A Gluten Free, Low Sugar, Low Fat Lemon and Blueberry Cake

OK, gluten free, low sugar and low fat are not words you will usually find on The Gammon Kitchen. Sugar and fat are my main food groups. However, I’ve been following The Culinary Jumble run by the lovely Tracy for a while and her blog has started to really focus on offering healthier alternatives that are still tasty and simple to make. As a Brit living in Sweden, her blog is chock full of delicious Scandi inspired goodies such as saffron and white chocolate buns as well as British classics like nostalgic jam tarts. If you’re looking for gluten free options you can find everything from a jaffa cake sponge to cinnamon bun waffles. I had one of those ‘lick the screen’ moments recently when Tracy posted a recipe for hot cross bun rolls, a hybrid of a cinnamon roll and a hot cross bun. I didn’t get round to making them for Easter but have them bookmarked for next year.

I’ve not done a whole lot of gluten free baking as quite frankly, I have no need to. It’s always good to give things a go though and I was intrigued by the ingredients for the lemon and blueberry cake which was originally posted on The Culinary Jumble back in January. It’s a bit of a bonus that it’s also low fat and low sugar as let’s face it, most of us could do with less of the bad stuff. Tyler (my fiancé of 10 years and lovely cat dad to our two fur babies) got rather excited when I said I was going to be doing a spot of baking. His heart sank when he saw me putting gluten free flour and brown cane sugar in the shopping trolley. He loves cake. I get it. The idea of a gluten free, low fat, low sugar cake doesn’t sound awfully appealing but Tracy’s post images had my mouth watering and I was excited to give it a go.

The ingredient list isn’t scary like some alternative cakes. I was able to get everything I needed in Sainsbury’s. The brown cane sugar does have stevia added, which I’m not sure is entirely right but it was all I could get. Yes, before you ask, it was ridiculously overpriced, but you don’t need much of it so it will last ages and it smells delicious. I’m going to try it in coffee. I used frozen blueberries and lemon juice from a bottle as I already had some in the cupboard.

The recipe is ridiculously easy to follow and didn’t create too much mess which is always a bonus. Within 20 minutes of thinking about making the cake it was in the oven and my kitchen smelt lovely and sweet. The youngest cat was most intrigued and spent the entire time rubbing himself up my legs and meowing. Maybe he was just hungry, I didn’t think to check his food dish as my biggest concern was cake. Obviously. I tested the cake after 30 minutes and it seemed to be cooked but when I went back to it 10 minutes later there was a puddle of uncooked mixture and the cake had sunk a little in the middle so I popped it back in the oven. 10 minutes later it was cooked but a little too dark on top. Next time I will probably cook for 45 minutes on a lower temperature.

So what’s the verdict? It took all my will power (I don’t have much at the best of times) not to eat it piping hot from the oven because it smelt so good. I knew that if I tried to slice it when it was too warm it would just crumble and I would ruin any chance of a decent picture for the ‘gram. It felt like hours before it was cool enough to slice and serve up with cups of tea, or in my case warm milk with a tea bag dunked in for approximately 1.7 seconds. The wait was worth it though. What a lovely tea time treat. The cake is so moist with a delicate tang from the lemon and Greek yogurt and the blueberries explode in your mouth. It’s not too sweet meaning you don’t feel too guilty (not that you should ever feel guilty for anything that doesn’t harm anyone or anything else). I would happily eat this for breakfast or with tea drunk from a china cup and saucer for an afternoon treat or warm with whipped cream for pudding.

Tyler’s verdict? 8/10 but would be better with chocolate. I’ll take that.

If you want to give healthier baking a go you can find Tracy’s recipe here. Do it!

This is the cake in it’s full, glazed, cracked, rustic glory. I actually like it when a cake has cracks, imperfections are beautiful. This is what I tell myself every morning when I look in the mirror. If the mantra is good enough for me, it’s good enough for my cake.

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The loaf sliced pretty well, the odd crumb here and there which may or may not have gone straight into my mouth, but a fairly clean cut with a bread knife. The blueberries sunk which I was expecting because they were frozen but I don’t mind that at all.

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You see what I mean about my tea. I’m a terrible Brit.

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And a second slice whilst writing the post because I can. I mean, its low fat and low sugar and if I eat the whole thing that’s one of my 5 a day so really its practically a health food. Oh dear, you can see how long this cake is going to last.

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Thanks to The Culinary Jumble for the recipe and for the inspiration to get my bake on!

Let me know if you try it out too!

Tania x

Recipe Review: Leon’s Lemon Cake

Tyler’s just had a birthday. To celebrate I told him I would make him any cake he wanted, his choice. Anything at all. He chose a lemon drizzle cake. I’ve made a few lemon drizzle cakes in the past, they’re generally easy to execute and delightful to eat, but the one I’ve made more often than any other is the lemon cake from the Leon Family & Friends cookbook. That’s Leon as in the healthy fast food chain restaurants that are often found near train stations and the like and who do the most awesome pink lemonade. This isn’t a healthy recipe (I did suggest trying a vegan cake but it was quickly dismissed) but who wants healthy on their birthday. Tyler’s birthday was all about a good breakfast, watching football and eating cake. Any man’s dream, surely?

Not only is this cake ridiculously good, it’s also ridiculously easy and (possibly my most favourite point) makes very little washing up. Read on to find out what you do.

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The recipe uses ounces which is odd but I always stick to it so will carry on doing so here. You need 4oz soft butter, 6oz self raising flour, 6oz caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 4 tablespoons milk and the grated zest of one lemon. You simply bung all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz it up to make a smooth batter, then pour it into a lined loaf tin and bake for around 50 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 180°c. It’s done when a skewer comes out clean.

My food processor has decided to go to kitchen appliance heaven so I used the old fashioned method of creaming the butter and sugar together then adding the eggs, giving it a good beat then folding in the rest of the ingredients. A workout as well as some kitchen sorcery. Win-win.

Once the cake leaves the oven, let it cool a little before pricking all over then drizzling over the icing which is simply 12 tablespoons of icing sugar mixed with the juice of one lemon. Leave it to set and devour, slice by delicious slice.

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I really love this recipe. A child could make it, nay, my dad could make it, it’s that easy. The Leon cookbooks are totally worth buying too, they’re great for good , honest family food.

Recipe: Chocolate Nest Cakes

Health freaks, turn away now! What is the point of life if we can’t over indulge in a little chocolate from time to time? By a little chocolate I mean a LOT of chocolate. #sorrynotsorry.

I loved Rice Krispie cakes as a kid and to be honest I still do now. I’ve never been a fan of the corn flake version though, strange huh? I thought about making these a little more grown up and considered adding some salted caramel sauce but in the end went for the nostalgic original, with the addition of some Mini Eggs, not just to add on a few extra calories but to celebrate the fact that it’s almost Easter. If you have some small people that need entertaining over the Easter break then these would be fun to make, but even if you’re child free make them anyway as they’re yummy.

Makes 9

What you need:

  • 400g milk chocolate
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g Rice Krispies or similar
  • 90g pack of Mini Eggs

What you do:

  1. Gently melt together the chocolate, butter and golden syrup until you have a combined liquid mixture. I find the microwave best for this, just be careful not to over-heat and stir every 15-30 seconds. Use whatever chocolate you like the taste of. If you want to splurge on a bar of Valrhona then be my guest, I used Dairy Milk.
  2. Now add the Rice Krispies to the melted chocolate and stir well to combine. Use a dessert spoon to drop mounds of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and use two teaspoons to mould the mounds into rough nest shapes.
  3. Your nests are going to need eggs to look authentic, so decorate each one with three Mini Eggs. I found my 90g packet had exactly the right amount to have three eggs on each of my 9 nests, which worked wonders for my mild OCD. I was left with some mixture in my bowl and you probably will be too so you can either make your nests bigger, make more and buy further Mini Eggs (or leave them out for sadly true to life empty nests) or do like I did and eat the leftovers straight from the bowl. Your finished nests need to go into the fridge for at least an hour to set then you can enjoy.

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Is that not just the essence of Spring right there!?

Recipe: Chocolate and Pecan Banana Bread

This is a grown up kind of cake to enjoy with a cup of tea or maybe a fancy schmancy caramel latte with cinnamon foam type of thing. Up to you what you have with the cake, but the cake itself is non-negotiable. I’ve also managed to convince myself it’s healthy as it contains bananas and pecans. It’s not, but I won’t tell the sugar police if you don’t?

Makes 8 slices

What you need:

  • 175g soft, unsalted butter
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 175g self raising white flour
  • 50g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

What you do:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. A handheld whisk is good for this, but a wooden spoon works with a bit of added elbow grease.
  2. Once the sugar and butter are creamed together, beat in the mashed bananas and the lightly beaten eggs until the mixture is fairly smooth.
  3. Now, fold in most of the flour, leaving behind a tablespoon or so in a bowl. To this small amount of flour, add the chopped pecans and dark chocolate chunks and mix well so that they have a thin coating of flour, then stir these into the cake batter. The flour on the nuts and chocolate means they won’t sink and you will end up with an even distribution of goodies through your cake.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a lined loaf tin and cook for about an hour in an oven at 170°c, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool before cutting into fat slices.

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Washing Up Score: 4/5 – an easy cake to make without loads of washing up after.

Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Nutella Cake

Forgive me for another Nigella recipe but I recently had a birthday (fun fact – it’s Jan 6th, the same day as Nigella’s!) and I wanted to bake myself a cake, so who better to turn to for a fabulous recipe than our Nige? This Nutella cake is from ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ and is referred to, rather fancily, as Torta Alla Gianduia in the book. You can see the online version of the recipe here.

The cake was easy as peas to make and it made the most fantastic birthday breakfast (it’s once a year so back off diet police) and continued to be enjoyed by guests for a couple of days after. It is very rich so you only need a slither. Note the word ‘need’….necessity should always be overtaken by sheer greed when it comes to birthday cake.

To make it, you start by whisking 6 egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff(ish) peaks. An electric whisk is best for this.

You then need to beat together a whole 400g jar of Nutella (I omitted a spoonful or so as it accidentally fell into my mouth instead of the bowl) with 125g soft unsalted butter in a separate bowl. I found this quite a workout so I hereby give permission to skip arm day at the gym if you make this cake. Add in the six egg yolks that were previously separated from their whites, a tablespoon of water and 100g ground hazelnuts. Confession – I used ground almonds as I couldn’t find ground hazelnuts and did not have the time nor patience to grind any whole nuts myself. It worked just as well, though I admit it loses a little of its authenticity. Next, fold in 100g of dark chocolate that you have melted and allowed to cool.

Now two bowls must become one. Add a dollop of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and beat well, then add the rest of the whites one third at a time, folding gently, until you have a coherent mixture. Without eating too much of it, scrape the batter into a cake tin that has been greased and lined and bake at 180°c for 40 minutes or so until the cake is coming away from the edges of the tin. Mine actually needed an hour. Leave to cool on a wire rack until it is completely cold before un-moulding from the tin. For the love of Nigella, do not ice it whilst it is still warm.

To make the icing, heat 125ml of double cream with 125g of dark chocolate and a tablespoon of water until the chocolate has melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until you achieve a thick mixture that will sit on top of the cake without running down. I never quite reached this consistency by whisking alone so added a tablespoon of icing sugar to thicken it up and this worked a treat. Top the cake with the icing then scatter over 100g of whole, peeled hazelnuts that have been toasted in a dry frying pan and are completely cool. And voila, you have got yourself one fine looking cake that is everything you want from a chocolate cake. It’s rich, gooey centred and full of calories. Happy Birthday to me (and Nigella!)

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The Verdict: An easy cake to make and more interesting than a conventional sponge. The crunch of the whole hazelnuts was a welcome addition to the chocolatey gooeyness of the cake, especially after it had been sitting for a bit and the sponge and icing were becoming one.

Washing Up Score: 8/10 – So.Many. Bowls.