Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing distils the very essence of summer baking.

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish

It boasts a wonderfully light sponge with a tender crumb thanks to the combination of rice and oat flour which not only makes this bad boy gluten-free but also lends it a toasted, coming to the end of high summer, campfire in the evenings vibe. It is iced with a creamy lemon mascarpone with only a mere whisper of sugar, but plenty of zesty citrus as a perfect compliment to the delicate courgette flavour. A perfect treat for our heady August days when cake might otherwise seem too indulgent.

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish

This cake was inspired by the bountiful mountain of courgette at the farmer’s market last week, all shapes and sizes in varying shades of green. I have been fancying a courgette cake for a few weeks now and just like that it all fell into place.

These days courgette nests proudly in my vegetable drawer. At one time considered a boring watery addition to Sunday roasts, it dragged everything down with its mopey presence. Then I started using it raw in salads, roasted in garlicky olive oil and finally as courgetti. Now courgette is celebrated and embraced in our family, an absolute must in our weekly shop but it’s at its very best right now. Like any vegetable you have to know how to get the best out of it and boiling it to oblivion is never the answer. In my house, cake is the more obvious solution.

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish

And this courgette oatmeal cake with lemon mascarpone icing is my new favourite family friendly bake. It’s a complete stunner and despite making and eating it more times this week than is really acceptable for someone who is on a never ending mission to lose her baby weight, I haven’t come to resent it once. That is because the batter comes together in moments, baking up a dream so it is ready, iced and on your fork before you can change your mind about having an afternoon slice of cake.

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish

The sponge is so light thanks to the power partnership of rice and oat flour. If you can’t find oat flour then by all means whizz up some oats very finely in your food processor, the results will be the same and oat flour can be quite pricey. Rice flour though is more accessible these days and is an absolute must in my larder, not just for gluten-free baking. I intend to post a lot more using rice flour since I am having a little love affair with it at the moment but having just had this particular delicacy for lunch here is one of my favourite uses for it.

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish

The courgette cake is then carefully spiced with a touch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, not too much to overpower but just to add soft flavour.

The icing feels like a bit of a cheat as it is just so easy and unlike most icings you don’t even need a mixer, just whipping together with a wooden spoon is enough. It barely uses any sugar, a tip I garnered from my neighbour after being bowled over by how creamy and cheesy her cream cheese icing was. She confessed that she had only used a smattering of sugar to make it more child friendly. However I found without the addition of butter and hardly any sugar, the icing then becomes all about the texture and flavour rather than a sickly counterpoint.

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish

This idea works so well with this mascarpone icing to which I’ve only grated in the zest of 1 lemon and added 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and then a couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt to help with the consistency and add tang. It’s so delicious that you can happily eat with a spoon all day long. Actually I don’t know if that makes this icing more dangerous but I do know that it is simply dreamy with the courgette oatmeal cake.

This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish
Print Recipe
Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing
This cake makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish. Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Carrot Spice Cake in Flavor Flours
This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
16 slices
Ingredients
  • 400 g light muscovado sugar
  • 300 ml light olive oil or other flavourless oil
  • 4 eggs about 200g
  • 240 g rice flour
  • 80 g oatflour or oats finely ground to a powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 340 g grated courgettes (about 4) squeezed to remove excess moisture
For the Icing
  • 500 g mascarpone
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 lemon grated zest
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
16 slices
Ingredients
  • 400 g light muscovado sugar
  • 300 ml light olive oil or other flavourless oil
  • 4 eggs about 200g
  • 240 g rice flour
  • 80 g oatflour or oats finely ground to a powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 340 g grated courgettes (about 4) squeezed to remove excess moisture
For the Icing
  • 500 g mascarpone
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 lemon grated zest
This Gluten-Free Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line a grease a 13x9x4 inch baking tin.
  2. In a large bowl (or stand mixer) beat together the sugar, olive oil and eggs until smooth and thick.
  3. Add all the other ingredients in, except for the courgette, and beat until everything is fully mixed together.
  4. Finally stir in the courgette until evenly dispersed and pour into the prepared baking tin.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes and covering with foil if the cake seems to be browning too much.
  6. When ready, leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes to settle before turning out onto a wire rack and leaving to cool completely before icing.
  7. To make the icing beat the mascarpone together with the yoghurt, icing sugar and lemon zest until light and smooth and spread onto the top of the cooled courgette cake with a palette knife.

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

These Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies will become an absolute staple in your kitchen. They take no longer than 15 minutes from the second you enter the kitchen to your first cheeky nibble on a warm salty and chocolate molten cookie straight out of the oven. It’s quicker than a stroll to Tesco and better than any gluten-free cookies you can buy there or anywhere.

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

Cashew Butter for Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

The secret ingredient is cashew butter which replaces the flour and butter you would use in a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe without compromising taste or texture. The cookies have a soft chew and a lovely undercurrent of sweet cashew which isn’t overpowering in the slightest.

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

All manner of nut butters are ubiquitous in the supermarkets these days but if you want a homemade affair that is cheaper, silky smooth and the easiest ingredient you will ever make for your larder then visit my recipe here. It is still a surprise to people when I explain how easy it is to make nut butters – the only ingredients are nuts. No actual butter. So this makes it okay when you laden your toast in half a block of salty butter before slathering on an obscene amount of cashew butter.

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

Salt is always the name of the game in my baking arena and here I require fleur de sel, crunchy little crystals of salt hand-harvested in Brittany. Of course you can use normal sea salt but then do reduce the quantity a little as fleur de sel is particularly gentle.

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

These cookies have become a godsend of late. I have been darting around the country visiting family, going on hen weekends, baking for my cake stall in this interminable heatwave and holding my patience with a baby who has just realised he is a tantrum throwing toddler and is making the most of his new identity.

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

A cookie, a cup of tea and a sit down has been the only thing I have craved these past few weeks. Oh, and more sleep but that goes without saying for any mother. Plus with all the frenetic cake stall baking I want to relax the pace with a laid back cookie that only requires a mixing bowl, wooden spoon and no more than seven minutes in the oven. So easy and so perfect.

Print Recipe
Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies
Adapted from http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/flourless-white-chocolate-chip-macadamia-cookies/
Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies
Servings
15 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g soft light brown sugar
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 250 g cashew butter
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 g chocolate chips either milk or dark work well
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel if using regular sea salt reduce to 1/2 teaspoon
Servings
15 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g soft light brown sugar
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 250 g cashew butter
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 g chocolate chips either milk or dark work well
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel if using regular sea salt reduce to 1/2 teaspoon
Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Whisk the egg and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until combined.
  3. Add the cashew butter, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt until the batter is smooth and thick.
  4. Finally stir in the chocolate chips until evenly dispersed.
  5. Leave for a couple of minutes for the dough to set then using the palms of your hands roll up the sticky dough into balls of about about 30g each and place on a baking sheet a couple of inches apart. Crumble some fleur de sel on top of each cookie and press down slightly.
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes until the cookies are just turning golden.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to firm up before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Recipe Notes

See my recipe for cashew butter if you want to make your own

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

Coronation Chicken Salad

Coronation Chicken Salad

This post is a week late which pretty much sums up the kind of life I’m living right now. If I appear to be on time for anything then it’s probably because my watch has stopped meaning something else for me to add to the never ending to do list.

I can’t complain though because it’s been a fantastic week, full of cake, balloons, party hats and bubbles. Yes, the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday at the weekend but in the Hartley household there was another more meaningful birthday this week as Cole turned a full 1 year old. With that I break down into floods of nostalgic tears for little newborn tootsies, tightly curled fingers, sleepy little yawns and without question the endless days where I held onto him contentedly on the sofa, surrounded by cushions, digestive biscuits and binge watching my Gilmore Girls DVDs.

Coronation Chicken Salad

So I haven’t watched a DVD since 2015 and these days Cole pretty much refuses to be held at all, shooting off my lap or out of the pram or out of the car seat as he practices using his wobbly little legs, inching closer and closer to walking. My life mostly involves careening about the house rescuing him from whatever danger he seems to be courting next. I also had to buy him his first pair of shoes as well this week to protect his feet which were getting filthy from London terrain. So it’s milestone after milestone and I’m struggling to keep up.

Coronation Chicken Salad

We celebrated his birthday by taking a hoard of North London mummies and babies to London Zoo along with a giant picnic and we had such an excellent day, even if he did nap through most of the animals. It was a truly British summer day and I made this Coronation Chicken Salad for us all to share. Actually it was a lazy choice of salad as it’s the one I bring to every large picnic gathering and I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages. It’s easy to make, so delicious and good with or without the rice to bulk it out. Even though it’s a mildly spiced coronation chicken, meaning that it’s suitable for adults and babies alike, it is certainly not lacking in flavour due to the freshly ground spices and tangy with lime and yoghurt to make up the dressing along with the usual mayo.

So happy birthday to Her Royal Highness but more importantly to My Royal Highness. It’s been an amazing, non-stop, emotional rollercoaster of a year but one I really don’t want to disembark from.

Coronation Chicken Salad

Coronation Chicken Salad

Serves 8-10

Curry Paste:
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
seeds from 3 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil

8 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
300ml natural yoghurt
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons almond butter
225g wholegrain basmati and wild rice mix, cooked according to packet instructions, then cooled
8 dried apricots, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced
two large handfuls of mixed baby leaves
large handful of coriander leaves
50g flaked almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, black or white

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C
  2. First make the curry paste by grinding together the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom seeds until fine using a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar. Tip into a large bowl and add the turmeric, ginger, garlic powder, salt and mix well. Remove 1 tablespoon of the spices and set aside in a small bowl for later.
  3. Stir the coconut oil into the rest of the spice mix until a thick paste has been formed.
  4. Rub the paste all over the chicken thighs until they are evenly covered. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and scatter over the sesame seeds, place back into the oven, turn the heat up to 220°C and roast for a further 15 minutes. Remove and leave the chicken until cool enough to handle then shred the meat and crisp skin from the bones. Place in a bowl whilst you prepare the dressing.
  5. To make the dressing whisk together the mayonnaise, yoghurt, lime juice and almond butter with the reserved tablespoon of the spice mix.
  6. Mix the chicken, the cooked rice, the chopped apricots, spring onions and chilli in with dressing until completely covered.
  7. Toss the baby leaves and coriander leaves together in a large bowl then add in the coronation chicken, mixing lightly so the leaves don’t get too heavy with the dressing.
  8. To serve, scatter over the flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Coronation Chicken Salad

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

I was so proud on how kind I’ve been to my body lately by totally removing gluten from my life which I had been completely failing to do since Cole was born nearly a year ago (eek!), so I thought it was cause to celebrate with a totally delicious, decadently rich Chocolate Hazelnut Cake which is both gluten and grain-free. However, it is sugar-full so let’s not pretend I’m being some sort of a martyr here.

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

I’m trying to develop more gluten-free recipes for my cake stall at the moment as since that is where my heart lies it seems only natural to explore that baking arena.

There are only a handful of gluten-free bakes on this site as up until now I couldn’t really see the point. I don’t eat foods containing gluten on a daily basis but if I’m treating myself and am prepared to reap the consequences then I usually wouldn’t mind helping myself to a cheeky slice of wheat led banana bread or shortbread or maybe a scone or a bit of cheesecake. Ooh, how about a huge great slice of victoria sponge with jam and fresh cream and…evidently I could go on.

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

At the moment though I really want to see what cutting out gluten for the long term can do for me and how far I can take it. I’m feeling the best I’ve done since giving birth, my back problems, foot problems and general tiredness are at bay for now, I have even been attempting to get back into running and so living a gluten-free life will hopefully contribute to my well-being.

This Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is amazing and is a perfect weekend treat if you’re following a gluten-free existence or not. It is pretty much just chocolate and ground hazelnuts with just a touch of espresso to lift all that chocolate and nuts so it is luxurious and satisfying. If you don’t mind separating the eggs and whisking the whites to fold in at the end then it is a very simple batter to put together as well.

However I do like to soak the sponge, whilst warm, with a chocolate syrup. It isn’t wholly necessary but does add another layer of chocolatiness and added succulence to the crumb. A third layer of chocolatiness is then spooned on top in the form of a glossy and decadent chocolate glaze. If you can resist not helping yourself to the majority chocolate glaze with a large dessert spoon before it’s put on the cake then more power to you.

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

The final piece to the puzzle is the salted hazelnut praline scattered over the top of the cake. I can’t resist the crunch a good salty praline gives to the main event and can often be found throwing it hither and thither over most of my cakes at the stall. My cakes don’t tend to cater too well for nut allergists I’m afraid.

This cake doesn’t really need to be tagged with the Gluten-Free moniker as it should stand on its own without being solely classified in the ‘special diets’ category but for the sake of hoping as many people enjoy it as possible then I am proud to call it my celebratory Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. It’s pretty darn anygood.

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Oh, and for the sake of trying stuff out I can also confirm that if you take a slice, warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave then drizzle some single cream over the top then that’s also an acceptable way to serve it.

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

For the cake
200g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g golden caster sugar
250g ground hazelnuts
20g cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon espresso powder
50ml whole milk

For the chocolate soaking syrup
50g water
45g soft light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the salted hazelnut praline
2 tablespoons caster sugar
A pinch of sea salt
50g roasted and skinned hazelnuts

For the chocolate glaze
150g dark chocolate chips (I used 70%)
50g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

The Cake

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line and grease a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or a bain marie then leave to cool slightly whilst you get on with the rest.
  3. Whisk up the egg whites in a food mixer or by hand until they hold a stiff peak and set aside.
  4. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and thick.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg and sugar mixture and beat in to combine thoroughly.
  6. Add the ground hazelnuts, cocoa powder, baking powder and espresso powder and mix well. Stir in the whole milk to slacken the mixture.
  7. With a metal spoon add a third of the egg whites into the batter gently folding it in until just combined then fold in the remaining whites.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 10 minutes then turn the oven up to 160°C and continue baking for around 35-40 minutes until firm to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and leave in the tin whilst you prepare the chocolate soaking syrup.

The Chocolate Soaking Syrup

  1. For the chocolate soaking syrup heat up the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has melted and it has reached a gentle boil. Whisk in the cocoa to dissolve then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  2. Poke holes in the surface of the cake with a cocktail stick, pour the syrup evenly over and let the cake cool in the cake tin before removing.

The Salted Hazelnut Praline

  1. To make the hazelnut praline heat the caster sugar in a medium sized saucepan, without stirring, until it has all melted and is turning a golden brown. Add the sea salt then very quickly pour in the hazelnuts, turning into the melted sugar, then pour out onto baking parchment.
  2. Leave the praline for about 5 minutes until just cool enough to handle then pull the nuts apart so that the caramelised sugar is pulled into strands. Then roughly chop some of the hazelnuts. Leave to cool whilst you prepare the chocolate glaze.

The Chocolate Glaze

  1. To make the glaze mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat until it has all melted together and smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat then pour over the cake, allowing some of the glaze to drip down the sides.
  3. Sprinkle the whole nut praline and the chopped nuts onto the top of the cake. Leave for the glaze to set then serve.
Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

I like to think of myself as a pretty easy eater. ‘I will pretty much eat anything’ I will self-righteously declare to all and sundry. But if you dare to serve me breakfast then you’ll generally find I throw a sudden and unpleasant temper tantrum.

You see in my opinion breakfast is the worst. An amalgamation of all my least favourite things to eat; some because I am intolerant – gluten, oats and to a lesser extent dairy and some because I outright think they are heinous devil foods – eggs, mushrooms and baked beans.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

So I have this horrid dichotomy of always waking up starving but delaying my body food until a more palatable meal comes my way, say lunch (although I am not averse to having lunch or even dinner for breakfast if I am feeling especially wanton).

Then, as the adverts say, I discovered protein shakes. Not smoothies, with endless helpings of fruit which dive me headlong into a sugar crash before 9am, but a less sweet and more nutrient packed shake. These take mere moments to prepare, just slam everything into the blender and whizz up, which I then consume whilst feeding Cole, clearing up his breakfast and getting him dressed. They are the ultimate fast food and don’t contain any ingredients that make my body want to heave – which can only be a good thing.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

Whether you already have all these ingredients to hand depends on your love for health food shops. I am a bit of a health food junkie, in direct contrast to my cake obsession, and relish every nutrition fad going which means these shakes certainly don’t wuss out on that front. They are full of avocado, kale, banana, almond butter, chia seeds, hemp powder, flaxseed and of course matcha green tea powder and what made them an absolute winner for me was when I doused the whole lot in coconut water for liquidity. The result is creamy and refreshing and has been the perfect start to my day for a few weeks now.

Every ingredient in these Matcha Protein Breakfast Shakes has their place and are each filled with the most excellent health benefits, which you can google all about, plus because I have based the shake around protein, which you can find in the almond butter, chia seeds and hemp powder, it is so filling and satisfying.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

The star ingredient in this breakfast shake though is the matcha green tea powder which I have been experimenting with as an ingredient, mainly in my baking, for a while now. It has such a unique flavour that becomes quite addictive. I have found though that various brands have different strengths and at the moment I seem to have quite a strong one in my larder. So I only used one teaspoon of matcha powder here but certainly feel free to add more if you are not getting enough matcha through for your tastes. Or if you haven’t had matcha before then one teaspoon is certainly a good place to start. If you’re not sure where to get this or any other of the ingredients in the list start with amazon which stocks everything you need. The only other endorsement I can give this recipe is this – it has definitely made breakfast time a much happier place for me to be; meaning less temper tantrums.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

1 large shake

1 banana
½ avocado
25g kale (1 large handful), blanched
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
3 teaspoons hemp protein powder
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
250ml coconut water
3 ice cubes

  1. Bung it all in the blender, blitz until smooth and away you go!
Matcha-Protein-Breakfast-Shake

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

I’ve tried to steer clear of this subject on my blog since I began it as I didn’t want to have to pigeon hole myself into any particular diet or limit the recipes I wanted to share. However, I’ve realised I’ve been doing myself and you guys a disservice as it seems sometimes that I’ve told half a story. So, throwing two fingers up at my natural inclination to not bore you relentlessly by talking about me me me all the time, I thought sod it, it’s time to over-share.

The subject of gluten is deadly dull, too scientific, too all-encompassing and too been-there-done-that. There are bloggers, food writers, cooks and nutritionists that can talk about it much more eloquently than me. Don’t ask me why gluten is bad, why we were all fine with eating bread 50 years ago and now it’s suddenly poisonous to half the western world or even what gluten actually is, like a well meaning friend asked me the other day. I might have changed the subject rather quickly to talk about Daredevil on Netflix instead.

4

However, today I’m coming clean to tell you about my destructive love affair with gluten and why you’ll find that if you look down my recipe list that perhaps 80% of the recipes on my blog are gluten-free (although steer clear of the biscuits and cakes section if you’re doing that). So as I wang on in these next few paragraphs and you are rolling your eyes at yet more nonsense about how gluten was created by the Devil to contaminate society and destroy us from within, just bear with me. Or just wait for my next post – it will probably involve copious amounts of white flour rendering all my woeful soul bearing here totally irrelevant.

About 10 years ago I felt really unwell. I won’t make more of it than it was but it was affecting my daily life. I felt completely lacklustre with no energy and was constantly sick, I had horrible digestive cramps and unless I ate every few hours I would pretty much collapse. It was odd, I was eating healthy and hearty meals, lots of vegetables, not much sugar. However, come 3pm every day I felt dreadful and I often had to leave work in the middle of the day as I simply couldn’t function. I remember being slumped on the bus on the way home, barely being able to keep my eyes open, feeling awful as I had no idea what was wrong. Naturally I thought I was allergic to work, like any normal twenty-two year old fresh out of university, and was wracked with concern that I was not destined be the dynamic cutting edge TV producer I had dreamed of being but would instead have to dump Luke and marry a millionaire pretty much in order to save my life.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

I was in and out of the doctors, I had blood tests, allergy tests, thyroid tests. Everything was normal. My GP thought I might be clinically depressed and wrote me a prescription for anti-depressants. I threw it in the bin on the way out and got a new doctor.

At the same time though I had started to see a personal trainer and nutritionist who recommended cutting out gluten from my diet. I didn’t really know much about the gluten-free way of life back then. I had done Atkins like everyone else to lose weight but I didn’t really get the gluten thing. No one was really talking about it. Ha, how times have changed.

However, after a bit of trial and error (I was a bit of a slow student in that regard – what you mean I can’t eat flour tortillas) I gradually began to feel better. It didn’t take long for me to realise that come 3pm I was no longer crying or cramming a chocolate bar in my face to pick myself off the floor. My body ache and sickness had disappeared and with that I was able to be more productive at work and I started running and getting really rather healthy.

The End. I lived happily ever after and never did the big bad Gluten cross my path again, he was banished from my kingdom, Luke and I got married (sorry Mr Millionaire) and we had a wonderful baby boy whom we named Cole.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

Except real life dictates that there must be an epilogue. And so here it is. Since Cole was born in June last year gluten has made a major comeback for me. Turns out he wasn’t content sitting in the wings any longer but instead wanted a starring role yet again in my life. It hasn’t been just the odd cake or Yorkshire pudding because it’s the weekend but loaves of bread have passed these lips, a slip of the finger on my keyboard and packets of digestives have fallen helplessly into my Ocado shop.

I know I’m not alone when I confess that I have found these first few months of motherhood hard and as is my wont as a food loving, comfort eating, sugar addicted gal I have turned to food to get myself through it. Cake has been my 3am ally, tucked into the sleeves of my nursing chair and nibbled on throughout the night and toast has been my saviour when I’ve skipped another meal due to relentless crying, holding and feeding.

It is only now, 10 months in that I have calmed down enough to confront how sick I have been making myself. It’s not that anything has got any easier. Yes we have more of a routine but that goes out of the window more often that not. I have been getting more sleep but again just because I had a good seven hours uninterrupted last night doesn’t mean that I won’t be up and down every couple of hours tonight. However, for the most part it’s better.

Although, my health and my body have been left a wreck and I need to address the situation.

I have no plans to make my blog completely gluten-free as there are some recipes which just need gluten to make them as delicious as possible. Plus I am no saint and I have found that if I am 98% gluten-free I can live with the odd bit of wheat flour in my diet if it simply can’t be substituted. Hello delicious gravy. Also, I run a cake business which is another paradox in and of itself so I often have lots of recipe testing and cake eating which is required of me. I do like to make life a challenge.

So having fessed up and outed myself as another one of those faddy diet people I would now like to talk to you about cauliflower cheese. Are you still with me? In the past I have always made cauliflower cheese with a traditional method of using a roux of butter, white flour and milk then adding the cheese. However because of this it has been a rare treat which only reared its delicious cheesy head at high days and holidays. Lately thought I have been whipping up a gluten-free version using only cornflour and milk instead of the roux. It’s so quick! Absolutely perfect as a smash and grab dinner for Cole and a lazy one for the two of us. The difference between the two versions is negligible and certainly one I can live with if it means I can have cauliflower cheese more frequently. It has even passed the Luke test who can be pretty severe in his judgment of gluten-free alternatives.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

The secret to any decent cheese sauce I think is to use a mix of cheeses, here I’ve gone with mature cheddar for flavour and red Leicester for sweetness and colour, and then a dollop of Dijon mustard which really brings out the cheesiness. I’ve also begun adding roasted garlic into the mix which sounds like a bit of a faff but really all you need to do is pop the garlic cloves in the oven and they roast for 10 minutes as the cauliflower is put on to boil. However, I’m on a bit of a roasted garlic kick at the moment and so I’ve been roasting up whole heads at the weekend for use during my mid-week meals. They add a mellow flavour which gives the sauce depth. The final stir of the crème fraiche in at the end adds richness to the sauce and is completely optional but really why would you not?

Just the cornflour and the milk together is a little bland so the sauce does need these little extras to knock it up to the standard of a traditionally made sauce but it’s not any bother at all. There is no salt in this recipe as all my food is made with Cole in mind these days but you would probably like to add some to taste. It does make life easier when you find these gluten-free hacks that are actually just as delicious and the road back to my optimum self a little more straightforward to navigate.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese
Serves 4-6

1 large head of cauliflower
500ml whole milk
4 tablespoons cornflour
100g red Leicester, grated (+25g for grating on top)
50g mature cheddar, grated (+25g for grating on the top)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 garlic cloves, roasted and pureed
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
15g ground almonds

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Separate the florets of the cauliflower then place in a large pan of boiling water. Bring up to a gentle simmer, then cook for 10 minutes. Drain and place the florets in an ovenproof dish.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan whisk the cornflour into the whole milk then once smooth place switch on the heat and bring to a low boil.
  4. Sprinkle in the cheese and stir in until melted in.
  5. Add the mustard, pepper, garlic cloves and crème fraiche and stir in until it becomes a thick smooth sauce.
  6. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower florets then sprinkle on the extra cheese and the ground almonds.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes when the cheese should be bubbling and the almond breadcrumbs turning golden.
Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

I’ve rekindled my love of veggie burgers recently. And I’m not referring to the dry, floppy and brown discs of god-knows-what that lurk in the deepest depths of the supermarket only to emerge in June as an insulting offering to the vegetarians during BBQ season. Yuk, no. I’m talking about thick patties bright with fresh vegetables, perhaps creamy with legumes or nutty with wholegrains and crisp from the frying pan.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

A few weeks ago I had a sandwich from Max’s Sandwich Shop, one of Stroud Green’s proudest offerings to the food scene. Max, as well as being a great bloke who gave me a celebratory bottle of wine when I popped in for lunch just after the birth of Cole, I think it may have been the first sip of wine I had in at least nine months and tasted blissful, also won The Observer Food Monthly’s Best Cheap Eat last year and indeed does an incredible sandwich. They are mammoth beasts packed to the rafters inside homemade focaccia like his Ham, Egg ‘N’ Chips, stuffed with slow cooked ham hock, a fried egg, shoestring fries, piccalilli, and malt vinegar mayo or my favourite What Is Neil Gill’s Beef All About which is braised beef, sauerkraut with beetroot parsley and caraway, cassava chips, horseradish and creme fraiche. Yum-ola.

Anyway, this time round I went totally off piste for me and plumped for his veggie sandwich. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember what was in it except that it was made with borlotti beans and it’s not on the menu this week for me to check, but it was amazing, so flavourful and satisfying. It harkened me back to my first few years working in Soho when I would frequent Mildreds and stuff myself with their veggie burgers made with things like feta, beetroot and sweet potato. Or perhaps it took me even further back to my time in Ghana, in my early twenties, when I would live off veggie burgers from the local sports bar. I always vowed I would try and recreate those burgers in my own kitchen, they seemed so simple and healthy (if you ignore the obligatory side-order of chips), just good for you vegetables married together, but I never got round to it.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Until now! Although I might be overdoing it a little these days as variations on the veggie led burger seem to be all I’m ever cooking, due to… yes you guessed it since all paths lead back to him – Cole. I have been having such fun coming up with delicious, nutrient packed dinners which tick off all the food groups and that he can eat himself with his fingers. This means making him lots of mini patties, fritters and burgers. Not all of them are totally veggie since we’re not, but sweet potato and quinoa burgers have been a firm favourite, always packed with chopped greens or any other veg that’s lurking in the fridge. However, for variety’s sake I was on the lookout for some alternatives, and then Luke on a whim brought back some amaranth from our local organic shop on Stroud Green Road.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

He had been totally unaware that I had been reading about amaranth a lot recently, basically how it’s super trendy and due for quinoa like celebratory status any day now. It’s another ‘ancient grain,’ popular with the Aztecs and Mayans, but put into italics as it’s technically a seed, like quinoa, and therefore really rich in protein which is what makes quinoa so cool. Not only that but it’s also full of fibre, iron and calcium. This all spelled good things for the next addition to mine and Cole’s culinary adventures.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Then I cooked with it, and quinoa it ain’t. Pre-cooking, the grains are miniscule, getting everywhere very fast, especially if you’re a bit fast and loose with pouring them into a saucepan. However, during its half hour cooking time the grains lump together producing a gelatinous and sticky…well, mush, if I’m honest. However, this only meant it had a completely natural home in the next addition to my veggie burger repertoire.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

The texture of the amaranth is pretty terrific inside the burger, its little seeds popping in your mouth and the nutty flavour giving it such backbone. The amaranth is mixed with mashed butternut squash, pre-roasted with baharat spices (which include paprika, pepper, cumin, cassia, cloves, coriander seed, nutmeg and cardamom but I used a mix from Steenbergs) and sweetly roasted garlic. Then blanched and finely chopped cavolo nero adds its earthy goodness to the proceedings. Finally eggs and flour are mixed in to bind the whole thing together in scrumptious harmony. It’s a pretty good feeling eating something so deliciously healthy, heartening and happy-making.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Cole and I have been loving them. A lot. So much so that imbued with confidence in them I then served them up in homemade flatbread with salad and tzatziki for Luke for supper and he has insisted I share the recipe here so impressed was he. So here we are, baby approved, hungry husband approved and veggie burger obsessed me approved!

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Makes 8 burgers

200g amaranth
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons coconut oil + 1 more tablespoon for cooking the burgers
1 tablespoons baharat spice mix
4 whole unpeeled garlic cloves
200g cavolo nero
3 eggs
50g rice flour (or gluten-free plain flour blend or regular wheat flour)
½ teaspoon salt

  1. Toss the butternut squash with the baharat spices, garlic cloves and pre-melted coconut oil then roast for 35-40 minutes at 180°C. Remove from the oven, squeeze the garlic from their cloves then mash. Set aside to come to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile bring a large saucepan of 500ml water to the boil, then pour in the amaranth. Bring back to a boil, then turn down to simmer with the lid on for 25-30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork then set aside to come to room temperature.
  3. With a sharp knife, remove the stalk out of the centre of the cavolo nero leaves then roughly chop. Bring another large saucepan of water to a boil and toss the leaves in, bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the leaves, squeezing out all the excess water then finely chop.
  4. Mix the amaranth, mashed butternut squash and cavolo nero with the eggs, rice flour and salt until thoroughly combined.
  5. Heat a large flat bottomed frying pan with a tablespoon of the coconut oil. To achieve the perfect burger shape pour the mixture into chefs rings placed inside the saucepan. Fry for 4 minutes on the first side or until golden brown then carefully remove the chefs ring from the burger, flip each one over and cook for another 4 minutes on the other side, the burger will feel firm to the touch and be golden brown.Note: The chefs rings are totally optional, if you don’t have them the burgers will be a little flatter as the mixture will spread further and look a little rougher round the edges, but still delicious. They also won’t need to cook for as long, so keep watch for the golden brown colour.

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Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

This feels like the first time in a couple of weeks where I have been able to take a breath. My prolonged absence from blogging wasn’t intentional at all but it is only now that I have been able to sit down properly and decide what I’m going to have for dinner instead of relying on cobbled together salads of no import, chocolate or fish and chips from Stroud Green Road.

We were forced to vacate the house for a week or so whilst our builders have been in, rescuing the sorry state that had become of our floorboards and giving our hallway and landing a new lease of life so it didn’t feel we were living in a run down shack. Many houses along our road have been sold recently and we’ve been passing them every day watching them being renovated and putting ours to shame. I decreed we simply had to do something about it before baby arrives and forces us suddenly to not care about such trivial matters as rotting floorboards and splattered tea stains on our walls.

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

Not that the builders have left us yet, there is still one lonesome soldier finishing up the odds and sods, meaning that for the moment most of our belongings are still sequestered away in boxes in every room that isn’t being worked on. It makes searching for things like my camera cable and the plate that I simply must photograph my tortilla on nigh impossible. I did manage to find them both in the end but it was to the detriment of any sort of order that the boxes and rooms might have been in earlier today. My heavily pregnant state also doesn’t allow me to tidy any of it away which will be a lovely surprise to Luke when he arrives home late tonight after a long journey home from his meeting in Liverpool.

Not only has our house been taken over by builders but also in equal measure by cake as I have still been committed to my brilliant market stall and my kitchen has been the one room that has been builder free. This past weekend I took on a new challenge of hosting the café at Hornsey Flea Market. It was a long week of baking prep, actual baking and then two long days at the market which was a fantastic experience. The flea market was so wonderfully busy, it was estimated about 9000 people came through our doors throughout the weekend, most of whom needed some sort of sustenance. It was lovely to branch out and do some savoury baking as well as my usual flotilla of cakes which is how I developed my Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla. It was a great gluten-free and vegetarian alternative to all the sausage rolls, pancetta and gruyere tartlets, spicy chicken croquettes and butternut squash and chilli scones which I was selling.

I made quite a few of these tortillas and they sold magnificently but I did keep one back for myself as it really is quite a special recipe. This tortilla simply bursts with flavour and spring like freshness, rich with the sweet potato but cool with feta and then packed with fresh coriander, parsley and mint. For ease I bake the tortilla in the oven instead of the traditional method of cooking in a large frying pan and having made the tortilla both ways in the past I haven’t noticed a difference to the end result.

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

I recommend serving the tortilla for a weekend lunch, perhaps in the garden to make the most of this unseasonably beautiful weather. Dress the tortilla up with a herby salad and serve with a crisp glass of white wine.

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely sliced
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 2cm squares
½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
200g feta
5 medium eggs, whisked together
28g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
28g fresh mint, roughly chopped
28g fresh parsley, roughly chopped
75g roasted red peppers, shredded

  1. Heat the olive oil in a flat bottomed saucepan then add the onions. Cook on a gentle heat for about 20 minutes or until the onions are caramelised.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to thoroughly coat them in the olive oil. Place the lid on and cook for about 45 – 60 minutes or until the potatoes are softened.
  3. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 170° and line and grease an 8 inch baking tin.
  4. Take the saucepan of the heat then crumble the feta into the pan, stirring with a metal spoon to combine but not too much as you don’t want the potato and feta to break down.
  5. Pour in the eggs, add the herbs with plenty of seasoning and mix together.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin, smoothing down so the surface is flat.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes until just browning.
  8. Leave to cool for half an hour the tin before turning out. The tortilla is best served warm.
  9. Serve with the roasted red peppers piled on top.

Enchiladas Suisa

Enchiladas Suisa
There is a little happy dance that is dusted off whenever I mention that I’m making enchiladas for dinner. If you want to try it at home, it’s performed in a little hopping motion from foot to foot whilst waving your hands high in the air chanting ‘Enchiladas, enchiladas.’ Imagine a super happy and joyful rain dance but in the kitchen.

Ever since I stopped eating pasta enchiladas now reign supreme where once lasagne lorded over all. They both involve meat encased in some sort of carbohydrate, in this case corn tortillas, with a rich tomato sauce and lashings of cheese. They are an absolute favourite in our house. However, recently I have been pushing the boat out where my enchiladas are concerned and going all Suisa. Enchiladas Suisa replace the tomatoes and red chillies involved in the more standard enchilada recipe with a tomatillos and green chillies for a beautifully green sauce which is then finished off with plenty of sour cream before being weighed down with a mountain of cheese. You may remember that I’m a huge advocate of the green pepper and I would much rather go for the fresher slightly bitter taste of green than the lip puckering sweetness of red any day so you can imagine that Enchiladas Suisa suits my palette completely plus the addition of the sour cream makes it so much better than your run-of-the-mill enchiladas.

You can get tomatillos in the UK, they look a bit like small green tomatoes but unlike their un-ripened cousins they are encased in a husk if bought fresh and are fully ripe. They are also much tarter than a green tomato and are celebrated in Mexican cooking where they are often cooked down into salsa and enchilada sauces, just like here. This time of year tomatillos are way out of season but I don’t let that bother me as tinned tomatillos are a very good substitue. I’ve never seen them in a supermarket but it’s very easy to buy the tinned versions from Sous Chef, which is where I buy all my specialist ingredients.

Corn Tortillas

It is perfectly acceptable to make enchiladas with the flour tortillas you can get just about anywhere but corn tortillas are the traditional option. They hold together much better than a flour tortilla underneath the weight of the sauce and provide good robust flavour. The best ones are from the Cool Chile Co. as they are gluten-free and taste deliciously corny.

If you have access to good Mexican cheeses then by all means use those here to make the meal truly authentic but I’m pretty sure you will need to substitute which is what I did and I think a good British cheese like Wensleydale fits the bill perfectly. It’s also what Thomasina Miers uses in her Enchiladas Suisa recipe in Wahaca so if it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for us. To accentuate the full-on cheesiness of the dish I’ve also added some slices of mozzarella so that the strings of goodness pull away from each other upon serving, always guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Enchiladas Suisa

This is a Mexican dish but the full impact of the chilli heat depends on you. When we made it a few weeks ago we left all the seeds from the green chilli in the mix and it was eye wincingly powerful but if you take all the seeds out then the sauce can be too bland. A happy medium usually works by discarding half of the seeds but each to his own.

Ancho Chilli Powder

Enchiladas are a fantastic use of leftover chicken, run through with a bit of cumin and ancho chilli powder (use ordinary chilli powder if you can’t get hold of ancho chilli powder, but again you can order it from Sous Chef), then wrapped into the corn tortillas before being topped with sauce. However, I often make this with fresh chicken as I have done here. Of course, by using chicken breast there is the worry that it could go dry but I find if I just lightly cook the chicken in the pan it will finish cooking in the oven once encased in their tortillas and protected by the sauce retaining it’s tender texture.

Enchiladas Suisa

Enchiladas Suisa
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, diced
800g tomatillos (tinned or fresh)
½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
25g fresh coriander, including stalks, roughly chopped
175g sour cream
125g mozzarella
100g Wensleydale cheese
About 8-10 corn tortillas

For the chicken filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
1 green pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. First make the tomatillo sauce by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan and adding the onion, crushed garlic and green chilli. Sauté for about 10 minutes until soft.
  3. Drain the tomatillos if using tinned or remove from their husks if using fresh and chop them up roughly. Add to the saucepan along with the paprika, cumin, coriander and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring through occasionally.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat then blitz up in the saucepan using a hand held blender until smooth. Pour in the sour cream and put back on to the heat, stirring in thoroughly until hot. Set aside whilst you prepare the chicken.
  5. Heat up the olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan and add in the onion. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened.
  6. Add the chicken, garlic, cumin, chilli powder and green pepper along with some seasoning and cook on a medium heat until the chicken has begun to colour. Remove from the heat.
  7. Take a tortilla and warm it through in a small saucepan for about 10 seconds each side, then remove from the heat, fill with the chicken and tuck into an ovenproof dish. Repeat with each tortilla until all the chicken has been used up and the dish is full.
  8. Pour the tomatillo sauce over evenly then dot the top with crumbled Wensleydale and the sliced mozzarella.
  9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and the cheese has begun to colour.

Apple, Cinnamon and Ricotta Gluten-Free Friands

Apple Cinnamon and Ricotta Friands
If you have met a financier (the cake kind not the money kind) then you have met a friand, albeit in a different shape and from another country. Financiers hail from France and are so-called due to their rectangular shape which was thought to resemble gold ingots. They are made with sugar, ground almonds, a kiss of flour and foamy egg whites, giving a lovely light and moist sponge. The friand is made in exactly the same way, except in an Australian kitchen and baked in oval shaped tins rather than rectangles. So that’s basically why I chose to made friands instead of financiers – that’s the tin I have.

Because the recipe uses so little flour it is no effort to turn these babies gluten-free without losing anything from the original recipe. The flour is just there to bulk out the ground almonds rather than any grand alchemy taking place. I think that’s the easiest way of creating gluten-free bakes, by adapting recipes which don’t rely on flour.

Apple Cinnamon and Ricotta Friands

I have tried mixing my own gluten-free flours and experimented with different blends of sorghum flour, potato starch, rice flour and millet flour among others. However, sometimes it’s just easier to reach for the bag of ready-made stuff. When you’re using so little flour anyway like in this recipe the difference is negligible. For this purpose I am more than happy to use Dove’s gluten-free flour blend, it’s reliable and the benefit is that you don’t need to order any out of the way ingredients from Amazon as it’s more than likely that your local supermarket stocks it.

These friands are amped up from the usual recipe by dropping in a teaspoonful of lemony sweetened ricotta into the finished batter then garnishing the top with cinnamon spiked buttery apple pieces just before they go into the oven. I think I got the idea of including the ricotta in a food magazine years ago and haven’t been able to resist adding a dollop to my recipe every time since. The creamy ricotta pairs perfectly with the buttery apple topping, making this a very simple bake but one that feels luxurious, delicate and of course good for your gluten-free friends.

Apple Cinnamon and Ricotta Friands

Apple, Cinnamon and Ricotta Gluten-Free Friands
Makes 12

3 Apples, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon icing sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice
160g ricotta
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
250g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
100g gluten free flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
200g butter, melted
180g egg whites (about 6)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and butter a 12 hole friand tin.
  2. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter then add the icing sugar, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice and then tip in the apple pieces.
  3. Fry for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat just before the apples turn soft and leave to cool.
  4. In a small bowl mix the ricotta with the vanilla, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon icing sugar until smooth and set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl mix the almonds with the flour, the rest of the icing sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and salt together
  6. Then in another bowl the whisk egg whites a little until light and foamy.
  7. Fold the egg whites into the almonds along with the melted butter.
  8. Divide the batter between the friand moulds, then top with a spoonful of ricotta mixture. Finally add a few apples to the top of each one.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  10. Dust with icing sugar.