Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Strawberry Trifle Cake with White Chocolate Cream

Wow........... You have to try this!

We went to friends for dinner a few days back and as the ingredients to make gluten free puds are not in most people's larders, I offered to bring one along. The offer was gratefully received, so I set about trying to come up with an idea which would be 'unexpected' and memorable. This was to feed a very dear friend of mine and her family (including her parents) who I hadn't seen for ages, but who I have known since I was eleven. So I wanted to make something a bit special.

As those of you who have kept an eye on my blog will know, I have a bit of an attachment to all things trifle............... and it is always a great dessert for a big dinner! Instead of the usual trifle in a bowl, I wanted to try another twist on the old favourite, so went for an attempt at 'trifle cake'.

Trifle by rights, should be a moist mingling mixture of sponge, fruit, custard and cream (with or without a shot of alcohol thrown in). So trifle cake? Has all the essential qualities yes............... but not quite as you expect it........

The sponge for this cake is made with ground almonds, so is deliciously moist. It is infused with freeze-dried strawberries for natural flavour, colour and fruitiness. A gorgeous sponge cake, this would be a good base for any teatime treat.

Now for the twist.................
To make this a trifle cake, the sponge has been drizzled with a delicious fruit coulis made from strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate. Not only is it the most beautiful rich, dark purple-red colour, but it has an amazing deep, fruity flavour.................. Not too sweet and slightly tangy, it dances on the taste buds with memories of warm summer days.

The coulis soaks into the sponge as it would in a trifle bowl, making each mouthful oozy with fruitiness. You could drizzle in your favourite liqueur too, but as children were eating this one, I decided it probably wasn't the best idea!

Next for the custard and cream....................... Combining both together, I have layered and topped the sponge with a white chocolate custard-cream which adds a soft, light, caramel sweetness perfectly matched for contrast against the fruitiness of the coulis-soaked sponge.

And to finish off?................ Add a topping of beautiful, vibrant fresh fruit and sprinkle an extra handful of finely chopped white chocolate to add a bit of bite and extra decadence.

And there you have it. Strawberry Trifle Cake with White Chocolate Cream................... trifle with a twist!

Strawberry Sponge Cake (makes one 9 inch cake)


200g plain gluten free flour (I used blend A from this post)
15g ground almonds 
15g freeze dried strawberry powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
220 ml milk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
100g unsalted butter - room temperature
300g caster sugar
2 large eggs - room temperature
 teaspoons vanilla extract
100g graound almonds


  1. Base-line a 9 inch round, deep spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, almonds (15g), strawberry powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt, making sure that any lumps are broken down. Set aside.
  4. Combine the milk and vinegar in a jug. Stir and leave to stand for about 10 minutes.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat to fully combine.
  7. Using a large spoon or spatula, fold in the remaining almonds (100g).
  8. Fold in the flour alternately with the milk mixture about a third at a time until all the ingredients are just combined - do not over-mix.
  9. Pour the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Fruit Coulis


227g punnet strawberries - hulled and cut in half
250g blueberries
200g raspberries
1 pomegranate (skin and pith removed - seeds only)
75g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons water


  1. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring.
  2. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently and crushing the fruit with the back of a spoon.
  3. Allow to cool
  4. Puree the fruit mixture in a blender and pass through a sieve to remove the seeds.
  5. Set aside.

White Chocolate Custard-Cream


600 ml double cream
300 ml good quality vanilla custard
280g white chocolate (chopped)

A further handful of finely chopped white chocolate to decorate.


  1. Melt the chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave (medium setting) on 30 second bursts, stirring between each. (or place the bowl over a gently simmering saucepan of water, ensuring the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl, stirring frequently) 
  2. Once melted, set the chocolate aside to cool slightly.
  3. Whip the cream with an electric whisk until it begins to thicken.
  4. Add the custard and continue to whip until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  5. Add the chocolate to the whipped cream and gently fold in until completely combined.

Putting it all together

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the cake in half horizontally.
  2. Place one half cut side up on a serving plate and replace the cleaned spring-form cake tin (without the base) round the edge. 
  3. Using a fork, gently poke the cake to make small holes in the surface of the sponge.
  4. Drizzle fruit coulis onto the surface of the sponge and leave for about half an hour for the liquid to soak in slightly.
  5. Spread half of the white chocolate cream on top of the cake layer.
  6. Place the other half of the cake on top of the layer of cream (still inside the cake tin) and repeat processes 3 to 5.
  7. Decorate with fruit and chopped white chocolate and then carefully undo and remove the cake tin. 
  8. Chill the cake in fridge until ready to eat.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Chewy Toffee Apple Cookies - gluten free

Toffee apples somehow seem synonymous with Autumn................ Fresh crisp apples, dipped in sweet shiny toffee. The childhood joy of crunching through the glassy caramelised sugar into the sharply contrasting apple is one of those memories that stays with you.

My daughter, who turns her nose up at apples in the fruit bowl, can't resist the opportunity of a toffee-apple treat and every time she has one, it transports me straight back in time.

These toffee apple cookies take that iconic flavour combination and mingle them together in a perfectly chewy, cinnamon-spiced biscuit, setting the slight sharpness of the apple against the rich, caramel sweetness of toffee.

They contain real dairy toffee, carefully chopped and melted through the baking process so that they remain soft and decadent. The cookies are also made with a combination of coconut palm and soft brown sugars, which add to the caramel deliciousness yet save them from becoming too sweet.

Rather than use fresh apple which might add too much wetness to the mix, I have used freeze-dried apple cubes which I source on-line from a company called Healthy Supplies. I use a lot of freeze-dried fruit in my cooking, partly because it can be used without the risk of creating a 'sog' factor, but mainly because the process of freeze-drying seals in an intensity of flavour which can be easily stored in the cupboard ready to zing-up any number of recipes without the loss of natural fruitiness.

Freeze-dried apple cubes are just perfect for these cookies............. Tiny hidden bites of chewy apple-sharpness which I have warmly laced with cinnamon spice to leave a comforting wintry tingle on the tongue.

I am so thrilled with these that I am sharing them with two challenges this month..................

Tea Time Treats, hosted by Karen from Lavender & Lovage who collaborates with Kate from What Kate Baked to tempt us into sharing a monthly array of delicious tea time goodies. November's challenge is to come up with creative treats containing dried fruit, so these cookies seem a perfect offering...........

I am also entering them for the Biscuit Barrel Challenge hosted by Laura over at I'd Much Rather Bake Than.... who has chosen Festive & Party as this month's theme. These cookies are perfect for all sorts of wintry celebrations and make a delicious edible gift too!

Chewy Toffee Apple Cookies (makes about 30 cookies)


175g plain gluten free flour (I used mix A from this post)
25g corn flour                        
25g tapioca flour
65g ground almonds
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
150g unsalted butter - room temperature
100g soft light brown sugar
125g coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg - room temperature
50g freeze-dried apple cubes
80g dairy toffee - chopped into tiny pieces
tiny white chocolate stars and edible glitter to decorate (optional)


  1. Weigh and mix together the flours, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl, making sure any lumps are broken down. Set aside. 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars in a large bowl using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined.
  4. Fold in the flour mixture, apple cubes and chopped dairy toffee using a large metal spoon or spatula until the ingredients are evenly mixed.
  5. Place the mix in the fridge to chill for half an hour.
  6. Line about 4 baking sheets with baking paper (or batch-bake if you do not have enough baking sheets).
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4.
  8. When chilled, remove the biscuit dough from the fridge and spoon into small rounded mounds on the baking sheets (making sure you leave plenty of room between each for spreading). You can use a cake pop scoop to get even-sized mounds if you have one.
  9. Gently flatten the top of each mound very slightly using the palm of your hand.
  10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until just beginning to brown and crisp at the very edges. Be very careful not to over-bake as you want the cookies to remain soft in the centre. To ensure an even batch, swap the trays of cookies round in the oven half way through baking.
  11. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave on the tray for 10 to 15 minutes to cool and harden slightly. Immediately after removing from the oven, decorate with white chocolate stars (if you are using) so that they melt slightly and stick to the cookie.
  12. When cooled enough to move without them breaking, transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  13. Decorate with edible glitter (if using) and share!

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Sausage, Bacon & Apple Rolls - Gluten Free

Lunch boxes, picnics and parties can be a bit of a challenge when you are gluten free as most food designed to be eaten on-the-go tends to be bread or pastry based, - both of which contain loads of barred wheat flour. And if you want to nip into the supermarket to grab a quick lunch that you can eat at your desk, you might as well forget about it! I have yet to find a shop that does anything that fits that bill for us gluten avoiders...... So what to do for lunch?

Sure, you can pack rice and potato salads, cold meats and cheeses, or dips and veg sticks, but they aren't quite the same, especially when you're 8 (like my daughter) and you want to be the same as all your friends. Which means that as mum, I have to be one step ahead and plan plenty of comparable favourites to store in the freezer ready for when they are needed.

One of the favourites is sausage rolls. I make these with certified gluten free sausage meat and home-made gluten free pastry. Because the sausage meat hasn't been thinned out with a load of breadcrumbs, it tends to be more 'porky', which isn't a bad thing. And given some of the scare stories you hear about what goes into processed meat products these days, it's good to know that bought fresh from the butcher, the sausage meat hasn't been adulterated with anything you don't want to eat.

Needing to replenish the dwindling freezer stock of sausage rolls, I tried a bit of a twist this week and made some sausage, bacon and apple rolls for a change. Perfect for packed lunches, I am also offering them as my entry to the Family Foodies Challenge which is being hosted by Vanesther over at Bangers and Mash. This is a new blog challenge co-hosted by Lou at Eat Your Veg and this month's theme is Lunchbox Ideas. I love the badge for the challenge don't you?

The gluten free pastry for these sausage rolls is my own recipe which I also used for the pies in this post. Having spent a while developing it, I have found it to be consistently crisp, not too brittle and comparable in flavour and texture to traditional wheat-based shortcrust pastry.

These sausage rolls taste great. The bacon adds a lovely smokiness against the sausage and the apple gives a delicious tang which offsets the earthiness of the meat.

There is nothing complicated to these, but they taste fantastic and they make a lovely, filling gluten free lunch.............. that can be eaten on-the-go!

Sausage, Bacon & Apple Rolls

Ingredients - filling                           

300g gluten free pork sausage meat
5 rashers back bacon - cut into small pieces
½ a large cooking apple - cut into small cubes
salt & Pepper to season

Method - filling

  1. Make your filling first by mixing the sausage meat, chopped bacon and chopped apple in a large bowl until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Set aside whilst you make your pastry.

Ingredients - gluten free shortcrust pastry  

110g white gluten free flour mix (I used mix B from this post)
55g potato flour
55g gram flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon GF baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
110g unsalted butter - cold and cubed
1 large egg
2 tablespoons cold water

Milk to seal the pastry and glaze.

Method for the pastry

Dough Method - by hand

  1. Weigh and sieve the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and stir together.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the crumb mixture.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the crumb mixture using a table knife until it begins to clump together.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands and press into a ball. Knead very briefly to ensure ingredients are fully amalgamated.

by food processor

  1. Weigh the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into the food processor bowl and pulse briefly to  mix together and remove any lumps.
  2. Add the cubed butter to the mixture and pulse again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the food processor with the crumb mixture.
  4. Turn the processor on and mix until the ingredients form a smooth dough. This will not require any further kneading. 

To make the sausage rolls

  1. Use the pastry straight away at room temperature (do not chill).
  2. Cut the pastry block in half. Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin and roll the first half of the pastry out into an oblong shape about 2 mm in thickness.
  3. Cut the edges of the strip to make them straight and dependent on the width of your oblong, cut the strip into sized widths wide enough to wrap around filling to make the size of sausage roll you want to achieve.
  4. Spoon the sausage filling onto the pastry and spread into a sausage shape along the middle of the whole length of your pastry strip.
  5. Wrap one side of the pastry over the top of the sausage and brush the top edge of that pastry with milk.
  6. Brush milk also on the inside outer edge of pastry that is to be folded up from the other side, and then fold up to over lap the top pastry and gently press together to seal the two edges together.
  7. Turn over the whole length of roll so that the join is underneath and using a sharp knife, cut the sausage roll strip into individual pieces.
  8. Place the uncooked sausage rolls onto baking sheets lined with baking paper.
  9. Continue processes 2 to 8 with the remaining pastry and mixture until all the ingredients have been used.
  10. Place in the fridge to chill for about half an hour.
  11. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200⁰ C / 400⁰ F / Gas 6.
  12. When ready to cook, brush the top of the rolls with milk to glaze and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  13. Eat hot straight from the oven, or warm or cold.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Fish & Bean Stew : warming and perfect for winter

As the temperature drops, we head for soup and casserole season in our house. Hot, comforting food that leaves your belly glowing, warm and tingly with a big foodie hug.

Although there are quite a few Asian fish soups around, there seem to be less recipes for chunky casserole-style fish soups. I really fancied something healthy, fishy, wholesome............ and a bit different. So I have made up my own Fish & Bean Casserole-Soup.............

I had no idea how it would turn out. I literally wrote down a bunch of ingredients I thought might work well together and threw them one by one into a big casserole, tasting a bit here and there as I went. All very random......... But you know what? It worked! It seems that sometimes, randomness can result in something that takes you by sweet surprise!

Full of fresh, nutritious fish and prawns, wholesome with beans and a bit of veg and warming from the chilli heat of the harissa, this 'soup' tastes amazing. - Not too fishy, but well-balanced with a complimentary range of textures and flavours.

It is chunky enough to eat with rice or potatoes as a casserole, but equally fantastic as a thick, filling winter soup with crusty bread or toast on the side.

I'm offering it as my entry for this month's Four Season's Food Challenge because I think it tastes too good to keep to myself.......... November's theme is 'soups, stews and one pot wonders' and is being hosted by Louisa over at Eat Your Veg. Louisa organises the monthly challenge along with Anneli at Delicieux. It's a great challenge which has certainly got me thinking about seasonal dishes and ingredients.

So here it is....... my Fish & Bean Casserole-Soup. I reckon it definitely counts as a 'one pot wonder'!

Fish & Bean Casserole-Soup (serves 4 to 6, depending on whether you are serving with rice/potatoes or as soup)


approximately 700g (filleted weight) firm white fish (I used Monkfish and Hake)
200g shelled raw king prawns
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion - chopped
1 large clove garlic - finely chopped or crushed
110g baby leeks - trimmed but left whole
1 to 2 teaspoons harissa paste (to taste)
dash white wine
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 x 400g tin butter beans
1 x 400g tin aduki beans
400ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cut the fish into large cubes and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heat-proof casserole on medium to high and sauté the onion.
  3. Add the garlic and leeks and continue to cook for a couple more minutes.
  4. Add the harissa and stir through.
  5. Add the fish (not the prawns) and allow the heat to seal the outside. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add a dash of wine and stir.
  7. Add the prawns and cook for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the tomato puree, thyme, beans and stock and season with salt and pepper. stir to combine.
  9. Bring to a simmer and cook through for 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Serve hot as a soup or as a casserole with rice/potatoes.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Sticky Toffee Cake Drizzled with Orange-Raspberry Icing

Ok........ I know I'm a bit late to be doing a post on bonfire night food, but there are still plenty of sparkles, bangs and whizzes going on in the skies round where I live and all in the name of Guy Fawkes.

For those of you not from the UK, Bonfire, Fireworks or Guy Fawkes Night is a major commemoration which happens every year on the 5th November and marks the date way back in 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his counterparts were prevented from blowing up the Houses of Parliament (and King James 1) with Gun Powder. Celebrations centre around displays of fireworks, lighting of bonfires and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes.

This year, by pure coincidence, we happened to be in London the weekend before November 5th, which was also when most of the London firework displays were taking place. And by chance, we happened to have booked tickets for the London Eye, which took us high above London just when the displays were at their peak. Talk about lucked-out! The night was dark, the air crystal clear, the London lights perfectly defined and beautiful and as if that wasn't good enough, we got to see fireworks going off right behind the Houses of Parliament! How cool is that?

Traditional food for Guy Fawkes Night includes baked potatoes, sausages, hot soups and yummy toffee-based puds such as toffee apples, and sticky toffee or ginger cake.

There's nothing better than a sticky toffee cake on a cold November's night and this one's really sticky, spongy, moist and very very 'toffified'...... It is made with creamy butter and a mix of coconut palm sugar and soft brown sugar which has tempered the sweetness away from sugar and towards caramel decadence.

I have added a couple of handfuls of chopped soft dairy toffee which has melted and mingled into the sponge to make it mellow and extra creamy.

The texture and taste of this cake is amazing. - Squidgy, sticky, smooth and spongy all at the same time, with a depth of flavour that is perfect to savour on it's own, warm or cold, or alternatively accompanied by custard or decorated with icing.

Although it is perfect without anything added, I decided to sparkle mine up with a little something extra in the form of a decorative orange-raspberry icing, partly to make it pretty and fit for celebration, but also because the contrasting citrus tang tastes fabulous against the toffee rich sponge. The raspberry has been added and balanced mainly for natural colour, so that orange remains the predominant second flavour. Still delicious with custard and definitely perfect for remembering Guy Fawkes........

Sticky Toffee Cake Drizzled with Orange-Raspberry Icing


100g light brown sugar       )    or use 200g light or dark soft brown sugar
100g coconut palm sugar    )    if you don't have any coconut palm sugar
200g GF plain flour mix (I used Mix A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
200g unsalted butter - cubed
200g golden syrup
3 large eggs
30 ml / two tablespoons milk
100g soft dairy toffee - cut into small pieces

Orange-Raspberry Icing & Decoration                     

approximately 10 teaspoons icing sugar
2 teaspoons freeze-dried raspberry powder (mainly for natural colour)
½ teaspoon orange extract
approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
small chocolate stars or other sprinkles and food glitter to decorate


  1. Base-line a non stick loose-bottomed cake tin (23cm/9 inches x 23cm/9 inches) with baking paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4.
  3. Mix together the sugar(s), flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground almonds and salt in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
  4. Place the butter and golden syrup in a medium sized bowl and gently melt in a microwave at medium setting on 30 second bursts, stirring between each until the ingredients are liquid and fully combined (do not allow to boil). If you don't have access to a microwave, place in a small saucepan and gently melt over a low heat until liquid and combined.
  5. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and gently beat with a spoon until combined.
  6. Beat the eggs and milk together in a small bowl and then add to the cake mix. Beat with a whisk until all ingredients are fully combined and have become a thick batter.
  7. Add the toffee pieces and gently fold into the batter until evenly distributed.
  8. Spoon the batter into the cake tin and spread into the corners with the back of a spoon, ensuring an even surface.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160 C / 320 F / Gas 3, and continue to bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes until the cake is well risen and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Keep a check on the cake whilst cooking. If you are concerned that it is browning too quickly, place a piece of foil over the top half way through the baking process.
  10. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Once cold, cut the cake into squares.
  12. If you are decorating, sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and mix with the raspberry powder.
  13. Add a tablespoon orange juice and the orange extract and stir until combined. Gradually add more orange juice a little at a time until you have a thick, but drizzleable icing paste.
  14. Use immediately to drizzle over each cake slice. Before the icing hardens, decorate with sprinkles.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 8 November 2013

Peanut Butter & White Chocolate Blondies - Gluten Free

I recently made some blondies to take into work. Things have been pretty tough there for the last few weeks, so I thought a bit of a sugar treat was in order to cheer people up.

Blondies seem to be a bit like brownies (or should that be opposite to brownies?) and are made using similar ingredients, the main difference being the use of brown sugar instead of cocoa. They have the same squidgy-chewy texture and are rich, bite-sized chunks of yumminess, characteristically golden-brown in colour.

Although I have struggled to find out much about them, they seem to be American in origin, so I think they are a fitting offering for this month's Treat Petite challenge - a monthly blog event which encourages our creativity towards themed individually-portioned treats, run by Kat over at The Baking Explorer and Stuart at Cakeyboi. November's theme is......... well.......... America, and is being hosted by Kat.

Not having actually made gluten-free blondies before, I decided to use someone else's recipe, so that I could get a feel for how they 'should' be. And to be honest, having made (and eaten) them, I reckon there's no point in messing with something that tastes this good!

A while back, I bought a new cook book, 'Cake Angels - Gluten, Wheat & Dairy Free Cakes' by Julia Thomas, which has an incredibly simple and extremely quick recipe for gluten free blondies. I think it is probably the speediest bake I have ever made.......

Being that we don't have to worry too much about the 'dairy free' bit, I made mine with good old-fashioned butter (and some extra dairy-based chocolate). But if you can't eat dairy, just do a straight substitution and use dairy free spread and dairy free chocolate instead.

These blondies are soft, slightly chocolate-sweet, caramelly, squidgy, very peanutty and actually quite filling. They disappeared in a flash, which makes me reckon I am not the only one to think they are delicious. Definitely to be recommended!

Peanut Butter & White Chocolate Gluten Free Blondies (from a recipe by Julia Thomas in 'Cake Angels')


100g unsalted butter - room temperature (or dairy-free spread)
150g crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
175g soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g gluten free flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
100g white chocolate chunks (use dairy free if needed)


  1. Base line a 20cm/8 inch square baking tin with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C / 350 F / Gas 4.
  3. Beat the butter and peanut butter together in a large mixing bowl using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, weigh and mix the flour, xanthan gum and baking powder so that they are evenly blended.
  6. Gradually fold the flour mix into the wet mix using a large spoon or spatula until completely combined.
  7. Finally fold in the chocolate chunks until even throughout the dough.
  8. Spoon the mixture evenly into the cake tin and smooth down the surface with the back of a spoon or spatula.
  9. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the cake tin.
  11. Once cool, take the brownie out of the tin and cut into squares using a sharp knife.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Sausage, Bacon & Three Bean Pies - Gluten Free

Apparently this week is yet another week to celebrate food (as if I don't celebrate it every day anyway). This week is British Sausage Week.

Great! Because we are definitely a 'sausage family'. We love them.............. filled with meat, with veg, spicy, or not.

Being gluten free means limits on which sausages you can eat because most of them contain some degree of added wheat rusk or bread crumbs. The upside however, is that the sausages you can eat tend to have a much higher meat or vegetable content and so taste ( in my view) heaps better.

Way back in May this year, we visited the Free From Show in London and whilst there, discovered a couple of new brands of sausage - one meat and one vegetable.............. Both amazingly delicious, so I thought I should share them with you.

The vegetable ones are made by Secret Sausages (I love the name). Their slogan is 'vegetables in disguise'. They make a range of vegetable sausages with wonderful flavour combinations such as Honey Bee - my favourite (sweet corn, carrots, peas and honey), cheese and spring onion, and chilli and coriander amongst others. Seriously..... If you have treated vegetable sausages as 'second best', think again....... These are definitely worth a try. They taste incredible with their carefully complimenting mix of ingredients and have a lovely crisp bite to the outside. They rival the meat versions superbly without pretending to be anything but vegetable. Great van too!

And then there is our new favourite meat sausage................. Far superior in taste and texture to many I have eaten, these come from a company called Heck. Their slogan is 'we do damn good sausages'.............. and they do! From pork or chicken, to pork and apple or smoky chorizo style (with several others to boot) they are meaty, flavoursome, perfectly seasoned and taste amazing. They also hold together really well when you use them in casseroles!

Which brings me to one of our favourite meals....... Spicy Sausage and Bean Casserole. It is adapted from a recipe that I found years ago in a supermarket magazine (I think, though I can't remember which one) and long before I ever heard of blogging. Wherever it came from, I cut it out and stuck it in my home recipe book and we have been enjoying it ever since.

What I love about it is that it is warming, full of beans, slightly honey-sweet, with a meaty bite, a slight chilli kick and it fills us for days (or feeds loads of guests). Perfect for bonfire night!

A few months back, I adapted it one stage further after I had a hankering for a decent gluten free pie, but was struggling to find one in the shops. I set about developing my own gluten free (and nut free) pastry because I was really unhappy with the quality of the bought versions, and decided that the perfect filling would be a thickened version of the sausage and bean casserole.

It worked incredibly well....... The pastry is crisp and golden, certainly doesn't have a soggy bottom and freezes beautifully. The filling is tasty, colourful, full of love, wholesome, comforting and balanced. I always make a good pile of them so that I can freeze some ready for those cold winter days when I need a meal that fills me with homely warmth and a big foody hug.

Sausage, Bacon and Bean Filling

Ingredients (makes more than you need for the pies, but makes a fantastic casserole to serve with rice..... or you could just make more pastry!)

12 good quality gluten free pork sausages
4 tablespoons olive oil
250g streaky bacon - cut into small pieces
2 medium sized red onions - finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic - crushed
1 red chilli - deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dark soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
a glug of red wine
200 ml water
400g tin kidney beans - drained
400g tin cannellini beans - drained
400g tin butter beans - drained
2 good handfuls chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons corn flour (blended with a tiny amount of cold water)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based hob-proof casserole pot and add the sausages. Fry on medium heat until nicely browned, then remove and set aside. Cut the sausages into small chunks.
  2. Add the bacon and chopped onion to the pan and gently fry in the sausage goo for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the chilli and garlic and continue to fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the sugar, tomato puree and honey and stir through.
  5. Add a glug of wine and mix allowing to sizzle.
  6. Add the tomatoes and water and bring to the boil, stirring intermittently.
  7. Finally add the cut sausages and beans and stir through until evenly mixed.
  8. Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
  9. Stir through the parsley after about 10 minutes.
  10. Add the corn flour blended with a little water and stir through. Continue to stir for 2 to 3 minutes until the sausage stew thickens slightly.
  11. Turn off the heat and cool as quickly as possible in preparation for filling the pies. The mixture will need to be cold before putting in the pastry cases.
  12. Any stew that is left after making the pies can be eaten as a meal in itself.........

Gluten Free Shortcrust Savoury Pie Pastry

Ingredients (makes 8 individual pies)

220g white gluten free flour mix (I used mix B from this post)
110g potato flour
110g gram flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
220g unsalted butter - cold and cubed
2 large eggs
3½ tablespoons cold water


Dough Method - by hand

  1. Weigh and sieve the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and stir together.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the crumb mixture.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the crumb mixture using a table knife until it begins to clump together.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands and press into a ball. Knead very briefly to ensure ingredients are fully amalgamated.

by food processor

  1. Weigh the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into the food processor bowl and pulse briefly to  mix together and remove any lumps.
  2. Add the cubed butter to the mixture and pulse again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the food processor with the crumb mixture.
  4. Turn the processor on and mix until the ingredients form a smooth dough. This will not require any further kneading. 

Turning the pastry into pies

  1. Get ready 8 individual deeper sided non-stick pie tins.
  2. Using a rice-floured surface and rice-floured rolling pin, gently roll the pastry to a thickness of about 2mm (you may want to do this splitting the dough into 3 or 4 pieces to help prevent over-working or drying out).
  3. Using the rim of a small circular bowl (judged to be the right size to cut the pastry to completely line a tin) cut out circles and line the base of each tin. Bring any remaining off-cuts together as you go and re-roll to line the next tin. Set aside. Remember that you will need enough remaining pastry to top each pie once filled.
  4. Fill each pie base with cooled sausage and bean filling.
  5. Roll the remaining pastry and using the rim of a large cup/glass, cut circles to fit the top of each pie ensuring enough room to bring the dough edges together and seal.
  6. Before placing the pastry tops on the pies, moisten the edge of each one and the down-facing edge of the lid. Once placed, seal the edges by gently squeezing the bottom and top layers together with the finger tips.
  7. Place the pies in the fridge to chill before baking for about an hour.
  8. When ready to cook, cut a couple of short slits into the surface of each pie using a sharp knife, to allow steam to escape during cooking.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  10. Using either milk or beaten egg, brush the surface of each pie to glaze.
  11. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is hot.
  12. Remove from the oven and enjoy with your favourite veg.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated