Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Showstopper

three tier round and square cake with autumn leaves flower and gold soft pearl decoration gluten free lemon drizzle recipe

So the Great British Bake Off is over for another – Wednesday nights won’t be the same again! I was really pleased that Nadiya won though, she was my favourite going into the final and really excelled with her 3 bakes. A very worth winner and so humble too. Was anyone not crying in that final scene??

I wanted to pull out all the stops for my final bake for the Great Bloggers Bake-Off, and loved the idea of a three-tiered classic British cake. I asked Rob what he’d like and lemon drizzle was the answer – can’t say no to that!

This gluten-free lemon cake really vamps up the lemon, and is deliciously easy to make and moist when done. It’s very well complemented by the lemon curd filling (keep reading), but works just as well as a standalone cake, without any filling or frosting. And it’s one of those great bakes where you can’t even tell it’s gluten free!

Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake
(makes 1 each of 8 inch round, 7 inch square and 4 inch round cakes. Halve the recipe to make one 8 inch round cake)

300g butter
300g caster or granulated sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
50g ground almonds
3 medium eggs
200g gluten free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
20ml milk or warm water

Lemon Drizzle
100 ml lemon juice (approx. juice of 2 large lemons, I used bottled for this)
150g caster or granulated sugar

Method
– beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
– add the almonds, and beat in the eggs, one at a time
– add the lemon juice, zest and milk and beat again until smooth
– sieve in the flour and baking powder, and gently fold in until all combined
– split between 3 greased, lined tins – a 4-inch round, a 6-inch round, and an 8-inch round
– bake at 180 degrees C until the cakes are springy to touch and starting to come away from the sides of the tine. If you’re not sure then check with an inserted skewer, which should come out clean.
Each cake will need a different amount of time. Check first after around 20 minutes to see if the first is done, if not give another 5 minutes. The middle will take around 30-35 minutes, and the larger around 45 minutes. The time is very dependent on your oven and tin so keep an eye on them! Once you’ve taken the smaller one out, check the other two at least every 10 minutes, if not more often.
– Prepare the lemon drizzle by mixing the lemon juice and sugar. Microwave for 20-30 second until all the sugar is dissolved
– Once each cake is removed from the oven, prick small holes all over the top with a skewer or cocktail stick, and generously spoon over the lemon drizzle. Leave to cool fully in the tin.

gluten free lemon cake easy recipe three tier showstopper

I took a great tip from Nadiya on the show and popped the cakes in the freezer once cool, (wrapped in baking paper) for an hour or so before slicing in half and levelling the tops. It really did make it much easier – no cracking and much less crumbs.

Whilst the cakes were cooling and freezing I made the lemon curd – as this did take quite some time to cool as well. I used Delia’s recipe as a starter – but halved it (3 jars of lemon curd seemed a bit excessive!), and upped the cornflour to give a thicker set that would hold in the cakes. Maybe a bit of a blonde moment but I’d never realised that lemon curd was made mostly of eggs! I would say though that it is really easy to make and waaay better than shop-bought stuff, I’d highly recommend trying it!

Lemon curd

Grated rind and juice of 2 large lemons
3 medium eggs
175g golden caster sugar
100g butter
20g cornflour

Method
– in a large saucepan, beat together the eggs then add the remaining ingredients
– put on a medium heat and whisk continuously for 7 – 8 minutes until it starts to thicken. At this stage cook for another minute, before transferring to a bowl to cool. It will continue to thicken as it cools as well.

homemade lemon curd easy recipe from delia for cake filling

As the curd was cooling I went onto the next step. Nadiya had made marshmallow fondant look and sound so easy (“I make it all the time…!”), so I thought I’d give it a go. Well I’ll be honest. I’d like to meet Nadiya and introduce her to ready-to-roll fondant. It’ll save hours and countless amounts of kitchen cleaning!

Needless to say my attempt was rather less than successful. The online methods I read in advance made it sound relatively easy, however completely failed to mention that it is the stickiest substance ever made by man. Seriously, super glue has nothing on this stuff!

marshmallow fondant kitchenaid disaster sticky hands

The other downside about marshmallow fondant is that it uses a lot of icing sugar. Add that to the sugar in the marshmallows and you’re practically bouncing off the walls with every bite! I’d put in as much sugar as the recipe recommended and it was still nowhere near a fondant consistency, I was struggling to see how this would ever roll out. Additionally I was starting to run out of time – it was nearing midnight and I wanted to get the cake assembled at least that night! So I improvised and turned it into a marshmallow frosting – with the simple addition of a little more water and lemon juice. The good thing about this frosting is that it keeps well (in a sealed container), and if it starts to harden up before you’ve used it all, it can easily be ‘melted’ back down again by popping in the microwave.

Another grumble about these marshmallow icings is that I found it rather tricky to locate all-white marshmallows in the UK shops. I went to a good 5 or 6 big high street retailers / supermarkets, and was just about to give up when I found what I needed in The Range. Really though, does anyone know why they come in pink and white in the first place?!

Marshmallow frosting
(sufficient to cover 3 cakes as made above)

200g (white) marshmallows
400g icing sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water, plus additional as needed

Method
– put the marshmallows, lemon juice and water in a large bowl. Microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the marshmallows are fully melted to a smooth paste
– add the icing sugar and beat well to a smooth consistency (no lumps)
– the consistency should be thin enough to spread, but thick enough to hold its shape without dripping (hold the spoon upside down over the bowl to check). If it’s too thick, add a little more water and beat again, if it’s too thin, add a little more icing sugar. Once ready use straight away, or keep in the fridge in a sealed container until you need to use. Microwave to melt back to a spreadable consistency on removing from the fridge.

With the lemon curd filling and marshmallow frosting finally ready the cakes could be assembled. I layered up with lemon curd in the centre of each tier, and marshmallow frosting between the tiers and all round the sides. After refrigerating for half an hour to set the first layer, I added a second layer of marshmallow frosting to ensure a good thick coating.

luscious lemon curd homemade generous filling inside gluten free drizzle cake spreading marshmallow frosting onto tiered showstopper cake greatbloggersbakeoff

As the weather in the UK has recently taken a turn for the chillier, I decided to theme the decorations with an autumnal twist. To go with this rustic look I dimpled the frosting all over to give a more weathered effect.

textured effect stipling on marshmallow frosting tiered lemon cake

The leaf and flower decorations I made from coloured (normal) fondant – no more marshmallow icings for me! I may be blowing my own trumpet but I love how these marbled autumn leaves turned out. They were really simple to make too – I started with some green, yellow, orange, red and brown fondant, and mixed together in varying proportions, rolling out while they were only part combined. I used a leaf plunger cutter to get the veined and pronged leaves.

ombre marbled fondant icing autumn leaves for cake decoration

The marshmallow frosting stayed quite sticky so it was easy to attach the decorations the next day. Starting with some yellow flowers (a nod to the lemony inside), I arranged the leaves in an ombre graduating colour pattern down the cake. To finish – what showstopper is complete without a little sparkle – gold soft pearls around the base, in the flower centres and amongst the leaves.

gold soft pearl edging decoration around cake base

Fondant leaves and flowers with gold soft pearls decoration on autumn showstopper cake

Despite my various doubts (and wanting to give up!) in making this cake, I’m so pleased with how it turned out. Everything came together perfectly in the end and I’ll be honest – it tasted amazing! The homemade lemon curd had such a great zing, I want to put this in all my cakes going forward 🙂 I’m less enamoured with the marshmallow frosting – it really does taste just like marshmallows, which personally I’m not a fan of on a cake. I’ll stick with buttercream and ready-to-roll fondant from now, thank-you-very-much.

gbbo lemon drizzle gluten free showstopper three tier autumn decoration cake recipe autumn leaves decoration

The inside of the cake had a perfect wow as well – not to brag but look at those layers!

gluten free lemon drizzle three tier cake with homemade curd and marshmallow frosting moist recipe

lemon layer cake three tier showstopper with flower gluten free homemade lemon curd marshmallow frosting

Although I’ve not been able to participate every week this year, I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the Great Bloggers Bake Off again. As always massive thanks to Jenny for being an amazing organiser. Please click the banner below to visit her blog and for more information on the bloggers bake-off.

Mummy Mishaps

Gluten-, Dairy- and Sugar-Free Banana, Apricot & Almond Muffins

banana apricot and almond muffins recipe healthy breakfast or snack in assocation with tesco gluten free dairy free sugar free

Week five of 2015’s Great Bloggers Bake-Off (although only the second for me), and the lovely people at Tesco Real Food got in touch to ask if I’d bake something for free-from week if they provided the ingredients. How could I refuse! Being diagnosed with a gluten intolerance last Christmas, you’ll have noticed a steady increase in gluten-free recipes this year, and I was so pleased to see GBBO recognising that there are people out there who need to use different methods an ingredients in their baking.

This bake started out as a gluten-free snack one evening after work. Only later did I realise it’s also dairy-free and (added) sugar-free as well – ticking off all off the weeks challenges in one batch of tasty muffins!

These muffins actually border on healthy due to the high fruit and nut content, and are perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, or to curb those mid-morning munchies.

All my ingredients came from Tesco – and although they don’t make their own gluten free flour, they do stock Doves Farm which is my personal favourite, it’s a great base for so many recipes.

basket of shopping sponsored by tesco real food for muffins recipe free frim

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s so versatile – you can add or omit most things as long as you keep the basics at the same quantities – bananas, eggs, oil, milk/water and dry ingredients (flour/oats/ground almonds & bicarb). They’d very easily work as nut-free (replace the ground almonds with more gf flour and omit the ones on top); you can omit the dried mixed fruits if you’re not a fan; or add some chocolate chips for a sweeter treat!

Ingredients
2 medium ripe bananas
100g dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
15g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
50g dried mixed fruit
50g gluten free flour
50g gluten free oats
50g ground almonds
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs
75ml almond milk or similar (normal milk or even water is fine)
50ml oil – I use extra virgin olive oil
50g flakes almonds

Glaze (optional) – 25g apricot jam

Method
– In a large bowl, mix together the apricots, ginger, mixed fruit, flour, oats, almonds and bicarbonate of soda. Mix well so that all the little pieces of fruit/ginger are coated in flour, this will stop them sinking during making
– In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and beat together with the milk, oil, and eggs
– Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix until all combined
– Grease a 12-hole muffin tin. I use cake release spray – you can also get this in Tesco – but oil would work too. Use a pastry brush to make sure the sides, corners and bottom are well greased, as it’s quite a sticky mixture.
– Divide the mixture between the 12 holes and sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top
– Bake at 180 °C for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are springy to the touch and the muffins are slightly golden at the edges

free from muffin mix oats flour almonds dried fruit

gluten-free dairy-free and sugar-free banana almond and apricot muffins topped with flaked almonds recipe ready to make

freshly baked banana flaked almond apricot muffins gluten free dairy free recipe

The apricot jam glaze is entirely optional (and slightly anti the sugar-free part of the challenge), but does add a lovely finish to the tops of the muffins. Tesco do stock a reduced-sugar jam for the particularly health conscious!

reduced sugar apricot jam from tesco for healthier low sugar cakes recipe

– As soon as the muffins are removed from the oven, leave them in the tin and prick the tops all over with the very tip of a sharp knife. You want about 15-20 tiny holes per muffin
– Heat the apricot jam in the microwave or a saucepan with 25ml of water, until you have a smooth liquid (this should only take a minute or two). Drizzle the glaze over the top of each muffin a little at a time, until it’s all used up
– Leave the muffins to cool completely in the tin. Once cool, they should come out easily (if you greased the tin well enough!), if not, run a sharp knife around the edges, turn the tray upside down, and gently tap the bottom

apricot jam glaze reduced sugar topping dairy and gluten free muffins recipe healthy snack breakfast

fresh out of the oven gluten free and dairy free banana apricot and almond muffins healthy recipe

gluen and dairy free banana apricot and almond muffin recipe healthy cake

Inside the muffins are moist and oh-so-good! Keep them in an airtight container, and because of the fresh banana they should be eaten within a few days – although they certainly don’t last that long in our house.

bite taken out of banana apricot and almond muffins gluten and dairy free moist and light recipe

You can find out more about the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2015 by clicking here, and more about Tesco Real Food by clicking here.

A big thank you to Tesco for providing me with the ingredients for this bake. The opinions and recipe however are entirely my own.

Mummy Mishaps

Baked Mango Cheesecake

baked mango cheesecake served with fresh strawberries recipe and method easy gluten free dessert

A perfect summer dessert – light, fruity, and easy to make!

The recipe is similar to my other cheesecakes, but, due to the inclusion of so much fruit, doesn’t require any added sugar or yoghurt. It’s delightfully simple in terms of ingredients – once you’ve got past chopping the juicy mangoes of course.

 

Ingredients

150g plain biscuits (I used gluten-free which worked perfectly, but any ‘normal’ kind would work as well, rich tea, digestives, etc.)
30g butter
350g cream cheese
450g mango, pureed (this is around 3 medium or 2 large mangoes, ripe ones work best)
3 medium eggs

Method

– Crush the biscuits into fine breadcrumbs, and mix with the melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a 6-7 inch round springform or loose-bottomed tin. Put into the fridge to chill while you make the topping.
– Ensure the mango is well-pureed (or mashed), so it is smooth with no lumps, and beat together with the cream cheese.
– Add the eggs and mix until just combined – no need to beat again at this stage.
– Pour the cheesecake mixture over the base. Give the tin a few taps to ensure it settles flat and allow any air bubbles to surface.
– Bake at 150 degrees C for 45 – 60 minutes. Check back after 45 minutes, you are looking for the top to be ‘just set’ – i.e. not liquidy and fluid when you move the tin.
– Once cooked, remove the tin from the oven and carefully run a knife around the edge. As the cheesecake cools it will shrink slightly, and this will prevent it from sticking to the tin as it does so! Leave in the tin until completely cool, before gently transferring to a plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve (can be made in advance, but keep away from any strong-smelling foods in the fridge.)

There were a few cracks on my cheesecake when it came out of the oven – but a lovely vibrant yellow mango colour which I was really pleased with!

baked mango cheesecake easy recipe gluten free low fat simple dessert summer pudding

The cheesecake can be served as is – the delicate mango flavour would be overwhelmed by anything too strong in any case.

However as they were in the fridge (and to disguise the cracks!) – I added some quartered strawberries around the top and sides of mine.

gluten free mango cheesecake served with fresh british strawberry slices recipe and method

Inside – a soft, sweet, sticky cheesecake – perfect for those warm summer evenings that we’re all dreaming of!

slice of gluten free low fat baked mango cheesecake with recipe and how to

Ombre Flowers Gluten Free Wedding Cake

ombre flowers cascade tiered wedding cake white pink orange

Last month, in celebration of mine and Rob’s upcoming nuptials, the lovely ladies of Derby Clandestine Cake Club held a wedding and hen-party themed meet-up in my honour! You can read the full details by clicking here.

For obvious reasons (hello planning busy-ness, no more stress needed!) I’m not making our actual wedding cake, so used this an ideal opportunity to try out a bridal design of my own. Inspired by the recent Gluten-Free baking course I took, I combined and adapted a few recipes from various sources to make a gluten free fruit cake for the two layers.

Gluten Free Wedding Fruit Cake
500g dried fruit (I used a mix of dried apples, apricots, bananas, raisins and mixed peel, but anything would work)
250g light brown or golden caster sugar
250g butter
4 medium eggs
100ml milk
200g gluten free flour
75g ground almonds
2 tbsp cocoa (not essential, but adds a lovely richness)
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

– chop the dried fruit into small pieces if needed (around 5mm maximum is best), and mix together with the ground almonds
– beat together the sugar, butter, eggs, milk, flour, cocoa and baking powered
– add the dried fruit and mix until just combined
– pour into greased, lined tins, sizes as needed. I used a deep 7 inch round for the base, and 3 inch round for the top
– cover with foil (to stop the top doming) and bake at 150 degrees until an inserted skewer comes out clean. The length of time needed in the oven will depend on the size of the tins you use. My 3 inch cake took around 30-40 minutes, the 7 inch around 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
– remove from the tin and leave to cool completely before icing.

dried fruit for gluten free cake recipe banana apples apricots raisins baking gluten free fruit wedding cakes foil top tip to stop dome gluten free wedding cake two tiers recipe easy

For my cakes I used a marzipan layer to give a smoother finish for the white fondant. It’s not at all necessary though, you could use jam or even buttercream. The two cakes need around 500g of marzipan, and 500g of white fondant, to generously cover both.

marzipan on gluten free wedding fruit cake easy recipe

white fondant iced two tier wedding cake fruit gluten free recipe

Once the cakes were covered and stacked it was onto the flower decorations. I’ll be the first to admit that I may have got a little carried away here! I started doing them one evening, a bit more the next night, and so on, the final count was over 500!! I started with two colours of gel icing sugar – an orange and a pink, and mixed varying amounts of these into small quantities of white fondant to create the full spectrum of ombre flowers, from dark to light.

ombre fondant flowers for wedding cake white pink peach orange ombre sugarpaste fondant icing flowers hand cut for wedding cake decoration orange pink peach white pastel

I stuck them on the cake using a little plain white icing dabbed on with a cocktail stick, and starting with the palest flowers at the top, I started sticking and curving round the cake, all the way to the brightest orange and pink at the bottom.

white and pastel peach orange pink cascade of ombre flowers on wedding cake orange and pink wedding cake fondant flowers cascade ombre flowers cascade fondant icing on tiered wedding cake spring and summer ideas

The finished cake – a little wonky depending on the angle you look at it from (not a pro wedding cake maker by far!) – but I was really pleased with it.

cascade of ombre flowers two tiered wedding cake white pink orange peach gluten free recipe for clandestine cake club pink and orange cascade ombre flowers wedding cake on white icing

Of course we had a great time at cake club devouring all the wedding and hen cakes – who doesn’t love to sit and chat over a good cup of tea and huge slice of cake?

My cake turned out really well inside too – you really couldn’t tell it was gluten free, so would be perfect to serve to any wedding guest.

gluten free wedding fruit cake slice with marzipan white fondant icing and ombre spring brights flowers

As for our actual wedding cake… you’ll just have to watch this space. Not long now!

Gluten Free Baking Course with Paul the Baker

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! Peterborough college training kitchen cookery course 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. paul white gluten free recipes baking 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!)… gluten free swiss roll frothy mixture gluten free swiss roll simple tray cake golden finish … and then rolled and filled with raspberry jam. rolled gluten free swiss roll 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 🙂 gluten free swiss roll raspberry jam icing sugar dusted light fluffy sponge 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. gluten free tea cake buns fruity and golden raisin and date gluten free bread buns tea loaf 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 🙂 gluten free tea breads served with butter breakfast or snack gluten free dried fruit and date tea bread rolls 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. chocolate drizzle on gf brownie bites 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. gluten free sweet potato brownies with dark chocolate drizzle 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!

Mocha Meringue Cake

mocha meringue cake gluten free dessert recipe and method brownie cake

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.

sugar and crumbs mochalicious flavoured icing sugar review and recipe

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.

Ingredients

Brownie cake
175g dark chocolate
150g butter
75g mochalicious icing sugar
75g caster sugar
2 large eggs
85g ground almonds

Meringue layers
3 large egg whites
175g mochalicious icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

To finish
200ml cream, whipped
20g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
Hot water

Method
– 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

brownie layer cake recipe gluten free mocha icing sugar chocolate and coffee mocha coffee and chocolate meringue made with flavoured icing sugar recipe and review swirl meringue topping on brownie cake layer recipe gluten free dessert baked mocha meringue topping for cake using sugar and crumbs mochalicious layering up mocha meringue cake whipped cream and chocolate drizzle

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.

mocha meringue cake layer recipe fresh whipped cream brownie chocolate sauce

I love how the layers came out – wonderfully separate but oh so tasty when combined! layered cake mocha meringue recipe chocolate and coffee brownie layers

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.

slice of mocha meringue cake chocolate and coffee with cream filling and brownies

Disclaimer: Icing sugar was provided to me by Sugar and Crumbs for the creation of this post. Recipe and reviews are all my own!

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Gingerbread Man Cake

chocolate and salted caramel gingerbread man cake christmas baking ideas kids birthday

Happy New Year! Hope your festive period was as fun-filled as ours… it says something when it’s taken over 2 weeks to upload this post 🙂

I was tasked (as per usual!) with providing dessert for a pre-Christmas meal with friends. You may remember last year’s Chocolate Christmas Pudding cake – well this was devoured equally as quickly. It’s not necessarily just a festive recipe either; I’d happily have a big slice of this at any time of the year.

As I was trying to think of what to make, a little lightbulb pinged in the back of my mind – I’d bought this gingerbread man silicon mould about 2 years ago, and as you can see had not yet used it.

gingerbread man cake silicon mould chocolate and salted caramel

I’d decided to try another gluten-free cake, and chocolate seemed like a safer option than a more complicated ginger one. I used this recipe from This Cotswold Girl – adding a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger to live up to the name. The mix was actually a little too much for the mould, so I made a few small muffins as well. You can never have too much chocolate cake!

The cake came out rich and fudgy, I’ll definitely be using this recipe again.

fudgy gluten free chocolate silicon moulded cake in the shape of a gingerbread man person

However the pièce de résistance for me was the amazing (if I may say so myself) salted caramel icing. It did catch a bit in the pan, but I think the caramelised sugar flecks give it an even more authentic gingerbread man look.

 

It’s a thick, fudgy icing that goes amazingly with the chocolate cake. The above recipe gives a very generous quantity, but I didn’t struggle to use it all up!

gingerbread man cake covered in salted caramel icing recipe salted caramel icing recipe use for covering cakes thick ginger coloured christmas

I let the icing set a little, putting the cake in the fridge for half an hour, before finishing with some red and white royal icing decorations – sleeves and a belt:

gingerbread man cake decoration piped armbands and belt red and white christmas baking ideas

And a wonderfully wonky little face! Well, nobody likes their gingerbread men perfect, do they?

gingerbread man cake crooked smiley face red and white piped royal

The finished gingerbread man (or Gingy if you prefer!) – a perfect post dinner treat.

gingerbread man cake chocolate and salted caramel with hand piped royal icing decorations

Gluten Free Chocolate Birthday Cake

gluten free chocolate birthday cake white chocolate stars recipe

A couple of weeks back we had a big birthday to celebrate in our office, for which it was deemed I should make a cake (no hardship really!). As there are only 6 of us, I wanted to make sure everyone could have a piece, especially our newest GF-colleague.

Google led me to no end of gluten free recipes – where to start! I’ve made gluten free brownies before, which turned out rather well, if I do say so myself, so sticking with something chocolatey seemed a safe better. With some ground almonds lurking in the back of the cupboard, and a very well-reputed Nigella recipe to boot, how could I go wrong?

I downscaled the recipe by a third, not only so it would fit in the best tin I could find, but also because it only had to feed 6 – and we were still eating cake all week!

Recipe (adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake)

Ingredients
100 ml olive oil (I used extra virgin as that was what we had in the house)
35 grams cocoa powder
85 ml hot water
1 generous teaspoon vanilla
100 grams ground almonds
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
170 grams sugar (Nigella uses caster, but I used a light brown for an extra fudgy texture)
2 eggs

Method
– Beat together the cocoa powder and hot water to a smooth paste (like melted chocolate)
– In a large bowl (a stand mixer if you have one), whisk the eggs, sugar and olive oil until they are light and aerated – lots of fine bubbles and quite thick. It should take 3-5 minutes if using a stand mixer, a little longer by hand
– Pour in the chocolate mixture, vanilla, and add the almonds and bicarbonate of soda. Mix on a slow speed until all combined
– Spoon or pour the mixture into a lined and well greased tin (I used a 7 inch round sponge tin)
– Bake for around 30 minutes at 180 degrees. Use a skewer / cake tester to check if it’s done, it should come out clean with no batter visible, maybe just a few crumbs
– Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out and cooling on a wire rack

downsized gluten free chocolate olive oil cake adapted from nigella recipe birthday with fudge icing

Whilst the cake is cooling the icing can be made – I started off making a ganache, with milk instead of cream, but quickly decided a thick chocolate fudge icing would be better!

Chocolate fudge icing
200g dark chocolate
65g butter
120ml milk
75g light brown sugar

Method
– Put the chocolate, butter and milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and heat on low until everything is melted together and smooth
– Add the sugar, stir well, and turn the heat up so the mixture starts to boil
– Allow it to boil for around a minute, stirring gently, then remove from the heat
– Stir and leave to cool until it reaches your desired consistency
– Spoon, drizzle, and generally adorn all over your cake, allowing to drip down the sides

dark chocolate fudge ganache icing recipe gluten free chocolate birthday cake

chocolate fudge icing ganache on gluten free olive oil birthday cake

I topped my icing with a mass of white chocolate stars – sprinkled liberally doesn’t even come close!

white chocolate stars liberally sprinkled onto dark chocolate fudge icing birthday cake food porn

And to finish, a homemade ‘happy birthday’ bunting banner. There are plenty of templates online which you simply print off, cut out the triangles, and loop over a piece of string – a lovely hand-made touch that takes no time at all (especially if you do it whilst watching the tv…)

homemade happy birthday bunting banner cake gluten free chocolate nigella olive oil recipe with fudge icing

gluten free chocolate cake happy birthday homemade bunting banner recipe and method

The birthday girl was delighted, as were we all on tucking in. Although I was a little dubious about the olive oil in the recipe, it makes for a dense, fudgy, chocolatey cake, only too well complimented by a dense, fudgy, chocolatey icing!

moist chocolate olive oil cake gluten free with chocolate fudge ganache icing

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Bites

gluten free mini brownie bites heart shaped with white chocolate zig zag topping

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!

Ingredients
100g bar of dark chocolate
100g butter
120g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
30g cocoa powder

White chocolate to top

Method

– 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!!

heart shaped petit four cases foil dotcomgiftshop recipe and how to use easy and quick red white valentines polka dot heart

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.

mini heart shaped brownies gluten free recipe in individual foil cases pola dot

Cases should only be filled about two-thirds full as the mixture does rise up during baking!

individual gluten free brownie bites heart shaped gingham and polka dot red white cases

Piping matching zigzags looks incredibly effective but takes next to no time.

art food photo gluten free brownie bites heart shaped individual cakes recipe ane method

Et voila! Gluten free means healthy… right? So you can eat more! Hurrah!

gluten free mini brownie bites recipe topped with white chocolate

The Walk Cafe Nottingham – Reopened and Reviewed

A few weeks back I learnt that one of my favourite tea rooms in Nottingham had been taken over and reopened – of course I had to go and see for myself!

Located on Bridlesmith Walk, the cafe is right in the centre of town, but tucked away in an unassumingly serene little arcade, providing welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Heading up Bridlesmith Walk, from Bridlesmith Gate:

bridlesmith walk nottingham shopping arcade leading to the walk cafe reviews

And arriving at The Walk Cafe!

the walk cafe nottingham outside on bridlesmith gate hidden gem

On walking through the door a host of delicious delights greeted us, the choice was not an easy one.

the walk cafe nottingham lemon and carrot cakes all homemade in glass cake stands

We got talking to one of the owners, Laura, who told us that the kitchens were too tiny to bake everything onsite, instead she roped in on of her neighbours, who makes makes all the cakes from scratch each week. As well as classics like lemon, chocolate, coffee, etc., she likes to try something different every week, such as this seasonal apple and elderflower cake.

chocolate apple and elderflower homemade cakes at the walk cafe tea room nottingham review

And those with special requirements needn’t miss out! These gluten free cakes looked equally as delicious.

gluten free chocolate and lemon drizzle cakes at the walk cafe nottingham

Aside from the cakes, The Walk also offers a range of other sweet and savoury items, and we pored (and drooled) over the wonders in the big glass fridge. Macarons! Cupcakes! A chocolate SHOE! What more could a girl want?

bright macarons at the walk cafe nottingham

cupcakes and white chocolate shoe the walk cafe nottingham reopened 2013

Finally for us to dote on, a beautiful range of cake stands and loose leaf teas.

afternoon tea cake stands and loose leaf teas and the walk cafe tea room nottingham

The tea menu is no less extensive, there are some wonderful blends and flowering teas to choose from.

extensive loose leaf tea menu at the walk cafe nottingham

Eventually making our way to sit down, we were pleasantly surprised to find the decor has been brightened up a little, with fantastic hand=painted floral artwork on the walls:

the walk cafe nottingham hand painted wall artwork

reopened the walk cafe nottingham review hand painted flowers antique furniture

Whilst still maintaining the quirky with beautifully mis-matched furniture, a mix of old and new.

vintage furniture at the walk cafe nottingham tea room decor tables and chairs

the walk cafe nottingham 2013 chandelier above purple themed dining table and chairs

I opted for some coffee and walnut cake (later followed up with a toasted tea cake, what a greedy pig!), both of which were well-portioned and very tasty.

carrot and walnut cake slice tea room afternoon tea the walk nottingham

Everything was served in vintage china – cups, teapots, and plates.

vintage fine china teapots and teacups at the walk nottingham

As you can tell we had a lovely time – I for one am very glad this great venue has finally re-opened and restored to its former glory, and beyond! Laura and her staff were friendly and attentive, despite a busy Saturday rush. They’ve only been back open for a couple of months but I’m hopeful many more to come, and am already looking forward to going back.