Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Eggnog Icecream

I had to take a little breather from blogging while I did the essential Christmas madness stuff like shopping, wrapping, working, entertaining children on school holidays, etc etc.  But to finish off the festive stuff....
Ive bought an icecream maker!    I had been looking at the sleek expensive beauties in the catalogues but decided against buying one as I felt I couldn't justify it. Not to my wallet and not to my waistline!

Just when I thought my dreams of making beautiful homemade gluten free icecream had gone out the window, Aldi threw temptation in my path with a cheap little maker for a bargain price - how could I resist?  Well exactly - I couldn't so in on top of the groceries it went.  Suffice to say if it stops working after a week the outlay for the machine was so minimal that I shall not mind but so far its doing a magnificent job.

I never used to like icecream very much - until I became pregnant with my son - then the floodgates of icecream desire opened and Ive never looked back.  It is without a doubt my favourite anytime sweet treat and I don't dare keep any at home unless I fully intend to scoff the lot.  Still it IS Christmas and I have taken it upon myself to create some beautiful Christmas Icecream full of the wonderful tastes and textures of Christmas.

I drew on my fridge and pantry for inspiration.  Fruit mince (Gluten free of course), Eggnog, Custard, Cranberries, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Mixed Spice - getting my drift ?  For fans of Rum & Raisin Icecream this takes it to another, more Christmassy level.  You could easily embellish the icecream with a little hint of coffee perhaps or even chocolate if absolutely necessary.

Please note:  If using an icecream maker, ensure your bowl has been in the freezer for at least 8 hours previously.

3 Tbsp Gluten Free Custard Powder
250ml Egg Nog (pre-prepared ingredients Milk, Sugar, flavouring)
200ml Thickened Cream
1/2 C Sugar ( you could easily substitute agave, or a little honey instead)
1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Mixed Spice
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 C Dried Cranberries
1/2 C Gluten Free Fruit Mince (you could substitute raisins, sultanas, figs, dates)

  1. Place the Custard powder into a saucepan and add a little of the eggnog to make a paste and ensure there are no lumps of powder, then gradually add the rest of the eggnog until you have a smooth liquid.  Add Your sugar to the custard.
  2. Turn on the heat and heat slowly until the custard thickens.
  3. When the custard thickens it will be quite thick, remove from the heat and keep stirring for a further minute or two.  Then add your spices and fruit and fruit mince.
  4. Mix it well and set aside until it is cool.
  5. When the mixture is cooled, stir trough the thickened cream.
  6. If using an icecream maker, ensure your bowl has been in the freezer for at least 8 hours previously.  Turn on your maker and ensure the paddle is in and rotating then pour your mix into the bowl and leave for at least 20 minutes.  
  7. When the cycle is finished transfer the icecream to a suitable container and freeze in the freezer until the desired consistency is achieved.
Play around with different combinations of ingredients - I can't wait to try others.  This mix makes a 500ml Icecream container worth of icecream.  Im not sure mine is going to make it to Christmas Day but at least now I know how easy it is I can whip up another batch....

Merry Christmas
Enjoy xx

Sunday, 4 December 2011

While My Guitar Gently Weeps...

I know I said the last cake was the last of the year...well clearly not.

A friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in making a 60th cake for her Dad's party.  It was a pleasure to re-create an acoustic guitar for her.

There were many many challenges faced along the way with this cake - not least the insane temperatures and humidity of the past 2 weeks.  This really is such a challenge when working with both chocolate and fondant.

The Mud cakes were made and cut a week before the deadline allowing them time to freeze and sit.  I find this is really beneficial to the 'muddiness' of a cake.

The guitar was then ganached and sealed in two parts - the guitar and the handle.

I then assembled them on the presentation board joining them with chocolate ganache and applying the fondant layer.

The intense heat and humidity meant the fondant was incredibly soft to work with and a few small tears and unevenness was evident.  I just took my time and tried to think it through logically.  It was by no measn the most smooth and polished of my cakes but it turned out quite well all things considered.  If the weather had been a little more kind to us it might have been better.

I believe Jim had a great 60th and the cake was a hit.  Thanks for thinking of me Mel and I was so pleased to help out.

Another Christmas post coming soon,

L x

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Run, Run As Fast As You Can...

The pleasures of Christmas baking.  One of my favourite treats but especially at Christmas is gingerbread cookies.  I have family in Sweden and have been very fortunate to have travelled there many many times over the years, but most recently a few years ago just prior to Christmas with my Son.  We spent a wonderful few days catching up with family, ice skating, celebrating Advent and sightseeing.  We ate gingerbread, drank glug (type of mulled wine) and admired all the beautiful Christmas displays - oh the wonders of a cold wintery Christmas - magical!

Where I'm going with all the Swedish stuff are these gingerbread men.  Its a traditional Swedish recipe for Gingerbread Cookies.  I have adapted this to be Gluten Free and they work really well.  While best if eaten fresh, they will keep for a few days in an airtight container.  The beauty of this recipe is you can make it and keep the dough in the fridge or freezer then cut hunks off when you want cookies roll it out and bake in an instant - Awesome!

You need to make the dough the day before you want to use it.

1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Golden Syrup
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Ground Cloves
2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Cardamom
2 tsp Bicabonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
150g Unsalted Butter 
1 + 1/4C  White Sugar
3+3/4 C GF Flour

  1. Mix the butter sugar and syrup together and heat gently until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add your spices and Bicarb of Soda then the water and mix.
  3. Now add half of your flour and combine well.
  4. Add the rest of your flour and it should begin to pull together into a softish dough.  
  5. Remove from bowl and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next day or when you want to bake it, turn your oven to approx 200C.
  7. Roll the dough as thin as possible - I do this between 2 sheets of baking/greaseproof paper.
  8. Cut out your cookies using cutters and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  9. Bake for approx 5 minutes or until they start to turn dark golden.  Keep an eye on them though as they will burn quick.
These make quick easy decorations for your tree, gifts for friends or teachers or in bad weather a great project for the kids - make a big batch and get them to decorate them then eat them.

TIP:  The thinner you roll the dough for your cookies the crisper they will be.  Thicker is softer.  Also watch the super thin ones will bake in a few minutes only don't leave your oven!

Keep the dough quite happily in your freezer up to 3-4 months using as you need it.

Enjoy !

p.s I have it on good authority that Santa just LOVES these cookies with a glass of milk (or GF Beer) on Christmas Eve...hahahaha

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Another Week Another cake...

I've been insanely busy this week on the old GF Baking front.

I have baked 7 GF Christmas Cakes and 3 GF Christmas Puddings.  I still have about another 3 cakes and 3 puddings left to go but should knock most of those over tomorrow.  Then all they need to do is sit safely wrapped up maturing nicely until Christmas Day.

After the huge success of the busty bikini babe cake and post last week, I have another one for you.  Another birthday this weekend for a good friend who is currently building a small holiday house/granny flat on their acreage property.  He has done such an amazingly impressive job for someone who is neither builder nor tradesman.  Can't wait to see it for ourselves this afternoon.

I offered to make his birthday cake for him for today and I already had an image in mind....You guessed it.

A round Chocolate Mud cake covered with dark chocolate ganache.  Toolbelt and tools all made from tinted rolled fondant.  Thanks to the girls at CakeBitz in Southport for again assisting with the silver powder that allowed me to make the tools a shiny silver.

My first time using the silver dust powder which is then mixed with a little vodka to make a paste/paint consistency.  Painted on over grey tinted fondant it brought the tools up brilliantly - another little tip/trick I learned.

The main challenge in making this cake was working in the intense heat and humidity we have had this past week.  Daily temps have stayed steadily over 30 Celsius (86+ F)  Often with it hitting 30 before 9am and the humidity has been over 80 all week long.  Now that puts another light on my baking marathon this week!

The fondant was difficult to work with in the heat so I mostly did the moulding in the evenings when it was a little cooler.

No more decoration cakes on the horizon that I know of - next stop Christmas.  Watch out for a GF Christmas Pudding Post next - you will never buy a nasty shop bought pud, with or without gluten EVER again once you have made your own and tasted it.  Its worth all the time steaming it - trust me.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Turning 40 and the Bikini Babe Cake !

Here lies the culprit of my long absence...
At a lunch with friends about a month ago the conversation got around to the upcoming 40th of a friend of ours.  His wife was hoping to surprise him not only with a wonderful weekend away but a cake in the style of a busty bikini babe.  She had approached a few cake places but nobody was willing to assist.  The only one place on the coast I could think of would have charge a huge sum for the job.

I volunteered to make the cake if she was happy to let me have a go.  I was quite excited at the challenge that lay ahead.

I spent a lot of time researching pictures of bikini cakes.  I make no apologies for not creating an absolute original design.  Its not my strongpoint and so many others have gone before me that I have copied a design from a cake that I researched on google.

I made a very large basic dark chocolate mudcake recipe using two large sheet cake tins.  The cake had to feed approx 30 people.  I have illustrated the creation here for you so its easy to visualise it all going together from design to finished product:

After I had found a design I wanted to use, I drew up a plan at full scale on a large sheet of paper.

From this scale I could figure out how big the cakes had to be and how big the 'Boob cups' needed to be.  Sourcing a round mould of the right size, depth and ability to be baked in the oven was a challenge.  I eventually used a small ceramic bowl that would usually be used for nuts or dips - luckily it was dishwasher, microwave and ovenproof !

The two mudcakes were baked, cooled and then placed in the freezer until i was ready to decorate them. I wanted the cakes frozen for a couple of days then thawed also to enhance to gooey 'muddiness' of the cake also.

From the dimensions of the cake I had a custom board cut and covered in cakeboard paper ready and waiting.  To stabilise the cake and provide a workable platform I cut another thick cardboard template to the same dimension and shape as the cake and covered with cakeboard paper also.  I used the board to assemble the cake and help make it a smooth transition to the large board.

The mudcakes upon thawing, were completely covered in dark chocolate ganache which I make by pouring boiling pure cream over baking chocolate and whisking.  The ganache needs to be made ideally the day before you wan to use it then refrigerate overnight.  Soften a little in the microwave to use.

I ganached the flat cake first and set it overnight in the fridge.  The next day I added the two 'boobs' on top of the ganache and covered them too in ganache and returned to the fridge for at least 4 hours.  When everything was set - I removed it from the fridge and used a Hot palette knife and my hands to smooth the ganache into an even and smooth shape.  The knife can only do so much.  I had great success dipping my hands in the hot water getting rid of excess water from hands and smoothing the chocolate.  This is the point to also add your abs and belly button but be gentle.
Then returned to the fridge overnight to set.  The cake is now completely sealed in the chocolate and will not go stale.

 I had tinted all my rolled fondant icings in advance so I had everything ready to go in  ziploc bags.  I use  gel colours to get nice vibrant colours in the fondant.  As you can also see the create the nipples and for a bit of fun I used 2 'Strawberries & Cream ' jellies.  Hahaha.

The next day was gonna be a big decoration day.  Start in advance by gathering everything you will need so its all on hand.

Fondants, knives, rolling pins, any cutters and latex gloves.

First task was mammoth - getting the 'skin' on the body.  How to get it over the boobs without it all falling apart quite literally.  How to move the super large sheet of fondant from bench to cake....
I rolled the fondant for the 'skin' out on the bench and measured the size required.  It was big !
First things first though, I painted a glaze onto the ganache to help the icing stick. I looked at my very "normal sized" rolling pin... My rolling pin just wasn't going to do the job.  Think think think - Eureka !  A cellophane wrapped full roll of christmas paper.  Long, strong and plastic covered.  I rolled the fondant onto the long roll, very very carefully liberally dusting with cornflour on the way to ensure it would not stick to the roll.  I started from the bottom of the cake and gently rolled up towards the chest.  All was well.  Now just gotta get it over the hill (!)  I slackened out the fondant and eased it as best it could.  I had to make a few nips and tucks but we got there.
The girl was fleshy but man she needed a tan!  Fortunately this is the Gold Coast and spraytans are what we do.  I had a great tin of edible bronzing spray by PME Arts & Crafts which I bought at CakeBitz in Southport.  I sprayed her liberally all over then she was ready to get her bikini on.
Copying my design and using my already tinted fondant I created layers for the bikini bottoms layering them in a pattern.
I then went to work on the top and the straps.  I really recommend getting the little roller tool that gives the stitching lines - it makes all the difference to the look of the bikini or any clothing item.
Once the full bikini was on and straps in place, I added the little tattoo using Americolor Pens.

She is looking very gold in this pic - thats just the way the flash showed it up.  In the 'flesh' she looked more spraytanned bronze than shiny gold.  The flash has just picked up the gold.

One last touch was needed and I completed this on the day we transported the cake to the venue.  The birthday banner.  I used my pasta machine to achieve the beautiful long ribbon and worked some kinks in for interest.  The letters were then added.

The final finishing touch just lifted the cake to another level.  I glazed the whole cake with Edible Lustre Spray in CLEAR from PME Arts & Crafts.  It gave the bikini an almost wet look.  Awesome!

Then it was all over!  Just down to the venue - leave in the hands of the chef with strict instructions to NO put it in the fridge!  Cross fingers and hope Anthony loved it.  I think he did.


Christmas Cakes Part 2.

OK, Im sorry to have disappeared off the radar for so long, on my next post tomorrow you will see why...

I finally got back to my fruit which had been quietly macerating for ooooo about a week in the bowl.  It was plump and juicy and so ready to get baked.

I am making the assumption here that you have:
1. Read the previous post and had your fruit quietly soaking up its brandy for a day at least.
2. That you have gathered all the remaining ingredients you will need from the last post also.

To recap here is the full list of ingredients:
450g  Currants
175g Sultanas
175g Raisins
50g Glace Cherries
50g Mixed Peel
(I sometimes mix up the fruits - adding chopped dried Dates, Craisins, Figs etc as long as Currants form the base the remaining 400g can be made up of whatever you fancy.)

225g Plain GF Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Mixed Spice
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
225g Unsalted Butter
225g Soft Brown Sugar
4 large Eggs
1 Desertspoon Black Treacle
The grated zest of one Lemon
The grated zest of one Orange
50g Chopped almonds

Make sure you have a cake tin of approx 20x20cm if square or diameter if circular.  Grease the tin and set aside.

  1. Preheat your oven to 140 Celsius / 275 Fahrenheit and measure out your dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Measure your butter and brown sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat with your electric mixer until creamed, light and fluffy.
  3. Now add your eggs, one at a time beating all the time.  The mix may curdle/split, but just keep beating it will be fine and the taste will be the same.
  4. Now fold in your weighed and measured dry ingredients (flour, salt, spices).
  5. At this point I like to add in the treacle and the grated zests of the orange and lemon and mix them thoroughly before the fruit is added.
  6. Now you are ready to fold through all the beautiful fruit and nuts if you want to add the almonds.
  7. Now transfer the mix to your greased and lined tin using the back of a spoon the smooth it evenly into the corners and ensure a nice smooth distribution in the tin.
  8. Now you need to add a top to the cake with a double square of baking/greaseproof paper with a small hole cut in the centre.  This will protect the top of the cake while it bakes in the slow oven.
  9. Bake the cake on the lowest shelf in the oven for anywhere from 2-4 hours.  Every oven is different.  Mine bakes perfectly in 2 1/2 hours but other ovens may take up to 4.  Always use a wooden skewer to check after 2 hours and keep a close eye on it.
  10. When the skewer is removed and the cake is cooked remove it from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before removing it from the tin.  If you remove it too early the cake will be too soft and may break in half.
  11. When completely cooled and all baking paper is removed, I  drizzle over another 1/4 cup of brandy and then cling wrap and then foil wrap the cake completely and place in a cool cupboard until ready to decorate a day or so before Christmas.
Scarily enough I have been baking this exact Christmas cake for over 20 years now - man, just writing that makes me feel ancient!  It never fails.  It is dense, rich and moist just like any beautiful fruit cake should be.  Enjoy with your families, share with your friends and most of all have a wonderful Christmas with it.

Closer to Christmas I shall put up a post for decorating your Christmas Cake with marzipan and rolled fondant and loads of wonderful decorating tips.

L x

Friday, 4 November 2011

Christmas is Coming...Gluten Free Cakes & Puds

I'm busy this week in the preparation stages of what Im hoping will be an awesome cake creation for a friend.  I have sourced ingredients, equipment, custom boards for presentation that require cutting and covering.  I have measured and modeled.  I have at least 5 different shades of rolled fondant to tint and the cakes to bake ready for decoration.  I find that with cake decoration as with all things, if you take the time to prepare well, think your plan through gathering all the things you will need - then you can really enjoy the entire decoration process.

I have exactly "z e r o" patience.  Hard to believe I know.  Once around the Monopoly board and Im out!  But hours or days creating a cake is no bother at all.  Also, creativity is not exactly a strong point either.  Can't even draw a stick figure to proportion - so even I am amazed to find I can fashion kinda cool stuff out of lumps of icing...hahaha

Anyway - back to the original idea of this post.  While I am preparing the aforementioned cake extravaganza I am also thinking about Christmas.  I   L O V E  Christmas!!!  Its my favourite time of the year.  My Birthday is Christmas Day and all the traditional Christmas food is just wonderful.  I make so many Christmas Cakes every year.  I bake them, Organic and Gluten Free and have done for the past 3 years.  Prior to that I wasn't GF or too bothered on the Organic but still baked them all the same.  A good traditional fruit cake and Chrissy pud needs time to sit and mature to be at its best by Christmas.  They are super easy and the time to start is NOW!  For now though I'm only posting on the bit you need to do now.  Then I'll post on the baking after the fruit has sat and soaked up the brandy for a few days.

Go out and find the best quality dried fruit you can.  No bags of Mixed Fruit from the supermarket people.  The cake is a celebration and should be a triumph of beautiful plump quality dried fruit - Not pumped full of  glucose, vegetable oils, sulphites and preservatives.  Natural, beautiful fruit - thats the objective.  Beautiful fruit will create a beautiful cake.  These ingredients will make a 20x20cm square cake.

450g  Currants
175g Sultanas
175g Raisins
50g Glace Cherries
50g Mixed Peel
(I sometimes mix up the fruits - adding chopped dried Dates, Craisins, Figs etc as long as Currants form the base the remaining 400g can be made up of whatever you fancy.)

At the bare minimum the night before you want to make the cake collect these ingredients above place into a large bowl and pour over 3 Tbsp Brandy (I usually end up pouring over about 1/8 cup)  Give it a good stir through and cover with either a clean tea towel or I cling wrap the bowl.

Set it aside until ready to bake.  I often will leave mine sitting and stirring through each day for up to a week.  The longer you let it sit the plumper and juicier the fruit will be.

While it is taking a day or a few days to plump up (and trust me - don't skip that step)  gather the remaining ingredients you will need below:

225g Plain GF Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Mixed Spice
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
225g Unsalted Butter
225g Soft Brown Sugar
4 large Eggs
1 Desertspoon Black Treacle
The grated zest of one Lemon
The grated zest of one Orange
50g Chopped almonds

Make sure you have a cake tin of approx 20x20cm if square or diameter if circular.  You will need non-stick baking paper, an old newspaper, pen and scissors also.

Speak in a few days on the next bit.


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Happy Halloween

I'm back!!

I have been head down, bum up working very hard creating Halloween Magic.  Halloween is crazy at my place.  While its not very big in Australia in general, a little haven of Halloween insanity finds its way to my house every year.

It all started about 4 years ago when my sister who lives in Chicago sent a massive box of Halloween stuff to us for my Son when he was about 3 yrs old.  Wondering what on earth I was going to do with it, I decided to throw a party for his Kindergarten pals and hence a tradition was born.  Every year it has gotten bigger and better.  This was our fourth year.  We now include a haunted room complete with scenes on the walls, spooky masks, sound effects, fog machine etc.

No Halloween party would be complete without a gruesome cake.  I have included here for you both last year's and this year's creations.

Last year I created a copy of the Bleeding Eyeball cake which was in effect, two cakes.  Both plain butter cakes and covered in rolled fondant icing.  The fingers were modeled out of fondant also.  Ironically we never got to eat this cake actually on the day of the party.  We forgot to cut it in all the excitement.  My nephew however has his birthday on the 31st of October and last year it was his 18th - so I gave him the cake as a gift and he took it to school to share with his class.

This year I was looking for something that might take a little less time to create but would still make a big impact.  Thats where the hand out of the ground came from.  I found a great picture of a cake and copied it.  Using a basic Gluten Free Mud Cake recipe for the cake and modeling the fingers for the hand out of Marzipan as opposed to rolled fondant.  White fondant would have been too starkly white and the marzipan gave just the right kind of deathly pallor I was looking for.  The fingernails were also made from marzipan.  The dirt on both the cake and on the fingers and under nails is made from crushed Oreo Cookies which is just the perfect shade of dark dark brown and the consistency perfect.

The Chocolate mud cake was dusted with cocoa powder then the fingers were positioned.  I held them in place overnight with toothpicks and removed them just before the guests arrived to ensure nothing fell over.

I already have another very detailed creation underway for a friend and its going to be spectacular - I hope.  Its just two weeks away so stay tuned for the next cake creation and in the meantime I hope to get a new recipe up for you this week sometime.

L x

Friday, 7 October 2011

Evil Black & White Layered Brownies

OK I have a friend who taunts me.  Every day she sends me links to other baking blogs with the weirdest most wonderful creations.  So cruel, as I am slurping on my protein shake or eating huge plate of vegies and chicken during the week hanging out for Baking Friday.  I know I know - its Saturday.  Yes but I DID bake yesterday but I was so tired last night I didn't get these beauties written up or photographed - a few did get eaten tho!

These were my brainchild after reading several blogs this week kindly supplied by my lowcarb nemesis Hayley!  A combination of traditional chocoate brownie on bottom with white chocolate 'blondie' on the top with chocolate choc chip cookies -some Reeces PB Cups and raspberries all thrown in for good measure.  These are heavenly - probably toooooo heavenly hence I have called them Evil since they tend to call your name from the kitchen when you ignore them.

It is thundery and raining in SE Qld today with the odd flash of lighening thrown in for good measure so a perfect day to bake these beauties and sit in front of a DVD and devour them!!!  For me, treat day is done so Im back to the protein and veges sadly dreaming of Friday and what I'll bake for you next week.

These are beautiful warmed with a scoop of icecream on top my Husband tells me...  Super easy to make too and all Gluten Free!!!  Don't be put off by the large ingredient list, it really is a chuck everything in a bowl and go kinda thing and its very forgiving.

Choc Brownie for bottom layer
200g Chocolate Milk or Dark whichever is your preference
175g Unsalted Butter
300g Caster Sugar
130g Plain GF Flour
3 eggs

Add Ins
Whatever u fancy...
I used Chocolate Choc chip cookies and some Reeces PB Cups

Blondie - or White Choc Brownie Layer
150g White Chocolate
125g Unsalted Butter
150g Caster Sugar
2 eggs
1.5 teaspoons Vanilla extract
200g Plan GF Flour
Handful Frozen Raspberries (optional) or you could use nuts

  1. Line a large sheet cake tin or small roasting dish with baking paper and spray liberally with oil or grease with butter.
  2. Turn oven to 160C
  3. Firstly make the Choc Brownie Layer.  In a large bowl break up the chocolate (dark or milk) and add the measured butter.  I melted in the microwave for 2 mins on 60% power checking that nothing burned.
  4. Now mix in your sugar stirring briskly to cool down a little too before adding your eggs and mix until thick and smooth lastly add your flour and stir well until fully incorporated.  I like to throw in a little extra handful of choc chips at this point too.(naughty)
  5. Spread the mix over the base of your tin.  It will be shallow but thats OK.  If you're struggling to spread it take a desert spoon dip it in hot water and it will spread nicely :-)
  6. Now rinse your bowl and begin the white brownie.  Again break up your white choc and add your butter and micro it at 60% for 2 min - this will melt faster so keep an eye on it.
  7. Remove and add sugar stirring well - add in the vanilla extract, eggs and stir until completely combined.
  8. Now add your flour and mix thoroughly.  Lastly add your handful of frozen raspberries or nuts to the mix.
  9. Before you pour this mix over the top of the brown layer, you have some wonderful "add-ins' to layer in there.
  10. Add your fave biscuits or lollies here.  I used GF Choc chip cookies laid whole in a single layer with about 4 Reeces PB Cups dotted in for good measure.
  11. Now spread the white 'blondie' mix over the top and pop it in the oven.
  12. Bake for approx 35-40 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack.
  13. Cut into generous squares and enjoy.
For a really decadent desert make a thick caramel sauce pour over the warmed brownie and add a scoop of good vanilla icecream - A W E S O M E.

Enjoy !

Friday, 30 September 2011

Fondant Fancies

I have no idea what posessed me to do this to myself today...
After a dreadful morning running around hunting down my lost iPhone and wasting at least half a tank of gas retracing my steps I thought - I know, lets bake some really fiddly time consuming Fondant Fancies - I must be insane!  To be fair I had been obsessing about cooking these little beauties all week long (low carb diets will do that to a girl...)

I was always a fan of the Mr Kipling French Fancies.  Then after the popularity of the Lamington post last week I thought - how can we expand upon the complexity of that but with a similar theme...Fancies.

To the un-initiated a Fondant Fancy is a square of sponge cake topped with a little dollop (technical term) of flavoured buttercream - in this case strawberry. Then covered in a smooth glossy fondant icing to give a smooth appearance.  They sometimes accompany coffee as Petit Fours after a meal.  One perfect little mouthful.

I used the same basic sponge mixture as the Lamington from last week but used a much larger sheet cake tin and as I thought the sponge again worked beautifully.  While the cake is cooking mix up your flavoured buttercream (won't need too much) to a stiff'ish consistency but can still be piped.

Ingredients - Sponge
4 Free Range Eggs
3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Cup GF Plain Flour  (self raising makes for a soapy taste in this large cake)
1 Teaspoon GF Baking Powder

2 Cups Pure Icing Sugar
1/4 Cup softened Unsalted Butter
Strawberry Essence
Little milk 

3 Cups Pure Icing Sugar
Strawberry Essence

  1. Heat oven to 160C fan forced.  Little higher if not fan forced.
  2. In a large bowl or in your bowl mixer if you have one, beat your 4 eggs for 10 full minutes until thick and very creamy.
  3. Gradually add the sugar to the eggs continue beating until sugar is dissolved.  You can test for this by pinching a little of the mixture between thumb and forefinger and rubbing.  If you still feel granules keep beating a little longer.
  4. Sift the flour and Baking powder into the mix and carefully fold it into the egg mix being careful to keep the beautiful air in the mix.
  5. Into the greased and lined sheet cake tin pour your mix.
  6. Bake until set - about 35 - 40 minutes.  Remove and turn out immediately onto a wire cake rack that has been covered in a sheet of baking paper.
  7. Once cool - using a large sharp knife trim the edges of the cake and slice to the size you want for your fancies - usually about 2-3 cm squares.  I did not need to refrigerate mine but if crumbly place in freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
  8. Make up the buttercream icing in a separate bowl by using an electric mixer to mix the icing sugar, flavouring and butter then add just enough milk to achieve desired consistency.  and pipe a small mound onto the top of each square of cake.  It is roughly the size and shape of a marble placed in the centre of each little cake.  Set aside and let these harden.
  9. Once the buttercream has become a little dry and harder they are ready to be coated in the fondant icing.  I read many recipes for this but decided to try the most simple method - see above ingredients.
  10. For the Fondant, mix the sifted 100% pure icing sugar (not icing mixture) into a bowl.  Add about 1 tsp strawberry essence to the mix and begin mixing.  Be very careful adding only 1 tsp of water at a time until the right consistency is achieved.  Not too think but not too thin.  This is a trial and error process.  Have a couple of test runs coating your cakes. using a spoon on a wire rack over a bowl.
  11. As the fondant begins to harden, either warm slightly in the microwave or add another drop of water.  Use a desert spoon to ladle over the icing it will smooth out as it slides down.  If the layer is too thin wait til it dries a little then apply a second coat.
  12. You can then place little icing flowers, cachou balls or other decorations on the top. 
I really hope you like these, yes they are fiddly but a few little gorgeous ones go a long way and they really are very pretty on a plate.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Strawberry Lamington Pillows

Really, these are Lamingtons but rather than using pink icing I am using the Strawberry Jelly version which I guess technically makes them Jelly Squares.  But for all intents and purposes you have two little sponge squares coated in lovely pink strawberry yuminess - rolled in desiccated coconut then sandwiched together with a little cream.  I like the sandwiching thing.  Especially as my GF sponge did not rise very high (it would have if I had not split my mix in half) and I used a slice pan instead of a Lamington tin - technicalities sheesh!  I also liked making them bite sized - I need the calorie control...

I have always been defeated by Gluten Free sponge but this recipe nailed it.  Absolutely gorgeous fluffy and light just melting in the mouth.  I dare anyone to tell me Gluten Free cannot be light and airy.  I may try baking this recipe again in a large cake tin in one hit to see how the larger sponge turns out.  Key to the lightness of the sponge is that 10 minute (! yes don't skimp) beating time for the eggs at the beginning - thats what gives you the lightness and not doorstops for sponges.

I love a Lamington but have never seen a GF one to buy but I hear such a mythical creature does exist in some far flung places - obviously nobody is flinging any near me!  A little fiddly - yes, but cute ?  Yeah.  Don't you think so ?

4 Free Range Eggs
3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Cup GF Self Raising Flour
1 Teaspoon GF Baking Powder

1 packet Red Jelly Crystals - strawberry or raspberry
Desiccated Coconut

  1. Make up the Jelly as directed and place in fridge to cool and come to desired "Runny cake mix consistency".  Make sure it doesn't set too far as it won't stick to cake.
  2. Heat oven to 160C fan forced.  Little higher if not fan forced.
  3. In a large bowl or in your bowl mixer if you have one, beat your 4 eggs for 10 full minutes until thick and very creamy.
  4. Gradually add the sugar to the eggs continue beating until sugar is dissolved.  You can test for this by pinching a little of the mixture between thumb and forefinger and rubbing.  If you still feel granules keep beating a little longer.
  5. Sift the flour and Baking powder into the mix and carefully fold it into the egg mix being careful to keep the beautiful air in the mix.
  6. Into the greased and lined cake tin pour your mix - don't worry if you have to do it in two halves like I did it was fine waiting for the first lot to cook.
  7. Bake until set - about 35 - 40 minutes.  Remove and turn out immediately onto a wire cake rack that has been covered in a sheet of baking paper.
  8. Once cool - using a large sharp knife trim the edges of the cake and slice to the size you want for your lamington.  I did not need to refrigerate mine but if crumbly place in freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
  9. With the jelly in one bowl and the coconut in another have one large plate or tray handy to place the coated lamingtons on.  If using a tray line it with baking paper.
  10. I used the wet hand dry hand method.  One hand dips in the jelly, the other coats with the coconut - meaning each hand stays relatively clean and doesn't end up with a huge mess.
  11. Leave them to dry out a little before assembling.
  12. You can sandwich them like I did by whipping a little cream and putting them together.  They taste deeeevine. 
The PERFECT gluten free lamington fix and actually not as hard or fiddly as I thought.  Love these 100% more than Whoopie Pies - the Americans can keep those - give me an Aussie Lamington any day!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ginger Whoopie Pies

OK, after the Macaron, the next most talked about thing in baking at the moment has to be the Whoopie Pie.  Not one to get sucked in too quick to the latest craze I have held off on these babies too.  Now, quite surprisingly for a female - I am NOT a chocolate fan.  It can sit in my house for weeks at a time and I won't touch it. Don't get me wrong, if its the only thing there is I will eat it but given a choice between a choccy desert or a nice apple crumble ? the crumble wins hands down.  Fruity over chocolate every time.

Unsurprisingly then, my foray into the Whoopie Pie has not been with chocolate.  They come in many flavours but I have opted for ginger in some kind of a replica of a "Ginger Kiss".  I adored these as a child but my husband fails to remember them.  Apparently so the story goes,  the name for these little cake sandwiches came from the Amish people in North America.  The men, upon finding one of these little beauties in their lunch pail were often found to exclaim - "Whoopie !"  hence the name.

Anyway, they are like 2 half cupcakes sandwiched together with either a buttercream or marshmallow filling between the two halves.

These have turned out just beautifully despite adapting the American recipe to Oz measurements not to mention Gluten Free.

I have used a lemon buttercream filling but a cream cheese icing with a little lemon zest in it would also be outstanding.

8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
3/4 Cup light Brown Sugar - firmly packed
1 large Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 + 3/4 Cups Plain GF Flour
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (I used Macadamia Oil)
1/3 Cup Treacle or Molasses (I used Treacle - Golden Syrup would work too)
1/2 Cup Natural Yoghurt or Sour Cream (I used half and half)

2 Cups Pure Icing Sugar
25g Softened Unsalted Butter
1 Large Lemon

  1. Preheat Oven to 160 Celsius Fan forced or 180C if not.
  2. In a large bowl, cream your butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy then beat in your egg and vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine with a balloon whisk, the GF flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger along with the baking soda and salt - set aside.
  4. Then in a smallish bowl you need to mix together your wet ingredients and give them a little mix around.
  5. Continue using your electric mixer and alternately ad in the we and dry mixes to the large bowl until until combined.
  6. I used a shallow-round bottomed patty tin to bake these scarping in the mix and using my spatula to level them in and fill the holes.  This gave a nice smooth rounded pie.  You could just pipe the mix into circles or place drops onto a baking sheet.  Be sure however to make them the same size as you will need to sandwich them.
  7. Bake for approx 7-10 minutes - they don't take long until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove and cool then prepare your filling.
  9. In your mixing bowl combine the softened butter and the icing sugar beating well with electric beaters.  Grate the zest of the lemon into the bowl and beat in.  Then use the juice of the lemon to mix the icing to the desired consistency that will be able to sandwich the pies together.
Voila - Whoopie Pies!!
L x

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mango Coconut Bread

If I had to pick one food to live on forever on a desert island, what would I pick ?  Mangoes ! Truly these little gems are foods of the Gods.

Mangoes always seemed like such an exotic and tropical fruit when I lived in New Zealand and especially when living in London.  It conjured up images of tropical beaches, palm trees and holidays.  How very fortunate that I now live in a place that produces mangoes by the truckload.  At the end of summer here in Queensland, Australia, there is usually a glut of them and you can pick up whole trays of mangoes for about $15 each (about 50c/mango!)  So each year I buy a tray.  I skin and package up the cheeks and freeze them for use over the winter months in deserts, baking, smoothies etc.

I came across a recipe for a Mango Bread today and thought I would give it a go with a Gluten Free twist and throw in some other bits and bobs I had lying around.  I thought Coconut would be a good match with the Mango, I had some beautiful fresh pecan nuts and some plump juicy sultanas - in they all went.  I used a Macadamia Oil in this recipe also so a very Australian recipe indeed.

2 Cups Plain GF Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon GF Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Oil (Macadamia or vegetable)
1/2 Cup Melted Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (I used Pecans, Macadamia or walnuts would also be nice)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1.5 Cups Finely Chopped Mango (you could use fresh, or tinned even)
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Sultanas or Raisins

  1. Heat Oven to 160Celsius (fan forced) or 180 if not fan forced.
  2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
  3. Combine your dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix with a balloon whisk to aerate flour.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add all the other ingredients into the bowl.
  5. Stir well to combine,
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Mine actually took about 90 minutes so remember every oven is different.  Use the wooden skewer and keep checking every 5 minutes after 1hr passes.
  7. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin.
This makes a beautiful but moist loaf that will keep well in an airtight container for a few days.  It is easier to slice when completely cooled.  Enjoy cold, perhaps with a scrape of butter or warmed slightly with some mango puree drizzled over...mmm yummy.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Cake Decoration and Fun with Fondant!

No recipe post today and not even strictly Gluten Free, but as I had such a HUGE response to the Plants vs Zombie cake I thought you would like to see a couple of new creations from this week.

The first picture above is the decorated Rich Fruit Cake with Marzipan and Fondant Icing.  I had to create a 60th Birthday Cake for a friend of the family and surfing buddy of my Dad.  He adores fruit cake and its one of my most favourite cakes too.  Usually I like my fruit cakes to have a good 6-8 weeks to 'mature' but this one had 2 weeks so it was given several good 'feeds' of brandy to help it along.

The cake was then covered in Almond Paste (which I prefer to Marzipan) and then a thin overall layer of plain white rolled fondant icing.  I would like to take credit for the design of this cake but sadly I am not in the least arty.  I plug in my key words into the magic Google and hey presto pics appear.  This design is not taken from a cake site.

I create all my coloured fondants in one hit.  I cover my bench with cling film, grab my latex gloves and work backwards from lightest to darkest colours.  In this instance I created the blue then the brown.  I use gel colours to tint the fondant this allows you to get a good colour depth without wetting the fondant or it becoming sticky.

I split the cake into rough thirds and worked backwards from sky to sand.  I created the Surfboards by cutting them in various shapes and heights from plain white fondant.  I then hand painted them all using the gel colours and some food decorating colour pens.  I have a selection of small paint brushes I use for my freeform painting.  Once the boards were decorated I set aside to dry and harden.

I then used a small very sharp knife to cut freeform clouds out of white fondant and using stencils cut out the '60' and also set aside to dry and harden.

I was originally in two minds about how to approach the sand.  The design I was copying from used coloured fondant but as I was in and out of my cake drawer I spied light brown sugar and wondered how good it would look as real 'sand' on the cake.  So glad I did that now as it really lifts the whole thing.
I positioned the hardened boards against the wooden fence and then set to creating the little balls that formed the frame for the picture.  I attached the fondant balls to the cake using a little eggwhite brushed around the edge.

I then used the light brown sugar to fill in the beach on the scene using a little painted on eggwhite to have it stick to the fondant.  Now for the final touches.  I stuck the clouds into the sky and the '60' onto the cloud and mixed up two colours of royal icing to pipe the palm trees and trunks.  I used a small Wilton nozzle for the palm fronds called "grass"  I think.    Hey Presto - Complete'o.

Cake number two was my very first "paid" for creation.  I was more than a little nervous making this cake.  When you are taking someone's money for a cake you want it to look good, taste good and feel like it was worth their money.  The cake was for a farewell from work function.  The lady in question being a HUGE Cherry Ripe  fan which for my non- Australian followers is obviously a choc-cherry chocolate bar.

The cake was a Double Chocolate, Cherry and Coconut Mud Cake coated in chocolate ganache.  I surrounded the cake in cut to size Corinthian biscuits and made a bed of chopped Cherry Ripe for the top and completed the top with a fondant version of the Choccy Bar.  I had to to freeform cut out the letters as my stencils were too large for the bar.  I think it turned out not too bad.

Hope it inspires you to have a go yourself!


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

OK this is a lovely recipe for GF baking and one thats so easily adaptable to any fruit you happen to have handy so if you don't like pineapple substitute whatever fruit you do like or have on hand.  Bananas, berries, apples, apricots, pears all will be equally fabulous.

Now you will notice that my cake has not risen very much in  the picture.  Two reasons here.  I had adapted a nonGF recipe and I think I needed to up the raising agent.  Also my ring tin was a large one so the mixture was not very deep.  If you use a normal sponge cake sized tin of about 20cm diameter you will be fine, but if your tin is a large one, you may want to double the sponge cake mixture and amend the cooking time a little longer.

One other note.  I used a normal soft brown sugar in my recipe - I would probably recommend if you have it, using a dark brown sugar or muscavado sugar to give a real dark caramel colour and flavour to the top of your cake when you turn it out.

440g Tin of Pineapple in juice or other fruit of your choice
1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar

90g Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 + 1/4 Cups Self Raising GF Flour
1 teaspoon GF Baking Powder

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 Celsius
  2. Line the bottom of your sponge tin or ring tin with non-stick baking paper
  3. Drain your pineapple or other tinned fruit and keep some juice
  4. Sprinkle the brown sugar into the base of your cake tin evenly and arrange your pineapple or fruit in the base.  For your pineapple its easier to cut the circles into half and arrange.
  5. Now in a large bowl cream your butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy 
  6. Add one egg at a time beating well between each addition
  7. Add your flour and baking powder and fold in adding a about 2-3 Tablespoons of the reserved juice.
  8. Pour the batter over the fruit evenly being careful not to disturb the arranged pieces
  9. Place in oven and bake for approx 40-50 minutes or until wooden skewer comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes then turn out onto a large plate.
Beautiful served hot or cold.  It makes a nice cold cake but also a beautiful desert with custard.
Enjoy !

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Baked NY Cheesecake

Oh I've got a doosey for you this week.  You'll be able to feel your arteries hardening even as you read the title of this recipe.  This is one I invented some time ago and havent made in over 2 years.  I stumbled across it the other day and thought I would put it up here for you.

This is a very rich, decadent cheesecake.  I am definitely a fan of baked cheesecake over set cheesecake but  you certainly can't eat a whopping great wedge.  This is a sliver sized portion kinda guy.  Awesome - but like all good things, too much of it will make you feel a little 'over it'.

I used store bought GF Gingernuts in this recipe.  In Australia all the major supermarkets carry these in the green packet in the healthfood aisles and they're really rather good and they make a super base for this cheesecake.  Feel free to substitute any other GF Biscuit of your choice or even use the base from the Ginger Crunch recipe if you like.

Remember I always use a 250ml Cup measure and a 20ml Tablespoon Measure.

2 Packets Gluten Free Gingernuts
3/4 Cup Dessicated Coconut 
100g Melted Unsalted Butter
500g Cream Cheese ( I used Half Full Fat and Half Light.  If you use all light it may not set)
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Light Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Pure Icing Sugar
1/2 Cup Super Crunchy Peanut Butter (you could use smooth if you prefer)
2 Eggs
40g of Dark Chocolate

  1. Heat your oven to approx 160 Celsius.
  2. Begin by crushing your biscuits.  Either in your food processor or if you have aggression issues, put them in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until they become fine crumbs.
  3. Stir through your coconut and then melt your butter and mix through .
  4. You will need a springform pan approx 20cm diameter and 7cm deep. A sponge tin really.  Take your crumbs and using the back of a desert spoon press into the bottom and up the sides of your tin. Then place in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.
  5. In a large bowl combine your Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Vanilla Extract and Icing Sugar.  Using an electric mixer beat this mixture until it is smooth.  Approx 2-3 minutes.
  6. Now you need to incorporate your peanut butter.  If yours is already quite runny'ish then just add straight to your mix.  If yours is quite firm, then place in a bowl and heat in the microwave for a few seconds to make it more runny but not hot.  Add to your cheese mixture and beat with the mixer until properly incorporated.
  7. Now we need to add the eggs.   These babies are going to set your cheesecake but we need to add them one at a time beating well between each addition to combine them properly.
  8. Now we're ready to fill our tin.  Pour the mixture into the tin over the base.  If you have the right diameter /depth pan it should come right to the top.  Thats OK as its not going to rise.
  9. At this point you can either choose to add the dark Chocolate swirl or leave it out or get creative with something else in your cheesecake.  I take my dark choc and microwave on 80% power for about 1 min or until melted (keep a close eye on this as you don't want it to burn.)
  10. Now take a teaspoon and scoop some chocolate out of the bowl and put on top of cheesecake then take your spoon and stir it through.  It should make some lovely swirls.  Be careful not to dredge too deep or you will pull on the base.
  11. When you are happy with the look place it on a low shelf in your oven and bake for approx 50 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before attempting to release the pan.
  12. Cut yourself a little slice of heaven, put your feet up and relax !
Enjoy xx