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Lemon Polenta and Almond Cake

Lemon Polenta and Almond Cake

I seem to be posting quite a few sweet treats at the moment but we have been eating these lovely things over quite a decent amount of time to try and keep some semblance of a waistline! This cake is extremely moist and tasty a…

Sour cherry bread and butter pudding

Sour cherry bread and butter pudding

As promised yesterday on my instagram post of this delicious pudding here are the details! It won’t be an exact recipe as such as I just kind of threw it together. It all started with an extra crop of sour cherries from the tree in…

Comfort food – lemon polenta and almond bisuits

Comfort food – lemon polenta and almond bisuits

Since lockdown came into being people seem to have become obsessed with baking. I can’t tell you how many instagram pictures of sour dough bread, brownies and cup cakes I’ve seen. This is not a problem just an observation as I have always been a little obsessed with baking myself. One of the main problems I’ve found is not being able to source yeast for love nor money anywhere, simply clarifying my suspicion that everyone is at it! Anyway I thought I’d have a little experiment myself with some gluten free biscuits I was inspired by a few recipes I have seen for Italian style citrus biscuits. I wanted tasty, not to dry and dunkable and I think I’ve just about cracked it.

You will need,

150g polenta, 100g ground almonds, 200g gluten free all purpose flour, 75g runny honey, 150g butter, 2 eggs, pinch of salt and the zest of a large lemon (or two smaller ones).

I don’t like things to be too sweet so if you do you can add some extra icing sugar to make them sweeter. Simply pop everything in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients make a sticky cake dough like mixture. Don’t over work it but enough to be thoroughly mixed. Switch your oven to 180 degrees, 160 for a fan assisted or gas mark 4. While the oven is warming up get a couple of oven trays and either grease them or cover with baking paper. Use a couple of teaspoons to spoon out the mixture onto the trays leaving some space around each one as they will spread a little.

Once all the mixture is spooned out (should be around 45 blobs) use a folk to press down softly leaving a nice pattern in the middle and then tidy up the edges a little by gently pressing in. No need to be too precise as these are meant to be a little rustic, think little town somewhere in Italy enjoying your morning espresso in the sunshine with one of these. Although personally I’ll be on the pot of black earl grey tea!

They need to cook for about 10-15 mins. Keep an eye on them and as they begin to brown around the edges take them out they are done. They are not a crispy snapping biscuit much more soft in the middle. Leave too cool for a little bit before enjoying! Once they are totally cooled keep them in an airtight jar for a few days, although my guess is they might not last that long if your household is anything like mine!

More lockdown food

More lockdown food

So ready for a few more recipe ideas? How about some quick flat breads (gluten free of course) and a couple of ideas of what to eat them with? They are great just on their own fresh from the pan but can become a dinner…

Lock down food

Lock down food

Hello all of you out there, or at least the couple of you that read this! I have neglected this blog for a little while, life has a way of taking over sometimes. During this strange time we all find ourselves in it seems to…

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake

This was the first Christmas that I have attempted a gluten free Christmas cake. Seeing other people making cakes inspired me to do the same plus Christmas cake is one of my favourites! I searched the internet for recipes and poured over many of them before coming up with a highbred version of my own, particularly packed with fruit and nuts. This is a very rich and filling cake suitable for any celebration not just Christmas. I hope if you try making it you enjoy it and I would love to hear what you think.

For a 25cm tin greased and lined with baking paper
Oven at 175c or gas 4

Ingredients

1kg mixed dried fruit whatever you like. I used Sultanas,
currants, mixed peel, dates and cranberries.
Could also use apricots, crystallised ginger, figs, raisins etc.

100g chopped almonds
100g chopped walnuts
100g halved glace cherries
Zest of an orange
200ml orange juice (you can swap half of this for brandy)
3tsp vanilla extract

250g butter
250g soft brown sugar
5 eggs

250g buckwheat flour
2tsp baking powder
3tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1tsp nutmeg
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp allspice

The first job is to chop 1kg of dried fruit into a large bowl, add the orange zest and the orange juice (switching half of the orange juice for brandy if you would like). This needs to soak overnight or at least for three hours to make the fruit plump and juicy.

The next job is to cream together the butter and sugar (I actually used white sugar here as I couldn’t find soft brown but I would prefer soft brown in the future). When the mixture has lightened in colour and become very light in texture add in one egg at a time whisking well. If the mixture starts to curdle, as it probably will, add a dessert spoon of flour with each subsequent egg. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and spices and add to the mixture. Fold in gently until it is all mixed together.

Add your chopped nuts and cherries to the soaked fruit mix and then add all of that into the cake mix. Fold through the fruit until it is very well mixed together. Spoon into your pre greased and lined tin and gently level off the top.

Pop in the oven and cook for between 1.5 & 2 hours. It will depend on your oven exactly how long so keep an eye on it after about 1hour if the top looks like it is getting too dark cover with foil or baking paper to prevent it burning while the middle is still cooking. When a skewer comes out clean you know it’s done. Take out of the oven and leave to cool entirely then remove from the tin. If you would like while the cake is still warm from the oven poke some holes in the top with a skewer and spoon over some brandy.

When it is totally cooled down the cake can be stored away for a couple of weeks to enrich the flavour. But if you’re like me and can’t wait then it’s time to decorate! warm up some apricot jam in a small pan with a little water so it becomes more like a syrup. Brush the cake all over with this so the marzipan will stick nicely. Roll out two long strips each about half the circumference of the cake and a circular piece for the top. Wrap the sides first then place the top piece on and press together the joins.

Next the icing. I used ready made icing which simply needed rolling out to a big circle and placing on top of the marzipan with some gentle shaping to get it in place. trim any excess off and keep for decorations on the top.

For this part I had expert help! we coloured some marzipan green and some red (although this turned out to be more of a pink!) We just had a lot of fun creating Christmas themed bits and bobs until the extra icing and marzipan ran out. Then arranged them on top of the cake. With the addition of some ready made tubes of coloured icing to draw on the details and a genuine piece of carrot for the snowman’s nose. Just finished off with a dusting of icing sugar! We were very proud of our handy work and managed not to cut into it for a few days just so we could admire all the work! When we did cut it the inside was nicely moist and tasted delicious, good job done and I will definitely be using this recipe next year!

24 Hours in Liverpool

24 Hours in Liverpool

A few weeks ago I had a quick visit to Liverpool. I’m not really sure why but had never been before, so it was one of the cities on my list to become aquainted with. I stayed for one night in the Ibis Styles which…

24 Hours in Newcastle

24 Hours in Newcastle

Newcastle is one of those places I have always wanted to visit but never have. Sometimes it seems easier to put aside time for the big overseas trips than to venture a couple of hours up the road! So I have decided to rectify that…

Fig and cinnamon preserve

Fig and cinnamon preserve

Over the summer I had the joy of going to Andalucia Spain to look after these two beauties. They are Pippin (the ginger one) and Luna. They have beautiful natures and were such good company.

Whilst there each day I walked past a row of fig trees along the road that were laden with fruit and no one seemed to be collecting it much had fallen on the pavement and split open spilling out their velvety red insides. I decided to collect some and ended up with a bag full! There was no way I could eat them all before they went bad so the only option left was to cook them up and make some preserve and that way I could bring a little taste of Spain home with me.

The place I was staying had a lemon tree so I picked a lemon to use to. First of all I washed and cut the figs into four and then added the zest and juice of a large lemon.

It was all placed in a heavy bottomed saucepan and slowly heated until the fruit started to soften down. Add some cinnamon to taste (I added two heaped teaspoons full). Then add some sweetness. I had agave syrup, which I had bought thinking it was honey, doh. So I used that up which was just over three quaters of a bottle. It actually was a good choice as it’s not too sweet.

Then bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. The fruit will break down and become a lovely thick sauce but at the same time will retain some of the chunks of fruit.

While the fruit is cooking prepare some jars by boiling them in a big pan to sterilise. Finally add some cubes of butter and stir through until it melts it will give a lovely shine to the mixture and a buttery taste. Fill up with the preserve while the jars are still warm put a circle of greasproof paper on the top and put the lid on tight. Leave to cool. Keep in the fridge as there is not loads of sugar to keep as long out of the fridge but it will last a month or so in the fridge. It was very lovely on toast and crumpets but also with museli and yogurt or even warmed up and poured over a nice vanilla icecream.

Courgette and Almond or Pistachio cake

Courgette and Almond or Pistachio cake

This cake has been a favourite of all my friends for a long time. It would be requested for birthdays on a regular basis. It is only recently that I have been experimenting with the recipe to make it successful as a gluten free treat.…