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!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Raw Chocolate-Raspberry 'Fudge' (adapted from a recipe by the Free From Fairy) - gluten, dairy, refined sugar, soya free and vegan


For those of you who follow Vicki's blog over at the Free From Fairy, you may (like me) have drooled over the Sugar-Free Raw Chocolate Fudge that she recently made. Vicki is amazingly talented and seems to have the ability to conjure up the most amazing recipes with ingredients which are multi allergen-friendly and yet still taste fantastic and are good for you too.

I was particularly taken with this raw fudge recipe as it offered a sweet treat without any guilt and could be something I could keep in the fridge for a quick bite when I needed a cocoa hit..... without reaching for the calorie and sugar-laden chocolate bars. It was also really simple to whip up without too much faff....

When I saw it, I immediately imagined the amazing potential in adding freeze-dried raspberries to the mix, both to add a complementary fruity sharpness and a contrasting colour. I love using freeze dried fruit in my bakes and cooking and always make sure I keep various freeze-dried fruits to hand in my larder. Because I use so much, I don't generally buy from the supermarket, but seek out the larger packs and wider variety from on-line retailers like Healthy Supplies.


Having sown the seed for adapting Vicki's recipe slightly to make a Raw Chocolate-Raspberry Fudge, I had to give it a try and (as is regularly the case in our house) I found the required over-ripe banana hanging around looking sorry for itself in the fruit bowl, hoping to be given a better future. Lucky day banana! You're heading for the mixing bowl!

I have only slightly altered Vicki's recipe, but in addition to the raspberries, did include a tablespoon of maple syrup as the mix tasted a little too bitter for us. I felt that it was a justifiable change..... and as maple syrup is actually a pretty healthy and very natural sugar source, was comfortable that it did not obliterate Vicki's intentions towards being a 'good' treat.

The test would of course be whether it would be acceptable to Miss GF's sweet tooth...... If she liked it, then I reckon you could sneak it past most hardened sugar-addicts. In the event, she seemed quite taken with it...... I think it helped that her favourite other blogger Vicki had invented it, but she came back for more than one piece, which is an indicator of high praise.


I really enjoyed it too! It has a smooth texture, flavoured with deep cacao notes, set against a strong hint of banana and interspersed with tangy berry. When you pop a piece into your mouth, there is a happy sense of decadence mixed with virtuosity...... and that feels like a good place to be!

Providing you store it in the fridge, it will last for a few days without deterioration, but as the recipe doesn't make a massive amount and it is quite moreish, you can be sure that it won't stay around long enough to go 'off'.

So thank you Vicki! I hope you don't mind that I have played around with your mastery or that I have blogged my variation!


I am sending this FFF-GFA Raw Chocolate-Raspberry Fudge off to the following linkies to share some healthy cacao love :

No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, on account of the recipe managing to find a timely purpose for my over-ripe banana. I seem to be having a bit of a 'take-over' on the No Waste Food Challenge this month. I think this is my fourth entry..... sorry Elizabeth.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too


Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse (and Le Coin De Mel)

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma






Treat Petite with Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer

We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme







Cook Blog Share with Hijacked by Twins


Raw Chocolate-Raspberry 'Fudge' (adapted from a recipe by Vicki Montague - Free From Fairy)

Ingredients (makes approx 15 pieces)

110g raw cashew nuts
85g extra-ripe banana - cut into pieces
25g cacao powder
50g coconut oil - melted
pinch salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
10g freeze dried raspberries - lightly crushed 
(+ extra whole freeze-dried raspberries for decoration - optional)

Method

  1. Blend the cashew nuts and banana together until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Add the cacao powder, coconut oil, salt and maple syrup and blend again until evenly blended.
  3. Transfer the chocolate paste to a bowl and add and stir through the raspberry pieces.
  4. Line a small bread tin with cling film and transfer the mixture, smoothing the top as carefully as you can.
  5. Chill the 'fudge' for 1 to 2 hours until completely set.
  6. Remove from the tin and cut into pieces. 
  7. Top each piece with a freeze-dried raspberry (optional) and store in the fridge.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Jamaican Ginger Cake - gluten free


We love ginger at GFHQ and with the rapidly cooling Autumn temperatures, it is the perfect time of year to use it. Miss GF has already put in her order for a batch of crisp, warming Christmas Ginger Biscuits and there are a couple of jars of Brown-Sugared Pear & Ginger Preserve maturing in the larder. I'm getting excited about plans for another Christmassy Gingerbread House, complete with glittery, snowy gardens and you can be sure I will be adding a good hit of the ginger stuff to this year's seasonal home-made Fruity Mincemeat. But this winter, we have a new addition to the GF ginger hall of fame....... Jamaican Ginger Cake.


The plan to develop this recipe came from a chance conversation with a work colleague, who was telling me that every year at Christmas, she gets demands to make a family favourite to go with Christmas dinner..... Nigella Lawson's Gingerbread Stuffing. I have never made it myself and was not aware of its existence until now, but it does look mighty good!

Unfortunately, my colleague's mother is unable to enjoy the annual gingerbread stuffing feast with the rest of the family as she happens to be gluten free..... But if I could possibly find my way to working out how to make a gluten free Jamaican Ginger Cake (which is crucial to the stuffing recipe)..... then my colleague may just become the 'best daughter in the world'....


Regular followers of my blog will know that waving a gluten free culinary challenge in my face is something I simply cannot ever refuse, especially when it comes from someone I know.... and once a decision is made to try, I have to keep going until I have not only achieved, but achieved to a high standard. Expectations raised, the Jamaican Ginger Cake chase was on.

Most of us will know of Jamaican Ginger Cake from the packet version made by McVitie's. It was a childhood favourite..... the dark sponge and sticky texture was both unique and quite addictive to eat. Having done some internet research, I have been completely unable to find anything that tells me about its history. I can only assume that it originated in Jamaica, but it now seems to be popular in every part of the world. If anyone knows anything about where the story started, please let me know.....


Either way, having tweaked and tested this recipe a few times, I am really pleased with my gluten free result. The warming ginger kick, treacly stickiness and mysterious comforting darkness of the sponge is extremely close to my (albeit increasingly distant) memories of cakes past.... I am happy that my gluten free Jamaican Ginger Cake is a pretty good comparison. It tastes fantastic on its own, with custard, with ice cream and even with butter (which is how I remember it best). I just hope it does its job with the stuffing...... which I now have every intention of trying.

Best of all..... Miss GF has been able to try another one of my childhood cake-memories! And just like her mother....... her favourite way to eat it is smothered in a layer of creamy, rich, natural butter.....


I am sharing my gluten free Jamaican Ginger Cake with the following linkies :

Free From Fridays with Le Coin de Mel and the Free From Farmhouse.

Tea Time Treats with Lavender & Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo's Kitchen. Jamaican Ginger Cake has to be one of the most warming comforting cakes there is, so is a perfect share for this month's theme : Comfort Food.


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

Cook Blog Share with Sneaky Veg.




Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum.






Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.








Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello










Other gluten free ginger recipes on the Gluten Free Alchemist blog :

Ginger Biscuits
Brown-Sugared Pear & Ginger Preserve
Gingerbread House
Banana, Apple, Walnut & Ginger Bread
Apricot, Ginger & White Chocolate Cookies
Double Chocolate Cupcakes with a hint of Ginger
Gingerbread Stars & People


Jamaican Ginger Cake - gluten free/optional dairy free (makes one 2 pound loaf)


Ingredients

240g plain gluten free flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
70g sorghum flour
40g ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon GF baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
125g unsalted butter - cold and cubed (or dairy free alternative)
200g soft light brown sugar
120g black liquid treacle (molasses)
60g golden syrup
1 large egg - lightly beaten
170g boiling water

Method

  1. Completely line a 2 pound loaf tin with baking paper (base and sides).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
  3. Weigh and mix together the flours, almonds, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Rub the butter into the flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the brown sugar and stir through.
  6. Add the treacle, golden syrup and beaten egg and lightly mix into the flour.
  7. Add the boiling water and beat thoroughly with a silicone or wooden spoon until you have a smooth, sticky, well-blended batter.
  8. Spoon or pour the batter into the loaf tin and gently push into the corners and smooth the top.
  9. Bake for 1 hour until well-risen and a skewer comes out clean. If you use smaller loaf tins, adjust the baking time to about 30 to 40 minutes).
  10. When baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.
  11. When cold, remove and store wrapped in clingfilm (you can leave the baking paper intact) until ready to eat. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

for Coffee Lovers...... Coffee-Intense Mocha Roulade (gluten free)


If you are a coffee lover, this may just be the perfect dessert for you. It is rich, deep and decadent..... intensely flavoured with the aromatic magic of ground espresso beans which have been infused within a light, sumptuous mousse....... generously layered with a luxurious sprinkle of grated dark chocolate....... all encased within a spiral of light, moist chocolate sponge.

This is my very belated contribution to the GBBO Dessert Week....... a Coffee-Intense Mocha Roulade....... A perfect cheer-me-up to end last weekend's grumpiness. Thanks to those of you who have been so kind in the midst of my wobble.... sometimes it helps to just 'put it out there'!

And hey..... I really do have something to celebrate...... Number 45 in the Feedspot global Gluten Free Blog listings is a fantastic place to be.


This amazing mocha roulade started life (way back when GBBO was in full flow...) as a chocolate tiramisu roulade, which was a spiralled attempt at the famous Italian dessert. I tried to make it with a traditional egg-based mascarpone cream which was simply too wet and the whole thing collapsed into what could only be described as a 'plate-trifle'. It was absolutely divine in flavour and the remaining coffee cream filling froze into the most incredible ice-cream, but a roulade it was not!

The attempt at sponge two (for which I used a different recipe) didn't even get as far as being filled. I think I over-whipped my eggs and then managed to leave it in the oven fractionally too long..... Rolling resulted in a series of cragged sponge strips where it broke into pieces. Deliciously fudgy and devoured by Miss GF in a flash, but sadly not a scroll of any sort either....


Both of the first two sponges were recipes from famous chefs, but for differing reasons, neither of them seemed quite right for the cake that I was making (or maybe I was put off by my disastrous execution), so for roulade three I decided to go it alone...... Blank piece of paper in hand, I went off piste, devised my own recipe and kept my fingers crossed.

Good move..... this sponge is spot on. It's airy, chocolatey, moist, rolls well, and holds the mousse in perfect harmony.

Ah yes....... the mousse.... After the soggy (but delicious) disaster of roulade one, my mission was to replicate the intensity of flavour, but ensure a shape-holding roulade that didn't leak its contents..... delicious or not! Making a decision to move away from an egg-based filling, this Mascarpone-whipped cream mousse still has all the flavour, but with greater reliability and staying power......

The end result is wonderful...... vivid creamy coffee with its backdrop of bitterness, paired against the gently sweetened cocoa-rich sponge and texturally-contrasted with the firm flecks of grated dark chocolate. SO good!


Intense it may be, but Miss GF couldn't get enough of it....... We shared it with Granny and Grandad who loved it too, and before you could blink, the whole lot was gone. Oh well....... Christmas is not far away...... perhaps it might have to make another appearance.

I am sharing my Coffee-Intense Mocha Roulade with the following linkies :


We Should Cocoa with the lovely Choclette at Tin & Thyme


Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel





Cook Blog Share - this week with Sneaky Veg


Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too



Bake of the Week with Casa Costello


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


Other gluten free roulades on the blog :

Squidgy Chocolate Roulade
Zesty Lemon-Meringue Roulade
Stuffed Cashew Nut Roulade (Roast) - savoury and perfect for Christmas
Vanilla Swiss Roll - gluten & dairy free

Coffee-Intense Mocha Roulade

Ingredients

Roulade Sponge :
40g plain GF flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
50g cocoa powder
20g ground almonds
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
120g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
20 ml hot water

cocoa powder for dusting

Coffee Mousse Filling :
300g mascarpone cream cheese
150g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 to 7 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 to 2 teaspoons boiling water (as little as possible however, to mix the espresso powder into a paste)
180 ml double cream

60 to 70g dark chocolate - grated

To Decorate :
50g dark chocolate - melted (to drizzle)
100 ml double cream (+ a couple of tablespoons reserved coffee mousse)
mocha beans
grated chocolate to sprinkle

Method

  1. Sponge : Prepare a 38 cm/15 inch by 25 cm/10 inch (2½ cm/1 inch deep) swiss roll tin by base-lining with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. Weigh and mix together the flour, cocoa, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder and vanilla bean powder, making sure any lumps are broken down and lightly whisking to add lightness. Set aside
  4. Using (for preference) a free-stand mixer, whisk together the sugar and eggs until they have tripled in volume and the whisk leaves a lasting trail on the top when lifted (this may take 5 to 10 minutes of whisking).
  5. Whilst the eggs are whisking, mix 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder with 20 ml hot water and stir to a smooth paste.
  6. When the egg-mix is fully whisked, quickly and lightly fold in the dry ingredients and the coffee paste, trying to maintain as much air as possible in the batter.
  7. Pour into the prepared tin and spread evenly, making sure the mixture reaches the corners.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes until the top springs back to the touch. Be really careful not to over-bake as this will dry the sponge, making it difficult to roll.
  9. When baked, remove from the oven, leave in the tin and place a clean tea-towel over the top to keep moist. 
  10. Immediately prepare a large piece of baking paper (slightly larger than the sponge) by dusting with cocoa powder. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the sponge and then, whilst it is still warm, carefully flip it out (top down) onto the dusted baking paper.
  11. Very carefully peel off the paper from the back of the sponge and then fold the edge of the cocoa-dusted baking paper over one of the shorter ends of the sponge rectangle. Carefully roll up the sponge (still warm) from this point, rolling the baking paper within each 'layer' as you go, to ensure the layers of sponge do not become stuck. Set aside to cool completely whilst still rolled up. 
  12. Coffee Mousse : You can make this ahead of time if you wish. 
  13. Beat together the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla extract until smooth, thick, light and well-blended.
  14. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the espresso powder with hot water (a dribble at a time - as little as possible), mixing to a smooth paste. Add and beat into the mascarpone mixture.
  15. Separately whisk the cream to firm peaks and then lightly and evenly fold into the mix. Chill in the fridge for about an hour.
  16. Putting it all together : When the sponge is cold, carefully unroll and spread a thick layer of the coffee mousse evenly across the surface (reserving 2 to 3 of tablespoons of the coffee mousse for decoration).
  17. Sprinkle a layer of grated dark chocolate over the top of the coffee mousse, before re-rolling the sponge carefully and tightly (use the baking paper to help you roll). Secure the baking paper round the sponge and place in the fridge to 'set'.
  18. To decorate : Set your Mocha Roulade on a serving dish and decorate with melted drizzled chocolate. 
  19. Whisk the additional double cream with the reserved coffee mousse until it forms soft but firm peaks (piping consistency) and pipe as you wish onto the roulade surface.
  20. Finally decorate with grated chocolate/sprinkles and mocha beans and serve.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup - a perfect Autumn warmer (gluten, dairy, nut, soya and egg free)


The world of blog analytics and blog 'success' confuses me. It is also probably the area of blogging which leaves me feeling most unsure, ambivalent and at times, quite down. This week has been particularly interesting for the wave of quite contradictory emotions that it has raised in me...... Perhaps I analyse my emotional responses too deeply (get a thicker skin I tell myself...), but I am who I am. So bear with me.... this may now get a little rambling as I try to make sense of my thoughts....

I love writing my blog..... It is my creative outlet in a crazy world...... my opportunity to crawl into a little bubble at the end of the day and do something which is far removed from my day job..... It is the thing I go to when I need my 'space' within the pulling demands of domestic life...... It is what I do that gives me an element of separate identity in a life where being a mum, a wife and a professional in public service is not always enough....

So why does it sometimes disappoint me? Why does it sometimes leave me feeling demoralised and lonely?


The lovely Vicki at the Free From Fairy recently wrote a post entitled Awards - A Controversial Post. In it she argued that blog awards are fundamentally flawed because they appear to rely on requests from nominees to get people to vote for them. Effectively they become a sort of popularity contest, which is not necessarily about the content or quality of the blog.......

Her post was published mid-way through the voting period linked to the Allergy Blog Awards (which run to the end of November) and for which I have been nominated. I am absolutely thrilled to have been nominated. Whilst I hate the idea of asking people to vote for me, the fact that someone (and I have no idea who) actually thought my blog was good enough to put forward, made my day! I love that I am in that list...... it gives me some degree of validation for what I do....

Then the self-doubt came in. Being nominated meant that I would also be judged and I became confronted with the possibility that I may get no votes at all (well..... maybe the person who nominated me might get me one!)..... and I would look like 'Billy no mates'. I looked down the list of nominees and thought..... I haven't got a cat in hell's chance against this lot. They are fab, have massive followings and many blog as their career! How can my tin-pot efforts compare?


As is the domino effect of the thought process within my head..... this question then got me thinking further about blogging in general, what I do and why. Those of you who have read past posts, will know that the blog is motivation to record my recipes for Miss GF and her future...... a sort of family recipe book that will be there for her when she grows up. We choose to share with the world, because it would be way too selfish to keep our successes to ourselves and if other people might benefit from our hard work.... then they should! (You can read a little bit more about us here)

Okay.... so that's bit's clear and solid and absolute. But I often worry about feeling so excluded from the blog world. I know I do it as an add-on to my day job, but I invest huge amounts of time into my recipe development and posts, so why do I feel so unsuccessful? I know that I have limited time to pull on social media and this means that I miss out on a driving force to bring followers and support, but this shouldn't dictate how relevant or successful we are..... should it?

My statistics are a constant source of bemusement to me. I recently went from within the top 250 on the Foodies 100 index to outside the top 500 in the same of a month...... I couldn't work that out at all.... I have climbed very little since.... Yet this week, I was notified that within a different set of analytics (Feedspot), I come up at number 45 on a global list of gluten free blogs. I was not only astounded and thrilled, but flummoxed at the same time......


My excitement however is tempered, as I watch on with envy at my favourite bloggers tales of invites to fabulous foodie events on the back of their success and popularity. I am really pleased for them and love to read about their adventures, but at the same time, I feel sad to not be a part of these amazing opportunities to spend time with each other and experience such amazing shared experiences..... and I have no idea how to bridge the gap without giving up a well-paid job and changing my world completely..... which I can neither afford to do or would want to risk..... And maybe that is the crux of it. I should be happy with my lot in life...... A (mostly) rewarding job.... a great family.... and relative financial security.... The blog is an optional extra. End of.

I have absolutely no idea why I am telling you all of this....... Perhaps I just need an opportunity to gain my equilibrium and to explore the constant question about whether I should be blogging at all. I guess I am just endlessly frustrated that effort and value in this world (whether blogging or anywhere else) rarely equates to success, whether real or imagined...... Perhaps I am just having a general confidence crisis. Either way.... for those of you who have bothered to stick with me to the end of this read.... thank you!


I couldn't go without sharing an amazing recipe with you..... Made with left-over pumpkin from Halloween, this delicious Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup is a perfect winter warmer. It is cheap and healthy and with a hint of ginger and smoked paprika, it will leave you feeling like you have been internally hugged better. Just what I need today......

I am sharing with the following linkies :


No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.


Free From Fridays with Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel





Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma


Recipe of the week with A Mummy Too





No Croutons Required with Lisa's Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes


Meat Free Mondays with Tinned Tomatoes







Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice


Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie







Tea Time Treats with Lavender & Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo's Kitchen - this month's theme is comfort food.


Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup

Ingredients

1.2 kilos pumpkin flesh - chopped into chunks
2 large Ramiro (red pointy) peppers - deseeded and sliced
1 large leek - trimmed, washed and cut into slices
olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1 large onion - chopped
3 large cloves garlic - crushed
small piece of fresh ginger - peeled & chopped
½ to ¾ litre GF vegetable stock
1 tablespoon shoyu GF soy sauce
salt & black pepper to taste

Optional Roasted Pepper Soured Cream/Dairy Free Yoghurt
1 additional small Ramiro pepper - roasted & chopped
150 ml soured cream or dairy free yoghurt

Method

  1. Use a large roasting tin and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil onto the bottom. Add the pumpkin, peppers and leek and drizzle a further tablespoon of oi over the top.
  2. Add the paprika and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and using your hands, toss the veg in the oil and spice to coat lightly.
  3. In a hot oven (220 C/425 F/Gas 7), roast the veg for about 40 minutes until soft and beginning to char at the edges. Whilst roasting, stir from time to time to ensure an even roast.
  4. When the pumpkin, pepper and leek are roasted, get a very large saucepan and using a little olive oil, saute the onion, garlic and ginger until soft.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables to the pot and stir through.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, shoyu sauce and a good grind of black pepper and bring to a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the flavours to deepen and infuse.
  8. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  9. Using a liquidiser, blend the soup until smooth in small batches, transferring to a clean pan as you go.
  10. Once all the soup has been blended, stir thoroughly and add extra seasoning to taste.
  11. Heat through to piping hot before serving.
  12. If you are adding Roasted Pepper Soured Cream/Yoghurt : Take your additional pepper and blend until you have a smooth paste.
  13. Mix the pepper paste with the cream/yoghurt and dollop onto or swirl through the hot soup before serving.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated