A new normal

I’ll try and not make a habit of this; a blog post!

I know it’s been a while and I thank those who have been visiting the site over the last few months. Whilst the World is on pause for a while, whilst a solution or solutions are being sort for the virus, there have been a lot of people searching the internet for recipes. Baking at home has become a new normal for most across the world. I hope those that have visited this site have something that has inspired them or has been useful. After all, that’s what I set out to do. I hope to be able to continue to provide something for you, for as long as I can.

I also feel fortunate enough to have been able to source ingredients. I know some people have been having difficulties and now, some 10 weeks or so since lockdown began in the UK, groceries across the country are beginning to appear more regularly in supermarkets. So hopefully you will be able to recreate these recipes once again very soon. And if not, the page isn’t going anywhere; so when you can, you’re welcome back any time.

If you feel you can afford to buy me a coffee, to contribute to the site, please do so via the ‘contribute’ page. It will be very much appreciated.

And I’m not one for these long intro’s into a recipe, on the why’s and wherefores of mixing it this way or that, that ingredient over that or any such dribble, that no one really wants to read… just give me the ingredients and recipe.  But while i’ve got you………

An actual crisp biscuit that is gluten free! It took a couple of goes but I got there in the end. Especially after the first go had no vanilla essence in!

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5, 180c fan, 200c and line 2 or 3 Swiss roll trays with greaseproof paper

50g soft butter

60g caster sugar

1 medium egg

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

150g rice flour

50g gluten free plain flour (if your flour contains xanthan gum, DO NOT add any more)

half a level teaspoon of xanthan gum (only if it’s NOT in the flour)

1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

For the buttercream;

60g soft butter

130g icing sugar

splash of milk to make it pipe-able

80g raspberry jam ( or your favourite jam)

Simply beat the butter and the sugar in a bowl with an electric whisk until, light and fluffy, no more than a minute. Then add the egg and the vanilla and continue to beat until you have a smooth batter.

Sift in the gluten free plain flour, rice flour, bicarb and xanthan (if using) then using a spatula just mix this in until all the flours etc are fully mixed and the mixture forms a soft, ‘pastry’ dough ball.  Using your hands continue to bring together by ‘kneading’ for a few moments. You can’t really over work this dough, but it will help in the rolling out and keep it from crumbling.

Leave the dough for about 10 minutes in the fridge to firm up.

Remove the dough from the fridge and using a scattering of gluten free flour on your kitchen surface, roll out the dough to the thickness of a one pound coin (2 – 3mm).

Then, using a specific jammie dodger cutter, or similar 5cm flutted cutter, cut out roughly 36 – 40 discs, placing them on the lined baking trays in rows of 4. You will need to gather up the remaining dough, bring it together again into  a ball and re-roll, in order to get the desired amount of biscuits.

Then using a smaller cutter ( a small heart shaped cutter that allows for the jam to be seen, once the biscuits are assembled) cut out the middle of half the biscuits. One will form the base the other the top.

Place one tray in the fridge and place one in the oven to cook for 6 – 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven to cool; then repeat with the second tray and cook that for 6 – 7 minutes as well. Allow both trays to cool and you can start to make the buttercream.

Beat the butter with the icing sugar until you have a smooth paste. At this stage you could also flavour the buttercream; I’ll leave that up to you.

Once the biscuits are completely cooled, and using a piping bag filled with the buttercream, pipe a ring of buttercream on the half of the biscuits without the hole in the top.

Then with a couple of teaspoons, place in the middle of the ring, the raspberry jam. Top with the ‘holey’ biscuit and you’re done. You should have around 18 biscuits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

 

Photo Taking and Baking

As I continue to procstibake – thinking about what to bake, then actually bake something completely different – the world continues to turn and move. So we should move with it.

In my vain effort to inspire, challenge and develop myself and my skills, I took myself off for a days’ workshop on food photography, this was being run by the lovely Jane at ‘Love your Lens’.

Now anyone can take a photo.  But not everyone can tell a story from the it, build and fill it, style it and yes, add the odd filter or two. It sounds so simple. Bringing that to a reality is a little less simple. Imagine a slice of lemon tart, are you sitting in the garden?  Eating on the patio table, in sunshine, with a napkin, a cup of tea, fork or spoon? And then try and put all that into a photo. Sounds easy enough. We’ll yes and indeed no.  Finding the right props then becomes a challenge, what goes with what and where does it go. It can get so confusing and time-consuming.  Time that we don’t always have.  Something I know I struggle with.

Making small changes as we go, to get the right frame and shot. Can you over think a photo? Possibly. Does the cake dictate the props or do the props dictate the cake? I guess its down to what you have at hand.

Our venue host for the day Nikki (@NikkiHillApothcary on Instagram who blends some amazing teas – amongst other amazing things – including a wonderful White Peony Tea!!!) was trying to take a photo of some granola, after 40 minutes she was still going, so much faffing.  Good faffing though, as the setting of the photo is so important. I haven’t even started on flat lays, light, white or dark boards and camera settings, ISO and aperture! It really is a minefield, one that with careful consideration, can be easily navigated. Time and patience will only tell, time to improve, time to set the scene. Have I captured it my latest photo. I will leave that to your careful consideration.

At least, for now I have come away from ‘auto’.

It was a great day, especially when i’ve saved up for the lovely, new, all singing-all-dancing camera 😀

And now for cake……

As this weeks sun disappears, Gluten Free Rhubarb, Orange and Gin Layer Cake.

In 3 parts – roasted fruit, cake making and fool making.

Pre heat the oven to gas 4! 180c! 165c fan, line 2×7” cake tins with greaseproof.

  • 1 orange
  • 3 sticks rhubarb
  • 50ml gin – I used Tiger Gin
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml vegetable oil
  • 200g gluten free self raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 150g low or no fat yoghurt
  • 20g icing sugar

Firstly zest the orange and set aside.

Then remove the skin from the orange and cut the orange into segments. Squeeze the juice from what is left of the orange and reserve this. Cut one stick of rhubarb in half – trim the end and cut into 2 pieces. Cut these 2 pieces into 4 long pieces and place these with orange segments and 10ml of Tiger Gin, onto a baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Take the remaining rhubarb stalks, trim top and bottoms and chop into bite size pieces, place into a small saucepan, with 20ml gin, and additional tablespoon of caster sugar and half of the orange peel. Cover the saucepan and cook gently over a medium heat until the rhubarb is soft, this could take 5 – 10 minutes. Leave to cool in the saucepan for use later in the fool.

Whilst the fruit is cooling, time to make the cake.

Place the eggs, gluten free flour, Caster and brown sugars, orange zest and half the orange juice, vegetable oil, ginger into a large mixing bowl (I used my table top mixer with a whisk attachment) and whisk for about 4/5 minutes until fully combined, light and fluffy. Equally pour the batter into the 2 tins and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Before removing from the tins.

When the cake has cooled, you can make the fool. Alternatively you could make the fool, when the cake is in the oven and leave the fool in the fridge until the cake is cold.

Using your whisk (table top or hand-held), whisk the cream, yoghurt, 20ml gin, icing sugar until light, stiff and fluffy. Stir into this the stewed rhubarb.

Cut each cake through the middle, horizontally, so that you have 4 slices of cake. Place the first slice of cake onto your cake stand and cover with rhubarb fool, take the next slice of cake and repeat. Covering the top layer with fool and then the sides to finish. Decorate with the remaining roasted pieces of rhubarb and orange.

Sit comfortable with a cup of tea or a Tiger Gin and Tonic