Summer is on the way

At last a spell of warm weather.

You may remember that this time last year, we were having our small extension being built. It too was a little on the warm side but we were unable to enjoy the garden. The lovely builders had taken over and it turned into a building site. Those 10 weeks or so seemed to last forever – were we ever going to be able to enjoy opening up the patio doors and enjoy the garden.  A garden that would in fact be an extension itself of the larger kitchen we had created? Fear not, as at last the 2 sets of French doors are fully open, the warm sunlight and air is pouring into the kitchen.  The song birds are singing and feeding off the bird feeder – with the occasional pigeon being shooed off and the radio is happily providing a wonderful summer soundtrack.

Summer is definitely on the way!

The countdown is also on for early summer holibobs, a family trip to Cornwall – we cannot wait! We had once said that we would never need to go back to the same place for a holiday.  There is so much to see – having both had some experience of travelling before we met – you realise that the world is both small and big. Small because really, everything is within easy reach, jumping on a plane a zipping to the other side of the world is relatively simple.  I say relatively, because when you then start to have children the world can then seem big.  Packing for 2 is ridiculously easy, when packing for 4 – 2 of whom are small children –  a holiday take on a whole new meaning. As we found out last year when we travelled to Abu Dhabi. So this year, a staycation. To somewhere we have been before, to a location we know and love. Where we know the children will be able to relax and have fun. To a company – Beach Retreats – that has some rather nice holiday cottages – with a washing machine to relieve the load before returning home and straight back into work! With less than a 5 minute walk to a beach, free of surfers and a gentle (ish) wave on which to body board. We cannot wait. A chance to recharge, re-engage, to take stock, remember who we are and be thankful for the opportunities we have. I almost don’t care what the weather will do – we have wet suits – we can get wet in the sea.  I can almost smell the sea from here.

Cornwall – we are on our way

Oh yes a cake. I was getting carried away.

Preheat the oven to Gas 3, 140c, 130c fan and line a deep 8″ cake tin.

For the cake;

  • 220ml vegetable oil
  • 200g gluten free self raising flour
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 jar (320g) of lemon curd – I used a jar of Co-op All butter Lemon Curd

For the strawberry mousse. For which there are several other recipes on-line.  The addition of the egg whites, makes the covering very light.  You could remove the egg whites and increase the amount of cream to 300ml if you wanted to just use a cream covering.

  • 200g fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 180ml double cream
  • 2 egg whites

Really easy – pop all the ingredients into your mixing bowl (I used the mixing bowl of my stand mixer) and whisk for about 4 – 5 minutes until all the ingredients have fully combined and you have a lovely fluffy mixture. You will need to stop mixing half way through and scrape the sides of the bowl down and give the whisk attachment a little shake as the lemon zest could stick to it, but then continue to whisk.

Pour into the cake tin and bake slowly for 60 – 70 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool before carefully, removing from the tin, then fully cool on a wire rack.

Once cool, slice the cake horizontally – to create 3 layers of finished cake.  The cake should be around 6cm high – so slice at 2cm intervals to create 3 fairly even discs.

Place your first disc onto your cake stand, spread with roughly half of the lemon curd, place on a second disc, spread with the remaining half of the jar and place the third and final cake disc on top. Put to one side, covered, until you have made the strawberry mousse.

First of all take 150g of the fresh strawberries and 1 tablespoon of sugar and with a food mixer, blitz to a puree. Or push the strawberries through a fine sieve and add sugar to taste. Add this to the double cream and whisk until thickened and fully blended.

Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until light and fluffy, then add the other tablespoon of caster sugar and whisk in for about a minute.

Mix a third of the egg whites into the cream and strawberry mix.  Then fold in the rest of the egg whites into the cream mixture until you have no fluffs of egg whites. Cover your cake – top and sides – and place in the fridge for around 4 hours – or overnight.

Decorate with the remaining strawberries – slice and serve.

 

Gluten Free Strawberry and Rhubard Frangipane

There are just so many strawberries around at the moment and besides making jam with them, eating them plain (with a bit of cream!), why not make a lovely refreshing frangipani tart with the last few odd squishy ones at the bottom of the punnet. You could of course make just a strawberry one, but in the spirit of balance, I mushed up a few strands of stewed rhubarb we had knocking around in the freezer.. as you do!!

And here is yet another chance to practise your gluten free pastry making skills, I do like to help.

First to make the pastry to line an 8″ fluted flan dish; Which you will be required to bake blind later on.

  • 200g gluten free plain flour
  • 110g cold diced butter
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of xanthum gun
  • 1 egg yolk
  • about 30ml of cold water to bind

I used a food processor to mix the flour, x gum and butter into fine breadcrumbs, you can of course use your finger to rub to the same stage. It does help though if you have cool/cold fingers though. Add in the egg yolk and sugar and stir to mix then add in the cold water a bit at a time until the mix comes together to form a dough. You can get away with the dough being a little on the sticky side as the flour will soak up some of this as you work it and as it rests.  Roll into a ball, cover in film and pop in the fridge to rest, for at least 30 minutes.

You’ll then need;

  • 120g strawberries crushed with the back of a fork – drained and juice retained plus a few extra for decoration if required)
  • 80g stewed rhubarb (you can use from a tin if you don’t have any to hand) – drained and juice retained
  • 100g Soft butter
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence (optional)

Whilst the pastry dough is resting you can make the frangipane;

Beat the soft butter and the sugar until white, light and fluffy then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add in some of the ground almonds if it begins to curdle. Finally fold in the rest of the ground almonds and the optional essence.  Leave to one side.

Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180c, 170 fan

Once the pasty has rested, remove from the fridge and knead a little to bring it back to life, before rolling the pastry out to around 3mm thick and the size of the pasty tin.  Line the pastry tin, gently press into the edges,.  Leave the pastry hanging over the edges to allow for some further shrinkage.  Place in a sheet of greaseproof and cover with baking beans, then bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven, remove the beans and greaseproof – take care it’ll be hot – and return to the oven for a about another 8 minutes, or until the surface has dried out and has a gentle bronze colouring. Remove from the oven and cool a little.  Once cooled and then carefully using a knife, cut the excess pastry from around the top of the flan. Follow the top of the case/tin and trim back so that you can see the flan rim underneath.  Brush out any crumbs that fall into the case.

Mix the crushed strawberries and rhubarb and line the base of the tart and gently cover with the frangipane – spreading carefully across the tart to the edge of the pastry case, but try not to cover it.

Pop back in the oven for around a further 30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Serve warm or cold, decorated or not.

I covered mine with some glace icing made with the juice of the strawberries and rhubarb and brushed over the warm surface of the tart, a little meringue and some strawberries dipped in chocolate – plus extra for guests…

 

 

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.