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!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Layered Chocolate-Mint Christmas Tree Cake - gluten free


Its very nearly Christmas! I had wanted to get this post out before now, but it has been a hell of a week and I simply ran out of time. Sorry!

Before I introduce my latest crazy Christmas treat, I just want to take a moment to thank all the lovely lovely people who voted for me in the Allergy Blog Awards. I was so thrilled to find that I had got through to the finals of the Most Innovative category....... and I could not have done it without YOU! So thank you, thank you, thank you!


This little blog is on the map and I feel so proud that I have achieved some recognition, despite my struggles to box and cox it around a full time job and busy family life. On those days when it feels like one thing too many, it is so good to know that the time I put into it is worthwhile to other people too.

If you are wanting to make something a little fun this Christmas and have plenty of mouths to feed (it is quite large!), this Layered Chocolate-Mint Christmas Tree Cake may be just the thing. It is really very straight forward to put together and the kids can have plenty of fun helping to 'decorate the tree'.

The sponge recipe is fast becoming a bit of a 'go too' in our house, especially when we want a cake that will hold a structure...... originally developed as a bundt cake, it is moist, keeps good shape, is still light, full of chocolateyness, and stays fresh for several days.


Layered with mint butter icing, this popular flavour combo is also perfect for ensuring compatibility with a green tree!

You can decorate your tree with whatever you have to hand, but I decided to go with a bit of a sparkly bauble and star theme and some traditional candy canes (I hunted high and low for the mini ones, and eventually found an enormous box for £1 in Poundland). We were going to make some marzipan presents to put round the base, but time has not been on our side....... oh well, there's always next year.


I am not particularly happy with the photos either..... they don't really do the cake justice. But as we are mid-extension, the scaffolding outside the kitchen window prevented almost any light getting to my usual 'studio' area and my next favourite light space has been subsumed by a whole new (as yet unfinished) room. That combined with very short days, too much winter darkness and later work hours resulted in hurried pics on a rainy weekend.

The piece de resistance is the crisp, sparkly dark chocolate star on the top of the tree (well every tree needs a sparkly star doesn't it?). I treated myself to a Lekue Decimate Kit which I had seen reviewed over at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. It made drizzling the chocolate into a star shape so easy!


I am sharing my Layered Chocolate-Mint Christmas Tree cake with the following linkies :

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber - I haven't managed to join in with this for a while, so am pleased to be part of it again! This month's theme is Winter Wonderland.

We Should Cocoa with Tin and Thyme.


#TheFoodCalendar with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Celebrating Christmas!

Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie.







Sunday Fitness & Food with Ilka's Blog and Marathons & Motivation.



Layered Chocolate-Mint Christmas Tree Cake

Ingredients

For the chocolate sponge :

Chocolate Sponge using recipe as in this post (for full mix - 5 egg quantity)

Mint Butter-Icing
250g butter - softened
500g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
peppermint extract - to taste
green food colouring paste 

Tree Decorations :
mini candy canes
GF mint chocolate sticks 
GF chocolate-mint balls 
GF chocolate mini stars
GF shimmer-coated chocolate truffles 
edible food glue (available in Lakeland or on-line)
edible glitter - various colours
a little dark chocolate (for the star)

Method

  1. If you are planning on using glitter-covered chocolates, I suggest you prepare these in advance, so that they have time to dry ready to place on your cake as soon as you ice and before the icing hardens.
  2. Place a little glitter of your chosen colours in a tiny dishes (I use soy sauce dishes). Use a clean paint brush (I keep one especially for food use) to smear a very thin layer of food glue on the areas of your chocolate balls, stars, etc that you want to glitterize. Dip the glued areas into the glitter to cover and then place to dry on a sheet of baking paper (on a plate/baking tray). Set aside.
  3. Prepare your chocolate star by melting a little dark chocolate in the microwave (I tempered mine, but if you are adding glitter, any 'blooming' will not show much), carefully drizzling into a star shape on baking paper and then adding a good sprinkle of glitter to the surface. Set aside to set.
  4. Base-line your round, deep, loose-bottomed cake tins - you will need the following : 1 x 8 inch/20 cm; 1 x 6 inch/15 cm; 1 x 4 inch/10 cm; a non-stick large muffin tin for the remaining mixture from which you can cut the final two layers.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3 and make your sponge batter as in this recipe.
  6. Distribute your batter between your tins to a depth of 4 to 5 cm (1½ to 2 inches), using any remaining batter in the muffin tin (you can make snowmen with any left-overs).
  7. Bake your cakes for between 20 and 40 minutes (dependent on depth and size), arranging them in the oven so that the smaller ones are at the front for easy removal without significantly disturbing the larger ones that need longer. They will be ready when a skewer comes out clean. These cakes do not massively sink if a little air gets in the oven, but try and avoid opening the door too often or for too long!
  8. As the cakes come out of the oven, remove from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, make the butter-icing : Place your softened butter in a large mixing bowl and gradually whisk in your icing sugar a little at a time until you have a smooth soft icing. Add a very little milk as the mixture thickens, to loosen slightly. (Tip : to avoid too much icing sugar dust ending up around the kitchen, I add about 50g at a time and first carefully stir into the wet butter mixture with a silicone or wooden spoon, before whisking. It takes extra time, but you don't end up in a cloud of white sweet dust and your kitchen doesn't end up looking as if the ceiling fell in!)
  10. Add peppermint extract and green food colouring a little at a time until you have your desired mint flavour and colour, whisking as you go.
  11. Layer your cakes : Start with the largest 8 inch/20 cm sponge (you can either place on your serving dish or on a clean chopping/cake board and transfer later with a flat, wide spatula/fish slice) - Carefully, but quite roughly spread a layer of icing on to the top and sides of the sponge, to cover completely, using an icing spreader or palette knife.
  12. Place the next largest sponge (6 inch/15 cm) on top of the first iced sponge and repeat the icing process to completely cover. 
  13. Repeat again with the 4 inch/10 cm sponge.
  14. For the top two layers, take a couple of the chocolate muffin sponges and use cookie cutters (2 inch (5 cm) and 1 inch (2½ cm) to cut cake rounds. You may need to square off the the top of the larger muffin sponge to flatten for stacking.
  15. Repeat the icing and stacking process for these two layers (you will need to work extra carefully to avoid too many crumbs getting mixed into the icing layer or add a thin 'crumb' layer of icing to each small cake before you put them on the main cake, chilling to firm up and then adding a second icing layer when placed on the main cake.
  16. Decorate your cake with glittery sweets, truffles, candy canes and your chocolate star.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

24 comments:

  1. Looks absolutely amazing! A real Christmas showstopper. Thanks for joining in with Love Cake again.

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    1. Thanks Ness. Good to be able to join in again! xx

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  2. that really is an adorable looking tree cake! Love that icing. So thick! You should be proud of your blog, it's brilliant!

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    1. Thank you so much Dom for such a kind comment xxx Happy Christmas x

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  3. This looks epic! Well done for getting so far with the blog awards, I really hope you win because you so deserve a LOT more recognition. I love the idea of this cake My list of things to make this year has got rather long so I'm not sure it will get done this year but hopefully next! Have a really lovely Christmas and here's to 2017 xxx

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    1. Ha! Thanks Vicki.... It was a bit!
      And thanks for such a lovely comment about the blog too and for all your support over the last year. Have a fantastic Christmas and amazing 2017 as well xxx

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  4. I am in total admiration at your festive masterpiece - I really love your blog and am glad it did well in the awards - and glad you are managing to find time for blogging (it is midnight and I realised I forgot to do the blog post I had planned because life is just too crazy)

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    1. Thank you so much Johanna. What a lovely comment!
      It certainly is a crazy time of year..... and this year seems extra manic! Have a fantastic Christmas xxx

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  5. This looks so amazing! I pinned it and might give it a try for Christmas Eve, thanks for linking up at Sunday Fitness & Food :-)

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    1. Thank you Angela. You're welcome. Have a great Christmas xx

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  6. You are an artist! This is beautiful! Your baking always impresses me. I wish you a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Alida.... and for your support this year! You too have a wonderful Christmas xxx

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  7. Oh I love it, its totally amazing and a fantastic centrepiece. The icing looks lush - in colour and taste! Congratulations also for the award, well deserved. Wishing you a Happy Christmas Kate and thank you sooooo much for the warmth you have shown me over the years x

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    1. Thanks Shaheen for your kind comments. And you are more than welcome xx

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  8. Wow what a showstopper of a dessert. It looks amazing Kate! Love how tall it is - 5 layers. I love the mint chocolate combo. I must use that combo more often. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year

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    1. Thanks Katie. It was rather large, but mint and chocolate are always good together.
      I hope you too had a fantastic Christmas and all the best for 2017. Thanks so much for continuing to support the blog xx

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  9. What a fun cake Kate, I can imagine how much fun your family must have had decorating it - it looks great and I love the flavour combo too - such an all time classic :-) And massive well done to you for getting through to the finals of Allergy Blog Awards - very much desserved :-)
    Angela x

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments Angela. xx

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  10. OH WOW!! This cake is insanely brilliant - no wonder you got nominated in the most innovative category for the allergy awards. I always love your fab inventions, but this has to be one of the best. Definitely one of those 'I wish I'd though of that' bakes...I would make a brilliant Christmas centrepiece...pinning for inspiration for next year :-) Thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare!! Eb x

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    1. Ha ha! Thanks Eb. That's so lovely of you. It certainly creates a lot of slices! xx

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  11. What an absolute showstopper, I love the flavours you've used too. I'm going to take a look at the Lekue chocolate kit as the star on top looks fantastic and I love their other products.

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    1. Thanks Charlotte. I have been really impressed with the Lekue chocolate kit. Def worth getting xx

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  12. Oh Kate, bad light and no presents notwithstanding, you have excelled yourself. This is now officially my favourite Christmas tree. It looks splendid, is fun and innovative and sounds delicious too. I bet great fun was had in picking off all the goodies. Thanks for sharing it with We Should Cocoa.

    I hope you had a good Christmas and I wish you a happy, healthy and rewarding 2017. Well done for getting into the finals too. Good luck.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments Choclette and for all the support you have given the blog this year. Happy New Year and wishing you all the best for 2017 xx

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