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 🙂

Advertisements

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

Remedy the lack of baking with toast cups


After a fantastic Christmas today is the first day of normality.  This means in my traditional style a whole day of rearranging cupboards to fit in all the new goodies.  I can’t complain I love getting the goodies and reorganising my cupboards is sadly a part-time occupation of mine that feels me with great control freak satisfaction particularly when my family can’t find anything (tee hee).  I like to think of it as a cupboard hide and seek game that keeps me quietly amused for hours as I listen to the doors open and close and the grumblings of my Husband and Son as they try to find things.  This also ensures my teeneage son speaks to me instead of grunting even if it is only to ask where something is.  Of course they do not spend as much time in the kitchen as me so this game can last for months and when they think they have cracked it I move it all again just to keep them on their toes.

I rolled out of bed rather late this morning and needed something to soak up the one glass of wine too many last night.  I led in bed thinking about what to make us for breakfast when I realised I could make a quick breakfast, use up some leftovers and get to try out some of my new presents.  Suddenly my foggy headache disappeared in an instant and I bounded downstairs with renewed passion and longing for the kitchen that has been bakeless for the past two days. I was so excited I ended up doing a dance with my new silicon muffin tray and pulling out items from the precariously balanced foil wrapped Jenga blocks of food in my fridge (another game I like to play at Christmas).

toastcups1

I had seen these little toast cups on the internet, I had loads of pigs in blankest and cocktail sausage nestling together sleeping in the fridge and now they can be reborn into a quick breakfast.  The original recipe comes from Martha Stewart but here is my quick take on it.  A breakfast for two with my gorgeous hubby.

Ingredients

4 slices of bread
3 eggs
Left over cocktail sausages and pigs in blankets
2 mini tomatoes
Salt and pepper to season

1. Using a large cutter – cut out a circle to fit the muffin tin cup
2. Push the circle of bread into the tin
3. Cut up left overs and scatter in
4. Break 3 eggs into a cup and whisk until yolks are broken
5. Pour in the egg mixture and fill to the top
6. Cut tomatoes in half – place on top
7. Break off left over cheeseboard cheese and sprinkle on the top
8. Season with salt and pepper

New silicone muffin cases christened - thanks Mum

Place in the oven (375 degrees / 160 fan / 175 C ) for approx 15 minutes until the egg is cooked through.

Serve with a big mug of coffee and you’re ready to play cupboard hide and seek.  I loved these little toast cups so much I am going to make the at New Year too.

Enjoy x