Sunday, 28 February 2016

Coffee & Walnut Cake - gluten free

There's something special about Coffee & Walnut Cake. Although its familiarity places it in the bracket of your average coffee shop cake, the specific marriage of earthy walnut with deep dark coffee make it very grown up and quite chic!

A couple of weeks back, we celebrated Grandad's birthday...... which of course, was another great excuse for a good bake-up. Wanting to make something other than chocolate cake, Coffee and Walnut seemed a perfect alternative and a fitting tribute to reaching 80-something.

It went down extremely well.....

This de-glutened version is a combination of a traditional Coffee and Walnut recipe base united with my continually-growing gluten free confidence and know-how...... Boy, has that combination worked well on this little bake!

Made with home-toasted, tangy ground walnuts which (with the addition of a dash of yoghurt) gave the sponge an additional moistness and enhanced its nuttiness, the required infusion of coffee gained extra intensity from the use of instant espresso powder. The flavour is divinely vivid and distinctly superior to cakes made with bog-standard instant coffee powder or diluted cold coffee.

If you are using espresso powder (and I thoroughly recommend it), be sure however to get the fine instant coffee powder and not the granules or non-instant stuff. Make sure you use it not only in the sponge, but in the frosting too...... and for an extra-amazing taste-buzz, dust a little on the top of the finished cake!

This cake is addictively lovely. It's amazing, rich colour and heady coffee aroma hints towards the pleasure hidden within each and every bite. I was a little concerned that Miss GF may baulk at the break from chocolate tradition for a birthday cake and complain about the move towards more mature and potentially non child-friendly constituents, but I needn't have worried. She seems to have taken quite a liking to the dark stuff recently and was quite rattled when she saw a large section of it disappear with Granny and Grandad when they went home at the end of the day.

So...... another resoundingly successful bake in the GF household.... and a recipe which is definitely going to be a keeper!

I am sending my Coffee & Walnut cake to the following linkies to help share it around a little more....

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.

Cook Blog Share, this week with Sneaky Veg.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

The #YumTum link-up with The Mummy Toolbox. This is my first join-up, but it looks like a great linky.... go check it out!

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

Oh..... and before I finish with this post...... I have FINALLY linked the Gluten Free Alchemist blog to Facebook.... Yay! (she shouts with trepidation!)...... I have a weird and quite irrational fear of Facebook and (to be honest) feel like a seriously out of my depth novice in using it......

Having said this, I have decided it is important that I get my head round it, so any helpful advice on either its technicalities or the best way to use it as a blogger would be gratefully and attentively listened too.... I have (at least) managed to put a badge on my side-bar and got it to link to my GFA Facebook page...... Yep..... over there on the right hand side! Please come visit me and help me get found!

Coffee & Walnut Cake (makes 1 x 8 inch/20 cm sandwich cake)


75g walnut halves/pieces - toasted and ground (+ an additional 12 walnut halves - toasted (for decoration) (if you are toasting yourself, allow an extra few nuts to compensate for the weight lost through moisture loss when toasted)
200g plain GF flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2½ teaspoons GF baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
225g unsalted butter - room temperature
225g soft light brown sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
4 to 5 tablespoons plain yoghurt

Coffee Butter Frosting
180g unsalted butter - room temperature
450g icing sugar
pinch fine sea salt
3 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
approx 4 tablespoons double cream

To decorate :
(the reserved toasted walnuts)
chocolate-espresso beans - optional
an extra pinch of instant espresso powder - optional


  1. Toast all your walnuts (if not already toasted) by spreading on a baking sheet and placing in a pre-heated oven at 190 C/375 F/Gas 5 for about 10 minutes, turning a couple of times during the process to make sure they are evenly toasted. Leave to cool.
  2. Remove 12 good-shaped half walnuts and set aside for later decoration. 
  3. Grind the remaining walnuts in a grinder/food processor so that they have the texture of coarse sand (watch closely to make sure they do not grind too far and end up as a paste!)
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. 
  5. Base line your baking tins with baking paper.
  6. Weigh and whisk together the ground walnuts (75g ground weight), flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt, making sure all lumps are broken down. Set aside.
  7. Cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. 
  9. Add the espresso powder and yoghurt and beat again until even in colour.
  10. Fold in the dry ingredients until evenly combined (but be careful not to over-mix).
  11. Split the cake batter equally between the two tins and spread to the edges, making sure the top is smooth and level.
  12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden, the top springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  14. Whilst the sponge is cooling, make your butter frosting : Beat the butter to soften and then gradually add the icing sugar, salt, espresso powder and cream. The frosting should be well blended and a smooth spreadable consistency.
  15. Use some of the frosting to sandwich the sponges together and then use the rest to cover the sandwiched cake. Smooth with a cake spatula.
  16. Decorate with the reserved toasted walnut halves, the chocolate-espresso beans and a light sprinkling of instant espresso powder.
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Miss GF Makes #2 : Marble Cake - gluten free

I don't seem to be getting much of a look-in in the kitchen right now.... Having just had half term, Miss GF has busily combined her boredom with creativity and produced yet more yummy treats! Yep..... Much quicker than I expected..... I bring you Miss GF Makes #2.....

Greatly encouraged by the interest generated with her recently baked Peanut Butter Cookies (thanks to everyone who commented, she was thrilled.....), she has made a lovely chocolate Marble Cake for us this week. The recipe comes from the same cookbook as her last bake : Adriana Rabinovich - The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Kids.

It's interesting that she heads straight for this book, as it doesn't contain any photos (which are usually what hooks her into wanting to try something)...... I think maybe the combination of the two words 'gluten-free' and 'kids' make it feel more accessible. Either way, she seems to have taken quite a liking to it, which is good with me as the recipes it contains are varied and reliable.

The decision to make Marble Cake was (with typical 10 year old (non) planning) on the spur of the moment, just before I was about to make tea. Impetuous maybe, but there was no hope of negotiating on the timing...... it had to be made then or not at all in her young egocentric head! I didn't bother to argue..... Dinner could wait an extra half hour if it meant that her interest was reinforced. I have no doubt that her enthusiasm will come and go....... so I'll bottle it while I can!

This cake was a little more tricky than the last recipe she made, with the butter and sugar needing to be creamed and the egg yolks being added separately from whisked egg whites which were folded in later. The chocolate had to be carefully melted and then added to only half of the mix. Although she needed a little help with some of the whisking (the hand whisk was pretty heavy), she managed the rest of the process herself with confidence and the resulting sponge is fantastic.

It has quite a dense texture (as described by Adriana in the book), but with the addition of the almonds and soured cream, is beautifully soft and moist. The marble swirls give the bake a twin experience of chocolate and vanilla which look perfectly pretty and ensure each slice is unique.

I think that Miss GF did rather well with this one! So well in fact, that I am sending a couple of (quickly disappearing) slices over to the following linkies to spread the joy that is a messy kitchen but a happy (fast-learning) child!

First up..... We Should Cocoa with the lovely, award-winning Choclette over at Tin & Thyme. This month's theme is 'Butter'. Although I will substitute butter for coconut or olive oil in some bakes, I have never been one to use margarine or spreads as alternatives (other than where specifically needing a dairy free alternative). I take the view that as butter (like coconut and olive oil) is a totally natural and delicious product, then there is no reason to replace it......

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber. February's theme is The Month of Cake. February? Every month is a month of cake in our house! (Although I fear with Miss GF's new-found skill, it could quickly become every day.....)

Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Sunday Fitness & Food Link-up with Marathons & Motivation

Marble Cake (a recipe by Adriana Rabinovich)


125g plain gluten free flour blend (Miss GF used blend A from this post)
125g ground almonds
1 tablespoon GF baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
150g unsalted butter - room temperature
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs - separated
50 ml soured cream
100 ml milk
50g plain chocolate - chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 C/325 F/Gas 5 and base line a 2 pound non-stick loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Weigh and whisk together the flour, almonds, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt, making sure that all lumps are completely broken down. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each.
  5. Add the soured cream and beat well, followed by the milk.
  6. Add and fold in the dry ingredients.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl either in the microwave on 30 second bursts (medium setting), stirring well between each until melted, or steaming over a saucepan of simmering water.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Add about a third of the whisked whites to the cake batter and stir through gently until incorporated (this will loosen the mix).
  9. Add the remaining egg white and gently fold until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
  10. Transfer half the mix to a separate bowl (we used the bowl from the egg whites to save on the washing up).
  11. Add the melted chocolate to one half and fold through evenly.
  12. Drop alternate spoonfuls of mixes into the prepared loaf tin and then use a knife to gently pull through the mixture and swirl together. Smooth the surface.
  13. Bake the loaf for approximately 45 minutes until well risen. The top should spring back to the touch and a skewer inserted should come out clean when done.
  14. Leave the cake in a tin to cool for about 15 minutes, before turning out on to a wire tack to cool completely.  
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Daura Damm Award-Winning Gluten Free Beer - boy am I loving it!

For beer lovers, a diagnosis of Coeliac or the discovery of gluten intolerance strikes upset and frustration. Suddenly, that much enjoyed amber nectar is strictly off limits. Traditional beers are brewed using barley and barley is a dirty word! Yep..... Along with wheat and rye, barley contains the dreaded gluten which triggers the body into self-attack, with cramps, bloating, stomach pain and more..... Way worse than a hangover and absolutely to be avoided at all costs.

I haven't had a beer in years........ Not that I was ever one to down several pints and stagger home...... but when the option to drink something that you have previously gained enjoyment from is forcibly removed, the pain of deprivation feels that much worse. Although I had switched to cider as my plan B, it is not the same and consequently, when hubby is sitting on the sofa beside me downing bottles of ale with a progressively enlarging smile on his face as the evening wears on, I feel (frankly) peed-off and irritated....... 

Not any more. Daura Damm - 'The world's most award winning gluten-free beer', has come to my rescue!

Made in Spain, Daura is one of a new generation of beers, aimed at the gluten free market. Daura however is different in the pack...... Although a number of artful brewers have developed GF beers using alternative grains and grasses (such as sorghum, rice, millet and buckwheat), Daura is the result of lots of research and very clever processes which start with their normal barley-malt based beer (using the original 1876 recipe), then carefully removing the gluten to make it safe for us gluten avoiders to drink. This means that it actually tastes like beer. Specifically...... lager. Which is good with me...... I am not and have never been much keen on bitter or stout.

For those of you who are a little panicky at the use of that dirty word...... barley........ Daura claims its gluten free status on account of having a gluten level of less than 3 ppm (way lower than the Codex, accepted coeliac level of 20 ppm), with all batches being tested at production point. Apparently Daura is now available in over 33 countries, where the producer works in close partnership with local Coeliac organisations. This beer has been accredited by Coeliac UK, appears in their latest Food & Drink Directory (I've checked) and displays the reassuring crossed-grain symbol.

I will be honest...... when I see a product that clearly lists gluten-based ingredients, I worry immensely. I always ask the question 'so how come they can say it is gluten free?'. I usually reach for the laptop and check manufacturing processes, and see what other people are saying. The manufacturing seems to be sound here and I am fully reassured by the Coeliac UK stamp which I trust wholeheartedly. The slight niggle is that while most reviews positively state that there has been no health backlash after drinking Daura, a couple of comments that I have found from Stateside consumers, indicate a possible adverse reaction. 

Having said this, the comments date back a number of years and appear to indicate a gluten ppm of about 6 at that time. I have tried to establish whether Daura has reduced the gluten content further since this time, but have been unable to confirm.....

It may be that the people who had suggested reaction were exceptionally sensitive...... and as a number of well-respected gluten free bloggers I follow have reviewed the beer have given it positive health clearance, I am happy..... I had no reaction, but you will know your own caution-levels.

As far as flavour goes...... yep! This is beer! Actual beer! Absolutely worth grabbing a few bottles and giving them a try. It looks and tastes exactly like my memories of lager. Beautifully pale golden in colour with a slight fizz....... extremely drinkable, hoppy but not over sweet, with a hint of bitterness coming through at the rear. Its light freshness makes it perfect for a sunny summer afternoon in the garden, a barbecue on the beach, a picnic in the countryside, or simply a night in front of a good film.....

I love the packaging too...... bright, bold and inviting, I couldn't contain my excitement when it arrived...... Is it obvious how much fun I had photographing the bottles?

So thank you thank you to those lovely people at Estrella Damm who not only make these beautiful bottles of amber loveliness but also sent me a whole bunch of them to enjoy....... I am loving every sip, gulp and slurp of them! Please send some more........

I am joining this post to the following linkies...... just in case I am not the only GF one who has been missing out on a decent beer. Go on..... give them a try..... I think they are darn good!

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse

With thanks to Estrella Damm for sending me their Daura gluten free beer. I was sent the beer to try, and was not required to write a positive review. All views expressed here are my own.

 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Miss GF Makes....... Peanut Butter Cookies (gluten free)

Those of you who follow my blog, will know that recently my daughter has started to become increasingly independent in the kitchen. At only 10, I am impressed by her determination to cook for herself and (as I brace myself for the mess and cleaning up to come), I know it is something to be encouraged as much as possible.

The nature of gluten free baking in particular, is a skill which she will not be taught at school. Having interrogated all the cooking teachers at all the school open days I attended in the quest to make secondary school choices for the next academic year, I am sad to say that none of them had much of a clue about the foibles of the ingredients required and few of them had much sense of the issue of cross-contamination when sharing cooking space with peers in the classroom. I fear we are going to have some brick-like disasters being sent home in tins very soon...... (which, either way will likely need to be binned because of the risk of being 'glutened')

This concern makes it all the more important for Miss GF to find her baking feet early....... A few disastrous bakes as the result of straight substitutions of gluten free flour for wheat flour in the classroom could seriously knock confidence. If she is going to side-step the waves of potential teacher gluten-free incompetence, all cooking urges need to be nurtured now!

I don't think I need to worry too much....... Miss GF regularly insists on making her own meals..... This evening she made herself a cheese and ham omelette which was as light and fluffy as anything I could produce! She has even made family dinner a few times with a little help........ she makes a mean cheese sauce (yep..... that's with a roux) and parcel-baked salmon holds no qualms whatsoever.

Last term, she got together will a few friends at school and organised a bake sale for charity which took place in school break time..... That's a lot of hungry kids! The whole thing was painstakingly organised and at our end, included Miss GF making brownies, mini caramel cupcakes, chocolate topped marshmallows and chocolate-chip cookies. They all sold out within minutes and she and her friends raised over £150. Go girls!

Because I am so excited about her growing confidence and incredibly proud of her creations, I have decided to start a little series on the blog which I will call 'Miss GF Makes...'. It is likely to be a bit sporadic (as with all 10 year olds, I am expecting her enthusiasm and prolificness to peak and trough..... particularly when the pull of the kitchen is competing with friends......swimming..... skating...... drama....... music...... the garden and the trampoline...... more friends..... the i-pad......... Sounds familiar?!)

Either way, I would like to share some of her journey in the hope that she can inspire other young Coeliac and allergy sufferers out there to put on their aprons, wash their hands and raid the larder for ingredients!

These Peanut Butter Cookies appeared one Sunday when I was at the gym! As I was on my way out, Miss GF said she wanted to make something...... grabbing a couple of books off the shelf, I suggested she have a rummage through for inspiration...... By the time I got home, Mr GF had been banished from the kitchen and the cookies were made, cooled and a few were eaten!

The recipe was found in one of my favourite gluten free books by Adriana Rabinovich : The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Kids (although Adriana states in the book that she originally found the recipe many years ago in a magazine).

Completely flourless (therefore naturally gluten free) and made with very few ingredients, the cookies are incredibly simple to make and yet taste deliciously light, crisp and peanutty. Miss GF made them crunchy, golden and baked to perfection!

We are sharing her cookies with the following linkies :

Simply Eggcellent with Dom over at Belleau Kitchen. The egg in these cookies is crucial!

Treat Petite, this month with United Cakedom on behalf of Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer. The theme for February is Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It. When it comes to Miss GF, peanuts are a must have.......

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.

Sunday Fitness & Food Link-Up with Marathons & Motivation.

Peanut Butter Cookies - from The Gluten Free Cookbook for Kids (Adriana Rabinovich) (Make about 24 cookies)


175g caster sugar
200g crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a few little fudge chunks to decorate the top of each cookie (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment.
  3. In a medium bowl, weigh and mix together the sugar and peanut butter.
  4. Add the lightly beaten egg and bicarbonate of soda and beat together with a wooden or silicone spoon, to make a stiff dough.
  5. Take walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place them on the lined baking sheets with a gap between them, for spreading.
  6. Use the back of a fork to flatten the dough balls a little.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cookies are golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Whilst the cookies are still hot, top with the fudge chunks (if using), so that the heat sticks them onto the cookie.
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Thursday, 11 February 2016

'Angelic' Strawberry & Cointreau Trifle (gluten free) - Perfect for Valentines!

Valentines Day is this weekend and I couldn't let it pass by without a quick post to celebrate its annual recurrence. Although we generally don't make a big thing of it at home and have never done the present-buying thing (at most we may grab a box of decent chocolate to devour in front of a good film and maybe exchange a card), the opportunity to become imaginative with food is too good to miss.

Unusually, this year we plan to spend the day walking the fells in the Peak District with Miss GF plus friend, so I won't be anywhere near the kitchen. However, if I was, this may be just the thing being created........ I think it is perfect for a Valentines treat...... Although admittedly, there is not a drop of (traditional) chocolate in sight!

You may recall that a few weeks back I made a lovely gluten free Angel Cake which was inspired by my childhood memories and baked to use up a load of egg whites left over after Christmas. The cake was a huge success, but as we are a small family and we like to have as much variety with our desserts as possible, I decided to put a few slices to experimental use with a trifle.

Let's face it....... trifle is an amazingly versatile little bowl of loveliness that can be made to incorporate just about any variety of sponge with a mix-up of anything from chocolate, fruit or nuts through to mousse, jelly, custard, cream, alcohol or juice. They are certainly a favourite in our house and you will find a number of gluten free versions dotted throughout the blog....... We love them all, be it a coffee-infused Tiramisu, a layered jar of chocolate-cherry Black Forest fruitiness, a boozy citrussy-berry bowl of Lemon & Berry or Raspberry-Lemon Drizzle or even one rich and decadent with Nutella. If you check out my recipe index, there are plenty of options......... I think they all make the perfect sweet end to a cosy Valentines dinner.

The observant of you will notice that the photos indicate an interloper to couple cosiness...... yes.... there is a third trifle! In our house, it is a rare event to have an intimate meal for two. For us, this is not an issue and as little Miss GF loves trifle, it would be bonkers to eat it without her.

This particular trifle combines the slightly mallowy, beautifully white sweetness of the Angel Cake with the slight tartness and colourful contrast of strawberries and blueberries. The sponge is soaked with a boozy hit of Cointreau orange liqueur (Miss GF's contained non-alcoholic juice) and the whole lot is topped with a layer of custard, a layer of whipped cream and a beautiful fresh crowning strawberry. Lush! Isn't is pretty?

Of course, if you don't fancy a trifle for Valentines, you could pick something else...... How about a luscious Zesty Drizzled Lemon Cake with rosy swirls of Strawberry Cream-Cheese Frosting? Some individual Chocolate Layer Cakes with rich chocolate ganache or mini vegan & gluten free Chocolate Cakes with Coconut Whipped Cream. Perhaps a breakfast of Vanilla Buttermilk Pancakes with berries and home-made chocolate sauce? Or...... you could really push the boat out with a seriously decadent Banoffee Cheesecake with salted caramel (probably not for breakfast though!)

If you are looking for some home-made foodie gift ideas, a gorgeous box of dark and delicious Chocolate Truffles, some Raspberry & White Chocolate Macaron, hazelnut Baci Di Dama (Ladies Kisses) cookies, Vanilla Fudge, or Marshmallow may be the temptation you need. 

However you share your love and whatever you give, do or eat........ Have a wonderful day!

I am sharing my 'Angelic' Strawberry & Cointreau Trifles with :

#FoodYearLinkup with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen...... celebrating Valentines Day.

No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. As always, this trifle is a perfect way to use up left-over sponge cake.

Cook Blog Share, this week with Hayley over at Snap Happy Bakes.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

'Angelic' Strawberry & Cointreau Trifle (makes about 5 individual trifles)


a few slices of angel cake (made from this recipe)
approx 400g strawberries
handful blueberries
2 teaspoons caster sugar
Cointreau (or Amaretti) liqueur
approx 350g fresh custard (I used shop-bought)
approx 400 ml double cream


  1. Trim hull and slice your strawberries (reserving a few (one per individual trifle) whole for decoration) and place the chopped strawberries in a bowl with a handful of fresh blueberries. 
  2. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit and pour on a good glug of Cointreau/liqueur. Fold the liquid over the fruit and leave to marinate for a good couple of hours (or overnight) stirring occasionally.  
  3. Cut the sponge into cubes.
  4. Place a layer of fruit in the bottom of your trifle serving dishes (preferably glass so that you can see the layers).
  5. Top this with a layer of sponge and drizzle some of the juice from the fruit over the top to soak into the sponge.
  6. Add a further layer of fruit and top with sponge. Drizzle more juice over the top (if you run out, add a drizzle of neat liqueur).
  7. Spoon over a layer of custard and allow to settle over the trifle, mingling with the sponge and fruit in the gaps.
  8. Whilst the custard settles, whisk the cream to soft peaks. Spoon a layer of cream on to the top of each trifle.
  9. Top them with a strawberry and serve.
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated