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!