So the saying time flies really seems to apply here – I see my last blog post was December 20th! I came back from Christmas in Australia dragging kilograms of books and magazines with me (and of course some food), full of enthusiasm for where I had been, the best brunch I have ever eaten and all the fab things I was going to bake. And that all seemed to grind to a fatigue driven, joint aching autoimmune halt. Fast forward to July, I am still waiting to see a rheumatologist (appointment end August – note to self I should have been a rheumatologist as they are very scarce and apparently very popular) and it does seem like a second autoimmune disease has appeared. But despite the joint issues that I definitely do have, I am feeling better. I have gone back to pilates and gym, my flight to London is booked 24 September, my flight to Australia is booked 23 December, and the time has come to begin 2016 for gluten free and vanilla. Better late than never!
So as inspiration to get started I am posting some of my favourite pics from my Instagram.
Coffee in the creative setting of The Kitchen at Weylandts in Kramerville – I think I would like to live here.
I am always up for champagne – this time at Kamers 2016 (I did not even do a blog post on this, maybe I still will).
The weekend project: gluten-free chocolate soufflé cupcakes. Always add blueberries.
The eggspresso from Motherland for Easter – do not be scared by the shot of Espresso – the melting chocolate inside more than makes up for this initial jolt to the system.
Best brunch ever at Pixel Coffee in Perth, blog post must be done. The plate alone is worthy of adoration.
And the beaches of Western Australia – my other home away from home.
So…coffee, champagne, chocolate, best brunches and blue skies – this should be enough butt kicking inspiration to get started…
One of my friends had a Christmas lunch this week (the benefits of having a public holiday the week before Christmas) and my contribution was gluten-free chocolate almond torte. I am not sure why I have never posted this torte, as this is my go to recipe. If I am asked to bring a dessert and I want wow factor then this is it! This is probably the first gluten-free torte/cake that I made and I have absolutely no idea where I saw the original recipe. I apologise to whoever you are, but I thank you!
- 200 grams butter
- 180 grams dark chocolate
- 4 eggs separated
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 2 cups almond flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sifted)
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
- ½ cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 22cm round spring form cake tin.
Place instant coffee and water in a jug and stir to dissolve.
Melt butter, chocolate, cocoa power and coffee in a saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until melted abut 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.
Beat eggs yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until thick (about 5 minutes).
Beat eggs whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Add chocolate mixture and almond flour to the egg yolk mixture and stir to combine.
Using a metal spoon, gently fold in half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Add the rest of the egg whites.
Pour into prepared tin. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool completely in pan. Dust with extra cocoa powder.
I always serve with berries but some cream would not go amiss here either.
The centre of this has a delightfully rich, fudgy texture. I have been known to add a chocolate glaze, but only serve that to committed chocolate lovers as is possibly a little over the top. People do not realise that this is a gluten-free recipe, and it goes down extremely well and rather quickly! It did beat out the Pavlova and homemade ice cream as favourite dessert at lunch… not that I am competitive at all when it comes to baking of course!
I am keeping busy with my macaroon obsession while I await the arrival of “The Macaroon Bible”. Yes such a book exists, and is arriving 17th December…just before I fly to Australia! Might be a 2016 read then. I have made glace cherries, cranberry and almond, salted caramel and apple macaroons– all of which are really just a variation of a basic macaroon recipe. However, I think I should share this rather wonderful salted caramel sauce. This recipe is taken from the book “For the Love of Baking” by Sarah Dall.
- 100 ml golden syrup
- 75 grams butter
- 75 grams Demerara sugar
- 75 grams castor sugar
- 125 ml double thick cream
- 15 ml Maldon salt
Heat the syrup, butter and sugars in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and salt. Return to the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour into sterilised jars and set aside to cool and thicken.
So this is a great simple recipe, with no faffing around with thermometers and the like. There is something very satisfying watching butter and syrup melt, comporting and exciting at the same time. Do not panic about the amount of sugar used – this recipe makes 350 ml of sauce and the caramel will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months (so the author says, the sauce has not lasted long enough for me to test that theory yet).
In terms of the book, there are not that many gluten-free baking recipes, but there are other desserts such as Pavlova, Panna Cotta and some interesting ideas such as salted caramel popcorn. There are, though, some great sauce and essential recipes – passionfruit curd, butterscotch sauce, coulis and a great section of “sweet smotherings” – the book is a great buy for these “smotherings” alone! Chocolate ganache anyone?
I keep the nom nom chocolate bakes for the weekend/special events (everything in moderation!), and finding something that I can nibble on during the week seems to have fueled a continuing interest in macaroons. They are simple to make, let’s admit it baking a macaroon is very untaxing, and moreish to eat. And my book of the moment “Flourless”* has given me a new recipe, gluten-free coconut lemon macaroons.
- 2 egg whites
- Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons/130 grams honey
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2½ cups/180 grams shredded, unsweetened coconut
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 150 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites for about 30 seconds to lighten them up a bit. Whisk in the lemon zest, honey, and vanilla. Add the shredded coconut and stir well to combine.
Scoop out 1 tablespoon portions of the coconut mixture. Using your hands, squeeze to compress the mixture and roll each into a small ball. Place them onto the prepared baking sheet about 2.5 cm apart.
Bake until the bottom and edges are just starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet. When fully cooled, peel the cookies from the paper before serving.
I melted some dark chocolate in a double boiler and dipped the bottom of each macaroon just to add a little something extra. The key to making these is the squeezing of the mixture. Don’t be shy, as this really helps the macaroons stay together. I have as of yet been unable to find shredded coconut, so I have just used the least fine desiccated coconut so that it still has some texture.
So of course I like these, and the addition of the lemon zest does give quite a fresh taste and little hit of the unexpected. But I must confess, Siba’s macaroons (see previous post) are winning the macaroon race at the moment!
*(“Flourless” by Nicole Spiridakis, a book of 75 recipes all naturally gluten-free).
Oh dear! It seems that I have already been distracted from the Great South African Bake Off. Maybe it was the episode on bread… but never fear I am still mentally preparing to take on the macaron challenge. But for now, the new series of Siba’s Table has caught my eye, and we move from the macaron to the macaroon. I was inspired by these delightfully pretty (and simple) gluten-free coconut macaroons with jam as seen in episode 1. You can find the original recipe here.
- 2 large free-range egg whites
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- ⅓ cup/80 ml ground almonds
- Guava jam (or jam of your choice if guava is not your thing)
- Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Whisk the egg whites in a mixer using the whisk attachment until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and salt. Continue whisking until soft peaks form, then add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thick and glossy. Fold in the coconut and then the ground almonds.
Scoop a heaped spoonful of the mixture and gently shape in your hands into balls (being careful not to squeeze out the air that was incorporated by whisking) then make a small indent in the centre with your forefinger. (In her programme, Siba dips her hands in water before rolling the mixture as the water helps it not to stick to your hands).
Place on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and place on a wire rack. If some macaroons are cracked after baking, just push the sides up while still warm to create a more pronounced indentation and shape. Spoon the preserve filling into the macaroons and lightly dust with icing sugar just before serving.
As mentioned these are pretty easy to put together; the jam is a delightfully sweet addition, and makes them look pretty fabulous as well. I have made these twice in the last week, and although mine are not as perfectly shaped as in the TV programme (sometimes I lack a little patience in certain areas) I am sure they taste just as good!
(And I must say thank you for the Le Creuset preserve jar that some very kind Burgers gave me for my birthday – it fits right in).
I have to admit that I am not 100% sure where I found this recipe. I am a habitual recipe scribbler when I come across something that I like, and these gluten-free coconut macaroons fall into that category. The chocolate decoration should probably be a little less Jackson Pollock esque, but hey, whatever you feel like in the moment will work especially when it comes to chocolate!
- 6 cups shredded coconut flakes
- 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips*
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla until well combined (this takes some work but keep going until it is completely mixed together).
Use a spoon to scoop out the mixture and form small rounds. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 18 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the macaroons are crisp.
Allow macaroons to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Melt the chocolate chips and oil together in a double boiler. Drizzle over the cooled macaroons.
*Usually I use “safe” dark chocolate that I chop into small pieces, but for convenience I used Staffords choc chips as they are marked gluten-free.
I think I am about to begin a quest for the best gluten-free torte, inspired by The Great British Bake Off. For unknown reasons DSTV is showing series 3 and the masterclass of series 5 at the same time… oh well one can never have too much of Paul Hollywood! Series 3 episode 5 had a challenge on tortes and I thought aha! My interest was peaked by the med student James Morton who made a gluten-free chocolate and passion fruit torte. Trying to find this recipe was a slightly arduous task, and I ended up buying Morton’s book “How Baking Works”on google books as this was the only way to get my hands on it ( but I did not buy his first book “Brilliant Bread” for obvious reasons). This is actually a great book as he explains in detail what to do and why. Before I even got to the chocolate and passion fruit there was a basic gluten-free torte recipe which seemed to be a good place to start. Hence begins the quest for the gluten-free torte!
- 3 medium eggs
- 140 grams castor sugar
- 180 grams ground almonds (or any ground nuts of your choice)
- Pinch of salt
- Flaked nuts
- 250 ml cream and mixed berrries for decorating
Line the bottom of a 23 cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. Grease the sides heavily with butter.
(Greasing and lining is important as tortes can easily stick).
Separate the eggs.
Whisk the eggs whites until stiff. Then add two tablespoons of sugar and whisk for another few minutes until glossy and smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining sugar until at least doubled in size and significanly lighter in colour (add the sugar gradually and not all at once).
Add the almonds and salt to the egg yolks and fold together slowly. Make sure the mixture is combined completely.
Add about a third of the whites to the yolk mixture and mix to combine. Then add the rest and fold them in very gently with a metal spoon. Transfer to your lined tin and scatter with flaked or whole nuts.
Preheat overn to 170 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. Bake until a light golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
I added whipped cream, some mixed berries and grated white chocolate just to give some oomph. The edges take on a rather delicious almost meringue texture, and I must say despite the lack of my essential dark chocolate I would definitely make this again. It looks extremely pretty and reminds me of a British Summer – anyone for Pimms?
And for the record what exactly is a torte? There are various definitions all roughly covering the same points – a rich cake, especially one containing little or no flour, usually made with eggs and ground nuts or bread crumbs. It is not automatically gluten-free, so never presume in a restaurant, and always ask!
There was a post on Facebook recently regarding scientist Hoon Sunwoo who has researched a supplement for coeliac disease, which could be a gluten-free magic pill . This supplement “sticks to the problematic components of gluten that stir inappropriate reactions in the guts of coeliacs thus reducing the damage that would normally ensure”. The pill would be taken 5 minutes before eating. This is not to be viewed as a treatment or cure for coeliac disease but rather to just make life a little easier sometimes. Next is an efficiency trial so if this actually works it would be available in a few years (overseas I hasten to add). Read the full article here.
But this has really caused me some food for thought. If I could take this pill and eat a meal of my choice what would it be? I have (more when I was younger I admit) tried a nibble here and there of most things. But there is so much that I have never tasted – I have never tried a bagel or churros (churros always looks good being dipped into chocolate sauce), a prego roll, a profiterole, a deep fried something something, baguette, pasta… the list goes on.
I have narrowed it down to two options:
1. To really experience what it tastes like to eat bread, and with that I find myself at a grilled cheese sandwich. A recent post on Eat Out about “The Grilled Cheese Club” (a service in Cape Town that delivers grilled cheese sandwiches) made me realise that I would have to go to Bacon on Bree (a Baconporium, say no more) and order “The Harvey Specter” (ciabatta, bacon, brie, tomato and pesto). This sandwich indeed sounds worthy. Check out the menu here . Alternatively I have often sat at brunch with my bacon and eggs and stared rather longingly at my friends’ Croque Monsieur. Originating in France, this is a toasted cheese and ham sandwich originally topped with béchamel and traditionally made with Gruyere cheese. This sounds as good as it looks. And yes I could try and make my own versions of these, but the point is I want real bread and I want to be able to sit down, order and have someone else make it for me.
2. Pasta. I think pasta is a wonderful invention, and I can buy gluten-free pasta and cook it at home with a sauce I have made, but it’s not quite the same thing as having fresh pasta in an authentic Italian restaurant. And to do this I will need to fly to Italy and have a little Pesto Alla Genovese. The pesto world championships are held in Genoa and this dish originates there, so I will begin in this port city in Northern Italy, and then make my way to Rome for some Fettucine Alfredo and Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.
So if this ever became a reality, I think ultimately budget would dictate which option will triumph!
Fresh Earth is one of the best places to spend some time milling around on a Saturday. They have a range of local and imported gluten-free products, plus they produce their own gluten-free bread, cakes and biscuits in their gluten-free bakery. They also have a restaurant with a gluten-free and vegetarian menu. And Fresh Earth is one of the few places I trust to produce 100% gluten-free. This gluten-free hazelnut cake is one of their recipes – find the original here.
- 35 grams cacao powder
- 80ml hot water
- 150 grams dark eating chocolate, melted
- 150 grams butter, melted
- 295 grams brown sugar, firmly packed
- 100 grams hazelnuts, finely ground
- 4 organic eggs, separated
- 25 grams cacao powder, extra
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Grease a deep 20cm round cake tine and line with baking paper.
Blend cacao powder with water in a large bowl until smooth.
Stir in melted chocolate, butter, sugar, egg yolks.
Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until at soft peak stage.
Fold into chocolate mixture in two batches.
Pour mixture into cake tin and bake for one hour.
Dust with extra cacao powder. Serve with cream or ice cream and fresh gooseberries, or use what fruit takes your fancy!
Visit Fresh Earth at 103 Komatie Road, Emmarentia, JHB.
Zucchini, courgette, baby marrow… whichever name you choose I love this little green vegetable. Zucchini comes from the Italian word zucchino, while courgette is the French term. Growing up in the UK the term I recall was baby marrow but they all refer to the same green summer squash. But to the recipe. Now I love hummus, but sometimes I am not able to tolerate legumes, and so I was rather thrilled to find this recipe for Roasted Courgette Hummus. Naturally gluten-free of course.
- 500 grams courgettes, cut into chunks
- Oil for roasting
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Toss the courgette in a light coating of oil. Season. Roast until golden brown and soft.
Placed courgette in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.
Puree until smooth.
Leave to infuse for an hour.
I served this with gluten-free Life Bake Seed Crackers and yes I confess, a small sprinkling of parmesan because it just takes it to another level. I have made this without the tahini and less olive oil and it still tastes great.
This recipe is taken from the Real Meal Revolution, the book made famous Prof by Tim Noakes. I do not follow his diet, nor do I believe there is one diet that fits all. That said I do love a couple of the book’s recipes (noticeably those minus the liberal use of cream and butter). I can tolerate cream and butter in a dessert as a treat, but not in a weeknight’s dinner! As a coeliac also born with lactose intolerance dairy consumption is something I have to manage very carefully, and if I unfortunately do eat some hidden gluten then lactose intolerance kicks in. So no I am not making courgette and garlic gratin with 250ml of cream and 100 grams of butter, but the courgette hummus yes I’ll take that! The origins of hummus seems to be a little murky, the chickpea originating somewhere between the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It is an Arabic word and so it does seem fitting that the best hummus I have ever ever eaten was in Dubai (it was life changing it was that good). But for now until I can return to the Middle East, I will go with this courgette hummus.