Why is it that every time I start to wonder what I’m doing with my life and start to consider returning to a ‘normal’ profession something turns up to make me change my mind? In this case, the latest issue of Cupcake Heaven turned up in my letterbox.
Gluten-free brownies are awesome. No. Seriously. They are.
Why? Because they’re basically all chocolatey deliciousness and there’s not much in the way of flour. I made two batches over the last week. One to take to a friends birthday picnic and then another for DM to take into the office. According to DM the batch for the office lasted about 5 minutes. I’m assuming that’s a good thing.
For the picnic brownies, I used milk chocolate and about 100 grams of shaved almonds. But for the office brownies, I used a 48% dark chocolate and 200 grams of slivered almonds.
The difference is quite strong. The milk chocolate brownies taste sweeter, whereas the dark chocolate had a bit more crunch due to the slivered almonds and were a little more ‘adult’ in flavour . They would be perfect with a scoop of homemade ice-cream as a dessert, maybe with a dribble of salted caramel sauce? *drools a little and heads off to make another batch*
Both types were delicious. It just depends on your own personal taste. Using good quality butter, chocolate and cocoa powder makes a big difference with this recipe. Buy the best you can afford and you wont regret it! Both batches were perfectly moist in the center and a little crunchy along the edge with a really nice thin ‘crust’ on top.
They’re really quick and easy to make, so perfect if you’ve last minute guests or are craving a chocolate hit. Enjoy!
250 grams of unsalted butter
300 grams of sugar (I used whole sugar much like this) but use whatever you prefer
Last Sunday we had a ‘making day’. My husband spent the day finishing his manga style robot and after painting it perfectly… continued painting it so that it looked like it had been through a battle… or twelve. It looks fabulous! At some point in time he’s planning on creating a Tumblr blog of his creations. If he permits, I’ll share it with you. You didn’t think I was the only person making things in our house?
As DM spends most days hunched over a laptop staring at rows upon rows of numbers or in meetings about meetings for meetings, he likes to come home and do something to turn his business brain off. Ideally he’d prefer to be spending it in a garage, pulling apart some ginormous 1980′s supercar that looks like it fell out of a 1980′s Transformer cartoon (he and I have differing opinions about what constitutes a classic car) and putting it back together. But as we presently live in an apartment and don’t have a garage or an enormous monstrosity of a car, he makes do with putting tiny versions of them together and has recently moved on to items that look like they belong in a Miyazaki film.
So whilst DM was painting away in the studio, I baked and spent some time putting together another tutorial that I’ll share with you on Wednesday. Here is the result of my baking endeavours. They’re delicious. The cake is a gluten-free butter-cake with slices of apple through the middle. They’re topped with a thick custard (I used the recipe from the Apple Custard Tart I made a couple of weeks ago) and decorated with shards of almond praline. It creates a lovely combination of flavours and textures! Below is the recipe so you can make them yourself if you desire! Read more
I couldn’t resist. My kitchen was so shiny I could see my reflection in the kitchen bench and didn’t want to mess it up. But it was raining and overcast and I felt an insatiable need to bake. I’ve been feeling a little homesick of late. Being an expat, you can sometimes find yourself hankering for the strangest things from ‘home’ and being pregnant hasn’t helped with the food cravings. I wanted lamingtons!
Lamingtons consist of a vanilla cake/ sponge, rolled in a chocolate icing and then in coconut. Variations include those filled with cream and jam. They’re perfect party and fete food. I can’t remember a party or fete when I was a child where Lamingtons were not available. We even used to have Lamington Day as a fundraiser in Primary School!
So after doing a little Googling and realising that they’re very basic. I grabbed my copy of The Commonsense Cookery Book (an Australian institution) and got to making myself some. I made the recipe more of a ganache than an icing and as per usual they’re gluten free. They’re perfect as gluten-free sponge cakes can be quite dry, so the addition of the icing and cream make them much more moist than usual.
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.
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.
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 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.
Recipe: Gluten free banana and confiture de lait (or dulce de leche) cake
with sour cream and cream cheese frosting
I held a couple of ateliers on Friday and Saturday where some truly lovely people and their gorgeous little people came to my house for tea and cake and to put together an advent calendar. We had a wonderful time coating paper and the surrounding areas with colour, glue and glitter!
I’d brought what seemed like a ton of chocolate to fill the advent calendars, but I was a little concerned about the little people and just how much chocolate may have been consumed before it went into the calendars! So whilst the workspace was cleared and the work had a little time to dry and before I brought out the chocolate, I served chocolate milk and cake.
It seemed to have worked! Only a few were consumed or fell into pockets for later. So feeding them cake beforehand worked splendidly! Read more