Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake

This is an adaptation of a recipe from King Arthur Flour which I can’t buy in Quebec but have substituted Angélique gluten free flour which is the best I have found. All gluten free flours are far from equal: some ingredients are more expensive than others so are less used in the cheaper flours and also the cheaper ones tend to be less finely milled so they behave differently.

Ingredients

  • 3 oz crystallized ginger pieces, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 11 oz Angélique gluten free flour
  • ¼ tsp guar gum powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp ginger powder
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • 4 oz butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 9oz molasses or 7oz molasses + 2oz corn syrup
  • 1 cup buttermilk (substitute yogurt and skimmed milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • A few pecan or walnut halves if liked, to decorate top of cake.

9 inch square tin lined with parchment paper

Method

Set oven at 350F (Bake).

Leave ginger pieces to soak in hot water. Warm butter, molasses, corn syrup and sugar together until sugar melts. Sift dry ingredients together. Whisk egg into milk and add to butter/ molasses mixture. Carefully stir liquid into dry ingredients so no lumps of dry flour remain. Add ginger pieces in their liquid. Stir until well mixed and then pour into lined tin. If liked, place some pecan or walnut halves on top before placing in preheated oven.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Very successful.

Sticky toffee apple pudding

Ingredients:

  • 175g dates chopped
  • 175ml hot water
  • 60g softened butter
  • 60g light muscovado sugar
  • 90g butter, softened
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 175g good quality, finely milled gluten free flour (Angélique in Quebec, King Arthur in USA)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 medium apples, sharpish eating apples

Method:

Stone and chop dates. Pour over hot water and leave to soak for a couple of hours.

Set oven at 350F or 325F if fan assisted. (Tru conv. 325)

Butter the base of a round 8” springform non stick baking tin. 

Cream 60g quantities of butter and sugar and spread over base of tin.

Peel, core and slice the apples, arranging the slices over the butter and sugar in the base of the tin.

Whisk baking powder into flour.

Put butter, eggs, flour and baking powder into large bowl and mix until well blended.

Reheat date and water mixture and pour into the flour mixture, stirring to blend. 

Pour into tin over apple mixture and bake for about 45 minutes until well risen, browned on top and springy to the touch. Juices may bubble up the edges a bit. Probably worth checking the centre of the sponge with a thin skewer or cocktail stick as the first time I made this (in a 7” square tin) the centre was not quite cooked. 

While cake is baking, make butterscotch sauce using following recipe.

Allow  baked cake to stand for a few minutes then invert on a suitable plate, releasing spring ring and base. Pour over some butterscotch sauce, reserving the rest for serving. Vanilla ice cream is also good with it.

Butterscotch Sauce:

Adapted from Michael Smith’s recipe, stated to be foolproof

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4oz unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 cup 35% cream (heavy cream in USA)
  • splash vanilla essence

Pour water into high sided saucepan. Gently sprinkle in sugar, taking care to avoid the edges of the pan. Begin heating over high heat but DO NOT stir. Allow sugar to dissolve to form simple syrup. As the heat increases the water will gradually evaporate and leave behind a pure melted sugar syrup which boils at a rolling boil. Once syrup starts to turn pale gold, gently swirl the pan to keep the colour even. 

When it has reached a deep golden brown (watch CAREFULLY as becomes bitter very quickly) add butter pieces and whisk until sauce is smooth. Add cream and vanilla, whisking again until smooth. Cool somewhat before pouring into a jar. Will keep in fridge up to a month.

I think it would be possible to start with a smaller volume of water

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Mary Berry’s sticky toffee pudding
Serves eight

Ingredients:

  • 90g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp coffee extract (I used coffee liqueur)
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 175g (6oz) stoned dates, roughly chopped
  • 90g (3oz) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 175ml (6fl oz) hot water

Toffee Sauce

  • 125g butter
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 6 tbsp double cream
  • 60g walnuts, roughly chopped

Method

1. To make the pudding: butter a deep 18cm (7in) square cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, coffee extract, flour, and baking powder into a large bowl. Beat well until smooth and thoroughly blended.

3. Stir in the dates and walnuts and then the measured hot water. Pour the mixture into the cake tin.

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (160°C fan, Gas 4) for 45–50 minutes until the pudding is well risen, browned on top, and springy to the touch.

5.About ten minutes before the pudding is ready, start preparing the toffee sauce.

6. To make the toffee sauce: put the butter and sugar into a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Stir in the cream and walnuts and heat gently to warm through.

7. Cut the pudding into eight even-sized squares and transfer to serving plates. Spoon over the toffee sauce and serve at once.

Notes:

180C is equivalent to 350F. I use a fan setting at 325F.

I’m not sure about the chopped walnuts in the toffee sauce, I think it would be fine without them or instead use my Butterscotch sauce.

I found that Angélique gluten free flour substituted for same quantity SR flour works well, with the addition of an extra teaspoon of baking powder.

My preferred method with the dates is to chop them finely some time before preparing the rest, soaking them in the boiling water for a couple of hours. Reheat in the microwave before adding to the mixture as above.

** See also my recipe for Sticky apple butterscotch pudding.

Gluten free Christmas cake

This is my adaptation of this one:

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/food/recipes/christmas/phil-vickerys-rich-fruit-christmas-cake

Ingredients

  • 650g dried fruit including peel (currants, raisins, sultanas, a few dried cranberries because I’m not keen on glacé cherries, homemade candied peel)
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 150ml brandy
  • 150g Angelique GF flour
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp spices (1+ mixed spice made up to 2 with freshly ground nutmeg and “true” cinnamon)
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 50 ground almonds
  • extra tbsp brandy + extra to pour on cake when cool

Lined 18 cm tin – makes a tall cake, I think a wider tin might work

Method

Leave dried fruit in bowl with lemon juice and brandy to soak overnight. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Sift (or whisk) flour, spices and baking powder together and add to butter sugar mixture a little at a time until well incorporated. Add soaked fruit and zest as well as both almonds. Mix well and transfer to tin, levelling surface.

Bake at 300F on bottom shelf for first hour or so, upper shelf last hour, approx. 2¼ hours in total. When cooled, pour brandy over before storing for a week or so.

Topping

I used almond paste decorated with glacé cherries and almonds.

Almond paste:

  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 4oz icing sugar
  • ½ egg beaten
  • lemon juice

Mix sugar and ground almonds making sure there are no lumps of sugar left, add beaten egg and mix well. This will not all incorporate properly – use lemon juice to moisten sufficiently to gather ingredients into a ball. Place ball on waxed paper and cover with a circle of baking parchment about the same size, or slightly larger than the top of the cake. Roll between the two sheets until paste reaches edges of circle. 

Melt about a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly with lemon juice in the microwave until the jelly is all liquid and brush over top of cake. Peel circle of parchment off almond paste and apply to top of cake, using waxed paper to hold it. Press in place and peel off paper. Decorate as preferred. I used more jelly glaze to stick almonds and glacé cherries in place.

Especially good (says R) when accompanied by a piece of sharp cheese à la mode de Yorkshire
Wensleydale or Cheddar for example

Verdict

Looks like Christmas cake, good flavour but a bit crumbly in the middle. The base and sides cut quite well but the middle crumbles so I wonder if it needed cooking a bit longer. Certainly doesn’t have that pasty taste some GF cakes and breads have. Conventional Christmas cake is cooked much longer at a slightly lower temperature. I cut down the xantham gum by half as the flour I used has some gums in it, maybe it needed to extra. I also omitted the tablespoon of black treacle (North America substitute molasses) and honey as I didn’t think it needed to be any sweeter and other recipes don’t include them Perhaps they would have helped it be less crumbly? I didn’t think a tablespoon of each would make much difference.

Worth trying again (next year!) and maybe risk cooking longer. The texture is not suitable for taking a chunk on a winter hike.

Note about the flour: all gluten free flours are by no means equal. The more expensive ones contain more expensive ingredients like tapioca flour which improves the results and also tend to be milled more finely which also helps. In USA I would use King Arthur Flour gluten free version which gives very good results in cakes but in Quebec I think the best is Angélique. I make my own candied peel because the stuff available in shops tends to be a bit dry and tasteless.

Anna Jones’s maple toffee apple and pear crisp

This is everything I want in an autumn pudding. Melting orchard fruits spiked with ginger and cardamom and a topping that’s half crisp and half crumble, which reminds me of oatmeal cookies. I eat this with thick Greek yogurt mixed with a little honey and vanilla or, if it’s really cold, good hot vanilla custard.

Serves 4-6

  • apples 3
  • pears 3
  • maple syrup 2 tbsp
  • prunes 75g
  • dried figs 50g
  • candied ginger, 2 pieces, finely chopped
  • unwaxed lemon 1
  • vanilla pod 1, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla paste)
  • ground cinnamon ½ tsp
  • ground cardamom ½ tsp

For the topping

  • rolled oats 100g
  • ground almonds 50g
  • butter or coconut oil 100g
  • light brown sugar 75g
  • white spelt flour 100g
  • salt a small pinch

To serve

Greek or coconut yogurt whipped with a little vanilla and honey

Preheat your oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Peel the apples and pears and roughly slice them. Toss them with the maple syrup in a roasting tray and cover the tray with foil. Roast for 15 minutes in the hot oven, then remove the foil and roast for a further 10 minutes until the edges catch and caramelise.

Meanwhile, roughly chop 50g of the prunes and all the figs, finely chop the ginger, and place the whole lot into the bottom of a 24cm round (or equivalently sized) baking dish. Grate over the lemon zest and add the juice of ½ the lemon, add the vanilla and spices and mix everything together. Cover the dish with a clean tea towel and leave to one side.

Make the topping by rubbing the oats, almonds, butter, sugar, flour and salt together with your fingers. It will feel wetter than a crumble topping and you’ll be left with larger pieces of butter, but you should have a very rough crumbly dough after about 4 minutes. Chop the remaining prunes roughly and mix them through too.

When your apples are ready, mix them with the fruit and spices in the baking dish, then sprinkle over the topping. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until deep golden.

I serve mine with some Greek or coconut yogurt, whipped with a little vanilla and honey.

From The Modern Cook’s Year: Over 250 vibrant vegetable recipes to see you through the seasons by Anna Jones (Fourth Estate, £26)

Apple Gingerbread Cake

Elise’s Apple Gingerbread Cake with some modifications by Jean
I think it was originally from Canadian Living

Ingredients

  • 13/4 cup (425ml) unsweetened apple sauce
  • 13/4 cup (425ml) unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup fancy molasses  I use about ¼ to 1/3 cup corn syrup topped to 1 cup with molasses
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon plus ½ tsp each of salt, ground cloves and nutmeg  I use less salt and cinnamon: ca. 1 tsp cinnamon plus 1 tsp mixed spice* and freshly ground nutmeg

Method

Set oven at 350F I use 325F on fan setting

Bring apple sauce to boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat, whisk in molasses and allow to cool but remember it will pour more easily when slightly warm.

Beat eggs in large bowl, beat in sugar, continuing until pale and thickened. Gradually beat in oil until blended.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Stir into egg mixture alternately with apple sauce mixture. Ensure any lumps of flour are properly mixed in.

Scrape into 10 inch (3 litre) Bundt pan. I use a non-stick one lightly oiled.

Bake at 350 (325 fan) for about an hour until edges firm to touch and centre springs back. Fan setting cooks in 50 to 55 minutes.

* Mixed spice is a standard spice mixture available ready mixed in UK supermarkets. The precise mix appears to vary but I would blend cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice and maybe caraway. Some mixes contain ginger but I always have that as a separate spice anyway.

Chocolate Oat and Nut Bars

Adapted from Chocolate Nourish Bars in “gather A Dirty Apron Cookbook” by David Robertson

Ingredients

  • 100g Hazelnuts*
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 100g chopped pecan nuts
  • 170g unsalted butter**
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 300g chocolate chips 70+% cocoa 
  • ¼ cup hazelnut butter*
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp Kosher (ie large flake) salt
  • 17g cocoa powder

Set oven to 350F. Toast hazelnuts on a baking tray until skins beginning to fall off and nuts golden. Transfer to cool plate so skins can be rubbed off between sheets of kitchen paper towel. Put oats on tray and start toasting before adding pecan nuts which brown more quickly. Nuts and oats should be golden. When hazelnuts are cool and skinned, chop coarsely.

In a heat proof bowl combine maple syrup, chocolate, butter, nut butter, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder. Place bowl over gently simmering water and stir until chocolate melted. Or use a heated bowl set to 120F. Remove from heat and add toasted oats and nuts, mixing in with a spatula.

Line a 9 inch square metal baking tin with parchment paper and pour chocolate mixture into it, smoothing to ensure no air bubbles are trapped. Chill in fridge for several hours or preferably overnight. Cut into small rectangles and store in fridge.  NB it is quite difficult to cut – use a sharp knife, possibly run under the hot tap and dried.

I think this would work just as well with mixed nuts.

*recipe uses sliced almonds (and almond butter) which are toasted with the oats

** recipe calls for coconut oil which I used first try but I think unsalted butter will work just as well if not better as it stays firmer at a slightly higher temperature. The butter must be unsalted as salted butter has a higher moisture content.

The original recipe uses twice my quantities and a pan 9 by 13 inches.

Chocolate orange GF cake

NB see the note about the amount of ganache, probably half quantity would be sufficient

** Chocolate orange truffle cake (Thomasina Miers)

A layered cake of citrussy zing and chocolate truffle ganache.

Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Chill 4 hr
– Serves 10 – 12

Torte

  • 2 oranges
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder (gluten free if needed)
  • 3 eggs
  • Candied orange, to top(optional) I didn’t bother, it’s quite enough with the orange base

Ganache try half quantities

  • 300g dark chocolate, plus extra to shave(optional)
  • 3 tbsp liquid glucose white corn syrup can be substituted
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 400ml double cream

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Put the oranges in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes to remove the bitterness from the pith. While these are cooking, line a 22cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper and cover the outside with foil to stop any leaks.

Once the oranges have simmered, take them out of the water, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and put in a food processor with the caster sugar, almonds and baking powder. Whizz for a minute, add the eggs and process for a minute longer – a few lumps are OK. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 12-14 minutes, until pale golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, break up the chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl resting above (but not touching) a pan of barely simmering water. Add the liquid glucose and orange liqueur, and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted, set aside.

Beat the cream until it has slightly thickened (but not so it’s stiff), fold half of this into the slightly cooled chocolate, mix gently, then fold that back into the remaining cream. Pour the mixture over the sponge, tap the tin gently to even out the filling, or use a palate knife, and refrigerate for at least four hours.

This amount of ganache seemed too much and I used only about 2/3 on the cake, reserving the remainder for serving with ice cream as she suggests.

To serve, run a hot palette knife around the torte and loosen. Transfer to a plate and decorate with shaved chocolate, or candied orange.

I found that it freezes well: cut into serving pieces on waxed paper, freeze on a metal baking tray, when frozen wrap in the paper followed by cling film. Store in a box in the freezer. To thaw: unwrap while still frozen because the ganache does not freeze completely solid  and leave at room temperature or store in fridge. 

Home made lactose free yogurt

We have plain yogurt with breakfast every day and both prefer a fairly thick style. I read that making yogurt at home is quite easy and own a KitchenAid heated bowl suitable for its incubation. One of the main reasons for attempting to make it is to reduce the number of plastic pots: two 650g pots per week seems like a lot of plastic which we might be able to avoid.

Ingredients

2 litres 3.25% Lactose free milk

½ cup Olympic Organic Balkan-style 3.5% MF plain yogurt (or Astro lactose free Balkan style)

This yields about two 650g pots. I read that converting milk to yogurt separates most of the lactose into the whey which can be mostly strained out so ordinary milk would probably be OK if the whey is discarded but I use some of it for baking and stir some back in if the yogurt is very thick.

Equipment

Saucepan to scald milk, cooking thermometer accurate around 100C (200F) with probe which can be used to stir liquid, heated bowl

Method

Heat milk in pan to 85C to 90C (185F), stirring while heating to prevent it burning. Leave at around that temperature for several minutes; this alters the protein structure so the yogurt will set. Cool milk to around 45C and set heated bowl to 110F. Pour most of the milk into the heated bowl. Stir the remainder of the milk with the half cup of yogurt and add to milk in the heated bowl, stirring gently to distribute it through the liquid. Leave to incubate for around 8 hours at 110F. The longer it incubates the thicker and more acidic it becomes.

After incubation it is set and could be used after chilling but we prefer it strained. I use an old worn, and therefore thin, linen teatowel but two thicknesses of cheesecloth is also recommended. I line a steel colander with the teatowel and place it over a large bowl before transferring the set yogurt to the lined colander. I leave it to strain for at least an hour before transferring the yogurt to storage pots in the fridge. I retain 2 cups of the whey (the yellowish liquid left in the bowl after straining) to use for baking muffins. It can be used in place of milk in baking recipes as it contains protein.

Whichford pots

https://www.whichfordpottery.com

For a birthday more years ago than I care to remember, but in England so more than 21, we had an outing to Whichford Pottery to look for a suitable present for me and the garden. We came home with three very attractive terra cotta pots which had been made by hand there. The largest was a “second” because it is slightly asymmetrical. Having attempted to master pottery on a wheel subsequently I can’t imagine making something this size.

They survived the journey across the Atlantic and are a welcome feature in our garden each summer; we store them carefully each winter because, although they may well be frost resistant in English winters, they are unlikely to survive the freeze/thaw of our Montreal climate.

I enjoy seeing them in a group; when the deck was larger (before the sunroom was built) I used to have the largest in the corner with the two smaller ones near it. For several years we kept a lovely standard hibiscus with apricot coloured flowers in the largest pot for the summer, moving  the plant indoors for the winter. It eventually became too big to manage and was gratefully accepted by a friend who had a large conservatory/sunroom. The smaller ones I planted with toning shades of Million Bells type petunias.

Since the deck was reduced in size we’ve placed the pots in front of some tall grasses to one side of the grassy area where they form an attractive feature. The biggest pot calls for something tall and structural so for the past few years I’ve planted it with Canna lilies which have orange and red flowers with nasturtiums in the smaller pots beside it. When I was growing and overwintering dahlias I put some dwarf ones in the smaller pots but decided dahlias were too much work a few years ago.

Last year we had another cool spring and the nasturtiums did not germinate well. I had to buy some more seed and have a second attempt so this year (2019) I am experimenting with a different approach: bought pansies in the small pots early in planting season with a packet of nasturtium seed to bring on indoors, for planting out later in the summer when the pansies are over. Mid to late summer it should be a reasonable temperature indoors for the nasturtiums to germinate but hot enough outdoors for them to grow fast. We shall see!