28 April 2013

It's Not Sunday Without the Smell of Baking: Coffee Cake

Personally, I think that Sunday afternoons are not complete without the smell of baking wafting through the house- and there's nothing better than waking up on a Monday morning remembering that there's a freshly baked cake to enjoy the next few days to get you through the hard work!
This a very simple recipe from BBC Food that I've adapted to gluten free that produces a moist, light and spongy cake with a smooth coffee frosting to decorate.


225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
50ml strong instant coffee
225g gluten free self-raising flour Doves
1tsp baking powder
75g walnuts (optional)

For the frosting:

125g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
50ml strong instant coffee

50g good quality dark chocolate
12 walnut halves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
Then on a low speed, beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, adding a tablespoon of the flour if the mixture looks like it may curdle. 
Then beat in the rest of the flour, baking powder and the coffee until you have a smooth cake batter. 
If using, stir in the walnuts and then spoon into two greased and lined 20cm/8inch cake tins. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 mins until golden brown and springy to the touch. 

To make the frosting, whisk together the icing sugar, soft butter and coffee until you have a rich, spreadable frosting. Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and using a palette knife, turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack. 
Once the cakes are completely cool, sandwich the two layers together with a light layer of frosting and then top with a generous swirled layer.
To finish, grate over some of the dark chocolate and decorate with extra walnuts if you prefer. 

Serve with a mug of steaming hot coffee and the Sunday papers!


24 April 2013

Mixed Berry Frozen Yoghurt

Over the last few years there has been a surge in the spin-off from your average ice cream parlour: the frozen yoghurt shop.
Companies such as SNOG and YooMoo, associated with clean, fresh branding and innovative flavours, have boomed in popularity. 
It's a guilt-free low calorie treat that tastes delicious and can be topped with all kinds of flavours.
I definitely approve. 
This is a really simple, quick recipe sweetened with honey that is perfect for the kids to make as a summery treat or for a light dessert for a dinner party, garnished with your favourite toppings. 

Mixed Berry Frozen Yoghurt

500g pack of mixed frozen berries
3-4 tbsp runny honey
500g tub of natural yoghurt
A few sprigs of mint
Fresh fruit to serve (optional)
Amaretti biscuits, crushed (optional)

Put your serving glasses into the freezer about an hour before making the frozen yoghurt. 
Put the yoghurt, honey and mint leaves into a blender and whiz to mix and then add the frozen berries and whiz again until combined,smooth and creamy. 
Spoon the frozen yoghurt into the glasses and top with fresh fruit or your favourite crumbled biscuits and dried fruit. 

Original source: Jamie's 30 Minute Meals

Eddie decided to perch himself in the daffodils!

21 April 2013

Homemade Thyme and Rosemary Soda Bread with a Caramelised Goats Cheese and Raspberry Salad

I was recently very lucky to be whisked away to Madrid for a long weekend.
I fell in love with the way of life there, the huge green parks filled with families on the rowings boats in the sun and especially the food.
Everything is so relaxed- they get up late, spend the afternoon having a long lunch full of spanish red wine and tapas and then siesta before meeting friends for a late evening supper and sangria- sounds pretty perfect to me!

I think tapas is  a great idea- it means you get to try a bit of everything rather than ending up with incredibly frustrating food envy when you see what everyone else has ordered!

We had some really delicious tapas in some of the restaurants in Madrid, especially their cured meats and spicy chorizo as well as tangy olives and the best fresh stringy mozzarella I think I have ever tasted!
But one of the ingredients that appears loads in spanish tapas dishes is goats cheese. I've always been a fan of the slight tartness to goats cheese and how delicious it is when paired with sweet caramelised onions or chutney.

So when I got back I had a serious craving for some more goats cheese and thought of this simple salad of melted, gooey, caramelised goats cheese with a raspberry and balsamic dressing with walnuts, all on top of some homemade crusty soda bread. 

This is a very slightly adapted version of Paul Hollywood's recipe for soda bread, recently shown on his new BBC TV series.
If, like me, you're a novice at bread making, this bread is perfect for you as it's so simple and quick to make and doesn't require any kneading or proving time. 

This is because soda breads use bicarbonate of soda as the raising agent instead of yeast and so the bicarbonate reacts instantly with the acidic buttermilk. 
I've added fresh rosemary and thyme to mine but you could flavour it with whatever you wish. 

Soda Bread:

250g plain wholemeal flour
250g plain white flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
420ml buttermilk
small bunch thyme
large bunch rosemary

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
In a large bowl, mix together the two types of flour, bicarb, freshly chopped herbs and the salt. 

Add the buttermilk and mix with your hands till a sticky dough forms. 

Lightly flour the work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Next fold the dough a few times to bring it together but don't knead it. Shape into a ball and then flatten gently with your hand. Using a sharp knife score a deep cross into the bread that will help it to rise outwards and give it its distinctive look. 

Here you can see the formation of the structure of the bread.

Bake on a lined baking tray for 30 minutes until golden brown and then leave to cool on a wire rack. 

To make the goats cheese salad:(for 2 people)

125g raspberries
1/2 dessert spoon caster sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Small squeeze of lemon juice
2 round goats cheeses
Bag of lambs lettuce
50g walnuts
Balsamic vinegar (I used raspberry balsamic)
Olive oil
1 small raw beetroot

Put a frying pan onto a high heat and add in the walnuts, crushed into small pieces. Toast them without any oil for about 3-5 minutes until golden. Be sure to watch them as they can burn very quickly!

Next, in a small bowl crush 70g of the raspberries into a fine pulp using a fork to release all the juices and stir in the caster sugar, red wine vinegar and lemon juice. 

Meanwhile put your grill on a high heat and cut the tops of the goats cheese to reveal the gooey inside. Season them well with salt and pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil and then grill for 10-15 minutes until bubbling,golden and soft the whole way through. 

On your serving plate, top a piece of the soda bread with a large serving of lambs lettuce and the grilled goats cheese. Sprinkle over the walnuts and the rest of the fresh raspberries. Peel and finely slice the raw beetroot and add to the salad and then drizzle over some of the raspberry coulis and a little balsamic and olive oil. 

18 April 2013

Experimenting with coconut flour

Finally the spring sun is starting to peep through my curtains in the morning.
As lovely as it is to be able to walk outside without quite so many layers on, its not quite yet reached that stage for the bold British BBQ or picnic and the cool evenings still call for some slightly more comforting dishes. 

I have recently signed up to a blogging challenge to use as much seasonal veg as possible, reducing food waste and learning to create delicious seasonal dishes with the freshest produce that is available. 

At this time of the year, rhubarb is filling our grocery stores and in my opinion it is one of the best vegetables ever- I mean how can you not like a veg that pairs so amazingly with custard! such a good combination!
And so in order to use the fresh pink rhubarb in season, I decided to make a coconut and rhubarb upside down cake, a gluten- free recipe that caramelises the rhubarb when baking, leaving it soft and deliciously tangy.  

One of the ingredients I've been really keen to experiment with is coconut flour.

There is an absolutely amazing health food store on Broughton Street in Edinburgh that I could wander around for hours- it has everything you could possibly think of from every type of flavoured tea to endless dried fruits and homemade granolas. 
The whole shop is a great inspiration for gluten free substitutes or heathy options. 

They sell so many types of flour- I'd recently come across lots of recipes that used coconut flour or almond flour as a substitute to turn delicious recipes into gluten free variations and so wanted to do some experimenting of my own.

The problem that I find when altering a recipe to gluten free is that a lot of the gluten free flours like rice flour produce a very crumbly texture that fails to bind together leaving you with a rather dry consistency and bland taste. 
Therefore I mainly use substitutes such as rice flour in recipes such as my gooey chocolate brownies that actually turn out better with gluten free flour. Coconut flour, however, is new to me and I was really interested to see how it turned out.

Coconut flour tends to absorb a lot of liquid and so whatever recipe you are using it in, you need to allow for extra liquid ingredients. I purchased my coconut flour from the health food shop but you could easily get some online- I know tesco direct stocks it.

So this is my recipe for a ginger spiced rhubarb upside down cake made with coconut flour. Rhubarb releases a lot for liquid to counterbalance the coconut flour.

To make your upside-down cake:

Approx. 400g rhubarb 
50g butter
200g soft brown sugar
3 eggs
175g lightly salted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
2tsp ground ginger
100g gluten free self-raising flour
100g coconut flour
2-3 tbsp coconut milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Trim and chop the rhubarb into roughly 2 cm pieces. In a saucepan on a low heat, melt the butter with half the sugar until combined  and cook for about 5 minutes until beginning to caramelise. Add the rhubarb and stir to coat. 

Tip the rhubarb into the bottom of a deep cake tin that has been greased with butter and using a spoon, press the rhubarb down until it is flat and covering the whole of the bottom of the tin. 

Measure out the flours, baking powder and ground ginger. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with the remaining sugar. If you have some crystallised ginger in the fridge, you could also add in a dessert spoon of the ginger syrup at this stage. 

Add the flour mixture and mix well adding the coconut milk and vegetable oil gradually. If the mixture is too firm, add a little more coconut milk and vegetable oil until the mixture is silky and falls off a spoon immediately when tapped on the side of the bowl. 

Pour the mixture on top of the rhubarb layer and spread evenly. 

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until the cake is golden, springy and cooked through. 

Allow the cake to cool slightly and then using a spatula, run it around the outside of the cake to free it from the tin and then turn it out onto a serving plate. 

Serve warm with vanilla custard- utter bliss. 

Inspired by : http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/u/upside_down_rhubarb_cake.html

I also plan to try using my coconut flour in a chocolate and goji berry cake- I'll let you all know how it goes and I'd love to hear of any of your experiences of cooking with coconut flour and how it turned out.  X

14 April 2013

Sweet Potato, Maple and Pumpkin Seed Muffins

Ingredients: (makes 12)

1 large sweet potato
125ml extra virgin olive oil
125ml almond milk (unsweetened if possible)
175ml maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
270g Doves gluten free plain flour
2tsp baking powder
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
11/2 tbsp chinese five spice powder
100g pumpkin seeds

I have slightly adapted this recipe from its original in Gwyneth Paltrow's new book "It's All Good" which has some healthy recipes  for those who suffer from a wheat intolerance.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Prick the sweet potato all over with a knife and roast on a baking tray in the oven for about an hour until cooked through and soft when skewered with a knife.
You could also roast another sweet potato to eat for lunch or supper with some fresh goats cheese or follow my recipe for a delicious supper of Baked Sweet Potato and Aubergine.

Leave the potato to cool completely and then scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl, discarding the skin. Using a fork, mash the sweet potato until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and paste, olive oil, almond milk and maple syrup to the sweet potato and whisk them together until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. 

In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and chinese five spice. 
Add these to the liquid mix along with 100g pumpkin seeds. 
Using a metal spoon, fold all the ingredients together. 

Spoon the mix into 12 muffin cases, placed into a muffin tin. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. 

Once baked, cool the muffins on a wire cooling rack and whilst still warm, brush the tops with a little extra maple syrup.

They make a delicious and very healthy breakfast too or toasted with cheese and chutney for lunch!

12 April 2013

Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes

Even if the weather isn't suggesting it's spring, it doesn't mean we can't pretend the sun is shining.
Trifle is one of the most traditional desserts of a British spring and summer. 
Trifle , in my view, is one of the BEST puddings EVER.
Liqueur-soaked cake, homemade vanilla custard, freshly whipped cream and fresh summer fruits sprinkled with amaretti- DELICIOUS.  

These are a slightly adapted version of the Hummingbird Bakery recipe for Blueberry and Amaretti Trifle Cupcakes, fed with dark raspberry liqueur when they're removed from the oven and topped with a vanilla custard frosting and fresh raspberries. 

What better way to create an early taste of summer?

Ingredients: Makes 12-16

70g unsalted butter
210g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
250g caster sugar
210ml whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
150g raspberries
4tbsp Chambord raspberry liqueur

For the custard:

330ml whole milk
3 large egg yolks
60g caster sugar
20g plain flour
20g cornflour
150ml double cream

75g raspberries
50g amaretti biscuits

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Line the muffins tray with paper cupcake cases. 

 1. To make the sponge cupcake, whisk together the softened butter, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl until they form a crumb-like consistency. 
2. In a separate jug, mix together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and vanilla paste.
3. On a slow speed, gradually add half of the liquid mix to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until combined. 
Turn the electric whisk up to a higher speed and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and thick. 
4. Turn the speed back down and gradually whisk in the rest of the liquid mixture. Once combined, fold in the raspberries with a metal spoon.
5. Spoon the mixture evenly into the cases till about two thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch.
6. Remove from the oven and prick the tops of the cakes with a sharp knife. Using a teaspoon, pour the liqueur over the cakes and let it soak through. Leave them to cool on a wire rack. 

7. To make the custard, place the milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. In a bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour to make a paste, adding 1 tbsp of the hot milk to thin if necessary.
8. When the milk has boiled, remove it from the heat and add 4-5 tbsp to the egg and flour paste. Then return this to the pan with the rest of the hot milk. 
9. Bring it back to the boil, whisking constantly and continue to boil for a further 3-4 minutes to ensure the flour and cornflour are cooked through. Then remove from the heat and immediately pour into a tray and cover with cling film. Set aside to cool completely. 
10. After the custard has cooled, whisk the double cream in a separate bowl until it forms soft peaks. Next, add the custard to a different bowl and whisk until it is silky and smooth. Using a large metal spoon, fold the double cream into the custard until you are left with a smooth frosting. 
11. Using a palette knife, swirl the frosting on top of the cupcakes and top with fresh raspberries and the crushed amaretti biscuits. 

10 April 2013

Quinoa Granola

I could sit and nibble Jordan's almond and raisin granola pretty much all day long.
Unfortunately, the granolas I buy in the supermarket contain so much more sugar than I'd like and the "healthy" snack suddenly isn't quite so guilt-free!
Making your own granola is so quick and tastes so much better than shop bought- and this way you also know exactly what has gone into it!
This quinoa granola contains all my favourite dried fruit and seeds but you could alter the recipe however you wish to add your specific flavours. 
Quinoa is a great breakfast as its packed full of protein and will keep you sustained up until lunch time. 
I had also noticed the use of brown rice syrup and coconut oil in other granola recipes and so have used coconut oil along with maple syrup and honey to sweeten mine. 
The coconut oil also produces the most amazing smell in the oven whilst its cooking- like you're suddenly on a beach with a pina colada!


200g quinoa
75g dates
50g desiccated coconut
70g flaked almonds
50g pumpkin seeds
50g hazelnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2tbsp coconut oil
1tbsp maple syrup
1tbsp runny honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
30g goji berries
50g sultanas

Preheat your oven to 110 degrees C.
Rinse the quinoa and leave to soak, covered in cold water for 10 minutes. Then drain your quinoa well and spread over a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until all the water has evaporated.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the almonds, pumpkin seeds and coconut along with the dates, finely chopped. Then put the hazelnuts in a clear freezer bag and using a rolling pin, bash them into small pieces. Add these to the bowl.

In a small saucepan, slowly heat the coconut oil, vanilla paste, honey, cinnamon and maple syrup until the oil has melted and then remove from the heat. Add the baked quinoa to the mixing bowl along with the liquid and stir everything together until it is fully coated. 

Spread the granola over the baking tray again and this time return it to the oven at 170 degrees C for a further 20-25 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the granola is crispy and golden brown. 

Cool the granola slightly on the baking tray and then add to a mixing bowl. Then stir in the sultanas and goji berries. 

Serve with fresh fruit, natural yoghurt, fruit compote or whatever you fancy!