Sticky Toffee Ginger Pudding

I know. An actual recipe! its been a while, but its getting towards an actual pudding season; the autumn and winter months.  The nights start to draw in and the sun begins to shine a little less. Comfort food time. Although having said that, anytime is comfort food time 🙂

This is a fairly easy recipe to make and bake; add the sauce and hey presto a soft, moist and moreish pudding, fit for any time or day of the week.

I was though lucky enough to have been approached by a company called Global Foods UK who manufacture date products. Who knew? I think largely for the wholesale/trade market, they produce and supply dates, date pastes and date syrups from some of the worlds tastiest dates – Deglet Noir from North Africa and Zahidi from the Middle East. Really easy to use; the paste can be used in much the same way as dates – without the stones! The syrups can be used instead of ‘normal’ refined sugars.  There are some health benefits I believe – check their website for their details

Now for research purposes I made a batch of chocolate muffins, substituting out the sugar and using the exact same amount of the date syrup. Like any other liquid sugar substitute it works fine. Mixes fine and cooks just as well.  The problem we have is the taste, its just not the same as sugar.

Now the date paste is another matter. Having made this pudding I can safely say that the paste is really easy to use.  Use in the same way you would dates, but the easy bit is that you don’t have to de-stone them!

I used the Deglet Noir date paste which has been put through a 3mm mincer.

Ingredients – enough for 12 people.

For the pudding;

250g date paste/chopped dates

300ml water

70g butter

140g black treacle

170g gluten free self raising flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 eggs

For the sauce;

300ml double cream

160g soft brown sugar

50g butter

Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180c or 160c fan and lightly grease a container that holds at least 1.7L and is c26cm long, c20cm wide and c5cm deep.

First off put the chopped dates (the date paste will still actually need chopping into small pieces, the water, butter and treacle into a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer for 2 minutes. The treacle will soften and the butter will melt and the dates should also soften and absorb the liquids, plus soften to make them easier to mix.

Leave to one side to cool for about 10 minutes, then tip in the flour, ginger and the eggs and beat the mixture together to form a batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cut, whilst hot, into 12 pieces.

Put to one side whilst you make the sauce.

Pour the cream, butter and sugar into a large enough saucepan and bring to a slow boil for another 2 minutes – stirring whilst it heats. The sauce should thicken a little and have a lovely ‘saucey’ look to it… Pour this over the slightly cooled ginger pudding and serve – on its own or with (more) cream.

 

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Holiday time to France

As the leaves begin to fall from the trees, so the end of the school holidays draw to a close and we prepare for the autumn/winter term and the slow road into Christmas and the New Year! Where does the time go???

France. A holiday destination of our youth but as a current family, not one we have been to on our own. So with some trepidation we embarked on what we described as a little experiment. How would it go? Could we get by speaking next to no French? And how would we get by with Noah? How good were the French at catering for those with gluten free diets? Sans gluten?

Sadly we had heard before we went, that, on the whole, France is possibly not the best destination for those with Coeliac Disease. Great! What a start!

We decided to take our time down to the La Loire valley. Take a little road trip and explore some of the French countryside and not rush around. It was all to easy to come off Le Shuttle, drive south, unpack, have holiday and drive straight back.

So we took a fairly longish way down, stopping first in Dover (at a rather nameless Premier Inn, with. Beefeater attached, that did provide an allergy menu) before catching Le Shuttle the next day, driving down  via Rouen (we had to laugh at Mrs Sat Nav’s pronunciations) and into our booked first night in France, in a small gites in a little village; Boscherville.

Having emailed ahead, we ensured that our hosts were very much aware that we had someone who needed a ‘sans gluten’ breakfast. What we would get, we would have to wait and see.  Needless to say, it would appear that our hosts went out of their way to provide something for Noah to eat. Sadly, Noah was having a no-eating breakfast, but our confidence grew with sans gluten provisions. Other than that, we had a little picnic for tea from a nearby supermarket and the gites was pretty, simple and charming. Coffee in traditional bowls for breakfast 🙂

We then needed to make our way to our base camp; a Eurocamp, near la Loire. Being self catering we had of course needed to find a supermarket and stock up on supply’s. And why is it, that when you need to find something, you can’t find it? After a somewhat 30km round trip we found one hell of a supermarche! Super U. And the amount of ‘sans gluten’ product was outstanding. It was a little hit and miss after this, but on the whole, self catering in France for those needing to eat gluten free, is relatively easy. At least it is in la Loire.

We did of course bring some stuff over with us, but we could easily not have bothered. Even the camp site shop had a very limited stock of the basics – pasta…. We shall say very little about eating out, as that wasn’t our greatest success, but we didn’t expect it to be, so we pretty much ate of our own doing.  At least we knew what Noah was eating and not gambling on cross contamination in food outlet kitchens.

Then before heading back after a fantastic week of doing not very much but hanging by the pool (I didn’t bring enough books!), visiting a couple of traditional and amazing Chateaux we headed back north. But again we headed back to Calais via very circuitous route to Dieppe and a lovely B&B! Hotel de la Plage. Quite basic, but we just needed a bed for the night, a walk on the beach and a simple breakfast in the morning. And we are pleased to say that, again, there was a ‘sans gluten’ provision (Noah again having a no eating breakfast – good job we had some gluten free cereal left in the room!).

Our final stop, Cite Europe and the Carrefour supermarket just outside, literally, Le Shuttle terminal. And wow! What a fantastic array of gluten free products! No picture would have done it justice. Simply fantastic. Why these products are not available in the UK I have no idea, but if you get the chance, go and stock up. Noah felt like it was Christmas and we came back with loads of things for him to try.

So on the whole a rather successful trip all round, both in terms of travelling, driving and gluten free provision. Next year? A road trip to Italy?

What to look for – own shop brand ‘sans gluten’ can be hit and miss in some supermarkets, but the larger the store the larger the selection (not unlike in the UK I suppose) Carrefour do their own brand, but on our trip we found plenty of Schar products, Regain and Super U had their own products.

Look our for – d’orge = barley. dont ble = wheat. Glucose de ble = wheat glucose. Peut contenir = can contain. Fibre de ble = wheat fibre. Farine de ble = wheat flour. Google translate was VERY helpful 😉

At last, a cookery demonstration

I have never really had a grand plan with Cakes by Noah. OK, so I would have loved for it to have gone viral and to be living off the income. But then I woke up and realised I needed to return to earth and more or less see where it went.

I was really humbled to have been asked to do a cake demonstration at a local Food Festival – in Macclesfield, Cheshire.  A new one in the calendar, plus there is currently a Macclesfield ‘Foodie Friday’ of various food stalls dotted around the town centre on, you guessed it, a Friday!

As this was to be my first cake demo, I was of course a little nervous, but I was focused on getting one ‘under my belt’ so to speak. To see the process through and see where I needed to improve or adapt.  As some of you may have seen from my social media accounts, the work started the day before. I needed to ensure the cake was baked and I had separate pots with all the ingredients in, so that I could show how to put the cake together and why I use certain ingredients. Explain how Cakes by Noah came about and its evolution over the last 4/5 years! Plus I had no idea of what my set would look like, or what was available! So I had to go on, knowing that I may have just a bench to work from.  Although I knew I was to share a set with chef Nigel Brown, I was unaware of what he was bringing; I like to live on the edge a bit sometimes!!

So with my yellow box stuffed full of cake, ingredients and mixing bowls i set out on that very wet and windy Saturday morning.  And boy was it wet! Shame really because, for the morning at least, it kept the crowds away.  However, not dampened by this the show must go on and I kept to my given slot and talked my way through about 30 minutes of putting the cake together, building the cake and the letting those that were there, grab a bite to eat.  They loved it and, no surprise to me, were pleasantly surprised at how moist the cake was. ‘And it was gluten free’? they asked, ‘Yes!’ another myth busted.

As for doing the demo. I loved it! More please 😀

And with any luck, I have another couple of cake demonstrations coming up in July 2019 – at the Foodies Festival Tatton Park.  Look out for updates on my social media accounts.

So the cake – Gluten Free Coconut and Pineapple Cake.

3 x 7″ loose based cake tins, lined with greaseproof and pre-heat the oven to 155c fan, 175c, gas 4.

5 eggs

250g sunflower oil

250g caster sugar

90g coconut flour…. I used Groovy Foods

220g gluten free self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

80ml Malibu

For the Filling;

1 large tin (c430g) pineapple – chopped and crushed – keep the juice

50ml  Malibu

30g caster sugar

40g cornflour

For the Topping;

1 pineapple with a good spread of green leaves (optional if you don’t want to waste a pineapple)

80g desiccated coconut – dry fried in a frying pan over a high heat or roasted on a tray in a hot oven until you get them toasty and bronzed. Allow to cool before using.

380g tub of full fat cream cheese

80g icing sugar

Additional splash of Malibu – 50ml (optional of course)

The cake is incredibly easy to make, just pour all the cake ingredients into a large enough mixing bowl and whisk (by hand or with an electric hand held whisk) until all the ingredients are fully combined – about 1 – 2 minutes.  Then evenly pour the cake batter into the 3 prepared cakes tins.  I would find three cakes tins. If you only have 2; and bake 2, the chance are that the 3rd cake batter will not rise as much as the raising agents in the flour will already have started to react and the cooked cake will be a little flat and may not be as fluffy.

Bake the cakes on the lower shelf for about 25 – 30 minutes

Remove the cooked cakes from the oven – test with an inserted skewer and if it comes out clean its down they are done. Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling on a wire rack.

You can then prepare the pineapple filling.

First off, line a small baking tray with cling film, this is to allow the filling to cool once thickened.

If you have not been lucky enough to find a large tin of crushed pineapple, you’ll need to drain (keep the juice) the pineapple chunks/pieces/slices and cut them up into pieces and then using a potato masher – mash the pineapple to remove some of the juice from the chunks, this will help thicken the filling. Once you are ready to make the filling, pour the juice, crushed pineapple, sugar and cornflour and Malibu into a large enough saucepan and stir well to mix the ingredients.  Then turn on the heat and heat the mixture gently in order to thicken the filling – or pineapple custard!  Keep stirring until the custard thickens and ensure it doesn’t boil.

Pour the thickened custard onto your prepared tray and allow the mixture to cool completely before filling the cake. Beware – this tastes rather lush on its own!

For the topping, mix the cream cheese, Malibu (if using) with the icing sugar and beat until a smooth paste. Put to one side.

Then to assemble your cake.

Place one cake onto your cake stand, spread with half of the cooled pineapple custard, top with a second cake, spread with the remaining pineapple custard and cover with the third cake.

Using your best cake covering skills, cover the cake; top and sides with the cream cheese mix and even out as best you can. Use the cooled toasted desiccated coconut to decorate the top and sides of the cake as in the picture.

If you want to go the extra mile with the fresh pineapple, chop off the top of the pineapple and trip the head so that it sits on top of the finished cake.  Then if you want to recreate the seared pineapple slices – slice the whole pineapple, skin on, so that you get at least 4 thin slices, lengthways.  Then with a very hot frying pan on the stove, place the slices in the frying pan and allow them to almost burn (or caramelise) before turning over to repeat. Allow to cool before using them to further garnish the cake.

 

Happy Easter

Its been a while hasn’t it?

Gluten free Simnel Cake

And so a little update of the last couple of months.  Life at Cakes Towers continues, we are all still here, still alive and well and living the dream.

I may have mentioned taking a break from baking and recipe writing to try and write a book, well that is still on going. It’s no mean feat to create new recipes, write them all down, bake them and try and be creative with the photos, whilst still maintaining a full-time job, being a full-time dad and husband. Nonetheless I have written some recipes and taken some photos, the process while long, is rather fun. Trying to squeeze in time to bake cakes and bakes, in amongst the weekend taxi service and a wonderful job that takes we away across the country more often than not.

I would have it no other way.

The beginning of the year started with baking around 4 or 5 bakes a weekend and trying to photo them whilst there was still plenty of natural light. I quickly learnt that once the early winter nights had drawn in, the kitchen light was not a great replacement and neither was the use a flash or trying to set up a light studio with a standard lamp! And don’t get me started on overcast days! But I battled on and I am proud of the results; I still need a few ideas and so baking seems to have slowed down a bit this past month as I am in need of some cakespiration.

I have also taken on board the role of Group Organiser for our local Coeliac UK support group.  A role I felt I needed to take on, as otherwise the group would have folded. Something I felt I could do, there are so many people diagnosed with Coeliac Disease that seem to have little or no support once they are diagnosed, it was the least I could do. There is I feel, some way to go to make the group more supportive rather than just a couple of large meetings per year. But once we get this year out of the way, we (the grand ‘we’ of the committee) can start to plan something a little more supportive to those that need it.

And so a quick recipe to tie you over for the approaching  Easter Holidays.

pre heat the oven to gas 3, 150c, 140c fan and line the base of a loose based 20cm cake tin.

350g gluten free self raising flour

250g butter

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

100g caster sugar

80g light brown sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

400g dried fruit (washed glacé cherries halves, raisins, sultanas)

2 tablespoons Apricot Jam

300g ready to roll marzipan

Thought I would shake things up a bit and use the rubbed-in method for this one! I used a food processor to blitz the flour, spice and butter together to form the ‘breadcrumbs’. A couple of quick pulses and we are done, then add the sugars and blitz again to combine.

Take a hand full of the dried mix and sprinkle over the dried fruit and mix so that each piece of fruit is covered – this should help to keep the fruit suspended in the cake and it won’t sink.

Pour the dried flour/breadcrumb mix into a large enough mixing bowl, make a well in the middle, then pour in the eggs and using a spoon, combine the mix to form a sticky cake dough. Stir in the dried fruit to mix and ensure an even distribution.  There should be no need to over mix this, just enough to combine the ingredients.

Take half of the Marzipan and roll this out to form a disc the same size as the inside of the cake tin.

Tip half of the cake mix into the cake tin and smooth out, then place the Marzipan disc on top, then finish with the remaining cake batter, smooth the surface and place in the oven to bake for about 75 – 90 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool before removing the cake from the tin.

Brush the surface of the cake with the apricot jam.

Roll out the remaining Marzipan into a disc to cover the cake at around 3mm thick. Place on top of the apricot jam and smooth the surface.

If you want to create the traditional glaze, place the cake under a very hot grill and allow the heat to tinge the Marzipan – not burn it, so keep you eyes on it! You could use one of the many hand held cooks blow torches that are available.

Decorate as you see fit, I went a little left-field and just decorated with chocolate mini eggs…

Happy Easter to each and every one of you. 😀💐

 

The next project….

So the next project has begun, hence the reason for the lack of posts and I make no apology for my absence.

It’s a process I need to go through and has been part of the long-term plan since the beginning, but the time has not felt right. Now I feel that I can share with you how things are going, or perhaps how it’s not going!

Writing a book! It’s something I never really thought I’d do, but since creating Cakes by Noah, it has been a shadow that has become and been given, more form.  I have spent the last 4 years creating recipes, having fun and meeting lots of wonderful people. Those people are still wonderful and have been incredibly supportive in ways perhaps they may not realise. There have been others too, that have been in the background pushing and pushing, but there are somethings things that just need to be discovered for yourself. You can lead a horse to water, etc. as they say.

Why a book? Why not! I’ve always strived to spread the word on gluten free baking, strived to help others to see how easy it is, how with a little application no one misses out, everyone can eat together. No one is left behind.  Now I have another platform on which to share my love, to share with the known world some back to basic recipes. Something for everyone.

Don’t be fooled, this is not an easy process! Despite having many recipes that work, many of which I have previously shared with you on here, I have always wondered if they could be better. And now I am able to carry out a bit more recipe development in order to create an even better recipe. So far I am only a fraction of the way through my list of bakes and I’m 4 sponge recipes in with only 1 good enough to use. And I’m sure there’ll be room for improvement in that one!

Light is another factor. At this time of the year, day light hours are at a premium and working full-time, means baking and photography has to happen at the weekends. So planning comes into force, a major force! It’s a good job, planning is one of my strengths! 😀

Do I have a publication date? Er no, not yet. It’s all being self funded, there is the small matter of the day job and Noah and his sister (and for that matter mum) are all still in the mix and if I’m honest, I don’t think I have a full list of what I’m baking; it seems to change weekly. Then there is the matter of putting it all together and actually writing some sort of prologue and odd ramblings to start it all off! But at least I’ve started.

‘Tis the season to be…….

I might not be able to take really good photos, but ‘by eck, do I make rather tasty bakes!

Gluten Free Chocolate Swiss Roll

The festive season is usually one for over indulgence, adding sweetness upon sweetness. You can take the humble mince pie and drown it in brownie, the humble Swiss roll and drown it in buttercream or ganache, a humble mince pie and drown it in alcohol. The list goes on, it seems Christmas is an excuse to over indulge?  But that’s ok, it’s just for a couple of days 😀😀

And this recipe goes only half way to indulgence 😀 Still indulgent and can still be made for a simple centrepiece for a gluten free Christmas table. And if you make this, no one – no one – will be able to tell the difference between this and a ‘normal’ cake. It’s so light and fluffy. Let’s not talk about the other Swiss roll I made, that cracked and fell apart….. 🙄 but did have green Christmas trees and red baubles on!

Preheat the oven to 180c fan, 200c, Gas 4 and line a Swiss roll tin (35cm x 25cm) with baking parchment/greaseproof paper.

To make the swirls;

35g soft butter

35g icing sugar

1 egg white

30g gluten free plain flour

A simple cake mix, beat the butter and the icing sugar together until you have a soft paste, beat in the egg white; again until you have a soft paste, then mix in the gluten free flour until you have a combined mix, that will be easy to pipe.

Now I did this bit by free hand (I know, you can tell) place the cake paste into a piping bag with a writing nozzle and draw onto the greaseproof paper your pattern/s. There are plenty of templates on-line. You don’t need to cover the whole piece of paper as some of the pattern will sit underneath the Swiss roll when it has been rolled up.

Also, if you are going to write actual words, write them back to front. Otherwise when you  turn the Swiss roll over to roll once filled, the writing will be backwards.

Once you have piped your design, place in the freezer, for at least 10 minutes, whilst you make your Swiss roll.

3 large eggs

80 caster sugar

70g gluten free plain flour

20g cocoa (I use Food Thoughts Cocoa)

Using a stand mixer (I have a kitchen aid) whisk the eggs and the sugar for at least 5 minutes until you have trebled the volume of he mix and once you left out the whisk, it leaves a trail or ribbon.

Sift the cocoa with the gluten free flour together and then sift again onto the egg and sugar mix. Then using either a large metal spoon or plastic spatula gently fold in the flour mix.  Gently, so as to keep as much air in th mix as possible.

Once fully folded, take your tray out of the freezer (the pattern should have set) and carefully pour the Swiss roll mix over your pattern. Making sure the mix gets into each hole and crevice. Tap the tray gently and place into the oven on the bottom shelf, and bake for about 8 minutes.

Whilst baking – and this is going to get fiddly i’m afraid – get a sheet of greaseproof paper slightly larger than your Swiss roll, and place onto your kitchen table/surface and lightly sprinkle with caster sugar.

Now, once the Swiss roll is cooked, allow the tray to cool for about a minute to take some of the heat out of the tray, and the turn the tray upside down onto the sugared greaseproof to turn the cake out.  Gently peel off the greaseproof from the cooked cake, place another clean sheet of greaseproof back on top and turn over again! This way the pattern should be on the side of the kitchen surface? Using a sharp knife make a cut along the long length of the cake, only about half way down into the cake. This will help rolling up. Then roll up the Swiss roll with the greaseproof inside and allow to th cake to fully cool.

By cooling the Swiss roll rolled up, it will be easier to roll once filled. It will be stretched enough and shouldn’t crack!

For the filling;

200g of jam/preserve – I used Single Variety Company – Maravilla Raspberry Preserve. Because they were lovely and sent me a jar or 2 to play with 😀😀

200g Nutella (or similar chocolate and hazelnut spread) – gently warmed to make it easy to spread.

Unroll the Swiss roll. It will have cooled enough for you to use by the time you have weighed out the filling ingredients. Then spread on the jam/preserve and then cover with the warmed chocolate spread. Then roll back up, the Swiss roll. Trying to get in tightly rolled to get that all important ‘swirl’, and taking care to keep the filling in!

Place onto your cake dish and serve.

It should keep well (and covered) for at least 2 days.  If it lasts that long!

 

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season….

It is indeed the season to be joyful.

Gluten free Mince Pies

And there is no excuse required in this house, to eat and enjoy a gluten free mince pie. All the more when the pastry is a little thicker than normal and a little extra rich! For me, this newer gluten free recipe for pastry has a little extra melt-in-the-mouth experience and, and if you have some added festive spirit to hand, add this to your sweet Mincemeat for that added touch of indulgence. It’s Christmas after all, although I don’t need an excuse to eat mince pies any time of the year 😀😀😀

Yes, you can buy gluten free mince pies in the shops, yes the gluten free range is increasing, there is though, nothing like baking your own. It takes no more time to make or bake gluten free versus ‘normal’ and I’ll be honest, these taste great! So, go on, give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen??? 😀😀

Preheat your oven to gas 5, 200c fan, 215c

Have to hand you pastry topper cutter to hand (I used a Tala Christmas Tree one), an 8cm round cutter for the base and a deep 12 hole tray (used twice). This recipe makes about 18 mince pies.

70g ground almonds

310g gluten free plain flour

1 level teaspoon of xanthum gum

100g caster sugar

280g diced butter

2 eggs

540g gluten free Mincemeat

Alcoholic beverage of choice. Optional of course, but I’ve used Calvados, brandy and amaretto to make these mince pies.

Using a food processor, blend the ground almonds, gluten free plain flour, xanthum gum and sugar together for about 30 seconds until fully combined. Alternatively sieve the ingredients together over a bowl to mix them all together.

Then add the diced butter to the processor and blend on pulse until you have a mix that resembles fine breadcrumbs. No more than a minute. Alternatively rub the butter into the dry mix with your fingertips to reach the same state.

Crack the 2 eggs into a cup and lightly whisk with a fork.

Pour roughly 1.5 (save the other half as egg wash for the finished pie) of the egg mix into the flour and butter mix and blend together in the processor for about 20 seconds and then tip out on to the table top and bring together to form a dough. Or likewise, pour the egg mix into your bowl, if making by hand and again bring together to form a dough.

Let this dough rest a little in the fridge, wrapped in cling film, to firm the butter up, if nothing else. Otherwise the dough can get a little greasy.

Once the dough has rested for about 15 minutes, take it out of the fridge and unwrap it from the film. Place it on a lightly floured surface and roll out the dough to about 4mm in thickness.

You may need to gather and reform the dough and roll out again to get the right amount of bases and tops.

Cut out 18 rounds for the base and 18 toppers. Brush the inside of each pastry round with some of the remaining beaten egg.

Place the bases in the cake tray, pop in about 30g of Mincemeat into each base and splash on about a tablespoon or 2 of optional alcoholic spirits….. top with your pastry topper of choice, brush this with egg wash and place into the oven to bake for around 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly bronzed.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool, before removing from the tray and sprinkling with icing sugar and serving. If you need to bake the remaining batch of mince pies, repeat – and line, brush, fill, splash, top, brush and bake…..

Once fully cooled, these can be placed in a tub, placed into the freezer and kept for no more than a month. So if you need to bake ahead, now is the time.

Can be served warm with your favourite – brandy butter, brandy custard, or just warm and on their own.