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!
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.
There are a quite a lot of recipes bouncing around at the moment for chocolate avocado mousse. All the taste but a vegetarian healthier option. And it’s gluten-free. Chocolate and avocado does sound like a slight odd mix, but after having an avocado shake in a Vietnamese restaurant in Shanghai (as one does), I was up for the challenge of using avocado in its non-traditional form. I found this recipe here. And the shake? Well it was pretty good.
- Flesh of 2 firm ripe avocado, chopped
- 125 gram dark chocolate broken into pieces (good quality high % cocoa) *for dairy free, ensure you use dairy-free chocolate
- 3 tablespoons runny honey
- 1/3 cup coconut cream
Melt chocolate in a double boiler: place chocolate in a glass bowl to melt over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl or else it will risk the chocolate burning or becoming grainy) and stir with a wooden spoon occasionally, until chocolate has melted.
Puree avocado, coconut cream, honey and melted chocolate together until smooth. Spoon into serving glasses and chill in fridge for 1 hour, or until ready to serve.
Serve garnished with chocolate shavings and berries as desired.
This is not the sexiest dessert to make. Melting chocolate and butter together is sexy. Avocado and coconut cream in a processor not so sexy! But this recipe is simple and easy to put together with a quick chill time. The ingredients only made enough for the 2 small glasses in the picture so you would need quite a quantity of avocado to make enough when having people round for dinner. So the verdict? It tastes like a chocolate pudding, is quite rich and it does work. If you (like me) choose your “once in a blue moon treat” dessert to be deliciously sinful then save yourself for the good stuff. But if you are looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth that does not come with a run round the block, then this is the way to go, plus the health benefits that come with the avocado and no dairy make this a very virtuous dessert. So you can have your pudding and eat it!
I have done a previous post on gluten-free almond flour muffins. This recipe is that teeny bit simpler and is based on 4 muffins (although I ended up with 6) – an easier number for self-restraint when opposed to 12 muffins! This recipe comes from elanaspantry.com.
- 1 cup almond flour (4 ounces)
- 2 large eggs (4 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
In a medium bowl combine almond flour and baking soda.
In a large bowl combine eggs, honey and vinegar.
Stir dry ingredients into wet until combined.
Scoop into a paper lined muffin pan (I used silicon moulds).
Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes until slightly browned around edges.
Cool in the pan for ½ hour.
Serve and enjoy.
Voila! Simple and quick, just what one needs mid-week. I make these when I know I have a busy day out of the office and am not sure when I am going to be able to grab a snack.
I was paging through an old issue of Woolworths Taste magazine (issue 94) when I came across a recipe for gluten-free honey cake. The description “to be made when you crave comfort and authentic sweetness” sent me to the kitchen almost immediately!
- 180 grams almond flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup runny honey
- Whipped honey and mascarpone for serving
Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
Combine the almond flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon in a bowl.
Mix the eggs, olive oil and honey in a mixer for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is creamy.
Add the almond flour mixture and mix well with a spatula.
Pour mixture into a greased 22 cm silicone cake mould.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out cleanish with a few sticky crumbs still attached.
Serve with whipped honey and mascarpone.
This cake was really scrummy and I admit I was eating it for breakfast (I thought eggs, nuts, honey… why not?) and mascarpone and honey are two of my favourite things together. The definition of whipped honey did cause me some confusion, and googling did not exactly bring clarity. Some sites use the term whipped and creamed honey interchangeably, some argue whipped is not the same as creamed and explain a process to make whipped honey using starter cultures or crystallised honey. So I just used creamed honey. Looks good, tastes good!
Kamers vol geskenke “SA’s pop up treasure trove of handcrafted creativity” was held over the Easter weekend at St. John’s College. Not only have I been attending Kamers for the past 3 years or so, and have now roped in my friend Futhi as my Kamers buddy, but I also attended Sixth Form at St. John’s, so a good excuse to meander around the school while attempting not to buy beautiful things which I want but don’t need… There is a point to this, that in the gluten-free world, it can be extremely difficult to attend such an event and be able to find something to eat… I sometimes avoid a music or food festival (especially if a whole day event) because I know I am not going to find something to eat and then I am hungry and miserable; and carrying around your rice cakes is not as exotic as buying open pizza or Turkish flatbread. Food envy can strike!
But back to Kamers. It was extremely cold and raining so we started at the most logical spot which was the coffee. At the previous Kamers in Pretoria I was able to eat some rather yummy brisket (minus the roll and the sauce). This time amongst the pizzas, wraps, cupcakes and deep fried calamari (and a slightly confused Banting stand) there was no brisket but there was Paella. As a child my family used to travel to Spain twice a year and I have eaten my fair share of this Spanish dish and am quite partial to it – the flavour of saffron is a favourite of mine. There should be no gluten in authentic paella – it is as gluten-free as it gets – unless some dodgy stock is used – but I would not expect that in this situation with what looks like a reputable set-up (but as with most things always ask!). The paella was piping hot and exactly what the Dr ordered as we sat looking out over the rugby fields as a rather cold wind blew. Happiness.
Despite the cold we found time for champagne (and once again we forget to return the glasses so we are stockpiling champagne glasses quite nicely at this rate).
Did I buy anything..? Well a few items of jewellery, a block mounted picture that appealed to my Protea obsession, and some random Oh my Deer cards because they are cool!
As an aside , when I have visited the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town there is always someone selling potato with salmon and a poached egg. Not the easiest to eat standing up but thrilling none the less. Sometimes it’s the small things that are the most memorable…
Visit kamersvol.com for information on the next event.
Now I love zucchini, I love the word zucchini, I make zucchini pasta, I roast it, I make zucchini “pizza” and I even make zucchini hummus (must share this recipe – it is amazing!)… And found in Danielle Walker’s “Against all Grain” is a recipe for gluten-free zucchini bread. Time to bake!
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- 1½ cups blanched almond flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 ripe banana
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf tin and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom –or make your life easier and use a silicon loaf tin.
Press the zucchini between 2 paper towels, squeezing lightly to release excess moisture.
Place the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
Place the eggs, honey and banana in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium for 1 minute, until frothy and fully combined. Add zucchini and beat again to incorporate, about 15 seconds.
With the mixer running, slowly add the dry ingredients until they are all incorporated.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan or a 12-cup muffin pan lined with paper cups and fill each cup ¾ full.
Bake the loaf for 40 minutes until the middle is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Bake the muffins for 30 to 35 minutes.
I ate this with a beautiful berry jam and it was very very tasty. However, not a bread that you would eat with eggs and bacon as is more sweet than savoury, and does not quite fit the romantic toast with melting butter vision that I have for my life. However, always good to start your day with some added greens!
So the quest for the gluten-free chocolate cupcake in Johannesburg has its first nomination. Whilst at Belle’s Patisserie in the Bluebird Centre for a work function, I discovered the “Skinny Menu” with gluten-free, sugar free and vegetarian options. So what’s gluten-free on the menu? Red Velvet Cupcake, Fran’s Cheesecake, Hemp Brownie and Paleo Poppie Loaf. In the interests of fair investigation I tried the cupcake (although they had chocolate not red velvet), the cheesecake and the brownie. Tough job but someone had to do it. Let’s be clear though, I did share. They also have savoury options (in fact, most of the menu is gluten-free) from crustless quiche to cauliflower wraps – see the full Skinny Menu here.
The cupcakes are made from coconut flour and are very moist… but I am I think still getting used to eating coconut flour. Or maybe the icing threw me off slightly – is sugar free and I think made from coconut cream which gives it a different taste and texture… rich but different. So I give this cupcake a 7/10. Is good but not decadent. You don’t feel like you have to run round the block after eating, which I suppose is the reason behind creating a Skinny Menu in the first place. But nice to know it’s there when you just feel the need to cheat but be skinny at the same time!
Belle’s Patisserie also has gluten-free Paleo bread which they serve for breakfast as part of their Skinny Menu. I tried this with some of the snacks they had provided for our event and was very very moreish!
So moreish in fact I bought a loaf. Unfortunately I cannot eat large quantities of this as the nut butter can get to me (main ingredients almond nut butter and egg yolks; also made with almond milk, coconut flour, honey, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds). But if you do not have issues with eggs or nut butters then this is the bread for you! You need to phone ahead and order if you want to buy a loaf as is very popular.
Visit Belle’s Patisserie website http://www.bellespatisserie.co.za or find them at Shop 16, Blubird Shopping Centre, Corner Athol Oaklands Road, Birnam, Johannesburg
A few restaurants around Johannesburg are starting to offer gluten-free pasta on their menu, but with that does not generally come the understanding that the pasta sauce also needs to be gluten-free, or the ability to actually list the ingredients of said gluten-free pasta. For these reasons I generally give it a skip unless I feel my myriad of questions has been satisfyingly and confidently answered.
However, this weekend whilst out for lunch at Full Stop Cafe, an old favourite haunt that I had not been to for a while, I discovered on the menu gluten-free zucchini spaghetti (gasp of amazement please).
What an unexpected discovery.I was thrilled, thrilled I tell you! I ordered the bolognaise which was gluten-free (and I can confirm there were no repercussions the next day).
So refreshing to be able to order a meal in a restaurant like a normal human being, and it tasted great as well. Although I did not specifically enquire about other sauces, safe options look like arrabiata, bosso nova (roasted vegetables with pesto), prawns in napolitana sauce and maybe the salsicce (but this includes chicken, Italian sausage and creamy napolitana sauce so may necessitate a lot of questions… maybe too many).
I am sure the zucchini spaghetti is being offered as Banting meal option or as homage to Tim Noakes’ Real Meal Revolution. Either way I am not fussed. If it makes my life easier and more delicious then I am in! Life would be very exciting if one could just buy the zucchini spaghetti… now there’s a thought.
Visit Full Stop Cafe at 50 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg, 2193.
Side note: do not go to 4th Avenue Parkhust, they have moved!!!
I recently read a great piece of advice when it came to New Year’s Resolutions – don’t find motivation, find inspiration. I spent the holidays in Australia, a proverbial mecca for the coeliac not used to restaurants having gluten-free menus or coeliac society endorsed foods. So I returned dragging rather a large amount of books with me – books to learn from, to bake from and to find inspiration from.
Added to the gluten-free pile were two books by Eric Lanlard – Couture Cupcakes (what a fabulous title) and Totally Chocolate – the idea being to combine some rather opulent ideas with gluten-free recipes and get the best of both worlds.
And my goal for the year – master the art of the macaron. Secrets of Macarons by French chef José Maréchal is quite, shall we say, thorough, taking one step by step through the art of making this “dainty indulgence” covering the classics through to some rather exciting options such as salted butter caramel, macarons de nancy and amaretti. And do not be confused by the macaron versus the macaroon. In many instances people seem to use the words interchangeably, but as popsugar.com so helpfully explains: “a macaron specifically refers to a meringue-based biscuit (cookie) made with almond flour, egg whites, and granulated and powdered sugar, then filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd. In contrast, the word macaroon is a generic phrase…mostly, the term is equated with the moist and dense coconut macaroon, which is composed of egg whites, sugar, and dried coconut, often piped with a star-shaped tip, and sometimes dipped in chocolate”. Good to know.
So as we ease into 2015 I shall start to make my way through this fabulous mountain of gluten-free recipes. Stay tuned :).