Friday 29 June 2012

ABC Award

Thank you to Gem from Cupcake Crazy Gem who recently presented me with this ABC (Awesome Blog Content) award. For fun, you’ve got to give some random facts about yourself, one for every letter of the alphabet! So here's my 26 alphabet related facts about me! 

A – Apple & Spice. My blog. I started it during my uni days and never expected it to grow and still be going strong 5 years later. It’s great at pushing me to be creative and try new recipes and showing me the vast culinary world out there.

B – Backwards. My friends and family often describe myself as backwards as I don’t fit your typical stereotype. I’m not that interested in fashion and would sooner have a new baking tin than a new pair of shoes. When doing those fun personality tests, I’m often in the 2% who say something different to the norm or I’ll like foods no one else does. I like being a bit quirky though and it means I have ideas other people might not, which can be useful.

C – Coeliac. Since being diagnosed nearly two years ago, my diet and lifestyle has changed quite dramatically. However, I feel it’s an experience that’s made me stronger and only increased my interest in discovering new foods.

D – Desserts. Some of my favourite things to bake. I eat dessert every day, it doesn’t have to be extravagant – some stewed fruit and yoghurt can be just as enjoyable as a large slice of carrot cake.

E – Eating. I love trying new foods and flavours. Different cuisines, foods and cultures interest me so much. Every time I see something new I think ‘ohhh wonder what that tastes like.’ This very snazzy looking watermelon radish was a recent discovery while in America.

F – Fruit. I love all fruit (except kiwi which I’m allergic to) and often eat 5 portions a day, before even adding veg into the equation. I love summer and autumn when all the berries, plums, apples and pears come into season. There’s nothing like freshly picked fruit.

G – Grow Your Own. There is a special kind of enjoyment about eating something you have grown yourself. I currently have 4 different varieties of potato, 3 varieties of tomato, a strawberry plant and a dwarf pear tree all growing in pots on the patio. You don’t need grass to home grow.

H – Health. Our health is one of the most important things. As much as I love desserts and sweet things, I also make sure to include lots of wholegrains, fruits and veg to my diet. My uni course, being coeliac and vegetarian has only increased my awareness of how important our health is.

I – Ice Cream. One of the best I ever had was a hazelnut gelato in Italy when I was 16. Divine

J – Job. I’m currently job hunting. If anyone knows of a job where the skills of a coeliac, vegetarian, baking enthusiast, blog writer and all round foodie with a food and nutrition degree is required – let me know!

K – Kitkat. My childhood nickname. I’m not sure how it started as I didn’t eat a lot of kitkat biscuits. I think it’s just because it sounded good when spoken with my name ‘Kitkat Katie’

L – Lightning. There is something so awe-inspiring about watching a thunderstorm, patricianly at night. Powerful, slightly frightening and strangely beautiful at the same time.

M – Mum & Dad. They’ve given me such love and support and always been there to share my highs and lows. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.

N – Newquay. Lots of happy memories of family holidays spent here. Days on the beach, learning to body board in the sea and walks along the coast.

O – Onwards & Upwards! My motto for life. If things don’t turn out as you wanted, don’t dwell on the past, but look to the future. Equally if things are going well, don’t stop, keep going… Onwards…!

P – Peas! I love them, they are so versatile. Try eating them straight from the freezer on a hot day, they are like little balls of sorbet – delicious.

Q – Quiet. Everyone needs a bit of quiet time now and then.

RReading. I always have a book on the go and read a few pages every night. I’ve just started Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (one of my favourite authors) and at 850 pages it’s going to take a while.

S – Siblings. I have an older sister Caroline (Caz) and a younger brother Jonathan (JJ). We are all 4 years and 4 months apart, with me being the middle child. We are really close to each other, but I do remember suffering a bit from middle child syndrome when I was younger. Being jealous, as my brother got away with everything being the baby of the family, while my sister got to do everything first and I was stuck in the middle. It’s better now we’re older and have each become our own unique people.

T – Technology. I think we have too much of it. I like phones, computers and the internet but feel we are all connected to it too much now. Sometimes it’s good to keep our own thoughts to ourselves. I don’t have an i-phone, i-pod, Twitter or Facebook account for this reason.

UUSA. I’ve been twice, once to Chicago and once to Los Angeles. I loved it and can even picture myself living there for a year or two. I loved how their broad range of different foods and cuisines were so accessible. It made being a coeliac vegetarian quite easy. Plus they have specialist shops you just wouldn’t get here in the UK, like whole stores dedicated to popcorn – how cool!

V – Vegetarian. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 9, over 16 years! I’m the only one in my family who is, which also adds to me being ‘backwards’ in their eyes.

W – Walking. This is my favourite form of exercise. I love wandering off and exploring new areas, particularly in the countryside where each new hill or corner reveals something new. I find it so peaceful and it gives me time to think.

X – XXX. Indicating kisses at the end of a letter, always a nice thing to receive.

Y – Yogurt. I eat it nearly every day and prefer it to milk on my cereal. It must be natural and unsweetened, although I often add my own berries, cinnamon or even a little nutella to it.

Z – ZZzzzzz enough facts about me!

I now pass this award onto 5 of my favourite bloggers. You must link back to the person who gave you the award before passing it on:

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Daring Bakers June 2012: Battenberg

I was so excited when this months Daring Bakers challenge was announced. I adore Battenberg cake, its quirky cream and pink squares, the soft fluffy sponge and best of all, the outer coating of intense almond marzipan. I’d never attempted to make one myself and have not eaten one since having to go gluten free. This made the challenge feel even more special and I was determined to get it right.

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

The part that I found most difficult was preparing the pan with a cardboard centre divide in order to bake two coloured sponges in the same pan simultaneously. I couldn’t get the divide to stand up, but thankfully another family member came to my rescue and held it in place while I spread the coloured batters on either side. I suspect if you were careful, you wouldn’t need to bother with the divide at all, as I don’t think the cake batters would spread too much into each other as they are quite thick. I may try this next time, especially as you trim the cake to size anyway.

After trimming I had my 4 strips of cake and was ready to begin assembly. As the sponges were delicately flavoured with almond and would be covered with almond marzipan I wanted to introduce another flavour element and decided to use some zingy lemon curd, instead of the specified apricot jam, to stick my cake strips together. This worked well as it was the perfect spreadable consistency and the lemon and almond flavour complimented each other nicely.

The assembly process is a little fiddly and time consuming, but it wasn’t difficult. My finished Battenberg ended up a little rectangular, rather than a perfect square/cube but for a first attempt I was more than happy with the results.

The checked pink and cream squares made it instantly recognisable and it sliced into portions without falling apart, the lemon curd and marzipan doing their jobs well. The sponge was wonderfully soft and fluffy and surprisingly moist considering the dry ingredients were more than a usual cake recipe. The thin spreading of lemon curd added just a touch of freshness and sweetness to the cake, and the almond marzipan was, naturally, fabulous. I love how it is wrapped around the whole cake so you can get a bit of cake, jam and marzipan in each bite – heavenly!

I made this cake for a coeliac friend who I had invited round for dinner. We had recently been talking about food we missed and she had actually mentioned Battenberg, so she seemed the perfect person to share it with. This recipe is by Mary Berry and I’ve seen she also has a more adult coffee and walnut version too, which I’m sure is delicious, but for me the pink and cream squares are part of what make it so special and so childishly nostalgic to me.

Click here to see other Daring Bakers Battenberg cakes

(Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible)
175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
175gm gluten free self raising flour
3 eggs
65g ground almonds
¾ tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
¼ tsp xanthan gum (if making GF)
Pink food paste

To Decorate
100g apricot jam (I used lemon curd)
225g marzipan, natural

Preheat oven to moderate 180C and grease an 8inch/20cm square baking tin. Cut a large rectangle of parchment paper, the width of the tin. Cut a sheet of card the width of the tin and wrap it in foil. Then fold this inside the centre of the parchment, to create a wall/divide to go through the centre of the tin. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment covered card.
Whisk together the dry ingredients then combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth.
Spoon half the mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin.
Add a few pinpricks of pink food paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, and spread into the second half of the divided tin.
Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen and springs back when lightly touched.
Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Once completely cool, trim the very edges of the cake with a long serrated knife to cut away of the browned surface.
Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge.
Neaten the strips and trim the tops if necessary so that your strips are all the same length and height.
Gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a small sieve (I used cold lemon curd).
Brush warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow).
Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake, use a ruler to help you.
Brush the top of the cake with the jam and place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down. Brush the remaining three sides with jam and carefully press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over.
Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, to create a diamond effect. (I also crimped mine with an icing tool).
Neaten the ends of the cake and cut thin slices off both ends of the cake, to create a good presentation.
Store at room temperature and eat within 3 days.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Spiced Fig & Walnut Biscotti Bites

I’m not really much of a biscuit/cookie lover. Given the choice I would always choose cake over cookies, but every so often I fancy something crisp and crunchy and biscotti are always my biscuits of choice.

I usually make biscotti by shaping them into one thick log that I slice after baking. However, I was having a sort out in my room and rediscovered my éclair tin that I once used for baking little cakes in, and never again since. The rounded log shaped hollows got me wondering if it would be possible to make mini biscotti logs in each of the hollows in order to create smaller, more dainty biscotti slices. Only one way to find out!

The tin actually worked perfectly and made it very easy to shape and bake the sticky biscotti dough. The resulting logs were then easy to slice into equal sized slices which made for very cute little biscotti bites.

I had some dried figs and a few broken pieces of walnut to use up and decided to pair these together with lots of warming spices. Cinnamon is my spice of choice, but I was in an experimental mood and so used ground cardamom, cloves and a little mixed spice instead.

The spices gave a wonderful colour to the dough and made the finished biscotti smell and taste a bit like an exotic gingerbread or Christmas cake, warming, comforting but just a little bit different. The figs added a nice chew as well as sweetness and crunch from their little crunchy seeds. I liked munching on them just as they are, but I bet they would be great served with some cheese too, either as nibbles with drinks or for something a bit different to have after dinner.

If you don’t have an éclair tin I’m sure you could use a muffin tin and cut them vertically into slices instead, or just make the traditional big log shape. This recipe doesn’t make a lot of dough, so you may want to double the quantities if making traditional biscotti.

Spiced Fig & Walnut Biscotti Bites
1 egg
50g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
90g soft, ready to eat dried figs
40g walnuts
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves Farm)
30g fine yellow cornmeal (not cornflour)

MethodHeat the oven to 180C. Have an éclair tin ready to hand, or else line a baking tray with silicone paper.
Beat the egg, sugar and vanilla extract together until combined, but it doesn’t want to go foamy.
Roughly chop the walnuts and dried figs into small chunks and add to the bowl along with the spices. Stir briefly.
Scatter the flour, cornmeal and bicarbonate of soda over the top and mix it all together using a spatula. It should be quite thick, soft and sticky.
Wet your hands before dividing the dough into 4 pieces and rolling each one into a log shape. Place in the hollows of the éclair tin, or place onto the lined baking tray.
Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until puffed and lightly golden brown.
Remove from the oven, tap the logs out the tin and place onto a chopping board. Dampen a tea towel (it should not be too wet) and drape over the top of the biscotti and leave for 5 minutes (this keeps the top soft and makes slicing easier – my own discovered tip!)
After 5 minutes, slice the biscotti into 1cm slices on the diagonal.
Arrange the slices onto a baking tray, laying them flat.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes before flipping the slices over and baking for a further 5 minutes. Once baked, transfer the slices to a wire rack to cool.
Store in an airtight container. Keeps well for around 3 weeks!
Make great gifts, packed in little boxes or bags.
Makes around 20 mini biscotti

Wednesday 20 June 2012

The Cake Slice June 2012: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

This cake is rich, intensely chocolaty, fudgy, moist and decedent. It’s almost black, brownie-like layers are sandwiched together with a smooth, bitter chocolate cream, before being covered in a sweet dark chocolate frosting and scattered with some reserved cake crumbs….it’s dark and mysterious and utterly divine.

This cake is too good to be simply labelled as a ‘cake.’ In my eyes this is not cake. It’s a sort of torte, gateaux, truffle, brownie, dessert, cake hybrid. It’s a dessert for serious chocolate lovers and is so rich and sophisticated that it should come with an ‘adults only’ warning.

As last Sunday was Fathers day I saved baking this until then, when I could present it to my dad over dinner. This is such a dark, moody creation, that it seemed the perfect ‘manly cake’ – no light fluffy fruity layers here!

The cake was meant to be a 9inch cake, which is then cut into 3 layers. I decided to halve this recipe and baked the cake in a 6inch tin, which worked fine, although only resulted in 2 tiers, rather than 3. Not that this mattered. I then discovered I didn’t have enough eggs to make the filling, so substituted this was a dark chocolate ganache (a decadent cream and chocolate combo) that I suspect was even more indulgent than the proposed filling.

The cake layers themselves are very moist and fudgy. Almost middle of a brownie in consistency. Their deep dark colour comes from copious amounts of cocoa powder and some hot strong coffee. The coffee seems to really enhance the chocolate flavour, without being obviously coffee. The cake layers become even more sticky and fudgy as they are stored over time.

The outer frosting was quite sweet, but this acted as a nice contrast to the rich cake and bitter chocolate ganache filling. My mum was in rhapsodies over her slice. We all agreed it was fabulous and definitely more of a dessert than an afternoon tea cake. One I’ll be sure to bake again (think I’ll stick to my ganche filling too). I strongly recommend you giving a go!

Click here to see the list of my fellow Cake Slice bakers.

Brooklyn Blackout Cake
(Recipe adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
Chocolate Blackout Cake
180g plain flour (I used Doves Farm plain GF)
80g cocoa powder
1½ tsp gf baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
400g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
240ml buttermilk
115g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
240ml hot brewed coffee (you can use decaf)

Chocolate Filling *(see notes below for my ganche filling)
4 egg yolks
130g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
1/8 tsp salt
240ml water
160m double cream
85g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting
115g dark chocolate, chopped
155g butter, softened
190g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Blackout Cake
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line two 9inch/22cm round cake tins.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the sugar and mix until all the ingredients are blended.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. While mixing the dry ingredients at low speed, add the egg mixture in a steady steam. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat for 1 minute, until well blended. (It will be quite thick)
Add the hot coffee and mix gently until combined. (It will now be very liquid)
Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until starting to come away from the sides and firm to the touch. Cool the cakes in the tins before turning out.
Chocolate Filling
In the bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and salt until pale, about 1 minute.
In a saucepan, combine the water and cream and bring to a boil before removing from the heat. Whisk half of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture into the remaining cream in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil, whisking, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it is completely melted. Pass the filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Cover the surface of the pudding with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until chilled.

Chocolate Frosting
Melt the chocolate until smooth and set aside.
Beat the butter until creamy, before gradually adding in the icing sugar. Beat until it starts to form a buttercream.
Beat in the vanilla extract and the cooled chocolate, mixing until blended.
Using a large serrated knife, cut the two chocolate cake layers in half, to create 4 layers. Set one layer aside and crumble half of it into crumbs to use as decoration later (you can eat the remaining bit).
Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread over half of the filling. Top with another cake layer, the rest of the filling and the final cake layer. You should have a three-tiered cake at this stage.
Spread the chocolate frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Don’t worry about being too neat as its going to get covered in crumbs.
Scatter the saved cake crumbs over the top of the cake (sides too if you wish)
Serve immediately or store at room temperature for up to 3 days. The cake becomes even more moist and fudgy over time.

* I halved this recipe and baked the cakes in 2 x 6inch tins. These made cakes a little too thin for cutting in half so my cake was only two-tiered instead of three.
* I didn’t have enough eggs to make the filling so I made a simple chocolate ganache using 160ml hot double cream, poured over 85g dark chocolate and stirred until smooth. Leave the ganache to cool and thicken before using – divine!

Friday 15 June 2012

Coffee Swirl Cake with Choc Chips

I had three egg whites sitting in the fridge needed to find a purpose and hit that old problem – what can I make with them? The things that instantly spring to mind are pavlova and macarons, but not being a meringue fan these didn’t appeal. A quick sort through my recipe archives and I discovered the perfect recipe – a buttermilk loaf cake made using 3 egg whites – perfect!

Rather than stick with a vanilla cake, I decided to incorporate a little coffee and turn it into a vanilla coffee swirl cake. As I didn’t intend to frost the cake I also scattered in some dark chocolate chips and pecans, plus a little extra sprinkled on top. I love this combination in a cake, the chocolate turns all soft and melty and the nuts become nicely toasted.

During baking, the top of the cake forms a dark, slightly chewy crust, while the middle stays soft and tender. At first I was a little worried I had over baked it, but the cake inside was fine and I loved the contrast between the toasted chewy top and the moist crumb within. The crumb texture is quite close, probably due to the eggs whites and buttermilk, but the cake is not heavy or dense, and in fact it’s all too easy to eat.

I loved how each slice was slightly different, depending where in the vanilla-coffee swirl it was cut. The chocolate chips and pecans added little hits of texture and flavour when you happened to bite into one and worked well with the coffee. A great way to use up leftover egg whites!

This cake is also my entry to this months We Should Cocoa. A chocolate challenge event created by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Teapot. Each month they challenge bakers to get create with chocolate plus a mystery ingredient, which this month is…Coffee!  This month’s challenge is being hosted by Lucy of The Kitchen Maid. I’ve been meaning to participate in this event for months, so now I’ve finally done it! Click here for more info on how to take part.

Coffee Swirl Cake with Choc Chips
100g butter
200g caster sugar
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g buckwheat flour*
60g brown rice flour*
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
220ml buttermilk
2½ tsp instant coffee granules
4 tsp hot milk

Topping & Centre Sprinkles
50g chopped nuts – I used pecans
70g dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 9x5 inch loaf tin.
Mix all the sprinkle ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
Dissolve the coffee in the hot milk and set aside.
Start by whisking the egg whites until they becoming opaque and fluffy, but don’t yet hold a peak.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg white and vanilla and mix gently.
Sift over half the flours and the xanthan gum and fold in gently, followed by buttermilk and then the remaining flour along with the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.
Pour half of the batter into the loaf tin and scatter over half the sprinkle mix.
Add the coffee mixture to the remaining batter and mix briefly to combine. Spread the coffee batter into the tin and top with the rest of the sprinkle mix.
Use a tablespoon to delve down to the bottom of the tin and make one folding motion, so that some of the vanilla batter from the base of the tin comes to the surface and swirls with the coffee batter. Do this once more at the other end of the tin. Do not over mix.
Place the tin on a baking tray and bake for 50-55 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and leaving to cool completely before slicing to reveal the swirls of vanilla and coffee cake.
Eat and enjoy.
Store in an airtight container or freeze in slices on day of baking

* Note: This cake also works with 240g of ‘normal’ wheat flour or a combination of your own GF flour mix without any problems

Monday 11 June 2012

Rose & Rhubarb Ripple Frozen Yogurt

Last weekend I was waist high in nettles, foraging for rhubarb. There is a field near my grandmothers house which last year we discovered was abundant in wild rhubarb and so on a recent visit we set off to discover if it had appeared again this year. At first we were disappointed as we could find no signs of the tall pink stems and bushy green leaves, only a vast patch of weeds, grass and nettles. I was all for admitting defeat but my grandmother declared “it must be in there somewhere” and proceeded to stomp her way through the nettles. Sure enough, she found some young tender stalks fighting their way through the weeds to the surface.

I couldn’t let her battle alone and so I edged my way into the jungle too and soon we were plucking the shiny stalks by the armful. I only got stung three times, which if you could have seen the forest of nettles you would know was quite an achievement!

Rhubarb and strawberries are a fabulous combination and I wanted to keep things fresh and so simply stewed them gently to create a delicious fruity compote. It was so delicious I ate it for three days straight with yoghurt, porridge or cereal for breakfast. It was such a pretty colour, swirled into the yoghurt, that I decided to use the rest of the batch to create some rippled frozen yogurt.

I wanted to flavour the yogurt with something too as plain frozen yogurt can be a bit bland. I decided to add some sweet rose syrup as I think the light perfumed floral notes work really well with summer fruits. This is not the same as rose water, it is a sweet rose infused syrup that you can get in oriental supermarkets or ethnic sections in supermarkets. I got this particular one in Tesco. I think its meant to be used for making rose flavoured desserts and milky drinks but I love adding it to other things. Its such a vibrant pink colour, that it adds a gorgeous blushed pink colour to the yogurt. I also added a little Pimms, not enough to add any noticeable taste, but as I’ve read that adding a small amount of alcohol to your ice cream will help prevent it from freezing quite so solid.

Once churned, swirled and softly frozen it made for a delicious dessert. It was very light and milky, no where near as thick or creamy as ice cream but very refreshing. The yogurt maintained its slight yogurt tang, while the delicate floral flavour of the rose was there too. The rhubarb fruity mixture added a lovely flavour, although I think I would have preferred the rhubarb more broken down. I’d left it quite chunky for the compote but this meant it went a bit icy when frozen. Next time I’ll stew it for longer to get smaller strands.

Light, refreshing, fruity and delicious. The perfect summer afternoon treat. We just need the warm weather to go with it now!

Rose & Rhubarb Ripple Frozen Yogurt
250g rhubarb
100g strawberries
50g blueberries
6 tbsp caster sugar

Rose Yogurt
750g low fat natural yogurt
4 tbsp sweet rose syrup (not rose water, see note below)
2 tbsp Pimms (or other fruity alcohol)

Start by making the rhubarb compote. Wash and trim the rhubarb and strawberries and cut into 2cm sticks. Place into a saucepan along the with blueberries and scatter over the sugar. Leave to macerate for half an hour, which will help the fruit release its juices.
Once the juices have been released. heat gently, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft and completely broken down. Taste and add more sugar if it’s too tart/sour for you.
Allow to cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to use later.
Meanwhile, mix the yogurt, rose syrup and Pimms together to combine (the alcohol will help keep it from setting so solid, you can’t really taste it).
Churn in an ice cream machine until thick and softly frozen and pour into a freezeable container. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, just place the mix straight into a freezeable container and freeze for 3 hours. Take it out and give it a mix every hour to help achieve even freezing.
Once ready, pour the chilled rhubarb mixture over the top of the softly frozen yogurt and swirl it thought the yoghurt to create a ripple effect. Don’t over mix.
Return to the freezer for another 2 hours before serving.
If made far in advance, remove the yoghurt from the freezer half an hour before serving, to allow it to soften slightly.

You can use 400g of any softly cooked soft fruits, peaches, raspberries, cherries, apricots etc
You can find bottles of rose syrup in oriental supermarkets or ethnic sections in supermarkets

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Jubilee Cheesecake

I hope everyone enjoyed the Jubilee weekend. I managed to see my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister and brother over the course of the 4 days, so it was a lovely family occasion.

My family is a very foodie family, not everyone enjoys cooking it, but we all certainly enjoy eating it and so there is always a selection of delicious food (homemade of course) to enjoy while we all catch up with each others news.

As well as my previously mentioned éclairs, my mum contributed a delicious vanilla cheesecake which we decorated together with blueberries and strawberries to resemble the Union Jack flag. This is a baked vanilla cheesecake with a layer of sour cream on top, added just before baking, to give it a slight tang. The cheesecake itself is baked in a bain-marie or water bath to ensure it stays fabulous smooth and creamy.

I don’t have many photos of it as we were all too eager to tuck in, but quite a considerable amount of it disappeared! It was a Nigella Lawson recipe and it seemed particularly fitting for the occasion as Nigella calls it a London cheesecake. GF biscuits were used for the base which meant I could enjoy it too. It was absolutely divine, velvety smooth and creamy.

My sister really outdid herself by baking a red, white and blue Union Jack puff pastry flag. She used roasted red peppers and tomatoes for the red, sliced feta cheese for the white and then some sliced new potatoes that she boiled in water, tinted blue with food dye as you couldn’t think of a savoury blue food. Talk about inventive! It looked stunning, well done C!
Unfortunately it wasn’t GF, but the whole thing got eaten so I assume it tasted good.

Jubilee Cheesecake
(Recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson)
Biscuit Base
150g gluten free digestive/tea biscuits
75g unsalted butter, melted

600g cream cheese (check its GF)
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1½ tablespoons vanilla extract (yes really!)
1½ tablespoons lemon juice

145ml tub sour cream
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Blueberries and strawberries to decorate

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they are like crumbs, then add the butter and pulse again. Line the bottom of an 8inch/20cm springform tin and pressing the buttery biscuits into the base and press down firmly.
Put the tin in the fridge to set. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Beat the cream cheese gently until it's smooth, then add in the sugar. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, then finally the vanilla and lemon juice. Fill the kettle and bring to the boil.
Warp the outside on the tin, base and up and sides, with one large sheet of strong foil. Repeat to ensure it is watertight. This will protect the cheesecake from the water as it is cooked in its water bath. Place the tin into a roasting dish.
Pour the cream cheese filling onto the chilled biscuit base. Pour hot water from the recently boiled kettle into the roasting tin, around the cheesecake, so that the water comes half way up the sides. It should not come over the top edges of your foil wrapping.
Carefully place into the oven and cook for 50 minutes, while you prefer the sour cream topping. After 50 minutes the cheesecake should be set on top, but still be soft and wobbly in the centre.
For the sour cream, whisk together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla and pour over the baked cheesecake. Put the cheesecake back in the oven for a further 10 minutes to set the topping.
Once baked, remove the wrapped cheesecake from the water bath and unwrap the foil. A little condensation/water on the foil is ok. Transfer the cheesecake, still in its tin, to a rack to cool.
When it's cooled down completely, place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, although preferably overnight.
When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the tin before unmoulding and transferring to a serving plate. Try heating the knife in hot water first to get a clean cut.
Decorate with berries or anything else you wish.
Makes 1 x 8inch cheesecake

Saturday 2 June 2012

GF Éclairs with Raspberry Crème Patisserie & White Chocolate - perfect for the Jubilee

I’m not doing anything special for the Jubilee, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a few red, white and blue themed treats to share with the family. I decided I wanted to try making some gluten free éclairs, something I have been putting off attempting for several months, as I was really unsure how they would turn out. I’d heard reports that some people had made some quite successful GF choux pastry and decided it was time I gave it a go myself.

I wanted to do something a bit different to traditional éclairs and so made a raspberry crème patisserie for the filling which I infused with Chambord, a fabulous French black raspberry liqueur combined with notes of citrus peel, honey and vanilla. I love its ruby red colour. I also added some good quality raspberry conserve for added flavour. This is richer, creamier and oh so much more indulgent than simply filling with some whipped cream, but it’s defiantly worth the extra effort for a special occasion. I could have (and did) eaten quite a bit of it by the spoonful – quality testing of course.

For decoration I wanted to tray and replicate the English flag, but thought this would probably be a little difficult to do on top of an éclair. Instead I simply coated the tops with melted white chocolate, piped on alternating lines of red and blue icing and then lightly dragged a cocktail stick through the lines to create a feather effect. This worked well and I loved the result with its curves of red, white and blue.

For some reason my choux pastry batter turned out a little too soft, meaning I had to add extra flour, which then created a few lumps in the batter. Drat. I carried on regardless and the resulting little choux pastry éclairs were quite tasty, if not perfectly formed. They did puff slightly in the oven and create the desired little hollows in the centre, but the space was not big enough to fill generously with the crème patisserie.. No one wants a stingy filled éclair and so I simply sandwiched two éclairs together, which allowed lots of delicious creamy filling. Crisis averted!

They looked so pretty set out on their plates. The GF buns themselves were fine, a little thick perhaps as they didn’t rise as they should have, but by no means gummy or gritty. The raspberry crème patisserie was divine, so indulgent and yet surprisingly light and airy. It wasn’t overly sweet, which I liked and is definitely worth the extra effort. The top coating of white chocolate added a nice hit of sweetness and went well with the raspberry filling. All in all delicious, although I need to work on my GF choux pastry. I used to make them all the time before having to go GF. Anyone have any GF choux tips?

Whatever you’re doing – I hope you have a wonderful Jubilee weekend!

GF Éclairs with Raspberry Crème Patisserie & White Chocolate
Pate a Choux
150 ml water
60g unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
10g caster sugar
100g gluten free plain flour
3 eggs

MethodPreheat the oven to 220C. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon paper.
Combine the water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stir occasionally. Once boiling, remove from the heat and pour in the flour. Immediately beat vigorously to incorporate the flour and prevent lumps from forming until it forms a thick dough.
Return the dough to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer to a bowl and beat for 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg and beat in well. The dough will break up into lumps and look shiny, but this is normal. Keep beating and it will come back together.
Repeat the process until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe the choux about 1 inch-part on the baking sheets. Pipe out a short, fairly fat line of choux, about 2 inches long.
Spray a fine mist of water over the whole tray before placing in the oven. (The steam helps them puff up before a crust can form)
Bake at 220C for 10 minutes, until lightly golden.
Lower the temperature to 180C and continue baking until browned and dry, about 15 minutes more. The lower second tray may need a couple of minutes longer. Transfer to a cooling wire to cool.
Store in an airtight box until required.
Makes about 20-24 éclairs

Crème Patisserie
250ml whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
15g cornflour
50g caster sugar
2 large egg yolks
30g unsalted butter
200ml double cream
1 tbsp Chambord (Black raspberry liqueur)
2 tbsp raspberry conserve
Tiny amount pink food gel

Pour the milk into a sauce pan and heat until steaming and near to boiling point.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture, whisking all the time.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stirring constantly. Do not let it boil.
Remove from heat and pass through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
Cover the cream with clingfilm, pressing it directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge until completely cold.
When cold, whisk the cream until it forms stiff peaks, add the raspberry liqueur and whisk again to combine. Fold the cream into the pastry cream and beat in the raspberry conserve. Add a tiny pinprick of pink food gel to give it a pink blush, don’t overdo it though as you want it to look natural.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

To Decorate
80g white chocolate
2 x 40g icing sugar
Red and blue food dye

Melt the white chocolate in a small bowl.
Divide the icing sugar into two separate small bowls. Mix into a stiff glace icing using 2 drops of water.
Colour each of the icings with red and blue food dye.
Place the dyed icings into small paper piping bags, made from rolled squares of greaseproof paper. Cut the ends off to create a small piping hole.
Coat the top of the éclairs with the melted white chocolate. Immediately pipe on alternating colours of the red and blue icings, in thin lines across the width of the éclair.
While everything is still soft, drag the point of a cocktail stick down the length of the éclair and up the other side, to create a feather effect.
Leave to set before filling with the raspberry crème patisserie and eating.