Yesterday I was delighted to attend a gluten free cakes and tea loaves course at Peterborough City College, hosted by Paul White aka Paul the Baker. This whole GF thing is still very new to me, I was diagnosed as intolerant at the start of the year and am still trying to find my feet a little. Luckily it’s not a complete ‘no’ to gluten, so if I do still fancy a slice of normal cake (or pizza!), I can still have one every now and then, and keep on cooking and baking as I love. The courses at Peterborough are really very reasonable (as they’re subsidised), so when I saw this one advertised at just £20 for 4 hours, it was too good to miss. The course took place at the college’s training kitchen, all industrial ovens and stainless steel, a little intimidating to start with! It was only a small group of us and Paul soon put us all at ease, it was to be a relaxed day and certainly no bake-off style competitions. He had 3 recipes for us, with all ingredients and equipment included in the cost of the course. First up, a gluten free swiss roll. Now I already love swiss roll as is (my original gluten-filled post is still one of the most popular on the blog); it’s simple, straight-forward and fat-free. But this gluten free version takes things to a new level! Amazingly it uses exactly the same quantities, method and ingredients as a normal swiss roll, just substituting regular flour for a gluten free blend (we used Doves Farm throughout the day). My swiss roll before, and after baking (note the light and fluffiness!)… … and then rolled and filled with raspberry jam. The result? Soft, fluffy and sweet swiss roll. Amazing! Back home I finished it with a sprinkle of icing sugar and of course had a few more big slices 🙂 Next on the course, a gluten-free tea bread. Again the recipe is quite similar to a ‘regular’ one – flour, milk, yeast, pre-soaked dried fruit, and a little sugar and butter. Due to the limited time we had in the kitchen, Paul recommended baking these in muffin cases so they’d cook a little easier. The mixture went on for seemingly ever, I ended up with two whole trays full! I added some extra dates to the second batch to fruit them up a little. The one thing I really did learn from the day is that gluten free baking doesn’t look the same when it’s done. Whilst you’d expect normal bread rolls to go a lovely golden brown on top, when they are gluten free they only just start to colour. It’s a bit of a fine art making sure they are cooked inside but not over-done. Nevertheless I was really pleased with the way they turned out – sweet and fruity and perfectly snack size. These bad boys will keep me going for breakfast for the next few weeks! They are great on their own and even better with a smidge of butter 🙂 One slight downside however, I really struggled to get the muffin cases off, even when they were cool. Next time I make these I will just grease the tin and cook them straight in there. Last on our recipe list were gluten free brownies. Even more unusually, these are majority made with sweet potatoes – no butter, no sugar, just a sweet potatoes, GF flour, a little maple syrup, cocoa powder and some chopped dates for added texture. The mix was simple to make and went straight into the oven. Again it was a little tricky to tell when these were done, although the top went crispy they seemed to take forever to cook inside! Finally they came out and had a lovely brownie crust on top. As we were running short on time I finished mine off with a twist at home, cutting into small squares and drizzling with a little dark chocolate. At the college I was a little unsold on these, the texture and taste is not what I’d expected from a brownie, but once they’d cooled and had the chocolate topping my mind was definitely made up. For a cake that’s both gluten free and vegetable based they are amazing! Fudgy and sweet, easy to make and great little treat bites. So overall my day at the college was a pretty big success! Three yummy bakes, some great new acquaintances, and a new zest to go out and try some more GF recipes. Whilst I’ve decided that Peterborough is perhaps a little far to go (200 mile round trip), I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for some more courses soon. A day in someone else’s kitchen is always great fun!
A few weeks ago, the lovely ladies at Sugar and Crumbs got in touch to ask if I’d like to try some of their new flavoured icing sugars in my recipe. I’m pretty sure you can guess my answer!
First up is their mochalicious icing sugar, which does exactly what it does on the tin. A chocolate icing sugar with a hint of coffee, not too overpowering and subtle enough to use in a cake.
My inspiration for the recipe came from this BBC post, and adapted to be both gluten-free and icing sugar friendly! It’s one of those cakes that looks more complicated to make than it is, so is a great showstopper-dessert to serve to friends.
175g dark chocolate
75g mochalicious icing sugar
75g caster sugar
2 large eggs
85g ground almonds
3 large egg whites
175g mochalicious icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
200ml cream, whipped
20g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
– start by greasing and lining 2x 6 inch sandwich tins. They will be baked twice so it’s worth doing this well!
– melt the chocolate and set aside to cool slightly
– beat together the butter, icing and caster and sugars. Add the eggs and almonds and beat again until well combined.
– once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature, fold it into the rest of the mixture
– divide between the two tins, smoothing the top for a flat bake.
– bake at 180 degrees C for 12-15 minutes, until the top is turning crisp, and the middle does not wobble when you move the tin
– set aside to cool while you make the meringue (leave the brownie in the tin, as the meringue will be baked on top of it!)
– whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks (I highly recommend using a stand mixed for this)
– add the icing sugar a spoonful at a time, continuing to whisk after each addition
– continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and glossy, and holds its shape
– spoon on top of the two brownie bases, making one with a smooth top, (so it will hold the top layer), and one with a decorative pattern (to top the cake)
– bake at 150 degrees C for 30 minutes, until the meringue is crispy and starting to brown
– allow to cool completely before carefully removing from the tin
– make the chocolate drizzle for filling and decorating, by mixing the cocoa powder and icing sugar with enough water to make a thick sauce
– layer the cake up when you are nearly ready to serve. Start with the flat-topped brownie/meringue base, then the whipped cream, drizzled with some chocolate sauce, and finally top with the decorative meringue/brownie layer, and finish with a final drizzle of chocolate
As long as the cream is well-whipped, the cake will hold shape well until you are ready to serve. Don’t leave it too long though – or the cream will start making the meringue soft.
The cake is best cut with a large knife and served in thick wedges, too thin and the cream will ooze out from the middle as you slice.
Disclaimer: Icing sugar was provided to me by Sugar and Crumbs for the creation of this post. Recipe and reviews are all my own!
As promised, the first of the recipes from my lovely Afternoon Tea Birthday Party last weekend. This one is quick, easy, gluten (and flour) -free, and best of all, full of chocolate. What’s not to love!
100g bar of dark chocolate
120g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
30g cocoa powder
White chocolate to top
– Melt the dark chocolate, butter and sugar in a saucepan, over a low heat. Stir often to avoid burning and sticking- Once everything is melted together, turn off the heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes (or transfer to another bowl if you’re in a hurry)
– Beat the eggs together, and stir into the chocolate mixture along with the cocoa. Beat well until everything is combined
– Spoon into individual cases about 2/3 full. You could also bake a big pan and chop into brownie squares, but would need to adjust cooking time
– Bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the top is crisp and firm to the touch
– Allow to cool before piping over with melted white chocolate
The cases I used are these lovely little petit four cases from Dotcomgiftshop, in four co-ordinating red and white patterns. Aren’t they cute!!
When making such small brownies the recipe does make quite a lot – I used whole pack of 40 cases and still had a little batter left over.
Cases should only be filled about two-thirds full as the mixture does rise up during baking!
Piping matching zigzags looks incredibly effective but takes next to no time.
Et voila! Gluten free means healthy… right? So you can eat more! Hurrah!
This recipe has actually be lurking for about 3 months now, such is the busy period it’s been. A scrappy post-it in my kitchen and a whole heap of photos later, the impending Valentine’s Day spurred me to get blogging and try and recall what on earth went on.
I’d made this absolute delight of a cheescake (January dieters please look away now), as a treat for Rob while I was away working. It would be equally as great for Valentine’s Day, for which I now have to think of another show-stopping bake. Answers on a postcard please!
The brownies were a simple re-incarnation of my 3 ingredient Nutella brownies, fudgy, quick, and easy, they were perfectly resilient to being re-baked and refrigerated. And the best news was that I didn’t use a whole batch, so there were plenty left over for sampling 🙂
1 batch Nutella Brownies
200g digestive biscuits
50g dark chocolate
300g cream cheese
200g white chocolate
405g tin of condensed milk (unsweetened, the chocolate has enough sugar)
– Crush the biscuits / blend them to find crumbs in a food processor. Melt the dark chocolate and butter, and mix well. – Press into the bottom of a high-sided 8-10 inch springform pan, and bake at 180 degrees for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
– In a large bowl (stand mixer is great if you have one), gently mix the cream cheese and condensed milk.
– Melt the white chocolate over a low heat, and slowly add to the cheese mixture, stirring continually. Finally add the egg and mix through.
– Pour approx. one centimetre of the batter onto the biscuit base, and position the brownies around the surface.
– Bake for 5-6 minutes at 180 degrees, until the cheesecake layer is set enough to hold the brownies in place.- Carefully fill up the tin with the remaining cheesecake mix, being careful not to splash or cover the brownies.
– Return to the oven for a further 20-25 minutes, until the top is set (you can touch it with your finger without any mix sticking); the middle should still be wobbly.
– Remove from the oven, cool, and refrigerate in the tin for a minimum of 12 hours (overnight)
The finishing dark chocolate swirl is by no means necessary, but adds a great finish and hides any blips where the cheesecake mixture might have splashed onto the brownies. I melted about 25g into a small piping bag and covered the whole cake in swirls.
As it’s been baked this cheesecake will keep for up to a week in the fridge – if it lasts that long, not with slices this size that’s for sure!
The finished cheesecake had great contrasting textures, all brought together with a silky chocolate flavour. The crunchy base, chewy brownies, and creamy cheesecake make for an indulgent bite every time!
If you regularly browse the baking world like I do, no doubt you’ll have seen these fantastic Nutella brownies popping up on blogs and baking sites the world over. If you haven’t, take a seat. I’m about to show you something amazing.
I also wanted to finally show off and use this super-cute silicon heart mould from the fab dotcomgiftshop. I bought it about a year ago and have consequently forgotten to use it at every opportunity since. Until now!
There’s quite a lot of controversy on various sites with plenty of bloggers claiming they invented this recipe. I didn’t. That’s for sure. I’m just going to share its amazingness. But does it actually matter? Not in my opinion. Lets get to the chocolate!
The basic amazing thing about these brownies is that they only contain 3 ingredients. Really.
35g plain flour
And the method’s not that tricky either…
– place all the ingredients into a bowl
– mix well
– spoon into your chosen bakeware, making sure it’s greased or lined (I used a quick spritz of cake release spray in each heart). The brownies do rise during cooking so don’t fill whatever you’re using to the top – mine were just over half full
– pop into the oven at 180 degrees. Mine came out perfectly after 15 minutes but the mould is quite small. Adjust upwards for bigger moulds and tray bakes, aiming for a crust to form on the top and no wobble to your mix.
– leave too cool at least a little (burnt mouths just are no fun) and enjoy!
Of course you can adapt the recipe to include so many different things, chocolate chunks, nuts, sweets, icing on top, the list is endless! And as these brownies are SO quick to make (you can easily whip up a batch in under half an hour), why not try them all 🙂
Oh yes – and served warm with vanilla ice cream, hot and cold heaven!
What a week last week turned into! The winter weather well and truly hit the UK with some horrid floods followed by a sharp cold snap – road closures and ice everywhere. I shouldn’t complain, a lot of people have far more serious problems caused by the floods, but for me it’s meant some horrific problems commuting – one day it took a total of 5 hours, just to go 20 miles each way!
By Wednesday I was just plain fed up, in a bit of a sulk, and craving some time in the kitchen to cheer myself up. What could make me happier than some festive baking! Totally inspired by these Christmas tree cupcakes over on The Baking‘s blog. Thankfully this week is looking a little better (although I did skid on a big patch of ice this morning) – and I’m back to Christmassy enthusiasm!
I have no recipe for these I’m afraid. They started as a a kind of whipped chocolate cupcake to use up the egg yolks from the weekends Christmas macarons but ended up having all kinds added – melted chocolate and coarsely ground hazelnuts being two of the main culprits. I baked them in my mini muffin tray, spraying it with cake release first so they popped out easily. They came out as a fudgy, nutty brownie, good for all kinds of cravings and a perfect base for my little trees.
For the Christmas trees themselves, I simply mixed up some stiff green butter cream, and piped onto the brownie using star nozzles. Starting with a wide star nozzle, pressing it down so the base spread out, leaving for 10 minutes to set slightly, then piping smaller stars on top, finishing with a finer swirl from the smaller nozzle.
My decorations weren’t as elaborate as those over on The Baking – all my patience has been used sitting in traffic jams this week – so I topped them with a simple gold star sprinkle, and a quick spritz of silver shimmer spray.
Because the icing was so stiff to start with it held really well, so the result was a soft, gooey brownie with a squishy icing tree topper. Hooray for Christmas!
PS they also looked cute in little petit four cake cases, I’d suggest they’ll make an excellent present but realistically they didn’t last the weekend!