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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten free Spiced Chocolate Cake

Here is one I made earlier.

After another fantastic Foodies Festival appearance, its about time the recipe for the cake got written. So without further ado and much waffle…..

For the dehydrated orange –

2 oranges sliced approximately to 4mm thick

For the Truffle balls –

200g dark chocolate broken into small pieces

180ml double or whipping cream

20ml mulled wine

40g cocoa

For the cake –

5 eggs

240g vegetable oil

240g caster sugar

280g gluten free self raising flour

40g Food Thoughts Cocoa

2 teaspoons orange essence

1 teaspoon baking powder

30ml water

For the buttercream –

150g soft butter

35g Food Thoughts cocoa

270g icing sugar

approx 30ml mulled wine

for the chocolate filling –

140g dark chocolate broken into small pieces

100ml double of whipping cream

Planning is key here as the oranges will take at least 3 hours to dry out in a typical oven. Pre heat the oven to cool, so around 90c in a fan assisted oven.

Once you have sliced the oranges into slices, place them onto a greaseproof lined baking sheets, large enough to accommodate all of the orange slices, placed together, but not on top of each other. Allowing for the heat to get around them. Place into the pre heated oven for 1 and a half hours, before turning the slices over and returning to the oven for a further 90 minutes, or until completely dry. Remove from the oven to cool and finish drying out. Leave to one side.

To make the truffle mix, place the cream (double cream will give you a thicker, richer texture; whilst whipping cream will be lighter) into a large enough saucepan and place the chocolate pieces into a glass bowl. Gently bring the cream to a simmer, stirring occasionally so as stop the cream catching and burning. Once the cream is simmering, pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Leave this for about 30 seconds to allow the chocolate to start to melt. Then stir so as to melt the chocolate and create a thick chocolate sauce. Add the mulled wine and stir to combine all the ingredients. Once cool enough place into the fridge to set.

Once set, remove the truffle from the fridge and roll into balls, using a teaspoon as a guide for size. Once made, roll the balls in the cocoa and place back in the fridge to set further.

For the cake.

Preheat the oven to gas 4/180c/160c fan and line 3 x 7” cake tins.

Place all the cake ingredients into a large enough bowl (I used a stand mixer) and whisk it altogether for about 3 to 4 minutes until you have an amazing cake batter, ready to pour into the 3 cake tins. Place into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, before removing from the tins and placing on a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Whilst cooling, you can make the filling. As for the truffle mix, heat the cream to a simmer and pour over the broken chocolate pieces, leave for 30 seconds again before stirring to combine the cream and chocolate and then add in the mulled wine.

 

You can also begin to make the buttercream. By adding the cocoa and icing sugar and mulled wine to the butter in a large enough mixing bowl and beating to a smooth paste. Scrap the sides of the bowl once and beat again for a couple of minutes.

To assemble, place one of the cakes on the cake board/cake stand and pour over half of the sauce, top with a 2nd cake, pour the remaining sauce over and then top with the 3rd cake.

Cover the cake sides and top with the buttercream and using a fork create the look as per the photo. As you would when making a Yule Log.

Decorate as you please using the truffle balls and dehydrated oranges (and an indoor sparkler if you want)

 

 

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.

 

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.