Ginger muffins (gluten free)

Remember DD’s 10th birthday cake experiment? Well, that recipe has been my go-to base for all other cake recipes now. I think it’s because the proportions are so easy to remember and the results are always good. Why mess with success, right?

The other week, I threw in a tablespoon of Nutella and some milk chocolate chips. Gorgeous and gooey, perfect with coffee!

Today, I looked at the jar of chopped crystallised ginger in syrup and thought, Why not? So I chucked in 3 tablespoons to the basic recipe and the results were as hoped – delicious and gone quickly. The batter made 18 muffins, and they took about 13 minutes to turn this colour. When I say muffin, I’m talking European-sized, not American super-sized! 😀

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My next experiments are going to involve quick-cook polenta and citrus – I sense an almondy-orangey cake in my future.

If you have a recipe I could play with or tweak, do share! 

Cake! (GF)

So DD turned ten a few weeks ago. Her requests were minimal. She wanted a simple cake. A Victoria sponge tea-cake, or something close to it. Now, ordinarily, this would have been an easy request to fulfil. We abound in sponges and Madeira cakes here in the UK. But a good gluten free one to suit my coeliac (yet gourmand) self? No, sirree. Challenge presented. Challenge accepted. 

I set to experimenting. I tried a variety of flours. Then sugars. Then fats. I came close. Close enough to accept that maybe, just maybe, it was impossible to get a good gluten-free sponge/Madeira look-alike, taste-alike. So, armed with my best scribblings, I set to baking DD’s cake the night before her birthday. Our tradition is to eat cake for breakfast, like the decadent gourmands we are (just stick me in Versailles and call me Marie Antoinette).

Setting out my ingredients, I was still mulling over my options. I looked up and Husband caught sight of my face.

“Oh, no! You’ve got that look. The I-have-an-idea look. Don’t do it! Stick to the plan. You love a plan,” he pleaded. He has a sweet tooth and he was looking forward to birthday cake! He didn’t want my tinkering messing up his chances of cake for breakfast.

But I went with my inspiration and boy, oh boy, wasn’t this the ‘Best Birthday Cake Ever!‘, according to DD? She ate half of it in one sitting! I only told her, and the neighbour upstairs, that it was gluten-free after they had polished off their shares. They couldn’t believe it. So here’s the recipe for my gluten-free Madeira cake. When I reference cups, I use a Nutella (200g) jar.

I dare you to bake this and surprise your taste buds.

MAIN INGREDIENTS

sandkage

  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 cup / 125g butter, cubed (packed loosely)
  • 1 cup / 225g granulated sugar, plus a little extra
  • 1 cup / 150g self-raising gluten free flour (I used Dove’s Farm blend)
  • 2/3 cup / 75g ground almonds

FILLING AND DECORATION

  • Cream cheese
  • Strawberry jam
  • Icing sugar / powder sugar

METHOD

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180C / 360F
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Add in a little flour, then one egg, then more flour, then another egg until you have mixed all the flour and eggs. Don’t over beat!
  • Add in the ground almonds
  • I used 6″ / 15cm baking trays, about 1″ high and filled 3 of them two-thirds of the way full.
  • Gently smooth the batter with the spatula, as you are going to layer them and need them as flat as possible.
  • Bake the cakes for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be golden brown when ready, and a toothpick test should come out clean.
  • Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool down before you do the filling.

FINISHING TOUCHES

I placed one layer top down on a plate, and spread my mix of cream cheese mixed with a bit of icing sugar (DD can’t stand buttercream frosting) over the base. On the other face down cake, I spread strawberry jam, and then I carefully placed that layer on top of the cream cheese layer. And there you have it, folks – the classic Victoria sandwich. Dust lightly with icing sugar and you’re ready to serve!

Past (successful) gluten-free experiments have included Nutty Date Cake, Oatmeal Snickerdoodle Muffins and Chocolate Torte.

Oatmeal Snickerdoodle Muffins (GF)

Yeah, you read that right. I’ve created a hybrid snickerdoodle-muffin which DD says tastes just like a donut. Score! Best of all, it’s gluten-free. Go me! This can also make a loaf.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF Rolled Oats) soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup GF plain flour (you might need a little more, up to 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

METHOD

#muffins #loaf #snickerdoodle

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare your muffin or loaf tin.

Drain the oats after soaking them for about 10 minutes.

Blitz/mix everything together and pour batter into muffin liners or a loaf tin. If the mix looks runny, add more flour.

Bake on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes.

If you really want to emphasise the snickerdoodle effect, brush the top of the muffins/loaf with melted butter while they are still warm, and then shake over granulated sugar and cinnamon.

What are your favourite cookies? Have you got a recipe you’d like me to adapt?

Figs grilled with cinnamon & honey

#figs #summer

I had the last few summer figs kicking around, looking delicious and taunting me with their exquisiteness. So I chopped them into quarters, drizzled them with honey, dusted them with cinnamon, and grilled the juice right out of them.

If you want somewhat specific instructions, here you go.

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Cut the tops off the figs, then cut them into quarter wedges.
#figs #honey #cinnamon #grilled

Lightly grease a baking tray with mild olive oil or butter, and pop the figs on there. Drizzle with honey. Dust with cinnamon. Add a couple of spoons of water to the tray (to mix with the honey & fig juices). Slide the tray into the middle of the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until they are sticky and soft. Remove and COOL. Listen to me on this, hot figs be BURNY hot.

Once they are cooler than burny hot, eat with a scoop of mascarpone, Greek yoghurt or icecream. Drizzle the juices from the pan over each serving. If you’re feeling super fancy, you can top this with some pistachios or pine nuts.

#figs #grilled #honey #cinnamon #compote

Do you like figs? Do you ❤ figs? How do you eat them?

These figs have topped some chia seed pudding for my breakfast today. The fig-honey juices have added just enough sweetness.

I need a vitamin boost!

We’re back from our hols! It was so good to discover a new part of France, and really feel like we had found our ‘place’ (we’ve been tossing around the idea of a French holiday and/or retirement home for years). It had the hills and trees to keep Husband happy. It had the beach for me & DD. It had really interesting (covetable) architecture.

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Future holiday chateau?

The Basque country in France has the best blend of Spanish/Basque (my favourite) and French (husband’s favourite) – even on the road signs!

Bilingual sign in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Wikipedia)

Bilingual sign in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Wikipedia)

The weather was glorious, sometimes a little too hot, even in the shade, but that’s what the sprinkler park was created for, right?

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DD got to practice her French at the epicerie every day, endearing her greatly to the shopkeeper. We discovered some amazing cuisine – and even a gluten-free cake!

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There will be a recipe for gateau Basque later this week!

We got to start a new sea-glass collection, walking and chatting, jumping in and out of waves. I got hooked on adult colouring. We got to unwind and disconnect and just hang. 

Sadly, my body misunderstood the memo, and I’m now battling the start of a cold…time for a Vit C mocktail boost, a catch-up of all my recorded TV shows and a scroll through the WordPress Reader. Hallelujah for the bank holiday weekend and no work tomorrow.

Cran-Mon-Ava Mocktails

#cranberry #guava #lemon #lemonade #mocktail #cocktail

A cooling cocktail bursting with Vitamin C!

Ingredients

  • 500ml ready lemonade or lemon fizz (I used Juicy Water Lemons & Limes)
  • 300ml guava juice (I used a small carton of Rubicon Guava)
  • 200ml cranberry juice (or a splash of Biona Superjuice and water)
  • Splash of lemon

Mix all the ingredients real nice, serve over ice. Add vodka for a grown-up version.

Serves 4-5 (or 2, if you’re really hot and greedy).

If you enjoy the look of this, check out my Guava-Coco mocktail which features coconut water and a splash of lime. 

Guava-Coco Mocktails

It’s been a funny old mix of hot, then cool, then humid, in London-town. Definitely an odd start to the school summer holidays. We’re finally done with the merry-go-round that characterises the last weeks of summer term and I’m exhausted! The highlight of this week was surprising DD at her school’s awards ceremony yesterday; she had no inkling she was up for one. Her bestie also got one, so Breton Bestie and I were on camera and camcorder duty – #ProudMumsAreUs 😀

To celebrate her achievement, I created a delicious mocktail, based on one we both enjoyed at a dim sum restaurant recently. I was quite pleased with my efforts!

#mocktail #guava #coconut #coconutwater #exoticIngredients for 2 mocktails:

~1 cup / 250ml guava juice
~1 cup / 250ml coconut water
~A few leaves of basil, preferably Thai sweet basil
~A few leaves of mint
~A dash of lime juice

I don’t have a fancy shaker, so I just used a clean passata jar. I roughly tore the basil and mint leaves, poured in guava juice, then coconut water, added a dash of lime juice, and shook, shook, shook!

They were very delicious and more-ish….I think a hint of lemongrass, if you have it, would also work well. And I’m guessing a splash of vodka would also go down a treat, if you so fancy. Perhaps I ought to do some test runs, dear reader?

Sunday Funday

It’s been a quiet old Sunday. I spent a good chunk of today reading The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. I loved it. I loved the fallibility of all the characters, the back and forth, the tough choices, the different sides – so many stories, so many forks in the road to end up where they did. I needed a break from all the heavy stuff I’ve been reading recently, and this was perfect. Like a tall glass of sweet tea on a sticky, humid day.

Speaking of sticky and humid, I’m starting to worry about the holiday next month. Although the Breton Bestie has convinced me that there will be sea breezes, I am not convinced. One afternoon in London sunshine is enough to give me a raging case of heat rash; ten days in proper French sunshine? Lobster-red with tiny bumps of angry skin. Sod the Vitamin D, I will be SPF 50’d the whole way and spritzing myself in Evian.

bread-399286_1280The other worry – it’ll be my first trip to France since the coeliac death knell on all glutinous goods. What am I going to eat? Half the joy in going to France is all the bread and patisserie! It’s going to be odd eating cheese, meat and cornichons with no bread. No brioche or croissants for breakfast. No patisserie AT ALL. Never mind the supercilious looks I am going to get when I try to say, “Je suis allergique au blé”. Thank heavens for macarons. I can still eat those!

Which brings us round to to ‘beach body ready’ question. There seems to be a resurgence of the original posts from a couple of months ago, totally slamming the whole concept of the beach body premise. I have to admit, I am entertained. Mostly because in Europe as a whole, the concept of the ‘beach body’ is a whole lot more open to interpretation. I’ve seen old Sardinian men playing chess in the piazza in budgie smugglers (that’s banana hammocks to some folk), no worry about the sagging or hirsuteness. I’ve seen their wives in bikinis on the beach, their bodies testament to the many children they’ve borne and raised. Their main concern is if there’s enough to ‘mangia’ all day, and that the bambini are out of the worst of the sun. That’s not to say there aren’t stunning specimens in skimpy beachwear on European beaches, it’s just that on the whole, they appear to be in the minority and everyone just gets on with the sun-worshipping. 

Given what I said earlier about heat rash, I am clearly NOT going to be sun-worshipping. I will, however, be hanging out on the beach in the cooler hours, or going down the waterslides with my daughter (that’s a lie, but we’re going to pretend it’s a possibility). And for this, I will need to clad myself in something appropriate – enter all the amazing retro swimsuits I have been admiring, for women with curves. I’m going to pick some lovely jewel tones, channel Dior, slap on some large sunnies, and enjoy my vacay. My life is too darn short and bread-free to worry about what someone I might more than likely never see again thinks about the size of my derrière.

How has your weekend been? Read any good books lately? What do I need to have on my Kindle?

Caffeine-free Coffee Share #3

I spent yesterday juicing, grating & freezing the glut of veggies in my fridge. So today, I am drinking one of these:#cucumber #gingerbeer #ginger #mocktail #detox

Anthropologie EU posted a more elegant recipe for a veggie cocktail of delicious proportions. However, if you’re craving the caffeine, pop into the kitchen, grab yourself a mug and a delicious slice of this gluten-free chocolate goodness, and let me tell you about some thoughts running through my head this week.

Did you know that fashion & textiles account for 10% of the world’s global carbon impact and occupy more than  5% of landfill waste? The industry also uses 3 trillion gallons of freshwater, accounting for 20% of freshwater pollution. Read more about this via Marci Zaroff’s post on Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen. I’m seeing this as an opportunity to do some more vintage/charity shopping and maybe even take a sewing class to improve my basic skills. My 9yo has already volunteered herself as a mannequin.

After the whole beach body uproar in the UK, and the booking of our summer holiday, I’ve been wondering where I fall on the beach body scale. Honestly, I’m not fussed about my weight; as long as anything on display isn’t wobbling TOO much, I’m good to go. Anastasia Amour’s blog is a great source of positive inspiration. Read her post You are not a work in progress.

I’ve been debating a blog refresh recently. I’ve been checking out other blogs and Finnoula at My Kitchen Notebook gave me some serious blog envy. I want to LIVE in her blog, it’s so pretty. I get the same feeling looking at her blog as I do when walking into the Anthropologie store on King’s Road. Blisssssssssss.

Also still being debated by the Petal & Mortar board: Bloglovin’, Hiive, Instagram, Crowdfire….and darn it, a Facebook page. What are your thoughts on these platforms?

So, what are you up to? What have I missed thanks to the scatty WP reader? Catch me up!