Friday, 26 September 2014

Gluten and Dairy Free Choux pastry.

Watching bake off this week I realised that I had completely forgotten to post my creation from pastry week, oops. To be honest I was dreading pastry week as attempting to make gluten and dairy free pastry is a tricky business. I decided that choux was my way forward and attempted some of my own eclairs. I have had previous successes making regular choux so I was hopefully optimistic that I could make this work.

And it turns out you can make gluten and dairy free choux. It is not quite as smooth and glossy as regular choux and whereas I would normally use a wooden spoon I did have to use a hand held electric whisk to get the choux dough as smooth as possible.
See, not totally smooth and glossy
Once baked however my mini eclairs looked and tasted like the regular deal. I tarted up my eclair by making them banoffee eclairs. I filled them with sliced banana, vanilla whipped non dairy cream and topped with non-dairy toffee sauce. They were declared delicious by all. Below is the recipe to make gluten and dairy free choux, feel free to jazz up you eclair with any topping or filling that you desire.


Choux pastry (gluten and dairy free) 

60g gluten free flour (I used dove farm)
2 tsp caster sugar (optional)
150ml cold water
50g dairy free spread (I used pure, sunflower)
2 large eggs

Weigh the flour then fold a sheet of baking paper to make a crease and then open it up again. Sift the flour on to the paper and add the caster sugar if you are making sweet choux.

Next put the cold water in a saucepan together with the butter, then place the saucepan over a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture comes up to the boil, turn off the heat immediately, as too much boiling will evaporate some of the water.

Next tip the flour in, all in one go, with one hand, while you beat the mixture vigorously with the other (using the electric whisk).

Beat until you have a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the saucepan clean, this will probably take less than a minute

Next beat 2 large eggs then beat them into the mixture, a little at a time, mixing each addition in thoroughly before adding the next. Beat until you have a smooth(ish) glossy(ish) paste. At this stage, lightly grease a baking sheet and place a ovenproof dish with a little water in the base of the oven to create a steamy atmosphere.

To make the ├ęclairs place the mixture in to a piping bag fitted with a wide round tip and pipe mixture onto the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between them. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. After that, increase the heat to gas mark 7 220C/200CFAN and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the buns are crisp, light and a rich golden colour.

Split the ├ęclairs and return to the oven for a couple of minutes to dry out the insides.


Transfer to a wire rack to cool and fill just before eating to enjoy them at their best. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Blueberry crumble cake

Last week it truly felt like autumn was here, it was colder, dark when I got up, dingy and grey. The only way to combat this was a comforting cake made with cinnamon and fruit, I did not quite veer into the autumn fruit territory (apples, blackberries, pears) but used some Scottish blueberries. a last hopeful cling on to summer. It worked we got a mild reprise to summer this weekend with plenty of sunshine and blue skies!

The cake is from this months good food magazine, I adapted it a little to make it gluten and dairy free and also enough to fit into a brownie tin.

The crumble topping is fantastically crisp and contrasts perfectly with the soft cake and fruit. This cake is best eaten as soon as possible as it contains fresh fruit. Also the sooner it is eaten the crisper the topping will be.

Oh and sorry for the dark photos... that is partly down to me wanting to eat it and partly down to the rubbish autumn weather I mention previously!


Blueberry crumble cake (adapted from bbc good food magazine)

150g dairy free spread (I use pure, sunflower)
225g golden caster sugar
300g GF plain flour (I use Dove farm blend)
1 tsp xantham gum
1 1/2 tsp GF baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 medium eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla paste/extract
180g natural soya yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used almond milk)

1 tbsp and 1 tsp of ccinnamon
2 tbsp each of golden caster sugar and brown sugar (light or dark). mixed
200g blueberries
6 tbsps GF plain flour
3 tbsps dairy free spread, cut small

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. GAS MARK 4 and grease and line a brownie tin (or traybake tin) with baking paper.

Beat the DF spread and sugar with an electric whisk until fluffy. Add the flour, xantham gum, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to the bowl followed by the eggs and vanilla, beat until smooth. Add the yoghurt and DF milk and briefly beat until combined.

Spoon just under half of the mix into the prepared tin. Mix 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar mix and scatter half of this over the cake followed by half of the berries. Layer over the remaining cake mix, take care when smoothing it out the berries will want to come with you. Sprinkle over the remaining sugar/cinnamon mix followed by the remaining berries.

To make the crumb topping place the remaining sugar mix, flour and DF spread into a bowl and rub together until the mixture resembles chunky breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the cake, squeeze some of the crumble together to make bigger chunks as you do. 

Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, until it is risen all the way till the centre. looks golden and the topping is crisp.

 Cool the cake in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack, using the baking paper to help you lift the cake, to cool completely.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Kugelhopf

So continuing along with the bake off you may have noticed I do not have a post for tarts and pies week. Well I did attempt to make a pie, I was terrified, a gluten and dairy free pastry was not an experiment I was looking forward to. The pastry I made was lovely and delicious, but it was meant to be puff pastry, something I never had problems with in the past,  and it turned out like shortcrust. I will reiterate it was lovely but I am not posting the recipe I used as it did not turn out as it should. I get to do pastry again soon though as next week is pastry week on the bake off! I show a picture of my pie to prove that I tried.


This week was the week of European cakes. The contestants had to make a European cake that was raised with yeast, a Swedish princess cake or a Hungarian dobes torte. I have never made a princess cake but I have eaten cakes consisting of sponge, jam, cream and creme pat and so I decided to go with the more interesting cake raised with yeast as I have never made/eaten one before.

I decided, like some of the contestants, to make a Kugelhopf. This is traditionally a cake raised with yeast, filled with fruit and cooked in a bundt tin. Like many of the contestants I changed my flavours, I went for cardamom, orange and almond. I also had the added challenge of making it gluten and dairy free.

I have also just remembered that this months letter for alpha bakes is K and so I will enter my Kugelhopf!


This is an experiment that worked and I am so so pleased with it, it smelt good baking, looked fantastic and also tasted great. It is very interesting, it is definitely a cross between bread and cake and those with palettes used to very sweet cakes will probably take a while to adjust. It is lovely as a plainer cake and dare I say it could even be eaten as breakfast (which I did). It does not keep so long so I have sliced it and individually wrapped slices and frozen them, I will refresh in the oven when I fancy a snack or breakfast.

Orange, cardamom and almond Kugelhopf 

380g GF flour (I used dove farm plain flour blend)
60g ground almonds
2 tsps xantham gum
Seeds of 15 cardamom pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar
120ml warm water
4 1/2 tsp active dried yeast (not instant yeast)
1/2 tsp sugar
120g DF spread (I used pure sunflower)
75g golden caster sugar
2 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 tsp almond extract
Zest and juice of an orange
2 tbsp caster sugar
a little melted butter to grease
slivered almonds to decorate (optional


Place the warm water, yeast, and ¼ teaspoon sugar together in a small bowl. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Set aside for 10-15 minutes until the yeast is foamy

Place 220g of the gluten-free flour in a freestanding large bowl or the large bowl of a large stand mixer. Add the xanthan gum and cardamom and mix to combine

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved, do not let it boil.

In a medium bowl whisk  the eggs together with the almond extract and orange zest. Carefully add the milk mixture in a slow, steady stream to the eggs and whisk well. Be sure to add the milk slowly so it doesn't curdle the eggs. 

Turn the mixer on low, or using a hand held electric whisk add the milk and egg mixture in a slow steady stream to the flour mix. Raise the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Lower the speed and add the remaining flour and ground almonds. The dough should be fairly sticky and smooth, but not too stiff. Turn off mixer and let dough stand for a few minutes.

Grease a bundt pan with melted butter. if desired stick slivered almonds onto the sides of the greased pan.

 Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and smooth it evenly. Brush the top with the melted butter to prevent it drying out. 

Cover with cellophane or place in a bag and let rise for 45-60 minutes in a warm place. The dough won't have doubled, but it will have risen quite a bit.

While the dough is rising preheat the oven to GAS MARK 6 . Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden and baked through.

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

To make a glaze put the remaining sugar and orange juice in a pan and heat gently until the sugar had dissolved, turn up the heat and reduce until the mixture is syrupy. Brush this over the cooled cake then enjoy.




Thursday, 28 August 2014

Individual baked alaska

Dessert week on the great British bake off this week and the contestants had to tackle puddings with a sauce, either inside or hidden beneath, the technical challenge was a tiramasu and the showstopper a baked alaska. I will not spoil anything for those of you still to catch up but my word... I was on the edge of my seat!

Now I could have made a self saucing pudding, I have made chocolate fondants before so thought this seemed a little too easy. I was not going to make tiramasu as coffee is one of the few things I actually dislike. This left me with baked alaska.

First of all I was never going to make a whole baked alaska, there are only two of us and this pudding certainly does not keep. So I did my research and yes, individual baked alaskas are definitely a thing. Individual ones are either quickly put under a grill to brown or a blowtorch is used. An excuse to use my blowtorch? I was sold.

A baked alaska has a sponge base, topped with a scoop of ice cream and the whole thing is encased by browned meringue.

Those of you who read this blog will know that I cannot tolerate lactose at all, and even dairy without lactose can be a dodgy. This means ice cream is quite often out, though there are a few dairy free tubs out there. I decided this was the push I needed to dust of my poor neglected ice cream maker and get experimenting. First things first I had to chose a flavour, this was dictated to a degree by my sponge base.

My sponge base was already sorted as I had a little of the lemon semolina cake left over from Sunday, so I cut two slices then used a cookie cutter to get two circles.

So my ice cream had to be flavour that went well with lemon. Many dairy free ice cream recipes make use of coconut milk, and I had plenty of raspberries in the fridge and so I thought a coconut and raspberry ice cream atop a lemon sponge would be rather good and that is what I went ahead with. The ice cream in made half and half with coconut milk and almond milk and so it is not super super coconuty, but the coconut flavour is definitely there.

Coconut raspberry ripple ice cream (dairy free)

300ml almond milk
300ml coconut milk (full fat, shake the can really well before opening. 
75g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
2  heaped tsp cornflour
60g raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Put the almond milk, coconut milk, caster sugar and vanilla into a saucepan and heat gently, with stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the cornflour with a plash of water or almond milk then add to the pan, increase the heat a little and cook until thickened slightly. The mixture will coat the back of the spoon but will not be super thick like custard, this is how it should be. Transfer the mixture to a jug and refrigerate.

Once the mixture is cool add to an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturers instructions.

While the ice cream is churning mash the recipes to a runny pulp, taste and add a little sugar if you think that it is necessary. When the ice cream forms a soft-medium scoop then transfer it to a tupperware and quickly swirl through the raspberries. Place in the freezer for a few hours to allow the ice cream to firm up, at this point I left the ice cream overnight ready for the next step. 


This ice cream tasted lovely and was perfect for the baked alaska but if eating it as just an ice cream I would need it to be creamier.. I reckon using coconut cream would work, I will continue my ice cream experimentation at a later date!

I must confess that when making my alaska I did not follow a recipe and nor did I weigh out anything. However what I did is as follows...

Individual baked alaska

I formed two scoops of ice cream and put them on a plate in the freezer to make sure they were set solid.

A couple of hours later I cut two circles with a cutter from two slices of cake that I had made 
previously. 

I then made my meringue, I whipped up two eggs whites in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water until soft peaks formed then added sugar (by eye, sorry) and whipped until stiff glossy peaks were formed. Many of the contestants used Italian meringue, or you could use swiss, google will tell you the amounts to use!

I then assembled! I placed the hardened scoop of ice cream onto the round of sponge. Then I topped the whole thing with meringue making sure that all the ice cream and most of the sponge was covered. I used a teaspoon to make rustic peaks but you could use a piping bag. I then toasted the whole thing with my cook blow torch. If you had no blow torch you could put the whole thing under a hot grill for a minute or two... watch it like a hawk!

I did enjoy my very first baked alaska, they look amazing and unusual flavor combinations could turn this into a very stunning dessert to impress others with.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Lemon semonlina cake

I had lemons in the fruit bowl and a massive bag of semolina in my cupboard, so when deciding what to bake this weekend it seemed like fate that I found this recipe for lemon semolina cake in the first book I was flicking through.

This is a recipe from Peyton and Byrne, British Baking.



Lemon Semolina Cake (Peyton and Bryne)

125g dairy free spread (I use pure)
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
3 medium eggs
3 tbsp dairy free milk (I used almond milk)
Zest and juice of two lemons
1/2 tsp vanilla paste/extract
125g semolina flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 170/150C FAN/ GAS MARK 3. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line the base with a stip of parchment paper.

Beat together the DF spread and sugar until pale and creamy, add the almonds and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the milk, then add in the lemon zest and juice and vanilla extract. Sift in the semolina and baking powder and mix into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth into the corners. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

This cake will keep well for 3 or so days in an airtight tin


The recipe suggests dusting with icing sugar and serving with fresh berries