Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing {gluten-free}

Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing is a gluten-free cake that makes the most of summer’s bounty and is perfectly light, moist and incredibly moreish.

courgette cake on a plate

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 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.

courgette cake on a cooling rack

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.

ingredients for courgette cake

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.

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.

courgette cake batter in a kitchenaid mixer

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.

courgette cake

Courgette Oatmeal Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Icing {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 Time30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Servings: 16 slices
Calories: 504kcal


  • 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


  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line a grease a 13x9x4 inch baking tin.
  • In a large bowl (or stand mixer) beat together the sugar, olive oil and eggs until smooth and thick.
  • Add all the other ingredients in, except for the courgette, and beat until everything is fully mixed together.
  • Finally stir in the courgette until evenly dispersed and pour into the prepared baking tin.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes and covering with foil if the cake seems to be browning too much.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Carrot Spice Cake in Flavor Flours


Calories: 504kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 186mg | Potassium: 198mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 540IU | Vitamin C: 7.3mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 0.9mg

If you like this recipe then you may like…

Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake

This gluten-free Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake is the best carrot cake you will ever taste. Full of sweet earthy goodness thanks to using both golden beetroot and carrots; complex with pecans, sultanas and apples; perfectly complimented with a not too sweet cream cheese buttercream and adorned with the delightful crunch of a salted pecan praline and candied beetroot and carrots.

Courgette Relish

Courgette Relish on a wooden box with forks

Jalapeno Honey Courgette Cornbread

Jalapeno Honey Courgette Cornbread on a wooden board with a knife next to courgette and jalapenos

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.

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies
Print Recipe
4.5 from 2 votes

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies are foolproof, with minimal ingredients, no fuss and are absolutely delicious.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time23 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 15 cookies
Calories: 161kcal


  • 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


  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C /160°C fan/gas mark 4 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Whisk the egg and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until combined.
  • Add the cashew butter, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt until the batter is smooth and thick.
  • Finally stir in the chocolate chips until evenly dispersed.
  • 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 a little salt on top of each cookie and press down slightly.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes until the cookies are just turning golden.
  • 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.


Making your own cashew butter is easy. See my recipe here.


Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 118mg | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1.1mg
Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

If you’re looking for an energising delicious breakfast shake which is gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan then this Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake has your name all over it. Guaranteed to motivate you and your body.

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.

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).

The Ultimate Fast Food

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

What ingredients to put in a protein shake

There are so many delicious and healthful choices to include in a protein shake. I prefer to keep mine dairy-free but there are several substitutions you can make here.

  • Avocado – makes the shake deliciously creamy
  • Banana – gives the shake sweetness and thickness
  • Almond butter – excellent source of protein (you can sub with cashew butter)
  • Kale – for our vitamins and iron
  • Chia seeds – more delicious protein
  • Flaxseed – and even more protein
  • Hemp powder – plant based protein powder
  • Matcha – for flavour and calming properties
  • Coconut water – thinning down our thick shake with flavour (you can use tap water)

The result is creamy, refreshing and satisfying. The perfect start to the day.


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 grassy flavour that becomes quite addictive.

How much Matcha to use

Various brands of matcha have different strengths so if you are unsure how the strength of your matcha holds up to other brands then being by using only 1 teaspoon. Give the shake a try and if it seems a bit light on the delicate earthy grassy notes matcha is renowned for then add another.


Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

An energising delicious breakfast shake which is gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan. Guaranteed to motivate you and your body.
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: British
Servings: 1 large shake
Calories: 542kcal


  • blender


  • 1 banana
  • ½ avocado
  • 25 g 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
  • 250 ml coconut water
  • 3 ice cubes


  • Bung it all in the blender, blitz until smooth and away you go!


  • The recipe specifies to blanch the kale which makes it easier to digest. However, if you don't have the time then you can add it in de-stemmed and raw.
  • You can swap the almond butter for cashew butter or peanut butter to mix up your morning flavours.
  • I use a very high quality grade matcha tea which is a clear bright green colour. The brighter the green the better the tea quality.
  • The finished shake is quite thick. You can thin it down by using more ice cubes and coconut water. If you go down this route then the shake would probably serve 2 people.


Calories: 542kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 287mg | Potassium: 1826mg | Fiber: 21g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 2920IU | Vitamin C: 56.3mg | Calcium: 251mg | Iron: 4.9mg



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.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

Chipotle Braised Brisket

I love living in London for the simple reason of choice. We have a few brilliant butchers within walking distance from my house which I frequent on a weekly basis. Or if we liked we could get our meat from the farmers’ market. Our closest one is the one at Ally Pally and is the one we go to most often, but if we fancy making a bit of a trip then we sometimes go to Broadway Market over in Hackney on a Saturday.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

The grand choice of butchers and farms pretty much on our doorstep doesn’t always mean I can quite manage to leave the house though and once in a while I like to treat myself and buy our meat from Turner & George, an online butcher who deliver around London. The joy of this obviously being that it gets sent directly to my front door and I don’t even have to change out of my pyjamas. Turner & George prices are extremely reasonable and they do things like preserved bone marrow, boneless chicken legs and an absolute plethora of gluten-free sausages. Best of all, when it arrives, the order explains the provenance of each animal so you feel you know exactly what you are eating and where it came from. I don’t prefer either option, the butchers, the farmers’ market or an online delivery but it is fun to mix it up.

A few weeks ago after receiving my bounty from Turner & George after a particularly indulgent spree I found I had two beef briskets in my package. After checking with my original order it appeared that I had clicked on the item twice which was a bit of a pain. Brisket is a bit special occasion meat in our house, not due to its expense, as really it’s incredibly economical, but due to the longevity of its cooking time. Whereas your usual stewed meat might be done in 3 or 4 hours, to reach its optimum succulence brisket requires a good 8 hours of cooking time. I have tried whacking up the heat, slicing it thinly but have always been disappointed when I try to rush the process. As you can imagine, not every day allows for the level of organisation required to assemble your evening meal at 10am, and guarantee you are going to be in the whole day to monitor proceedings.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

Also, our household only consists of two hungry souls, well there are six but I don’t think I’ll count Willow, Wesley, Billy Buddy (and Little Bean yet) as far as portioning out the brisket is concerned. So a 1.5kg cut of brisket sees us through the week and then some. Two briskets then, wasn’t necessarily welcomed as good fortune, especially since freezer space is limited due to my ice cream obession.

The first brisket I prepared the day it arrived, I cooked it low and slow with plenty of onions, tomatoes and garlic and served it with a hot and spicy barbecue sauce. It wasn’t the prettiest affair but it was delicious. After working our way through that for a week I didn’t feel enough enthusiasm to repeat the meal so soon so I managed to squeeze the other brisket in the freezer, which called for a couple of tubs of ice cream to be promptly removed and eaten, and waited for inspiration to hit.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

I have been meaning to write about beef tacos on my blog for a while. We eat them a lot, they always feel like a bit of a treat as they come loaded with all the best things in life, cheese, sour cream and guacamole plus I have an excellent recipe for the cooking spices which I’ve been honing throughout my cooking years. When I decided that I would make tacos again this week I suddenly realised this was exactly what my extra beef brisket had been sent to me to achieve. A smokily spiced extravaganza but still packed with a mountain of onions and peppers just like my normal beef taco recipe. But here, the meat would be melting into the juices and softly scooped into the taco before being loaded with all its accoutrements.

Chipotle Braised Brisket Tacos

Needless to say it worked out particularly well, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it with you. I used both dried chipotle and chipotle in adobo for the chilli hit, then added sweetly smoked paprika, warming cumin and coriander to round out the spices. I piled sliced onions into the bottom of the casserole dish so that they became a sturdy thicket for the brisket and I added a litre of stock around the meat, as I have paid the price before for not adding enough cooking liquid to my brisket. Over the course of the 7-8 hour braise most of the stock is reduced to an aromatic syrupy gravy, sparky with lime and spices and cushioned with caramelised onions and the sliver of peppers which are added in the last half hour of cooking so they don’t disappear into oblivion.

I have eaten my Chipotle Braised Brisket two meals in a row in soft and warmed corn tacos but this evening I plan on rustling up some spicy coriander rice to accompany my next incarnation of this most delicious of briskets.

Chipotle Braised Brisket Tacos

Chipotle Braised Brisket

1.5kg beef brisket, unrolled
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted and crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted and crushed
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
1 litre hot beef stock
1 dried chipotle
1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon sugar
5 cooking onions, sliced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly
1 green pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, spring onions and warmed soft corn tacos

  1. Take the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, paprika, garlic and seasoning and rub all over the brisket. If you have time you can leave the rub to permeate the meat for up to eight hours.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  3. Soak the dried chipotle in the hot stock for 15 minutes. Take the chipotle out of the stock, then remove stalk and the seeds and chop finely.
  4. Put the chipotle back into the stock, then add in the chipotle in adobo, malt vinegar, lime juice and sugar and stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Take a huge casserole dish and arrange the sliced onions in a heap at the bottom, then place the brisket on top. Pour the stock around the brisket, but not on top of the meat. Place the lid on and
  6. Cook the brisket for about 7 hours but do check every hour to make sure the meat isn’t going dry.
  7. After 7 hours, remove the brisket and cut into slices, the knife should melt into the meat.
  8. Stir the sliced peppers into the oniony chipotle gravy at the bottom of the casserole dish, then add the brisket on top, submerging it into the gravy so it doesn’t go dry.
  9. Place the lid back on the casserole dish and put back in the oven for about half an hour until the peppers are cooked and the brisket is pretty much falling apart.

Spiced Pear Butter and Hazelnut Praline Cake

Spiced Pear Butter and Hazelnut Praline Cake (gluten-free)
This cake has become one of my favourite cakes of the season and is an absolute winner on my cake stall on a Sunday. It’s one of those all-rounder cakes which is good any time of the day; for breakfast, elevenses or a tea-time treat. It’s also elevated by the fact that it is gluten-free and dairy-free so it is perfectly amenable to the most common of food intolerances. I even had a lady come to my stall on Sunday who couldn’t eat any fat and this one perfectly ticked the box for that dietary requirement too. And did I mention that it’s deliciously moist, packed full of spicy fruity flavour and gilded with a crunchy golden praline too? Well it is.

Spiced Pear Butter and Hazelnut Praline Cake

Although my experiments with gluten-free flour and gluten substitutions are ongoing, I have found that my most successful gluten-free cakes are the one that are created without any thought at all in the direction of flour. I know of one cake company that specialises in ‘accidently gluten-free’ cakes which I think is a lovely way of describing that their cakes were never intended to go anywhere near gluten in the first place. These cakes have an identity of their own, without feeling like inferior substitutes of the real thing.

The secret ingredient of this cake, well actually it’s not so secret as I’ve put it right there in the title of the recipe, is a spiced pear butter. You may recall a couple of weeks ago I was waxing lyrical about the apple butter I used as the main ingredient of my Toffee Apple Cupcakes, well this pear butter is made in much the same way and is just as delicious. It feels almost criminal to take the pear butter and use is solely for this cake, despite how wonderful the cake is, but don’t worry I’ve amped up the quantities of the butter in the recipe below so it should be enough to make two cakes, or you can use the rest to spread on a crumpet, dollop on your granola with a bit of yoghurt or even serve with your Sunday roasted pork joint. These are round and about the same uses I suggested for your apple butter, if the ideas were good the first time then I have no problem in recycling them.

The pear butter replaces the fat in the cake and is whizzed up with egg yolks and sugar to form the base of the batter. Ground hazelnuts, which I ground myself by whizzing up roasted and blanched hazelnuts in the food processor, are used to thicken the batter and give it body. Then finally, whisked and stiffened egg whites are folded in to aerate the batter and to ensure the height of the cake is kept during the bake.

Spiced Pear Butter and Hazelnut Praline Cake

Now this cake cannot help but sink a little in the middle during the end of the bake, do not fear this is natural, and once it is decorated with the hazelnut praline and icing then it’s not noticeable at all. However, I have found a way of slightly counteracting how much the cake sinks by, and this is a new trick that I have incorporated into a lot of my cakes recently, including my brownies and my loaf cakes. To ensure an even bake you want to forget about the ubiquitous 180°C that is bandied around in recipes. In fact I went to a culinary salon with Rosie Lovell who suggested that 180°C is entirely too high and when she submitted her first book to her publishers she had to fight with them to maintain all her recipes at 170°C. It seems that the food industry is reticent to change but I agree entirely with her. In fact, for some of my cakes, like this one, I would even take it further. I like to bake this cake at 150°C for the first 10 minutes, then turn the temperature up to 160°C for the next 40 minutes until the cake is risen, is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. There is nothing wrong with low and slow as far as baking goes, not all our cakes have to be in and out of the oven in half an hour. The only thing I would say about this method is to check the cake after the first 20 minutes and you’ll probably notice that it’s reached its colour peak. So just cover the top of the cake with a bit of domed tin foil for the rest of the time to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

Spiced Pear Butter and Hazelnut Praline Cake

200g pear butter (recipe below)
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g golden caster sugar
250g ground hazelnuts
1 tablespoon baking powder

For the hazelnut praline:
2 tablespoons caster sugar
50g roasted and skinned hazelnuts

For the glaze:
125g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons almond milk

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line and grease a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Whisk up the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until pale and thick.
  4. Mix in the pear butter.
  5. Add the ground hazelnuts and baking powder. Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  6. Stir a third of the whites into the batter to slacken it off, then gently fold in the remaining whites.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 10 minutes, turn the oven up to 160°C and continue baking for around 40 minutes until firm to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the cake tin before removing.
  9. 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. Very quickly add the hazelnuts, turning in the melted sugar, then pour out onto baking parchment.
  10. 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. Sprinkle the whole nut praline and the chopped nuts onto the top of the cake.
  11. To make the glaze mix the icing sugar with the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the almond milk. Add some more almond milk if needed until the icing is just runny enough to drop over the cake. Decorate the cake with the icing any way you would like.

Pear butter
6 soft conference pears
200ml perry or pear cider
2 tablespoons of brandy
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon allspice

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients, and stir to combine. Cover the saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the pears are soft.
  2. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  3. Once the pears are soft, then blend the pears and cooking liquid together until completely smooth.
  4. Pour into a deep roasting tray and place in the oven.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes with a fork until the butter is dark and as thick as clotted cream.
  6. Allow to cool then place in the fridge to chill until needed.