Posts Tagged: gluten free

Dec 14

Last-minute Christmas baking

With just a few days to go until Christmas, here are my favourite last-minute recipes for Christmas cake and mince pies. Both can be made and adapted to a gluten free diet. Although we are bombarded with sweet treats at this time of year, I always think it’s worth making the time to get out some nice china, proper napkins and sit down properly with a steaming hot cup of tea to savour the most delicious treats of the season. Both photos feature my own Christmas baking styled with my favourite china, by Sophie Conran, fabrics by Sophie Allport and Cath Kidston and Robert Welch cutlery.

First, is my last-minute Christmas cake, which is extremely easy to make and requires no maturing.


Last minute Christmas cake

Makes 1 x 20cm/8” cake which serves 16-20


For overnight soaking:

300g dried fruit – I always use sultanas, not raisins

100g candied peel, chopped – I use homemade – a mixture of half blood orange, half lemon

400g jar excellent quality mincemeat

150ml brandy

For the cake:

150g butter

150g dark brown muscovado sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp salt

1 ½ tsp mixed spice (ensure it contains cinnamon, not cassia)

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

225g self raising flour, sifted (or use 200g gluten free self raising flour or 225g ground almonds)

3 tsp baking powder


Start by soaking the fruit overnight. You can get away with around 4 hours soaking, but overnight is best if you possibly can. Place all the ingredients together into a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Cover with cling film and leave.

The next day, line your cake tin well using non-stick greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 150C Fan/170C/Gas Mark 3.

Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together well. Add the eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. The mixture will be quite runny at this stage. If you have one, it’s a good idea to use a stand mixer or electric beaters here to ensure the mixture is beaten even more thoroughly than you can manage by hand.

Add the salt, spices, orange and lemon zest and the soaked fruit, including all the liquid. Beat together well. Finally, add the sifted flour and baking powder and fold in gently until evenly combined.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and neatly level off. Bake, uncovered for 90 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s cooked. It may need another 15-30 minutes covered to cook through if your oven is a little slow. Covering the cake in foil will stop it from browning too much.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Remove the paper and allow to cool fully before wrapping and storing or decorating.

In theory, this cake can be eaten same day – it needs no maturing or feeding before being ready to enjoy.


Now, on to mince pies. I wanted to share my favourite recipes for mince pies with you – both for traditional pies and also for my gluten free version. Both are delicious.

Shortcrust Pastry 


200g flour

110g butter, cubed

1 egg yolk

Pinch of salt

3-4 tablespoons cold water


Place the flour and butter into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine sand. Add the egg yolk and salt, and2 tablespoons of water. Blitz again until it forms a stiff, firm mixture. Add the remaining water as needed – remember that too much water will make the pastry too sticky.

Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes or better still 30 minutes.

Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry


275g plain flour (I use Doves Farm blend)

150g chilled butter

1 large egg and 1 egg yolk

Pinch of salt


Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Bring the mixture together into a ball. Flatten and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes

Both recipes make around 12 pies. You’ll need a 12 hole shallow bun tin and a couple of appropriately sized cutters.

You’ll also need one beaten egg as your egg wash.

To make the pies…

Once the pastry is made and chilled, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/ Gas Mark 4

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper. It needs to be about 3-4 mm thick, no more. It will puff up during the cooking process. The gluten free pastry will be more sticky to work with, Don’t worry, this is normal.

Cut out discs to form the base of your pies and carefully put into the tins. Add a teaspoon of mincemeat to each pastry base. Either brush the rim of the pastry base with beaten egg and add a disc to firm a lid, or alternatively place a cut out shape on top of the mincemeat. Egg wash your top or pastry shape and bake for around 18-22 minutes until the pastry is lightly browned and firm.

Remove to cool on a wire tray, although they are delicious eaten warm.

Dec 14

An easy, delicious Christmas


At this time of year, I’m always looking for ways to make life easier. One of my fail-safe ways to save time at Christmas and to introduce a little joy into food shopping, is to do it online.

I’m always looking to track down the best ingredients I can get my hands on, so I bring you my top picks for Christmas food shopping online. Best of all, they’re all independent and are sending out top quality food at very fair prices.

I’ll start with meat, and turkey, first of all. Roaming Roosters have a farm shop in Pendle, Lancashire and offer an online delivery service. They sell whole, stuffed and turkey crowns online with home delivery. All their meat is sustainably sourced and free range and really delicious. They have some lovely products available and their turkeys are outstandingly good.

For pork and beef, the best in the business is, in my opinion by far, Peter Hannan, based in Northern Ireland. He supplies a whole host of top restaurants all over the UK and his beef and pork products are particularly outstanding. He even ages his beef in a Himalayan salt chamber installed in his Moira-based butchery in pursuit of perfection. His sweet cure bacon ribs are to die for, too.

Forget the supermarket chains for general groceries and try The Cornish Food Box Company. They put together a range of grocery boxes using superbly sourced, high integrity produce from people they know and trust down in Cornwall. They deliver nationwide. They’ll deliver all the essentials, including local low-GI bread, milk, yoghurt, sausages, you name it. This is exceptional quality farm-shop fare without the hassle of sourcing it and is excellent value for money, too. Boxes are flexible and adaptable, meaning you get what you want delivered.

And for all your Christmas vegetables and fruit, you can’t beat a Riverford box. Their delivery service is easy and reliable and their produce is consistently excellent. They’re passionate about seasonal Organic food and you can taste the difference in their boxes. If you don’t like anything you can request substitutions, and there’s always something interesting to try.

Jun 13

Peanut Butter Cupcakes


Some of you may know that I run a cake company, Go Free Foods. We make award-winning allergy friendly cakes to order. We very occasionally make some special cakes on demand for customers who are after something specific. I recently made these for a customer’s 40th birthday and they went down a storm, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

With cupcakes, it’s really important to make sure the mixture is mixed really well at the wet stage – i.e. before the flour is added. This will make for a light and fluffy cupcake. Use electric beaters or a stand mixer if you can. The same goes with making the buttercream.

Use a great quality muffin pan – I used this super one by Kaiser, which is so great you don’t even need to use paper cases if you don’t want to.


Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Makes 12


For the cakes

35g butter or dairy-free spread

145g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large free-range egg, beaten

3 tbsp peanut butter (I used smooth)

100g gluten free plain flour or 125g wheat flour

120ml milk, or soya milk

For the cupcakes

250g icing sugar, sifted

70g butter, or dairy-free spread

4 tbsp peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

50ml milk, or soya milk


1)   Preheat the oven to 170C. Place your cupcake cases into your muffin tin.

2)   Place the butter and sugar together into a large mixing bowl. Beat together until light and fluffy.

3)   Add the vanilla extract and egg and beat into the mixture. Next, add the peanut butter and beat until smooth

4)   Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in gently.

5)   Now, add the milk and mix until smooth.

6)   Spoon the mixture into the cake cakes, so that they around half to two thirds full.

7)   Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cupcakes are well-risen and lightly golden.

8)   Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool fully.

9)   Whilst the cakes are cooling, make up the frosting. The cleanest way to make this is to do it in a food processor – I use a Magimix. Place all the ingredients together into the machine and blitz until smooth.

10)  Frost the cakes when they are cooled fully. Either spread on the frosting or pipe it on using a nozzle. The cakes will keep for 3-5 days in an airtight container.

Jun 13

Griddled asparagus with goat’s cheese


This is a great super-simple supper I’ve been enjoying recently, making the most of the English asparagus season. It’s light, fresh and full of flavour and can be made in 15 minutes – great when you are hungry when you get home in the evening. It makes a lovely starter or a main, too.

The asparagus is best griddled, if you can, either using a griddle pan or on the barbeque. The best goats cheese to use are the Somerset variety: not too hard, nor to soft. By cooking them this way in a non-stick pan, it allows the cheese to caramelise on the top, and remain meltingly soft in the centre. You do need to use a great non-stick to cook the cheese this way. Do not be tempted to use oil: it just won’t work. I used a lovely environmentally friendly non-stick pan by Green Pan which worked so well.

Make the most of the asparagus season by giving this a go!

Griddled asparagus with goat’s cheese

Serves 2


1 large bunch fresh asparagus, with the tip of the stalks cut off

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 Somerset goats cheese


1)   Place a grill pan over a high heat to warm up.

2)   Place the asparagus into a bowl. Add the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss, so that the asparagus spears should be lightly coated with oil.

3)   Transfer the asparagus to the hot pan and cook until tender. This should take around 10 minutes.

4)   Season the goat’s cheese well with pepper. Place face down in a non-stick pan and cook four around 5 minutes without moving, until it is caramelised.

5)   Serve the asparagus topped with the cheese immediately.

May 13

Roasted cinnamon plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Somehow roasting fruit or vegetables seems to make them even more delicious. I love to roast tomatoes and peppers and keep them cold in the fridge to add to salads. It really brings out their sweetness and loses their acidity.

The same goes for plums. Especially those you so often get in punnets that never seem to ripen properly. This is a great way to use them up. They taste amazing and make a great dessert served with ice cream, or even a tasty breakfast, with some plain yoghurt.

Make sure you use a good non-stick baking tray though, such as this excellent one made by Judge, as the juices become very sticky, you don’t want to be chiseling them off once they’re cooked as roasted plums become very soft indeed.

Roasted plums

Roasted plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Serves 4


1 punnet plums

5 tbsp cinnamon sugar, or 4 tbsp caster sugar mixed with 1 tbsp cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 170C. Halve the plums and remove the stones. Lay out cut side up on the baking tray and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for around 20 minutes until soft. Serve hot or cold. They keep well in the fridge in a Tupperware container.

May 13

Homemade lemon curd with Vivien Lloyd

The ingredients to make lemon curd

The ingredients to make lemon curd

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I have recently been discovering the art of preserving. I’ve made jam, chutney and marmalade, and recently my attentions turned to curds.

Vivien Lloyd is one of the UK’s leading preserves experts and her latest ebook entitled Fruit Curds: Make and Bake has been guiding me through every step of the way.

Curds are an often forgotten preserve, but are absolutely delicious, much more so homemade than shop bought, and have all manner of uses in cakes, desserts and ice creams. The first time I tried homemade curd, I was absolutely blown away by the flavour – it is in a completely different league to anything else I have tried.

Making curd is not difficult and the process is shown in much detail at every stage with photos and videos which are really useful as you know exactly how the curd should look and feel throughout the process.

Vivien’s book shows you how to use your homemade curds in baking producing a range of incredibly delicious cakes and desserts.  If you’re interested in starting to make your own curd, I highly recommend this ebook, as it contains all the information you’re ever likely to need, and some really special recipes to make, too.

Vivien has very kindly allowed me to share her extra special Lemon Curd recipe with you here. Do give it a go and let us know how you get on. Vivien Lloyd can be found on Twitter as @vivienlloyd.

Making lemon curd

Making lemon curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is the best known and my favourite curd with its rich flavour and bright colour. This is a traditional, tried and tested recipe and one to consider for competitions. I first made this recipe during my early days of preserving and it has become the one I return to most often. This recipe was first published by HMSO in 1929, Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables.

Makes about 1.25kg/ 2¾lbs

300ml (½ pint) freshly squeezed lemon juice ( 5-9 lemons)
215g ( 7½oz) unsalted butter 
700g (1lb 9oz) granulated sugar
300ml (½ pint) fresh eggs (5-6 eggs)

1.Wash the lemons and peel them very thinly with a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife before squeezing out and measuring their juice. Place the butter and sugar in an ovenproof  bowl over a large saucepan of barely simmering hot water. Add the lemon juice and lemon rind, and leave until the fat has melted.

2. Lift the bowl off the pan and leave to cool slightly. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl but do not whisk them. Gradually stir in the fat mixture, then strain the curd through a sieve (leaving the peel behind) into a clean bowl and place it over a saucepan of barely simmering hot water.

3.Stir continuously until the mixture is slightly thickened- the curd is ready when it just coats the back of the spoon. This will take about 15-20 mins. Do not over-cook or it will curdle. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 5 mins, during which time the curd will thicken slightly.

4. Sieve the curd for a smoother texture. Pour into clean jars, taking care to fill them absolutely full. Press a waxed disc waxed side down on the surface of the curd and leave to cool. Cover the pots with a cellophane cover when cold. Store in a refrigerator and eat within 4-6 weeks.

FIRST PRESERVES CURDS ebook cover2 sm 02

May 13

Lemon polenta muffins

Lemon polenta muffins

Lemon polenta muffins

If you love cake, like me, but sometimes keep half an eye on how much you’re enjoying, these delicious mini muffins might just be for you. They’re wheat free and really quite nutritious for cakes.

Polenta cakes tend to be a little more crumbly by nature, so for the best results, use a really good quality non-stick tin, such as this one made by Judge, and make sure it’s greased well if you are not using paper cases.

Lemon polenta muffins

Makes 12 mini muffins


75g butter

75g caster sugar

75g fine polenta

75g ground almonds

1 large free-range egg, beaten

Finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon and 1 tbsp lemon juice


1)   Preheat the oven to 180C

2)   Line your mini muffin tin, or grease well. Set aside

3)   Place the butter and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together well until light and fluffy

4)   Add the remaining ingredients and beat together well.

5)   Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown

Apr 13

Espresso chocolate moelleux


Espresso chocolate moelleux

Espresso chocolate moelleux

Having recently learnt how to make the perfect cup of coffee, I’ve been busy practicing at home and decided to try baking with a delicious shot of espresso.

I just prepared a standard shot of coffee in exactly the same way as I would to make a cup of coffee using my machine at home and left it to cool. You don’t want to use hot liquids when you are baking, as it will affect the properties of the other ingredients in the mix. This is particularly the case when baking with eggs, as if they come into contact with any hot liquids, they will curdle.

I was mulling over what to make and decided on a moelleux, which is a deliciously dense and moist chocolate cake that’s very popular in France. It’s quite like a lighter version of a brownie and is very easy to make.

I’ve also been using a Gaggia Carezza coffee machine from John Lewis which works extremely well and is a lot cheaper than the models I tried on my coffee making masterclass.

Espresso chocolate moelleux

Makes 12 large slices


225g 70% cocoa dark chocolate

1 shot espresso, cooled

225g vanilla caster sugar

225g butter

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

65g plain four (gluten free or wheat flour)

1 tsp baking powder


1)   Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 9” square baking tin with non-stick baking paper.

2)   Carefully melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave. Once melted, stir in the cooled coffee and allow to cool.

3)   Using the Kitchen Aid, whisk the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and sea salt and pour in the melted chocolate. Whisk well until the chocolate is evenly combined with the butter and sugar

4)   Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in to the mix gently. It will be a light and fluffy cake mixture by now.

5)   Spoon into the prepared tin and level off using a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top has formed a crust. The middle will still be pretty wet.

6)   Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least 45 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. It can be sliced when cold or refrigerated overnight and then cut the next day.

Jan 13

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

There’s nothing like a spot of homemade baking on a cold winter’s day. Try these gluten free muffins (which can also be made dairy free) to warm you up and bring some cheer to these short, dark days.

One of the keys to making great muffins is using a good quality non-stick tin – there’s nothing worse than your baking getting stuck when you remove it from the oven. I have found these UK- manufactured tins by Great British Bakeware to be really good – they have a really nice scratch resistant, non-stick finish and are easy to clean. Using a good tin means you’re one step closer to the perfect muffin!

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

Makes 12


–  120g Wheat and gluten free plain flour blend

–    100g Polenta (N.B. Ensure is gluten free )

–    50g ground almonds

–    1 tablespoons baking powder

–    1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

–    1400g golden caster sugar

–    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

–    Finely grated zest of 2 large oranges

–    250 ml sunflower oil

–    250 ml milk or soya milk

–    2 large free-range eggs

–    200g fresh blueberries


1)    Preheat the oven to 200°C/400F/Gas Mark 6

2)    Line a muffin tin with paper cakes

4)    Sift the flour, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Mix in the polenta, ground almonds and sugar and make a well in the centre.

5)    Pour the oil and the egg into the milk and orange juice and whisk until well combined.

6)    Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently. Stir in the cranberries and orange zest

7)    Divide the mixture into the cake cases and bake for 15- 20 minutes until golden brown.

8)    These muffins are delicious fresh for breakfast or a snack and also freeze extremely well.

Thanks to Great British Bakeware by George Wilkinson for the excellent muffin tin.

Oct 12

A very nice chocolate cake recipe

A dense, moist chocolate cake which keeps well. It’s a great cake to make for a celebration, or a dessert for a dinner party, or just because it tastes amazing. It’s naturally gluten free and is delicious eaten chilled.

Gluten free chocolate cake


For the cake:

  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150g butter, cubed
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 200g ground hazelnuts

To finish the cake

  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • Fresh raspberries


1) Preheat oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm/8″ round springform cake tin. Line base and side with baking paper.

2) Combine chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

3) Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until thick and creamy. Add chocolate mixture. Beat to combine. Add hazelnut meal. Beat to combine.

4) Place egg whites in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Using a metal spoon, stir one-third of egg whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold remaining egg white through chocolate mixture.

5) Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre has moist crumbs clinging. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

6) Make Chocolate icing: Place chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth. Spread over top and side of cake. Stand for 10 minutes or until icing has set. Decorate with fresh raspberries

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