Thursday 27 January 2011

Daring Bakers January 2011 Challenge: Joconde Imprime. Chocolate and Hazelnut Gateaux with Raspberry Cream & Dark Chocolate Ganache (GF)

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

I was so excited by this challenge. I have often seen beautifully designed, striped or swirled, sponge desserts in bakery windows and dreamed of creating similar things myself, but I never knew how they were made. Well, now and I know and…I’ll let you in on a secret… it’s not difficult either!

Your simply pipe your design of choice onto a baking tray, place it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up (so that the rest of the sponge mixture doesn’t ruin the design), cover with a joconde sponge, bake, turn it out and ta-da! Beautifully decorated sponge, ready for adding that wow factor to the outside of desserts, gateau’s and mousses etc. Magic!

Joconde sponge is a special flexible sponge which allows you to wrap it around cakes and desserts without it cracking or breaking. This is thanks to its use of very little flour and butter, with ground nuts and eggs making up the majority of the ingredients. This also means it’s fantastically easy to convert to being gluten free – hurrah!

I already knew I wanted to use my joconde sponge to create a chocolate and raspberry gateau to act as my sister’s birthday cake. I decided to use hazelnuts in place of the almonds as I think they taste delicious when paired with chocolate and raspberries. With this in mind I dyed some of my batter with cocoa powder and a little with pink food dye to tied in the chocolate and raspberry colours. I had great fun creating little swirly circles and dots with a piping bag and I love how the finished sponge turned out.

After baking I used the joconde to line a large ring mould which I layered with discs of gluten free chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, more cake, raspberry cream, another layer of cake and then a final layer of ganache! How wickedly indulgent! I then dusted it with some edible gold glitter to give it some birthday sparkle.

I didn’t let my sister see the design of the cake until it was time to remove the ring mould. Everyone loved seeing the swirly dotty design of the outer sponge. It really added some wow factor. Cutting into the cake revealed the truly indulgent layers of cake, dark chocolate ganache and raspberry cream. All in all it was a fabulous cake and so delicious that no one would ever know it was gluten free. I’ll definitely be making one again in the future, the decoration possibilities are endless!

Joconde Imprime (GF)
85g ground almonds (I used freshly ground hazelnuts)
75g icing sugar
25g Doves gluten free flour
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
10g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a large 13x18 inch swiss roll tin with silicone paper.
In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
Sift together the ground almonds (hazelnuts), icing sugar and flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light.
Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to nut mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
Fold in melted butter.
Take one or two scoops of batter and place into small bowls. Set the rest of the batter aside to use later. Colour or dye the small amounts of batter using cocoa powder or food dye so that it provides a contrasting colour to the original batter.
Here is where you can be creative. Fill piping bags with the coloured batter and pipe a design onto a baking tray that has been covered in silicone paper. Make lines, swirls, words, anything that takes your fancy.
Place the decorated tray in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
Then, remove the tray from the freezer and quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern.
Bake at 200C until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, around 12 minutes.
Once baked, cover the surface with a sheet of greaseproof and a damp tea towel and leave until cool.
Once cool, turn out onto a flat surface and carefully remove the silicone paper. Your design should now show up against the pale base of the Joconde batter.
Trim the edges off the sponge and then cut into strips and use to line the inside rim of a large or small individual ring moulds, with the design facing outwards. Press the edges together so they will stay together once removed from the moulds. Fill the moulds as you wish and chill for an hour before unmoulding.
I chose to turn my dessert into a chocolate gateau for my sister’s birthday. I layered the inside with discs of chocolate cake layered with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry cream.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Gateaux with Raspberry Cream & Dark Chocolate Ganache (GF)
1 x Hazelnut Joconde (recipe above)
1 x 8inch chocolate cake (see below)
Dark chocolate ganache (see below)
Raspberry cream (see below)

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
180g Doves white self raising flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
180g caster sugar
180g butter
3 eggs
30g cocoa powder
40g sour cream

Preheat the oven to 170C and line two 8inch round cake tins with greaseproof paper.
Simply place all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until smooth and well combined.
Divide the batter between the two tins, making one tin have slightly more batter in than the other, about 40 to 60% ratio.
Bake for 22-25 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.
Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack and leaving to cool.

Dark chocolate Ganache
200ml double cream
200g dark chocolate
20g butter

Heat the cream gently in a small saucepan until it just comes to a simmer. Meanwhile, break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a bowl.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave to sit for 3 minutes without touching it. Then gently fold/mix the cream into the melting chocolate to create a thick glossy ganache.
Cut the butter into small cubes and stir into the ganache.
Use quickly.

Raspberry Cream
150g raspberries
20g icing sugar
100ml double cream

Crush the raspberries with the sugar until broken down.
Lightly whip the double cream until it is just starting to form soft peaks.
Add the raspberries, juice and all, and stir to combine. Don’t worry f it looks a little soft as it thickens up in the fridge once assembled.
Use fairly quickly.

Assembling the Gateau
Place your ring mould, lined with the joncode sponge onto a serving plate.
Trim your chocolate sponge layers so that they fit snugly inside the ring mould. (I used the base of a 7inch tin as a guide).
Place the thin cake layer into the mould to form the base of the gateaux. Cut the thicker sponge layer in half, horizontally, to form two thinner layers. Set to one side.
Pour half the chocolate ganache over the base layer sponge and top with one of your cut layers of chocolate cake.
Spread over the raspberry cream and top with the final layer of chocolate cake. It should reach to the top of your ring mould now.
Spread the remaining half of the chocolate ganache over the top, completely covering the cake and top of the joncode sponge.
Decorate as your wish – I dusted the top with edible gold glitter. Refrigerate for an hour before running a hot knife around the top rim of the metal ring mould and removing, leaving the finished gateaux in place.

Monday 24 January 2011

Cauliflower Cheese (GF)

Broccoli is always one of the staple vegetables in my house, but lately I have found myself shifting to cauliflower for a bit of a change. Although they look relatively similar they taste quite different. Cauliflower is more milky and subtle in taste, and I’ve even enjoyed tearing off a floret, dipping it in houmous and eating it raw, whereas broccoli requires at least a little blanching. At the weekend I was rummaging in the fridge looking for lunch inspiration and spotted a cauliflower – cauliflower cheese it was going to be!

I’m a strange one when it comes to cheese with my veg. I love strong cheeses but not so much with veg. I still like to be able to taste the flavour of the vegetables as well as the cheese, so I decided that if I was going to make cauliflower cheese, each mouthful was going to have to have more depth to it than just ‘oh tastes like cheese.’

To add more depth of flavour I made a béchamel sauce with milk that I first infused with onion, bay leaves and nutmeg. After making the sauce I also whisked in some Dijon mustard, which helped tone down the bite of the mature cheese. These simple steps add a wonderful aromatic richness to the dish and result in a multilayered flavoured sauce.

I used potato flour to thicken the sauce to make it gluten free – you will need a little less compared to wheat flours as its thick gloopy stuff! It was then simply a matter of pouring the thick creamy sauce over the raw florets of cauliflower, topping with a sprinkle of extra cheese and baking until golden brown. You can make one large one or smaller individual portions. Simple, satisfying and above all delicious.

Cauliflower Cheese (GF)
1 head cauliflower
1½ pints milk
1 small onion
2 bay leaves
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1½ tsp French Dijon mustard (check it's gluten free)
2 tbsp potato flour
50g butter
100g cheddar cheese

Pour the milk into a saucepan. Cut the onion in half and remove the skin. Add to the milk along with the bay leaves and nutmeg. Heat gently and allow to come to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Melt the butter in a large saucepan before stirring in the potato flour to form a thick paste. Remove the onion and bay leaves from the milk (eat the onion it’s delicious!) and slowly add the milk to the butter-flour paste, a ladleful at a time, whisking constantly over the heat.
Keep whisking until the sauce thickens into a creamy pourable béchamel sauce, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the mustard and season with salt and pepper.
Grate the cheese and add most of it to the béchamel sauce, reserving a handful to sprinkle on top.
Cut the cauliflower into florets and arrange in either one large or 4 individual ovenproof dishes. Pour over the cheese sauce and scatter over the reserved handful of grated cheese.
Bake in the oven for 25minutes for individual dishes or 35-40 minutes for a larger one. It should be bubbling and lightly golden brown on top.
Serves 2-4 depending on if it’s a main meal or side dish.
Note: Don’t throw away the onion you used to flavour the milk. It will have poached into lovely sweet soft milky layers. Serve it with the cauliflower cheese or add it to a sandwich.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Chocolate Brownie Tart

Every so often I come across recipes that make me feel ‘I have to bake this now!’ This is instantly what I felt when I saw this Chocolate Brownie Pie on Peabody’s Culinary Concoctions blog.

I was actually in need of a chocolate dessert, as at the time, my brother was still home from Uni for the holidays and wanted a nice dessert. He is quite possibly the biggest chocoholic I know. If it doesn’t involve copious amounts of chocolate he doesn’t consider eating it. I can’t actually think of a non chocolate dessert he will eat! So when I spied this dessert I knew it would be a winner.

I wanted to be able to eat the dessert too but didn’t have the time to make some gluten free pastry. The actual brownie filling contains very little flour, so I simply switched the plain flour for some gluten free flour and then made a slightly smaller standard pastry case than the recipe called for, but the full quantity of chocolate filling. I then poured the extra chocolate filling into ramekins and baked them for less time. The result were little gluten free chewy chocolaty brownie pots – yum!

The brownie part was dense, very fudgy and extremely chocolaty. It had the characteristic wafer thin sugary crust and chewy chocolaty centre. The chocolate chips stayed soft and creamy adding a nice contrast and extra chocolate hit when you bit into one. It’s very rich so small slices are more than enough but it certainly pleased the chocoholic!

Chocolate Brownie Tart
(Recipe adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody blog)
350g sweet shortcrust pastry
1 x 400g tin sweetened condensed milk
60g butter
50g cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp gluten free teff flour (or use plain flour)
75g chocolate chips – any kind

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Roll out the pastry and use it to line an 8-9inch/20-23cm tart tin.
Fill the lined tart with a sheet of greaseproof paper and some baking beans or rice. Blind bake the tart for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden.
Then remove from the oven, take out the baking beans and leave to one side. Reduce the oven to 180C.
Pour the condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder into a pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and all the ingredients are combined.
Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
Scatter over the flour and fold in gently. Add the chocolate chips and stir briefly to incorporate. Do not stir too much as they will start to melt if the chocolate mix is still warm.
Pour the chocolate mix into the tart tin and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. The tart will puff up in the oven but will settle down into a flat smooth finish on cooling.
Allow to cool in the tart for at least an hour before releasing from the tin.
Serve warm or at room temperature with cream or ice cream.
Makes one 8-9inch tart

Alternatively, you can pour the mix into 10 ramekins and bake crustless brownie pots. They will only need 18 minutes in the oven at 180C. If you use the gluten free flour in the chocolate mix, the resulting brownie pots will be gluten free!

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Blog Award – 10 Questions…

A few days ago the lovely Alicia of The Red Deer gave me a blog award which comes with 10 questions to answer. It’s fun as some of the questions are different to the usual foodie ones. Thanks Alicia!

Why did you create the blog?
I discovered blogs in my first year at Uni. I was instantly attracted to the idea that anyone could write, photograph and talk about food in any way they wished. I loved discovering there were so many foodies out there as well as a vast variety of recipes, ingredients and dishes I had never heard of before. I became quite obsessed finding new blogs to read and recipe to try. Within a few months decided to set up my own and have loved being ‘a blogger’ ever since.

What kind of blogs do you follow?
I love any blog involving baking or desserts. I find them such a great source of inspiration as well as gaining valuable knowledge about different cuisines, cultures and trends. I’m often left feeling hungry and jealous at the vast variety of sweet treats and baking ingredients available to American bloggers. The UK is getting better, but we are still far behind America. I also enjoy reading Vegetarian and Gluten Free blogs as they have been invaluable at helping me adapt to my gluten free diet and are great for when I’m stuck for meal ideas. I love bloggers who share a bit about themselves or the occasion behind creating the food in question, over time you get a real insight into their lives and personalities and it makes them feel like friends you can relate to.

Favourite makeup brand?
Don’t have one. I don’t wear a lot of make up and the ones I do are often picked up from Boots, The Body Shop or gifts from friends or family.

Favourite clothing brand?
I love the clothes from Next. I know that’s not particularly glamorous but they fit me well and it’s my kind of style. I’ve just discovered a new brand called Apricot and am loving their clothes too.

Your indispensable makeup product?
Mascara. I don’t sleep that well and always have bags under my eyes, but I find mascara is great at widening the eyes and making me look more awake.

Your favourite colour?
Purple! I love most shades of purple from dusky lilacs to moody aubergine. Believe it or not I actually bought my old phone for the pure reason it was purple! I got a new black one for Christmas, but have just bought a purple phone cover protector for it. I plan to one day have purple cupboards in my kitchen!

Your perfume?
I don’t wear perfume that often except on special occasions. However, my favourite is Paradise which is sold by Next.

Your favourite film?
It would have to be The Sound of Music. It brings back very happy memories of my childhood when my sister and I would watch it obsessively. We knew all the songs and I would often dream about being one of the Von-Trap children, running about on the hillside, having picnics and exploring.

What country would you like to visit and why?
Ohh that’s a hard one. Like Alicia I would love to explore more of France, especially as my ancestors are actually from the Alsace region of France. I’ve been to France once before and loved tasting all their different breads and pastries; their fresh figs and apricots are unbelievable! However, I found they didn’t understand the concept of a Vegetarian diet very well and as I was diagnosed with coeliac disease a few months back its probably best I avoid the temptations of France for a while. I’d love to visit India or Japan as I think their food is amazing, plus they do lots of things for Veggies. I’d be too scared to go without someone who knew the area though. Also, I’d never turn down the chance to go back to America either!

Make up the last question and answer it yourself
What is your motto?
My motto would is ‘Onwards and Upwards!’ I see no point on dwelling on the past. Sometimes things happen that make us feel down or sad but in my view there is no point mooching around and forever thinking ‘what if?’ or ‘poor me.’ Of course it’s natural to feel upset by things for a while, but then I think it’s important to pick ourselves up and look to the future. It’s full of hope and promise and who knows what tomorrow, or even the next year will bring. Don’t view things as problems, see them as exciting challenges which you are going to figure out how to overcome. I’m a firm believer in a Positive Mental Attitude!

I would like to pass this award and 10 question challenge onto the following 10 bloggers:
Marie of The English Kitchen
Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella
Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen
Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe
Emily of Sugar Plum
Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker
Karina of Gluten Free Goddess
Anne of I Heart Cupcakes
Cupcake Crazy Gem
Chele of Chocolate Teapot

Thursday 6 January 2011

Made with You in Mind: Cranberry & Apple Pocket Pie (GF)

These cute pocket pies were made with someone very special in mind. Someone who has been/is a great friend and fellow blogger and baking enthusiast. That someone is the lovely Monica from Lick The Bowl Good. Even though we have never met, Monica and I have become friends and she always has a kind word or comment to say. After seeing many delicious desserts and tasty treats on Monica’s blog using flavoured baking chips, I was telling her how annoying I found it that we don’t have access of any flavoured baking chips here in the UK. Monica being the lovely lady she is sent me a Christmas baking parcel full of four different bags to baking chips – toffee, cinnamon, cappuccino and mint. Not only that, she also sent me a box of gluten free flour and an Apple shaped pocket pie mold!!! How thoughtful and generous is that!

I knew instantly that an apple shaped pocket pie was going to be the first thing I made. It’s such a clever design. You stamp out two pastry shapes using one side of the mold, then turn it over and use the other side to fill and crimp them into your own little pie. Unbelievably cute and I adore how it’s apple shaped – just perfect for me.

Due to its apple shape, the first one naturally had to contain apple. I combined this with some fresh cranberries I had leftover from Christmas along with some ginger to give it a little festive spice.

The pie mold also allows you to cut out a leaf shape from the top side of the pastry, allowing you a sneak peak at what’s hidden inside your pie.

The resulting pie was delicious. I served it on an apple shaped plate my mum had given me for my birthday a few months back. It was the perfect size, so it was obviously meant to be.

I modified my brown gluten free fibre pastry to use some lighter, whiter flours. It still turned out a little grey in colour when raw, but once baked it was a lovely golden brown and looked and tasted just like regular pastry – hurrah.

Thank you Monica. These were made with you in mind. Your blog, beaming smile and generosity of spirit never fail to brighten my day.

Cranberry & Apple Pocket Pie (GF)
Gluten Free Pastry (enough for 4-5 pies)
60g buckwheat flour
60g brown rice flour
40g tapioca starch
40g gram/chickpea flour
1½ tsp xanthan gum
20g icing sugar
1 egg
80g cold butter
2-3 tbsp cold water

Filling (enough for 2 pies, easily doubled)
1 large cooking apple
2 tbsp fresh cranberries
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp caster sugar for sprinkling

Gluten Free Pastry
Weigh the buckwheat, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, icing sugar and xanthan gum into a bowl. Sift in the gram/chickpea flour as it tends to be a little lumpy. Cut the cold butter into little cubes and rub it through the flour using the tips of your fingers, lifting them above the rim of the bowl and letting the flour fall back into it as you rub. Continue until all the butter has broken down and the mix contains some small clumps.
Lightly beat the egg, add to the flour mix and work in using a round bladed butter knife. Add two tablespoons of cold water and mix gently.
Tip the mix out onto a clean work surface (t may still look too dry at this stage) and switch to your hands and try to bring the mix together into a dough. If it still seems too dry add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time, until you are able to form a dough.
Knead the dough gently until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to chill for 30 – 60 minutes while you make the filling.

Cranberry Apple Filling
Peel, core and dice the apple into 1-2cm pieces. Place into a small saucepan along with enough water to just cover the base of the pan. Heat until the apple begins to release its juices and go slightly soft around the edges.
Add the cranberries, ginger and sugar. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until the apple is soft and tender and the cranberries popped and stained the apple a lovely pink colour. Taste, and add a little more sugar if you find it too tart.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190C and have a baking tray to hand.
Roll out the pastry in-between two sheets of clingfilm. Use the pocket pie to stamp out a top and bottom pastry pie piece.
Turn the pocket pie maker over and lay the pastry base into the hollow. Fill with the cooled cranberry and apple mixture, but do not overfill.
Brush the edges of the pie with a little water and place the pastry lid on top. Clamp the edges together using the pocket pie mould.
Transfer the pie to a baking tray and scatter over 1 teaspoon of caster sugar. Repeat with the leftover pastry until the filling is used up.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Eat straight away while still hot.
Makes enough filling for two pies, but pastry enough for 4-5 pies. The filling can be easily doubled if you want to make lots of pies (I used the leftover pastry to make some gluten free mince pies)

Saturday 1 January 2011

Sweet Potato Cornbread (GF)

I’ve tried cornbreads in the past, but never been a particularly big fan of them. I have found them to be a bit gritty, dry and crumbly unless submerged in soups or stews. However, my opinions of cornbread changed when I saw, made and tasted this recipe. It’s based on a recipe I saw on Karina’s blog - Gluten Free Goddess. This blog has become my new go-to blog for any gluten free recipe inspiration I require. All her food looks amazing and the minute I saw this cornbread I instantly thought ‘I have to make this.’

This cornbread is a sort of cross between a cake and a bread. It’s both sweet and savoury and uses a combination of mashed sweet potato, brown sugar and spices to add extra depth and flavour. It’s made using half fine cornmeal and half buckwheat flour, whose nutty sweet flavour complemented the other ingredients beautifully.

Sweet potato may sound like an odd ingredient to use in bread, but it adds a wonderful sweetness and autumnal orange colour. It also ensures the cornbread stays beautifully moist, soft and springy – no more dry crumbly cornbread here! I was also impressed how light it was, not dense or heavy in the slightest.

I adored the flavour of this bread. I reduced the sugar content quite substantially as I intended using it in a savoury dish, meaning the natural sweetness from the sweet potato was the underlying flavour which complemented the spices with delicious result. As it was not too sweet, I found it went well with both sweet and savoury dishes from breakfast to dinner. It’s definitely going to become a regular on baking list. Gluten free or not, I encourage you all to give it a go.

P.S. Happy New Year to you all! Hope it’s a good one.

Sweet Potato Cornbread (GF)
(Recipe adapted from Gluten Free Goddess blog)
3 eggs
100ml vegetable oil
175g mashed sweet potato (250g raw)
55g light soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
120g fine cornmeal
120g buckwheat flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Start by making the sweet potato puree. Cut a large sweet potato into quarters, leaving the skin on. Place into a glass bowl and cover the base with 2cm of water. Cover the top in clingfilm and microwave for 7-8 minutes until soft.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before scooping out the softened flesh using a spoon. Mash with a fork until fairly smooth, but a few lumpy bits are fine. Weigh out 175g and set aside.
Grease an 8inch/20cm deep springform pan and line the base with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy, then slowly drizzle in the oil, still whisking. Add the sweet potato puree, sugar, vanilla, salt and spices and whisk well to combine.
Scatter the cornmeal, buckwheat flour, baking powder and soda over the surface and fold in gently using a spatula, turning the bowl as you go.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 40-45 minutes until springy and firm to the touch.
Allow the cornbread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before releasing and leaving to cool to room temperature or just warm before serving.
Makes 1 20cm/8inch cornbread

Tastes great on its own when freshly baked but also works well with both sweet and savoury dishes as it’s not too sweet. I’ve used it to accompany soups, bean stews or as stuffing as well as serving it for breakfast with yogurt and stewed fruit or warmed with Nutella. The sweet potato, sugar and spices complement each other beautifully.

I used some of this cornbread in a fruity stuffed acorn roasted squash that I had for my Christmas lunch. It’s another recipe inspired by Karina from the Gluten Free Goddess blog. I used a mix of fresh cranberries, apple, red onion and sage which I sautéed off first before combining it with the sweet potato cornbread crumbs to stuff inside an acorn squash. The squash was roasted for an hour first before adding the stuffing and roasted again for a further20minutes. Delicious! (Photo of the squash before the final roasting)