Monthly Archives: February 2015

Carrot Cake (Gluten, Wheat and Dairy free – no one will know the difference!)

IMG_2214 Carrot cake is the marmite of cakes – people either love it or they hate it. I’m a strange one, a carrot cake convert we might say. I never used to like it (perhaps I thought all carrot cake tasted very carrot-y?) but was 100% converted by this recipe. It is now one of my go-to’s if I fancy making a quick cake.

Even better, I think I’ve really cracked making a cake gluten, wheat and dairy free without people being able to tell. I can boldly say this as I did quite a few taste tests on people at work and no one could tell the difference. I have a colleague who is unable to eat gluten or wheat, so often I’ve been put off bringing my baking to work knowing how it feels to be the one missing out. However, I thought this would be a great recipe to attempt switching the flour for an alternative because, as far as cakes go, carrot cakes have a relatively low amount of flour in them as they are also held together by the carrot. I used Doves Farm’s gluten and wheat free self raising flour and I have to say I was pleased and amazed at the results. I will definitely be making them again and trying some different cake recipes with the flour.

This carrot cake has an interesting mix of ingredients, but do give it a try as they work perfectly together. The sultanas are bursts of sweetness throughout the cake, a good contrast to the crunch of the walnuts; and the coconut, cinnamon and nutmeg compliment the sweet carrot flavour to make the cake very aromatic.

The recipe also calls for quite a lot of carrots, so choose your carrots carefully based on how carrot-y you like your carrot cake. It is quite simple… If you want a stronger carrot flavour, use fresh carrots – the lovely bright orange juicy ones. If you don’t want a very carrot-y carrot cake, use older carrots – the slightly duller in colour and drier ones. Like I said, simples! IMG_2220 Continue reading

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Filed under cakes, Gluten Free

Chocolate Truffle Cake

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Deliciously rich, moist and intense chocolate cake with a hazelnut truffle buttercream filling and covered in chocolate ganache, it’s perfect for any special occasion. No one will ever believe this is dairy free!

Is there any cake as universally loved as chocolate cake? Certainly not in my experience, and what’s wonderful about chocolate cake is the huge variety you can make. A chocolate cake can be light, sweet and perfect for an afternoon treat or it can be rich, dark and decadent. This cake without a doubt falls into the second category.

The chocolate sponge gets its depth of flavour and soft texture from some surprising ingredients – melted chocolate, coffee and coconut yoghurt. The chocolate and coffee provide the intense chocolate flavour – be sure not to skip the coffee, you really can’t taste it but it helps bring out the chocolate flavour like nothing else. The coconut yoghurt is added to help the cake stay soft and moist and it provides a slightly tangy unsweet flavour which works well in such a rich cake. You could use any type of plain non dairy yoghurt but I preferred coconut. You can’t taste the coconut flavour, but it provides the tang of normal yoghurts which I find most non dairy yoghurts lack.

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The hazelnut truffle buttercream filling has to be one of my favourite things about this cake and no words will do it justice. Naughtily smooth, sweet and chocolatey but less rich than the ganache, it is the perfect filling to provide sweetness to the rest of the cake. It’s called ‘truffle’ filling because you could refrigerate this buttercream and when cold, spoon it into little truffles… Not that I did that of course…

To finish off the cake I’ve covered it with chocolate ganache and chopped roasted hazelnuts. Ganache is just chocolate and cream but it makes the perfect cover for a special occasion cake, shiny and smelling divine it makes the cake irresistible to all… even to those rare people who say they don’t like chocolate cake!

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Blueberry Pancakes – Perfect for Pancake Day!

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Light, fluffy American style pancakes bursting with blueberries, served with lashings of maple syrup.

I love pancakes. There – I’ve said it. I love pancakes! And although I’ve done this post specifically in time for Pancake Day (Tuesday 17th Feb 2015), I really don’t believe that pancakes should be reserved for only one day of the year. These are my favourite Sunday breakfast and they also double up as a great store-cupboard dessert for when you are in need – just add a scoop of ice cream on the side.

The great thing about this recipe is that you really can substitute the fruit and flavours for anything you fancy (Try replacing the blueberries with a pinch of cinnamon and 1/2 a banana thinly sliced) – although blueberries will always be my top choice. In my opinion you just can’t beat the bursts of flavour in your mouth as you bite through a sweet, juicy blueberry.

To top off these pancakes, maple syrup is the only thing to use. Pancakes and maple syrup were made to go together, and the lack of over-sweetness in maple syrup makes it the perfect combination for breakfast. Always buy real maple syrup and never maple flavoured syrup (which is usually maple syrup flavour added to a pure sugar syrup) and buy the best you can afford. The better brands tend to be far less sweet and have a much deeper flavour. I really like Buckwud maple syrup which you can buy in most major supermarkets (and is currently save 1/3rd in Waitrose which is a great deal!).

I called these ‘American style’ pancakes as traditional American pancakes are made with plain (all-purpose) flour and bicarbonate of soda to give them the rise. These pancakes cheat slightly as they use self-raising flour which is a pre-made mix of plain flour and baking powder, but I personally don’t find it alters the taste or texture of the pancakes and makes them even simpler to make.

I hope you all have a fantastically pancake filled Pancake Day 2015!

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Apple & Blueberry Frangipane Tart

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A wonderful dessert for after Sunday lunch – sweet shortcrust pastry filled with almond frangipane and topped with sharp apples and blueberries for a fruity burst. Served with an almond milk custard.

Last weekend we did a Sunday roast for lunch and I thought it was the perfect time to get cracking on my New Year’s resolution for this year – Pastry. Pastry is something I have always wanted to be able to bake as I genuinely don’t think there is anything better than a homemade apple pie, surrounded by pastry you’ve made. That said – pastry terrifies me! Even without the challenges of replacing butter with a dairy free substitute, it is hardly the easiest or most consistent thing to make.

I found this recipe a long time ago in You Magazine, and have often looked at it thinking about how much of an achievement it would be to make this with homemade pastry. Last weekend the time felt right to try – and I’m pleased to say it worked fantastically! The only addition I have made to the recipe is to add more blueberries and rather than just sprinkling them on top of the tart, add some in the middle too.

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Frangipane is a sweet almond filling – a mix of butter, sugar, ground almonds, a little flour and eggs – that when baked becomes a light fluffy nutty cloud of goodness… it’s hard to describe something so tasty and perfect! To serve, I’ve made an almond milk custard. It would be fair to say I am a custard fiend and this custard hands down beats any ready made custard you can buy – dairy free or otherwise, so definitely give it a go.

As a whole, this dessert looks a lot more impressive and time consuming than it actually is. The pastry and frangipane filling are done in a food processor (no processor? Use a bowl and wooden spoon for the same effect), making slicing the apples at the end the trickiest bit – and hardly difficult by anyone’s standards. The only watch out is that the pastry is best chilled overnight (this helps a lot when rolling out the pastry and lining the tin) so a little preparation and organisation is needed the night before.

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Filed under dessert, Fruit, Pastry