Saturday, 30 September 2017

Chocolate Mini Rolls (gluten free) - a flourless recipe from Prue Leith #GBBO 2017

I am very late to the Great British Bake Off party this year. Last year I managed to bake along with gluten free equivalents for most of the series, but it has been a busy few weeks both at work and being away and it has left me playing catch up..... I don't like playing catch up! I like to feel a modicum of control and at least know that I am on top of things and know what needs to be done. When I don't feel on top of things, I make lists..... lots of them...... Who am I kidding? I don't just make lists when I am not on top of things, I make lists all the time (or is that just a reflection of feeling permanently out of control?)

Either way, these Chocolate Mini Rolls by Prue Leith have been on my list of things to do since week 1 of Bake Off (yep.... I even list food I need to try and make...). We are now fast heading for week 6, which may be a sound indicator of how behind I am with life....

GBBO Week 1 was Cake Week of course and alongside, we got to meet the new presenters and bakers and sit in our living room Courts being Judge and Jury on what we thought of the new line-up. After last year's fiasco which resulted in the programme being sold to Channel 4 and the very sad loss of Mel, Sue and Mary, I for one was analysing every nuanced body movement, interaction and quip to see if Prue, Noel and Sandy cut it. Paul is just Paul, with an ability to strike judgement into every conversation..... no change there, but we love him anyway.

Despite a few slightly cringe-worthy moments along the way, I think I am settling into the new patter.... Prue is growing on me..... slowly (Mary is a hard act to follow) and I have always loved Sandy's very intelligent and very dry sense of humour (although I think it helps that she lives quite local to me and I have had a couple of chance encounters with her in the wine aisle of Sainsburys).... Noel I am less sure about. Don't get me wrong, I have really liked Noel when I have seen him on TV quiz shows, but he seems a little out of his comfort zone on Bake Off....... natural and easy around the contestants when baking, but a little contrived and anxious when doing the planned bits of script delivery..... Is that fair?

Anyway..... back to baking.... I was particularly keen to make these Chocolate Mini Rolls, not just because they are one of my favourite childhood treats, but because the recipe used on Bake Off is flourless and therefore naturally gluten free (yee-ha!)...... Oh..... and I always like to try and be clever around a technical challenge that has caused plenty of moaning and panic in the tent!

This is not my first foray into Mini Rolls..... I made some particularly yummy (non-chocolate-coated) vanilla-strawberry butter cream filled ones a couple of years ago, alongside a very successful home-developed recipe for Swiss Roll. I also love a good roulade, so the prospect of rolling cake is something I am comfortable with...... You can find a list of my favourite GFA roulade recipes below.

Prue's Bake Off Chocolate Mini Roll recipe was (rather strangely) filled with mint buttercream. I am usually a huge fan of chocolate and mint together, but after hearing several references to the filling tasting like 'toothpaste', I was a little put off and since Miss GF was very clear that she wanted vanilla buttercream, the decision was made.... vanilla is was to be. Other than the buttercream flavour sub, the recipe that I have used is exactly GBBO specified.

The Mini Rolls were fairly easy to make....... up to the point of the chocolate coating. The sponge was straight forward and predictable and the butter cream was pretty standard. When it comes to pouring melted chocolate over small bakes on a wire rack though, I get a bit tetchy. I have no problem with melting the stuff, but I hate 'waste' and even though I know the dripped pool of chocolate collected under the rack will be greedily eaten, it somehow feels wrong that it isn't on the cake. I chose instead to spread the chocolate on with a knife, which may not be quite as smooth, but made for a wonderfully thick layer.

Actually I am rather pleased with my efforts.... and I have to say that they were seriously moreish. Light chocolate sponge, swirled with the fluffiest, creamiest vanilla buttercream, all topped with melty, sweet, thick chocolate. Most definitely to be recommended....

I am sharing Prue's Chocolate Mini Rolls with the following :

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

Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps

Other Roulades and Swiss Rolls on Gluten Free Alchemist :

Coffee-Intense Mocha Roulade
Zesty Lemon-Meringue Roulade
Squidgy Chocolate Roulade
Vanilla Swiss Roll and Mini Rolls

Chocolate Mini Rolls - a Prue Leith recipe (makes 12)


Sponge :
60g cocoa powder
30g unsalted butter (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons boiling water
6 large eggs - separated
150g caster sugar

Butter Icing (filling)
150g unsalted butter - softened
300g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
a little milk to loosen (as needed)

Chocolate Coating
200g dark chocolate (70%) - chopped 
200g milk chocolate - chopped 
100g white chocolate - chopped 


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Base-line two 30 cm x 20 cm Swiss Roll tins with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl, sieve the cocoa powder and add the melted butter, vanilla extract and boiling water. Mix together well and set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, weigh 100g of the caster sugar and add the egg yolks. Whisk together until pale, thick and fluffy.
  4. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk again to combine completely.
  5. In a separate, very clean bowl (and using a clean beater), whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Once stiff, add the remaining 50g caster sugar and whisk until you have a smooth meringue and the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Beat one third of the egg-white mixture into the chocolate mix to loosen. 
  7. Gently fold in the rest of the whisked egg-whites, taking care to maintain as much air as possible in the mix.
  8. Divide the mixture between the two tins and level out by gently tipping the tins to spread.
  9. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes until the top springs back to the touch.
  10. Remove from the oven, but leave in the tins to cool completely. Cover the sponge tins with a clean, slightly damp tea towel whilst they cool.
  11. Butter Icing : Beat the softened butter in a large bowl until smooth and gradually add the icing sugar and vanilla, continuing to beat until all the sugar is combined and you have a light, fluffy icing. If the icing feels too stiff to spread, add a tiny drop of milk to loosen. 
  12. To fill the sponges and roll : One at a time, turn the cakes out (upside-down) onto 2 large clean sheets of baking paper and very carefully peel off the baking paper from the base of the sponges.
  13. Carefully score a line along each short end, 2 to 4 cm in from the edge and turn the sponge so that the short end is facing you.
  14. Divide the butter icing in two and evenly spread half completely over the top of each sponge, using a palette knife.
  15. Starting from the front short edge, carefully roll up the sponge as tightly as you can, stopping half way along the sponge in the middle. 
  16. Repeat the rolling process from the other short end until the two rolls meet in the middle and then cut down the centre of the sponge between the two rolls, to separate them. 
  17. Repeat the process with the other sponge, so that you have 4 long rolls, then trim the ends.
  18. Carefully cut each roll into thirds as evenly as possible, so that you have 12 mini rolls.
  19. Place the rolls seam-side down on a cooling rack and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm up.
  20. To coat in Chocolate : Melt the plain and milk chocolate together in a medium glass bowl either set over a pan of lightly simmering water (stirring frequently) or in a microwave on medium setting at 30 second bursts, stirring well between each. 
  21. Place the cooling rack over a baking tray (to catch the dripping chocolate) and spread or pour the chocolate over each mini roll to coat. Leave to set.
  22. Melt the white chocolate in a small glass bowl as in 20 (above) and then using either a small disposable piping bag with the tip snipped off or a spoon, drizzle the chocolate width-ways across the rolls to decorate. Leave to set.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake (gluten free, rice free, refined-sugar free) #FreeFromHarvest

It is officially Autumn and to celebrate, I have made a gluten free Pear and Mocha Upside-Down Cake, with local pears gifted by a friend from her garden. A perfect seasonal offering..... sweet, fruity and comforting.

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year..... the beautiful, reddening, changing colours of the leaves on the trees,....... the musty, but slightly sweet smell of decaying foliage under the feet,...... the still, cold air on bright mornings, which alternate with contrasting damp mists and squally winds..... It is an exciting time for the senses..... all of them.

With Autumn comes an abundance of delights to light up the taste buds..... As the harvest speeds to its inevitable end and the rewards of the vegetable plot are picked, pickled, frozen, stored or simply scoffed with the joy that comes from just-picked sweetcorn, courgettes, tomatoes and more....

It is the Autumn fruit however, which brings the brightest smile..... Hedgerows woven together and decorated with dark, purple blackberries..... fruit trees heavy with apples, pears and peaches...... squirrels stealing and hiding cobnuts, chestnuts and walnuts for their winter stores....

The pears and apples this year are incredible in my part of the world..... Kent has truly earned its name as The Garden of England. I have been going for walks and literally grabbing flawless, curvy green fruit from over-hanging trees and munching fresh and firm. On almost every corner, people have left boxes of pears and apples with big signs saying 'please help yourself', such is the abundance in their yards. Free food doesn't get better than this and it would be wrong not to exploit every last shared offering.

Those of you who follow my Instagram posts will know that I used a stash of pears to make my favourite Brown-Sugared Pear and Ginger Preserve a couple of weeks back, which is just perfect with cheese. But part of the fun with a good harvest is trying to come up with creative ways to use up all the yummy fruit and veg that comes your way.

And so..... to Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake..... Intense, slightly bitter, coffee-infused chocolate sponge, sweetened with unrefined coconut palm sugar and maple syrup, baked over butter-softened pears, then flipped to show its best side. Delicious!

If you're stuck for free-from ideas, fear not.... between me and my free-from blogger friends we have a whole library of #FreeFromHarvest recipes to share with you this Autumn. Go check them out :

Free From Fairy : Sensational Sausage-Stuffed Marrow
The Intolerant Gourmand : GF DF Apple Crumble; Pumpkin Risotto
Easy Peasy Foodie : Peri Peri Chicken; Vegan Vegetable Korma
Mummy Tries : Three Tasty Beetroot Recipes
Julie's Family Kitchen : GF Almond, Pear & Chocolate Cake
Dairy Free Kids : Apple & Blackberry Crumble
The Adventures of an Allergy Mummy : Butternut Squash Soup with a Kick
Glutarama : Beetroot Brownie Cake
Paleo Crust : Roasted Squash & Ginger Soup
Peachicks Bakery : Pink Pickles
Free From Farmhouse : Pumpkin Pasta

Also to come, recipes from :
Nina : Eat Allergy Safe

I am also sharing my Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake with the following :

Simple & In Season with Feeding Boys

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme

Cook Blog Share with Hijacked By Twins

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Other gluten free ideas on Gluten Free Alchemist to use your harvest :

Brown-Sugared Pear and Ginger Preserve
Heavenly Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte 
Sweet Autumn Dessert Yorkies with Vanilla Sautéed Pear & Walnuts and Blackberry Coulis
Pumpkin Toffee-Apple Cake
Mixed Berry & Apple Jam
Foraged Blackberry & Apple Oatie Crumble Slice
Apple & Blackberry Curd
Apple, Cinnamon & Mincemeat Cake
Chewy Apricot, Apple, Cinnamon & Maple Flapjacks
Courgette & Cherry Cupcakes
White Chocolate, Lavender & Blackberry Panna Cotta with Blackberry Poached Pears and Blackberry-Cassis Sauce
Autumnal Spiced Pumpkin & Walnut Cakes
Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin, Sultana & Chocolate Chip Cake
Chicken, Squash & Gruyere Quiche 
Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup
Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan & Pine Nut Salad
Courgette or Marrow with Rich, Dark Puy Lentil Stuffing
Spiralized Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup
Butternut, Quinoa & Pine Nut Patties

Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake (makes 1 x 8 inch cake)


1½ tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder
140 ml boiling water
2 large firm pears - peeled and deseeded (sliced lengthways into 'half-moons')
a sprinkling of coconut palm sugar or brown sugar of choice
180g gluten free, rice-free flour blend (I used my GFA rice-free blend that you can find here. Or you can use an alternative rice free blend such as Free From Fairy (see side bar for link) or an alternative gluten free blend (with rice) such as my Blend A)
40g ground almonds
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon GF baking powder
30g cocoa powder
125g butter (or dairy free alternative) - softened
125g coconut palm sugar
50g maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

mocha beans/icing sugar/grated dark chocolate to decorate (all optional)


  1. Base-line and 8 inch (20 cm) round, spring-form, non-stick cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. Dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water and set aside to cool.
  4. Lightly butter the baking paper in the base of the cake tin and arrange the peeled, deseeded, sliced pears on top. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  5. Dab a few small blobs of butter on the pear and place in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the pear is just browning and the butter and sugar are bubbling.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 160 C/320 F/Gas 3.
  7. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cocoa, making sure all the ingredients are well blended and all lumps are broken down (I mix them in an airtight container and shake well). Set aside.
  8. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and maple syrup with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
  9. Add the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla extract and beat thoroughly.
  10. Add the dry ingredients and cool coffee and fold until just combined.
  11. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin on top of the pears and smooth the batter so that the surface is even.
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cake is set and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  13. Remove from the oven and leave the cake for 10 to 15 minutes in the tin to cool slightly, before turning out onto a wire rack (upside-down, so that the pears are on the top).
  14. Sprinkle with grated chocolate/icing sugar/mocha beans to decorate.
  15. Enjoy on its own, warm or cold or with coconut cream, custard or ice cream.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Salmon & Mushroom Pithivier - gluten free (made with Jus-Rol GF Puff Pastry)

This Salmon and Mushroom Pithivier is one of my all time favourite pies! I have been making it for well over 20 years and it has always been a regular dish on my dinner table, especially for Sunday lunch and special occasions. It has the ability to wow guests, yet if you are using a ready made puff pastry, has to be one of the simplest spectacular mains with which to woo those you are entertaining.

This pie doesn't have the same impact with non-puff pastry however. Puff pastry is the key to a light, crisp, flaky exterior and an attractiveness that leaves the mouth watering and desperate to eat.

And there lies the rub.... For those of us who are gluten free, puff pastry is either a long and arduous job to make (you can find a recipe I use here), or you need a decent commercially made gluten free ready to roll or ready-rolled pastry to hand. Whilst these are now starting to be produced, they are quite a recent addition to the free-from cabinets in supermarkets, so for many years, I have been deprived of my beloved Salmon and Mushroom Pithivier.

I have gone out of my way to try any commercial puff pastry I have found and my verdict is that they vary considerably, both in ingredients, flavour and results. With those you roll yourself, the flakiness can be a little hit and miss (dependent on your success in rolling them first time) and their ability to roll can leave me wanting to throw them out of the window and revert to making the pastry myself (long and arduous as that may be....)

Even before I was gluten free, when it came to ready to use puff pastry I was always a 'ready rolled' girl. It was just easier and the outcome was better.... both edibly and emotionally! So finding Jus-Rol ready-rolled gluten free puff pastry sheets has been a real boon to expanding my dinner-table, gluten free 'quick but impressive dish' repertoire.

I have used it in a few recipes across the blog now (see the list below) and I have mostly been really happy with it. The baked texture is pretty good and the biggest bonus of all is that it is ready-rolled (the only ready-rolled GF pastry I have thus far found......)

Those of you who have read previous posts will know that initially I was rather amused (and bemused) that Jus-Rol deemed it necessary to make their gluten free pastry sheets round, when everyone else had far more practical and useable rectangular pastry sheets. Whilst this caused me much irritation, depending on what I was making, I took to seeing it as 'good sport' to come up with round pastry dishes on which to use the stuff. Less waste and less frustration has to be good for the planet and for your blood pressure, so it's a win-win right?

Pithivier has got to be a natural choice for a circular piece of pastry (although they can also be made into squares and rectangles too) and this one is stuffed full of delicious fresh salmon, button mushrooms and a sprinkling of complementary tarragon. Not only is it amazingly good to eat and incredibly simple to prepare, but it shouts 'show-stopper' and makes you look really clever when you set it on the table.

This Pithivier is quick enough to make as a mid-week meal, yet fancy enough to eat at a celebratory feast. It feeds at least 6 and if there's any left over, is also perfect as a next day cold lunch too!

Of course no sooner than I share this with you, I have discovered that all our complaining about the unusualness of round pastry sheets has been heard..... Having decided to make one of these lovely pies for tea, I went out to buy a second pack of pastry as I already had one (round) pack in the fridge and I needed two to make it..... But guess what? Jus-Rol has re-shaped their gluten free puff and it now comes as a rectangle! Yay!

I am sharing my Salmon & Mushroom Pithivier with the following linkies :

Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching For Spice

Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Other recipes made with Jus-Rol Puff Pastry on Gluten Free Alchemist :
Sun-Dried Tomato, Parmesan and Walnut Puff Pastry Whirls
Spanakopita Galette
Quick & Easy Pizza Galette

Salmon & Mushroom Pithivier (serves at least 6)


2 packets of Jus-Rol gluten free puff pastry (or approx 600g other make/home-made)
3 to 4 raw salmon fillets - de-skinned & de-boned 
100g button (or other) mushrooms - cut into small cubes
a couple of sprigs fresh tarragon (or 2 to 3 teaspoons dried) - chopped
juice of ½ to 1 small lemon (to taste)
black pepper and sea salt to season

1 egg - beaten (for egg-wash)


  1. Prepare your filling first : Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Parcel wrap the salmon in foil with a little salt and pepper and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes until cooked, but still moist. Flake the salmon flesh.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the salmon, mushrooms, tarragon, lemon juice (to taste) and seasoning (to taste). Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  5. To assemble the pie, lay a large piece of baking paper on a large baking tray (it will need to be big enough for the pastry to lie flat).
  6. Place one of the pastry sheets on the baking paper and spoon the cold salmon filling on top, spreading towards the edges, but leaving a 2 cm pastry edge clear (without topping).
  7. Brush the pastry edge with a good coating of egg wash and then place the second sheet of pastry over the top of the salmon filling, sticking the edge of the top sheet to the bottom sheet, but still leaving a strip edge of about 1½ cm pastry showing from the bottom sheet. 
  8. Egg wash the edges of the top pastry sheet where it joins the bottom sheet (to make a sticky edge) and carefully roll the bottom sheet over on itself a couple of times until it sticks over the top sheet. This will form a seal to the pastry edge and also tidy the sides. Press down lightly to secure.
  9. Use a sharp knife to lightly score (but not cut through) the pastry top in a diagonal-swirl pattern. 
  10. Use a skewer or the tip of the knife to pierce a small hole in the centre of the pie and then egg wash the whole top surface.
  11. Place in the oven and bake for approx 20 to 25 minutes until golden and crisp.
  12. Remove from the oven and leave to sit on the tray for about 5 minutes to cool, before carefully transferring to a serving plate. Serve hot or cold.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated