Vanilla and blackcurrant sponge

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (February 2016) and taken from the book River Cottage Gluten Free written by Nutritionist, cook and River Cottage teacher Naomi Devlin.

For a nut-free version of this moist, flavoursome cake, replace the ground almonds with 50g gluten-free white flour – the cake will be a little drier, but still delicious.

Serves:  10

Vanilla and blackcurrant spongeIngredients:

200g gluten-free white flour blend
100g cornflour
4 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp ground psyllium husk
100g ground almonds
5 tbsp milk
1 tsp cider vinegar
350g salted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
350g light Muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs

For the filling:

Juice of 1 lemon
350g blackcurrant jam
450ml double cream, whipped until thick

Icing sugar, for dusting

You will need:
2 x 20 cm sandwich tins

Step One:  Preheat the oven to 180oF/Fan 160oC/Gas 4.  Line the base of the cake tins with discs of baking parchment and butter the sides.  Sift the flour, cornflour, baking powder, psyllium and ground almonds together into a bowl; set aside.  Pour the milk into a small bowl and add the vinegar to curdle the milk.

Step Two:  In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together using an electric hand whisk or wooden spoon until light and fluffy (or use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment).  Beat in 1 egg, followed by 3 spoonfuls of the flour mix, beating well between each addition until the mixture is smooth again.  Repeat until the eggs are all in, then beat in the rest of the flour mix.  Beat in the curdled milk mix.

Step Three:  Scrape the mixture into the prepared tins and level the surface.  Let stand for 15 minutes, then bake for 28-30 minutes until golden, springy and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Let stand for 10-15 minutes, then run a thin knife around the inside of the tin.  Turn out the cakes and place, right side up, on a wire rack.  Leave until cold.

Step Four:  Using a serrated knife, slice each cake in half horizontally to make four layers.  Stir the lemon juice into the blackcurrant jam.  Place one cake layer on a plate, spread with a third of the blackcurrant mixture and cover with a third of the whipped cream.  Repeat twice, placing the prettiest cake layer on top.  Sift a little icing sugar over the top and serve.

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Nectarine & Polenta Upside-Down Cake

This recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine – August 2015

Nectarine and Polenta upside down cakeThis cake, with an upside-down topping and moist, sandy texture, this charmingly retro cake is naturally gluten-free.  If you’re baking for someone who is sensitive to gluten, make sure to use gluten-free baking powder.

Serves:  6-8

Ingredients:  For the Sponge: 120g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing; 125g caster sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 75g ground almonds; 75g fine or ‘quick cook’ polenta; finely grated zest of 1 lemon; 1 tsp baking powder; pinch salt

For the Topping: 2 medium nectarines – or equal quantity of other stone fruit – skin on, stones removed; 75g light Muscovado sugar; juice of half a lemon

Step One: Preheat the oven to 190oC. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin with butter and line the bottom with baking parchment.  Generously grease the parchment with butter too.  It’s best not to use a loose-bottomed tin here, but if that’s all you have, tightly wrap a double layer of foil around the outside of the base to prevent juices escaping.

Step Two: Quarter the nectarines and cut them into thin slices.  Toss with the sugar and lemon juice, then arrange in a single layer, slightly overlapping, round the bottom of your tin.  Scrape any excess sugar syrup over the top.

Step Three: To make the sponge, cream butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.  Fold in the almonds, polenta, baking powder, lemon zest and salt.

Step Four: Spoon the batter over the nectarines, smooth the surface with a spatula, then tap firmly on the work-surface to remove any bubbles.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until risen and golden.

Step Five: Remove the cake from the oven, run a sharp knife around the edge, then leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Ultimate Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut cream pieThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Serves:  6-8   –   Prep time:  35 mins plus time to chill filling   –   Cook time:  20 mins

Ingredients:  400g (13oz) Hobnob biscuits; 75-100g (2 ½ – 3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, melted; 500ml (16 fl oz) double cream; 50g (1 ¾ oz) icing sugar; ½ tsp vanilla extract; 1 shot (30ml / 1 fl oz) of Malibu liqueur (or more)

To Decorate: Soft shredded coconut, such as Baker’s Angel Flake (do not replace with dessicated coconut), toasted; Dark chocolate, melted; White chocolate, melted

Coconut Pastry Cream:  250ml (8 fl oz) coconut milk; 50ml (1 ¾ fl oz) coconut cream; 3 tblsp caster sugar; 2 egg yolks; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 tsp coconut extract; 2 ½ tblsp cornflour; 50g (1 ¾ oz) unsalted butter

  1. Heat the oven to 145oC (gas mark 1 ½ ).  Grease a 23cm (9in) pie dish.  To make the crust, crush the biscuits to fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter – the amount of butter you need varies.  Squeeze a bit of the mixture into your hand to make a ball.  The mixture should hold its shape, but also fall apart when touched slightly.  If it doesn’t hold its shape too well, add more biscuits to absorb the butter.
  2. Press the mixture into the pie dish, going all the way up the sides. Cover with a round of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans to the top.  Bake in the hot oven for 12-20 minutes until the crust is firm and dry. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  3. To make the Malibu whipped cream, combine the cream, icing sugar, vanilla extract and Malibu in a bowl and whisk to stiff peaks.  Spread a thin layer of the Malibu whipped cream over the base of the baked pie shell.  Spoon the coconut pastry cream (see below) into te pie and level with spatula. Dollop the remaining Malibu cream on top.  Sprinkle toasted shredded coconut over the top and drizzle with dark and white melted chocolate.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

To Make the Coconut Pastry Cream

  1. Put the coconut milk and cream and half the sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir.  As soon as it comes to the boil, remove it from the heat and set aside.  Place the egg yolks, vanilla extract and coconut extract in a large, heatproof bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornflour and mix thoroughly.  Add to the egg yolks and whisk thoroughly. While the milk mixture is still hot, whisk it into the egg mixture in the bowl.  Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, set over a medium-low heat and whisk continuously until it reaches a boil.  Strain the mixture again into a bowl and stir in the butter until melted and thoroughly combined.  Lay a sheet of cling film directly on the surface of the pastry cream, then let cool.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.  When ready to use, whisk lightly to bring back to a semi-soft consistency.

Shredded Coconut:

Recipe taken from this book:

Apple Bourbon Pecan Cake

Apple bourbon pecan cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Serves: 8-12   –   Prep time: 20 mins   –   Cook time: 70 mins

Ingredients: 225g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened; 220g (7oz) plus 1 tblsp caster sugar; 220g (7oz) plus 1 tblsp dark brown soft sugar; 3 eggs; 280g (9oz) plain flour; 1 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda; 1 tsp ground allspice; 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon; 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg; ¼ tsp ground cloves; ¼ tsp ground ginger; ¼ tsp ground cardamom; ½ tsp salt; 3 tblsp bourbon; 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks; 120g (4oz) shelled whole pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

  1. Heat the oven to 160oC (gas mark 2-3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Using an electric mixer with paddle or beater attachment (or an electric whisk), beat the butter and both sugars until the mixture is almost light in colour and fluffy in texture.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix again for 1 minute.
  2. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, all the spices and salt and sift twice. Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Pour the bourbon over the apples in a bowl and mix.  Fold the apples and pecans into the cake mixture.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Bake in the hot oven for 55-70 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sinking.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

Cake tin:

Recipe taken from this book:

Red Velvet Cake

red velvet cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serve:  8-12   –    Prep time:  40 mins plus time for cake to cool   –   Cook time: 25 mins

Ingredients:  2 eggs; 225g (7oz) caster sugar; 1 ¼ tsp salt; 250ml (8 fl oz) sunflower oil; 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract; 150ml (4 ½ fl oz) buttermilk; 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar; 225g (7 oz) plain flour; 1 ½ tblsp cocoa powder; ¾ tsp red food colouring paste

For the frosting: 250ml (8 fl oz) whipping cream, very cold; 175g (6oz) mascarpone; 175g (6oz) cream cheese; 85g (3oz) icing sugar, sifted; 2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Place the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. While whisking, add the oil in a steady stream until fully combined and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  2. Place the buttermilk, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a smaller, separate bowl.  The mixture should bubble quite actively and then fade.  In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder and sift twice.  Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Add half the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined.  Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk.  Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.  Add the food colouring last and stir until thoroughly incorporated.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Bake in the hot oven for 28-35 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly rather than sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. To make the cream cheese frosting, whisk the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Set aside. Put the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in another bowl and beat until well combined.
  5. Add one third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frosting must always be refrigerated, due to the fragility of whipped cream.
  6. Cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers.  Spread a little of the cream cheese frosting over one layer of cake and top with another layer.  Spread a little more frosting over the second layer and top with the final layer.  Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake using a spatula.
 Red Food Colouring Paste:

Recipe was taken from this book:

Espresso Bourbon Cake

Espresso bourbon cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serves: 8-12   –   Prep time: 30 mins plus time for cake to cool   –
Cook time:  40 mins

Ingredients:  225g (7oz) unsalted butter; 4 shots (approx. 120ml / 3 ½ fl oz) of good espresso; 110g (3 ½ oz) cocoa powder; 200g (6 ½ oz) caster sugar; 220g (7oz) dark brown soft sugar; 2 eggs; 75ml (2 ½ fl oz) bourbon; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 280g (9oz) plain flour; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; ½ tsp salt

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Place the butter in a large saucepan and melt, then stir in the espresso and cocoa powder.  Add both sugars and the eggs and whisk thoroughly.  Add 3 tblsp of the bourbon and the vanilla extra and set aside.
  2. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and sift twice. Slowly pour the espresso mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until well combined.  The mixture should be very liquid.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.  Bake for 28-35 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.  Brush the remaining bourbon over the top before cutting in half horizontally and filling with frosting of your choice.

Cake Layer Guide:

Recipe taken from this book:

Doughnut Muffins

Doughnut muffins

This recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Makes about 22   –    Prep time: 25 mins   –    Cook time: 30 mins

Ingredients:  420g (13 ½ oz) plain flour; 4 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp salt; ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg; 330g (11oz) caster sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 375ml (12 fl oz) buttermilk; 2 tsp vanilla extract; 130ml (4 ½ fl oz) sunflower oil

For the coating and filling:  250g (8oz) unsalted butter, melted; 300g (10oz) caster sugar; about ½ jar of raspberry jam

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease two 12-hole muffin trays.  Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add all the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don’t overmix.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray holes, filling them three quarters of the way up.
  2. Bake in the hot oven for 22-30 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out dry and crumbly.  While the muffins are baking, put the melted butter and sugar in their own shallow bowls and set aside.
  3. Remove the muffin trays from the oven and tip the doughnuts out.  Immediately dip the muffins in the melted butter, then roll in the sugar to liberally and evenly coat.
  4. Fill a piping bag with jam. Push he nozzle/tip through the top (or bottom if you want it to look neater) of the doughnut, up to midway.  Pipe about 1 tblsp of jam inside each doughnut and serve immediately.

Disposable piping bags for filling the muffins with the jam:-

Recipe taken from this book:

Foolproof Carrot Cake

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Foolproof Carrot cakeThis cake is light with a soft texture.  It is based on a simple pound cake recipe, but the butter is replaced with vegetable oil and a luscious cream cheese and orange icing added on top. Make this in a shallow rectangular brownie tin and serve it cut into squares.

Serves : 12   –   Prep time : 25 mins   –   Cook time : 40 mins

For the cake: 250ml (8 fl oz) vegetable oil; 250g (8oz) caster sugar; finely grated zest of ½ orange; pinch of salt; 3 large free-range eggs, beaten; 250g (8oz) self-raising flour, sifted; 250g (8oz) grated carrot (about 3 large carrots)

For the icing: 400g (1oz) cream cheese (reduced fat, if you prefer); 75g (2 ½ oz) icing sugar, sifted; finely grated zest of ½ orange; 1-2 tblsp orange juice

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, extending the paper 5cm (2 in) above the edge of the tin, to help remove the cake later.
  2. Place the oil, sugar, orange zest and salt in an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until well beaten.
  3. Transfer the beaten eggs to a jug.  Reduce the speed of the mixer and, with the motor running, gradually add the egg to the mixture, followed by an occasional spoonful of the flour.  Sift over the remaining flour and gently fold in with a large metal spoon until smooth.  Fold in the grated carrot.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then, using the overhanging baking paper turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, use a hand-held electric beater to combine all the ingredients until smooth and light.  Spread over the top of the cake. Cut into 12 squares and serve.

Classic Fudge Brownies

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Classic fudge browniesDo you like yours fudgy and soft in the centre, or cake-like and full of nuts?  There are probably more variations on the basic brownie than any other chocolate treat. These are definitely the gooey version.  Brownies need no decorating, serve as they are with perhaps a dusting of cocoa or icing sugar.

Makes : 15  –  Prep time : 20 mins  –  Cook time : 25 mins

Ingredients:  300g (10oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (look for chocolate with at least 50% cocoa solids); 300g (10oz) unsalted butter, chopped; 5 free-range eggs; 400g (13oz) caster sugar; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 150g (5oz) plain flour; 50g (1 ¾ oz) cocoa powder; ½ tsp baking powder; pinch of salt; 100g (3 ½ oz) dark chocolate chips

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 in) baking tin and line with baking paper (leave a little overhanging the two long sides to help remove the brownies from the tin).
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water).  All to cool.
  3. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for about 4 minutes or until thick, pale and fluffy.  Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and fold in using a large metal spoon, until smooth.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake for 30-35 mins or until the top has formed a crust. It should be firm to the touch but still a bit moist in the centre.  Allow to cool in the tin, then remove and cut into squares. Store the brownies in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Banana Bread

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Banana BreadThis cake needs no more than a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon.  If you’re unable to find buttermilk, you can replace it with a combination of half yoghurt and half skimmed milk.  Day-old banana bread is delicious cut into slices and toasted.

Prep time : 15 mins  –  Cook time : 55-60 mins

Ingredients:  210g (7oz) plain flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; ¼ tsp salt; 125g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened (take out of fridge a few hours before you start); 250g (8oz) granulated sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 3 large, very ripe bananas; 120ml (3 ½ fl oz) buttermilk; icing sugar, to serve

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a loaf tin and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric beaters until just combined.  It’s important not to beat the batter to much – just long enough to make it smooth.
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork and add to the mixture bit by bit, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing until combined.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the top of the bread is firm and deep brown colour.  A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
  4. Serve dusted with icing sugar.  The flavour improved on keeping.  It will store for up to 3 days if covered with cling film.