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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Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Thought I’d put a gluten free recipe together for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. As I’ve seen a few doing the rounds recently, so not one to hop on the band wagon, but I do like to make sure everyone can have the option of having their own slice 😀

Gluten free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I am also going to scale down the posts and recipe creating in the New Year as I’d like to start work on a new project. The project might take a little more time than I imagine and something so will have to give. Not that I will forget to keep you updated and I will of course put the word out, so to speak, on the comings and going at Cake Towers, plus if I discover a juicy new recipe I’ll naturally let you know. For now though, thank you for all of your support, likes and the odd comment, it’s been a ride. The next page needs writing though and I have no idea where the journey will go. If you do need a recipe though in the meantime, please contact me via the details on the ‘About…’ page.

Enough already, there’s some sand in my eye. Here’s a rather moist and smoooth recipe to keep you going and one you’ll definitely need custard with 😀😀

Preheat the oven to Gas 3, 150c fan, 165c and line the base of a deep, loose bottomed, 8” cake tin with a slip of greaseproof paper.

8 slices of tinned pineapple

Cocktail/glacé Cherries

200g caster sugar

240g soft butter

160g gluten free self raising flour

50g ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

5 medium eggs

100ml milk

30ml cocktail cherry juice (if using)

1 teaspoon almond essence

Open the tin(s) of sliced pineapple, drain off the juice and dab-dry the Pineapple slices on some kitchen paper. Line the base of the baking tin with the pineapple slices (you may get to eat one slice…….) and place the cocktail/glacé cherries in the middle of the pineapple slices and fill any remaining gaps with them also. Put to one side whilst you prepare the cake batter.

In a separate bowl sift the gluten free flour, ground almonds and baking powder.

Beat the sugar and the soft butter in another bowl with an electric whisk or table top mixer, until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of gluten free flour mix. Once the eggs are all mixed in, beat in the milk and cherry juice (if using) and almond essence. It will look a little split, but will come together once cooked.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and pop in the oven and bake for 55 – 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Once cooked,  remove from the oven to cool a little. If using straight away you’ll definitely need to leave it to cool before, placing a large enough plate/serving dish over the cake tin and turning it over – for you Upside Down Cake!

Serve with custard (because there really is no other option 😀😀😀 )

If you are serving this much later, or the next day, cover until required. To warm through, just place back into a warm over for about 15 minutes, you may also want to cover the cake with some additional greaseproof to stop it catching and drying out. And still serve it with custard!

 

 

Our Legoland Adventure

We waited all year for this trip 😀😀 A half term and wedding anniversary trip, plus we went the whole hog and booked the night away in the Legoland Resort Hotel as well.  It seemed a bit silly to go all that way down and back in a day. Besides, day 2 was going to be free anyway if we booked the hotel.

We tried to keep it a secret from the kids for as long as possible.  That only lasted about 4 months, as, when we swopped the phones around we left the diary date in one of the phones, only for child 1 to discover the date. She did well not spilling the beans, despite us saying it was only a provisional date anyway.

Now being the organiser that I am, I asked prior to the trip what availability Legoland had in the way of gluten free options and I have to say that the response was pretty quick. A link was provided for us to search through and boy did we search…….long and hard.  We took some supplies just in case.

On arrival on the morning of day 1 we were greeted by the lovely hotel reception team, very helpful and very patient for a bunch of rather giddy day trippers from the North! We just wanted to get into the Park! After a moment of planning failure (I forgot to pick up the printed tickets🙄) we quickly recovered by showing the eVersion of the tickets and we entered the Park.

It has to be said that the staff were very polite and generally service was good. You could almost forgive them a little as they must be coming to the end of the season and whilst it was half term for us, there were probably more kids off the previous week for the bulk of the half terms from across the country. There were about 5 rides closed – that we weren’t made aware of and there were several kiosks closed due to the low numbers. As a consequence the ques for those kiosks that were open, were long and frustratingly slow. 20 minutes for a vending machine coffee at a little under £3 was not great value for money.

And then there’s the food.

Now having a child with coeliac disease has its problems as you may be aware. None more so than trying to find out what is on the menu and what the child can and can’t eat. It’s mostly an arduous task, Legoland could do worse than putting themselves in our or anyone else’s shoes with an allergy/intolerance/Coeliac disease. It could help to make it a little easier.

We could find no kiosks in the Park that provided gluten free foods that we could safely say we could eat in. Not even pre-packaged goods. Nothing in the burger kiosks, the chicken kiosk, the pizza or pasta restaurant except for a gluten free pizza base (what about the sauce and toppings?) Don’t get me wrong, there are posters on the walls showing all the allergen information, nothing that would mean he could be included with the rest of us. We did take a chance with a portion of chips from the Fish and Chip Shop…. no adverse effects. But at £4 odd, we shared the portion!

Dinner was an altogether different experience. Again the staff were very helpful – when they could eventually find the allergen data sheets. Which I have to say are on pre printed FSA sheets, not even the decency to create their own! It didn’t really fill me with confidence. I read said data sheets, for both hotel outlets ‘The Tavern’ an a la carte type affair (rather pricey) and ‘Bricks’ a buffet style restaurant in the other hotel. Yes a buffet…… the horror of a buffet for anyone with a food intolerance/allergy/coeliac disease would send a shiver down the spine. Cross contamination issues abound…..An hour before dinner service, the team were unable to tell me what was on for dinner, but I was given the allergy data sheets anyway.

Needless to say, we went out into Eton for dinner and had a lovely meal. Where we were positively welcomed, served and Noah could eat almost anything on the menu without fear of being ill.

Now breakfast was not much different. A buffet breakfast (shivers again)….. Now I know, serving 400 people food in a short period of time is not easy and a buffet is perhaps the easiest solution. And the team, were again, very polite but we got the impression that Legoland just aren’t geared up for intolerances/allergies/coeliac disease. Yes Schar breakfast cereal was available and that was about all. Well. We did get 3, yes 3, prepackaged chocolate chip muffins and they were huge! Not the best start to a day! There are such things as gluten free sausages and fruit is not a pudding

But it was just disappointing and as I’ve said before, a little boy of 8 just wants to fit in and as a family we want meal times to be an inclusive affair, not a ‘look at what you could be eating’ affair. We’d rather go without or go elsewhere.

 

Beware the gluten free complacency

And so the fun time of year comes around yet again 😀😀

I do love a bit of spooky and ghoulish behaviour, being scared out of my wits and dressing up, smothered in face paint. There’s nothing like it 😀😀

Let the imagination run wild, how far you go depends on how far you DARE go! And it’s much the same with cake. Last year was a gluten free chocolate cake, covered in white ‘bandages’, eyes and with a red coloured orange curd for blood. That, once cut, oooozed out. Such fun!

This year 2 cakes for you, one entitled ‘Scratch’ and the other, designed by Noah’s sister, ‘Bleeding Eyes’. Both are based around a simple gluten free Victoria sponge recipe  (the link will take you to one of my recipes – just omit the colour and you’ll just need vanilla flavouring/extract) and both are coloured differently inside. But you can do as you please.

‘Scratch’ is coloured purple with green buttercream’ whilst ‘Bleeding Eyes’ is coloured black and purple and layered with strawberry jam. In both cases the ‘blood’ is a paste made with red food colouring, honey, water and cornflour.

Gluten free bleeding eyes Halloween cake

Of course it’s not all about cake and we must always be vigilant for the  ever-present gluten! Whilst these fun and themed times of the year bring us holiday fun, we also need to ensure we are on the look out, on the back of the food packets with all the new foods that become available. Enticing us with something new each year, we need to ensure we are reading the ingredient lists on the back. Even if we have had the product before, it’s always worth looking again as the product may have had an ingredient change that we weren’t aware of. Take nothing for granted and if you really want an extra check, click the Coeliac UK website for updated product news.

Although as we have recently found out, despite something years of vigilance, complacency does creep in and we do make mistakes. We are only human. Without naming the product we had over looked the dreaded ‘barley malt extra’!! Now we have no idea what effect it might have, but we’d rather not find out. So after sharing out the contents of said products, I noticed a rather familiar taste, that sent a little alarm bell ringing. It was a rather ‘cereal’ based flavour that made me look again at the ingredient list – ‘Barley Malt Extract’!!!! The packet disappeared, Noah spat out the sweet, but it left a rather upset Noah, and the every present cry of, ‘I just want to eat normal free’.  It breaks our hearts. Normally we are able to control what Noah eats at the moment and wouldn’t normally let barley malt extract through the right security measures, we have no idea on its impact. I’m sure there will come a time again when out guard is down, or he gets that little bit older……we learn from our mistakes I suppose.

being a parent and being proud (and a cake)

As a parent, there are many moments in the life of your child/children when you could use the phrase ‘proud parent’ moment.

Proud Parent. Is this an over used phrase? Possibly not.

We should rightly be proud of our children as they continue to reach certain milestone in their lives. Their first steps, eating their first solid foods, potty training success, starting school, their first Christmas performance and finishing school. And everything in between. This past half term we have – as have most parents with children the same age – been on an emotional rollercoaster. Noah finishes his infant part of the school and is ready to go up into ‘juniors’. His final, year-end assembly was a general highlight of his past year and sung to one of the songs from ‘The Greatest Showman’ had me in tears, I was in bits!

Noah’s sister on the other hand actually finishes primary education this year! Where the hell did those years go??!! In the final run up to the end of term we’ve had the SATs results.  Results to be proud of, bearing in mind she has dyslexia, they are pretty amazing. We have a Prom to prepare for (whether or not a primary school should have one is out for debate) and the end of year, end of school final, end of days assembly to watch. I don’t think I will be able to cope. Tissues will be at the ready, in bulk form. I then have to go on a 4 hour WebEx meeting afterwards! It’ll be something of an anti-climax.

But, who is proud of whom?

Are we proud of our children, or are we proud of ourselves for getting our children safely to this point in their lives? Should it come as such a surprise that after all the hard work, love, sweat and tears that our little bundle of joy/s has attained such giddy heights in life as to have done what they have done? We have loved and cherished every moment of there so far, short lives. We have worked hard to get them to eat properly, with a knife and fork (mostly), we have ensured that their diets are healthy and their plates have been full. We have run around the house with the potty, and cleaned up afterwards when they missed. We have taken them and picked them up from school as often as we can (as working parents we can only do so much). We have taken them to and from the various clubs.

We have in fact, put just as much time into this relationship as they have, so quite rightly, we should be just as proud of ourselves as we are of the little cherubs and their feats of success and progression.

God bless the parents – we do an amazing job and to see all our hard work burst into song on stage at the end of year play – cry for all the tea in China – because you can and you should.

And may you enjoy this little cake with friends after the morning assembly, with either a cup of coffee or a stiff G&T to calm the nerves. Dollop on a spoon of yoghurt or clotted cream and away you go.

Preheat the oven to gas 3/170c/150c fan and line and grease an 8″ deep cake tin.

For the cake;

  • 40g pistachio nuts (no shells)
  • 50g hazelnuts

Place these into a food processer and ‘blitz’ until you have a fine breadcrumb mix. No more than 2 minutes should do the trick. Remove from the bowl and put to one side.

Then;

  • 170g soft butter
  • 140g gluten free self raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 90g runny honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Place all the ingredients into your mixing bowl (I used a table top stand mixer) and beat them all together until light and fluffy and fully combined. Beat for a bout 4 – 5 minutes and then pour into the cake tin.  Sprinkle over the blitzed nuts on top of the cake batter and bake for about 40 – 45 minutes. Or until an inserted skewer or cake tester comes out clean.

Take out of the oven and place the cake, in its tin, onto a large plate.

Whilst the cake is in the oven, you can prepare the honey syrup;

  • 200g runny honey
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Rose Water

Place the 3 ingredients into a small saucepan and over a low heat, warm the liquid up. This should only take a couple of minutes, it doesn’t need to be boiling hot, just warm enough to liquefy the honey and warm enough to combine the ingredients.

Once the cake has been removed from the oven, pour over half of the honey liquor and allow this to fully soak into the cake – 20 – 30 minutes.  Then finish off with the 2nd half of the honey mix.  When pouring over the cake, make sure you pour some liquid around the edge of the cake and tin – leave no surface in-covered.

Allow the cake to then fully absorb the liquor – and fully cool –  before carefully removing the cake from the tin and serving. It’ll be quite rich, so careful on the slicing.

 

Our Cornish Tale

It’s been holiday time for Cake Towers and we’ve been loving our little retreat down in Cornwall.

Over the past few weeks, like most families, life had begun to over take us a little. Knowing that we had a holiday coming up, I guess we just kept going until we knew we would stop. But does it actually stop? Anyone with a family will know that it doesn’t really. Your surroundings may change but the washing still needs doing and little mouths still need feeding. Spending a holiday next to a beach, walking distance as well, does at least have some pay off and a change is as good as a rest.

I may have mentioned before that we are lucky enough to have two weeks of Whit half term at Noah’s school. Which makes going away on the second week, so much easier when it comes to choice, affordability and reduced crowding. We chose again this year to come to Cornwall, the venue of choice some 3 years ago when life got a little stressful to say the least and a week in The Duchy rejuvenated us as a family and bought us all back to what is important – having each other. Not that that time has been repeated, it is just as important to reconnect with each other. Too realise what each of us brings to the family unit – love.

Again we used the same holiday company, Beach Retreats, and no they aren’t perhaps cheap,  we do though get so little time together that the added expense is vastly outweighed. Booking made earlier on in the year we waited and counted down the weeks – especially the final 4 weeks. Bags packed, it was actually a bit of a rush leaving the house, but we didn’t rush the drive the south. Normally one for just getting there, we made 3 stops as for some reason check-in wasn’t until 4.30pm! Luckily there was a National Trust venue en route as well.

Arriving safely to Porth, just outside Newquay, we unloaded and made our way to the nearest Pizza Express – booked on the way down via the old inter web. Safe in the knowledge that we could all eat safely and Noah would enjoy his gluten free pizza.

That is I think the difference between eating last time we came here and now. Noah at – 4 we pretty much ate in last time we were here, now of course, Noah being 7, eating out becomes a little easier. Or should be.

At 7, Noah is great to be around when he wants to play. Over the course of the holiday we’ve spent most of it on the beach, which at Porth is fantastic. It might not be one of the biggest in North Cornwall, surfing is frowned on due to the lack of space, but by-heck we can have some fun – body boarding and building sand castles, digging deep holes and even trying to stop the tide coming in by building sand walls! Once the sea is out it’ll take you a good few minutes to get to the surf, it’s a long walk with a tired Noah.

And time stands still (ignoring the fact that the tide comes and goes). As Noah zips around the beach screaming at the sea al la King Canute, telling it to stop, whilst he runs back and forth ensuring the incoming tide doesn’t touch his toes – until that is he trips and falls in! 😀😀 . It’s a joy to watch. Then it’s back to the retreat, literally a 2 minutes walk once you’re off the beach, showered to remove the sand and then off to bed or output again for our next visit.

Our current retreat has 3 bedrooms, one en suite and a separate bathroom for the other 2 rooms, Noah and his sister Iona, were able to have a room each. Downstairs we have a utility room, another toilet, kitchen with a breakfast bar and a lounge/diner complete with a wood burner for the colder months, TV and plenty of seating. Parking is just around the corner and as the retreat actually sleeps 6, there are currently 2 parking slots allocated. On arrival Cornish milk is in the fridge and there is Cornish tea, coffee and biscuits (not gluten free) waiting to be opened. There is the obligatory welcome folder and visitors book all with helpful, local information mainly on where to eat.

Which is still a bone of contention for us. Cornwall is full of local produce, Cornwall is, I think, proud of this and rightly so, there are many local suppliers wanting your trade. There is even a Waitrose in Truro with a rather large portion of the store taken up by ‘The Cornish Shop’ sellling all things ‘Cornwall’. There are many fantastic artisan producers selling very bespoke food products (Padstow has a rather large proportion of Cornish fudge shops and is very well represented by a certain Rick Stein – plus  ‘Chough Bakery’ selling gluten free for 2018 – but it was closed when we got there). But when it comes to actual meals for children with coeliac disease, it becomes a little harder to find or even to find someone helpful. We have ended up sticking to what we know – a National pizza chain restaurant. Have we tried? Yes. Did we go out much? Probably not as much as we’d like. The feeling of being let down (on behalf of Noah) is just not worth it. Not knowing sometimes, is very hard to bear. It becomes difficult to enjoy your meal, when all Noah can have (or is willing to eat) is chips. After a while, this just gets disheartening, you begin to wonder what must be going through Noah’s mind.

We tried eating at The Heron, in a tiny village called Malpas, near Truro. Noah’s mum had just been stand up paddle boarding (well recommended) along the river Fal and it looked like a very nice place to eat. It was in fact lovely, but Noah just had chips and a hand-made burger that looked like a rather small, flat meatball. We couldn’t find a gluten free Cornish Pasty in St Ives. Oh do not get me started on St Ives! A terrible place. One cash machine (with a fee which I refuse to pay) no one seems to take contactless, its cash only or £5 minimum spend with a card! And if you’re like me (and the Queen) I do not carry cash. A very short-sighted bunch of traders, in what is a very popular place, one that we couldn’t wait to get out of! That is until we found the cafe at the top of the hill, by the car park (the one with the leisure centre in).  Brewhouse. Great service, gluten free dishes available, but Noah just wanted a drink, plus they’ll accept card payment.

We looked through the pile of places to eat locally in the retreat folder and had a look online at their menus, not really helpful when it comes to children and gluten free and when we tried contacting one to ask what they could provide for a child who couldn’t eat gluten……we are still waiting for a response after 6 days (Lusty Glaze). We are not ones to make a fuss, we are not ones to assume we are owed anything from the world because Noah has coeliac disease, but some understanding (through training) would be nice from operators. Which is why, for our final night,  we are going ….where?

Cornwall you are lovely, we could live here. But would it be spoilt if we did? Would we take our for granted? You have given us even more fond memories, ones we will remember for some time to come. We will be back soon.

Just in case you were wondering – #JamFirst 😀😀

 

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.