Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Strawberry, Rhubarb & Pomegranate Jam

I made this jam months ago. I even drafted the recipe ready to post! But somehow, I just didn't get round to photographing it.

There were originally 3 to 4 jars of the stuff..... pretty little Kilner jars which would have made lovely photos...... but they all got eaten. Some of the jam was whirled into Greek Yoghurt. Some of it ended up spiralled into delicious gluten free Swiss Roll. Some of it even found its way into Strawberry Crumble Muffins and then doughnuts made with Isabel's baked doughnut mix.

Realising there was only one jar left, it was time to grab the camera..... This jam is so lovely, that it would be a shame not to share.

Made with local summer strawberries, garden rhubarb and juicy pomegranate, it is beautifully sweet with a hint of tartness that ensures it is perfectly fruity but not sickly. Add it to anything from cakes and trifles, to ice creams and frostings for a flash of bright summer flavour and colour.

Of course it is also delicious on freshly made bread, but some of the last jar was used to make jam tarts using left over gluten free Pate Sucree (a sweet French tart pastry) that I made on a gluten free baking course last week with Adriana Rabinovich (I'll tell you all about that soon!). They were delicious and topped with a fresh raspberry (I had no strawberries to hand), they looked so so cute!

I am sharing my Strawberry, Rhubarb and Pomegranate Jam with :

Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.

Strawberry, Rhubarb & Pomegranate Jam (makes about 3 jars)


600g fresh strawberries - washed, trimmed, hulled and cut in half
400g rhubarb - trimmed and cut into 2 cm lengths
2 large pomegranates - de-skinned and deseeded by pushing through a sieve
625g caster sugar
juice of 1 lime
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Sterilise your jars. - Wash clean with warm soapy water and place both jars and lids separately on a cold baking tray. Place the tray in a cold oven and turn to 140 C/275 F/Gas 1. When the oven has reached temperature, leave the jars to sterilise for a further 20+ minutes, whilst you make your jam. Take from the oven hot and fill straight away.
  2. Place the prepared strawberries, rhubarb and pomegranate juice in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to simmer. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes until the fruit is cooked through and completely soft.
  3. Add the sugar and lemon and lime juice and bring to the boil. Allow to cook uncovered until the jam thickens. As it boils, skim off any foam and discard. The jam will be ready when it reaches 220 F/104 C (use a candy thermometer) or it passes the 'wrinkle test' (place half a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate and place in the freezer for about 1 minute. Push the edge with your finger and if it 'wrinkles' the jam is done. If not, boil a little longer)
  4. When cooked, remove from the heat and allow to stop bubbling before adding a teaspoon vanilla extract and stirring through.
  5. Pour the jam into sterilised jars. seal with the lids immediately and allow to cool completely at room temperature.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Honeycomb Ice Cream

Yay! The freezer seems to (finally) be fixed! (firmly crosses fingers and places them behind back).... I can't believe how many months we have been struggling to keep it going.... emptying it.... filling it.... emptying it again..... as it limped from one defrosting disaster to the next. I am pretty sure it is doing what it should be doing now, but the trouble is I am not sure I trust it. It has let me down too many times recently and it is going to have to earn my confidence back!

Of course the first thing that has to be done to celebrate (and test) a working freezer is make some ice cream! I have so missed home-made ice cream for the last few months and typically, it had to be during the summer that we experienced ice cream famine..... How unfair is that?

To make up for lost time, we are going to have to go ice cream crazy...... First up.... a churned honeycomb ice cream made in the ice cream maker. Right freezer.... can you handle it?

I have had a hankering for honeycomb ice cream for ages. There seem to be lots of versions in the shops these days and some of them are totally amazing. I needed to know whether I could make anything near as good a rival....

Okay..... so I have never made honeycomb either, but who ever lets a little skill-gap get in the way when it comes to ice cream?

Having done some good ol' internet research, it seems there are a million and one different honeycomb recipes out there. They vary in boiling temperature from 138 C to 150 +. Some use syrup, some honey, some brown sugar, some white sugar.... Some use butter, some don't..... some have water, some leave it out.... but for sure they all have a happy dose of bicarbonate of soda to make the mixture magically explode volcanically upwards in the pan to produce zillions of tiny airy bubbles and that wonderful honeycomb texture.

Figuring you can combine the rest of the ingredients to taste, I decided to make it up as I went and tempted my daughter to join me in a kitchen science lesson! Honeycomb (or as it is known elsewhere in the world : cinder toffee or hokey pokey) works because the intense heat of the sugar makes the bicarbonate of soda break down, releasing carbon dioxide instantly, which in turn bubbles and expands the sugar into a molten sugary foam. It will rot your teeth for sure, but occasionally, the sheer joy of eating a piece of caramelly, sticky, crunchy, air-bubble filled toffee, is worth the risk.... When you eat it, the toffee seems to melt around the bubbles of air so that it dissolves into creamy, syrupy sweetness on the tongue.

Stir tiny little broken pieces of it into home-made, rich vanilla ice cream and you have heaven in a cone!

The texture of this ice cream is amazing..... decadent, velvety, and perfectly creamy. With each mouthful, you get little pockets of honeycomb explosion on the tongue to excite and energise the taste buds. Although you can eat the ice-cream as soon as it is frozen..... don't! Patience is worth every extra minute on this one..... leave to mature in the freezer for at least 24 hours and the honeycomb will soften and begin to meld with the ice cream making it more rounded and mellow..... Divine!

Oh..... and leave it too long when you are trying to take photos and you can enjoy the most amazing creamy toffee puddle!

I am sharing this delicious ice cream with :

Fabulous Foodie Fridays with Lauren at Create Bake Make.

Cook Blog Share with Becki at This Is Not My Home.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Free From Fridays at the Free From Farmhouse.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

Honeycomb Ice Cream (churned)  makes about 650 ml


300 ml double cream
200 ml full fat milk
100g caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
75g honeycomb (bought or home-made - see below)

Honeycomb (makes more than you need!)
30 ml water
170g golden caster sugar
50g runny honey
30g golden syrup
30g unsalted butter (optional)
pinch fine sea salt
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
butter or vegetable oil for greasing


  1. Pour the cream and milk into a large saucepan and heat on a medium heat. Heat until it is just boiling.
  2. Meanwhile, place the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until thick and pale.
  3. When the milk-cream has just reached boiling point, remove from the heat. Very gradually add a little at a time to the sugar-egg mix, whisking continuously. It is essential that you add the cream slowly and whisk continuously to avoid the mixture curdling or scrambling.
  4. Give the saucepan a wash.
  5. When all the ingredients are fully combined, pour the mixture back into the clean pan through a sieve to remove any bits.
  6. Heat over a low heat, stirring continuously until the batter thickens to a light custard consistency and coats the back of the spoon. 
  7. Pour the batter into a container, place cling film over the top and leave to cool. When it has cooled enough, place in the fridge to chill completely before churning.
  8. Whilst the custard is chilling, make the honeycomb : Prepare a deep 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) tray or cake tin (I used a silicone one) by greasing well with either butter or vegetable oil (do not line with paper). 
  9. Put the water, sugar, honey, golden syrup, butter and salt in a large heavy-based saucepan. Place over a low heat, stirring occasionally to allow the sugar to completely dissolve.
  10. Meanwhile, measure the bicarbonate of soda into a small dish and crush or sift any lumps. Place nearby so that it is quickly and easily accessible when you need it. Also ensure you have ready a whisk for mixing the bicarb in when the time comes.
  11. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium and bring the sugar mixture to the boil. Using a sugar thermometer, heat the mixture to 140 C. Watch very carefully as you do not want the sugar to burn.
  12. When the mixture reaches the correct temperature, immediately remove from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda. Briefly whisk the bicarb through the mixture straight away to distribute. The mixture should expand and froth vigorously. Do not over-whisk.
  13. Quickly pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Do not stir or disturb the mixture as this will knock out some of the air bubbles. Leave to cool completely.
  14. When cold and set, remove the honeycomb from the tin and smash into small pieces with a rolling pin (in between baking paper). Set aside.
  15. To churn the ice cream - Take the completely chilled ice cream batter from the fridge and churn using an ice cream maker by the manufacturer's instructions.
  16. When the churning process is complete, fold the honeycomb pieces through the ice cream whilst it is still soft enough to do so.
  17. Spoon the finished ice cream into an airtight container and place in the freezer to allow to  harden. Although you can eat it soft straight away, this is an ice cream which benefits from 24 hours in the freezer.... It seems to allow the honeycomb to mellow into the creaminess a little better.
    (If you don't have an ice cream maker, place the mixture at stage 15 into a shallow container and freeze until mushy. Then turn into a chilled bowl and beat until the ice crystals are broken down. Return to the freezer and freeze again until mushy. Repeat the whisking, add the honeycomb and freeze a final time)

    Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

White Chocolate, Lavender & Blackberry Panna Cotta with Blackberry Poached Pears and Blackberry-Cassis Sauce

Panna Cotta is one of our very favourite desserts. There is something incredibly decadent and pampering about the silky smooth creaminess, which feels soft and luxurious as it melts on the tongue.

Italian in origin, Panna Cotta is naturally gluten free and its gentle sweetness works beautifully against fruits, especially those with a slight tartness to them. I have been meaning to try making a lavender Panna Cotta for some time..... wondering how the delicate floral notes would play against the velvety, milk-jelly.

With Autumn well and truly upon us and the abundance of blackberries now beginning to diminish, I also thought I had better get in quick and make something with them before the hedgerows were stripped bare. I thought blackberry might pair well with lavender, so decided to combine them in a white chocolate Panna Cotta base, with a home-made blackberry jelly and sauce.

There are also some incredible pears around right now...... they are definitely at their best. Wanting to contrast both flavours and textures I poached a couple in apple juice with some blackberries to set alongside the Panna Cotta. The pears were crisp enough when poached that they held a good firmness and added a little bite against the softness of the Panna Cotta.

The pears would have been divine alone and shone in their own right with their beautiful purple-tinged hue and their alluring fruity aroma. They looked so pretty on the plate and added an extra dimension to the dessert making it that little bit more special.

Lavender can be a tricky customer and getting the balance right can be the difference between deliciously exquisite and down right disgusting. I hope the former has been achieved here..... The lavender infused in the cooked cream gives distinct floral notes, but is (I think) subtle enough not to overwhelm the palate. The longer you leave it standing in the milk of course, the stronger the flavour will be. But lavender needs to be gentle in my book and I didn't want it to overpower, so was careful to limit its soaking time.

The sharpness of the blackberry against the sweet vanillary Panna Cotta was lovely. The home-made jelly is dark and tart and rich with the taste of this beautiful wild fruit. I loved the contrast, but if you wanted to keep things more straight forward, the blackberry sauce (which is slightly less forceful) would add the same harmonious contradiction and the jelly layer could just as easily be left off.

I am not particularly happy with the photographs..... but as the dessert was so special, it seemed a shame not to share.....

This month, We Should Cocoa, the fabulous chocolate challenge established by Choclette over at Tin and Thyme is being hosted by The Veg Space. September has an autumnal theme of blackberries. Sounds a perfect share to me!  

I am also sharing with the Shop Local challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. The blackberries were the free hedgerow variety and the pears were produced in the local Kent orchards and found at our favourite farm shop.

Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.

Cook Blog Share with This Is Not My Home.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

White Chocolate, Lavender & Blackberry Panna Cotta with Blackberry-Poached Pears and Blackberry-Cassis Sauce (makes 6)


Panna Cotta
10g gelatine leaves
220 ml whole milk
½ tablespoon dried culinary lavender
400 ml double cream
80g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
100g good quality white chocolate - chopped into small pieces

Blackberry Jelly & Blackberry Sauce
5g gelatine leaves

500g fresh or frozen blackberries
100g caster sugar
5 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons Creme de Cassis

Blackberry-Poached Pears
3 firm pears - peeled, cored and cut into slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
120g fresh or frozen blackberries
200 ml apple juice
40g soft brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

chopped white chocolate & fresh blackberries to decorate


  1. Panna Cotta - place the Panna Cotta moulds in the freezer to chill.
  2. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes as per packet instructions.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with the lavender to just below simmer point and then remove from the heat and set aside (do not boil). Leave the lavender in the milk.
  4. Drain the gelatine and add to the hot milk. Stir until completely dissolved. 
  5. Pour the cream into a larger saucepan and add the sugar and vanilla paste. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as it starts to boil, immediately remove from the heat. 
  6. Add the chocolate to the hot cream and stir until melted and smooth.
  7. Pour the milk-gelatine mix into the cream-chocolate mix and stir to combine.
  8. Remove the moulds from the freezer.
  9. Pour the Panna Cotta mix through a tea strainer into the moulds to about two-thirds full (leaving space at the top for the blackberry jelly layer).
  10. Cool in the fridge until fully set.
  11. Blackberry Jelly & Sauce - While the Panna Cotta is setting, make the jelly and sauce. Put the blackberries, sugar and water in a clean saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, pushing the blackberries against the side of the pan as they soften to release the juice. 
  12. Whilst cooking the blackberries, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes as per packet instructions.
  13. When the blackberries are soft and thoroughly crushed, take the pan off the heat and push the mixture through a sieve into a jug so that you have a smooth puree. You should have about 500 ml puree. If the measure is slightly below, just add a little water to make up to 500 ml.
  14. Remove 300 ml of the puree into a clean small saucepan. Bring back to the boil and then turn off the heat.
  15. Drain and add the gelatine to the pan and stir until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool (but not set), stirring frequently.
  16. When cool but still liquid, take the Panna Cottas from the fridge and top with the blackberry jelly mixture. Place back in the fridge to set.
  17. Rinse out the pan and return the remaining 200 ml blackberry puree to it. Place over a low heat with the Creme de Cassis and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce the liquid slightly. Set aside to cool completely, stirring from time to time.
  18. Blackberry-Poached Pears - Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down so that the mixture is only just bubbling slightly. Poach for 15 minutes until the pears are tender but not mushy, turning them half way through to ensure they are completely coated with the apple-blackberry liquid. 
  19. Drain the pears from the liquid and set aside to cool. (You can save and drink the liquid).
  20. Serving : When ready to serve, gently warm the outside of the Panna Cotta moulds and tip out onto your serving plates, so that the blackberry jelly is at the base. Add some poached pears and top with a drizzle of blackberry sauce, a fresh blackberry and some chopped white chocolate. Yum!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Vanilla Swiss Roll - gluten free & dairy free

A Swiss Roll is one of life's simple pleasures. It will (for many of us) hold familiarity with and nostalgia for childhood..... a quick teatime treat, tempting pretty swirls on party cake plates, packed lunches on school trips, one of the first cakes you get to make in school cookery classes.......

Despite its longevity and popularity, its origins are unclear..... One thing that seems to be agreed however is that it is not from Switzerland. But who cares where it came from? The appeal of the spiral sponge is universal and it appears that no matter where you live in the world, there is a local variation.... Filled with jams made with local fruits and given a different name maybe, but the principle of the cylindrical cake, which has been slathered in preserves or spreads and then rolled to produce a whirly pattern when you cut through it, remains the same.

I have been meaning to develop a decent Swiss Roll recipe for ages. With 'spare' time seeming to be ever more difficult to find, it is one sponge which can be whipped up double quick, not least because it needs next to no time in the oven. Indeed, it is essential that it doesn't bake too long..... a dry, over-baked sponge is a pig to roll and is likely to be covered in cracks and crevices that would rival the Rift Valley.

The base sponge can be left to cool rolled up unfilled, but layered with baking paper or a clean tea towel whilst you get on with more pressing demands on your time (are there any more pressing demands than cake? I hear you ask)..... Then, when you are ready, you can quickly unroll and fill with anything from jam or curd to frosting or cream (you can even throw in some fruit for good measure)..... roll up again and job done!

If you are going for a simple jam filling, don't be mean with it! There is nothing worse than a Swiss Roll that diddles you on the sticky, juicy bit. I filled my large jam roll with home made Strawberry, Rhubarb and Pomegranate Jam.... yum!

The beauty of this sponge is that it is also completely dairy free. There isn't even any need to make substitutions for fat, because the sponge recipe is fatless. That makes it perfect for all those gluten and dairy intolerant people out there.... especially if you fill it with jam and fruit.

I also tried my hand at making some mini rolls with the mix, which I filled with pink frosting made with a dairy free sunflower spread (made by Pure Dairy Free). I tried making them with a double layer of jam and frosting, but they were too full to roll properly, so the second time I mixed the jam with the frosting which tasted just as great, but was far less fiddly (and messy)!

My daughter really enjoyed eating them with the help of a friend or two and I can see that they will be making a regular appearance in the kitchen, no doubt with plenty of experimental fillings to see how far I can push the recipe. I might even see if it lends itself to a bit of sponge decoration....

So far so good though..... The cake is light and moist, shot through with the flavour of vanilla and stays fresh for several days after making. Most importantly..... it rolls superbly and looks so pretty with its spirally spinning-top filling contrasting against the pale sponge.

I have another team meeting tomorrow....... Let's see what they make of this offering!

I am sharing my gluten and dairy free Swiss Roll with the following :

Treat Petite, this month with Cakeyboi (in conjunction with Kat, The Baking Explorer). This month anything goes..... My mini rolls filled with jammy frosting have gone down particularly well with my daughter and her friends.

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber, who has gone 'Back to Basics' this month. Swiss Roll was one of the first cakes I ever made (it was a requirement on the school cookery curriculum way back in the (Sssshhh!) 70's), but I have never made it gluten free. I am really chuffed with this recipe and think it is as reliable and delicious as any glutenous version I have tasted.

Alphabakes with The More Than Occasional Baker (and Caroline Makes). This month 'J' is on the menu.... Jam is central to any Swiss Roll (of the non-chocolate kind) and this one contains plenty of my very own home made Strawberry, Rhubarb and Pomegranate jam.

Credit Crunch Munch with Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food For All. Swiss Roll must be one of the cheapest cakes there is to make, even with gluten free ingredients!

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse. This recipe is both gluten and dairy free.

Cook Blog Share with Snap Happy Bakes.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

And finally.... Simply Eggcellent with Dom over at Belleau Kitchen. September's theme is 'Cakes' (like I need any encouragement for that one!). Eggs are fundamental to baking a Swiss Roll and with four beautiful large free range ones, this cake needs to be shared!

Vanilla Swiss Rolls


90g plain gluten free flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
20g ground almonds
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
110g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 ml almond milk (or rice or soya milk)

100g Pure Dairy Free Sunflower Spread (or butter if you prefer and don't want to make dairy free)
280 to 300g (approx) icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 (approx tablespoons jam) - I used home made strawberry & rhubarb 
Alternatively : Just use your favourite jam only to fill the roll.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Line an approx 9 inch (23 cm) x 13 inch (33 cm) - for a large roll or 17 inch (43 cm) by 11 inch (28 cm) - for mini rolls) swiss roll tin with non-stick baking parchment.
  3. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds and xanthan gum, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar with the eggs until thick and pale and so that the mixture leaves a trail across the top when drizzled. Add the vanilla extract and whisk again to combine.
  5. Add and fold in the flour, followed by the almond milk very carefully to be sure you keep as much air as possible in the mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into the baking tin and gently tilt and spread to ensure an even layer which reaches into the corners.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden and the top springs back to the touch. 
  8. Whilst in the oven, prepare a large sheet of baking paper by generously sprinkling with caster sugar.
  9. When the sponge comes out of the oven, tip onto the sugared baking paper whilst hot and carefully peel off the baking paper from the underside.
  10. If you are making a large roll, score a line down the edge (about 2 cm in) of one of the short sides. Roll from the score line as tightly as possible, folding the baking paper into the roll, so that it forms a layer between the sponge as it rolls. Set aside to cool completely. This process will help to give the sponge a 'memory' and help prevent later cracking.
  11. If you are making mini rolls, immediately cut the sponge into 4 rectangles and follow the same process as above : Score a line down the edge of a long side on each of the sponges. Roll from the score line as tightly as possible, folding the baking paper into the roll, so that it forms a layer between the sponge as it rolls. Set aside to cool completely. 
  12. Whilst the sponge is cooling, make the frosting filling (if you are using) : Beat the vegetable spread/butter until soft and then gradually add the icing sugar, vanilla extract and jam a little at a time until you have a firm, but spreadable mixture. You may prefer to make a vanilla frosting and spread the jam separately with a layer of frosting on top before you roll. This will work better for a large swiss roll (I found it made the filling too thick when I did this for mini rolls and reverted to mixing the jam in with the frosting for flavour, but ease of use). Or you may just want to spread straight jam in the roll before rolling (and leave out the frosting altogether).
  13. When the sponges are cold, unroll and spread your filling across the whole surface, leaving an uncovered thin line on the edge of each of the long sides. 
  14. With the help of the baking paper, re-roll the swiss roll/mini rolls with the filling inside as tightly as possible and squeeze the final edge slightly to seal. Trim the edges to reveal your swirl!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Gougeres - little cheesy choux buns - gluten free

I have a particular love of all things 'Choux'. One of the first bakes I tried to replicate after we became a gluten free household, was profiteroles. The thought of never being able to eat a cream-filled, chocolate-coated, puffed-up ball of pastry loveliness again, filled me with horror.

At that time, there were virtually no gluten free choux recipes to be found, either in books or on the internet. Times have changed greatly and now, if you type 'gluten free choux' into your search engine, a whole list of alternative recipes are there to tempt you.

With wheat-based baking, there are recommended ratios of flour to fat to liquid to sugar for specific bakes, but with gluten-free cooking, it seems there are vast differences between recipes for the same dish, including those for Choux. It is one of the things that fascinates me about my gluten free culinary world..... With so many options for combining flours and other ingredients, all new recipes become laboratory experiments. There are no ultimate rules..... We are all just striving to get the best results we can with the larder of gluten free ingredients we have at our disposal.

When I first developed my own recipe for gluten free Choux pastry, I wanted to achieve something as close as possible to my (at that time very recent) memory of glutenous profiteroles. It took several attempts before I achieved a recipe which rose and puffed in the oven, with a taste and texture that satisfied my expectations..... and my expectations were high!

Since then, we have fed our gluten free profiteroles to many an unsuspecting gluten-eating guest. My memories of wheat Choux may have faded, but I am assured (and reassured) that my gluten free Choux pastry is good and that had they not been told it was gluten free, our friends would never have known.

Earlier in the year, I attended a gluten free pastry course which included making gluten free Choux pastry..... more specifically, a savoury, cheesy version called Gougeres. I have never had Gougeres before, but I love Choux and I love cheese, so the prospect of discovering something new sounded very exciting.

Gougeres originate in France and typically have Gruyere, Comte or Emmental grated into the pastry dough before baking. They can be eaten 'straight' as simple cheesy pastries or filled with anything from cream cheese or mushroom, to meat and fish.

Choux pastry is (I understand) tricky for some people. Personally, I have never had a problem making it..... My nemesis is puff pastry for sure. On the course that I attended however, the fruits of our Gougere labour were really disappointing. Whether it was the ingredients, the multiple use of the oven by lots of people at the same time, or a problem with our method, we could not be sure..... Eother way, our Gougeres turned out to be universally flat, stodgy, cheesy, flat dough blobs..... The course leader put it down to a use of Cheddar cheese rather than Gruyere which she usually brings, but which she couldn't source on the day. Whether this was the reason or not, I will avoid its use in future, just in case!

To make these Gougeres, I have used my own trusty Choux recipe and adapted it to incorporate cheese. Although they actually worked reasonably well the first time I tried at home, I did make and tweak them a couple more times to get the balance of ingredients the best I could.... My little buns rose and puffed up beautifully and we all agreed they were wonderfully cheesy and looked like they were meant to....... (we checked on the internet)!

I should really have piped the pastry dough onto the baking sheet for neatness, but I decided to spoon it on for speed....... Not as elegant maybe..... but just as delicious!

I am offering a bowlful of my yummy gluten free Gougeres to the following :

The Pastry Challenge with United Cakedom and Jens Food. This month 'anything goes'.

Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Gougeres - Cheesy Choux Buns


50g unsalted butter
200 ml water
65g plain GF flour mix (I used blend A from this post)
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 large eggs - beaten
90g Gruyere cheese - finely grated
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
a pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt flakes

Cream Cheese Filling (optional)
140g Philidelphia cream cheese or alternative soft cream cheese
70g double cream
good grind black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  2. Combine the flour and xanthan gum and mix together making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the water and bring to the boil.
  4. Once boiling, immediately turn off the heat and add the flour, beating rapidly with a wooden spoon, until fully combined and the mix leaves the sides of the pan.
  5. Cool the mixture slightly and then very gradually add the beaten egg a little at a time.
  6. Finally add the grated cheese, nutmeg and cayenne (if using) and beat through with the wooden spoon. 
  7. On a silpat sheet or using a baking paper lined baking sheet, either pipe or spoon small walnut-sized piles of the mixture, leaving a small gap between each. 
  8. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt on top of each dough pile.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes in the oven until well risen and golden brown.
  10. When cooked, remove from the oven and pierce a small hole into the side of each gougere with a sharp knife or skewer.
  11. Place back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  13. You can eat warm as they are or allow to go cold and fill with your chosen filling.
  14. Cream cheese filling : Beat the cream cheese, cream and pepper together with an electric whisk until it thickens to soft peaks. 
  15. Using a smallish round-holed piping tip, pipe a little of the cream cheese mixture into each gougere. 
  16. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Nectarine Melba Upside-Down Cake - gluten & dairy free

Who doesn't love a good upside down cake? Not only are they quick to make, but there are as many variations as there are fruits and if that doesn't offer enough choice, you can multiply your options by combining them together. Upside down cake is particularly wonderful at this time of year, because with the Autumn comes an amazing abundance of fruit at its freshest and we are spoilt for choice by the array of flavours and colours that appear in our gardens, hedgerows and on the greengrocer's shelves.

I have recently started a new job and last week, I had my first team meeting with my new colleagues. To mark the occasion and to share a bit of foodie goodwill, I decided I would take along cake. Well.... it seemed a shame not to use an opportunity to bake, especially as our freezer has broken (again!!) and I am having to avoid producing anything more than we can eat.

It turns out the new team I inhabit has no less than three gluten-avoiders (yay!!), with one also dairy free. I have been wanting to make more dairy free bakes for ages, so I am hoping for plenty of meetings at which I can present my experimental offerings....... Let's hope they really like eating cake.......

Having been inspired by a few upside down cakes popping up on people's blogs in the last few weeks, I thought it was about time I joined the fray..... I haven't made an upside down cake in ages...... I think my last one was actually a delicious savoury version which you can check out here.

Team meeting cake, on the other hand, needs to be sweet and when some very large, fresh, juicy red raspberries caught my eye on a trip to the farm shop, my mind was made up...... this upside down cake needed to be nectarine melba! Red raspberries interspersed with deep orange-yellow nectarines, set into sweet, soft sponge......Yum! I don't know about you but for some reason, red fruit and especially raspberries, make cake extra appealing and given half a chance, they would find their way into everything I bake.

Then of course there is the peach vs nectarine debate...... When I was little, we didn't know about nectarines. They weren't on our radar at all, although apparently they were first brought to England and grown here in the 17th Century (was it warmer then?). We always had peaches, which looked beautifully pink and inviting. Whilst the flesh tasted wonderful..... sweet, soft, juicy, fruity decadence ......they were sadly covered in a tough furry skin which fluffed intrusively against the tongue, and detracted from the enjoyment of eating them.

Nectarines on the other hand seem to be nature's clever answer to the furry skin dilemma..... they are essentially de-fuzzed peaches, with all the delightful peachy succulence and none of the frizzy irritation.

Whether you fall into the peach or nectarine camp, for me it is a no-brainer. Unless I am making something that necessarily requires the fruit to be skinned, the nectarine wins hands down, every time.

This particular upside down cake is based on a dairy-containing recipe that I have used previously here, but which has been re-jigged to substitute the butter with coconut oil and the dairy milk with almond milk. It makes for a particularly moist, slightly sticky, dense sponge which is quite creamy in texture and is absolutely delicious served warm with whipped coconut cream or dairy free custard as a full-on pudding!

The slight tartness of the raspberry off-sets the sweetness of the sponge and the richness of the coconut oil. Interestingly, when I told my husband it was also dairy free (I had made extra so that we could try a little at home too) he pulled a face like a child who has been told they have to eat greens, complaining that he 'likes his dairy'. One mouthful later and he was converted! The coconut oil seems to give the sponge an extra depth and silkiness which is dangerously moreish and even he couldn't resist it!

The team enjoyed it as straight cake...... cold and cut into slices with morning coffee which was also yummy, but quite sticky and I regretted not taking a handful of paper plates with me. Good job there were some leftover agendas looking for a purpose!

I am sharing my cake with the following :

Free From Fridays with Emma at The Free From Farmhouse.

Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup. This is a new challenge for me, but it caught my eye with its September theme 'Back to School'. It is really important for me to be able to make sure my daughter has desserts that rival the puddings she sees her friends eating and that when she has school lunches, she does not feel out of place. Not only is this classic cake really easy to make, but as cakes go, it has some pretty good stuff in it and is both gluten and dairy free.

Simply Eggcellent with Dom over at Belleau Kitchen, who has themed September with my biggest vice... cake!

Cook Blog Share - this week with Hijacked by Twins

Recipe of the week with A Mummy Too

Nectarine Melba Upside-Down Cake (gluten & dairy free)


2 nectarines/peaches - de-stoned and sliced into thin segments
150g fresh raspberries
30g coconut oil
50g soft brown sugar/coconut sugar

200g gluten free plain flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
15g ground almonds
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum (unless your flour has this pre-added)
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
190 ml almond milk 
¾ tablespoon white wine vinegar
90g coconut oil 
300g golden caster sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs - room temperature
100g ground almonds (in addition to the above)


  1. Base-line a deep-sided 23 cm/9 inch cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4
  3. De-stone and slice your peaches/nectarines into segments
  4. Dot the 30g coconut oil across the surface of the baking paper in the base of the baking tin and sprinkle the brown sugar/coconut sugar across the top.
  5. Place in the oven for about 8 to10 minutes, stirring together about half way through the heating/melting process to blend. 
  6. Remove from the oven and arrange the fruit in the base of the tin on top of the oil-sugar mix. Set aside. Leave the oven on.
  7. To make the sponge batter - weigh and mix together the flour, 15g almonds, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. Set aside.
  8. Mix together the almond milk and vinegar in a jug and stir so that it looks like it has curdled. You have now made dairy free butter milk. Set aside.
  9. In a large bowl, cream together the remaining coconut oil and caster sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
  10. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time and continue to beat until smooth and well-blended.
  11. Fold in the remaining almonds.
  12. Finally add the flour mix alternately with the milk mixture, about a third at a time, until well-combined, being careful not to over-mix (it should be just combined)
  13. Pour the batter into the cake tin over the fruit and smooth the top as evenly as possible. 
  14. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the cake is golden, the top springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  15. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 to 15 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.
  16. Eat warm or cold on its own or with coconut cream. Store in the fridge.
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