Gluten-Free and Me

Gluten-Free Food Blog

This is an odd post. There is no recipe involved and it feels self-indulgent. However, I’d like to explain why this blog and my business made the transition to be 100% gluten-free last year. My mum still doesn’t really get it so maybe this post is just for her benefit. If you can bear it I will be waffling on for longer than usual and I do hope you read on but if all you care about is more cake then perhaps have a look at this Bounty Cake from yesteryear instead – it’s an oldie but a goodie.

I have known about my gluten intolerance for the past nine years when I became quite sick in my early twenties. My symptoms were chronic nausea and the most debilitating fatigue. This led the way to horrible mood swings and depression which led to stress, weight gain and then more depression. I had every blood test under the sun, maybe I had an under-active thyroid gland? Maybe I had ME? I lost count of the times well-meaning friends and family asked if I might be pregnant.

Gluten-Free Food Blog

I ignored my GP’s advice to consider taking medication for depression and instead decided to tackle my weight gain which I thought might help so I began to see a personal trainer and nutritionist. Straightaway she recommended I try cutting out gluten from my diet. It didn’t take long before my energy levels had picked up and the constant nausea I felt had vanished. Hand in hand with exercise my weight fell back down. I ate good nutritious whole food and I felt healthy and happy. Gluten-free bread and I lived happily ever after. The end.

Except it wasn’t.

Gluten-Free Food BlogSee, I love to bake. At the time I worked as a TV Producer and only baked for a hobby, giving most of my efforts away to friends, work colleagues and neighbours. I ate a little myself to see how a recipe had turned out, and of course because cake is brilliant, but it was all under control and a touch of wheat every now and then didn’t seem to affect me so much.

After I stopped working full time as a TV Producer I began a food blog. Despite being known for my cakes by colleagues and friends I deliberately didn’t want to focus on that as I knew I had this gluten intolerance and baking and eating cakes every day didn’t make sense. So instead I wrote a little bit about everything and only included wheat based recipes once in a while. It was very reflective of how I ate at the time.

Then two things happened.

Gluten-Free Food Blog

It was like my self-restriction on baking suddenly erupted into an intense desperate need to combine sugar, eggs and flour at every available opportunity. To combat the overwhelming amount of cakes I started producing I decided to start a cake stall. It seemed the perfect solution, I could bake all the time and then sell what I made thereby not eating any of it.

The other thing that happened was that on the weekend of my second cake stall I discovered I was pregnant.

Buttercream and morning sickness are not a happy combo. My dream of having my own cake stall in reality felt a little like a weird form of torture for nine months. Ah, nausea how I had missed you. As a result I barely ate anything I made but relied upon tried and true recipes that I had been baking for years. So I still kept to a mainly gluten-free diet and let the customers eat my cakes, which is kind of the whole point of a cake business anyway.

Gluten-Free Food Blog

Despite my good health intentions I found life with a newborn difficult. I was so out of my depth (still am), tired and constantly terrified (ditto), so I did what any anxious sleep deprived zombie would do and turned to carbs and sugar to get me through the long days and nights. It turns out that for me an excess of carbs and sugar were just gateway drugs to gluten. Soon I had an endless packet of digestives in the pocket of my nursing chair, I ordered cake for breakfast at cafes alongside my new mummy friends and absorbed thick wedges of toast in lieu of actual meals.

A few months into motherhood I was excited to start up my cake stall again and began recipe testing for the re-launch. Something had changed though. These recipes were not making me happy, the cakes that I was producing were delicious but I had no appetite for them and recipe testing was proving a really unenjoyable task. It took me longer than it should to realise that the consistent exhaustion and illness I had been feeling of late wasn’t the normal side effects of having a baby, after all he was pretty much sleeping through the night by this point. It was all the gluten I had begun ingesting again in complete denial of my intolerance. What an idiot. It’s one thing feeling crappy when there is only yourself to look after but my permanent gluten hangover made looking after a growing child more difficult than it needed to be.

Gluten-Free Food Blog

As I took a hard look at myself I realised that for years I had been embarrassed by my gluten intolerance. Although I ate well privately, when I was unleashed into the big wide world I couldn’t commit to revealing to friends that I was gluten-free or double checking with restaurants the ingredients of each dish. I don’t like to make a fuss or call attention to myself so I didn’t.

Actually I’m now finding freedom in being honest about my gluten intolerance. I don’t care if the naysayers think it’s a fad or fussy or want to question why I ate spaghetti bolognaise perfectly happily for the first twenty years of my life without any drama. I don’t need to explain science’s current thinking as to why gluten intolerance is on the rise. I just know how I feel and gluten makes me feel like crap, so if you don’t mind I think I’ll give it a pass.

Gluten-Free Food Blog

One of my most important moments in terms of being a baker came last year when I read Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich and a lightbulb went off in my head. There were other flours out there besides wheat flour and what’s more, they tasted amazing. They may not behave like wheat flour but that was okay, they did other things which were just as interesting. It’s been a really fun challenge for me to devote myself to developing gluten-free recipes and transitioning my cake stall to be 100% gluten-free was really exciting. I had always included a selection of gluten-free cakes anyway and these had proved really popular so the prospect of changing my business model wasn’t so daunting.

Gluten-Free Food Blog

In the next few months I will be converting a lot of my old recipes on the blog to be gluten-free. Of the ones I have done so far I have been amazed by how much I prefer the alternative versions.

So that’s me and my gluten-free self in a nutshell. It’s still early days for my cake developing but I have to say I haven’t really looked back since making the big change last year. It’s so much easier to be gluten-free than it was when I first discovered my intolerance nine years ago. Alternative flours are not as difficult to come by and people seem to be more informed about allergens and restrictive diets. Plus I am safe in the knowledge that if I stick to a gluten-free existence 99% of the time then once every few weeks I can allow myself a cheeky digestive from someone else’s packet, it’s just something I must not make a habit out of. Plus I’m also working on my gluten-free digestive recipe.

Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes

I sell my cakes at local farmers’ markets in London but lucky for those who don’t live nearby I also love sharing the recipes for all the cakes I sell and if you want to receive more of my cake stall recipes then I have a FREE mini e-book of the top 3 Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes which are on my stall including Fig, Almond and Salted Honey Cake, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes and Minted Brownies. The recipes are really special to me and if you want a copy of them then just click the button below!

Download

Happiness Bread {gluten-free}

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury paleo bread, perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year. It is also pretty much summing up the January I am having so far, I am feeling so positive and sunny that I really don’t recognise myself.

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, packed with sweet potato, nuts, seeds, coconut and turmeric. Perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.

I feel like I have changed drastically since giving birth 18 months ago. Not just because I have become a mother and all that entails but I have become less tolerant, more irritable and my sense of humour has drained dry. Also since my downtime is non-existent I never really relax. Basically I am joy, hey come and meet me.

But the major thing that has changed about me is my appearance. There’s no discreet way to approach this but I have put on a lot of weight. Okay so I have never been a size zero. I have always fought a vicious battle with my body and only have to think about a Cadbury’s Caramel to put on another kilo. But since I ballooned during the first sleep deprived months of motherhood my body has been resolute in its new- found magnitude. Despite what my clothes size will tell you I am actually quite a healthy eater. Salads are an obligatory part of my day, I avoid gluten, I only drink in moderation and I don’t eat junk or processed food. So why have I been rolling around North London like a beach ball this past year?

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, packed with sweet potato, nuts, seeds, coconut and turmeric. Perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.

Well, okay my food choices have relaxed slightly and I am eating more. Way more to counteract my everyday exhaustion and I do eat more cake than I used to due to baking for a living and recipe testing. Although what’s really changed is my fitness which has take a drastic nosedive. I am not a natural keep fitter but I have taken pride in the fact that since taking up training 8 years ago I have strived to subvert my tendency to curl up on the sofa with my cats by going for a run or doing a crossfit class. However after giving birth I have had two minor but significant setbacks. My back pain, caused by residual pregnancy issues, became so severe that I struggled to pick up Cole at all and I have a Morton’s neuroma which has meant running, jumping or any form of using the ball of my foot during exercise has been excruciatingly painful. I completely lost confidence in exercise as my body hurt too much, I stopped training and went downhill.

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, packed with sweet potato, nuts, seeds, coconut and turmeric. Perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.

Well these past couple of months have seen a little improvement, thanks to the amazing work of my physio, osteopath and personal trainer. My back has finally begun to loosen up, my Morton’s neuroma, although not gone, has become more manageable with a rigid exercise plan and I have just started doing cardio and actually working out again. As my body has been feeling better I have had more energy. So much so that I am now taking control of my diet; meal planning, mindful shopping and food prepping at weekends for the coming week. Plus it has helped that Cole is currently happy to stand on a stool and watch mummy make dinner, as opposed to running around the kitchen ripping the knobs off the oven and turning the dishwasher on and off. With this small change I have been able to eat better, eat less and have given up drinking, caffeine and sugar this month. I feel almost terrific and vaguely saintly.

Having a loaf of Happiness Bread helps me out immeasurably during the week. Baking it is a two-step process as the sweet potatoes need to be cooked before you can begin. I have started making sure I chuck a few sweet potatoes in the oven every few days if I know I am going to be at home for the next couple of hours. Cole thinks sweet potato is the best food invented so it’s a must to have some for him on dinner standby and then if I have the baked sweet potato on hand it only takes about 10 minutes to get this loaf mixed and in the oven.

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, packed with sweet potato, nuts, seeds, coconut and turmeric. Perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.

Happiness Bread is hearty and filling, packed with protein in the form of nuts and seeds and full of goodness thanks to the sweet potato, coconut oil and turmeric which is incredibly good for you. Tumeric is an antioxidant and has strong anti-inflammatory effects and is a great ingredient as you don’t need a lot of it for it to be beneficial. Plus the colour makes this bread so beautifully sunshiny. The coconut and turmeric flavour really come through and it is so delicious just slathered with butter or piled high with turkey and avocado – my current favourite way to enjoy it.

This is a paleo bread as well so ideal for anyone following that lifestyle and that means it is also gluten-free. The texture is almost cake like so cannot be used the same way you would use a sandwich loaf but it’s a great start to the day and will satiate you until lunchtime.

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, packed with sweet potato, nuts, seeds, coconut and turmeric. Perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.

Since introducing this bread to my morning routine I have felt very happy, it’s not just about the bread but having an easy and filling breakfast has definitely contributed to my general feeling of well being. Plus to cap it off I have even just finished reading a book, a trashy thriller mind, but a book nonetheless – so take that no downtime!

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, packed with sweet potato, nuts, seeds, coconut and turmeric. Perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.
Print Recipe
Happiness Bread
A soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, packed with sweet potato, nuts, seeds, coconut and turmeric. Perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.
Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Servings
10 slices
Ingredients
  • 400 g cooked sweet potato*
  • 4 eggs
  • 140 g cashew butter
  • 60 g coconut oil melted to liquid state
  • 75 g coconut flour
  • 30 g tapioca flour
  • 75 g walnut halves
  • 30 g chia seeds
  • 25 g flaked almonds
  • 25 g pumpkin seeds
  • 20 g sunflower seeds
  • 20 g sesame seeds
  • 15 g ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Servings
10 slices
Ingredients
  • 400 g cooked sweet potato*
  • 4 eggs
  • 140 g cashew butter
  • 60 g coconut oil melted to liquid state
  • 75 g coconut flour
  • 30 g tapioca flour
  • 75 g walnut halves
  • 30 g chia seeds
  • 25 g flaked almonds
  • 25 g pumpkin seeds
  • 20 g sunflower seeds
  • 20 g sesame seeds
  • 15 g ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C and line and grease a 9 inch loaf tin.
  2. Beat the sweet potato, eggs, cashew butter and coconut oil in a large mixing bowl or food mixer.
  3. In another mixing bowl combine the coconut flour, walnuts, chia seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseed, turmeric, baking powder and sea salt.
  4. Tip the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture and beat until well combined.
  5. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
Recipe Notes

*To prepare the sweet potato I bake my sweet potatoes by wrapping them individually in tin foil then placing them in a baking dish. I then bake them for between 1-1½ hours depending on how big the potato is. I then leave the potatoes to cool a little then unwrap the foil and peel away the skin with my fingers which comes away very easily. Then I refrigerate the potatoes until needed.

Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.

I have made these flapjacks what feels like a dozen times over Christmas to get the recipe just right for January snacking. I was looking for something oat based to have in the kitchen for the whole family to ward off mid-afternoon hunger pangs that didn’t revolve around refined sugar and think I have struck gold with these little lovelies.

I am spending the first few weeks of this year on diet reset. My sugar, caffeine and martini intake quadrupled over the festive period and my energy levels have seriously plummeted as a result. This is ironic considering I have been resorting to chocolate and builder’s tea to help me battle toddler induced sleep deprivation and focus on keeping him alive during the day. The martinis have been essential to celebrate the fact that my son has been delivered to his bed in one piece each night.

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are a lovely recipe for the whole family, although feel free to omit the salt if you are worried about the intake for children, it’s just there to boost the flavour. A lady came to my cake stall a few weeks ago worried about those of my cakes described as Salted Caramel or Salted Honey. Salt is the new enemy she informed me with a very serious tone. Out of all my cake ingredients it was the 1 teaspoon of salt per layer cake not the 500g of caster sugar which concerned her.

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.

However, these flapjacks have no refined sugar at all. All the sweetness is derived from medjool dates and a banana. However, dates and bananas do have sugar in them so these are still definitely a treat. The flapjacks are chewy and almost fudgey in texture thanks to the banana. I have erred on the texture over sweetness side of things so don’t expect a match for match replacement to your usual flapjack. These satisfy rather than lead to further sugar cravings so at first bite you may think they need to be sweeter but I guarantee you will finish your snack feeling completely satiated. That is also not to say that they are not delicious. Oh by golly gumdrops they are.

You start off by making a salted date caramel which is really just a fancy way of saying dates, water, vanilla and salt whizzed up in a food processor. Although the caramel flavour is not at all misleading, it really is a delicious alternative to the refined sugar version.

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.

When the date caramel is mixed with the melted butter, cashew butter and mashed banana though true magic happens and if you dare to dip a fingertip into this magic elixir before you smother it over the oats, then I warn you, there may be no coming back from it. The fact that these flapjacks made it into the oven at all was a miracle each time. In fact if you eschew the flapjacks entirely and just make a Salted Date Caramel Banana soup then I wouldn’t judge.

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.
Print Recipe
Salted Date Caramel and Banana Flapjacks
These flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking
These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
16
Ingredients
  • 200 g medjool dates
  • 60 ml warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 170 g cashew butter
  • 175 g unsalted butter or use coconut oil to make this cake vegan
  • 1 banana + 1 extra for decoration
  • 350 g gluten-free oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
16
Ingredients
  • 200 g medjool dates
  • 60 ml warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 170 g cashew butter
  • 175 g unsalted butter or use coconut oil to make this cake vegan
  • 1 banana + 1 extra for decoration
  • 350 g gluten-free oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
  2. To make the date caramel pit the dates then place them in a food processor along with the warm water, vanilla extract and salt. Whizz together until completely smooth. You may have to scrap the sides of the processor a few times to help the process along.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat then remove from the heat and stir in the cashew butter, date caramel and mashed banana.
  4. Pour the oats into a large mixing bowl then smother with the banana caramel mixture until it is all mixed well together.
  5. Press the flapjack mixture into the tin so the top is even and smooth. Cut the extra banana into slices then place on the surface of the flapjack. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  7. Once cool, remove from the tin and cut into squares.

Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl

This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a party. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.

This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.

I am not one for celebrating New Year’s Eve. Save for trying to make the best of it at various dodgy house parties in my early twenties I prefer to avoid the whole event and skip to my January detox. One particularly poor New Year memory is the Millennium which I spent traipsing round after an inattentive boyfriend, dropping in on his mates at various raucous pubs, struggling to communicate in the cacophony and due to the impossibility of getting anywhere near the tumultuous bar, not drinking nearly enough to make the whole venture worthwhile. Does this sound familiar to anyone else’s experience? The evening ended on an even higher note though as I managed to lose everyone and cheered in the possible end of the world on a bench in a high street somewhere in Dorset.

This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.

These days I tend to steer clear of the crowds and am more than happy after a festivity fuelled Christmas to watch the end of year fireworks exploding over the London Eye from my sofa with Luke. If I’m feeling particularly spirited I might even flick over to Jools Holland’s Hootananny but by this point I will more than likely have fallen asleep.

This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.

New Year’s Day though is a favourite of mine and we’re bound to be spending it walking Billy Buddy around a frosty Hampstead Heath, swapping resolutions and making plans for our year. I’m very excited about 2017, I have a new look for the blog happening in January which I can’t wait to unveil, although you might have already seen my new logo on Instagram and Twitter. Luke has got a new job which he’s starting soon and Cole is changing every day, the amount of words he has mastered over Christmas is astounding and he has even just started singing which is so much fun.

This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.

However, before all that we will be ringing in 2017 with a sea of Prosecco and the last vestiges of Christmas chocolate and crisps for company in our little family living room party. And of course no party is complete without the obligatory nut bowl, a snack to cross the sweet and salty divide.

I always have odds and ends of nuts clogging up my cupboards and this is a great way to clear them all out for the new year. I have used all kinds of nuts in the past but this time I had a mix of pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamias and hazelnuts I was keen to see the back of and this combo worked pretty deliciously.

This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.

This is basically a much nicer version than those honey roasted nuts you can get in the supermarket which have way too much sugar and feel so incredibly bad for you. The Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is hotly spiced and smoky with chipotle powder, cumin and coriander seeds, plus sticky with honey and crunchy from its blitz in the oven. The perfect accompaniment to New Year, however you choose to spend it.

This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.
Print Recipe
Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl
A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.
This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
a crowd
Ingredients
  • 300 g mixed nuts (I used pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, hazelnuts)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
  • 15 g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
a crowd
Ingredients
  • 300 g mixed nuts (I used pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, hazelnuts)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
  • 15 g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
This Honey Chipotle Nut Bowl is great for bringing out to a crowd. A smoky, spicy, sweet and salty snack which can be made with any combination of leftover nuts.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix the nuts, sesame seeds, salt, chipotle powder, cumin and coriander seeds together in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter with the honey then pour over the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.
  4. Spread it all out on a baking dish lined with greaseproof paper.
  5. Cook for 10 mins, give the nuts a stir then cook for a further 5 mins.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the baking dish before transferring into a serving bowl.
Recipe Notes
  • Keeps well in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks.

Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins {gluten-free}

These Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.

These gluten-free Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.

I know where I am with a good tradition. Little routines and recipes that let my good conscience know that it’s the festive season. I’ve got my trifle, devils on horseback, stockings at the ready and Christmas Spotify playlist on a constant loop. I am thrown a little cock-a-hoop this year with not spending Christmas at home but with babies surrounding us these days and my sister having moved out of London this year, the family is getting bigger and more spread out so I do understand that I can’t hog Christmas anymore. Even if my inner toddler is throwing a mini tanty.

So that makes it even more important in my mind to solidify our own little family traditions where we can and introduce new ones now we have Cole at the centre of the festivities.

Of the three traditions I am welcoming in this year the first is our family advent calendar. Instead of chocolate hiding behind each window I have little cards with activities or special thoughts that I have carefully written for each day in mind. Cole has had great fun picking out the cards and re-arranging them much to mummy’s constant pleasure. So some days have been a little disappointing with empty air filling the windows and some a little overwhelming with Father Christmas to visit, presents to wrap and mince pies to make. I think I got a bit overambitious though with this tradition and might have hidden the advent calendar after the 10th on the realisation of how much work was involved in actually doing what was written on the cards.

These gluten-free Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.

The second tradition is our new memory box which I read all about on Pinterest. It seems a wonderful idea and I can imagine us all gathered around the Christmas tree, sharing anecdotes and cherished moments of this past year. No matter that I haven’t quite got round to buying the beautiful wooden boxes that are associated with this marvellous tradition. Instead we have a bit of scraggy old tupperware that I’m sure will be just as charming to hold our memories in until next year when I’ll order the wooden box by November at the latest.

The third tradition, which is probably the only one to be actualised, are these Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins. I think the title is pretty clear on when I intend to be making these bad boys. I don’t know why I haven’t made them before though as they are absolutely delicious, a cinch to make, without even requiring a food mixer, and best of all use up all the dregs of mincemeat that I always have hanging around my cupboards.

These gluten-free Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.

They are gluten-free, like all my recipes these days, made with a combination of white rice flour and chestnut flour. These Mince Pie Muffins are light and fluffy, but also deliciously moist thanks to the generous amount of apple puree and mincemeat in the batter. I have tried making them with all kinds of mincemeat, with suet, without suet, with nuts and without and they have all been wonderful. I must confess though, my favourite batch was made with my Cranberry and Cointreau Mincemeat which is so lovely fresh and fruity.

Do whizz up the apple puree the night before if you want to make these on Christmas morning as it saves you a boring job when you’d much rather be opening pressies and quaffing back Bucks Fizz, but apart from that they are very simple and I think an excellent new tradition addition.

These gluten-free Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.

These gluten-free Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.
Print Recipe
Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins (gluten-free)
These Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.
These gluten-free Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Servings
12 muffins
Ingredients
For the streusel topping:
  • 35 g white rice flour
  • 30 g chestnut flour
  • 50 g soft light brown sugar
  • 90 g unsalted butter
  • 40 g gluten-free porridge oats
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
For the muffins
  • 200 g mincemeat gluten-free
  • 175 g apple puree about 4-5 apples
  • 120 g soft light brown sugar
  • 80 ml light olive oil not extra virgin
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g white rice flour
  • 50 g chestnut flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Servings
12 muffins
Ingredients
For the streusel topping:
  • 35 g white rice flour
  • 30 g chestnut flour
  • 50 g soft light brown sugar
  • 90 g unsalted butter
  • 40 g gluten-free porridge oats
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
For the muffins
  • 200 g mincemeat gluten-free
  • 175 g apple puree about 4-5 apples
  • 120 g soft light brown sugar
  • 80 ml light olive oil not extra virgin
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g white rice flour
  • 50 g chestnut flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
These gluten-free Christmas Morning Mince Pie Muffins are exactly what you should be treating your family to Christmas morning. They are light, fluffy, moist and full of Christmas spice and cheer.
Instructions
  1. First line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases and pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Prepare the streusel by placing the flours, sugar, butter, oats and spice in a large mixing bowl and rubbing together between your fingers. The streusel should come together but still be crumbly. Set aside whilst you prepare the muffin batter.
  3. Pour the mincemeat, apple puree, sugar, eggs and olive oil into a large mixing bowl and beat together until combined.
  4. In another mixing bowl sift together the flours, spice, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl, then tip into the liquid batter.
  5. Beat together for a minute or so until everything is well mixed then evenly distribute between the muffin cases.
  6. Crumble the streusel on top of the muffins then bake in the oven for 22-24 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and immediately remove the muffins from the tin and leave on a rack to cool.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe was very heavily adapted from Alice Medrich’s Banana Muffins in her amazing book ‘Flavor Flours’

Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle {gluten-free}

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

This year for the first year I am not hosting Christmas. I am not pre-ordering a turkey, stockpiling crackers or heaving the Christmas crockery down from the attic. Instead we are spending Christmas at my sister’s with her partner and my brand new niece. Cole has yet to meet his tiny baby cousin and we just can’t wait to get them together.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

It’s going to be a totally different Christmas for me as usually whilst everyone is chilling out with glasses of buck fizz, nibbling on nuts and chocolate and playing pre-lunchtime games, I am in a merry haze in the kitchen juggling brussel sprouts, frantically whisking gravies and wedging the pigs in blankets into an oven bursting at the seams.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

My sister has only made two food-related requests of me this year, that I bring the Christmas pudding and The Trifle. I am not taking my duties lightly either as these two dessert options are non-negotiable in our family. Christmas might as well be cancelled if neither are produced at the end of our midday banquet. No matter that none of us are able to manage one more mouthful after the full on turkey feast let alone a bowlful of two incredibly rich desserts. We struggle on nevertheless and more often than not leap in for seconds. There is enough of both desserts to feed twenty families and by December 27th you can usually find me face deep inside the fridge digging out inroads of leftover trifle on a teaspoon (the diet spoon). It is imperative to gather enough sponge, fruit, custard and cream for each bite, the teaspoon makes it a challenge but I assure you it is possible.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

Every year I tweak my trifle recipe depending on which fruit I am fancying. But this year for extra fun I have also adapted my trifle recipe to be gluten-free. I created a delicious almond sponge for Cole’s first birthday back in June and this has proved to be the perfect base for the trifle. It is a lovely sturdy sponge which it important as it has to soak up rather a lot of limoncello without dissolving into a pile of sog.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

I have also taken inspiration from Nigel Slater’s Lemon Trifle from his Kitchen Diaries cookbook as my love for his recipe knows no bounds. I have mercilessly cribbed the bits I love best from it, namely the use of limoncello as the alcohol soak for the bottom layer of sponge and his idea of a fruit curd for the fruit base. He uses lemon, but here I have used a very easy homemade raspberry curd. Then I copied directly his no-egg lemon custard, which is made from only double cream, caster sugar and lemon juice, to ladle on top of the curd. At this point you leave the trifle to rest overnight and the custard sets like a dream. I usually take the recipe to this stage on Christmas Eve (or even the 23rd if there is room in the fridge to store) and then whip up the double cream for spooning on top of the whole affair just before serving on Christmas Day.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

It is a magnificent way to end the most indulgent meal of the year and in our family Christmas would not be the same without it. We also cannot possibly forget the tradition of exclaiming after the first mouthful how much this year’s trifle is the best one ever. There is no way that my Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle will disappoint us.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.

This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.
Print Recipe
Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle
A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge, drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with a dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish. Serves 10-12
This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
10-12 people
Ingredients
For the almond sponge:
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 120 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 90 g gluten-free plain flour
  • 90 g ground almonds
  • ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons limoncello
For the raspberry curd:
  • 150 g raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry powder optional – see notes
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 55 g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
For the lemon custard:
  • 500 ml double cream
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 100 ml lemon juice from about 3 lemons
For the topping:
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 20 g flaked almonds
  • 75 g raspberries
Equipment
  • 20 cm round trifle bowl
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
10-12 people
Ingredients
For the almond sponge:
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 120 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 90 g gluten-free plain flour
  • 90 g ground almonds
  • ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons limoncello
For the raspberry curd:
  • 150 g raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry powder optional – see notes
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 55 g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
For the lemon custard:
  • 500 ml double cream
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 100 ml lemon juice from about 3 lemons
For the topping:
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 20 g flaked almonds
  • 75 g raspberries
Equipment
  • 20 cm round trifle bowl
This Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Trifle is a perfectly special way to end your winter feast. A gluten-free lemon and almond sponge is drizzled with limoncello, cosseted by a thick blanket of raspberry curd and topped with dreamy lemon custard and clouds of double cream. A crunch of toasted almonds and fresh raspberries are scattered to finish.
Instructions
To make the almond sponge
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line and grease a 7 inch square cake tin.
  2. Beat the sugars with the butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions.
  4. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt then beat into the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the tin and then place in the oven
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about four hours.
  8. Once cool, cut circles out of the sponge which are easier to assemble into the bottom of the trifle bowl. When your sponge is in place then spoon over the limoncello.
To make the raspberry curd
  1. Heat the raspberries in a medium saucepan with a small splash of water until the raspberries have completely softened. Strain, keeping the juice for the curd.
  2. In a medium saucepan combine the strained raspberry juice, raspberry powder, lemon juice, caster sugar and butter and whisk them together whilst bringing to a low boil.
  3. Remove from the heat then pour a splash of the raspberry into the beaten eggs and whisk well, pour a little bit more of the raspberry in and continue whisking, then continue pouring the raspberry liquid into the eggs in a slow stream until combined.
  4. Pour it all back into the saucepan and bring to a boil, still whisking all the time, then continue whisking for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain so the curd is very smooth.
  6. Place the curd in the fridge for an hour to cool.
  7. Once the curd has cooled then spoon over the limoncello soaked sponge in an even layer.
To make the lemon custard
  1. Pour the double cream and the sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, allowing to simmer for a couple of minutes.
  2. Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Pour the lemon custard over the raspberry curd and place in the fridge, this time to rest overnight so the custard can set.
The final layer:
  1. Whip the double cream until thick then spoon over the top of the trifle. Decorate with toasted almonds and fresh raspberries.
Recipe Notes
  • The raspberry powder is completely optional. It does amp up the raspberry taste but the main reason for using is to improve the colour otherwise the curd can look a little grey.

Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart {gluten-free}

This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.

This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.

The holiday baking starts here. I hadn’t meant to leave it over two weeks in between posts but I have been working on the market stall every weekend for the past few weeks, doing winter fairs and my usual spot at Tottenham Green Market and it’s left little room for anything else. It’s been the best ever season for my stall which I finally transitioned to be 100% gluten-free in October and I have had a brilliant response from it. I am still working on tweaking the recipe for a few of my more popular wheat cakes to taste just as good in their gluten-free form so any spare half hour I have I am flinging cakes in the oven. There is a lot of half eaten cake in our house at the moment.

This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.

I hadn’t even really thought how turning my stall gluten-free would affect my preserves and it was only when looking at my ingredients list that I noticed cheeky gluten hiding in a few of my recipes. The ale in my Boxing Day Ale Chutney has now been swapped for a gluten-free variety, the flour in my Piccalilli has been substituted for cornflour and tapioca starch but doom fell upon my kitchen during the curse-laden end of my Traditional Mincemeat prep. I was ding donging merrily on high along with spotify, happily pouring in boxes of suet to all the other ingredients, when what to my wandering eyes should appear but a treacherous coating of flour on each individual strand of suet. It was way too late by then to salvage the situation so instead of tossing the lot which I couldn’t bring myself to do I now have one thing on my stall that isn’t gluten-free. I still have a lot of love for it despite its tainted status as it’s a pretty fantastic mincemeat, made with real beef along with the suet. Not a veggie fantasy. I am also soothed by the fact that my Cranberry and Cointreau Mincemeat is naturally gluten-free so ingredient intolerant customers do not have to go without.

This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.

One of my favourite preserves at this time of year though is the ubiquitous cranberry sauce and once you have tried a homemade version you will be convinced, like me, to eat it all year round. I make loads of jars of it at the end of November when the supermarkets just begin to stock up and from then on I am pretty much game to serve cranberry sauce with anything. This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart though is where the cranberry sauce really shines. It pairs so well with the stilton and chestnut that you really don’t need to look any further if you are wondering what to do with the rest of your jar after the turkey has been eaten.

My mum, who hates stilton, took an extra slice home with her after visiting this weekend. Luke, who always claims he hates quichey things, was thrilled when I made the tart two days running for supper. Cole though made it clear that he preferred the tart when he was eating it from our plates rather than his, so you might want to take his feedback into consideration when serving it out. Also, if you eat the tart straight out of the oven then you get that melty cheese factor which is so good. By letting it rest out of the oven for a couple of hours the tart will firm up so it’s a bit more stable if you like it that way or if you need to transport it anywhere.

This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.

I have wanted to experiment with gluten-free pastry for a while now but had heard so many crumbly, dry or soggy horror stories that I have been putting it off. However, my happy experiences with the recipes in Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s Alternative Baker encouraged me to give her pastry a go as well. I changed things a little as I wanted to make a savoury tart rather than a sweet tart but I mostly followed her instruction for her buckwheat flaky pastry and I have to say that the pastry tasted great on the very first go. Both the texture with the flaky snap of the tart case, and the buttery taste which is made more complex by the variety of flours, including one of my faves, buckwheat, has left me thoroughly satisfied that this can be my new go-to pastry.

I have since made this tart a few times and except for an extra two minutes to sift the different flours together, this pastry comes together just as quickly as my normal wheat flour version. In fact quicker as you don’t need to work the pastry as much or bother with chilling it every time you go near it as the gluten doesn’t need to rest.

This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.

I am really enjoying my gluten-free experiments these days, it is forcing me to try new things and think about my ingredients in a different way rather than relying on the dominance of wheat flour. It makes every little success in the kitchen that bit more rewarding as careful thought has been put into every ingredient. I know I am opening up my recipes to a wider audience and it doesn’t hurt that I can now eat everything on my stall, give or take a mincemeat.

This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.
Print Recipe
Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart
This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.
This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
For the pastry:
  • 80 g sweet white rice flour
  • 25 g oat flour
  • 45 g buckwheat flour
  • 30 g cornflour
  • 15 g tapioca starch
  • 15 g ground chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 115 g cold unsalted butter cut into very thin slices
  • 1 egg medium, lightly beaten
  • 2-4 tablespoons iced water
  • A few tablespoons of a gluten-free flour blend for rolling
  • 1 egg beaten for the egg wash
For the filling:
  • 15 g salted butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 400 ml crème fraiche
  • 175 g Stilton crumbled
  • 100 g vacuum packed chestnuts roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 75 g cranberry sauce
Equipment:
  • 25 cm round tart tin
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
For the pastry:
  • 80 g sweet white rice flour
  • 25 g oat flour
  • 45 g buckwheat flour
  • 30 g cornflour
  • 15 g tapioca starch
  • 15 g ground chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 115 g cold unsalted butter cut into very thin slices
  • 1 egg medium, lightly beaten
  • 2-4 tablespoons iced water
  • A few tablespoons of a gluten-free flour blend for rolling
  • 1 egg beaten for the egg wash
For the filling:
  • 15 g salted butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 400 ml crème fraiche
  • 175 g Stilton crumbled
  • 100 g vacuum packed chestnuts roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 75 g cranberry sauce
Equipment:
  • 25 cm round tart tin
This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.
Instructions
To make the pastry
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, chia seeds and salt.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour in between your fingertips so it resembles very rough breadcrumbs then stir in the beaten egg with a fork.
  3. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and start to bring the dough together with a pastry scraper. It should start to form quite quickly.
  4. Tip the dough onto the work surface and bring the ball into a round ball. You want the pastry to still be a little sticky.
  5. Wrap the pastry in greaseproof paper and flatten the ball slightly.
  6. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  8. Dust the work surface with a gluten-free flour blend then roll the pastry out into a circle large enough to line a 25cm tart tin.
  9. Once you have lined the pastry in the tin and neatened the edges with a knife, place greaseproof paper over the pastry, so it comes up the sides, then fill the tin with baking beans.
  10. Place the tart tin in the oven for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven then remove the baking beans and parchment and brush the surface of the pastry with the beaten egg.
  11. Place back in the oven for a final five minutes to seal the pastry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature before adding the filling.
To make the filling
  1. First prepare the onions by adding them into a saucepan along with the salted butter. Cook on a low heat for 25-30 minutes until the onions are completely soft, translucent and just beginning to caramelise around the edges. Leave to cool for half an hour before adding to the other ingredients.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and crème fraiche together, then add the stilton, chestnuts, caramelised onions, salt and pepper. Do reserve some of the stilton and chestnuts for crumbling onto the top.
  4. Pour the filling into the ready-baked pastry case and then dot the remaining stilton, chestnuts and cranberry sauce on top.
  5. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. You can either eat the tart straightaway hot from the oven or leave to come to room temperature where the tart will firm up a little more.

Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake {gluten-free}

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.

I am hooked into stories. I was an early reader and would consume book after book. Now, I’m not saying these books I read were all that literary, I grew up reading a lot of Jilly Cooper. But I studied English Literature at A-Level and then Film and Literature at university so my love for fictional worlds and their impact on society continued and evolved, my life became analysing books and films for credit and I was consumed by it. Although Jilly Cooper never made the syllabus for some reason.

Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake

I get totally invested in these stories, obsessed by the characters in them and although I am not reading that much at the moment, as the mere action of picking up a book seems to summon sleep in seconds, I still watch a bit of TV. I would have professed to have left my obsessive nature of it behind though since being a mother, running my own business and paying a mortgage has really made me grow up. Then on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend this week I discovered that Greg, one of the main characters in the series, has left the show for good and I broke down and cried when the internet confirmed it. But I loved him, my nearly 36 year old self sobbed to my husband, why won’t he come back.

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.

The sadness I feel when I have to say goodbye to these characters is weird but real. In times gone by I have had to bid a fond adieu to Buffy Summers which took me years to get over, Felicity Porter and Ben Covington and not to mention the loss of Veronica Mars. In 2007 though I was struck by devastation again when I was forced by the powers that be to say goodbye to Stars Hollow, a place I had come to think of as a second home. I had heard about Gilmore Girls just after it finished airing in the US but it hadn’t been on TV in the UK so I imported the first box set over on a whim. Soon I had binged the whole seven series, getting up at 6am so I could sneak in an episode before work and staying up into the early hours to get them in. I was not enjoying my job and these girls and their life was a pleasant refuge.

I shared the DVDs with my Mum and we would mail them to each other back and forth, bickering over which of Rory’s boyfriends was the best (duh, Jess forever!!), how thoughtless Lorelei was being and why the hell was April suddenly on the scene. Then it was over, season seven finished a bit up in the air and we couldn’t believe there wasn’t any more. I scoured for any articles or a glimpse of information on another series, a movie but nothing. It was done.

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.

In my last days of pregnancy Mum sent me the DVDs back through the post and for the first few weeks of Cole’s life I re-watched the whole thing again, babe in arms, on the sofa. Too petrified to leave the house with my newborn and too tired to do anything other than nurse and watch TV. I was sure I could see his little eyes flutter every time he heard the Carol King theme tune (rolling his eyes- never!) and I would sing it to him to calm him down when he was fractious. I still do (despite his protests).

So incase you don’t know, Gilmore Girls is back tomorrow. Friday November 25th a special day, and to say I am excited is to underestimate my devotion, fandom and the fact that I probably don’t have a social life. It’s like PI day all over again (March 14th 2014 when Veronica Mars returned to me). So this week I have done what any sane baker would do in this instance, I baked a cake to commemorate the day and I’m going to eat it all tomorrow, fork in one hand, remote in the other. Of course if you know Gilmore Girls then I had no choice but to bake a coffee cake as those girls sure do like their coffee coffee coffee. It’s a Pecan Butterscotch Latte cake and I think one of the most delicious cakes I sell on my market stall so I am thrilled to find an excellent reason to share it with you.

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.

I came up with the recipe as customers kept asking me if I did a coffee and walnut cake and although I have baked many a coffee and walnut in the past I never thought it was that special to warrant a place on the stall. So I fixed it. This Pecan Butterscotch Latte cake is truly wonderful, packed full of pecans, which are finely ground and add a really rich flavour, further impounded by the toffee taste of the light muscovado sugar and the butterscotch notes of the oat flour. The coffee powder I use is Nescafé Azera which can be used directly into the batter and icing without needing to be dissolved. It’s a strong and deep coffee flavour, perfectly balanced by the sweet notes of the sponge. The icing is a traditional buttercream but made creamier by the mascarpone so you feel you are drinking a light frothy coffee. A latte if I may be so bold. It’s my perfect cake for a celebration and tomorrow you betcha I’ll be celebrating.

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.

Oh, and if you too are a fan of Gilmore Girls and are as excited about the reunion as me then I hope you also know about the Gilmore Guys podcast which is brilliant and funny and excellent company for me during my baking days. You must check them out as they really make me smile.

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.
Print Recipe
Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake
This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.
This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
12 people
Ingredients
Cake
  • 440 g light muscovado sugar
  • 350 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 160 g rice flour
  • 50 g oat flour
  • 160 g ground pecans
  • tablespoons coffee powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Icing
  • 300 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon coffee powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 12 pecan halves to decorate
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
12 people
Ingredients
Cake
  • 440 g light muscovado sugar
  • 350 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 160 g rice flour
  • 50 g oat flour
  • 160 g ground pecans
  • tablespoons coffee powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Icing
  • 300 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon coffee powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 12 pecan halves to decorate
This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is a gluten-free delight, the sponge flavourful with ground pecans, oat flour and muscovado sugar. The buttercream whipped to light perfection with a touch of mascarpone and all imbued with a rich coffee aroma.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line and grease 2 x 20cm round baking tins
  2. Cream the sugar and butter for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down after each addition and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Then add the maple syrup and vanilla extract, mixing in well.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, ground pecans, coffee powder, baking powder and salt. Add it to the rest of the batter and beat well until the batter is smooth.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cakes from the oven and carefully turn out onto wire racks to cool completely before icing.
  8. For the icing beat the butter and sugar together for ten minutes until airy.
  9. Add the mascarpone, coffee powder and salt and beat again until incorporated.
  10. To assemble the cake spread the icing on one layer of the cake, enough so that the icing spills out a little over the sides. Place the second layer on top and spread some more icing evenly over the surface.
  11. Smooth the icing which is peeking out of the middle over the sides of the cake very thinly to achieve the naked cake effect.
  12. Decorate the top of the cake with the pecan halves.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

This Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread is the most moist and delicious pumpkin bread you will eat this Autumn. Nutty with brown butter and encrusted with cinnamon sweetened pumpkin seeds for crunch, the alternative flours used not only make it gluten-free but deepen the flavour and give it a slight chew which is incredibly addictive. It’s also easy to make using a couple of mixing bowls and a wooden spoon for company.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.

You may begin to notice a bit of a difference in this blog and also my cake stall if you are planning on visiting me in the near future. Lately I have been completely converted to gluten-free baking. I feel it’s too early days to say whether the switch will be permanent but I’m finding working with alternative flours so exciting at the moment that I’m forging ahead with gusto.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.

I have spoken on my blog ad naseum about my relationship with gluten-free eating but I’ll just mention again, ignoring the groans, how it really helped my well-being, tiredness, bloating and daily nausea back when I changed my eating habits. However, this has been a contradiction to how I have always baked. I love to bake, I have great feedback from my cakes and indeed earn money from them. Even though about a quarter of my cake stall has always been gluten-free, I have been reluctant to convert to a 100% gluten-free business, knowing I would be leaving behind beloved recipes and perhaps alienating my customer base.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.

However, my baking indulgences have been veering more and more towards the use of alternative flours. I don’t mean the gluten-free all-purpose blends you can buy, which I certainly don’t sniff at as they are in constant use in my kitchen and used in several of my cakes. However, I think to rely on just that blend is reductive to the possibilities of gluten-free baking. I have been reading about, playing with and doing a great amount of tasting recently and have been astounded by the sheer variety of flours out there which all behave and taste utterly different.

A comment which really resonated with me came in the introduction to Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s new book ‘Alternative Baker’ where she talks about a conversation she had with her husband over a wheat flour cupcake. It wasn’t the gluten they had the issue with but the blandness of it. It’s true, baking with these ‘Flavour Flours’ as Alice Medrich terms them in her book of the same name adds further interest to the bake and by choosing complimentary flours in your recipe you can really add resonance to the flavour.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.

Now, not all of these flours are not readily available in your local supermarket, although times are a-changing, but they are easy to get hold of if you have no problem with ordering off Amazon, or you have an Asian supermarket or a particularly on the button health food shop nearby. The flours individually are not too much more expensive that regular old plain flour but since you will be buying more than one and you will probably have to add delivery on top of that cost then this way of baking doesn’t come cheap. However, cake is a treat so do think of it like that if you are balking at the investment, plus since you will only be dipping into each bag these flours will be good for several cakes. And the results are so worth it, it almost goes without saying.

Alternative Flours

The ones I have chosen to help me out with my gluten-free pumpkin bread are:

Sweet Rice Flour
Also called glutinous rice flour, it doesn’t contain gluten and is not the same as ordinary white rice flour. It helps to bind the other flours together, adding moisture and a slight chew to the bake.

Sorghum Flour
This flour is bursting with an earthy nutty flavour. It has a great wholegrain texture which sits perfectly with the pumpkin and spices.

Millet Flour
I have used the millet flour here for bulking out the flour mix. It doesn’t have a strong taste so doesn’t overwhelm the finished bake.

Potato Starch
This adds lightness to the bake so the finished result doesn’t end up stodgy.

You may not have a gluten-free diet, but dismissing these flours as a fad would be a shame since they can add so much to a baking repertoire. Plus, now I’ve discovered them, you might be seeing a lot more of them on this blog. If you can, I urge you to give this recipe a try, I really hope you notice the difference in this pumpkin bread which is so much more than you could ever think possible rather than just another pumpkin bread recipe.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.
Print Recipe
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread
A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.
A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
10 people
Ingredients
  • 400 g pumpkin puree I used tinned
  • 270 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs medium
  • 160 g unsalted butter
  • 125 g sweet white rice flour
  • 110 g sorghum flour
  • 100 g millet flour
  • 65 g potato starch
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 30 g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch of cinnamon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
10 people
Ingredients
  • 400 g pumpkin puree I used tinned
  • 270 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs medium
  • 160 g unsalted butter
  • 125 g sweet white rice flour
  • 110 g sorghum flour
  • 100 g millet flour
  • 65 g potato starch
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 30 g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch of cinnamon
A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line and grease a 9 inch loaf tin.
  2. First you want to turn your butter into melted brown butter. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat over a medium flame. The butter will melt. Listen carefully and the butter will start hissing and cracking and forming little brown bits at the bottom of the pan. You want to wait until the noises start to subside, the butter smells toasty and is turning a darker colour. Remove from the heat as soon as it’s ready so it doesn’t begin to burn.
  3. Pour the butter into a food mixer or large mixing bowl along with the pumpkin puree, sugar and eggs and beat until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt then add to the rest of the mix. Beat until well mixed.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking tin and scatter the pumpkin seeds evenly over the top.
  6. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
  7. Leave the pumpkin bread for 5 minutes to settle in the cake tin, then turn out onto a cooling rack and leave for a moment whilst you prepare the cinnamon syrup.
  8. Pour the caster sugar, water and cinnamon into a small saucepan and turn the heat onto low. When the sugar has melted then turn the heat off and brush the syrup over the top of the pumpkin bread. Leave to cool completely before you slice and serve.

The Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road

This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.

This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.

Gosh Rocky Road is dangerous. It’s the kind of treat which you would make with kids in mind, maybe it’s a birthday party, or the school cake sale. It’s fine, it’s for the children, I am doing such a nice thing for them. Now here, let’s load it with sprinkles as that’s what children like.

This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.

Now you might not really call yourself a sprinkles person, they look pretty but don’t really tell you what you’re about to eat is anything more than a fun whimsical food. Nothing I can’t handle. Here would be your mistake. You are underestimating this rocky road as you think you are making it for the children and the sprinkles are evidence of that.

This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.

You are wrong, this Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road is sheer nirvana, for adults and children alike, and if you are tempted to try a small square whilst you are cutting it up or arranging on the plate then don’t say I didn’t warn you as it will be highly likely that your lovingly prepared treats will not make it to little Jimmy’s birthday party and probably won’t contribute to raising money for new equipment for the school gym.

This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.

The best case scenario is that you don’t eat the whole batch yourself. And if you think I’m exaggerating then let’s break it down.

Do you like chocolate? Why yes, I love chocolate. Do you like marshmallows? Well, I wouldn’t say no to them toasted over a campfire. What about sweet n’ salty popcorn? Does ordering a jumbo bucket at the cinema every Saturday evening count? Yes it does. Then yes, I’m in for popcorn. Glace cherries perhaps? They have a certain retro charm. Biscuits? Oh yes, dunked in my tea at 4pm every day. Some roasted cashews? Naturally, they are part of my very healthy lifestyle. Now mix the lot together and Bob’s your bingo, your diet is done-zo.

I should know, I have had several batches of this Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road come and go out of my fridge for the past two weeks and there is no saving me. And what’s more, I don’t think I want to be saved.

This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.

This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.
Print Recipe
The Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road
This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.
This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.
Servings
16
Ingredients
  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 150 g milk chocolate
  • 175 g soft butter
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g sweet n’salty popcorn see notes for recipe
  • 125 g biscuits chopped and a little crushed (I use gluten-free Hobnobs but if you are ok with gluten then I recommend using biscoff biscuits)
  • 75 g unsalted roasted cashews
  • 125 g glace cherries diced
  • 125 g mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons sprinkles
Servings
16
Ingredients
  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 150 g milk chocolate
  • 175 g soft butter
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g sweet n’salty popcorn see notes for recipe
  • 125 g biscuits chopped and a little crushed (I use gluten-free Hobnobs but if you are ok with gluten then I recommend using biscoff biscuits)
  • 75 g unsalted roasted cashews
  • 125 g glace cherries diced
  • 125 g mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons sprinkles
This Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road hits all the right notes; sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy and most importantly really chocolatey.
Instructions
  1. Line and grease a 12 inch x 9 inch cake tin.
  2. In a bain marie melt the chocolate with the butter and golden syrup.
  3. Once melted pour in, in this order, the biscuit pieces, the nuts, the glace cherries, the popcorn, remove from the heat, then pour in the mini marshmallows. Coat thoroughly with the chocolate.
  4. Pour the rocky road into the prepared tin, then scatter the sprinkles evenly over the top. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.
  5. Remove from the fridge and cut into squares.
Recipe Notes