The start of a new normal

Its been a while since my last post.

That feels so much like a confession! Not being a natural writer and trying to find something vaguely interesting to write about,  is something I work hard at. Although I have found that the more time to think about something the harder it becomes to write something. Whilst having just a header can actually be more productive.

Its been an odd last few weeks. The school summer holidays have now been and well and truly gone. In the main it felt like we were all apart for the best part of 4 weeks! With the length of the school holidays it becomes almost a military exercise in precision organisation, so that we don’t pay over the odds for child care. Work holiday time, does not equal school holiday time, which has meant we spent a couple of weeks apart. It’s how it is and we just get on with it, perhaps not ideal but we make it work 😀  We almost began to forget who we were!

Then before we knew it, there was the last-minute rush to get everything together for the first day back at schools. Noah’s first day back was the easier option as he has moved up one year in the same school. His sister however,  has now started senior school! Which has been a HUGE learning curve for us all after week one. It’s meant getting a bus to school – with a bus pass! Organising her own school meals and getting herself around a huge school, roughly twice the size of her junior school. It’s been a huge thing. It feels like, just overnight she has had to grow up so quickly. From being taken to school, to getting herself there. From being cooked for at home, to preparing her own snack when she comes back from school (of course she has had some excellent tuition on that front 😀😀). She has taken it all in her stride of course and we are very proud of her.

Fancy some quick cake to celebrate and to celebrate the start of the new series of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4 😄? Oh and the continuing twitter bake of challenges of the #gbbotwitterbakealong run by the @thebakingnanna1 and @Rob_C_Allen The weekly challenges follow the 3 bakes of the GBBO series and everyone can enter, pop over to twitter to find out more.

Preheat the oven to gas 3, 150c fan, 170c and line a small brownie tin (c24cm long, 15cm wide)

– 170g soft butter

– 160g caster sugar

– 3 eggs

– 100g ground hazelnuts

– 90g gluten free self raising flour

– 30g Cocoa

– 160ml milk

Very easily place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk (either using a stand mixer or hand held electric mixer) until fully blended and it becomes light and fluffy – about 5/6 minutes.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile you can make the ganache topping.

– 150ml double cream

-130g cooking chocolate, broken into small pieces to ease melting

– 2 tablespoons of chocolate hazelnut spread

Place the chocolate pieces and chocolate spread into a glass bowl.

Heat the cream in a saucepan, stirring continually, until just before it comes to the boil. Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate, leave for about a minute and then stir the mix until the chocolate has melted and you get a lovely, silky smooth paste, then pour this on top of the cooling cake. Allow to cool completely and for the ganache to set before removing from the tin and cutting into equal pieces.

I’ll be watching bread week on the GBBO with interest and the longing of kneading bread.

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Gluten Free Mocha Caramel Pie

Now whilst the baking world is going batter mad – Who knew a ‘pie’ could take on such a form! An idea I have had for a while and have finally been able to make and I’m sure there are many combinations that will similarly work…

It’s basically a cheesecake base, caramel filling and a no-bake cheesecake topping and I think it’s fairly easy to make. But I’ll let you decide on that.

I used an 8″ loose based cake tin, but I’m sure it’ll work with the spring-loaded variety too. Buts it’s all I had to hand. The base will need lining with greaseproof paper, to stop the biscuit base from sticking.

glutenfree-mocha-caramel-pie

3 packets of gluten free biscuits (approx. 350g – I used 3 packets of Schar Bourbon Biscuits crushed – save some for the topping and put to one side – but no more than a couple of biscuits worth.

100g melted butter

1 tin of ready-made Carnation Caramel

280g Full Fat Cream

150ml Double Cream

70g icing sugar

2 tablespoon of camp coffee

Mix the melted butter into the crushed biscuits and press into the base of the tin, and slightly up the side to create a ‘case’ in which to pour the caramel. Push the base down well so that the biscuits firm together and don’t break up when you cut the pie. Pour on the Carnation Caramel and spread evenly. Cover and pop in the fridge whilst you make the topping.

To make the topping whisk the cream cheese with the icing sugar for a couple of minutes, then add the double cream and Camp Coffee. Whisk then until then mixture thickens. But be careful not to over whisk or you will spilt the cream and it’ll turn sour. No more than 2 minutes.

gluten-free-mocha-caramel-pie

If your heart desires, reserve a small piping-bags-worth of the cream cheese mixture to use as piping/decoration. But otherwise remove the Pie base from the fridge and spread the coffee cream cheese mix evenly over the top of the caramel. Pipe if required and then return to the fridge for a couple of hours to set firm.

To serve, carefully run a knife around the edge of the tin to release the Pie. Run a knife under the base of the Pie to release it from the base of the tin also and cut with a sharp knife. You could serve with added cream – if your faint heart will take much more cream! Or just serve it on its own.. with the remainder of the crushed biscuits…

You’ll be going back for seconds 🙂

 

 

 

Gluten Free Spiced Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes

Never one to shy away from an offer of a free sample and never one to then have to adapt a recipe around that product. I was very eager to try a sample of some speculaas spice from The Speculaas Spice Company. And of course its gluten free!

There are further details on the website of the origins of the spice, but it is a wonderful blend of – according to the literature – ‘9 spices including real, high grade cinnamon from Sri Lanka, cloves, ginger and 6 others’ its really quite heady. The smell whilst baking is certainly very festive as well.

But what to make? I had a few ideas and they may yet appear, but for now I went with gluten free Spiced Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes. Chocolate may be the next one… there are a few possibilities….

Gluten Free Spiced Coffee and Pecan Cupcake

Line a 12 hole cupcake tray and pre-heat the oven to 170c/gas 3.

150g soft butter

130g light brown sugar

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of Camp Coffee

120g Gluten Free Plain Flour

30g Ground Almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Van Dotsch Speculaas Spice Mix

50g Crushed Pecans (plus 12 extra for decoration)

Buttercream;

100g soft butter

200g icing sugar

1 tablespoon Camp Coffee

1/4 teaspoon Speculaas Spice Mix

Firstly mix/sift the flour, almonds, baking powder and spice mix together and set aside.

Cream the soft butter with the sugar until light and fluffy and the beat in, one at a time, the eggs, adding a little of the flour mix if needs b,e to stop the mix from curdling.

Mix in the flour mix and finish with the crushed pecans.

Divide between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes – or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tray before removing onto a cooling rack to completely cool.

To make the buttercream, cream the butter till soft, stir in the icing sugar, speculaas spice mix and Camp Coffee and them finish beating – I used an electric hand mixer to get a smooth finish. Pipe as required onto the cupcakes and finish with a pecan. You could also just use plain water icing mixed with the spice.

Thanks again to Steven Dotsch at the Speculaas Spice Company for the sample, I’m looking forward to the next recipe

Enjoy