This past Christmas I was given a glorious present. A copy of Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth. This bright and cheerful book certainly won’t hide amongst the masses when you put it on your bookshelf. It’s bright green cover, pink edges and gilt will certainly see to that! But it’s a good thing… as really you won’t want to put the book on your shelf in the first place! You’ll want to bake from it every day; waistline be damned.
I picked Lily’s Spiced Apple Custard Tarts to adapt so as to make them edible to my celiac self. I fell in love with the recipe as it contains what has to be the richest custard I’ve ever seen, apples cooked in caramel, a shortcrust base and then a crunchy crumble topping. Like all the best bits of apple pie and crumble combined!
I took the result to Sunday lunch with friends. The silence around the table punctuated only by low hums of delight, multiple demands for the recipe and requests for seconds mean this recipe has now become a fixture in my dessert rotation.
For those of you who want a glutenous version, I’ve found it online here.
Otherwise, below is the gluten-free version I made. I’ve adjusted the quantities to make one tart rather than the individual ones in the book.
I’ve been served gluten-free bread from grocery stores at restaurants and when out to dinner and in times of desperation I buy it. But it’s a poor substitute at best. The bread that I make using gluten-free flours and eaten fresh out of the oven is much better and my husband will happily eat it. But the pre-packaged stuff… ugh! It’s good for toasting and that’s about it. DM says it makes a pretty good substitute for cardboard and occasionally as a doorstop.
So what do you do when you don’t have time to bake a loaf of bread and you’re desperate for a half decent brunch? You buy the packaged stuff and cook it.
French toast is a great option for gluten-free breads as it adds some much needed moisture back into the cardboard bread.
So if you’re celiac or serving brunch to a gluten intolerant person, try this out. It’s quick, easy and delicious. I serve mine with cooked banana, sprinkled with cinnamon and maple syrup. But my husband hates bananas cooked; he says it tastes just as good with them uncooked.
Gluten free dark chocolate layer cake with salted chocolate cream
I received one of the best Christmas presents from my friend Jo this year. A 12 Cup Mini Sandwich Cake Tin. And then I promptly got so sick I couldn’t play with it properly. But now that I’m feeling quite a bit better, I’m finally able to play with all the Christmas presents I’ve been unable to use (I also received an ice-cream maker!). But I’m also trying to be fairly well behaved and not to eat too much from the naughty list so that Munchkin will be happy and healthy when he/ she is born. How does one make a cake and not eat it all?! Normally I would bake a big cake and then have people around to eat it, or send it to work with my husband. But whilst staring at the small cake tin, I had a small epiphany. I would make two little cakes!
And this is the result! I adapted this recipe to use dark chocolate and to be gluten-free and topped it with salted dark chocolate cream. It should make up 2 small layer cakes. One for you to eat and one to give away (it’d be perfect for Mothers Day or a birthday).
45 grams of good quality dark chocolate plus 50 grams for the chocolate cream
Decorations. I used dried flower petals I bought at my local market.
This should make 2 little layer cakes. But it depends on how many layers you make.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Melt 45 grams of chocolate, either in a small bowl over a double boiler or in the microwave. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl whisk together your eggwhite, 30mls of milk and vanilla paste.
In a mixing bowl, beat together flour, caster sugar, guar gum, baking powder, softened butter and the remaining 40ml of milk until the mixture is smooth. Add eggwhite/ milk mixture and finally the cooled chocolate and beat until light and fluffy.
Spoon mixture into Mini Sandwich Cake pans (it should fill 5 – 6 of them) and smoothen to even them out (the mix can be a little thick).
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the cream, melt 50 grams of chocolate, either in a small bowl over a double boiler or in the microwave. Set aside to cool.
Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add cooled chocolate and pinch of salt to taste. Whisk together and refrigerate for a further 15 minutes.
To assemble, cut the tops and bottoms of your cakes off and slice so that you have nice even ‘layers’. Sandwich them together with the chocolate cream. Put a little more cream on top and decorate as you desire.
On the Saturday I made my husband a big batch of one of his favourite meals. He just loves my spaghetti Bolognese and generally attempts to eat at least 4 servings in one sitting. I use a recipe my mother taught me and let it slow cook for at least 4 hours.
Then we had a glorious Sunday with friends. I cooked and baked properly for the first time in months. It was fabulous!
We had delicious artisanal British cheeses from my favourite British cheese supplier in Zurich to start. Followed by crispy skinned, roast pork belly, roast vegetables (parsnip, purple carrots, potatoes, cherry vine tomatoes and garlic), a red wine and rosemary gravy, decadent garlic mashed potatoes (they contained double cream and butter) and finished the meal off with a gluten free roasted strawberry & ginger, baked ricotta cheesecake.
I think I can honestly say I’ve got my appetite and much of my energy back. Hurray!
Though I was flagging pretty badly by the end of the afternoon. We had Meriel and her gorgeous little girls come for afternoon tea after lunch. Lily gave her approval to the dessert and then demanded pencils and paper for ‘drawing time’. It was great fun. Meriel told me both of the girls fell asleep on the way home, I wasn’t far behind them!
I apologise for the poor quality of the photos. I was so concerned with feeding my guests and not allowing baby brain to destroy the meal to allow myself any more than about 10 seconds for photos. And I completely forgot them for the dessert! Hence the reason you’re looking at the remnants of dessert, photographed when I realised this morning. But as I’ve plans to tweak the recipe a little bit more and post it online for you later this week, I’ll have ample opportunity to take more for you then.
I love cake. Not just eating it (though it is splendiferous), but making them. Ogling them. Trying to work out how they were constructed and how they stay together. I adore the challenge that some cakes pose and the delicious simplicity of others.
But my cake consumption and creation has been seriously curtailed these past few months. Even the thought of anything more decadent than honey on toast has had me seeing green. My parents-in-law very kindly ordered me a subscription to Delicious magazine earlier this year and I’m very sorry to admit that until very recently, they were all sitting in my lounge-room providing food porn to my visitors but that I’d been to do little more than flick through them quickly. Absolutely nothing looked even remotely appetising.
So, when my Doctor gave me meds and the green faded a little and then I hit 15 weeks and the nausea started to abate on it’s own, I was exceedingly happy for (what felt like) the first time in months! The fact it coincided almost perfectly with my planned trip to Zurich for cake, and a visit to an enormous English bookstore had me practically levitating. I had to limit myself as I had to be able to lug my purchases around Zurich for the remainder of the day and, like most things in Switzerland, they’re not cheap.
As soon as I saw the cover of this very recently released book it was a given. It was coming home with me. And flicking through the pages I felt cake-inspiration for the first time in… oh so long!
Just look at these amazing creations!
I cannot wait to try some of them out! I’m really looking forward to seeing if I can make gluten free versions.
Image via http://www.spottedbylocals.com/zurich/miyuko/
I found out about Miyuko a few weeks ago and immediately made plans to get to Zurich! Booking in for High Tea with a few other Lausannois ladies and crossing my fingers that my pregnancy induced illness would abate in time for me to enjoy the train trip and fabulous food. Thankfully it seems to be getting much better. We had a splendid day. I’m absolutely exhausted, but it was well and truly worth it.
Miyuko is the creation of a graphic designer, chocolatier, cake decorator and fan of all things Japanese called Sara Hochuli. It’s located just 10 minutes easy walk from Zürich Hauptbahnhof.
I immediately fell in lust with the place. And not just because they do a gluten-free High Tea (they also cater to vegans and the lactose intolerant), but also because it was a fabulous mix of a traditional European cafe with a hefty dose of all things kawaii and the attention to detail is fabulous!
Everything from the lampshades to the crochet coasters has been ‘Miyuko-ised’. The ribbons, cushions and even menus have all received care and attention. And not in a slap, dash, ‘just whack our logo on it’ style. Each item in the café has been crafted and curated with an eye to detail. It made the perfectionist in me do a happy dance! The food is no different, the presentation is impeccable and creative.
We spent three and a half hours there in total and struggled to finish the food. The High Tea includes 3 different types of tea. I started with a Darjeeling, then moved on to a chinese tea ball and finally finished with a delicious ginger and lemon tea.
And the High Tea menu contains no less than a small quiche, sandwiches, antipasti, chutney, fresh fruit, plain and chocolate chip scones with jams and cream, cake and macarons arranged artfully on a gorgeous three-tiered cake stand (I suggest you don’t eat lunch beforehand, you won’t need it!).
They also make glorious cake creations. I’m already dreaming about my next birthday cake and plotting so that I won’t have to make it myself!
The café is not large and was full the entire time we were there (mid afternoon, mid week) so make sure you make a reservation. They’re completely booked out on weekends weeks in advance and have a cancellation policy in place. English for placing reservations via email was not a problem and the waitress we had was fluent in English, lovely and patient with us (none of us spoke any more than rudimentary German).
I’ve just returned from 10 days wandering around San Francisco and Palo Alto. My husband had to go for a week of work so we tacked the two weekends on either side, booked me a ticket and voilà!
Food-wise, trips to America always make me nervous. Uncertainty about sauces, if certain foods contain hidden gluten etc. makes eating out a little more stressful. But some of the places we ate made eating out a breeze! They marked their menu’s, or were entirely gluten-free! So I thought I’d share them with you just in case you’re in SF or Palo Alto and don’t or can’t eat gluten.
With a lovely patio area (and those lovely radiant heaters for the slightly chillier days), The Plant Cafe was a fabulous find by my friend Phaedra. Their menu very clearly states what meals are gluten free and there is an option for a gluten-free pizza base. The huevos rancheros are fabulous! Read more
Things have been a bit quiet around here lately. I’ve a few health issues to sort out and so haven’t much been up to making or baking. DM has been wonderful and doesn’t seem to mind subsisting on whatever I can throw together quickly at a minutes notice. Food hasn’t been much of a priority for me the last few weeks. Hopefully it’ll improve soon and I’ll have some fabulous things to show you all. There’s nothing more frustrating than having the time and the idea but no energy to do it!
But on Saturday the sun came out and it felt fabulously cheerful in the apartment. We needed a decent breakfast and I found some energy! A quick look in the fridge and the discovery we had some lovely apples lead to the decision we were having apple pancakes! The last time I’d had apple pancakes they were made by my Dutch cousin and Aunt many, many years ago. They somehow combined them with cheese and they were calorifically decadent and delicious. After a little googling stumbled upon this recipe by Smitten Kitchen.
Whilst mine weren’t quite as pretty as those made by Smitten Kitchen, they were delicious! The revised recipe is below.
I opened my letterbox yesterday and did a little jig on the spot. Even the subsequent trip to the print shop, where I had to deal with the staff who have successfully avoided ever being friendly or helpful in the two years I’ve gone to them for my printing needs, couldn’t dampen my spirits. Giving the grumpy assistant a big grin and cheerful ‘au revoir’ as I left the store seemed to only deepen her scowl.
But what did that matter to me?! I’m in print!
I know that in instances like this I’m supposed to play it cool and to calmly share my news whilst pretending it doesn’t matter and that I don’t care about it in the slightest. But I’ve discovered it’s loads more fun to grin like a toddler who has just been given a lolly pop bigger than my head and to dance (privately I should note) around the dining room in a manner that would lead you to assume the toddler had managed to consume the entire lolly pop and was experiencing a sugar induced fit.
I know it’s been a whilst since I posted a craft blog. I’d taken some time off over Christmas and my lastest project has taken longer than I anticipated. But rather than cram a quick and easy project in beforehand I’ve been focusing on this one. It’s not quite ready to go up on the blog yet, I hope to have it up over the next couple of days.
I made these tea bag shortbread biscuits to go into my latest project. So here’s a sneak peek of my project and the recipe!