The problem with shopping in Hollister as a 30 something


Warning – non cake related post! This is part of my new random funny musings on life section so ignore if you wish dear readers or read on and find out random snippets from my 30 something life.

So my husband declared himself a ‘me’ day and went off windsurfing and I decided on a child free day that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander so I ventured out for a day with me, myself and I. The train was packed to Bath but the drunks on the train made the experience mildly entertaining by yelling out ‘nobody fart’ in the crowded nose in each armpit carriage and the child in me stifled a laugh because that just would’t be grown up would it.

From the train I ventured to Hollister which is my favourite shop despite not being 12 I have confession to make I love it there. I’m not sure if it is because it is dark and nobody can see my wrinkles, the cool surf carefree music taking me back to my youth or the rather alluring man on the bag at the end that even though inside I know he is probably gay but he always does it for me and I clutch my bag with pride as I leave. The last time to Hollister they had the bag with just the male body and no head which was such a treat for me. As my Husband carried the shopping back to the car I said ‘Could you hold the bag a bit higher? No just a tad more – yes that’s it!’ I exclaimed as he held it about neck height and suddenly he had a body to die for- that’s OK right or is that a 50 shades of grey area (more on that topic another day!).

Hollister Bags

On entering a Hollister store in my head my sparkly bits in my hair are transformed to blonde sun kissed highlights and lets face it nobody would know as it is so damn dark in there. I feel at home in there, hell you could be in there all day with the magazines, cool leather charis, tunes, perfumes to spritz in the air and walk through. In this store I am able to mingle with the cool, beautiful people who say Hello to ME! In my defence this has never happened to me as at school I was the ugly child who would often be found screaming inside a wooden desk with the beautiful people sat on top of it laughing.

Hollister staff are so darn happy in there that I found myself contemplating how many times I could go in and out of the shop just to be greeted and wished a great day too? Would I get escorted out and outcast like my School days? Nope I actually managed it 3 times as my luck was in and the bag by the face technique was obviously working. Oh OK there was a different person on the door each time but still I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman instead of a the sad 30 something I am. All I needed to complete that picture would be a Hollister God with his low slung shorts, flip flop’s a flipping as he tends to my every clothing need whilst clicking his fingers to call Adonis, Sutra and Romeo (sigh). They should offer a groupon for that I would totally buy it and gift some too.

The problem with shopping in Hollister when you’re a 30 something is:

1. You have to pretend to be looking for a teenager not yourself.
2. You need a head torch to see anything or at least an iPhone torch app to light up the prices. Personally I pack both and ignore the strange looks.
3. If you forget your head torch you will need to do the charchtersitic ‘I am over 30 signal’ which is holding the garment up to the nearest downlighter whilst tutting loudly at the price for such a small piece of material – young people NEVER do this!
3. Always head for the messy shelves and make like a possessed woman at a jumble sale.
4. If you are over a size 12 forget it – Hollister only make clothes for tiny people and 12 year olds.
5. If you have managed to make it to a 30 something with no cellutlite or stretch marks I salute you. That won’t be many of us I am sure. A word of warning here the short short shortest of shorts (that’s the only offerings in Hollister) you are daring to try on may look good in the specially dimmed lighting but in reality they are not quite so forgiving so give us all a break.
6. The changing room doors are really high up so bear this in mind when you are trying to coerce and wiggle yourself into contorsionist angles to get into a pair of skinny jeans (the largest size available and you are only a 10 normally) the thin young, pretty pre-pubescent people will be able to see your dance and snigger.
7. You will need a pair of shades to protect your eyes from the vampire like shock of daylight as you head outside as your realise your night owl days are long gone and you just can’t cope with the two extremes and end up walking into people whilst your eyes are adjusting.

Excited with my new purchases I also brought something for everyone else in the family basically so I don’t feel guilty because I love them . I had a great day and proudly showed my new bikini to my Husband but when my Son walked in and then held a five minute conversation with my breasts and I realised with some sadness it was time to have ‘that talk’ with him. Of course on heading off to get some clothes on I heard my Husband say to him ‘Don’t listen to your Mother you can have a conversation with girls boobs just not your mum’s cause thats not cool’ tsk tsk Mr Cakeboule you’re supposed to back me up but as I made you carry the bag so high the other day I’ll let you off just once. To end the day I celebrated with a pink lemonade cocktail (click on link for recipe) and watched the icy heart melt (sigh) yes a perfect end to a perfect day whilst they watched football I sat in my far too tiny Hollister shorts that I have to say I will not be seen dead in outside of the house but I am not capable of taking my own advice. Just to freak them out I correctly predicted each goal or fail in the penalty shoot out and then got blamed for jinxing it so I guess I only have my Hollister bag for company tonight ūüôā

Pink Lemonade Heart

Pink Lemonade Cocktail Cakeboule

Love to all x Why no recipe I hear you wonder – hell I have to fit Hollister clothes – enough said!

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Pink Lemonade Recipe (from scratch)


I predict Summer will arrive in the UK with a bang in September when all the kids are back at School and you know my predicton will be right.  Celebrate with pre-prepared vivid hot pink lemonade a natural beauty with no nasty additives.

Pink Lemonade

This drink slaps you across the chops with refreshing fruitiness reminscent of sucking on a lemon and strawberry sherbert sweet.¬† You can’t not smile and go ‘ahhhhh’ when you have a glass of this whatever the weather.¬† The concentrate freezes well so you can enjoy that sunshine in September!

Pink Lemonade

I don’t posses ice cubes trays so I used a heart shaped silicon mould which was just perfect! All I need to do in¬†future¬†is add an iced pink raspberry concentrate¬†heart to glass of lemonade and watch it turn pink. Yes that is just my sort of evening as why watch paint dry when you can watch a bright pink ice cube melt!

Pink Lemonade

The Story (optional reading) I watched the Smurf movie for the first time this week which was not exactly my choice of film but hey ho. It reminded me of a¬†big cuddly Smurf I had when I was little. The smurf with no name¬†was as big as me and I have no idea where he came from but he must have been deemed precious as I wasn’t allowed to play with him (sobs). Poor Smurf was held captive in a cupboard in my bedroom to keep for best.¬† At night I would creep across my bedroom floor very quiet, unlock the door of the forbidden cupboard and just sit there and staring at him not daring to touch. Years later when I deicded enough was enough Smurf needed rescuing from his wooden cave. I bravely opened the forbidden wardrobe but¬†he had mysteriously vanished and I guess as I was a bit old for him by then¬†so he must have been given away.¬†SO sadly I never did get to play with him (sniffle)¬†I know get the violins out right! (it’s OK Dad I’m not completly unhinged becuase of it only slightly but you knew that already)

The moral here?
1. ‘Never keep things for best as they will be out of fashion by the time you use them’.
2. Never buy things that do not fit as that never ends well
3.¬†Live each day as if it’s your last and just once eat your microwave / take out / cheese on toast off a posh plate and enjoy the thrill of breaking the rules you rebel.

Personal note to self ‘take own advice and don’t leave the pink lemonade concentrate in the freezer for years because you love it so much that you never get to enjoy it”.¬† So this week live a little, raise a glass to life even if life often rains on your parade.¬†For me¬†I’m British and very adept at coping with lifes torrential downpours and severe gales from my recent camping trip in my VW – thanks to all those who commented I am glad to be a source of your¬†amusement ūüôā

Back to Pink Lemonade – Finding a recipe for pink lemonade concentrate online was fruiteless (pardon the pun) as nobody seemed to have a standard recipe so I figured I would follow suit and make my own¬†as I went along. Even if it’s not sunny when I post this get ahead of the game; make this, freeze it and savour your own perfect glass of sunshine just waiting to be poured when the Sun finally makes its entrance. I guess you want to know how to make it because you know you will it’s just too hard to resist. Ok come on follow me…

Pink Lemonade

This also makes a great cocktail – 1 shot of limoncello, 1 shot of vodka, pink lemonade concentrate, top with lemonade or sparkling water and add plenty of ice – mmmm.

Ingredients

200g raspberries
200g strawberries
300ml water
300g golden caster sugar
1 vanilla bean / pod
6-8 lemons (mine were tiny!) juice and grated rind

Pink lemonade

Instructions

1. In a pan add sugar, vanilla bean (I used one from my vanilla sugar so it was already used) and the grated rind.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then take off the heat and leave to infuse until cool (or however long you want to wait).
3. In a blender (or with a blender attachment) blend the raspberries and strawberries until smooth.
4. Pour the berry mixture into a sieve to remove the pips.
5. Strain the sugar syrp to remove the lemon rind. Pour the berry and sugar syrup mixture into a jug.
6. Squeeze the lemons and add the juice to the pink lemonade mixture and stir until combined.
7. Pour a portion into a glass like you would juice you add water too (to taste) and top with ice cubes, sparkling water or lemonade and add a sprig of fresh mint if you feel so inclined or basil and serve.

To Freeze
Pour the concentrate into ice cube trays or silicon moulds and freeze overnight. Depending on the size of the moulds you may need a few ice cubes to flavour a drink. I also plan to use some in a cake,¬†jellies and jam¬†once I have worked out how I am going to make it all. I admit it I¬†am a little obsessed with the flavour I have to say but not that obsessed that I’d torture myself by making ice lollies with them as I know I can never get the damn things out of the mould.

Happy summer rainy days x

I am entering this into Botanical Baker’s Summertime Sipping competition where I’m sure you will find lots more ideas and yummy natural drinks I can’t wait to see what everyone else has been up to!

summertime sipping

Pink Lemonade

Tales, Gales and Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies from a VW Camper


I’m finally back safely inside four walls¬†from a wet and windy week in Devon in our newly restored 1979 Moonraker¬†VW Campervan. This has been my¬†childhood dream which has taken my husband nearly two years of really hard work to make it reality.¬†Join me in my little journey with some funny moments through instagram as well as a quick recipe for triple chocate mocha brownies which I just had to bake when I was finally reunited with my¬†oven (see if you too are a baking addict here).

Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Many of you have met May (the VW Camper) before but here she is:

VW Camper 1979

May’s first trip

The week before the holiday welcomed glorious sunshine which was hotter than anywhere in Europe ensuring that Britain was finally baring its brigade of white legs. Of course in true British style a double bank holiday to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee and a coinciding half term from school meant that the weather was always destined to take a turn for the worst.

1979 VW Moonraker

Even the rice pops matched!

The first disaster was the brand new fridge (but brought a year ago) which stopped working the night before and filled the van with nasty gases meaning my military precision meal plan was out the window and I was forced to live camping life on the edge (well with ice blocks anyway).

Instagram image

We finally set off and crawled our way to Devon with¬†my Husband’s best bromance¬†friend (I’ll call him Ronald) following behind in his ‘Herbie’ style Beetle which caused a lot of amusement in the Services.¬† The duo had planned secret signals to communicate with each other on the way down in SAS style (aka Sad and Stupid!).

VW Campervan Herbie Beetle

The troublesome duo

After a 5 hour stop start journey we found another member of the VW family next to us and luckily¬†we got the tent up just before…

Raining

But even with the rain my newly purchased rainbow bunting seemed to make it all a little bit brighter (how stupid was I?)

Rainbow Bunting

A wet campsite

The Twilight Zone

Ron has to lose some weight so as well as starving him for the week (I don’t make as much food as he gets at home) we were making him go for walks too. I like to think of it as VW inspired weight loss holiday camp¬†(people pay loads of money for those don’t they?).¬† We came across a set of ‘slippery when wet’ steps (220 of them) on our hike wn I suddenly had the urge to stop and turn around.¬†My husband took a photo of me and¬†when we looked back at the photograph there was a rather spooky ‘thing’ standing next to me.¬† At first I thought it was a mirror image of me but from looking at the actual picture it isn’t.¬†¬†It does look rather like a man stood next to me and there was nobody there at the time.¬† This image is only one taken of my computer screen but you get the idea!.¬† Whatever it is the trail goes right in front¬†of me and certainly makes me wonder what’s out there?

Spooky image

What is it it?????

The ‘Wee Wee’ shuffle

After all the rain I was soaked through and in need of a shower so I plodded off. One of the things¬†I hate about camping is the journey to the toilet block. When you are at home you will never need to get up in the night to go to the loo yet when camping it will be a nightly adventure of dodging guy ropes, muddy puddles and twisting your ankle in rabbit holes to get there. The added joy is that when you are doing this your bladder is fit to burst and the urgency is making you do the ‘wee wee’ shuffle walk all the way there which in reality is speed walking but with a swagger on. Luckily it’s dark and you just have to pray nobody sees you.

wee wee walk

Wet, Wet, Wet

The other joyous thing about camping is the showers and¬†after a day of being wet right through I decided that I would warm up and get some dry clothes.¬†The showering part is alright it ‘s the apres shower that sucks.¬†The clothes that normally I do not have a problem getting on shrink and gain a unique ‘cling-on’ style¬†quality. Every inch of fabric has to be pulled and coerced onto my skin in way that is similar to getting a wet suit on. The challenge of the campsite showers¬†game¬†is you have to do it without getting one inch of your clothes in the grass ridden muddy puddles that form in this unique environment. So there I was feeling a bit warmer, ready to put on my dry pair of smalls when they decided they would do a triple somersault¬†out of my hands. Crying ‘Nooooooo’ I scrambled after them whilst witnessing in horror their¬†second¬†by second descent¬†towards the muddy depths of camping puddle hell. My feet started slipping and sliding on the floor as I overstretched and eventually I came to a crash on my knees half in and half out of the shower curtain to the amusement of my fellow¬†female campers.¬†¬†There was an awkward few second¬†stillness in the¬†room¬†as they took in my rather crumpled state, a floating pair of underwear with tears forming in my eyes. It was then I got the campers nod that says ‘it’s OK we’ve all been there’ and then they duly¬†carried on¬†brushing their teeth probably thanking their lucky stars that their clothes were dry whilst I regained my composure and dignity.

The sun will come out tomorrow

Every Brit knows that a ray of sunshine¬†means shorts even if it’s still freezing cold outside but who cares the sun is out! We had a picnic (shivering) on the beach and watched the air ambulance rescue some poor surfer and before leaving¬†we found a nice little pub after many arguments and ordered coffees.¬† ‘That’s not ours is it?’¬†Ronald innocently asked as the barmaid¬†gave him his coffee.¬†Ronald had never had espresso before so it was quite a shock for him to see such a small cup¬†– bless him. To make up for it¬†he ordered cheesy chips and the rest of them had brownie sundaes whilst¬†I enjoyed a beer in the sun and smirked over the whole mini coffee incident quietly.

San Miguel

What do you get when you cross Herbie, four people and a steep hill? The answer: you get a poor little car screaming her nuts and bolts off to try to get up the hill in first gear!  The big boys had their hands out the windows and were making whipping gestures as if Herbie were a horse. My Son and I furiously were rowing in the back seat to help gain speed and the family in the car behind us were doing pushing movements to try to and help us up the hill!  We screamed with laughter and when she (yes in times of equality this Herbie has had a sex change) finally made it to the top (although it would probably have been quicker to have walked) we got applause from the rather large queue of traffic behind and the car waiting to come down the hill.

Trying to get up the hill

Trying to get up the hill – you can do it Herbie

Always watch where you sit

The next rainy day we ventured¬†to an outlet shopping village. Whilst sat in a coffee shop Ron who is proud¬†of himself for ordering an extra¬†large coffee to make up for his last error.¬† He looks across to see two not quite so attractive teenage girls walk in. He¬†turns to my Son¬†and says ‘There you go there’s some girls for you’ and laughs. I am shocked to learn hy Son is actually interested¬†in girls (I know I shoudl know better) and my son turns to look his¬†face is an absolute picture of horror which in turn makes the boys laugh. In life I do believe in¬†karma so the next thing we knew there was a loud¬†clatter.¬†All we see is Ron’s head poking out¬†between the two seats which he is now wedged between as his hearty laughter caused him to fall off his chair and the sign behind bent. I actually cried with laughter at this one.

Costa Coffee

Tantrums and Tiaras

By now with the continual rain everyone was forced to be with each other 24/7 which meant that quite frankly we were all starting to get on each others nerves. As much as you may love the people you are with there is a thing called personal space and you miss it when you don’t have any. I found I spent time sat in the loo just for a bit of respite and dryness. We knew the weather was going so I asked my husband if the wind speed was likely to be gale force (the campsite was quickly emptying – did they know something I didn’t)¬†and he promised me it wasn’t and as a occasional windsurfing instructor¬†I believed him.¬† First big rookie camper mistake – never believe a man when it comes to size or speed.

driftwood

We went for a quiet walk (well needed) with just the two of us and I got a feeling it was time to head back as we sat on the beach in a rare moment of sunshine.

and relax

and relax….

That night has to be the worst night ever in my camping history and I have already admitted firmly to being a fair weather camper. The tent swayed, buckled and the van rocked and trust me the old adage of ‘don’t come a knocking if the van is a rocking’ clearly doesn’t apply when you’re sat in a tent in the middle of nowhere with winds that were 5mph less than hurricane category (oh how¬†he lied to me). The wind and rain was so loud the DVD the boys were trying to watch could not be heard. Incidently the DVD was ‘idiot abroad’ and I said to my Husband by making us stay he was making us do our own version but called ‘An idiot on a campsite’ which I think should be the next big reality show to hit our TV screens just think of all the things you would see like stupid people who stay in gale force winds and wee wee shufflers falling down holes.

Packing up

Ronald spent the evening laughing at me for being scared of the wind but by Friday morning good old Karma was back in force. Ronald proclaimed loudly and repeatedly that he had officially had enough and was going home, directly home without passing go. That night the wind had blown rain straight into his bedroom compartment throught the air vents, his air bed burst and he woke up doing breast-stroke in his tent and not being a great lover of exercise at the best of times this was the straw that broke the camels back. After many arguments, a full on diva style strop (my husband) and weather searches on the internet we finally gave up and packed up our gear.

Hours of washing later and the next day being warm and sunny (ironic huh) my Son and I sat and played scrabble but from the words you see¬†I must have been traumatised by it all! My husband who is obviously not traumatised by it sodded off in the van to spend yet another day in a field at with VW’s at a show but he got a sunnier day (git). Would I do it again? Yes sadly I would and I am already planning next years trip but perhaps Spain would be kinder to us weather wise.

Scrabble

ChocaMocha Brownies
As we had brownie sundaes on holiday I just had to bake some when I got home – a perfect holiday memory and the coffee addition well thats¬†there to always¬†remind me of that moment in Costa (tee hee). There won’t be posh pictures this time as quite frankly sometimes life is too short but trust me they hit the spot.

85g butter
100g plain chocolate
175g dark muscavado sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tbs instant coffee mixed wtih 1 tsp of boiling water
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g white chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)
50g milk chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)

Triple Chocolate Mocha BrowniesInstructions

1. Preheat oven to 180C / 160 Fan / Gas 4
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and melt .  Stir and leave to cool.
3. Put the sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Fold in the choclate mixture and then sift the flour and baking powder over. Fold in carefully (lightly). add the chopped chocolate and pour into a 18cm tin round or square.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins (depends on how you like your brownies – if you like really gooey you may even fnd it is 20 mins)
5. Leave in the tin to cool and then cut into squares. Job done, sit back and dry off if you have just got back from camping like me. If you have a 20cm tin it will still work but bake for 20 -25 mins and it will be a little bit flatter.  Always tastes the same.

Enjoy x

I am entering these brownies into We Should Cocoa ran by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog as this month it is coffee! This month is hosted by Laura who runs the Kitchen Maid blog.

White chocolate mousse cake with a raspberry blast secret centre


White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

Yes I made it to one whole year of blogging and here is the next pay day cake in celebration – number 4! (you can see the others on my recipe page) Well in reality 6 months half-hearted and 6 months full blogging and what a difference a year makes. This time last year I began by making cake truffles for my friends Birthday and look what I have made 1 year on. Here is the link to my very first post – be nice! I have tried to avoid baking a cake for my blog birthday but I gave in. It had to be something new to me and this is how the white chocolate mousse cake with a hidden raspberry blast was born. The candle on the top was the one I saved from my son’s first birthday cake (ahhhhh). This cake is perfect for the up and coming Jubilee celebrations.

The combination works so well together with the hidden layer of tart and icy raspberries, velvety smooth white chocolate mousse and dark chocolate sponge laced with black raspberry liquor.

Raspberyy Mousse Cake

You see despite its splendor this cake was not actually supposed to be like this I could lie to you but I won’t. The moment I had completed the white chocolate mousse layer I knew that it was not going to work as I had not used enough gelatine in it to allow the mousse to stand proudly on the plate as I had imagined. Not one to beaten I sat for hours pondering how I could rescue it and finally stumbled across a recipe for a frozen mousse cake. Yes! I cried to myself as I realised all I had to do was freeze the cake and serve it partially frozen. The result is a cross between mousse and ice-cream and it works beautifully and you get to keep and enjoy it longer.

White chocolate raspberry mousse cake

You see as I said in my earlier post synchronicity and the universe just work to create what is needed not necessarily what you though you wanted. The little girl in the picture above would have opted for the melting version as she loved ice-cream. That little girl is me and as you can see (see the 1st picture above ) my mouth is always open. When I slid this cake out of the tin I am pretty sure my mouth did the same excited gape.

White chocolate raspberry mousse cake

Compared to other things I have baked this is not too hard and the trick is to do it in stages gradually so it does not feel like a chore. The beauty being that you can make this over the jubilee weekend but is also perfect for any celebration where time before may be short. If you want to serve this as a mousse cake that does not freeze but stands proudly then I have added the optional gelatin requirements for each section. However I like it just as it is and I’ve learnt from it and you can see what else I created with mousse magic very soon!

Have Camper will travel

So I am off on the maiden voyage in May our 1979 Moonraker VW campervan for the half term week. Sadly the weather is not going to be as glorious as we have just had think 2 degrees overnight – brrrrr.

VW Campervan Moonraker 1979

Sneak Preview!

Day 1 – Bake the Cake layer

Ingredients for Base Genesoise Cake Layer
75g plain flour
50g cocoa (good quality)
4 eggs at room temperature
125g caster sugar
30g melted butter (left to cool)

Instructions
1. Grease and lightly flour a 20cm round tin
2. Melt the butter in a pan and leave to cool
3. Beat the eggs and sagur at a medium speed for 12 minutes until when you lift the whisk attachment out of the mixture falls in ribbons and pools on top of the mixture without disappearing straight away.
4. Sieve the flour and cocoa over the mixture
5. Fold in gently until combined
6. Drizzle in the butter and fold in – do not over fold or the cake will become tough – so when you think it is is nearly there and there are no huge lumps be brave and put it in the oven.
7. Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for 30 minutes
8. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin and placing on a wire rack
9. Add 2 tablespoons of raspberry liqueur ( Chombards, Framboise) to 2 tablespoons of caster sugar – heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Brush liberally over the cake to moisten it. If you prefer you can use a simple sugar syrup which is equal parts sugar to water and you can adda flavouring or substitute with another spirit.
10. Divide the cake into two layers using a long serrated knife.
11. Wrap the cakes in greaseproof paper once cool and wrap in foil. Either store in an airtight container until you need it or put it in the freezer.

Day 1 – Make the hidden raspberry layer

Ingredients for the Hidden Raspberry Layer
400g raspberries (I used frozen – defrost overnight before you need to use them)
2 sheets gelatin (if wanting it to stay in shape on defrosting)
60g golden vanilla caster sugar
1 tablespoon of raspberry liqueur (optional)

Instructions

1. Line a 6 inch or 18cm baking tin with cling film – making sure you have enough to hang over the sides of the tin fully.
2. Place the raspberries in a food processor and puree.
3. Push the mixture through a fine sieve to prevent the pips from getting in the puree.
4. Soak the gelatin leaves in two separate bowls of cold water (enough to fully immerse each) for five minutes.
5. Put the puree into a small pan and heat gently to 35C (not boiling but warm to touch) and then add the gelatin and stir to dissolve.
6. Add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved.
7. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes.
8. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and place in the freezer until the mixture has set (approx 1 hour) then cover over with extra clingfilm and leave overnight or until you want use it.

Day 2 – White Chocolate Mousse (based on Michael Roux – Desserts)

Ingredients
450g White chocolate finely chopped
6 sheets leaf gelatin
150ml milk
4 1/2 tsp of liquid glucose
6 egg yolks
450ml whipping cream
90g icing sugar

Instructions (if not using gelatin then remove these steps)

1. Set a bowl over a saucepan which is filled to one-third with water. To the bowl add the chopped white chocolate. Using a low heat wait until the chocolate is half melted and remove from the heat. The chocolate will melt by itself and this reduces the risk of it burning.
2. Soak the gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. (optional)
3. Heat the milk in small saucepan until boiling point and then remove from the heat.
Squeeze out the water from the gelatin and add it to the milk. Stir gently until the gelatin has dissolved (optional)
4. In another bowl add the egg yolks, liquid glucose and 3 tbsp of warm water. Mix together until combined.
5. Whip the cream and icing sugar in another bowl until the cream leaves ribbon trails when you take the whisk out of the mixture.
6. Pour the hot milk over the white chocolate and gently mix with a whisk until there are no lumps and is it a smooth consistency.
7. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate and mix gently until combined.
8. Using a spatula fold in the cream gently until fully combined.

Day 2 – Assembly

1. Get your original tin that you baked your cake in – place the cake in the bottom (tip: use the bottom layer of the cake as the top layer will be smaller as cakes shrink as they cook). You can use the bottom layer for another cake.
2. Pour the mousse into the tin.
3. Remove the raspberry layer from the freezer and push down into the mouse mixture until it is about half way down. Place the tin in the freezer overnight for best results.

Day 3 – Eating!

1. To remove the mousse cake from the tin use a hair dryer or blowtorch to gently heat the tin so that it removes easily. You can then either slice into portions with a warm knife (cleaning after each slice) or place in a box for eating later and keep it in the freezer. The cake will keep frozen for at least one month.

Make Some Cake Bunting

To make youself some bunting to go on the top I used paint sample cards from Dulux and used a heart punch but you could also cut out bunting style triangles. I then stapled them onto ribbon and tied them to two lollie sticks. This is also far cheaper than ones you see on various websites. If making for the jubille then choose red, white, and blue colour cards.

Enjoy!

I’m entering this cake as I feel the flags say Jubilee celebrations to me and as you have an extra bank holiday you could make this cake over the weekend and enjoy it on the Monday or Tuesday. The competition is a Blogging Jubilee Baking Competition being run the fabulous Homemade By Fleur. If nothing else you should look at Fleur’s blog as I recently dreamt that we went shopping together (not that we have ever met but I have seen her on TV) and she gave me a signed copy of her new cookbook (not that she has one yet – this is dream after all) so as I said to her – it’s a sign! She is very talented and has had the pleasure of baking with Eric Lanlard in a baking competition that she rightly won . As you know I truly believe in signs so you must see Fleur’s rather stunning new website and check her out before she is famous. This competition has a prize that is sponsored by Appliances online. Wish me luck!

Up next: a drink recipe that will make you fall in love with summer.

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¬įC/Fan150¬į/325¬įF/Gas 3
2. Grease a 18cm/7‚ÄĚcake 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 РWilkinsons £8 and heart band made with paint cards (free from DIY stores) punched with a heart shaped punch and stapled onto ribbon.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Bakewell Loaf Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Raspberry Bakewell Cake

Finally I made myself a cake that is dairy free and gluten free who knows next time it will be cake without actually having cake in it? I have a guilty secret to share I am having a bit of a love affair with raspberries at the moment and I can’t wait until raspberries come into season but for now frozen will do.

Raspberries suit this moist cake beautifully and make me think of summer (sigh) oh how I miss it. It’s not right to still be wearing jumpers in May and with a looming maiden camping voyage in the ‘so nearly finished after two god damn years’ VW camper and when I look out the window at the rain and realise with dispair that it’s certainly not looking promising. At least the cake to take looks like a slice of summer.

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

When we brought the van to experience retro style family holidays I did not quite have in mind rain, men and smelly feet. I’ll admit being a fair weather camper and whilst some people stuck in a middle of a field somewhere may pine for the lack of television, toilets, proper showers or the internet but no not me I will pine for the loss of my oven. Although I did spot a mini electric one for ¬£39 in Lakeleand that plugs in and sadly I am very tempted.

Coming on the trip is Ron and Ronald the comedy bromance duo (husband and his best friend) as well as my about to be teenage son leaving me as the only one with two ovaries in the camper and with the fact that I’m sat here having hot flushes they may be on their way out too. So many unimportant but nagging questions are running through my head like the torrential downpour drumming on the window as I speak ranging from:

1. Sod the food how much wine can I actually fit in the van for medicinal purposes?
2. Does Lakeland have a testosterone repellant I can spray around the van and on myself or do I have to have PMS / Pre-menopause hormones for a whole week to get any peace?
3.Will bunting actually make me feel more girly in a camping world that will involve stories of clutch repairs long winded attempts at humourous breakdown stories stuck on repeat.
4. If I put up sparkly lights, light scented candles, get out my sparkly rug will this constitute glamping or do need fluffy heeled slippers for that?
5. Will my husband actually read this post and then I will be in the proverbial dog house all week anyway?

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

This rainy cold spell is not doing my ass any favours either. It feels as if it is getting larger with each passing rainstorn. Comfort food is still the order of the day in fact I still want to cook soup for goodness sake! This cake was supposed to be frozen for the trip but instead it spoke lovingly to me. Quite literally my ass and brain simultaneously decided extra pounds were needed to be added to my curves in preparation for warmth needed on those cold camping nights. Oh well I can bake another one but just imagine if I had the mini oven I could just pop out a cheeky one there. Nope there is no hope for me.

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food – I choose to do a loaf cake (2 pound) as I have just discovered the joy of paper liners for cake tins and they are the only size I have (yet). It was a choice of faffing around with lining a tin or just plonking a liner in. Yes you know which one won, however this cake will also fit a 20cm deep cake tin just fine.

See also my 7 top tips for gluten free baking

Ingredients
175g ground almonds
175g softened butter (or use dairy free substitute or use flavourless oil such as sunflower)
175g golden caster sugar
175g self raising flour (Gluten Free – Substitute with gluten free self raising flour – like Doves. Also add 1 tsp of xanthum gum to prevent cake from being too crumbly)
2 large eggs (rooom temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g raspberries

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 180c / 160 fan / gas 4
2. Line a 2lb loaf tin
3. place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until well combined
4. Put half the mixture into the lined tin and level it
5. Sprinkle over the raspberries and cover with the remaining half of the mixture and level with a spoon or spatula.
6. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, ovens do vary. You should check your cake at 45 mins to make sure it is not getting to brown on top – if it is you can cover it loosely with foil to prevent burning).
7. Test cake by inserting a skewer, if it is ready it should come out clean. Remove cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Almond Icing (optional)
140g icing sugar
1tsp almond extract or 1 tablespoon of amaretto if you are feeling naughty
2-3 tbsp of water

Instructions
1.Mix the extract and 2 tbsp of water into the mixture until combined. Keep adding water gradually until the icing is thick but not too runny. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
2. Toast the almonds in a pan with no oil on a low heat. After about 3 minutes the oil will begin to be released from the almonds and they will begin to brown. Keep moving the pan around to stop them from burning. When they reach a golden brown colour remove from the heat and leave to cool before sprinkling over the top of your cake.

Serve and enjoy x

Raspberry Bakewell

Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes


I have become rather interested in synchronicity lately after watching the program ‘Touch on’ on Sky 1. Synchronicity is a term used by Carl Jung to explain that the events that happen in our lives are not an accident or coincidence as everything happens for a reason. We have all had times when you go to ring or text someone and before you get to do it they ring or text you. The moment when you are in a real hurry and you drive into a car park and someone drives out just at the right time (OK that never happens to me) but those are very simple examples of synchronicity. I think the Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes I created are an example of synchronicity at work that day for me.

Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes

They began creation in my mind a few months ago when I spottted mini oreo cheesecake’s on the wonderful Grace’s Sweet Life but I never got around to making them. Not until this weekend when the order of the Cosmos (or whatever you believe in) decided that I was going to create them. Firstly the universe made sure Jammie dodgers were on offer so I had multiple packets as they are not a biscuit I buy as they are quite pricey. The cream cheese I had ordered for something else a long time ago which sat folornly waiting to be used decided it would leap out of the fridge at me. The raspberries ordered for a raspberry bakewell cake never arrived ( I was so gutted) so my baking plans for the weekend were ruined (or so I thought)

Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes

The roughly drafted recipe from months ago fell onto the kitchen floor and I realised that now was truly the time. I opened the dodgers with a sense of purpose and began to count the biscuits and this is where I hit my first problem. I assumed there would be 12 in a packet in my rough recipe (always the optimist) to find there was only 8! Dejected I took one dodger, hovered it by my mouth in a knee jerk must have comfort food type reaction. As I grumbled about it all being wrong – blah blah blah, my Son walks in. He hears me moaning and says ‘I’ll just work out the correct ratio for you Mum, give me a pen’. Umm did that really happen?

Jammie Dodger Cheesecake

I needed 92g of cream. Guess how much was left over after the turkish delight cake? Yes exactly 92g and for some unknown reason I did not throw it away although I would normally as I don’t eat cream unless it is in something. The scaled down cheesecake mixture by my Son could not have been more of a perfect fit if it tried. These were meant to happen and I am so glad they did as they are bliss.

Jammie Dodger Cheesecake

I love that you can see the splat on the dodger and the jammy heart through the paper which again is a miracle as I have baked these again and it didn’t happen (I think as I did not push them fully down into the tin in my haste). Thanks to synchronicity my family all raised their little Jammie Queen’s to the sky and admired the splat before sending them on their final journey. I don’t think I can even express how much I love it when baking and synchronicity come together.

Jammie Dodger Cheesecake

So whether you believe in synchronicity or not I feel it has a lot to play in my life and I am certainly looking out for the signs. They are there you see as when I was photographing these on instagram I ended up having a conversation with Butcher Baker who I have not spoken to too for ages who was in the throws of writing a fantastic post on how to make Jammie dodgers and had sent me a message. The World as they say works works in mysterious ways so why not slow down and listen to the baking messages you get. What have you been told lately?

Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes

Let me know your synchronicty / coincidence stories – be it life or baking! I truly find it fascinating.

Ingredients
1 packet of Jammie Dodgers (8 biscuits)
1 packet of mini Jammie Dodgers (optional for topping)
272g cream cheese
67g vanilla sugar (or use caster sugar)
1 egg (room temperature)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp if not using vanilla sugar)
92g single cream (any cream will work fine)
2 tbsp of strawberry jam (optional as a filling to the cheesecake)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 275f / 135 C / 115 fan
2. Pop a jammie dodger upside down (splat faces down!) so you have the jam centre facing downwards in muffin cases and in a muffin tin x 8
3. Beat together cheese and sugar
4. Dizzle in the egg and mix
5. Ad the cream and mix – add in the vanilla extract and give a final mix
6. Pour mixture into the cases on top of hte jammie dodger until each is near the top
7. Warm the jam so it is runny and easier to pour (about 20 seconds in the mircowave)
8. Add a dollop of jam to centre of each cake and swirl
9. Add one further dollop of jam in the centre so they look like a jammy dodger
10. Transfer to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 11 minutes and then rotate the tin 180 degrees. Bake for a further 11 minutes (approx your oven may vary). There will be some wobble to the cheesecakes but the mixture will not be runny when it is done.
11. Leave cheesecakes to cool in the tin and then transfer (still in the tin) to the fridge overnight for best results. Do not try to admire the splat at the bottom as it will end in disaster just trust it is there (ifd you pushed it down enough) and enjoy the thrill of seeing it tomorrow when you salute the sky with your new Queen of cheesecakes.  If it does not appear then blame it on synchnocity playing with you.
12. Top with cream and a mini dodger if you wish.

Enjoy!

Jammie Dodger Cheesecake

Coming soon: pay day cake 4 is in development and a little clue there is less cake this time. Other than that I have no idea I’m just going to see what happens.

Turkish Delight Layer Cake (Gluten Free)


A 60th Birthday is the excuse for this month’s pay day cake and this is the¬†3rd so far in my pay day cake quest.¬† If you missed¬†the espresso hit¬†‘Macchiato’ and the moist gluten free ‘Sticky toffee pudding’ layer¬†cake then do take a look.¬† This cake is for¬†a man who is enchanted by the lure of eastern promise. So it had to be a turkish delight and chocolate cake just like his favourite¬†bar.¬† I know this is not going to be everyone’s favourite but you can always choose not to use the rose in the buttercream and have a chocolate and vanilla layer cake instead.

Turkisjh Delight Layer Cake

So I set to work with my usual staple of four layers of cake – this time using a moist and dark chocolate cake.¬† This cake never fails me and I do believe if it is not broke don’t fix it. Ganache¬†however is a whole new ball game for me and it was most defiantly a challenge.

Turkish Delight Layer Cake

A vibrant pink rose flavoured buttercream sandwiched¬†the layers together.¬† Rich dark ganache held it all snuggly together and turkish delight adorned the top of the cake like glistening jewels.¬† Ok, I admit I did get glitter happy but it is a birthday cake and all birthday cakes deserve a bit of sparkle I think.¬† I think Edmund from the ‘Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ would have worn this cake as a crown if the White Witch would have given it to him.

Luckily I did not have to belly dance or go as a sultry lady to give him the cake (phew!).  Like magic the cake vanished so quickly his wife had to rescue a piece for him and hide at the back of the fridge. I let out a huge sigh of relief that not only had I made it, got there in one piece and was devoured.

Rich dark chocolate cake
150g dark chocolate chopped into tiny pieces
200ml milk
450g light brown sugar
150g salted butter at room temperature
4 eggs at room temperature
300g plain flour
3 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

To make gluten-free Рsubstitute the flour for gluten-free plain flour Рno need to add xanthum gum as this cake is very moist and does not need it. I have baked this chocolate cake gluten-free on a number of occasions and find it works very well.  I am going to try this with with spelt flour next time.  To find out more about gluten-free baking see my top tips here.

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 160 C / 140 fan  / Gas 3
2. Line 2 x 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper
3. Chop up the chocolate into small chunks and place the chocolate, milk and half the sugar into a saucepan
4. Heat until the chocolate is fully melted and remove from the heat
5. Beat the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy ( about five minutes)
6. Add the eggs one at a time (adda spoonful of flour if the mixture curdles)
7. Sift the cocoa , flour , baking powder and bicarb into the mixture
8. Mix on a low-speed until fully combined
9. Pour into the tins and bake on the middle shelf for approx 40 minutes
10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Rose Buttercream
200g softened butter
200g icing sugar
Few drops (to taste) of rose extract – be sparing it is powerful stuff
Drops of pink food colour (optional)

Instructions

1. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy
2. Add the milk (or for richness use condensed milk)
3. Add a few drops of pink food colouring (optional)
4. Add a few drops of rose extract (use sparingly, mix and taste after each drop I would suggest until you get it how you like it)

Ganache
400g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
400g single cream
Few drops of glucose (optional but makes the chocolate nice and shiny)

Instructions
1. Chop the chocolate into very small chunks
2. Put the cream into a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil and remove from the heat
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate (or add the chocolate to the pan) and let it have about a minute before stirring it to melt the chocolate
4. Set aside to cool

To Assemble the Cake

Cut each cake into two even layers (I use a tape measure to make sure each layer is evenly sized. I don’t have a cake stand that rotates but I do use a revolving cheese board stand but you could also uses a lazy Susan to do the job. Add a dollop of buttercream to the centre of your stand and add your first layer of cake and press down ‚Äď this will keep your cake in place while you work.

Assembly
1. Spread buttercream across the bottom layer .
2. Add the next cake layer carefully and repeat until all layers are done
3. Do not refrigerate cake as this will cause the ganache to go off too quickly.
4. Using a large palette knife Рspread the chocolate ganche around the cake and top with turkish delight. Ganache I found to be a bit more tricky than buttercream (see below)

Chocolate Ganache
One minute it was too warm so was slipping off the cake in gloops of molten chocolate goo. The next minute it seemed to be staying put, spreading well and it was beautiful and glossy.  Then I turned by back for less than a minute and when I returned the ganache had started to harden and that was it Рtime up!  Luckily for me I still had a bit of ganache left over which I warmed for a few seconds in the microwave just to gloss over any areas I was not happy with.  I think I need a bit more practise with this!

Enjoy!

Up Next: Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes.

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 Рuse 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 ūüôā

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 Рmore 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¬įC/Fan150¬į/325¬įF/Gas 3
2. Grease a 20cm/8‚ÄĚcake 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 Рso more excuse to get one and eat it!

Enjoy!   Coming up next Р7 tips on gluten free baking and the turkish temptress layer cake (pay day cake 3!)