ¼ teaspoons of yeast

½ teaspoon of sugar

225mls warm water

1 tablespoon of Olive oil

Coarse corn meal for the baking sheets

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Mix the bread mix, salt and pysllium husks together in a bowl

Add the sugar yeast and oilvie oil to the warm water and wait for a few minutes until the yeast activates.

Stir the liquid in to the dry ingredients and bring together in to a very wet looking dough

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Scrape the dough out on to a surface you have dusted with Gluten free flour and knead for a minute until you have a smooth ball of dough.

Place the dough in to a clean dry bowl you have dusted with Gluten free flour, cover the top of the bowl with cling film and a clean dry cloth and place somewhere warm for 1 hour until it has risen and is doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 250 / 500f / gas 9 and place 2 flat baking sheets in the oven to heat.

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Divide your dough in half and roll each half int o a ball, place one ball on a lightly floured square of baking parchment and using your fingers and the heel of your palm press the dough out  toyour desired thickness and size, I like a thing based pizza so miy base was about 2mm thick in the centre and slightly thicker at the edges.

Remove the hot tray from the oven and scatter over some corn meal and then tip the pizza dough on to the tray. Carefully peel back the baking parchment. If it sticks use a flat knife to ease it off the paper, don’t worry about any tears you can easily patch and holes in the dough.

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Repeat the process with the other dough ball, this quantity will 2 x 9” pizzas.

Top the pizza base with your sauce and toppings of choice and place back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked.

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Remove from the  oven and slide the pizzas on to a pizza board or plate, slice and enjoy!

White Chocolate Cheesecake Marbled Brownies

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There are days for crisp green salads and  fresh fruit and then there are days when you just want all of the chocolate and having had a bit of a mad week in work I was having one of those days.  Since I couldn’t figure out what type of chocolate I wanted or how I wanted it served I decided to combine two of my favourite textures, brownie and baked cheesecake. I have seen a few recipes for cheesecake marbled brownies where there is a small amount of cheesecake batter swirled in to the brownie but because I love baked cheesecake I decided to make a full quantity of the cheesecake recipe and then dollop over spoons of the brownie batter before using a flat butter knife to create a marbled effect. For such an easy recipe you get a very impressive looking cake.

For a double hit of chocolate I made a white chocolate cheesecake and used dark chocolate for the brownie mix and the combination was definitely a winner. These do need to be chilled before they are eaten as once cold these are dense, fudgy and delicious.

I made this in a 9” by 11” roasting dish but you could divide the mixture between two smaller tins.

White chocolate cheesecake

300g white chocolate
400g full fat cream cheese
150 ml soured cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Brownie

4 ounces of butter cut
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup gluten free self raising flour, I used Aldi’s flour and it worked brilliantly but you could use Dove’s Farm

Preheat the oven to 160, 325F, Gas 3

Butter and line the base and sides of your tin with baking parchment, this will make it easier to lift the brownies out of the tin once they are baked.

Break the white chocolate in to pieces and place in a bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water until it is melted, once it has melted completely remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl whisk together the cream cheese and the eggs until smooth. I used a hand whisk, there is no need to use anything electrical for this recipe.

Next whisk in the cream cheese and vanilla and then pour in the melted white chocolate and whisk to combine.

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Allow that to sit and start on the brownie batter

Break the dark chocolate in to pieces and place it and the butter in a bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water until both have melted. Remove the bowl from the heat.

To the melted chocolate add the sugar whisking with your hand whisk, this will give you a slightly grainy thick batter.

Next whisk in the eggs and the vanilla extract and then add the gluten free flour, whisk very gently until just combined.

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Pour the white chocolate cheesecake batter in to your prepared tin and then drop spoonfuls of the brownie mix in to the cheesecake batter. Space the spoons of brownie mix as evenly as you can so that there will be an even blend of brownie and cheesecake in each square when you slice the cake.

Use a palette knife or a flat butter knife to fold the two batters together, you want to create a marbled effect so don’t be tempted to just get in there and stir. Use the tip of the knife to lift portions of cheesecake batter from the bottom of the tin up and over the brownie mix and then gently pull the brownie mix into the cheesecake.

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Once you are happy with the look of the cake place it in your preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the centre is set.

Allow to rest in the tin for 15 minutes and then use the baking parchment to lift the brownie from the tin so it can cool on a baking rack.

Once the brownie is completely cooled use a sharp knife to cut it in to evenly sized squares. I made my squares about 1.5” by 1.5” as they are quite rich but you can cut them larger if you like.

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These are best served chilled and were nicer the following day, so keep them covered in the fridge although I imagine they won’t last very long.

Gluten Free Naan Bread

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Indian food is great for celiacs as so many dishes are made without gluten containing ingredients so a trip to an Indian restaurant is usually the one time I can indulge in one of my favourite things, eating from other people plates. I grew up in a family of food sharers, if we go out as a group we will try to order different things, passing forkfuls of food across the table with regularity so we can each get a taste of everything on offer. Being diagnosed celiac has meant that I can rarely indulge in that kind of behaviour so when I do head out with my Mum and sisters it is usually to the local Indian Restaurant, Spice, where we will order a variety of dishes to share.

The one thing I really miss from that experience is tearing off a piece of Naan bread to sop up whatever fragrant sauce is on my plate. I know Tesco do gluten free Naans but they are dry and hard rather than soft, yielding and burnt in all the right places the way good Naan bread should be.

I was home recently and my sister made homemade Naan breads and it seemed so easy that I was inspired to give a gluten free version a try. I found a Jamie Oliver recipe and added some psyllium husks to give the dough a bit of stretch and basted each bread with garlicky melted butter and fresh coriander. These worked well and are definitely worth trying yourself but I am not done experimenting, next time I am going to use the Dove’s Farm Bread Flour instead of Plain Flour to see if I can get an extra bit of lift when the dough is rising.

Ingredients; Adapted from Jamie Oliver

½ x 7 g sachet of dried yeast

125 ml warm water

1 teaspoon of honey

I tablespoon of melted unsalted butter

250 grams of Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour

2 teaspoons of psyllium husks

¼ teaspoon of salt

3 heaped tablespoons of natural yogurt, I used Greek yogurt

I tablespoon of butter

2 cloves of garlic

Fresh coriander roughly chopped

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Mix the yeast with the honey and the warm water in a small bowl and set aside while the yeast activates

In another larger bowl stir together the flour, salt and the psyllium husks and then make a well in the centre.

Pour in the melted butter, yogurt and activate yeast and mix everything together with a fork until you have a rough dough.

The dough should be soft and sticky so add a bit of water if your dough feels dry.

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Knead the dough of a lightly floured surface for about five minutes and then shape in to a smooth ball, place the dough ball in a clean bowl and cover with clean tea towel.

Put the covered bowl somewhere warm and leave for on and a half to two hours so the dough can rise.

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Once the dough is risen give it one more quick knead and then divide it in to six or eight equal sized portions and form these in to balls, it depends on how big you want the breads.

Roll out each ball on a lightly floured surface until they are about one cm thick.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan, cast iron if you have it and non- stick if you don’t, over a high heat.

Grate the garlic cloves in to the melted butter and set aside.

Flick a small bit of water on to the pan with your fingers and while it is sizzling place the naan bread in the pan. Cook for two to three minutes until the bread is bubbling and browning and then turn it over, while the underside is cooking brush the topside with the melted garlic butter.

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Once the underside is cooked remove the bread, sprinkle on some chopped coriander and wrap it loosely in tin fil to keep warm while you cook the remaining breads.

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Serve warm with the Indian dishes of your choice. These naan were pleasantly soft , moist from the garlic butter but still nicely chewy at the edges. They were perfect for tearing and wrapping around pieces of my tandoori chicken and I will definitely be making them again, and again tweaking the recipe until I get the perfect gluten free Naan.

Ridiculously Indulgent Gluten Free Brownies

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As this is the season and, unusually for Ireland, the weather for BBQ’s and picnics I want to repost this recipe for these amazingy luscious brownies, they are the perfect desert  pack for a trip to the beach or park and a great offering to bring if you are invited to a pot luck BBQ. Enjoy!
These brownies, adapted from a few different recipes were good, moist and dense with a rich chocolate flavour but still chewy and crisp at the same time. Studded with walnuts and milk chocolate chips these are scrumptious but do need to be accompanied by a cold glass of milk. I used milk chocolate for the chips as milk chocolate is more comforting to me than dark chocolate and there was a good 6 ounces of dark chocolate in the brownies already.
There is a terrifying amount of sugar in the brownies but go with it and you won’t be disappointed, the sugar is what gives the brownies the crisp chewy top layer over the luscious chocolaty base.
These brownies cook slowly at a low heat, they took one hour ten minutes in my oven but do check them over the last twenty minutes so you don’t over-cook them. Make sure the batter isn’t still wet but you do still want a few dense moist crumbs sticking to the skewer when you test them.

Ingredients

5 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon GF baking powder
6 ounces 70% dark chocolate broken into pieces
6 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
15.75 ounces of light brown sugar (430 grams if you don’t have a digital scale)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 ounces walnuts, roughly chopped
2 ounces of milk chocolate chopped

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Preheat your oven to Gas 3 / 170/ 325f
• Line a 9” x 13” baking or roasting tin with tin foil and brush with a neutral tasting oil or melted butter. You need a baking tray that is at least 2” deep.
• Melt the dark chocolate and the unsalted butter in a heatproof bowl set over some hot water. Stir once or twice until fully melted and combined. Remove from the heat.
• Whisk the brown sugar in to the melted chocolate.
• When the sugar is fully combined whisk in the eggs, one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is fully mixed.

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• Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and fold in to the chocolate batter in two additions.
• Pour the batter in to the prepped baking tray and scatter over the chopped walnuts and milk chocolate. If you batter is very thick you can press them slightly in to the batter.

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• Place the tray on the middle shelf of your oven and cook for at least 50 minutes and then check to see if the batter is cooked but not too dry. If there is any wet batter on your skewer then leave the brownies in the oven, check again in ten minutes. My brownie took one hour and ten minutes to cook through. What you want is for there to be no wet batter but some moist crumbs on the skewer when you test the brownies.

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• Let the brownies sit in the tray for few minutes and then lift the brownies in their tinfoil from the tray and allow to cool fully or as long as you can before cutting in to squares.

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As I love the combination of salt and sweet I scattered a bit of Maldon salt on the top of the brownies with the walnuts and milk chocolate before baking but this is a personal preference and very optional.

Gluten Free Chocolate Eclairs

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When I was first diagnosed celiac back in the day I was told I needed to eat a lot of gluten for one week before an endoscopy could be performed to confirm the results blood test. Having avoided gluten since I got the initial diagnosis I looked on this as an opportunity to say a fond farewell to all the food I would no longer be able to eat and also to remind myself of how wretched they made me feel. On the list was proper crusty French bread, garlic bread oozing with mozzarella, pizza from DiFontaines, doughnuts and last by not least a chocolate éclair.

There used to be a tiny pastry shop in the Epicurean Food Hall off Abbey St. in Dublin that made the most amazing little cakes, delicate mousse, cream and chocolate confections that were so luscious my sister would occasionally carry a box of them down to Cork as a treat for us at home. When I moved up it was a place I visited when I needed a bit of a treat as they had the most amazing chocolate eclairs, beautifully baked choux pastry tubes, topped with a chocolate glaze and filled with crème patisserie hiding a deep vein of caramel running the length of the cake. When I was told I could indulge in gluten one last time I made a beeline for this place only to find it had closed and I was absolutely bereft.

It took me a ridiculous nine years of eating gluten free before I attempted my first chocolate éclair, I have ticked both profiteroles and gougeres off the list of successful gluten free choux pastry experiments and both had worked well but for some reason I was still a bit intimidated and  when I finally decided to go for eclairs my fist two attempts were miserable failures.

In one attempt I tried a slight variation on the choux pastry recipe I had used for my profiteroles but the pastry barely rose in the oven. The other recipe I tried produced pastry was almost liquid and ran off the tray before I could even get it in the oven. Having consulted a few of the hundred online instructions for making eclairs I found one that worked incredible well with GF flour.

The full tutorial is on the website http://www.ironwhisk.com/2014/06/tutorial-eclairs-choux-paste/ and if you are new to working with choux pastry I advise you to check it out.

The recipe called for very exact measurements that involved my balancing a jug on my digital scales so I could weigh the water and milk and egg, it seemed odd but I think this exactitude is what made the pastry work. I have tried this with Gluten Free self- raising flour also half self- raising and half plain flour and it worked both times
Ingredients

75g water
75g milk
75g butter
5g sugar
5g salt
100g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self-Raising flour or 50 grams Doves Farm Self –Raising mixed with 50 grams of Doves Farm Plain Flour
150g beaten egg, this took 3 medium sized eggs, I usually use large eggs which may have accounted for the very liquid pastry of my earlier attempt.
Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat your oven to Gas 4 /180 /350

  • Combine the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a strong simmer over a medium heat.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add the flour to the simmering liquid beating with a wooden spoon until the flour is fully absorbed.
  • Return the pot heat and keep beating the dough for at least five minutes. At this point in the tutorial I was advised to check the temperature of the dough using a sugar thermometer and I did try but couldn’t really get that to work so I did a my Mum advised and beat for another two minutes or until my arm felt like it was going to fall off and there was a visible film of pastry on the base of the pot.

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  • At this point you can transfer the dough to the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle rather than a whisk and beat on the lowest speed until the pastry cools down. If you have the upper arm strength you can do the same with a clean bowl and the wooden spoon.
  • Once the pastry has cooled add half of the eggs and beat vigorously to combine, if you are using the mixer keep the speed on the lowest setting.
  • Add the rest of the beaten eggs slowly while you continue to mix, if you feel like the pastry is getting too loose then stop, the pastry should be stiff enough to pipe through a pastry bag and hold its shape so you may not need to use all the egg.

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  • One you are happy with the consistency of the pastry you will be ready to pipe out the eclairs.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Spoon the pastry in to a piping bag fitted with a ½ inch wide star shaped nozzle, I find the easiest way to do this is to balance the piping bag in an empty glass, my other tip her is to use a disposable bag, it makes the clean up a lot easier.
  • Pipe out the eclairs on to the baking sheet, you want the pastry to be about 1 inch wide and 5 inches long, leave about two inches between each éclair.
  • Dust each éclair with icing sugar, this will give a lovely golden glaze to the baked pastry
  • Bake in the preheated oven for forty minutes until the ecalirs have risen and are a deep golden brown.

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  • Remove the tray from the oven and pierce each éclair with a skewer or a sharp knife to release the steam this will stop the eclairs going soggy.
  • Allow the pastries to cool completely before filling with your choice of sweetened whipped cream, crème patisserie or even a raspberry mousse, whatever you are inspired to try.

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  • You can top the eclairs with melted chocolate, chocolate ganache or a simple chocolate glaze made from 1 cup of icing sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and enough hot water to get to a good consistency for coating.

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As I have said here before I sometimes get frustrated at the limitations that Gluten Free bakeries put on themselves or their insistence on conflating gluten free with healthy eating. I understand the desire to be healthy but I am more of an all things in moderation kind of person, if I want a treat I will eat a treat that satisfies rather than trying to recreate that treat without eggs, dairy, grains or sugar. If your diet is thus restricted than I absolutely support being creative with the ingredients you can handle but my body just can’t handle gluten and therefore when I want a cake I want something that tastes and feels like cake and often times the dry as dust, mealy textured offerings I get from bakeries make me just a bit sad. I want a sweet that  feels indulgent so I know I have just had a treat and that is exactly what I get from these eclairs.

Rachel Khoo’s Raspberry & Almond Tart Gluten Free

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I haven’t really been subscribing to the January rush to get back in the gym, I am taking it easy with a few yoga classes until the New Year’s Resolution crowd have chilled out a bit and there isn’t a queue for the machines. January has been rough this year and so I am being very gentle with myself, no swearing off alcohol, no ridiculous resolutions and definitely no post -Christmas diet!
As arguably the most miserable month January is a time for hearty stews, deep filled savoury pies, warming soups and a house filled with the smell of home baking. The second of the two new cookbooks I was gifted at Christmas was Rachel Khoo’s Paris Kitchen. I discovered Rachel Khoo while babysitting for friend’s, I babysit in return for TV privileges since I don’t have any channels at home. My friends get to go out and I mainline cooking shows, it is a win win situation.
Rachel’s food looks amazing, her kitchen is tinier than mine, a thing I never thought possible and I imagine she would be great craic over a glass or two of wine, advising on food, how to keep an immaculate fringe and the best red lipsticks on the market.

 

The first recipe I made from her book was a raspberry and almond tart. I am a massive fan of frangipane, from the cheapest almond slices you can buy to the most high end almond and fruit tart. This tart was beautiful, the pastry, made with an unusual method worked amazingly well with Gluten Free flour and turned out goldenly crisp and flaky, the filling was almost the texture of a set almond custard, thick, rich and a luscious counter to the tart raspberries. While the tart was baking my kitchen was full of the aroma of almonds and sweet jammy warm raspberries, just the thing to brighten up a grim January day.
Rachel Khoo’s Raspberry & Almond Tart adapted to be Gluten Free

Pastry: enough to line a buttered 9” loose bottomed tart tin

Ingredients

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90 grams of softened butter
1 teaspoon of sugar
Pinch of salt
180 grams of Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Flour
2 egg yolks
2 to 3 tablespoons of iced water
• Beat the sugar and butter together until soft
• Mix in the flour
• Add in the 2 egg yolks, at this pint you may not think the pastry will come together but it will.
• Add in the iced water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a soft ball.
• Chill the pastry for 30 minutes
• Remove the pastry from the fridge and place between two sheets of floured baking parchment.
• Roll the pastry between the baking parchment until it will fit your tin
• Ease the rolled pastry in the tin and prick the base with a fork

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Preheat your oven to 180/Gas 4/ 350f
Filling
Ingredients
200 grams of ground almonds
200 grams of sugar
200 grams of butter, softened
2 eggs
300 grams of raspberries

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• Beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy
• Beat in the ground almonds
• Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated
• Scrape the mixture in the lined pastry tin and smooth out with a flat knife
• Arrange the raspberries over the almond mixture, pressing them in lightly.
• Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the almond mixture has set
• If you feel that the raspberries are beginning to burn then cover the tart loosely with tinfoil
• Allow the tart to cool and then remove it from the tine.
• Dust with icing sugar

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The tart is delicious warm with softly whipped cream or served cold with a hot cup of coffee.

 

Gluten Free Trifle Sponge

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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.

Peach Pie: Gluten Free

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Being the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness I was inspired to bake a fruit tart however I cheated slightly and used tinned peaches as all of the peaches in the grocery store were of the rock hard ripen at home variety and to be honest every time I try the to ripen at hoe the fruit goes from unripe to furry by the time I remember to use them. In my defense I have seen both Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson use tinned fruit in recipes and if they are ok with it than who am I to argue.

Deeply golden, with the occasional sliver or orange peeking through the delicate almond filling and a perfect crisp sweet shortcrust, this Peach Pie is one of the best things that I have baked in a long time.  It is the kind of desert to serve with some spiced apple cider and enjoyed in front of a warm fire.

I don’t know what went spectacularly right with this pastry but it was the best Gluten Free pastry shell I have ever made, crisp, sweet and a beautiful deep brown it was a pleasure to eat so I am going to stick with this simple method for a while. Usually I never take the time to roll out GF pastry as it tends to crumble, most of the time I just press the pastry in to the tin with my fingers but this time I was determined to get a very tine, even shell so I careful rolled the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment and then even more carefully laid it in to the in. I peeled the parchment back very slowly and then filled any tears and gaps with the excess pastry and this has resulted in an excellent pastry shell.

Peach Pie

Pastry

Ingredients

8 ounces of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour

1ounce of caster sugar

4 ounces of cold butter

1 large egg

2 tablespoons of cold water

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  • Butter an 11 inch, loose bottomed pie tin. My tin is about 1.5 inches deep and easily fit all of the pie filling.
  • Stir the flour and sugar together in a bowl
  • Grate in the cold butter and rub together until you get the texture of coarse bread crumbs.
  • Add the egg and stir it in with a fork
  • Add the two tablespoons of cold water and use your fingers to bring the pastry together in to a smooth ball
  • Place the pastry between two large pieces of baking parchment and roll until the pastry is quite thin, about 1.5 mm and the diameter of the pastry is a good bit wider that that of the tin.
  • Very carefully peel back the top layer of parchment.
  • Place your hand beneath to pastry and lift it on the layer of parchment over the tin.
  • Carefully (this word is used a lot in this recipe) flip the pastry over and lay it in the tin. Press it in before, yes, carefully peeling back the second layer of baking parchment.
  • This being gluten free pastry and therefore extra delicate, your pastry will tear and stick to the parchment and you will have holes but don’t panic, with lightly floured fingers use the excess pastry to fill any gaps.
  • Place the pastry lined tin in the fridge while you are making the almond filling.

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Almond Filling

Ingredients

6 ounces  of softened butter

6 ounces of caster sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon of brandy, optional

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or almond essence which I never seem to have when I need it

6 ounces of ground almonds, check to make sure they are gluten free plus one tablespoon to sprinkle over the base of the pastry shell

2 tins of peaches in juice, not syrup

Preheat the oven to 170/ Gas 3 / 325

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  • Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated.
  • Beat in the brandy and vanilla or almond essence.
  • Using the mixer on slow or a wooden spoon add the ground almonds and mix until just combined.

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  • Strain the peaches in to a bowl reserving the juice.
  • Dry the peaces by placing them on a doubled piece of kitchen paper and pressing a second piece of paper over the tops, this will stop the filling from being too wet.
  • Slice the peaches, I got four thick slices from each peach half.
  • Remove the pastry shell from the fridge and prick the base with a fork and then evenly sprinkle over the extra tablespoon of ground almonds
  • Layer the peach slices over the base in as even and pretty a pattern as you can manage, I can never get a nice circular pattern going
  • Spoon over the almond filling and use a spatula or flat knife to spread the filling evenly ver the peaches slices
  • Place the pie tin on a flat baking sheet, this will save you having to scrub peach juice of of the floor of your oven
  • Place the pie on the tray in your preheated oven for 50 minutes, until the top is golden and firm. I them left the pie in the oven with the heat off for a further 20 minutes.
  • While the pie is cooling take three tablespoons of the reserved peach juice in a small pan over a medium heat and allow to reduce to a simmer.
  • Brush this syrup over the pie to give a lovely sheen and a bit of extra peach flavour.

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Serve the pie warm with whipped cream or ice-cream or to be extra indulgent  with warm custard and whipped cream.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread: Gluten Free

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In my quest to use all of the giant bag of coconut flour I bought for the bargain price of €4.95 I have been trawling the internet looking for suggestions and I came across the idea or making zucchini bread, courgette bread if you are Irish. There are quite a few recipes for zucchini cake and bread around but I have been slow to try them with Gluten Free flour as I was worried the resulting cake would be too wet and I hate nothing more than a cake that is more heavily damp than delightfully moist. Given how absorbent coconut flour is I thought it might stand up to the amount of moisture released by the zucchini while baking.
The zucchini bread was so much nicer than I had expected, I am always slightly suspicious of the idea healthy baked goods preferring deserts that are deeply indulgent, however this was delicious, with a good hit of chocolate and a nice moist slightly nutty texture from the coconut and courgette. I put the bread in the kitchen at work and it had disappeared before 10.00am so if the proof of the pudding is in the eating than this recipe was a success.
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Ingredients

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2 cups of grated courgette / zucchini. It took one large courgette to get the two cups.
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of coconut flour
¼ cup of cocoa powder (check to make sure it is Gluten Free)
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of sea salt
Preheat your oven to Gas 4/ 180 / 350f

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• Butter and line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Even though I buttered the baking parchment the bread was quite sticky and I had to be very careful when peeling bake the paper once the bread was baked.
• Ake your two cups of grated courgette and squeeze to remove as much of liquid as you can.
• Place the courgette, melted butter, eggs, honey and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat until everything is combined. I used my electric mixer but a hand whisk would do just as well as you are not looking for volume you are just combining all the ingredients.
• In another bowl stir together the coconut flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder.
• Add the dry ingredients to the cake batter and mix until combined.

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• Scrape the batter in to the prepared loaf tin and place in the oven for forty to forty five minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when you check.
• If you feel the top of the cake is getting too dark you can cover it with a piece of baking parchment.
• Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before tipping it out of the time and carefully removing the baking parchment.

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• Allow to cool fully before slicing and store in an airtight container for a few days, if it lasts that long.

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I had thought that the bread might need a good layer of butter but it was lovely served unadorned with a cup of tea. This bread is great either for breakfast or a mid -morning snack and if you have children with celiac it would be a nice addition to their lunchbox.

Coconut Flour & Banana Pancakes

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While I do depend heavily on the Doves Farm gluten free flours as I find then easy to use, readily available and affordable occasionally I like to try methods for cooking gluten free that don’t involve trying to substitute wheat flour. I have used ground almonds seasoned with fresh thyme to make a beautifully savoury tart shell, instead of breadcrumbs I have again used ground almonds mixed with grated parmesan to coat baked or shallow fried chicken and the results have been lovely. I am always tempted to try recipes involving coconut flour and I did purchase a large bag in the past and I think I used it for one recipe that required one ¼ cup and as the bag cost €9.99 I did not consider this a wise investment.

Happily I was walking through a supermarket yesterday and found a bag of coconut flour for the much more reasonable price of €4.95 and I have decided I am going to make a concerted effort to use the whole bag and not throw out the majority like I did the last time!
First recipe I wanted to try was coconut flour and banana pancakes. I enjoy a nicely syruped pancake for breakfast every now and then but last night after a DAY at work I needed something comforting and simple  and pancakes with strawberries drizzled with honey was what I went with.

 

The recipe is simple but uses six medium sized eggs and although eggs are not expensive using a whole carton of eggs for a one recipe always seems very extravagant to me, however I got twenty two  pancakes out of the batter so now I have a freezer full of pancakes for whenever the needs hits me.

Ingredients

3 large ripe bananas
6 medium eggs, if you only have large eggs add the eggs to the batter two at a time so that your batter isn’t too liquid
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Butter for frying.

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  • If you have a blender you can simply put all of the ingredients in the jug and blitz until you have a nice thick but still pourable batter.
  • I do not have so I used my immersion blender to blitz the bananas and then added in the dry ingredients before adding the eggs and the vanilla. If you are worried about the number of eggs making the batter too loose or if you only have large eggs you should add the eggs to the batter two at a time until the batter is the consistency you want.
  • Heat your pan or skillet over a medium heat and melt some butter.
  • I used my tablespoon measure to place a heaped spoon of the batter on the pan. Spread the batter out a bit with the back of the spoon.
  • Allow the pancakes to cook for two to four minutes until the base is golden and set before using a palette knife or fish slice to flip them over, continue to cook for another two minutes. If you are unsure that the pancakes are cooked through lightly press the centre of the pancake with your finger and you should feel that it is quite set.

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These pancakes have a dense nutty texture and are definitely more filling than pancakes made with Gluten Free flour which can only be a good thing as I was satisfied with three rather than clearing the entire plate of twenty two!

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Serve with fresh fruit, compote, bacon, sausage, maple syrup or honey, however you want, they will be delicious.

 

Gluten Free Granola

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It is easy enough to find gluten free granola now, however it is likely that when you find the tiny box and check the price and see that you are expected to pay near €7 for a breakfast cereal that you will feel the need to put the box back and step away.
I know that the price of gluten free ingredients is high and that many of the companies producing gluten free goods are small local companies and I would like to support them however I cannot justify paying that much money for the small amount of product these boxes of cereal / muesli / granola tend to contain.
Now that Aldi and Tesco are doing very affordable Gluten Free Porridge Oats I thought it was high time I made my own granola. Prior to the easy availability of GF oats I had made my own grain free versions of granola, substituting slivered almonds, large flakes of desiccated coconut and pumpkin seeds for oats and it was delicious but there is something reminiscent of flapjacks in the flavour of toasted oats in granola that makes this feel more like a treat than a breakfast. Paired with some unsweetened yogurt and fresh fruit this makes a great start to the day and would be great to serve for brunch.
Store the granola in an airtight container and it should keep for two weeks.
Ingredients

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3 cups of Gluten Free porridge oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded / desiccated coconut
1 cup of pecan nuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup of ground almonds
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup of maple maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1 1/2 cups of a mix of dried cherries and dried cranberries.

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  • Preheat your oven to Gas 2/ 150 / 300f degrees.
  • Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Combine all the dry ingredients except for the dried fruit in a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl use a fork to lightly whisk the egg white, olive oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup
  • Pour the liquid ingredients in to the dry and stir to thoroughly combine
  • Scrape on to the prepared baking tray and place in the oven
  • Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, every 20 minutes or so use a spatula or spoon to gently turn the granola over on the tray so it toasts evenly, bring any darker pieces in from the edge of the tray so they don’t burn. Be gentle though as you want to keep some nice clusters of granola there rather than having crumbs.

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  • Once the granola is toasted and even deep golden colour remove from the oven and allow to cool fully.
  • Once cooled stir in the dried fruit and pour in to an airtight storage jar.

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Enjoy!

Gluten Free Vanilla Cheesecake with a Chocolate Crumb and Strawberries

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Every now and then I will get a craving for some synthetic food from the eighties, orange juice made from a can of concentrate, Butterscotch Angel Delight and cheesecake from a box are all things I fondly remember but probably wouldn’t touch with a barge pole if you put them in front of me now, well maybe the cheescake just to see if it is in anyway as nice as I remember . When I make cheesecake now they are always baked, I love the texture, changing from dense at the edges to the silky wobbly centre, I love a double crust rising up around the edges of the filling, the more crumb crust the happier I am, but when I was a kid cheesecake came set not baked and sometimes that is the texture I am looking for.
Given this unexpected burst of summer I was looking for something light that did not require the turning on of an oven as my tiny house holds the heat too well and this no bake set cheesecake was perfect.
If you need desert for a dinner party pull this together the night before and leave it in the fridge until you need to slice it. I served this with strawberries I quartered and dusted with icing sugar, leaving them sit for a while until they started to release their juice however the next time I do this I am going to pile on unsweetened berries of all descriptions, including some red berries as the sweetness of the cake could definitely take the sharpness of some slightly sour berries.
Ingredients
Crumb Crust

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2 x 200 gram pack of Tesco Gluten Free Chocolate Digestives
5 ounces butter
2/3 cup of sugar

• Place the biscuits in a food bag and pound with your rolling pin until you have fine crumbs and the days stress has been released. You could use a food processor to do this but that involves washing up.
• Place the crumbs in a bowl and stir in the sugar
• Melt the butter in the microwave, or in a sauce pan and pour the melted butter over the crumbs. Do not use all the butter at once, use just enough to get a thick crumb paste, you do not want a mix that is too wet or it will just collapse rather than lining the cake tin.
• Press the crumb in to a loose bottomed 9 inch cake tin, using the back of a spoon to bring it up around the sides of the tin.
• Place the tin in the fridge to chill while you make the filling

 

Ingredients
Filling

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2 x 250gram packs of cream cheese ( I used Tesco’s own brand as the Philadelphia was nowhere to be found)
250ml double cream
1 cup of full fat Greek Yogurt
3/4 cup of icing sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

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• Whip the double cream and set aside
• Place the cream cheese in a bowl and whisk until it is light and fluffy
• Add in the Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, icing sugar and salt, whisk again until everything is combined.
• Use a large spoon to gently fold the whipped cream in to the cream cheese mix
• Scrape the filling in to the prepared and chilled crumb lined tin and return to the fridge to chill overnight

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When you are ready to serve remove the cheesecake from the fridge run a flat knife or pallet knife around the edge of the cake to ease the crumb away from the edge of the tin before opening the tin and lifting out the cake.

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Fill the top of the cake with fresh berries and enjoy, hopefully while sitting in a garden in the sun with a big glass of chilled white wine!

Gluten Free Banana Bread

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I have tried a few recipes for gluten free Banana Bread in the past but for some reason they all t seemed to stay wet and heavy in the centre as if they never fully cooked through. What I was looking for was something a bit more of a bread than a cake, a loaf that could be sliced and thickly slathered in butter, a bit of comfort food on a rainy day. My Mum has been telling me about this recipe for Sam Preston’s Banana Bread for ages now, she makes it for my nephew who is celiac and it has always worked perfectly for her. This is a really easy recipe in terms of ingredients and instructions so if you are new to Gluten Free baking this would be a good recipe for a first attempt. The original recipe doesn’t include walnuts but I loved the added texture, I was also seriously considering adding some chopped dark chocolate and I think I definitely will next time.

Ingredients

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3 over -ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour
125 grams butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon of GF baking powder
pinch of salt
100 grams of chopped walnuts

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Preheat the oven to Gas 4/ 180/ 350f

• Butter and line a loaf tin
• Mash the ripe bananas in a bowl and set aside
• Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy
• Add the eggs beating until combined
• Beat in the mashed banana
• Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder
• Using a wooden spoon rather than your mixer stir the flour in to the banana batter
• Stir in the chopped walnuts
• Scrape the batter in to the prepared tin and place in the oven
• Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, test with a skewer to make sure the centre of the cake is cooked through.
• Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before tipping the bread out on to a cooling rack.

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When the loaf is cooled slice away, layer on some butter and enjoy. When storing the cake wrap it tightly in baking parchment and tinfoil so that it doesn’t dry out as cakes baked with GF flour tend to dry out quickly.

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Primrose Bakery Chocolate Cupcakes: Gluten Free

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I know cupcakes are not the most fashionable desert in the world anymore but they are still handy when you need to make enough cake to feed a crowd. I made a batch of orange curd earlier this week and I thought a nice way to use up the last bit would be to use it with something chocolatey and so I thought of chocolate cupcakes topped with a layer or orange curd and a good dollop of chocolate butter cream, the orange and chocolate worked really well together as is their wont but these cupcakes would be just as delicious without the orange curd

 

The Orange Curd recipe can be found at this very elegant website:
http://www.cannellevanille.com/courses/tarts/orange-curd-two-ways/
The cupcake and butter cream recipes are from the Primrose Bakery Cookbook, here adapted for Gluten Free. While these weren’t as dense and moist as I would like, possibly due to the fact that I stored the frosted cakes overnight in the fridge or due to the gluten free flour ( I will be tinkering with the recipe going forward) they were lovely and light and the frosting is delicious.

Cupcakes

Ingredients

115g grams dark chocolate, I used 74%
85 grams unsalted butter softened
175grams soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
185 grams Doves Farm plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
250 ml low fat milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180/Gas 4/ 350

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• Line a cupcake or bun tray with liners, I got 21 cupcakes from this recipe
• Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over gently simmering water and set aside to cool
• Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, I used my fancy new mixer for this but a hand whisk or indeed a wooden spoon and some elbow grease would also work.
• Add the egg yolks to batter and then pour in the cooled melted chocolate and mix until it is fully incorporated
• Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.
• Add the vanilla extract to the milk
• Start adding the flour and milk to the batter, first add some flour, beat well and then some milk, again beating well, continue until you have added all the milk and flour.

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• In a clean, dry bowl whisk the egg whites until the soft peak stage.
• Gently fold the egg whites in to the batter.
• Spoon the batter in to the lined cupcake tray, filling each case until it is two thirds full.
• Place the trays in the oven and bake for between 20-25 minutes.
• Leave the cooked cupcakes to cool in the tins for ten minutes or so before placing on a wire rack to cool.

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Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients

350 grams  dark chocolate, I used 74%
225 grams unsalted butter, at room temp
1tablespoon of  low fat milk
1teaspoon of  vanilla extract
250grams of icing sugar, sifted

• Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, set aside to cool.
• Beat together the butter, sifted icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
• Add the cool melted chocolate to the butter cream and beat until thick, if it looks too runny to use when trying to ice cupcakes or cakes, simply keep beating or allow it to cool for a bit and it will thicken.
If using the orange curd smear about a teaspoon over the top of the cooled cupcakes and then using a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle pipe to the butter cream. I pop the cupcakes back in the now cool tins as this holds them in place while you ice them.

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Enjoy with an ice cold glass of milk!

Individual Gluten Free Chocolate Cakes with Caramel Sauce

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There is something lovely about serving individual cakes or tarts as deserts, my dream is to find little mini cheesecake tins so I can serve wee individual cheesecakes sometime, I am pretty sure I saw one that looked like a giant muffin tin but with nine loose bottomed spaces for each mini cheesecake however I may also have dreamt this.
These mini chocolate cakes have only five ingredients and are simple to make, they work well with Gluten Free flour and when served up still warm from the oven, with a generous pouring of caramel sauce and a good dollop of softly whipped cream are comforting and delicious. They are great to serve as part of a dinner party menu as they can be left in the fridge in their ramekins for 24 hours before baking, this means you can prep them the day before and pop them in the oven to bake at the end of your meal while you are making the caramel sauce and the kettle is boiling for coffee.
These cakes are from David Lebovitz and are as delicious as everything else I have tried from My Paris Kitchen
Individual Chocolate Cakes

Ingredients
250 grams dark chocolate broken in to pieces, I used 75 % cocoa content
85 grams salted butter
5 large eggs
85 grams icing sugar
90 grams Doves Farm Gluten Free Self -Raising Flour

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• Butter 8 ramekin dishes or mini cake molds, line the base with a circle of baking parchment cut to size and dust each buttered mold with cocoa powder
• Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and allow to melt together. Once melted remove from the heat and stir until smooth and combined.
• Place the eggs and the icing sugar in a bowl and beat until thick and pale in colour, this will take about five minutes
• Sift over the flour and with a low speed on your mixer gently mix in the flour
• Spoon one quarter of the egg batter in to the melted chocolate and fold until mixed, this will cool and lighten the chocolate, then spoon this mixture back in to the batter and fold gently until fully combined

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• Spoon the mix into your prepped ramekins and place them in the fridge to chill. You should chill them for a minimum of 3 hours and up to 24 hours, the longer the better.
• When you are ready to bale pre heat your oven to 180 / 350 / Gas 4
• Place the ramekins in the oven, it makes life easier if you put all the ramekins on a flat baking sheet as you can get them in and out of the oven in one go.
• Bake for 12 to 13 minutes until you have a cake that is firm at the edges but still slightly soft in the centre. If you have only chilled the cakes for 3 hours check the bake after 10 minutes as they may need less cooking time and you don’t want an over baked, dry cake
• Allow the cakes to rest for five minutes and then run a flat knife around the edge of each cake and pop it out of the mold, peel the baking parchment off the bottom of each cake and set the cakes on the serving plates.

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While the cakes are baking you can make the caramel sauce

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

I cup of sugar
½ cup of water
85 grams of salted butter, cubed
½ cup of double cream

• Place the sugar and the water in a high sided heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat, swirl the pan occasionally to make sure the sugar and water combine and then allow to bubble together, until you have a deep golden amber liquid
• Remove the pan from the heat and use a whisk to stir in the cubes of butter, this will make the caramel bubble up and is why you need a high sided pan.
• When all of the butter is incorporated pour in the cream and stir until combined.
• If your caramel seizes place the pan over a gentle heat and stir until the hard lump of caramel dissolves.
When you are ready to serve pour the warm caramel sauce over the warm cake and add a spoon of softly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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This is a great desert for Winter or to cheer up these rainy Summer evenings!

 

Rachel Allen’s Peanut Butter Flapjacks: Adapted to be Gluten Free

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I think flapjacks were the first thing I was allowed to bake on my own, sweet, chewy, goldenly delicious and simple to make they are a great introduction to baking for kids. Since being diagnosed celiac I have fallen out of the habit of making flapjacks because gluten free oats tend to be outrageously expensive however Aldi has recently expanded their GF range to include porridge oats at a fraction of the cost of other GF brands so I will be back to making flapjacks, granola, muesli and hearty bowls of porridge with abandon.

This weekend I was at a very lovely wedding where the guests were all housed in Yurts. There was no electricity in the Yurts just beautiful beds, oil lamps, candles and a wood fired stove and they were set in beautiful grounds. It was all very lovely and rustic but since we weren’t in a hotel and brunch wasn’t until 11.00am on the morning following the wedding I knew I would need something to keep body and soul together until breakfast so I made a batch of flapjacks and the morning after the wedding we snuggled up in bed, nibbling on the chewy cookies, sipping warm orange juice out of plastic cups, rehashing all the events of the day before and it was a very nice start to the day.

Rachel Allen’s Peanut Butter Flapjacks: Adapted to be Gluten Free

Ingredients

300g gluten free porridge oats
100g seeds
50g desiccated coconut
50g Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
200g butter
200g golden syrup
150g soft brown sugar
150g dried apricots, chopped
125g crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160/gas 3/325f

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• Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment
• Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and melt together over a low heat
• Stir in the chopped apricots, peanut butter and vanilla extract.
• Place the gluten free oats, sunflower seeds, coconut and gluten free flour in a large bowl and stir together.

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• Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
• Scrape the mixture in to the prepared tin and bake in the pre heated oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and slightly firm.
• Allow to cool in the tin, then lift out on the paper and carefully flip the flapjacks over on to a cutting board face down. Peel back the baking parchment and cut into 18 squares.

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These flapjacks are quite soft and chewy and very crumbly but they are delicious and store  well although I would stack them with squares of parchment paper between each slice as they will tend to stick together.

Fruit Tarts: Gluten Free & Very Pretty

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I have mentioned before that I would like to be able to go to a café and get a pretty, light gluten free cake to go with my coffee or a glass of prosecco . Carrot cake, brownies, peanut butter cookies are all easy to find and there are time when I pass a patisserie window and wish I could have one of the delicate little cakes that are lined up on display.
Any of the tiny little cakes that are mostly mousse would be simple to make using a flourless chocolate sponge as a base, gluten free choux pastry is a doddle to make so I don’t see why I can’t have an éclair or two and individual gluten free tarts couldn’t be easier.

 

I made gluten free choux buns recently using up the crème patisserie I had left over from this recipe for miniature fruit tarts. With a pastry shell that is sweet and buttery, almost a shortbread rather than a pastry, filled with smooth custard and topped in strawberries and blueberries these tarts are delicious and beautiful to look at and a prefect option if you are organising a fancy afternoon tea.
The pastry recipe here makes a lovely sweet dough but it is an absolute nightmare to roll out in this Summer heat. I started rolling it out between two sheets of baking parchment I quickly had to switch to rolling out directly on the cold marble slab I am very lucky to have which kept the dough from literally melting while I rolled. If you don’t want to chance risking this dough then use a regular gluten free sweet short crust instead like the one I used for the mini apricot almond tarts:

https://ahomemadebycommittee.com/2014/09/08/gluten-free-apricot-almond-tartelettes/
Sweet Pastry Dough

Ingredients
1 & ½ cups Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
½ cup icing sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 ounces of unsalted butter, chilled
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork

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• Place the flour, salt and icing sugar in a bowl
• Grate or cut in the chilled butter and rub together until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs.
• Add in the egg and with a fork bring the dough together.
• Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and very lightly knead it to bring it together in a ball. Handle this dough as little as possible as the heat from your hands will start to melt it.
• Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour before rolling it out.
• To roll the dough you can place it between two sheets of baking parchment and gently press down with your rolling pin and then roll out. Once the pastry is rolled out leave it between the two sheets of baking parchment and lay it on a tray or plate before popping it back in the freezer for a half hour before cutting out the shapes for your tart tins. This will make it easier to lift the cut shapes from the baking parchment without them disintegrating in your hands. However if you do this allow them to come back to room temperature before pressing them in to the tart moulds.
• If you have a granite or marble work surface then you should roll directly on that and when the pastry is rolled out you can start cutting out the shapes straight away.
• Preheat your oven to Gas 5/190/375f
• Butter your tart moulds or individual mini tart tins and gently press in the cut pastry.
• Place the pastry lined tart moulds ( I used a 12 space bun tray for this) back in the freezer for a half hour, this will prevent the dough from shrinking.
• Cut baking parchment to fit the sizer of the lines pastry mould and line each tart shell with baking parchment before filling with baking beans.
• Bake the tart shells in the pre heated oven for fifteen minutes before taking them out of the oven and carefully removing the baking parchment filled with the baking beans.
• Brush the tart shells with egg wash and put the tray back in the oven for another ten minutes until lightly golden and cooked through.
• Remove the shells from the tray and allow to cool completely before filling with the pastry cream. I stored mine in an airtight container overnight and they were still crisp the next day.

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Crème Patisserie / Pastry cream

This is a super simple, butter free version of pastry cream from the lovely www.tarteletteblog.com

Ingredients

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of milk
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of cornflour ( or cornstarch, not corn meal)

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• Pour the milk and vanilla extract in to a medium sized sauce pan, one with a heavy base will be best as this will help to stop the milk from catching or scorching. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer over a medium heat.
• In a bowl whisk together the egg, egg yolk sugar and cornstarch.
• When the milk hot slowly pour it over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling and turning in to scrambled eggs.
• Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium low and cook whisking constantly until the mixture thickens in to a custard. You will know it is done when it looks like a thick béchamel sauce.
• Scrape the custard in to cold bowl and allow to cool completely. Place a piece of cling film directly on top of the surface of the custard skin from forming .

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To make the tarts, take the cooled tart shells and fill with the cooled custard and top with sliced strawberries or the fruit of your choice. Dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.

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These would be lovely for afternoon tea for mother’s day, a very tame and civilised hen party or as a birthday treat served with a glass of prosecco.

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Gluten Free Profiteroles

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Light, airy and pretty are words not often associated with Gluten Free deserts but these profiteroles are just lovely and elicited quite the chorus of oohs and aaahs from my guests when I brought them to the table.
Choux pastry works better than you would expect with Gluten Flour and this recipe is really simple to follow. You most likely have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now to make a luscious Monday treat.
You can fill the profiteroles with crème patisserie or just lightly sweetened whipped cream depending on how prepared you, I had short notice that visitors were coming so my profiteroles were filled with a cup of crème patisserie I had left over from some fruit tarts (recipe to come soon) folded in to some whipped cream to make it stretch but I definitely think that whipped cream on its own would be fine.

 

Choux Pastry
Ingredients
75 grams of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
½ tsp of caster sugar
50 grams of butter
150ml of water
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to Gas 6/ 200/ 400f

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• Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
• Sift the flour and sugar together and set aside
• Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat
• Once melted pour in the water and bring the butter/water mix to the boil
• When it has begun to boil remove the pan from the heat and add in the sifter flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until everything comes together in a dough.
• Allow the dough to cool for a few minutes before adding the egg.
• Once the dough has cooled a bit start adding in the beaten egg, add the egg a bit at a time and beat it in with the wooden spoon until combined. This might take some time and elbow grease and your pastry may start to look like scrambled egg throughout this process but keep at it and the pastry should come together.

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• Keep at it with the wooden spoon until you have a smooth glossy pastry.
• Use a desert spoon to place little mounds of pastry on your baking sheet, keep them evenly spaced as they will rise, I fit six per baking sheet and got 12 choux buns from this quantity of pastry.
• Bake the buns in the oven at 200 for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to Gas 2/ 150 / 300f for a further 20 minutes
• When the buns have risen and are lightly golden remove them from the oven and carefully loosen the buns from the baking parchment, I lost the end of a bun when I was too rough with it and it stuck to the tray.
• Using a sharp knife or skewer poke a hole in the side of each bun so the steam can escape, this will keep the buns crisp.
• When the buns are cooled split them in half and fill with either sweetened whipped cream or crème patisserie and top with the chocolate glaze.

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Chocolate Glaze

1 cup of icing sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of warm water

• Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa powder in to bowl.
• Add the warm water and stir together th get a thick shiny glaze.
• Spoon over the filled profiteroles and do not worry if the glaze pools around them on a plate, people will be happy to scrap this off with their spoons when their profiteroles are gone!

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Salted Butter Caramel Chocolate Mousse

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When restaurants tell me that they don’t have any gluten free desert options I often bemoan the poor unfashionable chocolate mousse. So popular in the seventies and eighties you would be hard pushed to find this on a menu now days. This is a tragedy as chocolate mousse (provided the chocolate used is GF) is gluten free, and when made with good quality ingredients it can be a silky smooth, intensely chocolaty delight.
If you are cooking at home mousses is a great dinner party desert as you make it in advance and pop it in the fridge to be served at your leisure. It is also a fairly simple process that uses few ingredients.
This recipe is from the gorgeous My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, I got this book for Christmas and having sat down and read it cover to cover over the winter I am now working my way through the recipes. I recently had the opportunity to hear David Lebovitz speak at the Ballymaloe Lit fest and he was engaging, enthusiastic and gave a great insight in to cooking and food writing. His blog is always a pleasure to read and his love of food, from sourcing good ingredients to cooking to importance of food in how we socialise, whether in our homes or in restaurants is evident in everything he writes.
The quantity here will fill 6 glasses and the amount is a perfect portion size. I topped my mousse with a thin layer of chilled un-whipped double cream and it was delicious.
Salted Butter Caramel Mousse
Ingredients

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• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 3 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
• 180ml heavy cream
• 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped. I used 2 ounces of 35% chocolate and 4 ounces of 70% chocolate
• 4 large eggs, separated
• 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt

  1. Place a wide bottomed pan over a medium heat and add the sugar, spread it our so it covers the base of the pan.
  2. Heat the sugar until it starts to melt and liquefy and then use a spatula to very gently pull the melted sugar towards the centre of the pan. Take your time, don’t be tempted to stir the sugar or raise the heat or you will end up with a burnt sugary lump. Don’t be worried if the sugar starts t turn sandy it will melt into caramel if you are patient.
  3. Allow the sugar to cook until it has all melted and stir gently until the liquid sugar starts to turn a deep golden caramel

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4. Wait until the caramel starts to smell just slightly burnt and then remove the pan from the heat.
5. Whisk in the cubed butter, stirring until it has completely melted.
6. Gradually whisk in the cream. Your caramel may seize at this point but keep whisking and eventually the hard caramel will melt in to the cream. My caramel was being difficult so I put the pan over a very low heat until the caramel melted. If there are small pieces of caramel that refuse to melt then you can strain the caramel through a sieve in to a bowl.

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7. When you have a smooth caramel stir in the chopped chocolate, now I don’t know it is because I strained the caramel in to a cold bowl or because I didn’t so much chop as break my chocolate in to squares but my caramel chocolate mix started to cool before all of the chocolate melted so I popped the bowl over a pan of hot water and stirred until the chocolate melted.

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8. Once the chocolate has melted and been incorporated in to the caramel allow the mix to cool to room temperature.
9. Whisk in the egg yolks.
10. Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until they are stiff and then take one third of the whites and fold in to the chocolate caramel with the ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. This will loosen the mixture.
11. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
12. Spoon the mousse in to your serving glasses and place in the fridge to chill for at least eight hours.

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Being slightly pushed for time I served my mousse after five hours and they were still delicious but having had two spare that stayed in the fridge over night before they were scoffed I would say leave the mousse to chill as long as you can.
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Gluten Free White Chocolate & Cherry Blondies

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I had a birthday recently and the lovely people I work with threw me a very lovely mini birthday party with cake and prosecco, balloons and some very nice gifts as they are an amazing group of people. As a little thank you I wanted to bake them something sweet and luscious and these blondies definitely fit the bill.

I also wanted an excuse to use the brand new gorgeous food mixer that I got from my family (this was a landmark birthday hence being spoiled so much) but as this is the easiest recipe in the world you  really don’t need much more than a bowl and wooden spoon but an electric whisk of some kind will definitely speed things up.

These blondies are truly delicious, dense, moist and studded with chewy dried cherries and rich white chocolate.

Ingredients

4 ounces butter
1 cup light soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Self -Raising flour
½ cup of dried cherries (check the cherries, I almost chipped a tooth on an errant piece of stone!)
½ cup (100 grams) coarsely chopped white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180 / Gas 4/ 350f

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1. Butter an 8×8 inch baking tin and line with baking parchment
2. Melt the butter and beat it together with the brown sugar in a large bowl.
3. Once you have a smooth batter beat in egg and then vanilla.
4. Using a wooden spoon stir in the flour and the salt.
5. Stir in the cherries and the chocolate and mix until they are evenly distributed in the batter
6. Scrape the batter into prepared tin.

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7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and set in the centre These blondies are almost like a cookie and will still be soft in the centre until they cool and become dense a fudgy.
8. Run a knife around the sides on the tin and then allow the blondies to cool int eh tin for fifteen minutes before using the baking parchment to lift them out of the tin. Allow to cool fully before cutting in to squares, to make life easy I gently flipped the cake upside down and peeled back the baking parchment before slicing. I cut these in to 1.5 inch squares as they are very rich but use your best judgement when deciding on size!

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Enjoy with an ice cold glass of milk or very chilled glass of Rose!

 

Gluten Free Lemon Cake Slices

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There are recipes that are intrinsically American to me, chocolate chip cookies, Carrot Cakes, Muffins and now these Lemon Squares. I was always intrigued by Lemon Squares, the idea of something so sweet but at the same time with the sour tang of lemon juice seemed delicious. Reading about the not only the contrasting flavours but also the contrast in textures between the chewy edges and the almost lemon curd like centre and I was in.

I am always looking for recipes that will result in gluten free cakes that are moist and light, not dense, heavy and dry and these were beautiful. The stages of the bake were new to me, the shortcake base and the topping that was more of a custard than a batter resulted in something sweet, tart, chewy and moist, in flavor this was almost the cake equivalent of a Refreshers Lemon Chew, candy like and delicious.

I found this recipe when I fell down the rabbit hole that is Joy The Baker’s blog , one linked recipe led to an afternoon of reading through articles bookmarking recipe after recipe,while these weren’t gluten free there are gluten free recipes on the blog but celiac or not I would recommend this blog to everyone.

Joy the Baker Lemon Cake Bars adapted for Gluten Free

Shortcake Base

Ingredients

4 ounces of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup of caster sugar

1 cup of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour

pinch of salt

Lemon Topping

Ingredients

2 large eggs

3/4 cup of caster sugar

Zest of one lemon

3 tablespoons Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, this took three large lemons

Preheat oven to 180/ Gas4/ 350f.

Line and butter the base of sides of an 8×8 inch baking pan, I ran out of baking parchment and used tin foil instead, it worked well and may have made it easier to lift the baked lemon cake out of the baking pan.

Base

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  • Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and beat together, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  • Beat on low speed until you have a sot dough, if it doesn’t come together in a smooth dough then use your hands to mould the dough in a ball.
  • Press the dough in to the prepped baking pan, use the palm of your hand to press the dough evenly so the base is the same thickness over the base of the pan.
  • Place on the centre rack of the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until just the base is browned around the edges. The base will looked bubbly and soft, don’t panic.
  • Lemon topping

While the base is baking make the topping.

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  • In bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until the batter has thickened and is pale.
  • Add the flour, lemon juice, and zest and whisk until fully combined.
  • Remove the baked base from the oven and let sit for five minutes then very gently spoon the topping over the baked base. The base will be very soft so if you pour all the batter over it will most likely split the base and settle on the bottom of the baking pan.  Be gentle and patient and everything should be fine.

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  • Return the pan to the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and no longer jiggling in the center.This cake has an odd texture so it won’t feel completely firm to the touch.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan.  Once cooled loosen the foil or parchment from the pan with a knife, then carefully lift the cake from the pan. Peel back the parchment or foil away from the sides of the cake. To peel the foil from the base I dusted a sheet of cling film with icing sugar and gently laid the cake on the cling film, then I could take my time peeling back the foil without worrying about the top sticking. I then used the cling film to flip the cake back on  its base on to a cutting board. Slice the cake in to squares, I made my squares about 1.5 x1.5 inches.

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Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar and serve, the base and edges all be chewy and the top like a lemony baked custard, these are sweet and light and perfect served  with tea or prossecco!

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To store keep the slices in a airtight container and layer the slices with baking parchment so they don’t stick together.

White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Poached Rhubarb

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I had an idea in my head for a desert, something sweet, light and Summery, even though the weather has taken a turn for the worse. I was thinking of a parfait or a fool, maybe a mousse but then I spotted some rhubarb and knew I would have to incorporate that in some way. I love rhubarb, in a crumble, in jam or poached and folded with custard, cream or yogurt.
I also love white chocolate and I thought the sweetness of the white chocolate, which can sometimes be a bit cloying, would work really well with the tart rhubarb, hence a white chocolate panna cotta topped with chilled poached rhubarb. I wanted to add ginger and found a great recipe for rhubarb poached in blood orange juice and stem ginger using a good tablespoon of the stem ginger syrup.
I am happy to report that this was delicious, gluten free and not at all labour intensive so if you are planning a dinner party this would be a great desert that can be made the night before and kept in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
You should get six servings from this but you could make four generous deserts instead

 

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Panna Cotta
Ingredients

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600ml double cream
150ml milk
60 grams of sugar
3 sheets of gelatin
200 grams of white chocolate, roughly chopped

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• Soak the gelatine in cold water until soft
• Put the copped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl
• Heat the milk, cream and sugar in a pan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then allow the cream to heat to the stage where it starts to bubble around the edges of the pan.
• Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted in to the cream.
• Remove the softened gelatine from the cold water and squeeze out the excess water, add to the chocolate cream and stir until it dissolves
• To make it easier to pour the chocolate cream in to my serving glasses I first ladled it in to a jug, pouring from a jug rather than trying to spoon the cream in to glasses was much easier!
• Allow the panna cotta to cool before placing them in the fridge to set, they will a take a few hours but you could leave them over night.

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Poached Rhubarb
Ingredients
600 grams of rhubarb, cut in to one inch pieces
200ml of fresh orange juice, I used blood oranges but you can use regular
75 grams of caster sugar
1 piece of stem ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of the syrup from the jar of stem ginger

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• Put the orange juice, sugar, ginger and ginger syrup in a sauce pan over a medium high heat and allow to bubble gently until syrupy
• Add the chopped rhubarb and stir to cover with the syrup. Loosely cover the pan and poach the rhubarb until it is tender.
• Allow the rhubarb to cool completely. If you make this the night before you can pop it in the fridge over- night.

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When you are ready to serve the Panna Cotta spoon some of the poached rhubarb in to the serving glasses and you will have a lovely light chilled desert, perfect for Summer, if we ever get one!
Any leftover rhubarb would be delicious in a crumble or served with some yoghurt for breakfast.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sometimes a body just needs comfort food. When I have had a bad day, when people have been acting the fool and wrecking my buzz I start to crave carbs, savoury and sweet to soothe my troubled mind. The acting of baking is also immensely calming so yesterday evening after a particularly vexing day I went home, opened a bottle of wine, listened to music and made some cookies.

 

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 that is the chocolate I want when I want comfort food.
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 with a glass of cold milk, a cup of tea or sandwich  two with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a really quick desert !

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

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I have long been looking for a really good basic chocolate cake recipe that works gluten free. I have a few fancy ones with many ingredients but I wanted something that I could use for a birthday cake, something I could fill with butter cream and top with Smarties and eat a wedge of with a cold glass of milk. This recipe from the Primrose Bakery Cookbook is exactly what I was looking for, my Mum and my sister, both seasoned bakers and wedding cake makers are big fans of the recipes from this book and I have been meaning to try this for a while. I was home in Cork last weekend for my Mum’s birthday so a cake had to be made for the birthday dinner and as we have several wheat free and gluten free people in the family I took the opportunity to finally try this out.
Of course my sister Deb took my three layers of sponge and worked her considerable magic to create a towering six layer cake, sandwiched alternately with raspberry mousse and white chocolate, coated in dark chocolate ganache, decorated with white and dark chocolate. My sister knows no fear when it comes to cakes.

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The recipe I am giving here is for the cake only but if anyone would like the recipe for the mousse or the ganache please let me know in the comments.
I made this as three 8 inch cakes but I think I will try it again as two 9 inch cakes sandwiched and topped with a good thick layer of chocolate buttercream. I think this cake would also be beautiful layered with cream and raspberries or strawberries.

Chocolate Cake from the Primrose Bakery: Gluten Free

Ingredients

230g grams 70% dark choc
170g unsalted butter, room temp
350g dark or light soft brown sugar ( the recipe called for light but I had dark and it was fine)
3 large eggs, seperated
370g Doves Farm Gluten Free self- raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powdert
1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
500ml semi-skimmed milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Pre heat oven to 170c /375f/gas mark 5.
• Grease and line three 20cm / 8 inch cake tins with greaseproof paper.
• Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, once fully melted set to one side to cool.
• Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy.
• Add the egg yolks to the batter one at a time and beat well.
• Pour the cooled melted chocolate in to the batter and beat until fully incorporated.
• Sift the GF flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in to a separate bowl.
• Combine the milk and vanilla in a jug.
• Add one third of the flour to the batter and mix well, pour in one third of the milk and mix.again. Repeat, alternating the remaining flour and milk.

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• In a clean dry bowl whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stages and then carefully fold in to the cake mix using a metal spoon. Use one spoon of the egg whites to loosen the batter and then add the remaining egg whites in two batches, folding gently.

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• Divide the batter between the three tins and bake for 30minutes, insert a skewer in to the centre of tone of the layers and if the skewer comes out clean the cake is done.
• Allow to cool in the tins for a few minutes before turning out on to a cooling rack.

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Decorate as you wish, be as restrained or as ambitious as you like, this sponge will take it. This cake is lovely, the flavour is great and you will get great height and texture even using GF flour.

 

 

 

Strawberry & Cream Chiffon Cake: Gluten Free

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As I had gone all out with the dark chocolate for the first of my Easter Deserts I decided to make something light and summery as an alternative for those at dinner who weren’t big fans of dark chocolate.
Chiffon cake is great to make with Gluten Free Flour, it is light and delicate and works with a lot of different fillings and icings. You could make this sponge and fill it with chocolate buttercream for a beautiful birthday cake or more simply fill it with jam and cream. I have made this sponge in a large rectangular tin and then sliced it to use it for tiramisu and Christmas trifle. It is incredibly versatile and works a dream when adapted for Gluten Free.
This recipe is adapted for Gluten Free from Deb Perlman’s site Smitten Kitchen, a treasure trove of delicious recipes.
I have made some deserts in the past that I thought were pretty impressive but nothing received as vocal a response as this towering four tiered strawberry and cream confection. The oohs and awws were audible, and although the finish was rough and some of the strawberries I had set aside for decoration had mysteriously vanished people were genuinely thrilled by the height of the cake. It also tasted amazing with the syrup from the strawberries seeping in the sponge and the sweetness of the vanilla flavoured cream keeping everything luscious and light.
This is a perfect cake for a Summer Party or for after Sunday dinner.
Cake
Ingredients

 

1 & ¼ cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Self -Raising Flour
1 cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Palin 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
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks at room temperature
8 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Stawberry & Cream Filling
Ingredients

 

2x 250 ml cartons of double cream
6 tablespoons icing sugar sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
600 grams of fresh strawberries hulled and thickly sliced. When I make this again I think I will definitely increase the amount of strawberries, I might go so far as to double the quantity. I think the cake can take it. I also think this would be great if you mixed a quantity of soft fruits, raspberries and blueberries with the strawberries.
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
I tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

 

Cake

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Preheat the oven to Gas 3/ 170 /325°F.

• Line two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper that has been lightly buttered
• Sift the two Gluten Free 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 five egg yolks with the water, oil, lemon zest and vanilla on high speed until smooth.
• Stir the egg batter into the flour mixture until smooth.

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• In a clean dry large bowl whisk the eight egg whites with the cream of tartar to the soft peak stage, then add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff. Do not over beat the whites of the 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 gently but keep going until there are no streaks of egg white visible.
• Pour the batter into the two prepared tins, making sure the batter is evenly distributed.
• Bake for forty to fifty minutes them until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out.
• Deb Perlman advises that you check the cakes every five minutes from the thirty five minute mark so you don’t overcook them.
• Allow the cakes to cool for at least an hour.
• When completely cool run a knife around the inside rim of the pan and turn the cakes out on to a plate. As I need this cake to be ready to serve after an early diner the next day I then wrapped the cakes in a layer of greaseproof paper followed by a layer of tin foil until the following morning.

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Strawberry Filling
• Macerate the sliced strawberries with the two tablespoons of sugar and the tablespoon of lemon juice for at least an hour before you want to assemble the cake.

Cream Filling
• Whip the Double cream with the vanilla and the icing sugar, you want the cream to thicken but still be floppy so don’t over whisk.

Assembling the cake

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• Carefully split each cake layer in half, leaving you with four cake layers.
• Place the bottom layer on your serving plate and spread over some of the macerated strawberries and their juices, this sponge can take the syrup. Cover this layer thickly with one quarter of the cream and place the second cake layer carefully on and repeat this process for the second and third layers making sure to keep one quarter of the cream to coat the top layer. I used all of the macerated strawberries for these three layers and set aside some hulled and quartered strawberries for the top of the cake.
• Unfortunately my reserve strawberries were set upon so the top of my cake wasn’t as pretty as I hoped it would be.
• This is a tall cake but if you can fit it in your fridge it will keep for a few hours and this will allow the juices to seep in to the sponge cake and you will have something like a beautifully light trifle. Otherwise you can set it in a cool place until you serve. I assembled the cake just before dinner was left to sit for about forty minutes but felt it could have done with a little more time.

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Chocolate Caramel Tart: Gluten Free

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Easter Sunday is a day for chocolate so last weekend I found a desert that had a good hit of dark chocolate and a luscious layer of caramel. This recipe is adapted very slightly from My Paris Kitchen, by David Lebovitz, this book is fast becoming one of my go to cook books, it is a pleasure to read and the recipes are great. The two changes I made were using Gluten Free flour for the base and using a tin of Carnation caramel sauce instead of Dulce De Leche. If you can get Dulce De Leche then please do as it is gorgeous when used in baking or simply spread on toast, it is good stuff. I did not have time to try speciality stores for it last Saturday so Carnation caramel sauce it was. This is a great desert if you have a crowd over for dinner as it is very rich so a wee sliver of a slice will do most people. If you can hang on to a piece it was even better the next day, enjoyed with a cold glass of wine while sitting out in this lovely weather we have been having.

 

Chocolate Caramel Tart: David Lebovitz

 

Tart shell
Ingredients
85 grams of salted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup of icing sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1/3 cup of cocoa
¼ teaspoon of sea salt flakes

Butter a 9” loose bottomed tin

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• Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth
• Beat in the egg yolk and beat until fluffy
• In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and cocoa powder until combined
• Add the flour mix to the egg batter and mix until a dough forms
• Form the dough in to disc and wrp in cling film and allow to rest at room temperature for thirty minutes
• After thirty minutes, unwrap the dough and press the dough in the tin using your hands.
• Sprinkle the base with the sea salt and again wrap in cling film and place in the freezer for thirty minutes
• Preheat the oven to Gas 6 /200 / 400f
• Remove the cling film from the chilled tart shell and line the shell with tin foil and fill with baking beans
• Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the foil and beans and bake the shell for a further five minutes until the base feel set.
• Reduce the oven temperature to Gas 2/ 150 / 300

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Carmel layer
I cup of Carnation caramel sauce, this is a thick sauce often used for banoffee pies. As it is so thick it will be easier to spread on the base if you place it in a bowl and stir to soften.
When the tart shell is baked, spoon the caramel sauce evenly over the base.
Chocolate custard
Ingredients

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230 grams of semi -sweet dark chocolate, I used 70% when doing this again I might try 60% as this was a bit too dark for a few people.
2 large eggs
1 &1/4 cups of milk
½ teaspoon of vanilla
• Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over hot water

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• Heat the milk in a sauce pan
• Whisk the eggs and then gently pour over the hot milk
• Gently pour the hot milk over the eggs, whisking to combine
• Pour the egg milk mix back in to the pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mix is steamy and has thickened slightly. Do not let the mix boil.
• Pour the custard in to the melted chocolate and add the vanilla, stir to combine.
• I allowed my custard to get too thick and when I added it to the melted chocolate the chocolate custard was so thick it was difficult to spread over the caramel in the tart shell
• Place the caramel filled tart shell on a baking sheet, this will make it easier to get in it in to the oven without spillage.
• Pour the chocolate custard evenly over the caramel layer and smooth out with a spatula if necessary.
• Place the tart in the oven at the reduced temperature of 150 for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat and allow the tart to rest in the oven with the door closed for a further 25 minutes.

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Allow the tart to cool before serving, I loved it fully chilled the following day. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

 

 

 

Rachel Allens Orange Almond Cake: Naturally Gluten Free

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For months my Mum has been extolling the virtues of this cake, the last time I was due to be in Cork she had kept aside a slice for me but unfortunately my brother got to it before I got home. I have been slow to make the cake as I have had a few bad experiences with orange almond cakes which for a while were part of the triumvirate of GF deserts you could get, alongside coconut macaroons and dry as dust brownies. A lot of the orange almond cakes I bought or made were just too wet for my tastes, they went beyond moist directly to soggy and that texture wasn’t for me.
However this cake is a thing of beauty, it is probably the easiest cake I have ever made and is delicious served cold or slightly warmed as a pudding. If you are looking for a good recipe for your first attempt at Gluten Free baking than this is the one for you (just make sure your ground almonds are gluten free). There is no fiddling around with gluten free flours hoping for the best and as such this is ideal for beginners to gluten free baking.

 

I made this last Tuesday and I had the last slice on Sunday and it was still delicious, just keep it covered and stored in the fridge.
Ingredients
Cake
200grams of butter, softened and cubed
275grams of caster sugar
Grated zest of 2 oranges
Grated zest of 1 lemon
5 eggs
350grams of ground almonds
Syrup

 

Juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
75grams of caster sugar
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 3/ 170/ 325f

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Butter a 23 cm loose bottomed tin and line the base with baking parchment

    • Beat the butter until soft and light
    • Add in the sugar and continue to beat until fluffy.
    • Beat in the grated zest.
    • Beat in the eggs one at a time, don’t worry if the batter looks a bit curdled.
    • Fold in the ground almonds and scrape the batter in to the prepared tin.

Place in the oven and bake for 55 – 60 minutes or until the top is firm and a skewer come out clean. My cake was very brown, this did not affect the taste and in fact the edges were deliciously chewy and almost caramelised but you could try covering the top of the cake with tin foil or moving the cake to a lower shelf if you feel it is browning too fast.

Once baked allow the cake to sit for a minute before turning it out on to a plate.

While the cake is cooling make the syrup.

  • Put the juice and sugar in to a sauce pan bring to the boil, allow the liquid boil for about ten minutes until it has reduced to a syrup
  • Use a skewer or a thin chop stick to poke some holes through the cake, this allows the syrup to be fully absorbed. Spoon the syrup over the cake, don’t be afraid to use all of it, I promise this won’t be soggy it will just have a deliciously moist crumb and a lovely nutty texture.

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Enjoy this cake warm as a pudding with cream or ice cream but it is just as good when cold.

Pina Colada  Cupcakes

Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada
Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada

Topic: Cupcake, Alcoholic, Cocktail, Hens, Bachelorette, Baking, Party

If I am honest I would say that this is a coconut flavoured cupcake, where instead of using coconut essence I have used Malibu, but I’ve been taught to never let the truth get in the way of a good story, so instead I tell people that these are the ultimate in cocktail goodness.

The result from these cupcakes is so delicious, it feels almost like cheating, because they are so simple and quick to make. But again, I tell people it takes me hours in the kitchen, making sure I get the exact mix perfect for each individual cake. Some people will believe anything.

Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada
Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada

Ingredients

Batter

  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 140g sugar
  • 120ml coconut milk (later add the rest of the can to a soup – yummy!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 140g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 can pineapple rings drained and chopped

Icing

  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 110g cream cheese
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Malibu

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas4. Line baking tin with paper cases
  2. In a large mixer cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix cocnut milk and eggs together. Add to butter & sugar
  4. Sift in flour and baking powder. Mix well
  5. Add pineapple. Mix again
  6. Pour mixture into paper cases. Bake for 20 min
  7. For the icing: in a large mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy. The longer you beat it, the whiter it becomes.
  8. Mix in icing sugar and Malibu
  9. Spread over cupcakes & decorate

As you can see, these ones went straight to a Hen Party where they went down a storm teamed with a glass of champers!

Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada
Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada

Racel Allen’s Sticky Toffee Pudding: Gluten Free

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For all that today is gloriously bright and Spring like this past weekend was still a bit on the chilly side and therefore a warming, indulgent desert was called for. As I was home in Cork I browsed through the cast collection of cookbooks there and found this little gem in one of Rachel Allen’s Bake! I figured this would work well gluten free as the tea soaked dates would add moisture to the pudding where GF baking can sometimes be a bit dry and if all went awry then the toffee sauce poured over the top would hide a multitude of sins. Luckily this worked really well with GF flour and went down a treat.

This is a really simple recipe to make and takes just a few minutes to prep and it takes 45 minutes to bake so it is perfect if you want to prep it right before dinner so the finished pudding will be warm and ready to go at the end of the meal. The toffee sauce is fool proof and takes about ten minutes to make.
Ingredients
Pudding

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225grams stoned dates , chopped
250ml black tea
100grams unsalted butter, softened
175grams soft light brown sugar (Rachel Allen uses golden caster sugar but for an extra toffee flavour I used the light brown sugar)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
225grams Doves Farm Gluten Free Self -Raising Flour
3/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

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Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

  • Butter and line an 8 inch tin with parchment paper
  • Put the chopped dates and black tea in a saucepan and bring to the boil, cook for a few minutes until the dates are softened and then remove from the heat and put to one sides, the dates will absorb the tea so don’t worry if the mix starts to look dry.
  • Beat the butter until it is soft and then add the brown sugar and continue beating until the mix is light and fluffy.
    Beat in the eggs one at a time and then beat in the vanilla extract and spices. The batter will be quite liquid but don’t worry, this is fine.
  • Fold in the date mixture, the tea will have been absorbed by now but add any liquid that is in the pot.

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  • Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and fold until mixed.
    Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes until the top is just firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. I moved my tim on to the middle shelf of the oven after 30 minutes as the top was browning to quickly.
  • Allow the pudding to stand in the tin for about 5 minutes then tip it out and place it on your serving plate.

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Toffee Sauce

Ingredients

110grams butter
250grams soft light brown sugar
275grams golden syrup
225ml double cream
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over a high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until all the ingredients have melted and the sauce has thickened. This recipe couldn’t be easier.

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I sliced the pudding and plated individual portions before pouring over some sauce, but you could serve the whole pudding on a plate with a high lip (to catch the sauce) and pour over the sauce and slice at the table. Put the remaining sauce in a heatproof jug and serve alongside the pudding as people will definitely ask for more.
Serve the pudding with ice cream or whipped cream. If you don’t finish this in one go then wrap the pudding in cling-film and store the pudding and the sauce in the fridge. Both will reheat very well.

Ridiculously Indulgent Gluten Free Brownies

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I don’t understand how I have accumulated so much stuff since I moved to Dublin twelve years ago with just two pieces of luggage. The amount of books and DVD’s Dave and I have amassed in the last few years is terrifying and I really need to be more conscious in my purchasing going forward!
As I am moving and in the midst of going through everything I own to see what needs to be packed, what can be binned and what I can donate I am only capable of very basic cooking. All I want is comfort foods that are simple to make. Since I was incapable of deciding what I wanted I did a google search for the most comforting of comfort foods and the results came in for Macaroni and cheese and Brownies.
I am going to attempt gluten free Mac & Cheese later this week as I spotted some GF macaroni pasta in Tesco a while back but this weekend I decided to make some GF brownies. I have made a few GF brownies in the past and never been quite happy with them. They have always been a bit dry and I have never bought a GF brownie that I really enjoyed, there has always been something a bit off, be it taste or texture.
These brownies, adapted from a few different recipes were good, moist and dense with a rich chocolate flavour but still chewy and crisp at the same time. Studded with walnuts and milk chocolate chips these are scrumptious but do need to be accompanied by a cold glass of milk. I used milk chocolate for the chips as milk chocolate is more comforting to me than dark chocolate and there was a good 6 ounces of dark chocolate in the brownies already.
There is a terrifying amount of sugar in the brownies but go with it and you won’t be disappointed, the sugar is what gives the brownies the crisp chewy top layer over the luscious chocolaty base.
These brownies cook slowly at a low heat, they took one hour ten minutes in my oven but do check them over the last twenty minutes so you don’t over-cook them. Make sure the batter isn’t still wet but you do still want a few dense moist crumbs sticking to the skewer when you test them.

Ingredients

5 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon GF baking powder
6 ounces 70% dark chocolate broken into pieces
6 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
15.75 ounces of light brown sugar (430 grams if you don’t have a digital scale)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 ounces walnuts, roughly chopped
2 ounces of milk chocolate chopped

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Preheat your oven to Gas 3 / 170/ 325f
• Line a 9” x 13” baking or roasting tin with tin foil and brush with a neutral tasting oil or melted butter. You need a baking tray that is at least 2” deep.
• Melt the dark chocolate and the unsalted butter in a heatproof bowl set over some hot water. Stir once or twice until fully melted and combined. Remove from the heat.
• Whisk the brown sugar in to the melted chocolate.
• When the sugar is fully combined whisk in the eggs, one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is fully mixed.

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• Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and fold in to the chocolate batter in two additions.
• Pour the batter in to the prepped baking tray and scatter over the chopped walnuts and milk chocolate. If you batter is very thick you can press them slightly in to the batter.

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• Place the tray on the middle shelf of your oven and cook for at least 50 minutes and then check to see if the batter is cooked but not too dry. If there is any wet batter on your skewer then leave the brownies in the oven, check again in ten minutes. My brownie took one hour and ten minutes to cook through. What you want is for there to be no wet batter but some moist crumbs on the skewer when you test the brownies.

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• Let the brownies sit in the tray for few minutes and then lift the brownies in their tinfoil from the tray and allow to cool fully or as long as you can before cutting in to squares.

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As I love the combination of salt and sweet I scattered a bit of Maldon salt on the top of the brownies with the walnuts and milk chocolate before baking but this is a personal preference and very optional.

A Valentines Dessert, Disaster and Recovery

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What a pretty disaster

I am not big on grand romantic gestures, I like a surprise cup of coffee in bed on a Sunday or having left the house for work in an early morning, half- awake tizz to come home to a pristinely dressed bed and a homemade dinner because Dave knows that is how to soothe my frazzled nerves. These little acts of fondness that say I know you and I think this will make you happy are what have kept us together through some very tough times over the last ten years.

Dave’s small act of kindness this year will be to sit quietly through Jupiter Ascending with nary a sneer or derisive snort even though he still hasn’t forgiven the Wachowskis for the second and third Matrix films. I am going to indulge both my fondness for spectacle sci fi with Mila Kunis’ glorious floral headdress and my fondness for Channing Tatum and I will do it in peace and possibly a bit tipsy.

Since we are not in to big romantic things our Valentines meals tend to be low key, on more than one occasion it has just been a lot of cheese and some good red wine. We like to keep it simple so neither of us are stressed out from spending all day in the kitchen. Going out to eat is a definite no no, Valentines meals are usually sub- par at the best of times but I would hate to test a crazy busy kitchen in terms of cross contamination and gluten free cooking.

Although I would usually advise people to just split a tub of fancy ice cream for dessert on this Hallmark holiday this year I decided to try and make something sweet and good for sharing and believe me when I say what could go wrong went very wrong and although the finished dish looked pretty and tasted good it was not a shining moment in terms of texture. My plan was to layer raspberry coulis, dark chocolate mousse and raspberry mousse and serve with dark chocolate shortbread biscuits. The coulis and the biscuits are perfect, the biscuits in particular have the lovely richness of a good bourbon biscuit and I will be making these again. However disaster struck both of my mousse recipes, my chocolate split so it is slightly grainy and there was too much gelatine in the raspberry mousse for my taste, I like a soft yielding mousse and this was a bit too firm for me.

Luckily the world did not end.  That is the important thing to remember if you plan on cooking tomorrow, if it all goes tits up and disaster strikes your kitchen you will know that your valentine is true if you are both laughing as you cobble together some kind of dinner or just heft everything in the bin and order take out. If there is any kind of disdainful look thrown your way, any harsh judgement then my advice would be to call it and with a haughtily raised eyebrow show that person the door.

What I will be doing for desert tomorrow is buying a really good vanilla ice cream and serving it with the warmed raspberry coulis and the chocolate shortbread biscuits and those are the recipes I am going to share here.

Raspberry Coulis

Ingredients

2 cups of frozen raspberries
Slice of lemon zest
¼ cup of honey

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• Place the raspberries, honey and lemon zest in a saucepan and cook over a medium low heat until the raspberries have broken down and dissolved in to a lovely fragrant syrup.
• Set aside to cool.
The recipe makes a good bit of coulis but you can enjoy this stirred in to Prosecco, over ice cream, stirred in to yogurt or rice pudding or drizzled over a fruit filled pavlova so this is to going to go to waste.

Chocolate Chip Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
(adapted slightly from http://www.tarteletteblog.com/)

Ingredients
4 ounces of unsalted butter
¼ cup of caster sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 & ¼ cup of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
¼ cup of cocoa powder
1/3 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

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• Line a baking sheet
• Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, if you don’t have a mixer go at it with a wooden spoon and elbow grease!
• Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is fully incorporated
• Turn the speed to low and mix in the flour, cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. Be sure and reduce the speed or you will end up with a flour covered kitchen.
• Turn the dough out on to a surface dusted with cocoa powder and bring it together in a ball.
• Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.
• Pre heat your oven to Gas 4 / 180 /350f
• Remove the dough from the fridge and place it between two pieces of baking parchment and roll out until ¼ inch thick.
• You can use cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, heart shaped if you wish or simply cut the dough in to rectangles with a knife.
• Place the cookies on the lined baking sheet and place in the oven.
• Bake for eight to ten minutes, like all cookies these will still be slightly soft when you remove them from the oven, they will crisp up as they cool.
• Allow to cool before serving, the cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container

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I am not giving up on my initial desert idea, I think the theory is sound but the practice needs work but I will enjoy a very chilled out evening tomorrow with ice cream, cookies and raspberry syrup.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Mousse Cake

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Every now and then I like to flex the old baking muscles and try something that seems really difficult or complicated. It is easy to get stuck in a rut with a few favourites and particularly when baking gluten free it is tempting to stick with tried and true recipes that you know work well with GF flour.

I have been eyeing up this Anna Olson cake for over a year now and this weekend decided to give it a go. This is a two day project so plan ahead, you are not going to be running home after work to get this done before that night’s dinner party. Give yourself time to make this cake. All the elements and stages are very easy but when you look at a recipe this long it can seem daunting. Give it a go, the only piece of equipment you will need that you may not have is a sugar thermometer and they aren’t expensive and if you think you won’t use a sugar thermometer often enough to make the investment worth it you can also use it to gauge the temperature for frying anything from fried chicken to perfect chips.
The cake recipe given will make two sponge layers although the assembled cake only needs one layer split in half . This works if you are baking with regular flour as the sponge will rise enough to be split in half however I knew looking at the recipe that this cake was not going to rise with Gluten Free Flour, no matter how much baking powder and baking soda was added. As the cake layers were going to be too flat to split I just used both layers in the finished cake. This is a lovely sponge, dense and moist but the next time I make this I might omit the baking soda, it isn’t going to help with the GF flour and I find that when I add baking soda to a cake batter the cake ends up tasting of brown soda bread to me. I am alone in this, no one else seems to taste it so it is a purely personal preference.

If you make this with regular flour and split one cake layer you can freeze the second layer for later use.

This cake will definitely serve 12 to 16 people! It is delicious but so very rich.
Step One: Cake

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Ingredients
½ cup boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped . I used 70% dark chocolate for this.
¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¾ of a teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ cup hot strong coffee
Preheat the oven to Gas 3, 170, 325 F.

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• Grease two 8inch cake tins, line the bottoms with baking parchment and then lightly dust the sides of the pan with GF flour, tapping out any excess.
• Whisk the boiling water, chocolate and butter together until melted and set aside.
• Beat together the egg, sugar and vanilla until the mixture doubles in volume, this will take about 2 minutes.
• Add the chocolate mixture to the egg batter and fold in gently
• Sift the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt together over the batter and fold in gently
• Stir in the hot coffee until well combined. As GF flour is quite starchy you may feel that the mix is getting too gummy however be patient and gentle and the batter will be fine.
• Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared 2 tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans.

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Step Two: Mousse

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Ingredients
3 cups of single cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped . I used 60% dark chocolate for this.
3 large egg yolks
½ cup of sugar
⅓ cup of water

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• Take 1 & ½ cups of your single cream and whip until you get a medium peak, don’t over whip. Put the whipped cream in the fridge to chill.
• Place the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat the remaining 1 ½ cups of cream until it is almost at a simmer and then pour it over the chopped chocolate. Allow the cream and chocolate the sit so the hot cream can start to melt the chocolate and then stir to combine. Set the chocolate ganache aside to cool
• Place the egg yolks in a bowl and beat for a minute .
• Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble until the mix reaches 250 F on a sugar thermometer.
• Start whipping the egg yolks on medium speed and then very carefully pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl in to the eggs. Increase the mixer speed until high and whip until the egg / sugar mix has doubled in volume and cooled to about 105 F. If you don’t want to put your thermometer in to the batter 105F will be just about body temperature so you can check with a clean finger, you can also use this method to test the ganache.
• Check the temperature of the chocolate ganache to ensure it is close to 105 F as well and fold the ganache into the whipped yolks. Let this cool for 15 minutes, or until just above room temperature.
• Once the mousses has cooled fold in the chilled whipped cream in two batches.

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Step Three: Assembling the cake and mousse
• Prep a 9 inch spring-form cake tin by lining the base with baking parchment
• Spoon half of the mousse into the prepped cake tin.
• Place one of the cake layers over the mousse, as centred as possible.
• Spoon the remaining mousse over the cake layer and spread it out to the edges of the tin, gently place the second cake layer on top
• Press down gently to make sure the mousse rises up and covers the sides of the cake, you do not want the cake layer to sink in under the mousse so don’t press down too hard.
• Wrap the tin in cling film and put the cake in the freezer to set for at least four hours or over -night.

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Step Four: Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients
½ cup of water
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of single cream
½ cup of cocoa powder, sifted
1& ½ tablespoon gelatin powder

  • You can make the glaze while the cake is setting.
  • Soften the gelatin in ¼ cup of cold water.
  • Bring the water, sugar, and cream to a boil in a saucepan.
  • When it reaches a boil, whisk in the sifted cocoa powder and reduce the heat to a simmer for 4 minutes, stirring often. The mix may bubble up so reduce the temperature if you need to.
  • Whisk the softened gelatin into the hot cocoa mixture until dissolved.
  • Cool the glaze to room temperature, then chill completely, at least 3 hours. The glaze will set but don’t worry, you heat it to pour over the cake.

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Step Five: Finishing the cake

  • Use a hair dryer on a low heat setting to gently warm the pan so that the mousses slightly melts and the cake release from the tin.
  • Remove the base of the cake tin and the baking parchment. If you want to soften the top edge of the cake or neaten the sides you can warm a palette knife in hot water and use it to tidy the mousse.
  • Warm the chilled glaze, stirring occasionally until just melted and smooth and pour this over the cake.
  • If you have a cooling rack place the cake on the rack over some parchment paper before you pour on the glaze, the parchment paper will catch any glaze that pours off the cake.
    For some reason I do not have a cooling rack so I placed my cake on a 9 inch cake base on top of an inverted bowl, over some baking parchment and then spooned over the glaze, I should have warmed my glaze more but I lost my nerve and was convinced it would all slide off the cake, as such I do not have the lovely glossy finish of Ms Olsons Torte. Don’t lose your nerve!
  • Place the finished cake in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes, then transfer it to your onto cake tray or plate.

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You can serve the cake on its own or with some unsweetened whipped cream but a sharp raspberry coulis would really set this off.
Anna Olson recommend chilling he cake until you are ready to serve however I found that I prefer it at room temperature so that the mousse is a little softer.
The cake will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

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Hen Party Cupcake Decoration

Hen Party Cupcake Decoration
Hen Party Cupcake Decoration

Topic: cupcakes, decoration, hen, bachelorette, party

I recently volunteered to provide cupcakes for a hen party. Now, it would have been possible to show up with a few butterfly buns, as my baking ability is not internationally renowned and the expectations were not high. But it was the hen party of my future sister-in-law and I thought it would be nice to put in a little effort and see if I could make something special.

Making the cupcakes was no problem. I cracked the spine on my favourite cookbook for alcoholic cupcakes and with a few modifications created Southern Comfort & Coke, Pina Colada, Margarita and White Maria cupcakes.

It can be sometimes tricky to get 40 women to eat cupcakes, especially if they are thinking of having to squeeze into their frock for the wedding which was only a few weeks away. I have found that the more appetising and interesting the cupcakes look, the more chance that they will be eaten. To help me with this I recruited Jean from Pretty Tasty Bakes to give me a tutorial on cupcake decoration.

The first thing Jean did was put a cupcake case in front of me. {Well, that’s a lie, the first thing she did was come into the house, unpack a suitcase worth of equipment and have a cuppa before getting started. But the first thing she did right after that was to put the cupcake case before me} so that I would keep scale in mind. There is no point making something with lots of detail that people either can’t see or that won’t fit on the top of the cupcake. Scale is very important.

I had trawled through Pinterest and picked out a few designs that I liked and saved them to a board. Jean reviewed this so that we were both on the same page. We started with the simplest design: black and pink hen party regulars.

 

Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada
Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada

Required

  • Cutting/chopping board on which to work
  • Rolling pin
  • Circular cookie cutter
  • Craft knife
  • Gem mould if available
  • Letter stamp impressions
  • Non-toxic shimmer dust

Method

  1. To make the black base: Take a blob of black icing, tease until warm and flexible, and roll it smooth, on a cutting board to protect your table, with a rolling pin. Black icing is one of the few colours that should be bought premade, because of the amount of dye it takes to colour white icing to make it black, as opposed to grey (red is another one of these, it takes bottles to move it from being pink to being scarlet). Then take a circular cookie cutter about the size of the cupcake case you are using and cut out enough circles to place on top of each cupcake. Put these aside to dry and harden.
  2. To make the learner signs take a blob of white icing, tease and roll out. From this cut the white square for the L sign. Use a ruler or guide to ensure these are square. Place to one side to dry. Next take a blob of pink, tease and roll out. Use a craft knife to cut out the letter L (being careful of scale). Place to the side to dry.
  3. To make the rings, take a blob of white and roll between your hands to make a worm shape. Once the worm has started to take shape, put the roll on the board and using one finger only roll until a thin long snake is made. Using only one finger will help to keep the width of the snake consistent. Once the correct diameter has been reached, cut and make a circle from it. Place to one side to harden. To make the gem, Jean had a handy gem mould which we used. However, if you did not have this, using a craft knife, impress edges onto a small ball of white icing, until it has a cut diamond appearance. Dust with shimmer dust to give gleam. Place to one side to harden
  4. To make the flags, take a blob of pink icing, tease and roll. Use a craft knife to cut out the flag shape. Use letter stamps to impress message onto the icing. Use toothpick to decorate the edge of the flag with small dots. Dust with shimmer dust to give gleam.
  5. Once the cupcakes are ready to decorate, stack pieces on top of one another, holding in place with non-toxic baking glue.

Some little tips:

How to get lots of different colours without spending a fortune?

There is no need to buy lots of different coloured icing to get different colours, instead buy small bottles of food colouring and a large block of white icing. Add a very small, tiny, miniscule drop of colouring to a blob of white icing. Mix this in by pulling apart and resticking the icing together (as you would to warm up bluetack) until the colour is uniform. This will work for ever colour except dark ones such as red, black, purple, for those colours you will need to buy the pre-dyed icing.

What to do if the icing gets too sticky?

Add some icing sugar, this will dry up some of the moisture.

Leaving it to dry:

It is best to leave your decorations harden overnight, in a cool dark space if possible. I find the oven an excellent place to do this, plus it gives me the perfect excuse to order pizza!

Hen Party Cupcake Decoration

Cocktail Cupcakes: Southern Comfort and Coke

Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke
Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke

 

Topic: Cupcake, Alcoholic, Hens, Bachelorette, Baking, Party

 

Nothing says “I have come to party, but in a controlled, safety-switch-on sort of way” like an alcoholic cupcake, but what says “I may even loosen my hair bun and unbutton my shirt collar” is chocolate alcoholic cupcakes.

One of my favourite recipes is an adaption of the Cookie Girls Jack Daniels from her Eat Me book. Jack Daniels is Cookie Girl’s hubby’s (say that three times fast!) favourite tipple, unfortunately I had an “incident” with Jack back in my college days and I now can’t stand the taste of it, so instead I use Southern Comfort. I think the Southern Comfort adds a smoothness which the dark chocolate compliments very nicely. And there is a bit of coke thrown in so people don’t realise I’m an alcoholic.

Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke
Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke

Ingredients

Batter

  • 200g plain flour
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml milk
  • 30g yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Coke (full fat, this is no time for Coke Zero, we need the sugar)

Icing

  • 110g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp Coke
  • 3tbsp Southern Comfort
  • 5 tbsp of black food colouring
  • 100g dark chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170/Gas 3 & line your 12 hole baking tray with paper cases
  2. Mix flour, sugar and bicarbonate in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl mix egg, milk, yogurt and vanilla.
  4. In a large pot melt the butter. Add the cocoa and Coke.
  5. Pour the butter mix into the flour mix and mix.
  6. Add the egg mix and mix.
  7. Pour into cupcake cases so they are 2/3 full, to allow space to rise
  8. Bake for 20-25 min
  9. Once the cupcakes are baked and cool, begin making the icing
  10. Sift the icing sugar and add the Coke, Southern Comfort and food colouring.
  11. Melt the chocolate and stir into the icing
  12. Working quickly before the icing solidifies, pour over cupcakes. Then decorate.

I was asked to bring some cupcakes to a sporting event recently, so I mixed these dark boozy cupcakes (for the grown-ups) in with a milk chocolate Nutella cupcakes (for the kids). They went down a treat. Although some of the kids were a little too partial to the Southern Comfort cupcakes – ones to watch in the future!

Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke
Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke

Gluten Free Mincepies and some seasonal GF advice

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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 week. 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, I started this balm for the soul over the weekend with red wine, cheese and Fred Clause followed by a rousing dose of Die Hard and I am planning on moving on to mince pies, more red wine and possibly Elf this evening.
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
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, 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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I am also going to drop a few hints here for an easy Gluten Free Christmas if you are baking for yourself or GF friends and family.

• Be wary of cross contamination. Don’t use the same serving spoons for gluten free and regular dishes. Be conscious in your kitchen to cook gluten free dishes separately and clean all your cooking tools carefully before cooking GF food. Tinfoil is your friend, cover all dishes once cooked so that errant crumbs or dustings of flour don’t fall in. Clearly identify GF containing foods for gluten free guests so they know what to avoid.
• If you are cooking bread stuffing with your turkey try cooking it separately instead of in the bird. You can wrap the bread stuffing tinfoil and cook in the oven, check with our google overlords for instructions. Or you could use GF bread crumbs for your stuffing to make life even easier
• Most vegetable dishes will be naturally Gluten Free but make sure that whatever you are adding to the veggies is also gluten free.
• Check your stock cubes, there are plenty of GF stock-cubes available for making gravy. Thicken your gravy with GF flour or GF cornflour instead of regular flour.
• Check, double check and then check again the ingredients on any pre- packaged food you purchase from frozen roast potatoes to the glaze for your ham to cranberry sauce and all the relishes and if they contain gluten serve them separately and let your GF guest know.
• If you are deep frying anything please do not use the same oil for GF and non GF food, this will cause contamination.
• Check your butter for gluten containing crumbs before adding to your mashed potatoes.
• If you want to make an old fashioned sherry trifle try the Gluten Free Madeira Cake from Aldi instead of trifle sponges, it tastes good and I feel, although I haven’t tried it, that it could work well.
• Ask your GF guest for advice, let them know that you are taking their needs in to consideration and that they aren’t putting you out. Don’t freak out, there are a lot of resources out there to guide you on your gluten- free way and gluten free products are easily available online and in most grocery stores.
• Relax, do your best, that is all anyone can ask of you, if what you can manage is turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and a vegetable side that are all definitely gluten free and safe to eat, served with good company and festive cheer then I think your GF guest will be happy to forgo any GF containing dishes that you have on the table.
• Have a very Merry Christmas and a lovely holiday season!

Gluten Free Christmas Cut-out Cookies

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Christmas baking is always about rich full flavours, dried fruit, oranges, spices, port, brandy all the good things but sometimes it is nice to make something a little simpler and these vanilla cut out cookies are sweet, crisp and work very well gluten free. This recipe is adapted for GF from Nigella Lawson’s recipe for cut out cookies.

Children will love these and this is a great recipe to make with kids, they will love cutting out the cookie shapes and really love icing the baked cookies. To make your life easy you could invest in a pack of squeezable tubes of icing but if mixing your own colors try to use paste rather than liquid color with your icing sugar if you can. If you are making these GF check any the ingredients of any edible decorations you might use, sprinkles etc to make sure they are GF.

Ingredients:

90 grams of unsalted butter, softened

100grams of caster sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I ran out of the good stuff and used what I could get in the local shop but when it comes to vanilla the quality and unfortunately the price of the extract does make a difference to the taste so get the best you can afford.

200 grams of Doves Farm Plain Flour

1/2 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon of salt

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  • Beat together the softened butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla, scrapping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well mixed. The mix will look curdled but don’t worry about this, it will all come together when you add the dry ingredients.
  • Mix together the flour, gum, baking powder and salt.
  • Sieve the dry ingredients in to the batter and mix gently with a wood spoon until everything is combined.

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  • You will have a fairly sticky soft dough, if you feel it is too wet ad a bit more flour but don’t add too much or the dough will be tough when cooked.
  • Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface and form in to a disc, wrap the disc in cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  • Preheat your oven to Gas 4/ 180 / 325 f and about ten minutes before you want to bake the cookies take the dough out of the fridge so it will be easier to roll out.
  • Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

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  • Place the dough on a floured surface and roll out to a thickness of 1/2 centimeter. If you are worried the dough might stick then you can roll it out between 2 sheets of baking parchment.
  • Dip your cookie cutter in GF flour and cut out the cookies. Place the cookies on the baking sheet and place in the oven.
  • Bake the cookies for 8 to 12 minutes if you have two baking sheets of cookies you can switch their positions in the oven half way in to the cooking time to ensure the cookies cook evenly. You will know the cookies are done when the edges start to turn a pale golden brown but they will still be pale and bit soft in the centre. The cookies will firm up as they cool.

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  • Once baked leave the cookies to set on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • When the cookies are fully cooled ice them in what ever color or design you like.

Store the baked and iced cookies in an airtight container so they don’t go soft and remember to keep a few to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve, they will be a welcome break from Mincepies!

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Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria

Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria
Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria

Rolling into the Christmas Party season, with everyone praying for a White Christmas, I thought this little stunner might be a great addition to the festivities.

This is a variation on the White Russian, the famous cocktail which was named at the end of World War 1 after the anti-Bolshevik group,of the same name, so called because they stood against the ‘Reds’ which were the communists. The drink got its name because of its main ingredients Kahlua (for the White) and Vodka (for the Russians). However, vodka is one of those flavours that just doesn’t work well in cake, so this recipe does not call for any. Instead we have the creamy white coming from the white chocolate and sour cream, and the dark coffee flavouring of the Tia Maria, to give us the White Maria.

Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria
Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria

Ingredients

Batter

  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp Tia Maria

Icing

  • 55g white chocolate
  • 110ml sour cream
  • 3 tsp Tia Maria
  • 225g icing sugar
Cocktail Cupcake: White Maria
Cocktail Cupcake: White Maria

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas4 and line a baking tray with paper cases
  2. In a large mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. While still mixing add eggs one at a time.
  4. Sift in flour and baking powder slowly.
  5. Mix in Tia Maria
  6. Spoon into paper cases and bake for 20 min
  7. Leave to cool
  8. For the icing: melt the chocolate. Add the sour cream and Tia Maria
  9. Mix in icing sugar
  10. Allow to cool so that it gets tacky. Spread over cupcakes

Cocktail Cupcakes: Margharita

Cocktail Cupcakes: Margarita
Cocktail Cupcakes: Margarita

Topic: Cupcake, Alcoholic, Hens, Bachelorette, Baking, Party

“Can I have two shots of tequila, I’m baking.”
“You don’t need to make an excuse, if you want tequila at two in the afternoon you can have it.”
“No, you misunderstand. I would like two shots of tequila, which I will not drink, but instead put into this flask, so I can bring it home and bake with.”
The barman glanced at the three other punters in the place, who were sitting behind half empty pints watching the horse racing, to make sure he was not missing a joke of some sort here. They looked away from the telly in the corner to return his confused stare. He turned back to me.
“Tequila in a cake? That’s gonna be muck. What you want is brandy. Like at Christmas. I’ll get ya brandy.”
So before you even start these, let me tell you, there is no need to go out and buy an expensive bottle of tequila, but it might be quicker and arose less suspicion. By the time I left the above bar, with two tequila shots safely in my pretty Cath Kidston flask, the barman had the feeling that I can only assume hardware owners have after selling rope, shovel and balaclava to known criminals who say they want to do a bit of gardening in the cold. He didn’t know what I was up to, but he was pretty sure it was not baking, and it probably wasn’t legal. I toyed with the idea of bringing him back one of these cupcakes to show that my intentions were pure, but I doubted if he would eat something he suspected had criminal intent.
The recipe I am using is an adaptation of Cookie Girl’s Margarita cupcakes. And by adaptation, I mean I’ve discovered a few short-cuts!

Cocktail Cupcakes: Margarita
Cocktail Cupcakes: Margarita

Ingredients
Batter
• 110g unsalted butter
• 110g sugar
• 3 eggs
• 110g self-raising flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 3 tsp lemon essence

Filing
• 1 jar of lemon curd
• Juice of 2 limes
• 2 tbsp of tequila

Icing
• 110g unsalted butter
• 110g cream cheese
• 450g icing sugar
• 1 lime – juice & grated zest
• 1 tsp Triple Sec
• Green food colouring
Method
1. Preheat oven 180C/Gas 4 and line baking tin with paper cases
2. In a large mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Add eggs, sift in flour, baking powder and lemon essence. Mix until smooth.
4. Fill paper cases 2/3 full to allow rise.
5. Bake in oven for 15-20 min
6. Filling: take three or four large spoon of lemon curd and mix in lime juice and tequila to taste
7. Once cupcakes are cooled, core and fill with filling
8. Icing: in a large mixer mix butter and cream cheese. Add icing sugar and mix. Add lime juice, zest, Triple Sec and colouring. Mix well.
9. Spread icing over cupcakes

Cocktail Cupcakes: Margarita
Cocktail Cupcakes: Margarita

Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

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Things are starting to feel very festive and the chaos of Grafton Street last week with hundreds of people giddy about the Christmas lights being turned on ( or seeing your man from Love Hate) I was reminded that it was about time I got a move on with my Christmas baking. First up was the pudding and as my Mum had made a beautiful pudding for me last year I asked for the recipe and it turned out to be from Nevin Maguire.
I don’t know if you have ever watched Nevins Maguire’s cooking shows but having recently discovered the joy of the internet and RTE Player I have been getting a quick fix of cooking shows and I would recommend his show to anyone with high anxiety, that show is possibly the most relaxing thing on television, I can actually feel my stress levels decrease as I am watching. I also enjoy that he shows how the very intricate looking recipes from his restaurant can be broken down and prepared at home, it reminds me of the very excellent blog, French Laundry at Home, http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.ie/, by Carol Blymire, the site is no longer active but the archives are definitely worth a read.

On to the pudding, this is Nevin’s recipe with three tweaks, the first is that he calls for rice flour, I didn’t have any and as it was only 50gramms I used my Plain Gluten Free flour, second, he uses mixed peel and I abhor mixed peel, it is vile stuff so I substituted dried cherries, thirdly he uses rum but to me Christmas baking is all about brandy so that is what I used. If you like the sound of the original recipe I will include those ingredients so you can choose your own adventure.

Ingredients
This makes one 1.1 litre pudding

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140 grams gluten free bread crumbs. I whizzed up some of the Aldi white bread for this.
50 grams of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour (or rice flour)
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
50 grams of ground almond
100 grams light muscovado sugar

200 grams of raisins
200 grams of sultanas
50 grams of dried cherries, roughly chopped (or mixed peel)

100 grams of butter, melted
100grams cooking apples, peeled and grated (about 1 large apple)
100 grams carrots, peeled and grated

Zest of half a lemon
Zest of half and orange
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of black treacle
2 tablespoons of brandy (or rum)

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1. Butter your pudding bowl and line the base with baking grease proof paper

  1. Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder
  2. Pour over the melted butter and stir to combine
  3. Add in the dried fruit & cherries, grated carrot & apple, brown sugar, bread crumbs and ground almonds, mix thoroughly
  4. Warm the treacle slightly and add the eggs, brandy and zest and whisk to combine
  5. Add the treacle mix to the fruit /flour mix and give the whole lot a good stir
  6. Spoon the mix in to the prepared pudding bowl and line the top with a piece of grease proof paper, cover the top of the pudding bowl with a double thickness of grease proof paper and secure the paper tightly with a piece of string, cover this with a layer of tinfoil or the lid of your pudding bowl.
  7. Place the bowl in a large pot and fill the pot with hot water until it is up to two thirds of the side of the pudding bowl. Bring the water to a steady strong simmer and put on the lid on the pot, steam the pudding for four hours until the pudding has risen and the surface is firm to the touch. Check the level of the water every now and then and top up with hot water as needed.
  8. Once the pudding is cooked remove the foil and grease proof paper and recover the pudding with fresh layers of each. Store your pudding somewhere dry and cool and when you are ready to reheat steam the pudding again for two hours.

VO61pud7Serve this warm with fresh whipped cream, ice cream, custard or brandy butter.

Gluten Free Doughnuts

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A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to attend Helene Dujardin’s food photography master class in the North of Ireland. If you have never checked out Helene’s website Tartlette, http://www.tarteletteblog.com I advise you to head there as soon as possible. As a former pastry chef turned professional food photographer her site is a beautiful as you might imagine.
The course was an amazing opportunity to learn from this very talented woman who was so encouraging of everyone’s efforts even mine, I had just purchased my first digital camera and felt a little out of my depth. I met some incredibly gifted and interesting women, a real international group, who had come from as far afield as Israel and Dubai for this course, only four of us were from Ireland. This lovely group of lovely women were all inspiring and encouraging and were great craic over the week we were there.
Helene does have quite a few gluten free recipes on her site so do trawl through her recipe list for some ideas if you are looking for GF inspiration. The recipe I have here works incredible well with GF flour and gives a gorgeous light bite sized doughnut with a fluffy texture. While Helene’s original recipe calls for a Nutella filling I have just rolled my doughnuts in cinnamon sugar as I wanted something simple to go with a cup of coffee but feel free to try filling these with jam and cream, Nutella, lemon curd or any other filling of your choice.
I used a sugar thermometer her to get the oil to the correct temperature, this is a good piece of kit to invest in, I use it for jam, sugar syrup and deep frying. You could try and guestimate your temperature by test frying one doughnut first to gauge how long cooking time will take but a thermometer will make your life easier. As always when using hot oil take care, when dropping the dough in to the oil try to be as gentle as you can so your hands don’t get spattered with scalding oil!

Gluten Free Doughnuts
Ingredients

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3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
8 ounces whole-milk ricotta, I used one full tub of Tesco’s ricotta.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon of xantham gum
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
Sun flower or vegetable oil for frying, something without a strong flavour.
Two tablespoons of caster sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon for coating the doughnuts.

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1. In a bowl mix together the eggs, ricotta, sugar, salt and vanilla extract.
2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and xanthan gum and sift in to the wet ingredients, stirring to combine.

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3. Heat three inches of oil in a heavy bottomed deep saucepan. When the temperature gets to 375F on your thermometer the oil is ready.
4. Carefully drop a tablespoon of batter into the oil. One tablespoon of batter will make one prefect two bite doughnut and will cook through in the time given here.
5. Cook the doughnut for three minutes on one side and two on the other, mine kept rotating in the oil so I left them in for five minutes, made sure the colour was even on all sides and then removed one to test and it was beautifully cooked through. I cooked seven at a time in my pan but don’t over crowd the pan, you will need to do this in batches.
6. Using a draining spoon remove the cooked doughnuts and drain on some kitchen paper before rolling them in the cinnamon sugar.

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Enjoy these little beauties while still warm with some good coffee, perfect for brunch!

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Halloween Treat: Bairin Breac

Bairin Breac
Bairin Breac

Bairin Breac (or Barney Brack as it was called in my house) is the Irish version of the crystal ball. At Halloween this innocent mixture of fruit, flour and alcohol is transformed into a cake with mystical powers that can see into the future (or at least that is what we tell the kids to get them to eat it).

In reality this rich bread (I think ‘cake’ is generous) has a focused on a niche market in the fortune telling biz; much like ‘Yes To The Dress’ it has specialised in matrimony and left the broader spectrum of predictions to colcannon.

Unfortunately in our family, where we are more a stir-fry and curry sort of household, it’s going to be hard to find a companion for a big plate of cabbage and mash, because there is no way I am cooking (or worse eating) boiled ham just so an uppity lump of cabbage can predict my future. Instead I insist our bairin breac works a little harder and diversifies into the financial sector as well.

Bairin Breac Ingredients
Bairin Breac Ingredients

The Charms

  • Coin – this means you are going to have wealth in the coming year
  • Rag – this means you will be poor for the coming year
  • Ring – this means you will marry in the coming year
  • Button and Thread – these traditionally are the symbol of the bachelor and the spinster and mean you will not be married in the coming year.

 I use a modified Darina Allen recipe

Ingredients

  • 250g raisins/ sultanas
  • 50g glace cherries
  • 50g mixed peel
  • Zest 1 orange
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 100ml of whiskey (DA only calls for 50ml but to her I say this is a festival of all things evil and corrupt; the dead walk amongst the living, ghouls from the other world return, we are going to need more than 50ml of whiskey)
  • 200ml of hot strong black tea
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or if you forgot to get that in the shop and you need to improvise a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, and chilli)

For glaze

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar dissolved in 3 teaspoons of boiling water

Method

  1. Put the fruit and zest into a big bowl with whiskey and tea. Leave soak overnight if you can (or if you are doing this last minute as I am for at least an hour)
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line round tin with parchment
  3. Add to fruit egg, flour, sugar and spices. Mix gently
  4. Add charms wrapped in parchment (and clean the coin thoroughly – those things are disgusting dirt magnets). Cover charms completely with mixture.
  5. Bake for 1 hour 15 min.
  6. When cooling glaze with glazing

Serving suggestion

With a big mug of tea and a generous spread of real butter.

Gluten Free Whiskey & Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

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This is the good stuff, perfect winter comfort food for this delightful weather. Crisp and golden on top, soft and fluffy in the middle with a luschious caramel sauce poured over and pooling on the plate. I have nothing more to say except to urge you to try this, you will be happy you did.

I used one pack of Juvela white bread rolls. http://www.juvela.co.uk/product/fresh-white-rolls/. I find them to be great for French toast and bread puddings, anything that involves bread that needs to be soaked in custard. This bread is firm and will stand up to the soaking where a softer bread may disintegrate in to the custard. If you are making this with a thinly sliced GF bread you can cut the soaking time.

Bread & Butter Pudding

Ingredients
1 pack Juvela GF white rolls (five rolls) or your GF bread of choice
Butter, softened
Chunky Marmalade
I tablespoon whiskey
3 eggs
75 grams of sugar
275 ml of milk
60 ml of double cream
I tablespoon of sugar

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1. If you are using the Juvela rolls then trim the top and bottom to expose the crumb for better custard absorbtion. Cut the rolls in half.
2. Butter each halved roll and then spread marmalade on half of the sliced rolls.
3. Sandwich the halved rolls back together using one buttered half and one spread with marmalade.
4. Butter the top and bottom of each sandwich.
5. Cut the sandwiches in half and arrange in a buttered oven proof dish
6. If you are using the rolls use a skewer or cake tester to poke some holes so the custard will penetrate the bread. If you are using sliced bread you can skip this step.
7. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar and whiskey.
8. Pour the custard over the bread and leave to sit for at least a half an hour while you pre- heat your oven to Gas 4 /180c/ 350.
9. If using the Juvela rolls you should leave your pudding to sit for at least an hour, basting the bread with the custard from the bottom of the dish very now and then. This is because these rolls are quite dense and you do not want the inside of your pudding to be dry.
10. Just before you pop the pudding in the oven sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the top
11. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the pudding has puffed up and is golden brown

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Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Ingredients
2/3 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
1.2 cup of double cream
Pinch of salt
I tablespoon of whiskey

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1. Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot over a medium heat gwently swirling the pan until the sugar dissolves
2. Cook without stirring or swirling until the sugar syrup turn a medium golden caramel, this should take about five minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cream, the caramel will bubble up and then seize so return the pot top the heat and stir until the caramel dissolves and you have a smooth sauce.
4. Stir in the salt and the whiskey and pour in to a warmed jug. The caramel will thicken as it cools so if you want to pour it use it straight away. If you need to make it in advance you can rewarm the sauce to pouring consistency.

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Serve this pudding in warmed bowls or plates with the caramel sauce and either pouring or whipped cream.

Gluten Free Apple Cake

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Could anything denote Autumn more than the smell of apples and cinnamon. There is something deliciously comforting about that fragrance filling your kitchen on a crisp Autumn evening. This is an incredible simple apple sponge, adapted for Gluten Free from Rachel Allen’s recipe for Dutch Apple cake, the sponge works well with other fruits and I recently made it with pears and ground ginger and it was lovely. The sponge is beautifully light the first day you make it but becomes moist and dense over the next few days.

Ingredients

2 large eggs

175 grams of caster sugar

75 mls of milk

85 grams of butter

125 grams of either Doves Farm GF  self raising flour or Doves Farm GF plain flour with 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum added. ( Add the xanthan gum to the plain flour only)

2 and 1/4 teaspoons of GF baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon of caster sugar

Grease and line a 9″ spring form tin

Preheat the oven to Gas 6, 200c / 400

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  1. Melt the milk and the butter together over a low heat
  2. Whisk the caster sugar together with the eggs until pale and thick, this should take at least five to eight minutes. Don’t rush this bit, you need to add a good bit of volume to the batter.
  3. Keep whisking and slowly pour over the melted butter and milk.
  4. Mix together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and sift in to the batter. Fold gently being careful not to knock all the volume out of the batter.
  5. Pour the batter in to the prepared tin and cover the surface with the sliced apples. The apple slices are supposed to sink in to the batter but mine stayed stubbornly on the surface, this maybe sure to the consistence of the batter when using GF flour. If you want your slices to sink down give them a bit of a downward nudge with a knife as you are placing them.
  6. Sprinkle the apples with the tablespoon of caster sugar and place the tin in the oven at Gas 6 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to Gas 4/ 180c/ 350 for a further 25 to 30 minutes until the cake is well risen and golden brown, test the cake with a cake tester to make sure it is cooked through.

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If you like you could brush the top of the cake with some apricot glaze to get a lovely moist sheen. Serve this cake warm with Ice Cream or whipped cream or for a really warming treat with a good dollop of custard.

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Gluten Free Scones: Sweet & Savoury

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When I was small scones came in two varieties, plain or with raisins (currants being the work of the devil), my Mum would batch bake and we would come home to a house filled with the smell of baking and there was nothing as good as breaking open a fresh scone, still warm from the oven and smearing on the butter.

Now scones come in myriad forms, Nutella, apple, pear and almond, cherry, mixed berry… there seems to be no limit to the recipes and I have been trying a few to see what will work with Gluten Free Flour. I have already tried the Raspberry Scones from Smitten Kitchen and the following two scone recipes are also adapted from recipes on the Smitten Kitchen website. The sweet scone is a strawberry scone to which I added vanilla to counter to slightly chalky taste that you can sometimes get with GF flour and the savoury one is from a recipe that originally called for Jalapenos which I substituted with Chives.

Strawberry scones

Adapted for GF from Smitten Kitchen

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Ingredients

2 & ¼ cups of Doves Farm GF plain flour

1 teaspoon of xanthan gum

1 tablespoon of GF baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of caster sugar

85 grams of butter, chilled

130 grams of ripe strawberries, chopped. Don’t chop them too small or they will just disintegrate.

1 cup of double cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the Oven to Gas 7, 220c,425

  1. In a bowl stir together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  2. Grate or chop in the chilled butter and rub together until you get crumbly mix. The crumbs should not be as fine as the breadcrumb size you would have for pastry.
  3. Stir in the chopped strawberries, be very gentle so you don’t break up the strawberries.
  4. Combine the vanilla extract and double cream and then stir into the dry ingredients. Again be very gentle with the strawberries, combine the ingredients without crushing the berries.
  5. Once combined bring the dough together with a quick knead, don’t overwork it.
  6. Put the dough on a work surface that you have generously floured with GF flour.
  7. Gently press or roll out the dough until it is an inch thick. GF scones won’t rise in the same way that regular scones will so it is important to give them a bit of height when you are rolling them out. Use a cutter to cut them out or else just cut them in to squares.
  8. Put the scones on a tray lined with baking parchment, brush with beaten egg or milk and put in the preheated oven.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Check after 20 minutes by taking out one scone and tapping on the end to see if it feels cooked through.

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These are best served still warm on the same day they are baked. To be extra decadent top with strawberry jam and whipped cream

Sour Cream and Chive Scones

Adapted for GF from Smitten Kitchen

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Ingredients

2cups of Doves Farm GF plain flour

I &1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum

I tablespoon GF baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

4 ounces of chilled butter

¼ pound of mature cheddar cheese diced

2 tablespoons of chopped chives

½ cup of double cream

2 eggs

Preheat your oven to Gas 6, 190c, 375

  1. Toss the chives and diced cheddar with one tablespoon of the GF flour in a bowl
  2. In another bowl stir together the GF flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.
  3. Grate or chop in the chilled butter and rub together until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  4. Beat the two eggs and combine with the double cream.
  5. Stir in to the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon, mix until everything is combined.
  6. Add the cheese and chives and mix until incorporated.
  7. Place the dough on a well -floured work surface and press or roll out until one inch thick.
  8. Cut in to equal squares, brush with beaten egg and place on a tray that has been lined with baking parchment.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and oozing cheese

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These scones are best enjoyed warm, slathered in butter or served with soup, stew or chilli.

Gluten Free Apricot & Almond Tartelettes

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It really is the season of mellow fruitfulness, each grocery store I go in to has punnets of peaches, nectarines and apricots and stunningly they are all beautifully ripe and juicy. A week ago I picked up two punnets of beautiful tiny apricots with the intention of making a pie. I had recently made a desert of peaches stuffed with crushed amaretti biscuits and oven roasted and the combination of flavours worked so well that I wanted to combine these apricots with almonds. I decided on an apricot and frangipane tart and because the apricots were so tiny and pretty I made individual tartelettes rather than one big tart.

The quantity of pastry here made 24 little tarts, I used two 12 mould bun / small muffin trays.

Pastry
Ingredients
10 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum
¼ teaspoon of salt
1& ½ tablespoons of icing sugar
2 ounces of lard
3 ounces of chilled butter
A few tablespoons of chilled water
1. Stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Grate or cut in the butter and lard and then rub to9 the fine breadcrumb stage with the tipe of your fingers.
3. Stir in just enough of the chilled water to make a smooth dough.
4. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for at least a half hour before turning the pastry our on to a well- floured work-surface
5. Roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3mm and use a cutter I use an extra- large wine glass) to cut out pastry circles to fit the moulds in your tray.
You can pop the pastry lined tray in the fridge while you are making the frangipane filling.

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Frangipane Filling

Ingredients
125 grams of sugar
125 grams of ground almonds
125 grams of butter, softened
1 tablespoon of gluten free plain flour
2 eggs

  1. Beat together the softened butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy
  2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well combined.
  3. Stir together the four and the ground almonds and then fold into the batter.

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To make the tarts
Pre heat the oven to Gas 5 / 190c/ 375
Ingredients
Apricot jam
12 apricots rinsed halved and stoned. When you half the apricots slice them half way through on the diagonal.

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1. Place a ½ teaspoon of apricot jam in the base of each tart
2. Spoon in about half a desert spoon of frangipane in to each tart, you need to divide the frangipane evenly between the 24 tarts.
3. Lightly press an apricot half in to each tart.
4. Place in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. After 25 minutes you can switch the placement of the trays in the oven to prevent the tarts on the top shelf from browning too much.
5. Remove the trays from the oven and allow to cool in the tray for a few minutes before placing the tarts on a cooling rack.
6. Make a glaze by thinning the apricot jam with a little hot water and brushing over the warm tarts.
These tarts can be served warm with little cream or ice cream for desert or you could pop them on a cake tray to serve after lunch with a cup of tea.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

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While I was making this luscious desert a very bad thing happened, my camera battery died so I have no photos of the fully constructed cheesecake going into or coming out of the oven. Having put my camera back in the bag while the battery was charging I then forgot to take a photo of the cooled cake before I cut into it and by the time I remembered that I needed a photo for the site the ravaged remains of this once lovely cake were not worth recording. This is a cake that once you starting eating you can’t stop, it is a real one more wafer situation. People were sitting around the table, not bothering to cut a slice just scooping directly from serving plate to mouth with their forks.

This cake is another recipe from Smitten Kitchen. For ages I had but it to the back of my mind as I was convinced I would somehow make a mess of the Caramel part of the Caramel Cheesecake but the recipe kept calling to me. I love cheesecake, my go to recipe is for a white chocolate cake but I wanted to add to my repertoire so I took a chance that I would be able to pull this off.

The idea of making caramel can be intimidating but this method is simple and I have made this cake a few times since and it has always worked well. In her wisdom Deb Perlman, of Smitten Kitchen also recommends doubling the quantity of crust so you can bring the crumby goodness all the way up the sides of your tin so that you get a biscuit edging to the cake as well as the biscuit base. I didn’t do this the first time but I have done it since and the extra crust is gorgeous.

Cheesecake is very easy to adapt for Gluten Free, there are quite few varieties of GF digestive biscuit out there, here I used the Tesco Free From Chocolate Digestives, I figured the extra chocolate wouldn’t go astray

Crumb Crust

Ingredients: you can double this if you want to completely surround your cheese cake with the biscuit crust
5 ounces finely ground Gluten Free digestive biscuits
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Butter a 10” loose bottom tin
2. Crush your biscuits, I like to do this the old fashioned way by butting he biscuits in a food bag and going to town on them with a rolling pin. You could use a food processor if you like.
3. Stir in the sugar, salt and the melted butter.
4. Press the biscuit mix in to the base of the tin and up about an inch around the edge. If you have mad the double quantity you could bring the crust as high up the side of the tin as you can.

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Caramel Chocolate Filling
Preheat the oven to Gas 4
Ingredients
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup double cream
8 ounces 60% or 70% chocolate chopped, check to make sure it is GF
1/2 cup of sour cream
3 x 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  1. Pour the cup of sugar in to a heavy bottomed pot over a medium low heat. Stir the sugar slowly with fork until it starts to melt. This will take a bit of time so don’t panic and tuirn up the heat. The mix with go sandy, then start to melt and finally you will have a lovely pale god caramel. Cook the caramel over the same medium heat until it turns a deep gold.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour in the double cream the mix will bubble up and hiss a bit so make sure your pot has high enough sides so it doesn’t bubble over. The caramel will harden so put the pot back on the medium heat and stir until the caramel dissolves.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate, once the chocolate is combined you can stir in the sour cream.
  4. In a bowl use an electric mixer to beat the 3 packs of cream cheese to loosen them up.
  5. Pour in the chocolate mix and using a low speed beat to combine.
  6. Crack and beat in your eggs one at a time and then add the teaspoon of vanilla. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well combined.
  7. Pour the filling over the crust in your prepared tin and place on the middle shelf in your oven. Bake for 55 minutes until the cake is set around the edges but still wobbly in the centre.
  8. Once cooked run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the tin.
  9. Allow the cake to cool. This cake is best left to chill and set overnight but wait at least a few hours before you remove it from the tin and dig in.

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This really needs no adornment, it has a silky smooth texture and is amazingly rich but it you did want to put something with it a tart raspberry puree would be great.

Gluten Free Chocolate Roulade with Raspberry Mousse

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Squidgey, chocolatey, light as air deserts are great after a big meal and as I was planning on doing a proper roast dinner I definitely wanted a desert that wasn’t going to be too heavy.

Chocolate Roulades are a great option for a gluten free desert, nine times out of ten any recipe for a chocolate roulade is going to be flourless so as you aren’t adapting the recipe to be gluten free you can be confident that it will work. Just make sure that your chocolate or cocoa powder is gluten free than you are good to go.

Raspberries always work well with chocolate so instead of a chocolate ganache or whipped cream filling I decided on a raspberry mousse. This not too sweet mousse is a lovely counterpoint to the richness of the chocolate roulade.

Raspberry Mousse

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Ingredients

1 cup of fresh raspberries

1& 1/8 teaspoons of powdered gelatin

1 & ½ tablespoons of lemon juice

½ cup of sugar

250ml of double cream

  1. Put the lemon juice in a small bowl and sprinkle over the powdered gelatin and leave to absorb.
  2. Press the raspberries through a fine sieve until you have a puree. Take your time with this as with a bit of effort you will get a good amount of puree.
  3. Put the puree and the sugar in a saucepan over a low heat and stir to combine. Allow the mix to just heat gently until bubbles form at the edge but don’t allow to boil.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatin stirring continuously for one minute until the gelatin has dissolved in to the puree.
  5. Pour the puree in to a jug or bowl and allow to cool
  6. Whip the double cream to a soft peak stage and add the cooled puree, allow to chill until you want to use it.

Chocolate Roulade

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Ingredients

5 ox / 150 grams of caster sugar

6 large eggs, separated

2oz / 50 grams of cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to Gas 4/ 180c/350

Line a Swiss Role tin with baking parchment

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are thickened and pale cream in colour
  2. Sieve over the cocoa powder and mix to combine
  3. In a clean dry bowl with clean whisks beat the egg whites to the soft peak stage, if you over beat the egg whites you will end up with a dry, shrunken sponge.
  4. Fold the egg whites in to the cocoa batter, Use the initial spoon of egg white to loosen up the batter before gently folding in the rest.
  5. Pour the mix in to your lined tin and bake in your pre heated oven for tenty to twenty five minutes. Don’t over -cook or the sponge will be too dry
  6. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before carefully lifting the roulade out of the tin. Don’t remove the baking parchment
  7. Once the sponge has cooled you can add the mousse. Put a sheet of baking parchment, larger than the dimensions of the roulade, on your work surface and carefully place the roulade top side down on the parchment.
  8. Gently peel back the baking parchment that was used during the baking process. Using a spatula or flat knife spread the mousse over the sponge leaving a 1 inch gap around the edges.
  9. To roll the roulade lift the edge of the baking parchment that is closest to you and gently but firmly roll the roulade away from you. Roll along the long edge.
  10. Place on a serving dish and top with raspberries or a dusting of icing sugar.

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This really is great on its own but if you wanted to gild the lily you could serve it with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

Afternoon Tea suitable for a Vegan

Afternoon tea is a delightful way to add a touch of class to any party. We are big fans of it here at A Home Made By Committee and it is something that we have discussed previously in our coverage of Galentines Day. However, the task of hosting such an event is made a little more difficult if your guest of honour has strict dietary requirements, such as being vegan. Some creativity and inventiveness is required to fulfill these requirements without losing the look and feel of a traditional Afternoon Tea. Here is how Maire rose to the challenge …..

As a special celebration for a vegan friend of mine, I decided to make us some afternoon tea.

Menu

Finger sandwiches with hummus, rocket and red onion

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Bruschetta

Basil and plum tomatoes

Roasted red peppers and avocado

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Raspberry scones with coconut cream and jam

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Pinwheel cookies and chocolate brownies

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Tea and Prosecco

Vegan Finger Sandwiches and Bruschetta

As a baker I knew there was plenty of recipes that would work. The hardest thing, as it happens, was to find the fillings for some lovely finger sandwiches. I think these ones are much superior to the traditional cucumber sambos. Make these just before serving.

Vegan Brushetta

  1. Spread hummus on to two slices of fresh white bread, add leaves of rocket and thin slices of red onion. Cut the crusts off and cut into finger sandwich sizes
  2.  Get some fresh, Italian bread, or some other crusty bread, cut into bite size servings (we’re being civilised here remember). Toast lightly.
  3.  In a bowl mix diced fresh tomatoes with some finely chopped red onion, finely chopped fresh basil, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of sugar. Spread this on half of your toasted bread, and heat briefly under the grill.
  4.   Chop some avocado into small cubes, mix with roasted peppers and add some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread on to the other half of your toasted bread and grill briefly. Serve warm.

Raspberry Scones

My usual scone recipe is egg-free anyway, so this was just a matter of substituting the regular milk to soy milk

scone Collage

Ingredients

  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 120g dairy-free margarine (stork or similar)
  • 100g sugar
  • 300ml soya milk
  • small punnet of fresh raspberries, washed

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C
  2. Rub the marg and flour together, or just use a mixer… I used a mixer. Stick it on for a bit and check that the flour and marg are evenly mixed together – and there aren’t any large lumps. Then add your sugar and mix again.
  3. Next add the soy milk and mix. When the mixture is uniform, you can add the raspberries. The raspberries are fragile and will break as you mix. If you want large raspberry pieces, don’t mix for too long.
  4. Flour a clean work-surface and put your mix on it. Knead the mixture gently until it forms a smooth dough, this should only take a minute or two. The fresh raspberries will make your mixture wetter so you might need to use a bit of extra flour at this point.
  5. Flatten it out to about 1 or 2 cm thick and use a glass or cutter to cut out the size you want.
  6. Put your scones on floured baking trays and bake for about 15 minutes – until they’re turning a little golden on top. The cooking time will depend on how big your scones are. Larger scones will take a little longer
  7. This mix makes 10-12 medium to large scones. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. And then have at least one just to check that they’re ok, and not because you want to have greedy scoffingtons.

Pinwheel cookies

vegan pinwheel cookies

Ingredients

  • 275g plain flour
  • 200g dairy free margarine (stork or similar) room temperature
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C and grease some flat baking trays.
  2.  Cream the butter and sugar together – again I just through them in the mixer. It helps if you leave the margarine out for a few hours before using it. Add in the flour and mix into a manageable dough.
  3.  Divide the mixture roughly in half and add the cocoa powder to one have.
  4.  Roll out each mixture between two sheets of greaseproof paper or parchment. Try to make them roughly the same size. When done place one on top of the other. Trim the edges to make a rectangle (trimmings also make delicious cookies), roll it up ala a swiss roll and then put it in the fridge for half an hour or so.
  5.  When it’s had a chance to chill and harden a little bit, take it out and slice it to give you the pinwheel cookie shape. Place on the greased trays and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  6.  When out of the oven leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

 Vegan brownies

These are very good, although they do lack the chewy edges you get from usual brownies. The original recipe called for 250ml of oil, although I saw a suggestion that you could lower the amount oil by using apple sauce or chocolate pudding. I found vegan chocolate pudding in my local supermarket, and so replace 100ml of oil with two chocolate puddings.

Ingredients

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 350g brown sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 250ml water
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 2 vegan chocolate puddings (or just use 250ml oil)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment
  2. Mix all the dry ingredient together and then add the wet ingredients and mix until everything is combined.
  3. Pour into your tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the top is no longer shiny. Allow it to cool in the try before cutting it into squares.

Obviously taste one… quality control you know.

You might have to have a second one, just to be sure.

Vegan Tea

Make sure you scald the pot first (that’s not especially for vegans, that’s just being a civilised human being!)

Use soya or almond milk instead of cow’s milk

Vegan Prosecco

Just use regular prosecco…. add some fruit, because you know, 5 a day and all that.

End results:Scoffingtons!

vegan tea the end

Gluten Free Lemon Tart

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I have had a mad mind for Lemon Tart lately, I think it is the good weather. I want to sit outside with a crisp white wine and a slice of nicely sharp but creamy lemon tart. I don’t often make deserts, it tends to be only when we have guests but  I was heading over to dinner in a house with a beautiful old garden, full of flowers and home grown vegetables and this seemed like the perfect desert to bring to enjoy outside on a beautiful summer evening.

Instead of using my regular shortcrust pastry I wanted to try something else. I wanted a rich pastry, like a Pate Sucre but that would work, GF, I wanted something almost biscuity. I decided to experiment and I came up with this recipe.  The pastry worked really well, it was tender and crisp and was a lovely counterpoint to the silky sharp lemon filling.

The filling is from Antony Bourdain’s Lemon Tart from the Less Halles cook book, this filling is simple, delicious and I have used it  many times and it has always been gorgeous.   

I made this in an 11″ fluted loose bottom tin. But the filling is actually for a 10 ” tart shell.

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Pastry

7 oz Doves Farm GF plain pastry

3 oz ground almonds

1 teaspoon of xanthan gum

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

3 oz of butter chilled

2 oz lard chilled

1 egg beaten

1. Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl

2. Grate or cut in the butter and lard and mix with your fingers until you get a texture like fine bread crumbs

3. Add enough of the beaten egg to bring the pastry together to a smooth ball.

4. Cover in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins

5. While the pastry is chilling preheat your oven to Gas 5 and butter your tart tin.

6. After 30 minutes remove the pastry from the fridge and either roll it out between two sheets of grease proof paper or press the pastry with your hands in to your buttered tin, this is quite a soft pastry so it may be easier to press the pastry in to the tin with your hands.

7. Cover the pastry shell with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans and place in your preheated oven for 15 minutes.

8. Carefully take the tin from the oven, with even more care remove the greaseproof paper with the baking beans, take your time, you don’t want to pull out a piece of cooked dough.

9. Brush the pastry shell with beaten egg and return to the oven to dry out for a further five minutes.

10. Remove the shell from the oven and reduce the temperature to Gas 3.

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Filling

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1/2 cup lemon juice, this took about three lemons

1/2 cup of sugar

4 eggs

1 cup of double cream

1. Whisk together the lemon juice and sugar until well combined. I use a hand whisk for all of this, there is really no need for an electric mixer.

2. Add the eggs and whisking thoroughly.

3. Whisk in the double cream.

4. Pour the filling in to the pre baked tart shell and return to the oven.

5. Bake at Gas 3 for 25 minutes until the custard is set.

I find it much easier to put the tart shell on your oven shelf and then our in the filling so you don’t have to try and transport the shell filled with a very liquid custard.

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Leave the tart to cool before removing the tart from the loose bottomed tin. Serve this with whipped cream, sweetened if you like.  Find an appropriately sunny spot, pour a glass of wine and enjoy!

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Gluten Free Gougères

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A few years back I was looking for recipes for nibbles for a cocktail party. I wanted tasty, savoury uncomplicated finger foods. Gougères kept popping up as a suggestion and although I wasn’t sure how gluten free choux pastry would work I decided to give it a go and I was surprised at how well it turned out. For some reason I didn’t make gluten free choux pastry again until this April when I decided I wanted some profiteroles. I sometimes get longings for light airy cream cakes, mille feuille, chocolate eclairs and the like and while I can make really good gluten free deserts there is something about the delicate nature of these cakes that I miss.

I think Gluten Free baking can sometimes lack the daintiness of regular baking. I marvel at the elegant, intricate creations of good pastry chefs and I wish that I had the time or the money to spend my days perfecting gluten free adaptations of these creations and with the profiteroles I took a first and surprisingly easy step in that direction.

The profiteroles were incredible and I will post the recipe soon but this weekend I was looking for something savoury as I had offered to bring some hors d’oeuvres to a garden / balcony party and Gougères seemed the way to go. Meltingly cheesy, with a slight kick of heat from the cayenne and a lovely oniony flavour from the chives, these were gorgeous. They are easy to make and importantly they were easy to transport.

I took the recipe from David Lebovitz’s beautiful website http://www.davidlebovitz.com and very easily adapted it to make it Gluten Free. I also made my gougères a bit smaller, David Lebovitz recommends the pastry be piped about the size of a cherry tomato, I made mine somewhere in between a cherry and a cherry tomato as I wanted small cheesy morsels that people could just pop in their mouth.
It is important to use a strong flavoured cheese when making gougères, I used a mix of gruyère, parmesan and a mature red cheddar just for a bit of colour.

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Ingredients
1/2 cup (125ml) water
3 tablespoons (40g) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
½ cup of Doves Farm GF plain flour
¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum
2 large eggs
12 chives finely chopped
3/4 cup grated cheese, I also kept the grater and the cheese nearby so I could grate some extra cheese over the gougères before they went in the oven.

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  1. Preheat your oven to Gas 7/ 220c
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Put the water, butter, salt and cayenne in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium until the butter has melted.
  4. Mix the xanthan gum with the flour and add to the saucepan in one go and stir vigorously to combine the ingredients. The pastry will come together in a ball quite quickly.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the pastry to cool for two minutes so your eggs don’t scramble when you add them to the pan.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time beating them in quickly so they don’t cook in the heat. You pastry may have the consistency of loose scrambled eggs at this but don’t panic, keep working at the pastry and it will come together.
  7. Add the cheese and the chives to the pastry and stir until well mixed, I switched from my wooden spoon to a whisk at this point and this definitely made the job easier.

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8. Spoon the pastry in to a piping bag fitted with a wide plain tip and pipe the pastry out on to your prepared baking sheet.
9. You can smooth out the top of the pastry mounds by wetting the tip of your finer and pressing down gently.
10. Top the gougères with grated cheese and place in the oven for ten minutes at Gas 7 / 220c before turning the oven down to Gas 5/ 190c. The remainder of the cooking time will depend on the size gougères you piped out, if yours are cherry tomato sized than they should take 20 / 25 minutes if you go slightly smaller they will only take 15 minutes.
11. Remove from the oven and using a fine skewer pierce the gougères to allow any steam to escape, this will help to keep the pastry crisp.

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You should allow these to cool slightly before eating but they are best eaten when warm. If you make them in advance you could reheat them in a low oven for 5 to ten minutes before serving.

Gluten Free Mini Quiche

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Mini quiche are my go to thing when I am having a lot of people over for drinks, they look cute and appetizing and they are the perfect food to serve when your guests are going to be standing around with a wine glass in one hand. There is nothing more annoying than trying to balance a plate, a glass and eat while standing and also making conversation.
They are also great for picnics and I recently brought some to a brunch where they went down very well. Once you have your pastry made you can use any quiche filling you like but my favourite combination is always bacon, mushroom, onion and cheese, in fairness when isn’t bacon and cheese a winning combination.

The pastry I used here is a little different from the standard GF short-crust pastry I normally use as it includes lard. The addition of a bit of Frytex (other lards are available) gives the pastry a great crispness and I think it definitely helps to keep the cooked pastry from disintegrating in to a crumby mess at first bite, essential in a finger food.

The quantity here made enough for 18 mini quiche.

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Pastry
• 8oz / 225g Doves Farm plain GF flour
• 2oz / 55g chilled butter cut in to cubes
• 2oz / 55g of lard
• 1 level teaspoon of Xanthum Gum
• Pinch of salt
• Iced water
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1. In to a bowl sift the flour, xanthum gum and salt. Add the chilled butter and the lard and rub in to the flour mix, use the tips of your fingers and be gentle. Mix until you get a texture like breadcrumbs. If you grate in the butter and in particular the lard this process goes a lot faster

  1. Make a well in the centre and add the iced water a tablespoon at a time. Mix with a fork or your hands until the pastry comes together. The pastry should have come together in a ball but should not be sticky.
  2. Pat the pastry in to a disc shape and wrap in cling film and chill. While the pastry is chilling you can make your filling .
  3. Roll the pastry out to the required thickness (about 3mm) on a floured surface.
  4. Using a pastry cutter, or in my case a very big wine glass cut circles to fit the size of your tin.
  5. Oil or butter your tin, I use a cupcake / bun tray.
  6. Carefully lift the pastry circles to the tin, a palette knife will help with this, and gently ease the pastry into the tin.

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Filling
I large onion finely chopped
A good handful of mushrooms, about 6 medium sized, finely chopped
3 rashers of bacon, I used smoked finely chopped
A good dash of olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
4 eggs lightly beaten with the fork
½ cup of grated cheddar cheese, but have the cheese on standby in case you need more.
Preheat your oven to Gas 5 / 190c
1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, bacon and mushroom and cook over a low heat until the onion has softened but not browned and everything smells delicious. Season to taste.

  1. Remove from the heat and leave to cool down a little. It is a good idea to make the filling while your pastry is chilling and then leave the filling to cool while you are rolling out the pastry and lining the tin.
  2. Put about a good teaspoon of filling in each pastry shell.
  3. Using a small jug with a fine spout or a tablespoon carefully add the beaten egg to the quiche, this can get messy so take your time and add the egg a little at a time. Don’t over fill the shell or the egg will bubble over and this can make it next to impossible to get the cooked quiche from the tin without using a knife to dig it out.
  4. Top the mini quiche with the grated cheese and pop the tray in the oven.
  5. Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes until the pastry is cooked and the filling is golden brown.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

You can eat the mini quiche warm or cold.

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Gluten Free Spanakopita

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Food from the Mediterranean is what summer is all about. Fresh tomatoes, olives, feta or mozzarella cheese and big crisp salads served with crusty bread ( or the best available gluten free version), to mop up the dressing. On Saturday night I was doing my best approximation of a Greek feast, there were stuffed peppers and stuffed aubergines, a potato salad served with olives, capers and red onions, butterbeans cooked in a rich tomato sauce and a feta and tomato salad. While all this was cooking away I needed something for my guests to nibble on to keep body and soul together until dinner was served and I decided to try some Gluten Free Spanakopita.

These little spinach and cheese pastries are usually made with filo pastry but I have never coma across a gluten free version of this so I had a look through the pastry recipes I have looking for something that was light and flaky and would suit the soft cheese filling.

Deb Perlman of SmittenKitchen.com has a sour cream pastry that she uses to make galettes, I have tried this before using gluten free flour and it worked really well so I decided to use that pastry with the spanakopita filling from Tess Kiros beautiful book Falling Cloudberries. This is a stunning book with beautifully written recipes and stories and gorgeous photography
The combination of the two worked very well if I do say so myself and the pastry was so flaky and tender that a wee eight month old baby was able to gum her way through a whole Spanakopita quite happily.

Pastry

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From http://www.smittenkitchen.com adapted for gluten free
1 ¼ cups Doves Farm GF Plain Flour
1 teaspoon of xanthum gum
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 ounces of cold butter
¼ cup of sour cream
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
¼ cup of iced water
1. In a bowl combine the flour, salt and xanthum gum.
2. Grate or cut in the cold butter and rub in to the flour until you get to the breadcrumb stage.
3. In a bowl mix together the water, lemon juice and sour cream and add enough of this liquid to the flour mix to make a soft dough. You may not need to use all of the liquid so use your best judgement.
4. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour. I know you don’t normally need to rest GF pastry as there is no gluten in it but this is quite a soft pastry and it is easier to handle if it is cold.
5. When the dough is nicely chilled remove it from the cling film and place on a floured work surface. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 3mm and using a pastry cutter or in my case a wine glass cut into 3” (7cm,)circles.
6. Brush the edges with egg wash and place a teaspoon of the spinach cheese mix on one half of the circle, fold over the other half and pinch the edges of the pastry to make a half moon shape and then brush with egg wash.
7. Place the pastries on an oiled baking sheet and place in an oven that has been pre heated to gas mark 4 / 180C. for 30 to 35 minutes until they are a nice golden colour.

Spanakopita Filling

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I have used half the quantity of the recipe from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros
200 grams of spinach, rinsed.
200 grams of feta cheese
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan
1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1 egg
1. Put the wilted spinach in a pan and cover with a lid, cook over a low heat until the spinach is wilted. Drain in to a colander and when it is cool squeeze as much of the liquid from the spinach as possible. Finely chop the spinach.
2. Break the feta cheese in to a bowl and add the grated parmesan, egg and nutmeg. Mash this altogether with a fork and then stir in the chopped spinach.

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These little pastries are the perfect size to serve with pre dinner drinks or as part of a buffet and would also be great to pack as part of a picnic.

Mary Flahavan’s & Cathy Clarke’s Flapjacks

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Following the tour de force that was my recreation of Mary Flahavans Oat Biscuits, I thought I would give her flapjack recipe a bash. However, with my new found confidence, I thought I would get a little creative. Now, far be it from me to correct an accomplished baker of many years, but the recipe Mary proposed looked a little bland, so I thought I would add cranberries and plain chocolate to spice it up. Worked a treat in my opinion and here is how I got on:
To adapt these for a Gluten Free Diet simply substitute the Flahavan’s oats for certified Gluten Free oats and check the packaging on the other ingredients to make sure they are suitable for a GF diet.

Ingredients
• 175g Flahavan’s Processed Oats
• 175g Flahavan’s Jumbo Oat Flakes
• 200g Kerrygold Butter
• 100g Tesco Brown Sugar
• 100g Tesco Dried Cranberries
• 1 bar Tesco Plain Cooking Chocolate
• 2tbsp Honey (Mary called for golden syrup, but this is not something that we would have or use in the house so I swopped for honey, because the rest of the jar can be used for sore throats and the like.)

Process
1. Preheat oven to 150oC
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar and honey. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves
3. Stir in oatflakes and cranberries
4. Line a long flat tin (22cm x 33cm) with grease-proof paper
5. Tip in mixture and flatten with back of spoon
6. Bake for 30 min until golden brown.
7. While that is baking, melt chocolate in a glass bowl in a saucepan.
8. Once baked cut into squares while still warm.
9. Cover each square with chocolate and leave to cool

These flapjacks are the perfect little snacks. They are healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast, and sweet enough for a midday snack. Plus they are quiet filling. All round success, even if I have to say it myself.

Raspberry Ricotta Scones GF

V18 Raspberry Scones 1

Deb Perlman’s Smitten Kitchen is the first cooking blog I found and is still one of my favourites. I love the way she writes, the food she cooks and the way she photographs the food so it is begging you to dive in and eat..

If you navigate through her recipes there is even a gluten free section but I have spent many years trying to adapt as many of her recipes as I can to be GF. This is a purely selfish endeavour as I love the type of food she cooks.

This has worked better in some instances than others but more often than not it just takes a bit of experimentation and adaptation to come out with a dish that at least honours the idea of the original.

I have found when working with GF flour that a wetter consistency than usual in a pastry or cake batter usually works best. It may be because GF flours tend to be quite starchy and therefore absorb a lot of liquid. So when I saw this recipe for scones made with raspberries, ricotta and double cream I figured they should work well GF. The original recipe calls for whole wheat flour but here I am using Doves Farm self- raising flour.

Served still a bit warm with butter and raspberry jam for a little extra raspberry kick these scones were gorgeous.

Ricotta and double cream may seem a bit of an indulgence for scones but I used Tesco’s own brand of both and the scones worked just fine.

V18 Raspberry Scones

2 cups of Dove Farm Self Raising GF flour

1 level tsp of xanthum gum

I tablespoon of GF baking powder

1/4 cup of caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

85 grams of cold butter cubed

1 cup of fresh raspberries (about one standard punnett)

3/4 cup of ricotta

1/3 cup of double cream

I tablespoon of milk if necessary.
Preheat your oven to Gas mark 5 and line a baking sheet with parchment

  1. Sieve the flour, xanthum gum, baking powder and salt in to a bowel and stir in the sugar.
  2. Add the chopped cold butter and work in to the flour with your fingertips until you have a bread crumb consistancy.
  3. Roughly chop the raspberries and stir them in to the flour mix.
  4. In a bowl stir the ricotta and cream together and pour in to the mix, use a spatula to scrape out the last bit of liquid. Using the spatula bring stir the liquid in to the flour mix. Then using your hands bring the dough together and knead it gently in to a ball.
  5. Your raspberries will pretty much have disintegrated at this point but the you will have lovely pink streaks and a raspberry flavour even if you don’t have chunks or raspberry in the scones.
  6. Flour your work top with some more GF flour and tip out the dough. Pat rather than roll the dough in to a one inch high seven inch square, I did measure this with a ruler and the scones came out a good height so I do recommend checking the dimensions.
  7. Cut the scones in to nine squares and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for twenty minutes, checking after fifteen minutes. The scones should be lightly golden but as they haven’t been egg washed they won’t have a glossy golden sheen.
  8. Leave to cool for a minute and then transfer to a cooling rack. The scones will set as they cool so leave for a bit before digging in.

 Mary Flahavans’s Oat Biscuits

C36. buscuits 4

I can’t bake. I can’t really cook, but I definitely can’t bake. I cut too many corners and get ‘creative’ at precisely the wrong moment. Also I have a tendency to ignore the beeper on the oven if my TV programme is getting to a good bit. On the other hand, I am a very accomplished in the art of accidental incineration.

Then my husband arrived home with a welcome-pack from Flahavans – every oaty treat from their extensive range you could imagine. Delivered on the fourth week of a five week month it was like a Christmas Hamper to the family of Tiny Tim Cratchit. It didn’t matter what was in it, we were going to find a way of eating it.

The flapjacks (because they are basically biscuits) and the microwavable porridge (because the arrival coincided with a health kick) were quickly consumed, but we had no idea what to do with the other stuff, until I noticed that we had also been supplied with a tiny cook book by the fabulous Mary Flahavan. A quick flick through and without debate we decided some sweet treats would be the best use of our ingredients. We settled on Oat Biscuits.

Also in the spirit of national solidarity, I decided to make these with all Irish products.

C36. biscuits 1

Ingredients required:

  • 275g Flahavans Progress Oatlets
  • 250g Kerrygold Butter (Mary called for 225g, but the block comes in 250g so I just threw the lot in. Waste not, want not. And you can never have too much butter.)
  • 100g Odlums Plain Flour
  • 150g Tesco’s Castor Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Tesco’s Bicarbonate Soda

C36. buscuits 2

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC
  2. Blend oats in food processor until they are fine.
    After getting a little advice from my friend Sue Turley on how to get my food processor to work I was on the road again.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and blend again until dough comes together.
    Now Mary must have a MUCH bigger food processor than I have because I had to split my mixture into thirds and blend it that way, but I think the result was close enough.
    ‘Comes together’ is also something that threw me. I was expecting a dough, like you have when you make scones, but this was more like half-dry putty; it stuck together but was a bit crumbly.
  4. Cut into shapes with cutters (or a glass) and place on baking tray. No need to line or grease tray.
    Again, with hindsight I noticed that Mary intended to make 40 biscuits with this recipe. I didn’t know this at the time and set about making the usual 12, but the mixture kept on going so in the end I made about 20.
    The first 12 I put too close together on the baking tray and they began to merge together into one massive biscuit. I noticed this about 10 min into the cooking time and took out 6 biscuits and cooked the reminder for another 10 min and then but the 6 back in for 10 min. They turned out fine, but this recipe really spreads so leave plenty of space.
  5. Bake in oven for 15-20 min until pale golden in colour and slightly firm.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to cool on wire rack where they will harden into biscuits.

C36. buscuits 3

Result:

And there you have it – homemade treats that don’t cost the earth, and a way of using oats other than force feeding the whole family porridge for the month. What would we have done without Mary’s cookbook? If they very reinstate the Calor Gas Housewife of the Year Competition I think Mary would win unopposed for as long as she was willing to turn up!

Retro Cake: Pineapple Upside-down: GF & Non GF

V11.pineapple upsidedown cake1

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.

V11.pinapple upsidedown cake

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.

Ina Garten’s Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

V14. carrotcake cupcake 2If you have ever watched any of Ina Garten’s cooking shows you will know that her food is all about pleasure. The pleasure of finding good ingredients, the pleasure in the process of bringing a recipe together and the pleasure of serving and eating great food. She truly is all about the joy of cooking. Her carrot cake cupcakes make an appearance at almost every family event we celebrate as they work well with regular, spelt or GF flour. This is the one recipe about which I can, with my hand on my heart, say there is really no difference in taste or texture between the GF and non GF versions. I was invited to brunch recently and wanted to bring something that I knew everyone could enjoy including me and I knew these would be a winner and indeed they were.

If you don’t use the frosting these cupcakes are also dairy free.

For the frosting I would advise going for good old Kerrygold butter and Philadelphia cream cheese. I have tried this frosting with store own brand butter and cream cheese and the resulting frosting was a so runny I couldn’t ice the cupcakes with it. It still tasted amazing so I put it in a bowl and let people spoon it over their cakes. If you can find Philadelphia in the foil block rather than in a tub then definitely use that.

V14. carrotcake cupcake1

For the cakes:

  • 2 cups of caster sugar
    1 1/3 cup of sunflower oil
    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
    3 large eggs
  • 2 cups of Doves Farm plain GF flour ( or 2 cups of spelt flour or regular plain flour if not making GF)
    1 teaspoon of xanthum gum
    2 teaspoons of GF baking powder
    2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
    1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 cups of grated carrots (weigh just under a punt of peeled carrots to get 3 cups grated)
    1 cup of raisins ( I used sultanas as that is what I had in the house, just don’t use miserable bitter little currants)
    1 cup of chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat your oven to Gas 4, 350 F, 180 C
  2. Sift the flour, xanthum gum, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in to a bowl.
  3. In another bowl beat together the sugar, oil and vanilla.
  4. Add the eggs one and a time and beat in to the mixture.
  5. With your whisk at a low speed, so your kitchen doesn’t end up covered in flour, add half of the flour mix to the batter.
  6. Add the grated carrots, raisins and chopped walnuts to the remaining half of the flour mix and stir until well combined and then add to the batter.
  7. At this point I do away with the whisk and use a wooden spoon to mix everything together.
  8. Line your muffin tins or bun trays with paper cases. I got two trays of 12 out of this quantity of batter.
  9. Turn your oven up to Gas 6, 400 F, 200 C
  10. Fill the paper cases up two thirds, you want to leave space for frosting once the cakes are cooked.
  11. Bake at the high temperature for ten minutes and then reduce the temperature back down to Gas 4, 350 F,180 C and leave to cook for 35 mins or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  12. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then take out of the trays and put on a cooling rack until the cakes have cooled completely.

For the frosting:

  • 3/4 lb (12 oz, 340 grams) of cream cheese
  • 1/2 lb ( 8 oz, 225 grams) of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 lb (16 oz, 450 grams) of icing sugar
  1. Cream together the butter, cream chefs and vanilla extract. At a low speed, this time so your kitchen doesn’t get covered in icing sugar, add the icing sugar and be at until smooth.
  2. Either pipe the frosting on to the cakes with an icing bag or use a spoon to swirl the icing on the the cooled cupcakes.

Enjoy!

Shamrock Biscuits

J1. Shamrock 

Simple biscuits to get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

 

All you need:

Biscuits

  • Butter (125g)
  • Caster Sugar (125g)
  • Flour (250g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Decoration

  • 1 egg white,
  • 2 heart shaped cutters (one larger than the other)
  • Green ready roll icing
  • Green decorating writing icing

Instructions:

Cooking:

  1. Beat the butter & sugar together until light and creamy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla until incorporated
  3. Sift in half the flour and mix. Once incorporated, add the rest of the flour and mix again.
  4. Knead the mixture until smooth, ensuring no lumps.
  5. Wrap in cling film, and leave in the fridge for about half an hour.
  1. Heat your oven to gas Mark 4, /180 C/350F
  2. Roll out your mixtures on a lightly floured surface to about 1cm thick.
  3. Using a heart shaped cutter, cut out as many hearts as you can (in a multiple of 3) I got about 18 from this mixture.
  4.  Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 12-15 mins, until they are lightly golden.
  5.  Leave these to cool before decorating

 

Decorating:

  1. Roll out the icing, to about 5mm thick, and cut out 18 large hearts, and 18 smaller hearts using your cutters.
  2. Glaze each biscuit with egg white.
  3. Place the large heart on each biscuits, the egg white will act as glue for it to stick.
  4. Once you have each biscuit covered, dab some more egg white in the middle of each biscuit to act as glue for the smaller heart to be placed on top.
  5.  Once these have been covered with the smaller heart, leave to dry for a few moments.
  6.  To finish, use your green icing pen to draw an outline around the smaller heart. This just gives some depth to the decoration.
  7.  When complete, arrange the hearts in set of 3, and viola, biscuit shamrocks.

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St Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Hats.

 J2. Leprechaun Hats

As Lent has just begun and good intentions are at their highest level of commitment, many of us sweet toothed parishioners are faced with a dilemma; whether or not to break lent for St Patricks Day?

Is it not our right to enjoy the celebrations of our great nations Patron Saint? Can we indulge on Paddy’s day, and then just add an extra Lent day back in at the end? I’m sure I had a New Year’s resolution that I stuck to for longer than a day … can I add this to my Lenten quota? The jury is still out..

But if you have given up all sweets, chocolate and biscuits for this long 40 days and 40 nights, and intend to break it for Paddy’s Day, then I have found the perfect recipe to indulge on all fronts, with a little nod to our folklore.

What you need:

Tools:

  • Weighing scales, 2 bowls, whisk, spatula, baking tray, wire cooling trays, toothpicks, cutters

 

Ingredients:

For the biscuits:

  •  Butter (125g)
  • Caster Sugar (125g)
  •  Flour (250g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract  (I would advise investing in a vanilla extract rather than using an essence.  Extract comes from the natural vanilla; essence is a manufactures chemical product. )

For the Top hats:

  • 1 pack large marshmallows.
  • 3 bars chocolate (the best you can afford, I would advise to use 70% cocoa content if possible, LIDL/ADLI have good prices for theses)

Decoration:

  • Jam (your favourite flavour)
  • Green pen icing

 

Get started

Biscuits are quite simple to make, just takes a little bit of prep time and cooling.

  • Put the butter & sugar to a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (this is good when there are no grains of sugar left, and the butter has turned a very pale colour)
  • Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until combined.
  • Fold in half the flour mix, once incorporated, fold in the rest.
  • Once the mixture is combined, knead slightly to ensure no flour lumps.
  • Wrap this is cling film and put in the fridge for about a half hour. This step is important to let the butter harden again. The biscuits will keep their shape better when baking
  • Heat your oven to gas Mark 4, /180 C/350F
  • You need a cutter that is about 1cm wider than your marshmallow. Household objects such as egg cups or shot glasses can be used for this.
  • Roll your dough to about 2cm in height, and cut out your circles
  • Line a baking tray with parchment, and bake your circles for approx. 10- 15 mins. You will know they are done when they are lightly golden on top, and not too soft to the touch. Remember the biscuits will continue to cook in the hot tray, so take out before they get too hard/dark.
  •  Melt the chocolate over hot water.
  • Using a cocktail stick, dip the marshmallow into the chocolate, and leave to set on a wire rack. (the tricky part is getting it off the toothpick without losing some of the chocolate)
  • Do the same with the biscuits once cooled off.
  • Leave to harden for about 30-45 mins

Now they are ready to assemble!

  • Use the jam and glue. Dab a little bit on the base of the marshmallow, and stick to the centre of the biscuit. Remember these are hats, so try leaving an even space around the rim!
  • For a finishing touch, give the leprechauns s shamrock for their cap.
  • Using the green icing pen, give 3 dots in a triangle shape, and a little swish at the end for the stalk.

And you are ready or your “here’s one I made earlier” moment.  Boil the kettle, get a hot cup of tea, and relax while munching on the smooth and crunchy goodness of Lenten indulgence.

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Gluten Free Apple Pie

V2. apple pie

Apple Pie is luscious in all its incarnations, unless the incarnation is that of the pale, dry, flat variety often found in super markets. I don’t understand how you can bake something until it is cooked to near desiccation and still have it be fish belly white.

Apple pie should ooze fruit. If it is in a traditional pie the lid should be crisp with sugar with the juice of the apples bubbling and sticky at the pinched edges of the pastry, if it is an open tart the fruit should be glazed until the glisten and if it is a tart tatin there should be a deeply coloured caramel covering the gold of the apples. There is no excuse for bad apple pie.

When I was 12 I went to France with my Aunt and her family, I remember three things from that holiday, fresh pastries in the morning, crepes still hot from the pan filled with Nutella and a slice of apple pie that was very different from the excellent pies my Mum made. This was an open tart, filled with sliced apples suspended in custard, it was glazed with apricot jam and was very very good.  I have been trying to replicate that pie for a while and this recipe is the closest I have come.

I have tweaked this recipe, very slightly from the recipe for Besancon Apple Tart, as given by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney in their book Healthy Gluten Free Eating.

9″ springform / removable base tart shell, buttered.

Ingredients.

Tart Shell

  • 1 quantity sweet short crust pastry (see previous recipe)
  •  Egg wash

Apricot Glaze

 

  • 6 oz Apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or water.

Filling

 

  • 3 – 4 golden delicious apples
  •  2 medium eggs
  •  2 tablespoons caster sugar
  •  250ml single cream.
  •  1/8  teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 /180 c / 350 f

Make the apricot glaze by combining the jam and the lemon juice or water in a pot and melting over a low heat, strain the glaze through a sieve and then add it back to the pot. Keep it in the pot so you can warm it slightly before brushing the pastry base and again before giving the tart its finally glaze.

Take the shortcrust pastry that has been chilled for an hour and roll out between two sheets of cling film. Take your buttered tart tin and removing the top layer of cling film carefully lift the pastry and turn it gently over the tin. Ease the pastry in to the tin and then remove the bottom layer of cling film.  Trim the pastry , don’t trim too close to the top of the tin as pastry will shrink while it bakes. Pop the tin in to the fridge for ten minutes so the pastry can rest.

Line with parchment paper and baking beans. I have used tin foil when out of parchment paper but it is more difficult to remove from the par baked tart shell. My baking beans are two bags of dried chickpeas.

Blind bake the pastry shell for 15 – 20 minutes and then remove the parchment paper and beans, take care with this in case the pastry sticks to the paper and tears, if it does use some of the pastry trimmings to patch the damage. Brush the shell with egg wash and return to the oven for 3 – 4 minutes. Leave it to cool slightly and then brush the base with some of the apricot glaze.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut the quarters in to even slices abut 3mm thick. Arrange the slices in the shell in an overlapping circle, starting at the outer edge and working in towards the centre.

In a bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar, cinnamon and cream and strain this through a sieve over the apples.

A good tip is to put your tart tin on a baking sheet.  Half fill the tart shell and move it on the baking sheet in to the oven and then once it is on the shelf pour on the rest of the custard. I have in the past ended up with more custard on the floor than in the shell by trying to move it to the oven while full!

Bake for about 35 – 40 mins until the custard is set and the apples are cooked. Remove from the oven and brush with the warmed apricot glaze. The glaze not only gives a beautiful glossy appearance to your tart but also gives a lovely flavour.

You can serve this tart warm with whipped cream or ice cream or when it is cool you can keep slicing off pieces to nibble on every time you walk past it in the kitchen.

V2. Pie

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