Happy Easter

Its been a while hasn’t it?

Gluten free Simnel Cake

And so a little update of the last couple of months.  Life at Cakes Towers continues, we are all still here, still alive and well and living the dream.

I may have mentioned taking a break from baking and recipe writing to try and write a book, well that is still on going. It’s no mean feat to create new recipes, write them all down, bake them and try and be creative with the photos, whilst still maintaining a full-time job, being a full-time dad and husband. Nonetheless I have written some recipes and taken some photos, the process while long, is rather fun. Trying to squeeze in time to bake cakes and bakes, in amongst the weekend taxi service and a wonderful job that takes we away across the country more often than not.

I would have it no other way.

The beginning of the year started with baking around 4 or 5 bakes a weekend and trying to photo them whilst there was still plenty of natural light. I quickly learnt that once the early winter nights had drawn in, the kitchen light was not a great replacement and neither was the use a flash or trying to set up a light studio with a standard lamp! And don’t get me started on overcast days! But I battled on and I am proud of the results; I still need a few ideas and so baking seems to have slowed down a bit this past month as I am in need of some cakespiration.

I have also taken on board the role of Group Organiser for our local Coeliac UK support group.  A role I felt I needed to take on, as otherwise the group would have folded. Something I felt I could do, there are so many people diagnosed with Coeliac Disease that seem to have little or no support once they are diagnosed, it was the least I could do. There is I feel, some way to go to make the group more supportive rather than just a couple of large meetings per year. But once we get this year out of the way, we (the grand ‘we’ of the committee) can start to plan something a little more supportive to those that need it.

And so a quick recipe to tie you over for the approaching  Easter Holidays.

pre heat the oven to gas 3, 150c, 140c fan and line the base of a loose based 20cm cake tin.

350g gluten free self raising flour

250g butter

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

100g caster sugar

80g light brown sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

400g dried fruit (washed glacé cherries halves, raisins, sultanas)

2 tablespoons Apricot Jam

300g ready to roll marzipan

Thought I would shake things up a bit and use the rubbed-in method for this one! I used a food processor to blitz the flour, spice and butter together to form the ‘breadcrumbs’. A couple of quick pulses and we are done, then add the sugars and blitz again to combine.

Take a hand full of the dried mix and sprinkle over the dried fruit and mix so that each piece of fruit is covered – this should help to keep the fruit suspended in the cake and it won’t sink.

Pour the dried flour/breadcrumb mix into a large enough mixing bowl, make a well in the middle, then pour in the eggs and using a spoon, combine the mix to form a sticky cake dough. Stir in the dried fruit to mix and ensure an even distribution.  There should be no need to over mix this, just enough to combine the ingredients.

Take half of the Marzipan and roll this out to form a disc the same size as the inside of the cake tin.

Tip half of the cake mix into the cake tin and smooth out, then place the Marzipan disc on top, then finish with the remaining cake batter, smooth the surface and place in the oven to bake for about 75 – 90 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool before removing the cake from the tin.

Brush the surface of the cake with the apricot jam.

Roll out the remaining Marzipan into a disc to cover the cake at around 3mm thick. Place on top of the apricot jam and smooth the surface.

If you want to create the traditional glaze, place the cake under a very hot grill and allow the heat to tinge the Marzipan – not burn it, so keep you eyes on it! You could use one of the many hand held cooks blow torches that are available.

Decorate as you see fit, I went a little left-field and just decorated with chocolate mini eggs…

Happy Easter to each and every one of you. 😀💐

 

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.

 

 

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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Happy Mothers Day new and old

To all the lovely mums out there. You do an amazing job. ❤️

You are always there when you are needed and always there when we think better. You are always there because  if you weren’t there would have been hell to pay for.  You feel unappreciated and undervalued. Without you we wouldn’t get to school on time, without you ‘stuff’ wouldn’t get done.

You are everything and you are more.  To all the mums, you are loved and needed. It might take us until our adulthood to realise that or even when we have children of our own, but we very much appreciate you. Thank you ❤️

I do love a bit of developing recipes, and this seemed a great time to look at something different.

gluten-free-fig-and-pistachio-cake

Based around a carrot cake in method and baking this moist cake will make a great centre piece for Mothers Day and even for Easter. If you can make it a day or 2 in advance before topping – it will keep in a sealed container for 2 days – the flavour improves as the spice flavour comes out a little more.

Preheat the oven to gas 3/150c and line (base and sides) an 8″ round cake tin with a loose base.

For the cake –

  • 170g light brown sugar
  • 180ml sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 120g grated carrots
  • 80g chopped dried figs
  • 180g gluten free self raising flour
  • 75g shelled, broken pistachios
  • 2/3rds level teaspoon speculaas spice

For the topping –

  • 200g mascarpone cheese
  • 120g passion fruit curd (I use Mrs Darlington’s)
  • 4 fresh figs – each sliced into 6 pieces
  • 25g additional pistachios, crushed or broken up

To make the cake, whisk the oil, sugar and eggs until fully beaten and blended together. Stir in the chopped figs and carrot. Toss the broken nuts into the gluten free flour and spice and then stir into the cake mix.  It’ll be a bit runny, so take care when poring into the cake tin.  Bake in the middle of the oven for about  45 – 50 mins, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool in the tin before removing from the tin and remove the greaseproof paper from the cake.  Cool completely on a wire rack. If storing at this stage, pop in the sealed container. Otherwise carry on to top.

To make the topping, whisk the curd into the mascarpone and spread over the top of the cake, decorate with the fresh figs and scatter with the broken nuts.  Slice.

And before anyone asks – I am sadly not on commission from Mrs Darlington’s.  It is a local producer to me and they make a fantastic range of products – some of which are award-winning, they taste fantastic – it’s why I use them.  Just in case you were thinking 🙂

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cake-tins