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.

Chocolate and salted caramel tart

Caramel TartIngredients – For the Crust:

250g (8oz) digestive biscuits
125g (4oz) butter, melted

Ingredients – For the Caramel:

225g (7oz) caster sugar
10g (3 ½ oz) chilled butter
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream
1 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt

Ingredients – For the Topping:

100g (3 ½ oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
2 extra egg yolks
250g (8oz) dark chocolate
150g (5oz) butter

Ice Cream, to serve

Step One:  Heat oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Lightly grease a 23cm (9 in) deep loose-bottomed tart tin.  Blend the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed.

Step Two:  Place the biscuit crumbs in a bowl, add the butter and mix well.  Press the biscuit mixture evenly into the greased tin and up the sides.  Chill the base in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove the tart tin from the fridge, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the base feels dry.  Set aside to cool.

Step Three:  To make the caramel, bring the sugar and 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the butter, return to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is a toffee colour.  Pour in the cream and salt and boil for another 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.  Allow to cool.

Step Four:  To make the chocolate topping, whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolk for 4 minutes, or until thick and pale.  Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water), leave to cool for a minute and then add to the sugar and egg mixture, whisking until smooth and glossy.

Step Five:  Spread the caramel over the cooled base and spoon over the chocolate mixture, spreading it evenly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is almost set but still a bit wobbly.  Allow to cool in the tin.  Serve in thin slices with vanilla ice cream.

Tip: A food processor is the quickest way to crush the biscuits for the crust.  Alternatively, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Gingerbread Tree

gingerbread treeRecipe courtesy of Easy Living

This is based on a classic gingerbread recipe.  Cut a tree shape from a thick sheet of paper to use as a template.  As gingerbread softens slightly with storage, make this the day before serving.

Serves:  6    Preparation Time:  30 mins, plus time to cool and decorate     Cook Time: 30 mins
Cals per serving:  745     Fat:  18.9g

Ingredients:  125g (4oz) unsalted butter; 4 tbsp golden syrup; 175g (6oz) brown sugar; 350g (11oz) plain flour; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 2 tsp ground ginger; ½ tsp mixed spice; pinch of salt; 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten; 2 egg whites; 1 tsp lemon juice; 350g (11oz) icing sugar, sifted

Step One:  Place the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Step Two:  Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Pour in the egg and melted butter mixture and mix well.

Step Three:  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step Four:  Heat the oven to 180oC (Gas Mark 4).  Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Step Five:  Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 5mm (¼ in).  Using a template, cut out two full tree shapes.  Keep one whole and cut the other in half lengthways.

Step Six:  Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Step Seven:  To decorate, make icing by beating the egg whites with electric beaters until foamy.  Gradually add 1 tsp of lemon juice and the sifted icing sugar, beating until the mixture is thick and smooth.  Spoon into a piping bag, attach a fine nozzle and pipe decorate shapes on to the gingerbread trees.  Use the icing to stick the whole tree to the base of a plate and then to attach the two half trees, using the icing like glue; you may need to hold them in place with a small object such as a glass while the icing dries.  Dust with icing sugar to serve.

 

Honey and Fig Semifreddo Cake

Honey and Fig SemifreddoRecipe Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Jan 2016) and taken from a book called Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe.

Serves:  8

Ingredients:  200g hazelnuts, or half hazelnuts and half almonds; 7 dried figs, hard stems snipped off, chopped; 3 good-quality dates, pitted and chopped; 2 tbsp coconut oil; 2 tbsp sesame seeds; honey and fresh figs, to decorate.

For the Semifreddo:  1 whole egg; 6 egg yolks; 150g (blue gum (eucalyptus) honey, or whatever substitute you can muster; 300ml whipping cream; 150g Greek-style yogurt

Step One:  Preheat the oven to 180oC and toast the nuts for 5-10 minutes, or until most of them look golden-brown.  Rub the skins off the hazelnuts by wrapping them in a tea towel and agitating furiously.

Step Two:  Place the cooled nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely crushed, but not completely ground – there should still be plenty of chunks left.  Tip the nuts into a bowl, then add the figs and dates, coconut oil and 1 teaspoon of water and pulse until the mixture is like sticky glue.  Return the nuts to the food processor, along with the sesame seeds, and pulse until it looks like gravel.

Step Three:  Take a loose-bottomed 23cm round tin and cut out a circle of baking paper to fit the base, then place the lined base on a large sheet of plastic wrap.  Lift up the plastic wrap and base then drop it back into your tin, so the base is lined with baking paper and the sides are lined with plastic wrap.  Press in the gluey nut mixture and freeze for at least half an hour.

Step Four:  For the Semifreddo, put the egg, egg yolks and honey in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  As the heat makes its way through, whisk until you have a frothy-textured sabayon – it should take about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.  Whip the cream to stiff peaks.

Step Five:  When the sabayon is cool, gently fold in the yogurt, then the whipped cream.  Pour over the base and freeze for at least 4 hours.  About half an hour before serving, transfer the cake to the fridge to soften a little.  Drizzle with honey and serve with wedges of fresh fig.

Scandinavian Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon bunsRecipe Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Jan 2016) and taken from a book called Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe.

Although best eaten warm, these cinnamon buns are good for a few hours after baking.

Makes about 12

Ingredients:  1 tsp active dried yeast; 45g caster sugar; 200g plain flour; pinch of salt; 1 ½ tsp ground cardamom; 1 egg; 40g butter, plus extra melted butter for glazing; 1 egg, lightly beaten; 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus a little extra for dusting; 175g raisins; icing sugar, for dusting

Step One:  The day before, mix the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 70ml lukewarm water in a medium bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in half the flour, ten leave to stand for about an hour, or until roughly doubled in size.

Step Two:  In a large bowl, combine the remaining flour with the salt and cardamom.  When the pre-dough is ready, add it to the flour, along with the egg.  Mix until you have a dough.  Put the butter between two sheets of baking paper and bash it with a rolling pin to soften.  Fold the butter into the dough and knead until fully incorporated, then cover and rest for 10 minutes.  Knead the dough again, then cover and rest for another 10 minutes.  Repeat once or twice more, until you have a firm, smooth ball of dough.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Step Three:  Next day, knock back the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Flatten into a rectangle about 25 x 10 cm.  Brush with the beaten egg, then sprinkle over the remaining sugar, followed by the cinnamon and raisins.  Roll up the dough into a long sausage, like a Swiss roll, then cut into slices about 2 cm thick – you should get about 12.  Nestle the slices into a greased 23cm baking dish or tin, cover with a tea towel and leave until doubled in size, about 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Step Four:  Preheat the oven to 200oC (400oF) and sit a roasting tin on the lowest shelf.  Put the buns in the oven, pour a cup of water into the tin and reduce the temperature to 180oC.  Bake the buns for 10-15 minutes until golden, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  While still warm, brush with melted butter, then dust with icing sugar and cinnamon.

Stollen

StollenRecipe courtesy of Easy Living

Stollen is a Christmas spiced bread originating from Germany that’s loaded with dried fruits and filled with a thick layer of marzipan.  A great gift idea too.

Makes 3 loaves

Ingredients:  75g (2 ½ oz) raisins; 75g (2 ½ oz) golden sultanas; 25g (¾ oz) currants; 50g (1 ¾ oz) candied peel, finely chopped; 50g (1 ¾ oz) natural glace cherries, quartered; Grated zest and juice of 2 clementines or 1 orange; 2 tblsp brandy; 50g (1 ¾ oz) blanched almonds, roughly chopped; 550g (1 lb) strong white bread flour, plus extra for rolling; ½ tsp salt; 1 tsp ground mixed spice seeds from 5 cardamom pods, ground; 40g (1 1/4  oz) caster sugar; 250ml (8 fl oz) milk; 15g (½ oz) active dried yeast; 100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 large egg, beaten; 450g (14oz) marzipan; Icing sugar, for dusting

Step One: Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, peel and cherries in a medium-sized bowl. Add the clementine or orange zest and juice and the brandy and leave to soak for an hour or so until the fruit has absorbed almost all of the liquid.  Add the chopped almonds and mix well.

Step Two: Sift the flour, salt, mixed spice, ground cardamom seeds and caster sugar into the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Warm the milk, add the dried yeast and stir well. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast has formed a thick foam on top of the milk, then add to the dry ingredients with the softened butter, vanilla and the beaten egg. Knead the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Add the soaked fruit and nuts and mix again until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Step Three: Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.  Place in a large, clean bowl, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm, draught-free place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

Step Four: Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface again and knead lightly for 1 minute.  Divide into three even pieces and roll each piece out to the size of a rectangle, roughly 20 x 15cm (8 x 6in).  Divide the marzipan into 3 even pieces and roll each one into a log 15cm (6 in) long.  Place a marzipan log just off the middle of each piece of dough, brush the edges with a little milk, then fold the dough over the marzipan and press to seal.

Step Five: Arrange the Stollen on non-stick baking sheets, cover loosely with lightly oiled cling-film and leave in a warm, draught-free place until doubled in size.  Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).

Step Six: Bake the stolen, one at a time, on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until risen and golden brown.  Cool on wire racks, then dust liberally with icing sugar before packaging into cellophane parcels tied with colourful festive ribbon.  Stollen will keep for a week or so if wrapped well in foil or kept in a tin and is delicious warmed and sliced for breakfast.

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: