Back to baking….at last! 😀

At last!

Its been a while but finally there is some end in sight and the kitchen is very nearly finished.  We have at last filled the new cupboards, emptied the boxes and have stopped going up and down stairs to do the washing up and to fill the kettle for a cuppa.

You get to miss the simple things in life and the things you take for granted. Like cooking (and indeed baking), one can only live off pasta and stir fry for so long.  The Andrew James multi-cooker certainly came in hand and did what we asked it to do..

Now its time to put the new cooker into action. We went for a Neff oven in the end. The option of the double oven and the seemingly easy to use knobs were a couple of the deciding factors. Now of course I have to get used to a new oven and new temperature range! Which I think should be too difficult. (famous last words)

Gluten Free Blackcurrant and Almond Crumble Cake

The first bake was a little bit of fun. Quick and easy and I had all the ingredients to hand. So little planning was required…

Now I baked this at 160c for about 50 mins, so pre-heat the oven and line a deep 8″ round cake tin with a loose base.

For the crumble – and this actually worked for me;

80g Rice Flour

50g Butter

50g Caster Sugar

For the Sponge;

180g soft butter

150g caster sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons almond essence

30g ground almonds

120g gluten free self raising flour

1 tin of blackcurrant pie mix (c410g)

First up make the crumble, either rub the flour and butter together to fine breadcrumbs then add and stir in the sugar. Or blend it all together in a food processor. Leave to one side – ideally in the fridge – until it’s needed.

Next up the sponge base. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour if required to stop it curdling. Add in the almond essence, then stir in the gluten free flour and ground almonds. Mix well and pour into the prepared cake tin. Spoon the Blackcurrant pie mix onto the sponge batter, this can be gently stirred into the surface of the sponge, but not too much. Let it sit  on the top and some will gently sink into the top of the sponge whilst cooking. Sprinkle over the Crumble mix and spread evenly.

Bake! For approximately 45 – 50 mins, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to completely cool before removing from the tin and serving, perhaps with a dollop of cream.

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Our Gluten Free Holiday to Abu Dhabi

..well not a specific gluten free trip to Abu Dhabi (that would be both insane and expensive) but as a family holiday it certainly played a vital part of our time there.

It’s been awhile since my last post and if you have been following me on social media you’ll have seen we are having some work done in the house, which is very nearly at its end. A new kitchen is only just around the corner. But I couldn’t miss an opportunity to post about our recent holiday.

You would have thought that the normal person would have done some reasearch before going to see what the options were. The normal person. I’m not sure we would ever describe ourselves as normal, but thanks to our friends in the UAE, they had already done some looking on our behalf.

So I will do my best to recount some of the experiences we had, how easy was it, what difficulties we had and anything else that springs to mind.

 

One thing to bear in mind though was that our holiday actually began just as Ramadan began. The very day fasting began. Now  I (we) would freely admit our lack of knowledge of Ramadan, but our friends bought us up to speed very quickly. In no uncertain terms, eating and drinking (amongst other things) in public is a no-no and between certain hours of the day – but generally from dawn to dusk – ending in Iftar – the breaking of the fast with a feast.

To begin with this was rather a challenge, but we were there as guests and we felt we must obey the local laws and customs. We quickly became accustomed to this and it wasn’t that difficult to manage at all. Especially as we were informed by our hosts that there are areas/places to eat that have been granted ‘licenses’ to provide and sell food and drink, so long as they were hidden from view – either behind closed doors, curtains or food courts surrounded by hoarding. This would mean that anyone following Ramadan (a month of piety and generosity to those in need) would not be offended and any tourist or non-Muslim (there is a very large population of non-Arab workers/contractors) would be able to eat during the day (lunchtime). Naturally of course these places were not publicised and it was only through local knowledge that we were able to find them.

In the main, food courts in the Malls were closed (apart from those granted licenses) until the late evening, but supermarkets were actually open. A side point to make is that during the month of Ramadan opening hours do vary – somewhat- and nothing was publicised on any websites, so you had to turn up and find out.

Spinneys (stocks some Waitrose products) and Carrefour were the supermarkets of choice, but we did find a Waitrose as well! And the choice of gluten free foods (and for that matter free from) was astounding. I’d go so far as to say way better than in the U.K. Carrefour even go so far as to have own branded foods. The Fig roll like bites made with dates though of course) were amazing. The range of Schar products was fantastic, again a difference market and better range of goods. Just a shame we couldn’t bring it all home!

Home. Being with friends also had its benefits in regards food. We were able to perfectly manage the gluten free foods available. Buying from, then cooking from the supermarkets certainly cut out any risks and meal times were a breeze – simple self-catering if you like.

The rather trickier piece was eating out. It would be slightly remiss to travel all that way and not eat out, so with some (and I stress some)  forward planning we ventured into the City. Now outlets are up to speed on dietary requirements and indeed Coeliac Disease and gluten free foods, I’d say slightly better than the UK. But there were occasions were the translation was slightly lost. In one instance we were about to walk out of Pizza Express because the delivery hadn’t turned up with gluten free bases, when in fact that had turned up and the waiter hadn’t been informed! Noah loved his pizza (and no adverse effects either 😀).

The conclusion there is, ask. Most if not all those working in the food outlets speak English. It’s the most commonly spoken language in the UAE with the large amount of foreign workers from around the globe, it kind of makes sense. The staff come across knowledgable and eager to please and will find out if they don’t know.

A great trip, made easier with the help of friends. Other highlights included swimming with Dolphins, cycling round the F1 Yas Marina race track, 35c heat and an average 70% humidity and of course, time with friends and family. What we won’t mention is the crisis that blew up with Qatar, a most stressful 48hours.

We’ll be back as soon as we’ve saved enough. 😀😀😀

Ramadan Kareem and have a great Eid

 

Blog’s Happy 2nd Birthday

This April 2017 sees my little blog celebrate its 2nd birthday.

It all began with Noah and without repeating the story, we found little in the way of tasty gluten free cakes and bakes after Noah was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. Taste and price was not great – with price most certainly not changing, but variety certainly has.

In this time the gluten free cake and bake availability has increased and the amount of gluten free sources of information on the internet steadily increases too.

For me though, its all about variety. The versatility of gluten free baking shows no sign of abating and it is only me that holds back on what to create next. That and time. It’s never on anyone’s side, but juggling work and family life with the blog, isn’t easy. I’d dearly love to post more often and try even more different things. I think that’s another reason as to why the cakes and bakes are relatively easy, if I don’t have much time, there’d be others out there in the same state.

I originally set out to create recipes that were accessible for everyone, recipes that were relatively easy to make. Looking at ‘normal’ cakes and bakes and seeing if I could convert them for those on a gluten free diet/lifestyle and foods that Noah might (a big Might 😀) eat and enjoy.  It hasn’t been easy, some recipes convert relatively easily, some just need a little more work.  Trying different flour combinations, using less butter, or less/more eggs.  There have been many failures, but far out weighed are the successes, gluten free baking is not as difficult as some make out.

To those that continue to read the postings and recipes, thank you. To those that ‘like’ and comment thank you again, so I’ve baked you a little cake, it’s a Gluten Free Caramel Cake adorned with lollipops – not a crumb of gluten in sight. Enjoy 😀

I look to continue the recipe testing ( who doesn’t love a tasty disaster ), to continue taking part in challenges, both to myself and the ones on-line and on social media.

The blog gets all kinds of hits worldwide. From most of the ‘civilised’ western world and interestingly from the developing worlds. It always intrigues me, looking at the stats, I seem to have ‘lost’ out in Brazil over past months, only to be replaced by Indonesia! You are all welcome, thank you and keep sharing.

Happy Baking 😀😀

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Happy Gluten Free Easter

Happy Gluten Free Easter everyone.

So, time for something a little different. Something that takes a little longer than normal, but the cake is rich and moist. Well worth the extra effort of boiling the orange. I know! boiling an orange! Who’d have thought. Could it be a new way of getting one of your 5-a-day into your diet??

Sadly probably not.

Line and grease 2 x 7″ cake/sandwich tins.

Ingredients, for the cake;

  • 1 orange – boiled and puréed
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 180g gluten free self raising flour
  • 50g cocoa (I use Food Thoughts)
  • 80ml sunflower oil
  • 70ml milk

Ingredients for the Buttercream;

  • 180g soft butter
  • 360g icing sugar
  • orange flavouring
  • orange colouring (I use Rainbow Dust Gel)
  • Chocolate or other (or not) for decoration

Start off by cleaning the orange to remove any unwanted, wax or dirt. Then place the whole orange – pierced with a knife half a dozen times (so it doesn’t explode!) – into a pan of already boiling water. Boil carefully for about 30 minutes. Carefully remove from the pan and cool a little, before cutting into quarters and blending the orange until the orange is fully ‘blitzed’ and a lovely orange puree. Leave to fully cool, before adding to the cake mix.

Pre-heat your oven to gas 4/ 180c and line 2 x 7″ cakes tins.

Place all the cake ingredients, including the cooled orange puree, into a bowl and using a hand held electric whisk, beat altogether until you have a lovely rich, chocolatey batter.  Pour the batter equally between the 2 sandwich/cake tins and bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Safely remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before running a butter knife around the edge of the tins and turning out onto a wire rack. Cool completely before filling.

To make the filling beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar (taking care initially to mix in the icing sugar with the butter to avoid the icing sugar dust cloud!). Beat until light and fluffy with a couple of drops of colour and flavour. I’d be careful about adding the orange puree into this mix as it may split.  You’re welcome to try though – let me know how you do.

Once you have the consistency you need, if its too thick to pipe, let it down a little with either a tablespoon or 3 of either boiling water or cold milk.

Using the piping bag, with nozzle of choice, pipe onto one of the cake rounds, place the other cake round on top, then finish with your piping.

Decorate with your chosen chocolate or decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Simnel Cupcakes

Marzipan seems to be the latest theme for the recipes! And that can only be  a good thing.

These very simple flavoursome and moist cupcakes are very quick and easy to make.  The inclusion of cream cheese is a little departure for me, but it really works a treat. Plus I had some in the fridge so wondered what else I can do with it….

This makes 12 lovely cupcakes, so line your cupcake tin with cupcake cases and pre-heat the oven to Gas 3/ 160c.

Weigh out;

  • 90g soft butter
  • 60g full fat cream cheese
  • 130g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 150g gluten free self raising flour
  • 200g mixed dried fruit
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 250g marzipan – rolled out and cut into 24 x 6cm rounds, to about 4mm thick.
  • Mini Eggs to decorate

Using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the butter, cream cheese and sugar until fully combined. Then add in the eggs, one at a time to ensure they are mixed in well. Then lightly toss the dried fruit and the mixed spice together, before adding it to the egg mix and stirring it all together.

Then half fill the cupcakes cases with the batter, place a round of marzipan onto this, then top up with the remainder of the batter.

Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Once cooked, placed the remaining marzipan rounds on top of the cooked cupcakes and allow to then cool, before removing from the tin onto a wire rack.

Once cooled you may wish to lightly singe the edges of the marzipan with a hand-held bakers blow torch to give a bit of colour. But please do take care not to burn anything – including you!

To finish, lightly push into the centre a mini egg.

 

 

Gluten Free Hot-Cross Cupcakes

A little different perhaps, but I tried making actual gluten free hot cross buns last year. It’s not that I have lost patience it’s just a matter of time and energy 😀

These are really quick and easy to make. Dare I say you could make them using the all-in-one recipe, but they wouldn’t be as light and fluffy. So I would urge you to use the following method.

Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180c and line a cupcake/muffin tray with 12 cases.

175g soft butter

80g caster sugar

80g light brown sugar

3 eggs

170g gluten free self raising flour

2/3rds teaspoon of mixed spice

80g sultanas

60g icing sugar to finish

Cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy, using an electric hand mixer, then beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour along the way to stop the mix from curdling.

Add the sultanas to the rest of the flour and toss them to coat in flour. Then stir this and the mixed spice into the butter and egg mix. Stir to mix well.  Then divide the mix into the 12 empty cases. They will be a little fuller than normal as you are not putting a huge amount of buttercream on the top when they’re cooked.

Cook in the oven for about 18 – 22 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin before removing on to a wire rack.

Mix the icing sugar with some hot water until you have a thick paste, thick enough to pipe onto the cakes and leave to defined crosses. When piping, snip the end to the size of your cross, pipe one way across the cakes and then the other.

Leave the icing to set a little, before enjoying.

Marzipan Roulette

We don’t need an excuse to eat marzipan.

Perhaps putting some on top of a cupcake is a little extreme, after all why not just do away with the cupcake?!  But sometimes there’s a need to go that extra step and over indulge or just because you can.

There is no better way of over indulging with marzipan than a good bite or two of Niederegger Marzipan and because it’s Niederegger there’s a call for something a little extra in the mix.

Pre heat the oven to Gas 3/170c line a 12 muffin tray with your chosen colour cupcake cases. This makes 12 cupcakes but the small pack of Niederegger only has 8 marzipan bites…someone is going to be let down…..😀 and then it’s marzipan roulette…Coffee, Pineapple, Orange or Pistachio…or buy the bigger box….

For the cupcakes –

150g soft butter

150g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons Almond essence

150g gluten free self raising flour

For the filling –

120g Raspberry Jam

For the buttercream –

100g soft butter

170g icing sugar

30g cocoa

4 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur

1 pack of Niederegger Marzipan Loaves

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one by one, adding a spoon of flour to stop the mix from curdling. Mix in the essence and stir in the gluten free flour. Don’t over mix, otherwise you’ll take the air out of the mix and the finished cakes will be a little heavy.

Divide the mix between the 12 cases and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Or until an inser.ted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin before removing and putting them on a wire rack.

Once cooled and using a cupcake corer, take out the middle of the cupcakes and fill with a teaspoon of the raspberry jam. Then make the chocolate buttercream.

Beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk, then carefully stir in the icing sugar and cocoa to avoid a dust cloud. Then beat again with the mixer until fully mixed, then beat in the milk and liqueur. Pipe onto the cupcakes and finish with the unwrapped marzipan loaves…or if you buy a larger box, you’ll have a spare one or two to ……

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