Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Cacao-Courgette (Zucchini) Breakfast Cake (gluten free & wholegrain)


The courgette glut continues and we seem to be getting more inventive every day with ways to consume them over at Gluten Free Alchemist. This Cacao-Courgette (Zucchini) Breakfast Cake is my latest effort in the fight to tame the deluge...... It is quite possibly my favourite yet.

I love courgettes, but they seem to be rampant little beasts and no matter how many times I tell myself to plant less of them, I always end up with too many to keep up with. I think the fact that they are so easy to grow is a big draw. There is nothing worse than trying to grow food that either fails or takes loads of effort and space for little reward. Courgettes just keep on coming no matter how little attention they are given.


This breakfast cake is a twist on my Chocolate Chunk-Courgette Oatie Cookie Mounds, which have always been well received. When I made them a couple of weeks back, I thought that if I gave them a few tweaks of ingredients and made them as a tray bake, they might make wholesome, healthy and very sustaining breakfast bars. And indeed they do. If you leave out the chocolate chunks (which are optional anyway) or replace them with some cacao nibs, they would be wonderfully healthy.... but I am a sucker for chocolate and throwing a few chocolate chips into the mix was also a good way to persuade Miss GF to ignore the fact that they contained courgette and give them a go....

Made with a rice-free flour blend that is 40% wholegrain flours, to which I have added an additional portion of whole-grain oat flour and plenty of gluten free rolled oats, the base of this cake is full of good stuff. The courgette adds extra fibre and moisture, alongside peanut butter and hazelnuts for crunch and nuttiness, cacao powder (which not only packs a flavour punch, but is full of antioxidants, minerals and B and E vitamins), all of which is sweetened with a balanced (but not over-sweet) combination of unrefined coconut palm sugar and light brown sugar.


They are so easy to make too.... I think the most fiddly part is grating the courgette! Once made they will last well for several days in an airtight container in the fridge...... Perfect for grabbing on your way out the door for breakfast on the go or a mid-morning snack in the office.

Not only are they (relatively) guilt free..... (okay.... next time I promise I will sub the chocolate for cacao nibs), but they are amazingly filling.... and unless you are a ridiculously hungry person, will sustain you for hours.

Oh..... and I needn't have worried about Miss GF..... She enjoyed them just as much as the rest of us over at Gluten Free Alchemist and didn't seem phased at all that they contained green stuff!

I am sharing my Cacao-Courgette (Zucchini) Breakfast Cake with :

Recipe Of The Week with A Mummy Too

Fiesta Friday #184

Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello






Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy



Simple & In Season with Feeding Boys

Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer







Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme







Eat Your Greens with Allotment to Kitchen and The Veg Hog

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Other Courgette (Zucchini) Recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist
Courgette & Cherry Cupcakes
Giant Round Courgette (or Marrow) Stuffed with Rich Dark Puy Lentil Stuffing
Spiralized Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup
Chocolate Chunk-Courgette Oatie Cookie Mounds
Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake
Turkey Meatballs with Hidden Veg
Manchego, Saucisson & Oregano Muffins
Marinated BBQ Veg

Cacao-Courgette (Zucchini) Breakfast Cake (makes 10 to 15 bars, depending on how big you cut them)

Ingredients

125g plain gluten free flour blend (I used my GFA rice-free blend that you can find here)
25g cacao powder
90g GF oats
50g GF oat flour (made as in this post)
60g tapioca flour
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
180g soft butter
75g coconut palm sugar
85g light soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
280g courgette/zucchini - grated
40g crunchy peanut butter
35g chopped roasted hazelnuts
150g dark chocolate chips/chunks (optional)

Method

  1. Base-line a 9 inch/23 cm square baking tin and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Weigh and mix together the flours, cacao, oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, until completely blended (I weigh mine into an airtight container and shake vigorously).
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until pale and light.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again to blend thoroughly.
  5. Add the dry ingredients, grated courgette/zucchini, peanut butter, hazelnuts and chocolate chips (if using) and fold together until you have an even mixture. 
  6. Spoon the batter into the baking tin and smooth the top.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is firm to the touch.
  8. Leave the cake in the tin for 20 to 30 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Cut into slices and store in an airtight container
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Best Ever Gluten Free Scones with Simple (lower-sugar) Home-Made Strawberry Jam


Although I have made some amazing scones since going gluten free, I have been seeking the perfect plain gluten free scone recipe for a long time. In my search, I have frequently asked myself the question 'what makes a great scone?' When I ask the question, I recall my pre-gluten free days and some of the best Cream Teas in my history.

One of my favourite nostalgic Cream Tea memories dates back (way too many) years to when I was a mere slip of an adolescent and I took a holiday to Devon with my sister in the family 'hand me down' orange Mini. In those days, Minis were tiny and noisy, but so so much fun. I still have the number plate indelibly etched on my brain, so memorable was that Mini...... RUR 598M! Yep..... we've been through the number plate suffix and prefix year 'letters' and have completely revamped to numbers since then...... Old I may be, but I am proud to say that we owned a Mini in the 70's...... It was bright, it was bold and it was fun.


But back to Cream Teas..... We took this Mini down the then empty motorways to Devon and there we stayed (with my brother's ex-girlfriend) in the palm-lined town of Torquay. We did what any self-respecting young women do and sought out beaches to lie on..... and the best ice creams, fish and chips and cream teas we could find. We were of an age when eating vast quantities of sugar, carbs and fats made little dent on our weight, so we indulged to our limits.....

Down there in Badgers Holt, we found the best, softest, tallest, jamiest, clotted creamiest Cream Tea ever. The weather was scorching and we took our two huge scones (each!) and accompanying tea pots outside, where we sat on a grassy bank and scoffed until we were bursting....... compelled to lie on the grass for a good couple of hours, before we could subject our stuffed bodies to further movement........ A memory was made!


What made these scones so good? They were perfect of texture...... Soft, but close of crumb and slightly dense...... Tall in rise, with little crinkles and cracks around the edges, but still slightly warm..... Mild in flavour, but with a hint of sweetness to complement the cream and jam which was generously delivered..... Rich, decadent, smooth, creamy, slightly clumpy-topped dollops of West-Country Clotted Cream spread in a thick layer across the top of each half-scone, begging to be crowned with a spoonful of joyous, dark red, gooey strawberry jam.

There you have it..... the perfect Cream Tea..... just needing to be recreated with a culinary update that is gluten free.

And here it is. The best gluten free scones..... No. The best scones I have ever eaten! Made with a rice free flour blend which is light and oh so soft to the touch, moistening buttermilk and a little ground almond, these gluten free scones are incredible..... And whereas gluten free scones will often be stale and hard within hours, these are still soft two to three days after they come out of the oven.


The jam is also home-made, with our wonderful local Kent strawberries..... At this time of year, I feel so lucky to live in the Garden of England. I often think jam is going to be a hassle to make, but it isn't and is well worth a little effort for the fruity satisfaction it gives. Better still.... this recipe has a lower sugar content for less guilt and all the pleasure. I have shared my recipe below, although there really is no magic to making it!

As I don't have any cows or a dairy, the Clotted Cream is my very favourite.... Rodda's.... all the way from Cornwall!

So before the summer is out, why don't you create your own Cream Tea memory with these delicious gluten free scones...... I promise you won't regret it......


I am sharing the Gluten Free Alchemist Best Ever Gluten Free Scones with Simple (lower sugar) Home-Made Strawberry Jam  with :

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello








Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Cook Blog Share - this week with Easy Peasy Foodie

Fiesta Friday #183



Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer

Simple & in Season with Feeding Boys







Baking Crumbs - A brand new linky with Only Crumbs Remain

Inheritance Recipes with Pebble Soup and Coffee & Vanilla

Also celebrating International Scone Week from 7th to 13th August with Lavender & Lime
#ISW2017




Other gluten free scones on Gluten Free Alchemist :

Blueberry & Lemon Buttermilk Scones
Chocolate Chocolate Chipe Scones with Nutella Mascarpone Cream and Roasted Caramelised Hazelnut Crumbs
Asparagus & Stilton Scones
Cheese Scones (no buttermilk)
Sun-dried Tomato, Cheese & Basil Scones
Best Buttermilk Cheese Scones

Buttermilk Scones (makes  10 to 12 large scones)

Ingredients

320g plain gluten free flour blend (I used my GFA Rice Free Blend that you can find here or an alternative blend would be the Free From Fairy Rice Free blend - see side bar for link)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
pinch fine sea salt
50g ground almonds
1 tablespoon GF baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
90g unsalted butter - cold and cubed
30g caster sugar
1 large egg - beaten
1 pot (284 ml) buttermilk

a beaten egg mixed with a little milk for glazing


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper and set aside. 
  2. Weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, salt, almonds, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda until well-blended (I weigh mine into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Rub the cold butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. 
  4. Add the sugar and stir through.
  5. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg and buttermilk. 
  6. Use a flat-bladed knife to mix the wet ingredients into the dry, until it clumps together and continue to mix, until it comes together as a very sticky dough. If it looks like the dough is too dry, then add a little milk. 
  7. Lay a large piece of baking paper on the work surface and sprinkle liberally with gluten free flour/tapioca flour. 
  8. Flour your hands well and gently bring the dough together. It should be quite wet.
  9. Tip the dough out onto the floured baking paper, sprinkle a little more flour on the top and lay a further piece of baking paper over. 
  10. Gently roll out the dough between the paper to a depth of about 3 to 4 cm.
  11. Use a round/fluted cookie cutter (I used one 3 inches/7 cm) to cut rounds from the dough and carefully transfer them to the lined baking sheets.
  12. Bring any remaining dough gently together (trying not to over-work) and repeat the rolling and cutting process, until all the dough has been used and transferred to the baking sheets.
  13. Brush the top of each scone with egg-wash and bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until well-risen, firm and golden.
  14. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
  15. Eat warm or cold, with butter and/or jam and/or cream. 
  16. Store the scones in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days if necessary. 

Simple (lower-sugar) Strawberry Jam (makes 2 jars of jam)

Ingredients

1 kilo/2.2 pounds fresh strawberries - trimmed, hulled and cut in half
375g granulated sugar
60 ml lemon juice

Method

  1. Sterilise a couple of jam jars whilst you make your jam : Wash the jars in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Place the clean jars and lids (rubber seals removed if using Kilner jars - these should be washed in boiling water) on a baking tray and place in the oven. Turn the oven on and heat to 140 C/275 F/Gas 1. Leave at heated oven temperature for at least 20 minutes whilst you make your jam.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a large, heavy-based saucepan and gently heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. 
  3. Bring the mixture to the boil stirring frequently, breaking down the strawberries with the back of a spoon.
  4. Use a cooking thermometer (I use a Thermapen) and continue to boil, stirring frequently until the liquid reduces significantly and the temperature reaches jam set point (220 F/105 C).
  5. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into the sterilised jars straight away and top with the lids (be careful not to burn your fingers). As the jam cools, the tightly screwed lids will 'suck in' to create a sterile vacuum.
  6. Cool completely.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Halloumi & Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Kebabs (free from gluten, egg, nuts, soy) #FreeFromBBQ


These Halloumi and Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Kebabs are the latest delicious Mediterranean-inspired treat to be eaten in the Gluten Free Alchemist garden. The vibrant, crisp sun-sweet peppers, soft and squirty cherry tomatoes and crunchy red onions are perfectly offset by the saltiness of the 'squeaky', slightly chewy Halloumi cheese. Naturally free from gluten, egg, nuts and soy, they are just what you need for a #FreeFromBBQ.


Halloumi is one of my very favourite summer-time cheeses. I love it sliced or cubed,..... grilled, fried, oven -baked or barbecued,....... served alongside salads and veg. It has to be slightly singed and crisp at the edges for the best texture, but once cooked, is one of the most moreish savoury ingredients I know.

These BBQ skewers are so easy to make, although (as I discovered the first time I made them), are best poked onto fine, round skewers...... The flat ones have a tendency to crack and split the cheese, leaving it at risk of certain inedible death on hot coals.


Halloumi, which hails from Cypress, is a semi-hard, brined cheese, made most often with a mix of sheep and goat milk. Because of its higher melting point, it can be grilled without risk of 'puddling', so it is ideal for summer barbecues.

This year we have been making the most of our Cobb barbecue, which has to be the best piece of outdoor equipment we have ever invested in...... Compact, transportable and efficient, this little gem works on special 'Cobblestones' made from coconut shell, which burn hotter than charcoal (although you can also use good quality charcoal briquettes or restaurant-grade lump wood). The unique design means that it stays cold on the outside, so that it is safe enough to cook centre-table for a truly shared barbecue experience.


It packs into a handy bag, making it great for camping, taking down the beach, barbie picnics wherever you choose, or just hanging out with friends at home. Taking just a few minutes for the Cobblestone to come to cook temperature means it is ready for action in a flash....... ideal for the temperamental UK weather that can change in an instant. Once lit, the Cobblestone will stay hot for about two hours.....


Which brings us to the English Summer...... Why is it that as soon as the school's break up for the holidays, the weather turns cold and wet? Is it just me, or is it a bit of a conspiracy? I am so hoping the sun returns soon.....

Over at Gluten Free Alchemist we love to share our discoveries, so I am sending these Halloumi & Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Skewers over to :


Cook Blog Share with Hijacked By Twins

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too



Simple & in Season with Feeding Boys

Meat Free Mondays with Tinned Tomatoes





Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Got To Be Gluten Free with Glutarama

Fiesta Fridays #182




Halloumi & Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Kebabs

Ingredients

225g (1 block) Halloumi - cut into medium cubes
1 red onion - peeled, trimmed & quartered (split into pieces 2 to 3 layers thick)
2 peppers - red/yellow/orange - deseeded and cut into chunks
approx 280g cherry tomatoes (red/yellow)
a little olive oil

You will need skewers which are finely pointed and round (not flat edged) as these go through the Halloumi with less splitting of the cheese

Method

  1. Randomly skewer the vegetables and Halloumi onto the skewers, being careful as you poke the skewer through (a gentle twisting action helps), to avoid splitting the cheese.
  2. Drizzle the skewers with a little olive oil.
  3. Place on a hot BBQ and cook, turning occasionally until the veg is softening and the edges are beginning to char nicely.
  4. Eat!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies (gluten free) - Miss GF Makes #12


Miss GF has been making gluten free Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies and they're good! It has to be one of my all time favourite flavour pairings and I think it may be becoming one of hers too.

There is a perfect contrast both in taste and colour between dark, rich, decadent chocolate and cool, light, tingly, green mint. It's a harmonious marriage of opposites which just 'works'.


I love when I come home to find Miss GF creating in the kitchen. it amazes me every time I find her there, that a child of eleven can be so confident with a bowl, spoon and a container of (gluten free) flour.

I say I love coming home to the baking, which is always a joy, but there is a dual creativity happening and the creation of washing up and kitchen calamity that often accompanies it is less so. I admit, I have not always been the most patient around mess in the kitchen. I tend to be a fairly tidy baker..... clearing and washing up as I go..... frequently wiping down surfaces and getting utensils out as I need them.


Children do not think in my orderly way as a rule, or plan ahead for what they need and at times, this has lead to my being less that 'positive' when I have returned to piles of greasy, batter-smeared bowls, spoons and pans and several open abandoned packets of ingredients. At times I confess, I have been more than a tad grumpy and I have often scolded myself later for not just stepping back and allowing her 'to be'.

I have got better.... I think...... and mostly will now walk in and just quietly clear up around her. Regardless of my underlying intolerance of mess, I am so so proud of how imaginative and skilful she is when baking and I would hate for that enthusiasm to be dampened.


Her Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies were a random, seemingly unplanned bake, but were no less delicious for it.  The recipe amalgamated a handful of others she had found and was then de-glutened using some gluten free, rice-free flour blend that I had left over from my experimenting with some baguettes. Either way, she did a fab job..... soft but firm individual chocolatey mounds of cake, sandwiched together with fresh, bright, mint butter icing...... half dipped in dark chocolate and topped with broken cigarillos found wanting and left over from an Easter cake that I made back in April.

These little Chocolate-Mint morsels would be a perfect offering at any time and for any occasion, although we just ate them because we could!


I am sharing Miss GF's Whoopie creations with :


Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello

Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer







Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too



We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme - I know there is a one entry per blog limit on Choclette's linky, but I am hoping that since this entry is not mine, but from Miss GF, that we might be able to sneak it in....

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum


Other Gluten Free Chocolate-Mint Recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist :
Chocolate-Mint 'After Eight' Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches
Double Mint-Choc-Chip Ice Cream
Layered Choc-Mint Christmas Tree Cake
Minty Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Mint Birthday Bundt
No Churn Mint Choc-Chip Ice Cream


Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies (makes about 16 whoopie pies)

Ingredients

35g sorghum flour
20g white teff flour
20g buckwheat flour
60g tapioca flour
20g potato starch
30g cornflour
(or substitute with an equivalent 185g flour blend such as Free From Fairy Flour - see sidebar for link)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
40g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon GF baking powder
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
125 ml milk
¾ tablespoon white wine vinegar
225g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs - room temperature

Mint Butter Icing
125g unsalted softened butter
approx 280g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
a few drops of peppermint extract
a little green food colouring paste

approx 160g dark chocolate
sprinkles for decoration (optional)

Method

  1. Sponges : Weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, making sure any lumps are broken down (I mix up in a large airtight container and shake vigorously).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Base-line 3 large baking sheets with baking paper.
  3. Mix the milk with the white wine vinegar in a jug and leave to stand for about 10 minutes (the mixture will become quite lumpy).
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and vanilla until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each until smooth and combined.
  6. Add and fold in the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the butter-egg mix, until you have a smooth, thick batter. 
  7. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag, fitted with a 1 cm round plain nozzle and pipe onto the lined trays, into round, slightly flattened mounds (roughly equal in size and leaving a gap for a little spreading between each), about 3 to 4 cm in diameter. 
  8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tops are firm to touch.
  9. Allow to cool slightly on the trays, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Meanwhile, make the Mint Icing : Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and creamy.
  11. Gradually add and beat in the icing sugar a little at a time, with a little milk as needed if the mixture becomes too stiff. 
  12. Add the mint extract to taste and green food colour and beat to blend.
  13. When you have a thick, creamy frosting, pair your whoopies for size.
  14. Spread or pipe a thick layer of frosting onto the flat side of one of the paired whoopie cakes and sandwich together with the other side.
  15. To decorate (optional) : melt the chocolate either in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (stirring) or in the microwave at medium setting and using 30 second bursts, stirring between each until melted.
  16. Either dip the whoopies in the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate over them and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles, etc. Leave to allow the chocolate to set.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated