Saturday, 12 May 2018

Puff Pastry Party Bites - gluten free : #FreeFromParty


These gluten free Puff Pastry Party Bites are made to mark Coeliac Awareness Week which takes place this week - 14th to 20th May 2018. Facilitated by Coeliac UK, it takes place each year in May, highlighting important issues facing the Coeliac community. This year marks a special anniversary however, with Coeliac UK having reached a milestone of 50 years since its foundation in 1968 (when it was known as The Coeliac Society).


Since then it has gone from strength to strength, campaigning for and supporting everything from medical research and public and professional awareness of the condition, to prescription services, mentoring, food labelling, coeliac-safe restaurants, training for chefs and supermarkets committed to stocking gluten free staples.


I have written earlier posts on Coeliac Disease during previous awareness weeks which you can read here, here and here, although fundamentally it is an autoimmune condition which affects about 1 in a hundred people, making them very unwell if they eat gluten and thus there is a need for sufferers to avoid eating any gluten for life.

Coeliac seems to have a public face of being quite a modern 'condition' (in our house we don't like to call it a 'disease', as we aim to be positive both in how we view being Coeliac and on how we approach being gluten free in a non gluten free world). Modern however, it is not. I grew up with my Dad being Coeliac in a time when far less was known about how and why it affected the body or why a gluten free diet was essential to staying well.


I would never have known that gluten was relevant as a child.... Dad ate everything.... normal wheat bread, pasta, cakes and pastry... in fact anything and everything that we now know to avoid. I am not sure whether this was because the medical world did not share with him the importance of avoiding gluten (he had been diagnosed very young as a pre-war child, when people believed that bananas were an appropriate treatment), or because he just wanted to fit in with family life. He was always painfully thin, but suffered silently. Either way, his glutenous neglect most likely killed him at the very young age of 52 (the same age I am now) from cancer which was probably triggered by the 'untreated' Coeliac.


I am so grateful for organisations like Coeliac UK. Their awareness-raising is massively important. Coeliac is notoriously under-diagnosed and if their campaigns improve public awareness of symptoms and encourage GPs and consultants to think about the possibility of Coeliac alongside their explorations for other stomach and bowel complaints, less people may suffer and lives may be saved.

Miss GF lives in a very different world to her grandfather..... We are more demanding of health information and exploration, we have the internet at our finger tips and the benefit of a wealth of medical research and knowledge. She is also clear and confident that her need to be gluten free is not a life-style choice, but is a medical necessity.


To mark Coeliac UK's 50 years, this year they are inviting people to celebrate and party to raise funds which will enable them to continue their invaluable research both into better understanding of Coeliac Disease and towards finding a long hoped-for cure. For anyone holding fund-raising parties, picnics and teas, these little morsels of filled puff pastry (made with Silly Yak ready-to-roll gluten free puff pastry) are incredibly easy to put together, can be filled with whatever you like and will be guaranteed to bring a smile (Coeliac or not).

..... I know that from experience..... I made a stash of them and left them in a box in the fridge, only to come home and find they had almost entirely been eaten. Miss GF kindly left a couple for me and her dad, but otherwise devoured the lot! Thank goodness they had already been photographed.


I am sharing my Puff Pastry Party Bites in support of Coeliac Awareness Week with the following....

 

Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy
Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel and Free From Farmhouse
Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

 

Baking Crumbs - This month being guest-hosted by Jo's Kitchen Larder on behalf of Only Crumbs Remain
Got To Be Gluten Free with myself and Glutarama
Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

  

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice
Fiesta Friday #223 with Angie and The Frugal Hausfrau
That Friday Linky with Twin Mummy & Daddy


I am also offering them as my party treat for this month's #FreeFromParty gathering being put together by the awesome group of bloggers that are the Free From Gang. As and when their posts are published, I will add the links below :



Other gluten free party food and ideas on Gluten Free Alchemist :
Mini Quiches
Allergen Labels
No Bake Biscuit Cake
Cheese Scones
Date, Apricot & Coconut Flapjack
Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Tart
Chocolate Mini Rolls
GF Oat Bread Flowers
Watermelon Bacardi Cooler
Vanilla Swiss Roll (GF & DF)
Muffin Pizzas (or Pizza Muffins)
Baci di Dama Cookies
Mini Picnic Pies
Battenberg Cake
Raspberry-Lemon Drizzle Cake


Puff Pastry Party Bites

Ingredients

1 pack of ready to roll gluten free puff pastry (I used Silly Yak)
egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little milk)
a little grated cheddar cheese
dried paprika powder
a couple of teaspoons sesame seeds
250g Philadelphia or other preferred cream cheese
sliced cooked ham
sliced smoked salmon
200g houmous
cooked/pickled baby beets (I used Spicy Sweetfire baby beets from Tesco) - sliced 

Method

  1. The oven will need to be pre-heated to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 before baking the pastry and you will need to base-line 3 to 4 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Lay out a large sheet of non-stick baking paper on your work surface and dust with tapioca flour. Place your ready-to-roll pastry on top and dust the top with flour too, before carefully rolling out to a thickness of approximately half to one centimetre.
  3. Using a small cookie cutter, carefully cut out your pastry shapes, trying to minimise any pastry waste (to get the best flakiness in the pastry, your pastry should (as far as possible) be cut on the first roll-out).
  4. Place the cut pastry shapes on the prepared baking sheets and chill for half an hour.
  5. Prepare the egg-wash by lightly beating an egg with a little milk using a fork. Brush the tops of half of the pastry shapes with egg-wash (it is important to count them first). Sprinkle a third of the egg-washed shapes with a little grated cheese, a third with paprika and a third with sesame seeds.
  6. Bake all of the pastry shapes in the oven until risen, crisp and golden (about 20 to 25 minutes) and then remove from the oven and set aside on the trays to cool completely.
  7. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese a little to lighten and add air.
  8. Take the ham and either cut into smallish pieces or use the cookie cutter that you used for the pastry to cut into shapes - set aside.
  9. Repeat the same cutting process with the smoked salmon - set aside.
  10. Slice your baby beets into disc shapes.
  11. Using a piping bag with a large open star tip (or just use a teaspoon if easier), pipe two-thirds of the plain cooked pastry bases with a small blob of cream cheese.
  12. Top half of the cream cheese piped bases with a piece of ham and the other half with a piece of smoked salmon.
  13. Take the cheese topped, glazed pasties and carefully pipe a further blob of cream cheese on the underside, before gently pressing onto the ham pastries.
  14. Repeat the process, piping a small blob of cream cheese onto the underside of the paprika-topped pastries and sandwiching onto the smoked salmon bases.
  15. Finally, take a clean piping bag with a clean tip, fill with houmous and repeat the same process with the remaining pastry bases and sesame tops, sandwiching the two layers with a disc of beetroot. (It is best to make the houmous ones just before you eat them as the houmous will quickly dry and darken at the edges).
  16. Chill to store.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Monday, 7 May 2018

Rhubarb and Custard Layer Cake with Pistachio Sponge - a childhood treat revamped (gluten free)


I've been a bit lax on the blog front recently, but hopefully these Rhubarb and Custard Layer Cakes will make up for the gap between recipe posts.

Born out of a manic larder clear-out, they were inspired by the need to use up ingredients near or past their 'best before' date..... In this case, a huge (and rather expensive) bag of raw pistachio nuts which I bought in bulk before Christmas when making Pistachio Marzipan and half a tub of Birds Custard Powder.


Originally, I was going to combine flavours using some Kirsch-soaked Morello Cherries that I also found lurking, but when I popped into the garden the other day, I found vast quantities of rhubarb that needed harvesting...... and since the cherries were well-preserved in their alcoholic bath and would no doubt survive a little longer, I decided to go for a classic combo of 'rhubarb and custard'.

It's funny.... as a child I hated rhubarb. Miss GF gives it a wide berth too, but as I have got older, I have grown to love its tartness, especially when off-set by something a little sweeter. I don't know..... Is it one of those flavours that you 'grow into'? What's your experience? Do your kids love it or hate it?


My dislike of rhubarb strangely didn't extend to the old-fashioned (or should that be 'retro') rhubarb and custard boiled sweets and this classic marriage of sharp against creamy sweetness continues to hold nostalgic joy to my tastebuds.

The pistachios didn't obviously fit into the trip down memory lane..... I am not sure pistachios featured much in my culinary explorations until I was in my twenties, but as there was a huge stash hiding in the larder, I decided to add a bit of a modern twist and make a pistachio sponge to accompany my pink and yellow foray into childhood.


I used my tried and tested Best Gluten Free Vanilla Sponge recipe as a base and simply tweaked it by subbing the ground almonds from the original recipe with home-ground pistachio flour. It worked a treat, with the pistachios adding not only a slightly sticky moistness to the sponge, but also a subtle green hue.

Having stewed down the rhubarb, I confess I did add a tiny hint of red food colour to brighten the appearance of the compote. The custard was bog-standard Bird's ready-to-make, but with a slightly heavier weighting of custard powder to ensure a thickness that would work as a a layer of filling.


The finished cakes are a bit of a triumph (if I say so myself). All the flavour memories of sucking on Rhubarb and Custard sweets, married with rich, soft, nutty pistachio sponge. If you don't fancy pistachio cake, or haven't got a load of pistachios going wanting, this Rhubarb and Custard Layer Cake would work perfectly with your favourite vanilla sponge (you could try my Best Gluten Free Vanilla Sponge), or use a Victoria Sandwich recipe.

As for Miss GF...... Well she couldn't be left out of this pistachio cake fest (and I had made rather a lot of cake batter on account of having so many nuts to use up), so I made her an alternative (and rather delicious) Custard and Raspberry Jam cake...... Way too tempting!


Other Rhubarb or Pistachio Recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist
Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb No Churn Ice Cream
Rhubarb, Blueberry & Honey No Churn Ice Cream
Rhubarb-Strawberry Meringue Pie
Rhubarb & White Chocolate Eclairs
Strawberry, Rhubarb & Pomegranate Jam
Pistachio 'Macaroons' with Rose & Crushed Raspberry Mascarpone Cream
Pistachio Soft Nutty Cookie Mounds
BBQ Swordfish with Lime, Pistachio & Coriander
Pistachio, Orange & Raspberry Fondant Fancies
Lime & Pistachio Pastry
Pistachio, Hazelnut, Apricot & Apple Biscotti
Pistachio & Vanilla Shortbread Cookies
Pistachio, Lime & Olive Oil Cake with Blackcurrant Drizzle
Pistachio Marzipan
Naturally Sweet Raw Green Smoothie


I am sharing my Rhubarb and Custard Layer Cake with Pistachio Sponge with the following linkies :



Baking Crumbs - This month being guest-hosted by Jo's Kitchen Larder on behalf of Only Crumbs Remain
Cook Blog Share with Hijacked By Twins
Free From Fridays with Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel


Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum
Got To Be Gluten Free with myself and Glutarama
Bake of the Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps


Love Cake with Jibber Jabber who is this month celebrating the royal wedding. Okay.... so this is not exactly a wedding or celebration cake, but Rhubarb & Custard is so iconically British, I think that Meghan needs to try it!

Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup
Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice
Fiesta Friday with Angie and Zoale


Rhubarb and Custard Layer Cake (makes 1 x 9 inch cake or 12 mini sandwich cakes and a 7 inch sandwich)


Ingredients

Pistachio Sponge
320g gluten free plain flour blend (I used GFA Blend A from this post)
160g pistachio flour (raw, shelled pistachios home-ground to a powder)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons GF Baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
330g/ml milk
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
170g unsalted butter - softened
360g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs (room temperature) - beaten together in a bowl

Thick Rhubarb Compote
3 to 4 stalks fresh rhubarb - cut into small pieces
large spoonful golden caster sugar
optional drop of red food colour

Custard Filling
45g GF custard powder (I used Birds)
2 to 3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 pint full fat milk

Icing Sugar to decorate

Method

  1. Sponge : Base line the cake tins with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Weigh and mix together the flour blend, pistachio flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and set aside (I weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously to blend). 
  3. Using a jug, mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside for 10 minutes (the mixture will become slightly lumpy as it turns into buttermilk).
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.
  5. Gradually add and beat in the eggs a little at a time.
  6. Gently fold in about a third of the milk mix followed by a third of the flour mix and repeat in thirds until all the dry mix and liquid have been just incorporated into the cake batter. Be careful not to over-mix.
  7. Spoon the batter into your prepared tins (about two-thirds full) and smooth the tops.
  8. Bake for about 15-20 minutes (small cakes) and 25 to 35 minutes (larger cakes) until the top springs back and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Rhubarb Compote : Place the chopped rhubarb and sugar with a tablespoonful of water in a saucepan over a medium heat on the hob. Bring to a slow simmer, frequently stirring until the sugar dissolves and the rhubarb has softened and disintegrated. 
  11. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently until the liquid has reduced and you have a thickened rhubarb compote. 
  12. Add a drop of colour if using and stir through thoroughly.
  13. Set aside to cool completely (stirring occasionally).
  14. Custard filling : Mix together the custard powder and sugar in a medium saucepan, add a few spoons of milk and blend together into a smooth paste. Do not turn on the heat at this stage.
  15. Gradually add the rest of the cold milk, stirring until you have a smooth liquid.
  16. Over a low heat, very gradually bring the custard to a simmer, stirring continually to prevent any lumps forming. As the custard approaches simmer point it will begin to thicken and at this stage, it will be important to stir vigorously to ensure it remains smooth. 
  17. Once the custard has begun to gently bubble, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Continue to stir as it begins to cool to avoid a skin forming, or place a piece of clingfilm over the bowl in contact with the surface of the custard.
  18. Once the custard is cool, whip with a whisk to lighten slightly.
  19. Putting it all together : When ready, cut the small cake in half or use the larger sponges as individual layers. Spread a thick layer of rhubarb compote on the base layer and a thick layer of custard on the underside of the top layer and gently sandwich together.
  20. Sprinkle the top with icing sugar.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

A New Linky Venture with #G2BGF and a revisit of a favourite recipe - Coco-Banana Freeze Bites (gluten free/optional dairy free)


In the five years that I have been blogging, I have shared my recipes across dozens of recipe-linkies, but have never managed to cross the threshold in hosting one myself. The idea of hosting has always appealed to me, but I have held back, worrying about the extra time involved (whilst trying to fit the blog around a full time job and parenting)..... until now that is. My good friend and fellow blogger Rebecca over at Glutarama has asked me to join her in co-hosting a monthly linky 'Got To Be Gluten Free' (or #G2BGF for short) and I am excited to have said yes (albeit I'm a bit late in actually taking up the reins on account of there having been too much other stuff to deal with since Christmas).

The linky fits in perfectly on Gluten Free Alchemist and will be open to join from the 1st to the 28th of each month..... Any post that features a gluten free recipe can be linked, whether you are a free from blogger or not, so please come and join our monthly celebration of gluten free food.

The rules are simple..... Just grab the badge, share your creation, comment on the hosts posts and at least two others (well..... it's so good to share the love right?) and tweet/insta/facebook your link to us with the hashtag #G2BGF, so we can spread the word about how wonderful you all are.

Old posts are fine, as long as they fit the rules..... In fact this month, I am linking up one of my own most favourite (and most requested in our house....) recipes that first featured on Gluten Free Alchemist way back in 2014..... Coco-Banana Freeze Bites...... Easy to make, healthy frozen treats full of amazingly healthy ingredients that are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast or nutritious between-meals snack.


It always saddens me when I look back over my early posts and realise that my readership was so small at the time that some of my best recipes have merely gathered the dust of cyber-space and not been enjoyed. So I am on a mission to start the long process of revisiting the gems and updating the best posts for my lovely readers.... and I have every intention of sharing as widely as possible to make sure that this time round, I spread the word about just how yummy they are.


My lovely co-host Rebecca is sharing her Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding. Oh my goodness it looks amazing..... I don't know about you, but I could devour the lot in one go..... Interestingly I have never made a self-saucing pudding (either gluten free or not), so I for one will be testing Rebecca's pud.

But, over to you..... Come join us and feel free to link whatever you want.... old or new. I can't wait to see what amazing GLUTEN FREE goodies you share this month. We will of course round up all the entries at the start of next month and will choose our favourite as a winner to share.

And if you're looking for somewhere extra to link your creation, nip over to the #FreeFromFridays Linky hosted by Le Coin De Mel and Free From Farmhouse, which runs every Friday.

Shared with Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum


Grab the linky badge here and add to your post, it'll link to our linky main menu so no need to edit - life's too short!






Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A Celebratory Orange Cake (gluten free)


I love this gluten free Orange Cake. It is moist, heady with the scent and tang of orange and gorgeously sharable. Having had a crappy start to 2018, I decided that this would be my birthday treat..... No-one else was planning to make my birthday special with a cake, so I figured I would grab the opportunity for a bit of baking therapy and make it myself!


If I am honest, I am not really being critical of the lack of enthusiasm for my birthday from others..... It hasn't really felt like a reason to celebrate this year, partly because I am still trying to come to terms with the loss of my mother in January and that of my brother a couple of years ago. The loss of two family members so close together is a reminder that life is just too short..... Something needs to change in my world and soon...... The daily grind is not meeting my needs, either emotional or spiritual and I feel that somewhere along the way I got lost in anger and frustration and I don't want to be stuck there any more. Mid life crisis? I think so.


Whilst I am planning my route to betterness, baking cake will provide some 'down time' and a means of giving and caring..... birthday or not.

I have shared this cake before...... not on the blog, but with colleagues and friends. On every occasion, the recipients have retreated into silent munching interspersed with a happy 'mmm' (which I generally take to be a sign of grateful satisfaction), followed by feedback that has made me blush! I love that a simple cake can provide a sense of shared enjoyment...... it is a nice thing to give and is often my way of saying I care, or apologising for my shitty mood and attitude...... and recently my mood and attitude have been more than shitty!


Is it just me or do other people have periods in life when it feels that the negative energy just grabs hold and won't let go? Everything you touch bites back..... Every time you start to get back on your feet, something else happens that smacks you down. I need to find a way to change the energy......

But enough self-absorbed waffle..... let's get back to the cake..... Made with plenty of ground almonds and some home-made buttermilk, it stays moist and fresh. If anything, the crumb improves over a couple of days..... far from the often dry and crumbly gluten free offerings.


To make the cake extra celebratory, I filled and decorated it with some creamy, decadent orange buttercream, touched with a swirl of orange curd. When I have made the cake previously, I layered the buttercream and curd, but this made the cake a bit slippery to stack, so for this bake I have mixed the two elements together.


The home-made jelly made with the juice of blood oranges, not only gives this cake the wow factor, but adds a deliciously contrasting texture which marries beautifully against the sponge and velvety butter cream. Finished with a sparkle of edible gold heart sprinkles and some sugar flowers takes it from tea time cake to a show-stopping and very special treat..... For those of you who venture to make it, I hope you fall in love with it as much as we have.....


I am sharing my Celebratory Orange Cake with :


Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too








Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain


Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber






Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum


Orange Cake (makes a 2 x 9 inch or 3 x 7 inch sandwich cake)

Ingredients

Sponge 
300g plain gluten free flour (I used GFA blend A from this post)
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
175g ground almonds
330 ml milk
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
150g unsalted butter - room temperature
400g caster sugar
3 large eggs - room temperature and lightly beaten together
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
zest 1 orange - finely grated

Orange Curd Butter Icing
190g unsalted butter - softened
400g icing sugar - sifted
pinch fine sea salt
½ teaspoon orange extract
3 to 4 heaped teaspoons orange curd

Orange Jelly
120g sieved orange juice (I used freshly squeezed blood orange)
1 tablespoon icing sugar
3g sheet gelatine

Additional Decorations 
I used sugar flowers and gold stars

Method

  1. Sponge : Base-line two 9 inch or three 7 inch cake tins with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Weigh and thoroughly mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum salt and almonds (I weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
  3. Pour the milk and vinegar into a jug and stir so that the liquid becomes clumpy. Set aside.
  4. Use an electric whisk to cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  5. Gradually add the egg a little at a time and beat thoroughly between each addition until fully amalgamated.
  6. Add and beat through the vanilla and orange extracts and orange zest.
  7. Add and gently fold in the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, alternating wet with dry about a third at a time, until it has all been added. 
  8. Divide the cake batter evenly between the tins and smooth the surface.
  9. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  10. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Orange Curd Butter Icing : Beat the butter until smooth, then gradually add and beat in the icing sugar, salt, orange extract and curd until well-blended, light and creamy.
  12. Sandwich together the sponge cakes with a generous layer of butter icing. 
  13. Use a large palette knife and cake scraper to spread a thin layer of butter icing around the sides and top of the cake, then pipe rosettes tightly round the top edge (making sure there are no gaps as this will form the wall that will prevent the jelly escaping) and round the base using a large open star tip. Place in the fridge to firm up slightly.
  14. Orange Jelly : Hydrate the gelatine by placing the sheets flat, in cold water for 10 minutes.
  15. Heat the juice either in a small saucepan or in a jug in the microwave. 
  16. Add the icing sugar and stir until dissolved.
  17. Whilst the juice is still hot, add the softened gelatine and stir until completely dissolved.
  18. Set aside at room temperature, stirring frequently until the liquid is cold and just beginning to thicken very slightly (but is still liquid and pourable).
  19. Pour the jelly onto the top of the cake (inside the icing surround) and place in the fridge to set.
  20. Decorate with sparkles and sugar flowers and serve.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated