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.

 

The next project….

So the next project has begun, hence the reason for the lack of posts and I make no apology for my absence.

It’s a process I need to go through and has been part of the long-term plan since the beginning, but the time has not felt right. Now I feel that I can share with you how things are going, or perhaps how it’s not going!

Writing a book! It’s something I never really thought I’d do, but since creating Cakes by Noah, it has been a shadow that has become and been given, more form.  I have spent the last 4 years creating recipes, having fun and meeting lots of wonderful people. Those people are still wonderful and have been incredibly supportive in ways perhaps they may not realise. There have been others too, that have been in the background pushing and pushing, but there are somethings things that just need to be discovered for yourself. You can lead a horse to water, etc. as they say.

Why a book? Why not! I’ve always strived to spread the word on gluten free baking, strived to help others to see how easy it is, how with a little application no one misses out, everyone can eat together. No one is left behind.  Now I have another platform on which to share my love, to share with the known world some back to basic recipes. Something for everyone.

Don’t be fooled, this is not an easy process! Despite having many recipes that work, many of which I have previously shared with you on here, I have always wondered if they could be better. And now I am able to carry out a bit more recipe development in order to create an even better recipe. So far I am only a fraction of the way through my list of bakes and I’m 4 sponge recipes in with only 1 good enough to use. And I’m sure there’ll be room for improvement in that one!

Light is another factor. At this time of the year, day light hours are at a premium and working full-time, means baking and photography has to happen at the weekends. So planning comes into force, a major force! It’s a good job, planning is one of my strengths! 😀

Do I have a publication date? Er no, not yet. It’s all being self funded, there is the small matter of the day job and Noah and his sister (and for that matter mum) are all still in the mix and if I’m honest, I don’t think I have a full list of what I’m baking; it seems to change weekly. Then there is the matter of putting it all together and actually writing some sort of prologue and odd ramblings to start it all off! But at least I’ve started.

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!

 

 

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.