Gingernuts

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Crisp and crunchy ginger biscuits, based on the infamous ‘Gingernut’. These are simple, quick, hard to get wrong, and pack a wonderfully strong ginger punch.

These biscuits came around when I was in need of a quick fix… I really fancied a biscuit, but had very little lying around the house. After a quick, rushed look through the cupboards, I found I still had half a packet of crystallised ginger, and decided I would give ginger biscuits a try.

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Now, I have to admit that I never ate a Gingernut biscuit before I cut out dairy – but many people since have sampled these and tell me they’re even better than the original. The amount of ginger here is not for the faint hearted. By using crystallised ginger and ground ginger, the flavour is unmistakeable, and almost a little on the warm side. I also, controversially, use demerara sugar in my Gingernuts. I love the caramel flavour it adds to any baking dish, and here, it really ramps up the crunchiness.

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Often, I complain that I rarely go back to my good bakes and do them again. I’m always on the hunt for a new recipe to write, and as there are only two of us in our household, we already have a lot of sweet things to eat just from one recipe a week! However, these I can truly say have been the exception to the rule. I have so far made them 5 times since the first trial… and am making them again as we speak! If that’s not testament enough to their greatness, then I just don’t know what is!

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Amaretto & Honey Custard

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The perfect accompaniment for any dessert that goes with almonds; Think pastries, apples, or autumnal stoned fruits. So simple, you’ll question why you’ve not made custard before!

This custard was made to go alongside this Apple & Frangipane Gallette, but honestly would be perfect with many, many desserts! Custard is a wonderfully simple thing to make, but this knowledge makes it ever so slightly dangerous…. you end up in a situation where custard is literally at your fingertips all the time!

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Apple & Frangipane Gallette

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A family sized, sharing pudding made with homemade rough puff pastry, frangipane, and sweet apple compote, served with an almond liqueur custard . All far more complicated than it sounds, this is essentially a glorified apple pie!

You know how sometimes the best things are borne from accidents? Yeah, well this was one of them – an accident I’m absolutely thrilled happened and worked! So, what was this accident, I hear you ask? I happened to have a good portion of un-used frangipane in the fridge (as you do!), and had a bit of a craving for autumnal flavours. Combined with wanting to see if I could master rough puff pastry dairy free, this dessert began to take shape.

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If you don’t fancy going the whole hog and making rough puff, you could easily substitute this for shop bought puff pastry – make the rough puff if you have the time, as I promise it’s so rewarding seeing all the layers of flakey pastry once cooked and knowing you did that! – but I’ll admit cheating with shop bought does help this dessert come together a lot faster.

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The pastry shell looks a little fancy – you could even call it free form! – but is stupidly easy. Just don’t tell your impressed guests! You simply pile the fillings into the centre of a large circle of pastry, and pull in the corners and pinch them together. Wash on a bit of egg glaze, sprinkle with sugar, and voila; perfection.

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The fillings themselves are even more special (and simple) than the pastry. Frangipane is one of the simplest fillings you could ever make (chuck in a bowl and mix kinda simple), and gives any pudding a sweet, intense, almond-y flavour. Hidden under the apple compote, it’s the perfect complimentary companion to the other flavours.

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You could serve this with any accompaniment you like, but this Amaretto & Honey Custard is just perfect.

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Banoffee Muffins

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A mix of two fantastic things – banana and toffee – I am still to find anyone who doesn’t love banoffee! These quick to put together muffins are delicious and easy, and the perfect any-time treat.

So we just moved house – life has understandably been a little hectic, and so apologies that the recipes have been a little few and far between! However, this recipe is a real winner, and only really came about because we moved house.

We were lucky enough to have my other half’s parents come and help us with a bit of DIY just before we moved in, and I felt that a days hard work (on a  bank holiday weekend no less!) deserved a treat. We were purposely running our store cupboards low, but we did seem to have an almost endless supply of bananas and various types of sugar. So out came the idea for a banoffee muffin. Sugary and sweet to keep us filled with energy during the somewhat fun and stressful task of DIY.

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These muffins are deliciously moist and very hard to get wrong. It’s also a great way to use up old bananas that might otherwise be destined for the bin. With a quick caramel sauce for the toffee flavour, and packed full of bananas, it uses such a classic flavour combination that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who disliked these!

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Oreo Cupcakes

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Rich chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, stuffed with Oreo cookies throughout. From a hidden cookie at the bottom of the cake, right through to crushed Oreos in the buttercream, it seems that the only thing to make a chocolate cake even better is a cookie!

Yes… I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and continued this trend. I was too intrigued not to try! What’s not to like about the idea of combining cookies and cake?!

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I still remember when I found out Oreos were dairy free. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel smacked me in the face! Because not only did it mean I could actually eat Oreos… but I also started checking other biscuit types to see what they were made of. And lo and behold, quite a lot of surprising biscuits are dairy free! Take the classic, chocolate bourbon biscuit. Most of them are dairy free! So if you ever want to butter me up (not literally of course), a sneaky dairy free Oreo or bourbon biscuit is the way to do it.

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However, getting back to the point of these cakes – I really was intrigued by the idea of combining biscuits and cakes. Like a good mash-up song, it seemed like something that should really work, and great news – it did! The cakes are typically moreish, and with a soft, vanilla flavoured buttercream, it would have been hard to go wrong. But then add in a crunchy, surprise oreo hidden at the bottom of the cupcake. And add some crushed oreos to the cake and buttercream for little, crispy nuggets of flavour and you are on to an absolute winner!

 

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I can by no means claim to be the genius who first came up with this idea… however, it has left me with a lot of thoughts of what else could we make a hybrid out of…. watch this space!

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Salted Caramel Ginger Cake

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A devilishly dark and sticky cake, made all the better with a considerable amount of crystallised ginger for a bit of fiery kick. It’s even better the day after baking, if you can hold off eating it all at once!

I love ginger. It’s one of those things that appear on our shopping list each week without fail. We cook a lot of asian inspired food, and it’s a quick and guaranteed way of packing a punch quickly. However, despite having it around, I’d never really thought before about using it as a baking ingredient. Having researched ways to use ginger, I found a recipe for a caramel and ginger cake. It sounded too good not to try, and despite being a little bit dubious, I’m so glad I did! It was just delicious.

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This cake is simple to make, with an amazing quick caramel sauce used as both an ingredient in the sponge and a topping. I will definitely be using this caramel sauce again! It gave the sponge a real depth of flavour that can be hard to achieve in quite a plainly flavoured sponge, and the extra wet ingredients kept the it perfectly moist. Then the ginger – crystallised ginger in this case – is roughly chopped and just folded into the cake batter. It is the ginger flavour that benefits from being left an extra day. It wasn’t necessarily stronger, just more consistent across the cake, and the ginger chunks in the sponge had almost melted away.

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Although you could definitely tell this was no diet cake, it’s a treat I can’t wait to have again. For a simple recipe, it packs quite the flavour-filled punch!

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

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A surprise success, you wouldn’t know these chocolate cupcakes have no eggs or dairy in them! If you need a reliable vegan chocolate cupcake recipe, look no further.

I’ll be honest – I was very sceptical of these. How can you have a cake with no eggs? Eggs are an absolute staple in baking, they underpin the structure of everything (deep, I know!) and you’re often taught not to play around with egg quantities and temperatures in concern of a recipe failing. So how on earth can you have a cake without eggs?

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Well, it turns out you can quite easily and without any funky, hard-to-track-down ingredients. I can’t really explain how the below ingredients make up for the lack of eggs, but they do and these cakes still come out delicious, light and fluffy. It’s magic!

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If you, like me, are new to the world of vegan cakes, I will warn you about two things. 1 Vegan cake batter is wetter than a usual cake batter. Don’t be afraid and think you’ve done something wrong! 2 Because of this, you need to make sure the cupcakes are properly baked. Something I would rarely advise, but err on the side of caution and bake them for another minute if you’re not sure if they are ready. As delightful as they are when they are fully baked, when under-baked they can get a little bit pasty. Imagine the texture of a very under-baked cookie… you know how it can have a bit of a mushy texture, and it hangs around in your mouth a little too long? That’s what can happen to these. So – you have been warned. Now… BAKE!

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Orange Polenta Cake

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A delicious, no-comprise allergy friendly bake free from dairy, gluten and wheat. This different texture cake is made with polenta and ground almonds, which really does make an impressive replacement to wheat flour, with the added benefit of tones of flavour. Full of orange zest and topped with crushed pistachios, this is a wonderful light cake perfect for the welcoming the warmer weather.

So, custard season is over! I hear a bit of a sigh of relief all around 🙂 This week, we’re onto something far less risky, although something people will equally question. This is a fantastic, very different, cake recipe, that just happens to be dairy, gluten and wheat free. The texture is incredible; slightly crunchy from the polenta, lighter than you would expect given that it is full of ground almonds, and of course it is packed full of zesty orange flavour.

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This cake would be perfect served for afternoon tea or as a dessert (tell you the truth… we ate it for both!). If I’m honest, I would really have liked a little dollop of creme fresh on the side… but ok… you can’t have everything! If you are not dairy free though, I really would give that a try – it complements both the flavour and the texture perfectly. If you are dairy free, do like me and have a small scoop of ice cream. Sounds weird, but trust me it works.

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I also thought this cake was perfect for this season, for some reason it made me feel so summery – perhaps because of all the pretty bright colours on top – but also the zesty orange hit really made me feel like I was on holiday.

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This cake is incredibly simple to make; pretty much a one bowl mix, pour and bake recipe. I’ve added some chopped pistachios and extra zest on top – it is definitely worth the extra minute of effort. The pistachios are a lovely little pop of nutty sweetness and cut through some of the zest-iness of the cake flavour.

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Hazelnut Meringue Cake

 

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What on earth is a meringue cake?! Keeping all the best features of meringue, but add in a dark, sticky,  hazelnut-y chewiness, lightened by a sweet creme patissiere filling, with refreshing thin orange slices scattered through the middle, and you sort of get the jist… As an added bonus, this dessert is gluten, wheat and dairy free!

This is not a pretty dessert. Despite its fluffy and delicate appearance, it deserves to be smashed to pieces with a fork and gobbled up in seconds. Or at least – that was how we did it! The few lucky ones who got to taste test this recipe quoted it was their favourite bake of mine ever – and coming from them, that’s something! This is especially surprising as this recipe really came about in a funny way; driven by the desire to use up 4 egg whites and half a carton of hazelnut milk, I began really having to search hard for a recipe. Turns out that recipes do not often combine egg whites and milk, but then the wonders of the hazelnut meringue cake came back to me.

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I think this was something I first saw on bake off – and I loved the idea of turning a meringue into something other than a sweet, crispy treat. Although this still retains those things we love about a good meringue, it is also darker, slightly heavier and more chewy – and therefore ever so slightly more like a cake- because it is packed full of very finely chopped hazelnut pieces.

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I have filled the meringue cake with creme patissiere – which is a fancy name for a custard thickened with cornflour. So, as we’ve been practising our custard over the last few weeks, it will be an absolute doddle (which I can promise it will be…as it’s actually easier and much harder to get wrong than custard – the cornflour stops the eggs curdling, so unless you burn it, you’ll be hard pressed to ruin it!)!

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Lastly, buy the best oranges you can and very very thinly slice the segments. By layering these onto the creme pat, before sandwiching the second meringue on top, you’ve created a light, refreshing, fruity cleanser that balances the sweetness of the rest of the dessert. It’s this secret which will keep you coming back for more until it’s all gone in one sitting!

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Filed under cakes, dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free, Meringue

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

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A smooth, sweet and rich chocolate ice cream, designed to kill those Ben and Jerry’s cravings. With hazelnut chunks throughout, and a simple make at home recipe, you’ll be wondering why you’ve not tried to make your own ice cream before!

Last summer I was lucky enough to be asked to hold on to my Mum’s ice cream machine whilst she packed up her house, preparing to go and teach abroad for a while. I could not have been more excited! Homemade ice cream is just the best; if you’ve never tried it, the best way I could explain it is like this – imagine unlimited flavour options, in a sweet, thick, creamy gelato style ice cream.

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Then, really soon after came the Bake Off episode all about ‘free from’ baking. I was so excited! They were making a dairy free Artic Roll, and I began thinking of all of the different flavour combinations they could do… and to be honest, I felt slightly disappointed that almost all of them used coconut milk, and one of the biggest ‘challenges’ they had was trying to cover up the coconut flavour!

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In this ice cream, we’re using hazelnut milk to full effect; it perfectly compliments the rich chocolate, and we’re adding some chopped hazelnuts for crunch. The end result is perfect – as smooth and creamy as a real Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and as rich, chocolatey and sweet too. We cheat slightly by strictly making a frozen custard; full dairy ice cream is made by adding whipped cream to a custard, but in the interest of getting a thick, rich, and smooth ice cream at the end, we’re simply going to just churn it as it is.

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The ice cream can be made either with or without an ice cream machine. I would definitely advise you all to go out and buy a cheap (£20!) machine, where you freeze the container, then pour in the custard, and turn on the motor. However, if I can’t convince you to do that, then you can make this the old fashioned way, stirring the ice cream vigorously every hour for 3 hours as it freezes up. The results are still good, but you will get more ice crystals then you would in a machine.

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Now I’m just waiting for summer; think strawberry and honeycomb, or eton mess ice cream…At least summers not too far away now!

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