Mojito Inspired Polenta Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Mojito Gluten and Dairy Free Polenta Cake

IWhen I baked the lemon and berry polenta cake I promised I would be back to bake another one and here I am. Once again this was not a planned cake but one that just sort of happened. You would never guess this cake is both gluten and dairy free as like my last post of Raspberry Bakewell cake as it is light and moist.

Mojito poelnta cake

Juicy limes meet spiced rum in this gluten and dairy free cake and it’s all mine I tell you. Concoted with the last remenants of spiced rum so that my husband and I could not argue over who got the last tipple and some little limes I randomly ordered (as you do). I choose to miss out the mint in this cake as I’m not a big mint lover. I am sure someone somewhere will tell me that ‘technically it’s not a mojito cake then’. Fair enough, add a sprig of mint for decoration on the top and get over it I say as life is too short! This cake keeps beautifully and the depth of flavour increases over a few days as the rum truly soaks into the moist cake.

Mojito Polenta Cake
Life’s little coincidences

The voice of synchronicity is still going strong last weekend my Husband and my mobile phones both signalled a message at 08.30. Thinking that someone must have sent us both the same message I thought no more of it and went back to sleep. It turned out the messages were both from different people (who do not know each other) and one message was to sadly tell us of a death and the other a birth. A true reminder that life’s never-ending cycle is certainly evident. So I got up and baked this cake and pondered for a while.

Mojito polenta cake

Coincidence Number 2

Whilst still pondering I posted a picture of this cake using instagram. Later that day one of my followers on twitter spotted it and asked me kindly for the recipe for her next Clandestine Cake Club meeting. I thought she may live somewhere in the South so I asked where it was out of curiosity. It turned out that that we both live the same town. I mean what are the odds of that out of all the invisible people on twitter? She also kindly asked me if I would like to go and offered me a lift. So perhaps I am destined to actually go to a cake club after all?

Mojito polenta cake

Whatever conicidences happen ahead and I know they will I’d just like the universere to know that I’m ready, armed with cake and I have a 1950′s Kenwood stand mixer on stand by just waiting to soothe any trouble.

Mojito Polenta Cake

Recipe (adapted from Doves Farm)

120g sunflower oil
150g caster sugar
3 eggs (room temperature)
75g ground almonds
1/s tsp gluten-free baking powder
2 limes – grated rind and juice
75g Polenta (quick cook fine grain variety)
50g granulated sugar ( for the sugar syrup) and a tad more for sprinkling
40ml of spiced rum (20 ml for the cake and 20ml for the sugar syrup)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 170°C/Fan150°/325°F/Gas 3
2. Grease a 18cm/7”cake tin and line with baking parchment or greaseproof.
3. Beat oil, eggs and sugar together for 3 mins
4. Mix in the ground almonds and baking powder until fully combined.
5. Stir in all grated lime rind and juice of one lime – reserve the rest for the sugar syrup.
6. Add 20ml of spiced rum
7. Stir in the polenta.
8. Spoon mixture into cake tin.
9. Bake for approx 40/45 minutes on the middle shelf
10. Allow to cool in the tin.
11. Add the juice of the remaining lime into a saucepan with 50g sugar and 20ml of spiced rum.
12. Boil gently, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes to form a thick syrup.
13. Make holes in the cake with the cake tester or a skewer and pour syrup over the cake
14. Allow to cool before removing from the tin. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sugar and finish with a sprig of mint if you wish!

Storage

This cake is very moist and will last in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You might also like my Lemon and berry polenta cake. or wish to read more about gluten free baking.

Props: Rainbow bunting (Folksy £20), Cake stand – Wilkinsons £8 and heart band made with paint cards (free from DIY stores) punched with a heart shaped punch and stapled onto ribbon.

Enjoy!

7 tips for Gluten Free Baking (GF)


So you have been nominated to make a cake for a gathering and then someone says to you ‘hey can you make it gluten free?’.  You get sweaty just thinking about it, I mean gluten free – what is that?  You wonder how you are going to create a cake without flour but somehow find yourself nodding at the same time – well it is rude to say no.  If gluten free baking is something you have not done before you know that hours of internet research is ahead of you .  Where do you even start? Well you read on and find out…

Understand what Coeliac is (taken from coeliac website)

“Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac, spelt celiac disease in other countries) is an autoimmune disease. Gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye triggers an immune reaction in people with coeliac disease. This means that eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine. Other parts of the body may be affected.”

It is very limiting to be on a gluten free diet especially when out socialising as you have no control over what has gone into the food and eveything can potenitally be the gluten devil.  Wheat free is generally a food intolerance but coeliac (gluten free) is an autoimmune disease.  Do not think that a person who is Coeliac (GF) will eat be OK eating a bit of gluten every now that they might be a bit ill but they’ll be alright.  Gluten can have a very damaging effect on their intenstines in the long term and cause complications such as infertility, osteoporosis and bowel cancer.  Once diagnosed like an alcoholic they have to avoid gluten for life as this is the only way to control it and even one bit of gluten can upset the stomach and intenstines for day and out them back to square one.

My Top Gluten Free Bakes

I was recently invited to attend an overdue gathering of friends when I got that request for gluten free cake so I set to work to meet the challenge so nobody felt they were missing out.

1. Firstly I started with toffee crisp bars.  These always work well , requitre little effort and everyone lovesthem.  Do check the ingredients of the toffee and marshmallows (made from corn) you buy. If you wnat to cover them in chocolate you will need a gluten free chocolate. Most chocolate is GF (good ones) but some do use it- Nestle chocolate is GF where as Cadburys has been reclassified as having a very low gluten content. I made the toffee crips as a tray bake in a 20cm tin rather than moulds like below for speed. Final tip on that – use a wet wooden spoon to press it down into the tin!

2. A rather dodgy looking but yummy chocolate cherry cola cupcakes was made by my Son and Husband. Note: Cola and GF flour do not like each other!

3. I made fruit alternative as the choclate base was already covered with a zesty lemon polenta cake with fresh berries to satisfy all tastebuds. Polenta is a GF grain and this is more of a dessert cake with a satisfying texture that I really enjoyed.

4. My naughty hot chocolate fudge sauce is also gluten free and we poured it over vanilla ice cream again watch out fo rice -cream but there are some very gluten free varities and I swear by Swedish Glace which I know Saisnbury does stock as it is delicious. When using cocoa in a recipe as always with gluten free baking be vigilant check as it can contain cereals and starch which are a no no.  I use Green and Blacks 70% Cocoa which is GF. Nestle also offer GF cocoa and hot chocolate powders that you can use and are easy to get.

I can tell you now it is worth the effort as anyone on a strict GF diet will love you forever if you make them cake as some varieties in supermarkets are not always that nice and can be very expensive.  To help you understand more here are some general guides as to what coeliacs can and can’t eat. There are many other recipes out there that involve alternative flours but if you are not following a GF diet here are my top tips to adapt a favourite recipe you already have:

1. Use 1 tsp of xantham gum in cakes stops them from being too crumbly in texture which is notorious in gluten free cakes especially ones that don’t have lot’s of moisture in them e.g victoria sponge.

2. Gluten free cakes can be quite dry so don’t be afraid to add extra moisture. Into a 20cm cake I will normally add an extra 1 – 2 tbs of milk, water or fruit juice (depending on the flavour of cake).

3. Subsitute any ordinary wheat / gluten based flour with a gluten free flour alternative these are available in plain and self-raising. In my own experience Doves farm is my favourite but there are others. You can easily adapt the same recipe you love this way.

4. For fail safe baking and first attempts – go for moister cakes like carrot, coffee or fruit as in my expereience they tend to work better and will not have that gluten free taste twang that you can sometimes get with a vanilla sponge.

5. Check your baking powder is gluten free – I only use this type anyway so that I do not get the wrong one by accident.

6. Icing sugar (by Silver Spoon) is gluten free so you can still use this to make buttercream icing.

7. Watch out for starch (check what sort it is – potato is OK but see tip 7). Corn is OK, wheat must be avoided and oats are ad odd one.  Manufacturers seem to process oat goods in the same spaces as wheat ones therefore cross-contaminating them so my advice is if it it does not clearly state gluten free then don’t use it. If in doubt check the manufacturers website but for the best list of ingredients to avoid click here - once you see the list you will soon start to realise just how limiting a GF diet is and how they sneak naughty gluten into most our food.

Make someone’s day who is GF and bake them a cake.

Hope that helps so you never have to sweat again :)

Lemon and Berry Polenta Cake (Gluten Free)


Zesty, lemon sugar syrup the slight crunch of polenta coupled with juicy berries gives a refreshingly different dessert cake.  Serve with oodles more berries and cream and you have yourself a mighty fine pudding. This cake uses fine grained polenta (quick cook) which as an added bonus makes it a gluten-free cake so you get all the taste but without the gluten gunk.  I have not said I love you to a cake yet but this is a surprising contender and definitely on my bake again list.

Four lemons go into the cake and the juice – yes four of them!  So expect a citrus hit which is great as I love lemons but it is not too sour just right in my opinion.  In my tutor group leavers speech I told them ‘If life gives you free lemons - say hey - free lemons!’ OK so they did not get my meaning either but maybe one day they will realise that free lemons = great cake. Nom nom.

I added berries for more flavour and texture.  Yes I admit they were frozen ones as we are not quite in strawberry and blueberry season yet but don’t knock frozen fruit as it tastes better than some of the out of season water filled varieties.

Do you know why I like this cake so much? 

Quite simply it was quick to make, simple, tasted great and when I went to take the photographs it was about to rain as the dark grey clouds were gathering.  This meant instead of spending countless hours getting the pictures right to fulfil the perfectionist streak in me I was challenged to just shoot the images as it was.  I love the pictures  and just like the cake they were no fuss but a great result.  Finally something that required not much effort!

Lemon Berry Polenta Cake

I took this cake as part of a set of gluten-free goodies to a university reunion and it was very happily received so I promised my newly diagnosed coeliac friend that I would do a post on gluten-free baking – more on that to follow.

What surprised me the most about our PGCE gathering (teaching qualification) was that I am the only person still in teaching!  What does that say about the profession I wonder?  Also on a sadder note apparently I am only a quarter of the bubbly person I used to be perhaps that is the result of still being in teaching I wonder.  Cue mid-life crisis….

Recipe (adapted from Doves Farm)

150g soft room temperature butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs (room temperature)
75g ground almonds
1/s tsp gluten-free baking powder
4 lemons – grated rind and juice
75g Polenta (quick cook fine grain variety)
50g granulated sugar ( for the sugar syrup)
200g berries of your choice

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 170°C/Fan150°/325°F/Gas 3
2. Grease a 20cm/8”cake tin and line with baking parchment or greaseproof.
3. Beat butter and 150g sugar together until pale and light(about 5 mins).
4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
5. Mix in the ground almonds and baking powder until fully combined.
6. Stir in all the grated lemon rind and juice of two lemons – reserve the rest for the sugar syrup.
7. Stir in the polenta and then the berries.
8. Spoon mixture into cake tin.
9. Bake for approx 40/45 minutes on the middle shelf
10. Allow to cool in the tin.
11. Add the juice of the remaining 2 lemons into a saucepan with 50g sugar.
12. Boil gently, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes to form a thick syrup.
13. Make holes in the cake with the cake tester or a skewer and pour syrup over the cake
14. Allow to cool before removing from the tin.

Storage

This cake is very moist and will last in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  Generally gluten free cakes do not last as long as regular cakes – so more excuse to get one and eat it!

Enjoy!   Coming up next – 7 tips on gluten free baking and the turkish temptress layer cake (pay day cake 3!)

7 Reasons to Love DIY Granola with Adaptable Recipe


This post will not beat you around the face with yet another recipe for granola as there are millions online and why reinvent the wheel?  What this post does share with you is my own chart that I made which is easy to use to make your own adapatable Granola easily with anything you have to hand.  With this simple formula you will be able to choose your own Granola destiny with the blink of any eye.

Granola recipe

Granola is beautifully packaged clusters of oaty breakfast cereal that shout out at you from the supermarket aisle.  They lure you in with their tantalizing oaty flavours but leave you taking a sharp intake of breath when you see the price attached to it and back on the shelf it goes (maybe next time).

Granola recipe

Top 7 Reasons to Love DIY Granola:

1. It is far cheaper to make your own Granola while you do have to buy quite a few ingredients to start with, you will be able to make far more from it.
2. You are in control of your Granola destiny so if you wnat more of this or that go for it.
3. You can experiement with a dash of this and blob of that – no more best fit granola flavour for you. This also means you can flavour it so the rest of the family avoid it if you’re clever.
4. You can use the granola for many other things like topping muffins, puddings and I used it to make granola bars (post on its way soon).
5. It looks beautiful in a jar and has no powdered bits at the end (like boxed cereals).
6. The house smells fresh and oaty when it is baking.
7. It requires very little effort that it makes you wonder why they charge so much?

Adapting a Granole Recipe
I discovered that once you have the main ingredient ratios for Granola this frees you up to get creative and change the recipe to suit your mood, what is in season or in the cupboard.  From searching 100′s of granola recipes and reading all the comments to see what worked and what did not I made a visual Granola chart summarising it for myself and thought I would share it with you:

Granola Recipe Chart

Sadly my family also seem to have suddenly taken a liking to my Granola and especially the bars I made with it (post to follow) and I think I am going to have to make another batch.  Not that I mind as normally they would not put an oat into their mouths unless it’s baked with golden syrup, butter and sugar.  My son has an adversion to breakfast, anything remotely healthy and baths so at least this recipe solves two of three of those problems.   Which just leaves me to wonder what can I put in it next time that they do not like? Hmmmmm….

Granola recipe

Basic dry ingredients (for those of you who can’t see the chart)

200g combination of dried fruit
100g combination of seed / nuts
450g combination of rolled oats and any other cereal
100g sugar
1 pinch salt

Basic wet ingredients

150 ml syrup / honey – used as the binding agent
2 tbsp oil (non flavoured – sunflower works well)
150 ml fruit juice or Bramley apple sauce works very well – this is also used as the binding agent

Designing your own muesli (just a few ideas)
Pick and Mix Flavourings – vanilla extract, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg etc
Seeds – sesame, pumpkin, poppy, flax etc
Nuts – brazil, pistachio, almond, hazelnut – for best flavour toast them in the oven for a few minutes
Fruit – cranberries, blueberries, cherries, dates, apricots, mango, pineapple,sultanas, coconut etc
Cereals – always used rolled oats, add any other cereal like bran, rice puffs,  etc
Syrups – honey, acacia (lighter taste) golden syrup, maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup (less sugar rush)
Sugar – brown, normal, muscavado, vanilla sugar or a combination
Treats – chocolate chunks, fudge pieces etc

What I used – Recipe (if you really want one. However it is mianly here so I can remember!)

450g rolled oats
100g sesame seeds
100g sunflower seeds
3 tsp homemade vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
100g flaked almonds
200g dried fruit (add after cooking)
2 tbs sunflower oil
150g Bramley apple sauce
150 ml acacia honey and maple syrup (I used half and half)
100g homemade vanilla sugar
pinch salt

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 160/ Gas 3 / 140 fan.
2. Line 2 baking trays (at least a 1 inch side.) with greaseproof paper / baking parchment
3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (do not add the fruit – add this after baking)
4. Add all the wet ingredients and stir well to combine fully, pour into trays evenly
5. Bake for 50 mins use a spoon to turn over the granola every 10 minutes to prevent burning
6. You are aiming for a light golden colour to your finished Garnola.
7. Leave to cool, add fruit and pour into a large airtight container or jar.
8. Makes enough for approx 20+ servings and I stored mine in a 1000ml preserving jar (which was full and I had about two portions left over!)

Enjoy the smugness in the morning! x