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.

Gluten free mini Bakewell tarts

Unbelievably this is my favourite recipe and one I haven’t put on the blog before! Not at least, in its simplest form as just a Bakewell.  There are many permutations of this recipe and those are in, but for the simplest and my original – time that was rectified!

This amount of pastry (in the lin) is enough for a large tart with several off cuts – enough for 12 mini tartlets.

There are recipes for pastry on this blog, namely this one (another recipe based around the Bakewell);

https://wp.me/p64jEx-gL

I used a similar amount of pastry for a large gluten free Bakewell tart before I then rolled out the leftover piece of pastry and cut the pastry into 12 large stars.

For the Bakewell ‘sponge’;

150g soft butter

150g caster sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond essence

125g ground almonds

25g plain flour

Beat the soft butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs one at a time, until fully combined. Beat in the essence and then fold in the flour and ground almonds.

The majority of the Bakewell sponge went in the larger, oblong dish (36cm x 13cm) What was left went into the mini tarts.

For the smaller tarts I used a 7cm star cutter and a 12 hole mini tart tin. The oven was preheated to gas 4, 180c, 160c fan.

Cutting out the 12 star shapes then gently lining the tart tin holes (each hole is roughly 6cm wide at the top).

Then I placed half a teaspoon of Hartley’s raspberry jam into the base of the pastry. The rest of the Bakewell sponge – a teaspoon of mix – I used up for the mini tarts. No waste 🤗🤗

The mini tarts were then baked for around 20 minutes, left to cool and then decorated with water icing.

Kransekake

OK, so this this may be a celebration of the Scandinavian kind, but if you love the taste of marzipan, this ones for you.

And before we go any further, this recipe is by Paul Hollywood, it’s not mine. I’ve perhaps tweaked it only a fraction, but it’s his. Based around the technical challenge in the 2017 Great British Bake Off.

It makes for a great celebration cake anytime of the year and with just a touch of red, I think  makes for a lovely Valentines Cake. And this is of course gluten free, without even trying 😀

For the cake;

600g Ground Almonds

600g icing sugar

3 egg whites, from 3 large eggs, lightly whisked to a foam, but not a meringue

1.5 teaspoons almond essence

red food colouring (I used Rainbow Dust)

Using a food mixer, with a dough hook (or by hand), add the almonds, sugar, beaten egg whites and essence and mix slowly to a dough.

You’ll have to keep stopping and starting to ensure the dough mixes evenly.  Once the dough is combined add the red food colouring and continue to mix slowly until completely combined. Using a normal paddle attachment just adds to your woe as it sticks easily. You can of course mix this by hand… it does get heavy going though.

Once the dough is fully mixed turn out of the mixing bowl, wrap in film and cover and place in the fridge overnight. Or if you are pushed for time a couple of hours should do it.

And then the tricky bit.

Pre heat the oven to gas 5, 180c, 170c fan and line 4 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Cut the cold dough into 4 fairly even chunks and keep them covered whilst you roll out each piece.

Lightly dust your worktop with cornflour, take 1 piece of the dough of using your hands roll the dough out to a long thin piece of dough, 2cm wide. Then cut the 1st piece 8cm long. The 2nd piece at 11cm, the 3rd at 14cm and so on, using each of the other 3 larger pieces of dough each cut at 3cm increments from the previous piece. Ultimately you should have 12 pieces, with the largest piece 41cm long.

Taking each piece, create a ring. This is the trickier bit. With the small pieces, you’ll need some patience,  but just keep going,  ‘ a squish and a squeeze’ and a ring you will do.

Lay out each ring onto the baking sheet, 5 small ones, 4 medium ones and 3 on the 3rd tray. Using an extra sheet of greaseproof, cover the 1st tray of rings and with another tray, lightly press on the rings to flatten them a little. Lightly flatten each tray.

Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes.  Don’t over bake or they dry out once cooled.

Remove from the oven and cool, before icing and assembling.

For the icing;

2 egg whites, lightly beaten to a foam.

400g icing sugar

pink food colouring

Using a hand-held whisk, ring the egg whites to a light foam – not a meringue – and add the icing sugar a heaped spoonful at a time and whisk in until fully beaten. Keep going until all mixed in. Before adding the final spoonful add in a squirt of pink food colour and whisk to combine.

Try not to leave this icing out too long or it will harden, so using a number 4 or 5 writing nozzle, pipe icing onto the base of the largest ring to secure it to your serving dish.  Then pipe the loops onto each ring starting with the largest ring. Continue piping loops onto the next largest, and so on, until each ring is covered in icing.

Finish off with your decorations of choice.

 

 

 

Gluten Free Lemon and Blackcurrant Tart

There is a theme running here somewhere?  There may well be, but when you have some ingredients that need using up, better to bake than waste.

The idea for the tart came from a recipe by Raymond Blanc found here on the Stylist.co.uk website, but with my little twist or two of gluten free. It is wonderfully light and fresh. Apologies for the Lego, Noah is currently loving the toy in its many guises, and it seems every known surface is covered in the stuff.

To make the pastry, for an 8″ flan case;

  • 200g gluten free plain flour
  • 100g diced, cold butter
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
  • cold water to bind

I used a food processor to blitz the flour, xanthum gum and butter into fine breadcrumbs. You could of course use your finger tips to do the same, using them to rub the flour and butter together. It just takes a little longer. Once you have achieved the breadcrumbs, stir in the egg yolk, lemon zest and sugar and enough cold water to bring it to a dough.  When adding the water I would suggest mixing this in a separate bowl and use your hands to bring the dough together.  I make the dough a little sticky as the flour will absorb some of the liquid. Once mixed together and you have a dough ball, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Pre heat the oven then to gas 4, 170c, 160c fan

To then make the filling;

  • 4 large eggs
  • 160ml double cream
  • 160g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 small tin, drained, of blackcurrants in juice, about 120g

Whisk the cream, eggs, sugar, juice and zest together and leave to infuse a little whilst you then remove the raw pastry from the fridge, roll out, line the flan case, prick the base, fill with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind.  Bake with the beans for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, remove the lining and beans and then bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool the pastry – Turn the oven down to gas 1, 160c, 140c fan

Trim your pastry if that is your thing and slowly pour in the egg and lemon mix.  Scatter and evenly distribute the blackcurrants around the creamy mix. Return to the oven to finish the bake for 25-30 minutes. The mix needs to be just set.

Cool and set for another hour before serving or leaving to go cold and serving later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Chocolate And Peanut Butter Biscuits

Gluten free biscuits are a bit of a nemesis when it comes to gluten free baking.

There is a little outside-the-boxing thinking required.

‘Normal’ biscuits are held together with gluten, simple. But just look at the makes up of gluten free flour and you’ll notice that there really isn’t anything there to do this. Now in some instances – mostly I have found with sponge cakes – you can just about get away with swopping out gluten free flour for normal flour. But with biscuits, that is not the case, in my humble opinion. Simply swopping out with gluten free flour gives you a puddle (once baked) on a tray, of cooked dough. Your cut cookies merge into one large piece of something…..

Some would say that adding xanthum gum is the way forward, but there are several arguments about the long-term effects on the body that this can cause. You can read that for yourself as I am not knowledgeable in those scientific matters. For me adding too much, can actually alter the taste, so I just add it to pastry, sparingly.

So thinking outside the box, what do you add? I simple terms, I know that my shortbread biscuits are pretty crispy, they have a ‘snap’. So by keeping to this relatively easy recipe a few tweaks and you have the basis for a gluten free biscuit.

So whilst the Country surges ahead with biscuits, as seen on the new series of ‘The Great British Bake Off’, some of us would rather buy a packet of gluten free biscuits from the supermarket! I on the other hand struggle and strive to create something nice and edible, which I think I have found here 😀

And this was my second try at this……Dear author of a well-known bakery (2 books) in London take note….you cannot simply swop ingredients to create something for everyone. Instinctively I knew it wasn’t going to work, but I had to give it a shot. Wont be doing that again!

Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180c/165c fan and line 2 – 3 trays (dependant on size of tray) with greaseproof paper.

This receive will make about 20 single biscuits, or in the case 10 biscuits sandwiches.

  • 50g soft butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 90g Rice Flour
  • 70g cornflour
  • 40g extra caster sugar

Filling;

  • 90g melted chocolate
  • 50g peanut butter – smooth or crunchy
  • 20g more of soft butter
  • 100g icing sugar

To make the biscuits, beat the sugar and butter with an electric hand-held whisk until it comes together and is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk. Sieve in the 2 flours and beat until combined. Now you may find this ends up as ‘breadcrumbs’, which is fine, just stop with the whisk and get your hands dirty and bring the mix together to form a dough. It will feel a little dry, but it’ll work.

With the dough break of small pieces, roughly 15-20g each, roll into a ball and place on your trays roughly 5cm apart. Once you have used up all the dough, dip the base of a small glass into the extra caster sugar and then press down on the balls of dough to slightly flatten them into biscuits. If they do stick, release them from the glass using a butter knife.

Bake in the oven for about 9-12 minutes, there should be little or no browning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, before removing from the tray and placing onto your cooling rack.

To make the filling, which is rather fudge like – you are not going to be able to pipe this.

Beat the butters together, then beat in the icing sugar and pour in the melted chocolate. You should have som thing resembling fine breadcrumbs, but you need to then bring this together with your hands to form a ball.  From this, roll small balls of fillings, roughly 20g each, and use to sandwich between 2 biscuits. Repeat until you have filled all the biscuits.

Cover or serve.  They should last 2 – 3 days, if they haven’t all been eaten first.

Gluten Free Chocolate and Raspberry Torte

Before we all get side tracked into watching the new series of the Great British Bake Off and perhaps going a little off-piste with our baking, a little Torte to share with you.

The lovely people at Food Thoughts sent me a tub of their Natural Cacao Powder for baking, it’s also a Fairtrade product. Considered a natural and healthy product, with this much sugar in the recipe it might not be….but perhaps there is room to develop a healthier version? Ummmmm that’ll get me thinking.

If you can leave the Torte unsliced overnight, or for a few hours, the juice from the raspberries will seep out into the Torte and make it even more moist. If you can’t wait that long, a spoonful of half fat, creme fraiche or yoghurt (keeping it healthy) or a dollop of cream will do no harm either.

Relatively easy to make, you’ll need a couple of mixing bowls, one larger than the other, and pre heat the oven Gas 2, 160c, 155c fan. Line an 8″ deep cake tin, base and sides, with greaseproof.

5 eggs – separated

200g caster sugar

160g ground almonds

40g Food Thoughts Cacao Powder 

1 teaspoon Almond essence

100g fresh raspberries

Mix the ground almonds and cacao together and put to one side.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks, using a stand mixer or electric hand-held whisk. Then pour in 50g of the caster sugar and continue to whisk until you have a soft sheen – not too dissimilar to making a meringue. This is where you get the air into the cake, so ensure you use fresh eggs and don’t rush this bit.

Using the same beaters (saving on washing up and it makes little or no difference) and in another larger bowl, beat the egg yolks, remaining 150g of sugar and the Almond essence until light in colour, roughly 50% more in volume and the mix thickens to get that ‘ribbon stage’ – if you pull the whisk out, it leaves a ribbon. Pour into this the almonds and cacao mix and mix well. This will be a stiff paste.

Fold into this a third of the meringue mix, this first third will lose some of the volume, but it’s important to mix well to loosen up the yolk and Almond mix and ensure any pockets of egg whites are dispersed. Fold in the next third, folding gently so as not to knock out the air. Fold in the final third, folding slowly and ensuring all the paste is evenly mixed.

Pour into your prepared cake tin and gently push the raspberries into the top of the mix. There is no need to push them fully down, just enough as you can see in the photo, they don’t sink. But don’t need to.

Bake for 40 – 45 mins.  An inserted skewer will come out with a little of the finished Torte, so you will need to judge for yourself how much is too much cake (on the skewer).

 

Gluten Free Toffee Apple Upside Down Cake

I often wonder if I should post all of my bakes.

After all, is it not the bakes, that drive the blog in the first place? Or is it the general interest in gluten free baking? There are an awful lot of bakes that do not make the blog, but if I put every bake up on the blog, I feel it would curtail the little creativity I have. I would spend too much time writing and then the blog would turn into a heavy weight around the neck. I’d probably not bother.

There is little rhyme or reason as to what bakes go on the blog, but from the outset I have tried to make the bakes on here uncomplicated and fairly easy to do. I would hope you would mention this? 😄

You will have noticed though recently, that I have had opportunities to push myself a little. It would appear to the uninitiated that I love baking for Halloween. I’ll admit it does bring a certain amount of fun to baking and it’s probably about time I got a little more creative. But should I have put everything on here? Not every baker has a blog or website and there are some very creative and fantastic bakes and bakers out there.

So now to something else, seasonal and warming, but perhaps more low-key and no less tasty by any means!

This bake would be perfect on a cold autumnal Sunday afternoon (which appear to be creeping up on us now 😞) with or without custard……or even a rather lush caramel sauce…..

gluten-free-toffee-apple-upside-cake

This will serve 4-5, depending on the size of the portion.

Preheat an oven to gas 4, 180c.

Now because I don’t have all the tins, I used a 7″ sandwich tin with a loose bottom, but fully lined this with greaseproof, so that it came up the sides by about 2″. If you don’t line it, or have a more suitable tin, the caramel you create will seep out the base…and all that taste and squidgy sponge will more than likely burn.

2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced.

70g butter

70g soft brown sugar (although I used dark for this)

130g soft butter

120g caster sugar

130g gluten free self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the 70g of butter and the 70g of sugar and boil for 2 minutes to make the caramel.

Use the sliced bramleys to line the base of the tin with your desired pattern and cover with the caramel sauce. Leave to cool whilst you make the sponge.

Put all of the ingredients into you food mixer/table top mixer and beat until you have the desired consistency (about 4-5mins) for your sponge. If it’s a little heavy and doesn’t ‘drop’, add a little water. I have found that adding milk makes for a rather obscure taste with gluten free baking that I could do without. Hence using water is best for me.

Pour over the apples and caramel and bake for about 20-25mins. Or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Don’t though put it all the way through, as it will get some of the apple mix.

Carefully remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes, before placing a large dinner plate over the cake and turn the cake over (upside down! It all makes sense now 😄) The lovely caramel sauce should then seep back into the sponge.

Serve immediately with custard or sauce of choice.