Our recent gluten free journey and a cake

We’ve had an interesting few weeks in Cake Towers. Our day jobs continue to develop, challenge and lead us in directions that help shape us. Outside of this, Noah and his sister continue to inspire and challenge us and the way we approach our routines. I certainly cannot remember being as challenging when I was younger! The world changes and we must change with it.

I have mentioned before about the short sightedness of some food companies not catering for children with Coeliac Disease, but slowly, very slowly this is changing. It means families can eat as families, they can eat from the same (just about) menu and enjoy some much needed family time. It’s been a short, welcome breath, of fresh air. So what have we been up to?

Firstly a family birthday gathering at The Ickworth Hotel, just outside Bury St Edmunds, allowed Noah to have a gluten free afternoon tea. To see his little face light up, when the afternoon tea stand arrived with jam and ham gluten free sandwiches arrived, was a picture of joy. There was a ‘hold-your-breath’ moment though.  As I had booked the table over a month ago and despite reconfirming numbers the week before re-iterating the need for gluten free options for children, I never really knew (or believed) if one would turn up and what the quality would be like. But Noah was happy. Although my brownies and caramel shortbread are better. Naturally 😀😀

Then of course, good old Pizza Express. Our experiences in the main have been positive for Noah and this allows us, again, to eat as a family. Quite possibly the only restaurant where Noah feels comfortable, to not only eat, but to order his own meal – stressing ‘gluten free please’. Oddly though ‘no cheese’, he just doesn’t like it.  He’ll eat the lot – gluten free dough balls, gluten free pizza and non-gluten containing brownie. There is then the nervous wait the following day, waiting to see if the processes in place are safe. On this occasion, we were trouble free. Thank you Pizza Express.

I also baked a cake.  I am trying this year to bake and share more ‘cake’ recipes rather than oddments of muffins, cupcakes and other such tray bakes.  But if I conjure up something worth sharing – it will share it.

Pre heat the oven to Gas 4, 180c, 165c fan and line 2 x 7″ cake tins.

For the cake;

  • 4 large eggs
  • 190g vegetable oil
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 200g gluten free self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 teaspoons instant coffee powder dissolved into 4 tablespoons of hot water and allowed to cool

This is quite simple – put all the ingredients into your mixing bowl (I used my table top mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk on high speed for about 3 – 4 minutes until you have a mixed that is fully mixed and has gained volume. Separate this batter mixture between the 2 tins – roughly 400g in each – and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until an inserted dry skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the tins, before turning out and cooling completely on a wire rack.

For the filling/topping – a simple butter cream;

  • 60ml coffee liqueur – or more/less dependant on taste (optional)
  • 200g soft butter
  • 380g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 30g milk – I used semi skimmed

For the initial cake covering and remaining covering – mix up the cinnamon frosting – beat 150g of soft butter until light, stir in 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 300g icing sugar and 20g milk. Mix this until it comes together and then continue to beat in a hand mixer until your frosting is fully mixed in and spreadable.

Lay out the 2 pieces of cake and drizzle 30ml of coffee liquerer on to each piece.

Place 1 piece of cake (liqueur drizzled side up) onto your cake stand/decorating table and spread the cinnamon buttercream in to cover. Place the other cake on top (liquerer side up again) spread and cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream.  Smooth out and leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to firm up.

Whilst this is in the fridge, make the chocolate buttercream by beating the remaining 50g of soft butter until its light and then mixing in the 20g cocoa and remaining icing sugar and milk. Beat until its light and fluffy and pipable.

Remove the cake from the fridge and spread the bottom half with most of the chocolate buttercream – retaining some for piping.  Finish off decorating the cake with the remaining cinnamon icing.  You could – as I have – finish off with a drizzle of melted chocolate (100g) and some piped chocolate buttercream.

As this is made with vegetable oil, it will last a little longer than if it was made with butter – around 3 days.  The cinnamon buttercream does intensify a little, but not too much.

 

 

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Gluten Free Easter Chocolate Cake

Its chocolate cake season – like I need an excuse! I love chocolate and thought too long and hard on how to decorate this cake – there are sooo many chocolate ideas to use. Almost too many Easter chocolate ideas?

So I went with Cadbury Flakes (makes it look like a nest), Galaxy Golden Eggs, Cadbury Mini Eggs and Nestle Milky Bar  Eggs.

I also make some gluten free chocolate crispy cake mix to use as a ‘nest’ – obviously I made too much and there was plenty left over…….

I used my Sacher Torte recipe as the base for the cake of this creation and finished with a very fluffy buttercream before decorating.

For the cornflake cake;

  • 100g gluten free cornflakes
  • 50g melted chocolate

Once you have melted the chocolate, pour in the gluten free cornflakes and mix carefully until all the flakes are covered in chocolate. Leave to firm up by spreading the mix on some greaseproof paper. Once set, gently break up into bit size chunks and keep, ready for finishing off the cake (careful not to eat too many pieces!!)

Line the sides and the base of an 8″ loose bottomed cake tin and preheat the oven to gas 3, 140c fan, 160c

For the cake;

  • 180g milk chocolate (I used Callebaut)
  • 100g butter
  • 5 eggs separated
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 80g gluten free plain flour

For the filling;

  • 150g raspberry jam

For the buttercream

  • 100g very soft butter
  • 40g cocoa (I used Food Thoughts)
  • 160g icing sugar
  • splash of milk

Place the chocolate and the butter into a bowl and melt. Either by placing the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water – don’t let the bowl touch the water and stir occasionally. Or by melting in a bowl, in a microwave in short bursts of 20 seconds at a time – 20 seconds, take out and stir, 20 seconds, take out and stir – repeat.  If you over heat the chocolate it will ‘burn’ and go all grainy. You’ll have to start again if this happens – so take care and time. Once all melted – which ever method you use – leave to cool a little before adding to the egg mix.

Meanwhile;

In a separate bowl make a meringue – whisk the 5 egg whites until double the volume and the mix is ‘stiff’ add in to this – in 3 batches – 90g of the caster sugar. Whisk in each batch of caster sugar until fully combined and finish off whisking the meringue until its stiff and shiny – about 7-8 minutes start to finish.

In another bowl whisk 30g of the caster sugar and the 5 egg yolks and the vanilla essence for a further 5 minutes or until you have a fairly stiff mix and the mix holds the shape of the whisk – ribbon stage. Into this stir in the melted chocolate mix and the gluten free flour. Ensure its all fully combined before then mixing in a third of the meringue mix.

Then fold in another third of the meringue, once that has been folded in, fold in the final third – taking care to not knock all the air out of the mix.

Pour the batter into the tin and gently bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin before removing.

Once cooled you can either slice the cake horizontally in half or into three slices. Rebuild the cake by spreading jam onto each slice before then rebuilding the cake.

To make the buttercream beat the butter until light and fluffy, stir in the cocoa, icing sugar and milk before your then finish beating until its light and fluffy and ready to spread.

Spread the buttercream over the cake and decorate with your chosen confectionary.

 

Rhubarb time! Spring IS around the corner

At last! The ‘Beast from the East’ is, for now, being blown away across the Atlantic and we can finally welcome in the fresh, green (and pink)  shoots of new beginnings for 2018.

The sun is currently shining and for us at least, the snow has melted away.  We continue to strive to provide a good base from which Noah and his sister can grow and experience. With recent pressures on the NHS we are still waiting for his annual blood test – we can wait, he isn’t going anywhere and there are no over-riding concerns for him. He eats and he continues to grow.  The annual check up is certainly re-assuring though, as it confirms to us that he and us are going about his dietary needs in the right way.  I might bang on about cakes, but the neighbours do fairly well from the extra abundance of our baking exploits and trials.  The tribulations go in the bin

And so a little taste of Spring to brighten up you dinner/lunch table, a little piece of comfort food that will go down just as easily on its own, with cream, sour cream or a dollop of custard – the choice is yours.

Preheat your oven to Gas 3, 170c, 150c fan and line an 8″ round, deep cake tin.

For the cake;

  • 3 eggs
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 150g melted butter
  • 60ml sour cream
  • 150g gluten free self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 220g chopped (Yorkshire) fresh rhubarb

For the crumble;

  • 70g Rice flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • 20g gluten free oats
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 50g butter

Make the crumble first by putting all the ingredients into a bowl and rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a mix that looks like breadcrumbs. Alternatively place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz for a few seconds to get the same desired effect, put finished product to one side.

For the sponge cake, again place all the ingredients into a large enough bowl and using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk altogether for a 4/5 minutes.  The mixture will become light and fluffy and thicken as you whisk.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth flat, scatter the chopped rhubarb, evenly over the surface of the cake, then scatter over the crumble mix.

Place into the oven and bake for 40- 50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin, before turning out.

You could serve this warm and or cold, allow to cool a little though to let the crumble topping become crispy.

Further options – you could of course use ginger instead of cinnamon, you could add some strawberries as well as the rhubarb – keep the quantities roughly the same for the fruit though.

 

 

Gluten Free Neapolitan Cake

This is a wonderful cake to surprise anyone, especially someone special for Mothers Day. Let us also celebrate those mothers who for what ever reason, are no longer with us, I’m sure they would want us to celebrate their lives and what they meant to us. This wonderfully moist cake can of course be used as a celebration cake any time of the year.

Otherwise known as a Neapolitan Cake, I have added into this my own gluten free twists and you can of course decorate this in what ever way takes your fancy. I used some of the freeze-dried strawberries (I got mine from Sainsbury’s) I used in the cake and some rather lush Godiva Dark Chocolate Hearts from their ‘Masterpiece’ range…. yum. Despite saying ‘may contain’, use your own dietary requirements to include or not. Noah won’t eat them – so his mum will love them, I’m sure.

You’ll need 3 x 7″ cake tins with loose bases, lined and preheat the oven to Gas 4, 170c, 160c fan. If you only have 2 cake tins (as I have) make and bake the vanilla and strawberry cakes first, then once one of these at least, has cooled. Remove it from the tin, place the cake on a wire rack, then make and bake the chocolate cake.

I found that if you make them in vanilla, strawberry and then chocolate order, you can get away with using only one mixing bowl without having to wash it up between batters.

The batter recipes and method are all relatively the same;

For the vanilla cake batter;

  • 2 eggs, broken into the mixing bowl
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 50g vegetable oil
  • 50g melted butter
  • 110g gluten free self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the strawberry cake batter;

  • 2 eggs
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 50g vegetable oil
  • 50g meted butter
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1 drop of strawberry flavouring
  • 2 tablespoons of freeze-dried strawberry pieces

For the chocolate/mocha cake batter;

  • 2 eggs
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 50g vegetable oil
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1 tsp dried instant coffee, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water (cool)
  • 20g cocoa
  • 90g gluten free self raising flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 30g sour cream

For each individual batter, put all of the ingredients into a bowl and using a hand-held whisk, beat until light and fluffy – 5/6 minutes. Then pour each flavour batter into its own cake tin and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave them to cool.

For the filling and the buttercream;

  • 1 jar of strawberry jam – the filling
  • 40ml vodka (optional – I used Black Cow Vodka)
  • 200g very sift butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • splash of milk

Once the cakes have cooled, slice each cake horizontally in half.

Mix the jam with the vodka (optional)

In order to then build the cake place one half of the chocolate cake on you cake plate, spread with jam, then place the other half of the chocolate cake on top.  Spread jam on top of this, add a slice of the strawberry cake and jam mix, then top with the other strawberry cake, then jam and then repeat with the vanilla cake. Don’t put jam on the top vanilla cake.

To make the buttercream beat the soft butter until light and fluffy using your hand-held whisk, or table top mixer. Pour in the icing sugar, essence, and milk stir in, using a spoon to avoid the dust cloud, then finish off by beating the mix for another 4/5 minutes until the mix is smooth and well combined.

Spread a small amount (roughly a third) of the buttercream all over the cake to seal in the cake crumb and place in the fridge to firm up – at least an hour – then finish off smoothing with the rest of the buttercream to create the all over smooth finish.

To finish off, decorate with your own choice of confectionary.

 

 

From Free Angel Cake

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get the cakespiration juices flowing.

This take off, of a well-known supermarket own brand cake, was created after a friend of mine – who can only eat gluten free and dairy free – commented on how bad they were and hopefully I could do better!! I love a challenge.

Challenge accepted and here is the result – as it happens one of Noah’s favourites too.  This light and fluffy slice is relatively easy to make and keeps well for at least 3 days, in a sealed container. You wouldn’t really know they were a free from cake!

Preheat your oven to Gas 3, 170c, 160c fan

Line 2 small brownie/cake trays c25cm long, c3cm deep and c14cm wide

  • 4 large eggs
  • 240g vegetable oil
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 240g gluten free self raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 2 drops of pink colouring ( I used Rainbow Dust pink gel)
  • 2 drops of strawberry flavouring (optional – I use Foodie Flavours)
  • 50g Stork for Baking
  • 170g Icing sugar
  • few drops of water

I would suggest making the main cake mix twice.  Firstly weigh out 2 eggs, 120g veg oil,  110g caster sugar, 120g gluten free self raising flour and a teaspoon of vanilla essence and using a hand-held mixer whisk the lot together until light and fluffy – 3 – 4 minutes.  Pour this batter into the 1st cake tin and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

To make the 2nd batch of cake mix, put the remaining 2 eggs, oil, sugar, gluten free flour, pink colour and optional drops of strawberry flavour and again whisk until light and fluffy, pour into the tin and bake for the same amount of time. Or until the inserted skewer comes out clean.

To make the filling – similar to that of a buttercream, without using butter, beat the Stork until light and fluffy, mix in 100g of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and a few drops of water (this will help to spread the filling over the base of the cake) then continue beating using an electric hand-held whisk until the mix is light and fluffy – it turns a pale shade of white too.

In order to spread the filling, ensure both cakes are cool and have been removed from the tins.

Place the pink cake down first and spread over the filling then top with the vanilla cake slice.

Using the remaining 70g icing sugar, the drop of pink colouring and a few drops of water, mix up a thick, pipeable water icing.

To keep the cake looking trim and neat you may want to cut the edges off the cake before serving. Then cut the cake into as many small pieces as you can or as large as you feel, I got about 24 mini Angel Cake Slices.

Finally to finish off the cakes slices, pipe the pink icing over the cut slices, I used a Wilton number 5 piping nozzle for the drizzle.

 

Gluten free mini Bakewell tarts

Unbelievably this is my favourite recipe and one I haven’t put on the blog before! Not at least, in its simplest form as just a Bakewell.  There are many permutations of this recipe and those are in, but for the simplest and my original – time that was rectified!

This amount of pastry (in the lin) is enough for a large tart with several off cuts – enough for 12 mini tartlets.

There are recipes for pastry on this blog, namely this one (another recipe based around the Bakewell);

https://wp.me/p64jEx-gL

I used a similar amount of pastry for a large gluten free Bakewell tart before I then rolled out the leftover piece of pastry and cut the pastry into 12 large stars.

For the Bakewell ‘sponge’;

150g soft butter

150g caster sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond essence

125g ground almonds

25g plain flour

Beat the soft butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs one at a time, until fully combined. Beat in the essence and then fold in the flour and ground almonds.

The majority of the Bakewell sponge went in the larger, oblong dish (36cm x 13cm) What was left went into the mini tarts.

For the smaller tarts I used a 7cm star cutter and a 12 hole mini tart tin. The oven was preheated to gas 4, 180c, 160c fan.

Cutting out the 12 star shapes then gently lining the tart tin holes (each hole is roughly 6cm wide at the top).

Then I placed half a teaspoon of Hartley’s raspberry jam into the base of the pastry. The rest of the Bakewell sponge – a teaspoon of mix – I used up for the mini tarts. No waste 🤗🤗

The mini tarts were then baked for around 20 minutes, left to cool and then decorated with water icing.

Kransekake

OK, so this this may be a celebration of the Scandinavian kind, but if you love the taste of marzipan, this ones for you.

And before we go any further, this recipe is by Paul Hollywood, it’s not mine. I’ve perhaps tweaked it only a fraction, but it’s his. Based around the technical challenge in the 2017 Great British Bake Off.

It makes for a great celebration cake anytime of the year and with just a touch of red, I think  makes for a lovely Valentines Cake. And this is of course gluten free, without even trying 😀

For the cake;

600g Ground Almonds

600g icing sugar

3 egg whites, from 3 large eggs, lightly whisked to a foam, but not a meringue

1.5 teaspoons almond essence

red food colouring (I used Rainbow Dust)

Using a food mixer, with a dough hook (or by hand), add the almonds, sugar, beaten egg whites and essence and mix slowly to a dough.

You’ll have to keep stopping and starting to ensure the dough mixes evenly.  Once the dough is combined add the red food colouring and continue to mix slowly until completely combined. Using a normal paddle attachment just adds to your woe as it sticks easily. You can of course mix this by hand… it does get heavy going though.

Once the dough is fully mixed turn out of the mixing bowl, wrap in film and cover and place in the fridge overnight. Or if you are pushed for time a couple of hours should do it.

And then the tricky bit.

Pre heat the oven to gas 5, 180c, 170c fan and line 4 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Cut the cold dough into 4 fairly even chunks and keep them covered whilst you roll out each piece.

Lightly dust your worktop with cornflour, take 1 piece of the dough of using your hands roll the dough out to a long thin piece of dough, 2cm wide. Then cut the 1st piece 8cm long. The 2nd piece at 11cm, the 3rd at 14cm and so on, using each of the other 3 larger pieces of dough each cut at 3cm increments from the previous piece. Ultimately you should have 12 pieces, with the largest piece 41cm long.

Taking each piece, create a ring. This is the trickier bit. With the small pieces, you’ll need some patience,  but just keep going,  ‘ a squish and a squeeze’ and a ring you will do.

Lay out each ring onto the baking sheet, 5 small ones, 4 medium ones and 3 on the 3rd tray. Using an extra sheet of greaseproof, cover the 1st tray of rings and with another tray, lightly press on the rings to flatten them a little. Lightly flatten each tray.

Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes.  Don’t over bake or they dry out once cooled.

Remove from the oven and cool, before icing and assembling.

For the icing;

2 egg whites, lightly beaten to a foam.

400g icing sugar

pink food colouring

Using a hand-held whisk, ring the egg whites to a light foam – not a meringue – and add the icing sugar a heaped spoonful at a time and whisk in until fully beaten. Keep going until all mixed in. Before adding the final spoonful add in a squirt of pink food colour and whisk to combine.

Try not to leave this icing out too long or it will harden, so using a number 4 or 5 writing nozzle, pipe icing onto the base of the largest ring to secure it to your serving dish.  Then pipe the loops onto each ring starting with the largest ring. Continue piping loops onto the next largest, and so on, until each ring is covered in icing.

Finish off with your decorations of choice.