Thursday, 2 August 2018

Gluten free polenta cherry cupcakes.

Getting back into the swing of things with my baking, I've been trying out some tasty new treats whilst re-finding my baking mojo as it were. These yummy gluten free polenta cherry cupcakes are the result of mixing up a couple of recipes and trying something new.

I've already praised the tasty joys of adding polenta to gluten free cakes and this tasty bake is no exception. With a tasty bit of crunch added to the cupcakes, alongside a yummy hidden cherry center.

They are a little time consuming, but worth it. Admittedly, trying this new recipe out did somewhat floor me at one point – looks like I've still got a long way to getting my health back on track – so I'll be taking it easy for a while before trying any out more adventurous new recipes!

It's been worth the effort though, as the end result is a truly scrumptious batch of cupcakes. The cupcake base itself works great for a basic gluten free cupcake too! 

Ingredients (make 12 cupcakes)
150g dairy free margarine
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
120ml dairy free buttermilk*
150g gluten free self raising flour
50g fine polenta
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

For the cherry filling
100g fresh cherries (de-stoned weight)
80g honey
4 tbsp lemon juice

For the frosting
120g dairy free margarine
240g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
fresh cherries to top


Pre heat your oven to 190c/180c fan/gas mark 5. Line a cupcake tray with cases. 

Cream together the dairy free margarine and caster sugar till pale and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time and mix.

Sift in the gluten free self raising flour a little at a time and blend, adding the xanthan gum and polenta in to mix.

Finish off by adding the dairy free buttermilk* - to make this simply add 1 tsp of lemon juice to 120ml of dairy free milk prior to baking and mix then set aside till needed. Stir well to mix.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcakes cases and bake for 20-25 minutes till risen and golden – in my fan oven these took 20 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before placing on a wire rack to cool down.


Whilst the cupcakes cool make the tasty cherry filling for your cupcakes. It's a little like a tasty cherry and honey jam that will sit in the center of your cupcakes.

Slice the cherries into halves once de-stoned and place in a small pan with the honey and lemon juice. Stir to mix, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  
Turn the heat up and bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to stop the mixture from sticking to the pan – the mixture will start to form into bubbles, turning darker and glossier when it's ready.

Take the pan off the heat and pour the jam into a dish, set it aside to cool down before placing in the cupcakes.


Once the tasty cherry jam filing has cooled down start to cut out a section on each cupcake to place this inside. A simple cupcake corer will work perfectly, if you don't have one of these though you can use a knife to cut out a small section from the center of the cupcake. You'll want it to be large enough that a tsp of filling will fit inside (see above picture). 

Place a tsp of filling inside the cored section of each cupcake, and place the cored out cupcake section back on top.

Once filled, set aside whilst you make your frosting to top each cupcake.
Whisk together the dairy free margarine with half of the icing sugar till fully blended. Then sift in the remaining icing sugar and whisk well.

Add the vanilla extract, then whisk for 2-3 minutes till blended. If you find the frosting a little too stiff at this stage, simply add 1 tsp of dairy free milk to loosen and whisk.
  
Place a nozzle inside a piping bag (this can be any you prefer), then fill with your frosting. Pipe swirls on top of each cupcake – to create the effect on mine I piped one full swirl covering the top, then a smaller swirl in the center on top of this.

Finish off with a cherry – this can be whole or a half, whichever you prefer!

Credit where credits due:
Cupcake base recipe adapted from Phil Vickery's “Essential gluten-free”.
Filling adapted from Texanerin Baking.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Adventures in gluten free baking : Cake donuts.

I've been re-discovering the joy of baking during my short break from the blog, trying out different gluten free recipes and finding some scrumptious new treats that I didn't realise I'd missed so much.

Turns out a break from the blog was much needed, I'd been through a lot in the past two years and even more before then, which eventually led to my coeliac diagnosis late last year. A lifetime of dietary problems and it was finally solved!


You'd think that finally getting the answer to all your problems would fix things, but it's been more of a struggle than I'd initially admit adjusting to life without gluten. Being lactose intolerant on top of it all has made things even more difficult, I'd have hoped that taking the approach of making things myself when the pre made, shop bought cake-y alternative wasn't always available would have made things easier, but it was more of a struggle at first – not to mention worrying about it being “picture perfect” to share on this blog.

Needless to say, a short break has certainly helped. I've learnt to appreciate the tasty, freshly baked, gluten free treats however they turn out – besides, it's all about how scrumptious the bake is, not making it look as pretty as possible. I've remembered why I started this blog in the first place four years ago, not to make the perfect cake, but to share tasty, yummy treats, however they turn out, making light of the entertaining disasters along the way!

So, long story short, I'm back here sharing some scrumptious gluten free recipes – whether they're as pretty as can be, or just ridiculously delicious.. As I start posting up new treats I've decided to start sharing some of my favourite recipes that I've tried since my diagnosis, recipes that are rather scrumptious that have certainly hit the sweet spot!

Admittedly, I've been sat on this recipe for a while, so it seemed fitting to include it as my first post after my break. One thing I'd really been missing since being diagnosed was a tasty donut - I used to love the cake like chocolate ring donuts at Krispy Kreme – so after kitting myself out with some donut ring trays I had to try a few recipes out to make some scrumptious baked donuts.

These are deliciously stodgy and as the name suggests, very much like a round tasty ring shaped cake. Topped off with a tasty layer of icing and sprinkles making for a yummy treat.

Ingredients (makes 12 donuts – made using a standard sized ring donut tray)
200g gluten free plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
120ml lactose free milk (or dairy free milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g dairy free margarine
200g caster sugar
2 eggs

For the icing
150g icing sugar
lactose free milk to mix (or dairy free milk)
sprinkles

Pre heat your oven to 180c/170c fan/gas mark 4, and prep your donut tins – I used silicone donut trays for mine, placing them on a tray to keep them stable.

Cream together the dairy free margarine and sugar, till pale and fluffy. Then add in the eggs one at a time and mix.

Measure the lactose free milk in a jug (you can use dairy free milk if you prefer, the results should be the same). Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside.
  
Sift the flour into the margarine mix a little at a time, alternating with the milk to mix. Add in the baking powder and xanthan gum with the final measure of flour and mix to blend.
 
Spoon the mixture into your donut trays, a tea spoon helps with this to spread the mixture out in each donut hole. Fill each around half way.

Bake for 12-15 minutes till risen and golden. Then set aside to cool down in the trays for 15 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once your donuts have cooled mix your tasty icing to top each one. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and blend with the lactose free milk to a thick, but smooth consistency, it should just fall off a spoon a little (again, you can use dairy free milk if you prefer).

Pick a donut up in the middle of the ring, then hold it upside down and dip it into the bowl of icing, you'll want to just cover the top of each donut in icing.

Then place the donut with the icing facing upwards on to a wire rack to set, and put your sprinkles on top before the icing completely sets.
  
For a tasty chocolate-y version use 180g of gluten free plain flour, to 20g cocoa powder, adding 1-2 tsp of cocoa powder to the icing for a yummy chocolatel topping! It's a tasty gluten free take on the Krispy Kreme donuts that I've been missing!

Credit where credits due, this yummy donut recipe was adapted from Becky Excell.

Monday, 9 April 2018

A fond(ant) farewell from Cake Porn, for now..

It's been a scrumptious few years running my cheeky little cake blog, but as with all good things it must inevitably come to an end, at least for the time being...

It's a fond(ant) farewell though.. over the years I've learnt so much. Heck my baking has vastly improved as a result of starting this cheeky little blog, as I've gone from a world of baking disasters, to cakes so delicious that I'm often harangued by friends and family with baking requests – yes, even my gluten free cakes!

But it's been a difficult journey at times, especially since my coeliac diagnosis started, even longer when I look back at the health problems that started my long struggle with gluten and dairy... My baking has changed so much as a result of my dietary and health needs since starting this blog.

Since starting Cake Porn a few years back a lot has certainly changed. I've learnt many new baking techniques, tackled the world of yummy free from bakes, and visited some rather lovely, scrumptious cake shops and tearooms as a result of this blog. Discovering some amazing fellow bakers along the way, and picking up some tasty new recipes as a result – not to forget cooing over their yummy cakes...

It's been a long journey, one that started as a side-thought whilst admiring the cakes and cocks background on Sarah Millican's “Chatterbox” one evening – and thus Cake Porn was born! Before then my (mis)adventures into the world of baking were somewhat eyebrow raising at least, every single disaster and hilarious problem that I've looked into on this blog has actually happened to me during my many years of baking.. - we've all got to start somewhere!

Over the years of posting my latest bakes, tasty finds, and sharing some of my favourite bakes for you to coo over on social media, I've come to learn a lot, and I'm certainly grateful for the experience, and improvements that it's helped me to make with my own baking.

But over the past couple of years in particular, behind the scenes it's been somewhat of a struggle keeping this blog going, especially during my long coeliac diagnosis. Blogging about it along the way certainly helped, but there's still been those days where it's just been a struggle juggling maintaining the blog alongside everything else.

Earlier this year, following my coeliac disease diagnosis back in October - I also discovered that I have osteopenia. It felt somewhat like hitting a massive brick wall, and it's certainly affected my dietary choices since. As such I've been baking far less than usual, and struggling to find the motivation to create some scrumptious new treats for this blog, whilst also managing the many changes to my diet that this has introduced.
 

It's not just that though, countless other problems alongside my health issues have made the blog a bit of an upward struggle these past couple of years. I've always managed to re-find my baking mojo as such, but this year it just seems to have gone into hiding.

As such, I've decided for the time being at least, to put this blog aside. I'll still be posting on my Cake Porn social media profiles though - sharing my favourite cakes for you to coo over with me, alongside fellow coeliac bakers scrumptious recipes, and any other yummy finds that I discover. So it's not really goodbye, it's just a slight change for the time being. As I put this blog aside for a while, and concentrate on getting my health back, whilst also still tending to my sweet tooth alongside!



For now it's a fon(ant) farewell, as who knows, maybe I'll be back posting sooner than you think after a much needed break. In the meantime, I'd like to thank my fellow cake fanciers for continuing to follow my baking shenanigans over these past few years - from sharing your latest bakes with me, recommending tasty new places to visit (I will eventually get round to visiting them - promise!), sharing my latest posts, and of course, cooing over tasty cakes with me - it's certainly been appreciated over the years! 🍰

Friday, 16 March 2018

Cherry muffins : Gluten and dairy free.

A great staple bake that's deliciously simple and easy to make. Making for one tasty batch of gluten free treats.

Easy to adapt to use whatever filling you prefer – whether it's dairy free chocolate chips, dried fruit, or even just a tasty dollop of jam hidden in the mix! Simply swap the glace cherries for your preferred filling and bake away. 

This recipe makes a dozen small muffins, or nine larger muffins if you prefer. Simply bake them however you like!

Ingredients
150g dairy free margarine
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
150g gluten free self raising flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
150g glace cherries – chopped

Pre heat your oven to 180/160c fan/gas mark 4 and line a muffin or cupcake tray with cases - if you'd prefer to use a muffin tin without cases simply set your tray aside.

Cream together the dairy free margarine with the caster sugar till pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix.

Sift in the gluten free self raising flour a little at a time - I find that this is a little less messy adding 50g at a time and mixing it in. Add in the xanthan gum and mix.


Then add your glace cherries - dust them in a little of the flour first, then stir in to mix. Leave a few aside to top your muffins before baking.

Spoon the mixture into the cases/tray, then place a glace cherry half on top of each muffin. Bake for 15-20 minutes till risen and golden.

The muffin mixture will rise over the glace cherry halves a little - some may be completely covered, but you'll have a yummy batch of tasty muffins to tuck into!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Pear and polenta cake : Gluten and dairy free.

Since being diagnosed I've been trying out lots of new cake recipes and baking ideas, using polenta in my bakes has certainly become a new favourite of mine – it's so much easier to use than I'd thought, and it adds a lovely texture to the finished bake.

This yummy bake makes the most of some scrumptious polenta, mixed in with ground almonds for a naturally gluten free bake. Add in some pears, and you've got a tasty treat. As much as I love apple cake, this makes for a tasty variation on a ground almond and polenta bake. Is it a dessert or a cake? Who cares, either way it's one tasty bake!

Ingredients
200g pears (approx 2 pears)
75g dairy free margarine
60g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g ground almonds
50g polenta
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp baking powder

Before you start baking this scrumptious cake, start by dicing the pears. Two fresh pears should be enough for 200g - simply half and slice the pears into cubes and set aside.

Pre-heat your oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4, and line a round 20cm cake tin. 

Cream together the sugar and dairy free margarine till pale and fluffy - use whichever dairy free margarine you prefer for this bake.
Sift in the ground almonds, polenta, ground ginger, and baking powder and mix to blend.

Add in the eggs one at a time and mix well. Then finally, add in the diced pear and stir well.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 25-35 minutes till risen and golden, and a cake skewer comes out clean. In my fan oven this cake took 25 minutes.

Remove the tin from the oven, and let the cake cool down before removing from the tin. Why not place the tin on top of a wire rack to let the base cool down easily - you can remove it even quicker then, so you'll soon be tucking into this tasty cake!

Once cooled, simply sprinkle some icing sugar on top to finish, then serve. This tastes great on it's own, or why not try it with some dairy free custard!

Recipe adapted from: Veggie Desserts.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Scrumptiously simple gluten free recipes for the newly diagnosed coeliac.

We've all been there, after that first diagnosis the mild panic sets in that you'll never be able to scoff on your favourite cakes and sweet treats again. You've heard terrible things about gluten free bakes - from the cake that's so hard you could use it to break a window, to the forever crumbly cupcake that turns to dust the moment that you start eating it.. but that's thankfully not always true, there's always a handy free from recipe that will result in a scrumptious bake every time..

Whilst it may seem like too much to take in at once when you first face life without gluten, it doesn't have to mean the end of tasty baked treats. Making the change to gluten free will take time and plenty of practice - all of us will have a disastrous bake from time to time, but it's all about embracing a whole new world of yummy gluten free bakes, and finding your own techniques and favourite recipes to try.

After more than a few failed gluten free cakes and bakes in the kitchen I've come to find my own particular favourite recipes that are handy for a quick and easy bake, as well as being perfect to adapt for a wide variety of different flavours and ingredients.

Cupcakes
Always handy to add to your recipe file for an easy gluten free bake. A simple batch of cupcakes is an utterly scrumptious treat!

For a great starting base for a batch of plain cupcakes, you can't beat this handy recipe by Doves Farm - whilst it may refer to them as fairy cakes, this recipe can easily be used for a dozen cupcakes instead of the recommended 24 fairy cakes - simply just fill your cupcake cases as you usually would!

It doesn't require any specially made blends either, just a simple bag of gluten free self raising flour will do. The recipe is remarkably similar to what you'll already be used to with any standard cupcake recipe, so it's incredibly easy to follow.

This recipe also makes for a great starting point for any batch of cupcakes, it's easy to adapt – I've used it myself as a base for some of my favourite bakes, like these chocolate orange cupcakes. It also works perfectly substituting the required butter in the recipe for a dairy free alternative, it's just a straight swap!

Cake
A classic staple that's always handy to add to your favourite recipes - you just can't beat a tasty sponge cake!

The base recipe is surprisingly simple - just because it's gluten free doesn't mean that it has to be difficult to make! This recipe from BBC Good Food is incredibly easy to follow and doesn't require any special blends or mixtures to bake, just a handy bag of gluten free self raising flour. 

It's great to adapt for a dairy free version too, simply swap the butter for a dairy free alternative and your good to go!

Even classic cake recipes can be made easily with a gluten free version, they're often far closer to the traditional bake than you'd expect. Whether it's a staple loaf of tasty banana bread - made incredibly easily, in-fact you'd probably barely notice the difference - or a scrumptious chocolate cake, with a couple of simple changes making for one rather tasty bake.

Tips for extra tasty gluten free bakes
Once you've perfected the basics, you can start to experiment adding tasty twists and extra ingredients to make some truly scrumptious bakes. Why not try adding some ground almonds in with a batch of cupcakes? Simply swap 50g of flour for 50g of ground almonds in the bake, you'll be surprised with the results!

Try the same with a sponge cake, by swapping 100g of flour for 100g of ground almonds - resulting in a lovely light bake. 

For the perfect rise every time, ensure that you pre-heat your oven first. You don't want to leave gluten free cake mix sat around whilst the oven warms up, it bakes best when placed straight in the oven as soon as you've spooned your mixture in your tin/cases - it's a little thing that makes a huge difference, as I've experienced from several failed bakes myself!

You don't always need to use xanthan gum to stabilize your bakes, but it does help. Over time you'll get used to when you need it with your bakes. Generally speaking it doesn't tend to make a huge difference with cupcakes and cakes, but if your baking biscuits, cookies, or tray bakes it can be a huge help in the mix - ensuring that your bakes survive a day or two before the dreaded crumble sets in.

No two gluten free flour blends are the same - you'll be surprised just how much choice there is when you start baking gluten free! For the first few bakes a basic self raising or plain flour mix is the best to try, such as Doves Farm, or a supermarket own brand blend. I've not found much difference between them, but I have found Doves Farm, or M & S's gluten free flour to have the best results.

A good gluten free cake doesn't have to require lots of additional extras to make it extra tasty - just a bit of practice and you'll soon be baking some scrumptious gluten free treats. Why not try some of my favourite tried and tested recipes here on the Cake Porn blog!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Free from cakes and bakes : A handy, scrumptious guide to chain coffee shops.


We've all been there, you find yourself in a sudden hangry moment with few options to choose from – but where is safe for a peckish coeliac to tuck into a tasty treat, where can you sip upon a deliciously dairy free cuppa without fear of a sudden lactose induced dash to the nearest loo...

These days it feels like negotiating a minefield, but thanks to trial and error over the years, I've put together this handy updated guide to some of the country's most known chain coffee shops to help you along the way.

I'd already took a look at free from coffee shop bakes a couple of years back, but as can be expected with most chain coffee shops, menus have changed, and dairy free options have vastly increased since then. Whilst we are lucky to have more options than previously before, it's still feels like a long slog trying to find out what exactly is safe to eat when you suffer from a food allergy, intolerance, or autoimmune disease. 

There's still plenty of room for improvement with the majority of chain coffee shops, but needless to say, at least some of them are trying to make those changes. So what tasty free from treats can we expect to find on the high street of late?

One of the countries largest coffee shop chains – where your almost guaranteed to find at least one or two within a city centre, Costa, has introduced a small selection of free from cakes and bakes, alongside food on the go, to their coffee shops.

Whilst finding the necessary details about these treats can prove to be a bit of a long winded task, with very little menu options now listed on their site, you can at the very least download their dietary information guide.

It will take a bit of scrolling through to find the options available for your needs, but their guide is thankfully more thorough than other chains – listing items that contain gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts, and plenty more options to negotiate the minefield of allergens.

For fellow coeliacs, a long scroll through will reveal a few options to snack up'ont, including their new paradise slice - a vegan friendly, fruity bake, alongside their chocolate brownie (this does however contain dairy and eggs), and their cherry bakewell mini tarts (these are unfortunately not vegan). Other free from choices are available also, including their fruity crumble bar, granola square, and flapjackshowever, these contain oats so are not suitable for coeliacs, with the exception of the fruity crumble bar which does contain gf oats – however, if like me even gf oats disagree with you, it's best to avoid it.

Snacks chosen, you'll be wanting something to go with your tasty treat, like most chain coffee shops Costa do offer dairy free milk alternatives, with soya milk available for their coffees and teas, alongside the new addition of coconut milk – meaning that you can at the very least sip on a latte. The majority of their drinks can be made dairy free, but it is worth checking the allergy guide for any sneaky allergens in those syrups and flavourings before ordering. 

The next choice up is Starbucks, their choices really are pretty slim, and try negotiating their allergy guide.. it took some effort to even find it at first! 

There's not a huge amount of choice for a free from treat, with their chocolate brownie being their standard gluten free choice – this is however not dairy free or vegan. It also has a tendency to be stacked out in the open near their wheat filled bakes, so maybe not the best option when your trying to avoid cross contamination...

Your safest choice is the pre-packed treats on the counter, usually ranging from a fruit mix, to a dark chocolate bar – both of which are also dairy free/vegan. Milk chocolate coins are also available, these are gluten free but not dairy free/vegan. Your local branch may also have additional choices to buy at the counter – it should go without saying, always check the ingredients.
 
So, with few snack options in choice, your safest bet is to probably take your own snacks with you and grab a drink instead.. but that can still involve negotiating a minefield of problems.. Dairy free milk alternatives are available, with a larger choice of options available than Costa – offering soya, coconut, almond, and oat milk. However, some of the additional options such as syrups/flavourings may not be dairy free, so it's best to check their allergy guide first. Their oat milk is also best avoided for coeliacs, as this has been made with non-gluten free oats as stated in their allergen guide – this does unfortunately leave open a minefield for cross contamination with the drinks making process, so I'd advise using your own personal judgement here.. Personally, I always opt for a cup of tea instead if I find myself at a branch of Starbucks now.. but that's just me!

Next up for more free from choices, is Caffe Nero, their online menus offer a handy allergen guide making it easy to find those safe choices to snack on, whatever your dietary requirements.

For fellow coeliacs, a chocolate brownie is available (unfortunately this is not dairy free/vegan), alongside a vegan option of an apple & blackcurrant crumble bar which contains gluten free oats. Sadly, that's where most of the choices end of late, with an additional snack choice of a dark chocolate bar, dried fruit, or chocolate rice cakes (these are  not dairy free/vegan). 

For drink options as per most chain coffee shops there is at least a dairy free milk alternative of soya milk, however it is best to check the allergen guide as some syrups/flavourings do contain milk. So much like Starbucks, your best option may be a cup of tea with soya milk – this is usually my default choice.

Next up is Patisserie Valerie, whilst they may only have a small selection of free from treats, it is worth noting for fellow coeliacs. With their selection of gluten free cakes in store being a great contaminant free choice – all coming in their own sealed individual packs!

These are sadly not milk free or vegan, but they are worth noting for an additional option if you are coeliac/gluten intolerant.

For drink options, it may not be listed on their site, but some branches do also offer soya milk in store – just ask, I have found one or two branches offering it. Fruit tea blends are also available on their menu, and all of the tea blends can come without milk also. 

Whilst not initially a coffee shop per say, Pret is another option for free from choices on the high street, with handy allergen guides available on their site.

They may have few options to choose from, but they do offer a vegan brownie which is also gluten free, alongside their chocolate coconuty bite, and a sea salted dark chocolate bar (this does unfortunately contain milk, so it is not vegan).

For drinks, much like other chains they also offer soya milk, alongside oat milk – this is however made with non-gluten free oats so is unsuitable for coeliacs. Much like Starbucks, and Caffe Nero, I'd advise going for a milk free tea, or a tasty tropical green tea instead.

Finding allergy info online for other high street coffee shops and chains can be pretty difficult, so it's best to ask the staff in-store at places such as M & S, John Lewis, and Debenhams, which do offer some free from options, mostly being pre-packed cake bars and slices such as Honeybuns, and We Love Cake. Dairy free drink options can vary between each place, but soya milk is usually available at most – as always, do ask the staff if you are unsure. 

All failing, it's not the best option, but I find keeping an emergency snack or two in my bag helpful when visiting a chain coffee shop with friends – sometimes there may be few and far choices for a free from treat, so it's always handy to keep something in your bag just in-case, so you can at least grab a cuppa! Keeping a sachet of lacto-free milk on the go is always helpful if your lactose intolerant - I always travel with at least one to hand! 

For fellow coeliacs, my best option is always Patisserie Valerie for their handy individual cakes, for a dairy free option Costa is the next best choice, alongside Caffe Nero for a vegan option. Whilst, there is still a long way to go for free from options on the high street, it's worth noting that some improvements have at least been made at a couple of places, but it's pretty disheartening to see little efforts made to reduce cross contamination at some chains, so I'd always advise using your own personal judgement when your craving a dairy free latte and a free from treat.