Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Beetroot Brownies - gluten free

I told Miss GF I was making 'Beetroot Brownies' and she said "Yuk". She is not a beetroot fan apparently... but presented with one of these babies on a plate and it was gone in a flash... which tells me they are clearly not 'beetrooty', but are absolutely delicious and still full of goodness.

I was prompted to make them as a result of the wonderful crop of beets we have nestled in our vegetable garden right now. They have evidently enjoyed the summer warmth and sunshine and have grown huge and succulent.

Beets are full of good stuff and (I understand) contain a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains, which are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. They are also chock full of vitamins and minerals, especially folic acid, manganese and potassium.

Goodness aside, the thing I most love about beetroot is its colour. Nothing comes close to the incredible depth and hue of the dark pinky-red flesh, which doesn't fade on cooking.

The earthy flavour of beetroot can be a bit love-hate for some people, but I personally enjoy it, especially when paired with houmous on toast, popped onto salads with grilled Halloumi or roasted in cubes alongside baby potatoes with a sprinkling of thyme.

Baked in brownies however, its magnificence rises to new heights. Beetroot and dark chocolate it seems, are a marriage made in heaven. The earthiness of the beets seem to intensify the richness and depth of cocoa, taking it to an almost intoxifying level of serotonin-inducing decadence... Simply divine.

I had every intention of developing my own recipe for beetroot brownies, after my internet trawl revealed page after page of insipid or dry-looking morsels which did not inspire... but then I came across a recipe from Riverford Organic, that had my attention. The brownies looked moist and very dark... sticky-soft with a crisp coat... and I knew I had stumbled across brownie heaven.

For this post, I have more or less followed the Riverford recipe as written, with a couple of very minor tweaks... There seems no point in tinkering too much with perfection.

I have also rushed them onto the blog, because I figure that I may not be the only one out there with rows of red beets taking over the veg plot and it is always good to have extra inspiration on how to use them.

August also signals the very last ever 'We Should Cocoa' blog challenge with Choclette over at Tin and Thyme. We Should Cocoa has been a bit of an institution in our house and since I started blogging. The challenge itself has been running for eight years and was always one of my favourite recipe link-ups. I am honestly gutted that it is ending. It was one of the brilliant old-style blog challenges that encouraged you to consider a particular ingredient or theme and produce a recipe to fit the bill. I loved those challenges.... they were great inspiration and often formed the basis of my baking month, as I wracked my brain to come up with suitable gluten free creations that would rival the bakes of bloggers who I considered to be better, both at blogging and baking. I felt quite lost for a while when they gradually disappeared one by one, to be replaced by 'share any old recipe' linkies.

I will be so sad to see the demise of We Should Cocoa and I didn't want not to be part of its send-off.... So Choclette... these Beetroot Brownies are for you... with thanks! x

I am also sharing them with the following :

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber
Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice
Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum


Cook Blog Share with The Peachicks Bakery
Bake Of The Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello
Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain


Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too
Got To Be Gluten Free with Glutarama and Gluten Free Alchemist
Fiesta Friday #237 with Angie, The Not So Creative Cook and Of Goats and Greens

Beetroot Brownies - A recipe adapted from Riverford Organic Farmers (makes 16 brownies)


250g good quality dark chocolate - chopped
200g unsalted butter - cubed
250g cooked beetroot (see below) - pureed
3 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
210g golden caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
50g fine white rice flour
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon GF baking powder


  1. Prepare your beetroot in advance - Peel and chop the beetroot into cubes (you will need 250g pureed weight, so allowing for some getting stuck to the sides of the blender, it is worth cooking about 280g). 
  2. Place in a glass/microwavable bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of water. 
  3. Seal with clingfilm and cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the beetroot has softened and cooked. Allow to cool.
  4. Drain the beetroot using a sieve and puree in a blender until you have a smooth paste.
  5. Line a 23 cm (9 inch) square baking tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  6. In a separate glass bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together, either in a microwave (set at medium, for 30 second bursts, stirring between each) or set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring frequently. Once melted, stir to ensure the mixture is completely blended. Set aside to cool slightly.
  7. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs with the vanilla and sugar until smooth and light. 
  8. Weigh and mix together the cocoa, flour, almonds and baking powder, making sure any lumps are broken down (I weigh mine into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
  9. Add the pureed beetroot and the chocolate mixture to the egg mix and beat through until smooth. 
  10. Lastly, gently fold in the dry ingredients to the wet mix until even.
  11. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
  12. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until just firm to the touch. Be careful not to over-cook (a skewer inserted should come out slightly sticky).
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin, before turning out and carefully cutting into squares. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar (optional) and serve.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Monday, 6 August 2018

Funfetti Cake - gluten free

Funfetti cake. Beautiful huh? This one is gluten free and decorated with 'Unicorn' sugar confetti. I've wanted to make one for... well... ever. So now I have!

Miss GF turns 13 this week (where has the time gone?) and I had hoped that I could make it as her birthday cake... It is such a show stopper. But this year Miss GF has taken a dislike to her birthday. She has decided that in no uncertain terms, she does not want a birthday.

Like what???? Really? 13th birthday.... no birthday? What the heck is a parent supposed to do with that bombshell? A girl should love her birthday shouldn't she? Lap it up and enjoy the attention right? Apparently not. Not only have we been told 'no cake', but also 'no presents'... Yeah.... right!

The trouble is that we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. I know that if we don't 'do' the birthday, the message she will take from it will be harmfully negative. If we do 'do' the birthday, we will be bollocked for not listening to her. Talk about a roadblock... Although in reality, I guess it really is a no-brainer.... I know what I would rather be berated for.

Unable to make this cake for her actual birthday (she knew this was what I had planned), I decided to make it anyway... as an unbirthday 'just' cake. I sort of had my heart set on it, so it seemed a little bit crazy to put it on hold.

I am so glad I did. Although quite sweet, the texture of the sponge was almost better than perfect. The buttercream was light and creamy and the 'Unicorn' funfetti (which I found in Morrisons, from Dr Oetker) was so bright and pretty.

The sponge was a slight variation on my Best Gluten Free Vanilla Sponge, which has such a fantastic crumb and is brilliant for layering. With the heat, I was worried that it might affect the consistency of the mixture, but if anything, it improved it. The warmth made the butter amazingly soft so that it creamed to a sumptuous paste with the sugar. When I gently added the eggs a little at a time and whisked, they too absorbed the magic and the resulting batter was smooth and silky.... rose to perfection and remained moist and spongy for several days.

I just love it when gluten free cakes fool the hardiest of gluten-eaters and this one went out of its way to prove that gluten free doesn't have to be dry, gritty or tasteless. In my (very humble) opinion, this sponge is as good, if not better than any glutenous cake I ever remember.

The funfetti adds a certain charm too, giving the cake a rather enchanting appeal... Although getting from 'naked' to 'funfettied' resulted in one hell of a kitchen mess.... funfetti all over the floor, a lot of swearing and a hoover doing overtime. I am no expert on cake decoration by any means, but sticking sprinkles all over cake sides always presents me with a nervous dilemma. I really have no idea what I am doing, and end up picking up piles of whatever it is I want to stick to the sides and combining the actions of throwing and squashing in one. If anyone can give me some advice on getting a better result without such a mess, please, please let me know!

Funfetti chaos complete, I was actually quite pleased with the resulting appearance of the unbirthday 'just' cake.... So happy in fact, that I am sending a few slices over to the following to share the 'unbirthday' love...


Bake Of The Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps
Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy
Love Cake with Jibber Jabber


Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain
Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too
Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum


Got To Be Gluten Free with Glutarama and Gluten Free Alchemist
Fiesta Friday #236 with Angie, Foodie On Board and Canvassed Recipes
What's For Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome

Other Celebration Cakes on Gluten Free Alchemist
Chocolate Birthday Bundt
Chocolate Kiss Cake
Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting and Rosy Swirls
Golden Egg Cake with Chocolate Sponge
Coconut Cake with Marshmallow Flowers
Coffee and Walnut Cake
Flourless Orange Cake with Honeyed Raspberry Coulis
Mocha Celebration Cake
Orange Cake with Orange Curd Butter Icing and Orange Jelly
Raspberry & Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake
Vanilla Sponge with Icing Roses
Zesty Drizzled Lemon Cake

Funfetti Cake (Makes 1x 9 inch (23 cm) two-layer or 1 x 8 inch (20 cm) three-layer cake)


320g plain GF flour mix (I used Blend A from this post)
160g ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
330 ml milk
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
170g unsalted butter - softened
360g caster sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs - room temperature - lightly beaten
100g funfetti

Butter Icing & Decoration
230g butter - softened
460g icing sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
jam of choice
approx 80 to 100g funfetti to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and base-line the non-stick baking tins that you are using with baking paper.
  2. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, making sure the ingredients are fully combined and all lumps are broken down (I weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside. 
  3. In a jug, stir together the milk and vinegar and leave to stand for 10 minutes (it will become clumpy). 
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a whisk, until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add and beat in the vanilla extract.
  6. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat together with a fork to break up the egg. Add a little at a time to the butter mixture, beating thoroughly between each addition until smooth and creamy.
  7. Alternate folding in the liquid and flour mix to the butter-batter about a third at a time, gently and quickly until just combined. As the mix starts to even out, add the funfetti and fold through. Be careful not to over-mix.
  8. Divide the mixture between the baking tins and smooth the tops.
  9. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden and the top springs back to the touch. A skewer should come out clean.
  10. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Buttercream, Decoration & Putting it all Together
  1. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the icing sugar a little at a time and continue to beat so that it remains smooth.
  3. Add and beat in the vanilla extract. The mix should be smooth and spreadable. If it needs to be loosened, add a tiny drop of milk at a time and beat again until you have reached the desired consistency. 
  4. Layer the sponge cakes together : Spread a layer of buttercream on one side and a layer of jam on the other and put together. Repeat for the additional layer of a three layer cake.
  5. Place the layered cake into the fridge for about an hour to firm up slightly.
  6. Remove from the fridge and using a palette knife, spread an even layer of buttercream around the sides of the cake and also on the top. Use an icing spreader to smooth the surfaces.
  7. Decorate the sides with funfetti, by sticking handfuls gently and carefully until happy with the effect. (It helps if the cake is on a cake turntable, but don't tilt as the layers may slide).
  8. Pipe decoration onto the top of the cake as you wish and sprinkle a little more funfetti on the top. 
  9. Enjoy.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 4 August 2018

9 Amazing Gluten Free Recipes - the Highlights of July's #G2BGF (Got To Be Gluten Free)

Thank you so much to all of you who joined July's Got To Be Gluten Free (#G2BGF) recipe challenge. It was lovely to see what you have been making and without a doubt, we had 9 amazing gluten free recipes.

To be Honest, with the incredibly high temperatures we have been having, I am surprised that anyone has been cooking anything. The heat in the kitchen has been way too much to bear on occasion. I know that at GFHQ, we have been living outdoors as much as we can and eating whatever involves the least effort and the least time in the oven or on the hob.

But cook you have and it is now my pleasure to revisit and share your delicious gluten free creations, whilst I drool over the prospect of scoffing the lot.

I will start with the two savoury offerings. I love that people share savoury dishes in the link-up. It is a great reminder that eating healthy gluten free food is straight forward and that being gluten free is really not that bad after all!

Monika over at Everyday Healthy Recipes shared her delicious Easy Turkey Stuffed Eggplant (Aubergine) Recipe and boy, does it look good. A fuss free dish which is perfect for an easy, healthy, summer meal, it looks like it has been whipped straight out of a restaurant on the Med. I am also thinking that with all those massive courgettes and marrows that we have taking over out vegetable plot, the stuffing may be a perfect accompaniment to other stuffed vegetables as well.

Next up, Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe brought us a beautiful Lettuce, Broccoli and Pea Soup, which she made when in need of greens after a trip to a theme park with the kids. I have never put lettuce in a soup, but it sounds very yummy and incredibly healthy. Isn't this soup such a wonderful colour too?

On to our sweet treats... We have three desserts and 4 cake and biscuit recipes, starting with a creamy, zesty, No Churn Lemon Ice Cream made by Vicki the Free From Fairy, which she tweaked from 'Nan's' recipe after a visit to New Zealand. I love that Vicki's ice cream is made a little healthier with yoghurt and less sugar. It's so easy to reach for ultra sweet treats when the weather is hot, so having an alternative is perfect. I know I will definitely be making this at home.

From Gluten Free Alchemist, I shared a Lemon, Ginger & Dark Chocolate Tart, bursting with surprises in both flavour and texture and which would make a show-stopper to wow the guests at any gluten free dinner party. Made with gluten free, chocolate-coated ginger biscuits, they can be easily substituted for a wheat biscuit if you are lucky enough not to have to worry about gluten.

The other delicious dessert was linked by my lovely co-host Rebecca over at Glutarama. Not only gluten free, but dairy free as well, her Gooseberry Fool Crumble makes for a refreshing, light summer pudding. Bringing back memories of getting caught 'scrumping' for gooseberries through the neighbours fence when she was a child, Rebecca's days of sneaky fruit picking may be over, but her love of these tart berries remains.

Rebecca also brings us her gluten and dairy free Baked Doughnuts (Two Ways) - a ring version and some filled with jam, which look like they have a perfect crumb. I am absolutely sold on the ring doughnuts with a hint of cinnamon and that crispy glaze.

It's great to have Nina from Eat Allergy Safe join us this month with her Citrus and Glace Cherry Cupcakes, which are free from gluten, dairy and nuts. They sound absolutely scrummy and so summer fresh, with a mixture of citrus zest from orange, lemon and grapefruit.... ideal for a free from party, afternoon tea, or simply because life's too short not to eat cake.

We also have a gorgeous-looking gluten free and vegan Berry Courgette Loaf with a rather pretty Blackcurrant Glaze, brought to us by The Peachicks Bakery. Not only is Midge a total whizz in the kitchen when it comes to rustling up stunning vegan bakes, but it seems she is a master gardener too! This loaf is stuffed full of courgettes and blackcurrants from her allotment.

And finally, I brought a recipe for gluten free Jam Thumbprint Cookies, filled with my homemade Rhubarb, Strawberry & Cointreau Jam. Crisp and light, these cookies melt in the mouth, leaving a delicious jammy, fruity chewiness.

So that brings us to the end of July's round up. Thank you again to all of you who joined us. We would love you to come share your gluten free recipes and posts with the August #G2BGF which is now live over at Glutarama. Can't wait to see what you bring this month x

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated