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.

ACS_0133.jpg

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.

ACS_0134.jpg

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

ACS_0135.jpg

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.

ACS_0136.jpg

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: Nigella Lawson’s Pigs in Blankets

 

Hot dog sausages wrapped in puff pastry. Literally the easiest recipe in the world, yet I still need to share it with you as they are so bloody good. I made these as part of a Bake Off themed charity event at work, thinking that something savoury would go down a treat amongst all the cakes and biscuits. I was right, my work buds loved them.

Nigella serves hers with a mustard dipping sauce, which I did too, but this had mixed reviews. It was very hot and sharp from the mustard, some people loved it, myself included, others hated it. You can make up your own minds.

20160929_201733.jpg

Grab yourself a packet of 8 hot dogs and a ready rolled sheet of puff pastry. Lay the pastry sheet out flat and cut it into quarters, then cut each quarter into half horizontally, to give you a total of 8 strips. See diagram below:

Screen Shot 2016-10-09 at 11.07.30.png

Beat an egg in a small bowl, then using a pastry brush, brush the egg all over the pastry. Sit a hot dog on the long edge of each pastry strip, then roll up so that each sausage is encased in the pastry. Cut each pastry covered sausage into 4 bitesized pieces then lay them on a baking tray, the sealed edge at the bottom. Brush the tops of each one with the beaten egg then bake in a 220°c oven for 15-20 minutes until puffy and golden.

To make the mustard dipping sauce, mix together 50g of wholegrain mustard with 50g of Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of soured cream.

Dip, eat, enjoy.

Recipe Review: Rick Stein’s Lamb Kleftiko

I love Greece and I love Greek food. As I can’t afford a holiday to Greece this year I thought I would bring a little Greek sunshine into my own dreary kitchen. Rick Stein’s ‘From Venice to Istanbul’ is a bible of recipes from, as the name would suggest, Venice to Istanbul. There are Italian pasta dishes, Turkish kebabs and lots of wonderful dishes inspired by his travels around Greece. With each turn of the page my mouth waters even more. Even the simplest of dishes from these regions look and sound delicious and lamb kleftiko is no exception. With only a few ingredients and minimal preparation it’s great for feeding dinner guests and tastes sublime.

Here’s my take on Rick’s recipe, which is actually exactly the same apart from the alterations for it to feed four. It was perfect.

Start the recipe by peeling 750g of waxy potatoes and cutting them into wedges. Slice a red pepper into strips and roughly chop 3 large tomatoes. Tip all of the veggies into a casserole dish and season well with salt and pepper.

Take half a leg of lamb and sit this on top of the vegetable base, then pour over the juice of 1 lemon and 60ml of extra virgin olive oil. Halve a bulb of garlic and chuck that in too. Sprinkle over 1 tbsp of dried oregano and then add 150ml of water. Put on a tight fitting lid and whack it in the oven for 2.5-3 hours at 190°c.

When the lamb is falling off the bone it’s done. Check the juices, adding a bit more water if too dry or reducing them down in a pan if too watery. Crumble over 100g of feta cheese and pop the dish back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. I left the lid off to get a little bit of colour going on.

20160807_145123.jpg

The finished dish looks beautifully rustic and filled the whole house with the aroma of garlic, lemon and tomatoes. I served it alongside a Greek salad and some homemade tzatziki. Yum!

 

 

 

Burnt: A Film Review

If you have come here expecting a proper film review then you are going to be very disappointed. Very, very disappointed. Really, I’ve just found a new way to talk about my love for food and, even more so, my love for Bradley Cooper.

So, let’s start with the basics. ‘Burnt’ stars Bradley Cooper as Adam Jones, a troubled chef that hit the big time in Paris but ruined his life with drink and drugs. He moves to London to open up a new restaurant in search of the elusive 3 Michelin stars and hires Sienna Miller to help. Even after watching the film I don’t know what her character’s name was so will refer to her as Sienna Miller. In a nutshell, that’s the story. Obviously they fall in love after some initial plate smashing temper tantrums and I presume Adam gets his 3 stars. It’s not particularly clear when you watch the film but he definitely smiles at the end, actually the only time in the film, so we can safely assume it was good news.

The script, acting and plot were, in a word, dreadful. Some of the dialogue left Tyler and I looking at each other in amazement. I can only compare it to a primary school play. I usually really rate Bradley Cooper as an actor but his Gordon Ramsay style outbursts just didn’t ring true, neither did his blossoming love affair with Sienna. And all she did was cook fish. I did make it through to the end though, here’s how.

Reason One: The food shots were beautiful. I really enjoyed watching the parts of the film where dishes were being created and the camera work with these was really nice. It’s a shame there wasn’t a little more of these to be honest but then I guess I can always watch the Food Network and not have to sit through a terrible dialogue.

Reason Two: Bradley Cooper. Did you realise how blue his eyes are? I didn’t. His chef whites really made his eyes sparkle and I fell in love with him even more. And now I know he can cook, I’m besotted. Yes, yes I know it was only a character but leave me be ok.

Reason Three: Just Bradley Cooper again really. He has really nice arms, have you noticed?

If you are truly stuck for something to watch and you like food and fancy either Bradley Cooper or Sienna Miller then you can maybe try watching this film. But, if you’ve recently painted a wall and are still waiting for that to dry you could probably just keep an eye on that instead.

burnt.jpg

Picture courtesy of IMDB.

 

Recipe Review: Gordon Ramsay’s Bread and Butter Pudding

I haven’t stopped going on about this since I made it. And ate the whole thing. Yes, just me, a spoon and a smile permanently fixed on my face as I devoured the whole scrummy lot along with some cold double cream. Even then it wasn’t enough. It still isn’t enough and I’m waiting for my next opportunity to make another batch.

Gordon’s recipe uses sliced pain au chocolat but I don’t like chocolate with dried fruit and I just wanted to be hit with cinnamon, sugar and creaminess without nuggets of chocolate getting in my way. Never though I’d say that! Nigella has an amazing recipe for chocolate chip bread pudding that I will go to for when I want such a thing.

I’ve adapted Gordon’s recipe quite a bit so what follows is my version. You can find his original in his Ultimate Cookery Course book.

Serves 4 generously (or 1, if you’re me)

What you need:

  • 12 thin slices of brioche bread
  • 50g soft butter
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2 small handfuls of sultanas
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 60ml double cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

What you do:

  1. Cut your brioche slices into half diagonally to make triangles and generously butter one side of each triangle. Pile the bread into a bowl and leave to one side.
  2. Grease a pie dish (big enough to hold all the bread tightly) and sprinkle over one tablespoon of the demerara sugar and one tablespoon of the ground cinnamon.
  3. Next, make the custard by whisking together the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla, one tablespoon of the sugar and a little more cinnamon. Now pour half of this into the bowl where your bread is sitting and allow it to sit for a minute or two.
  4. To compile your pudding, lay slices of the bread with their pointy corners sticking up out of the dish and sprinkle in some sultanas as you go, pushing the bread together. When all the bread is used up, pour on the rest of the custard mixture, making sure it gets into all the crevices. Sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon and last two tablespoons of demerara sugar then bake in an oven set to 180°c for 35-40 minutes until set and golden. Leave to rest for a little while before eating unless you have a fire resistant mouth.

20160711_193754.jpg20160711_193803.jpg20160711_193827.jpg

Bread and Butter pudding should have a crunchy sugary top and be rich, creamy and luxurious beneath with lots of flavour from the spice and fruit. This delivers in every possible way. It may not be the prettiest pudding in the world but some of the ugliest things can be delicious. Just writing this up makes me want to get into the kitchen and get me some bread and butter pudding on the go. Enjoy!

Recipe: Peanut Butter Brownies

Brownies are one of my most favourite things to eat and are also one of the easiest things to make. If you’re a kitchen novice or don’t have a successful track record in the baking department, give these a go. They are squishy, gooey and super chocolatey. You can either serve them warm by way of a dessert or have them at room temperature with a nice cup of tea as an afternoon pick me up.

I can’t take full credit for the recipe as actually I’ve only adapted one that I’ve been using for years. The basis of my recipe comes from Lorraine Pascal’s Cookie and Cream Fudge Brownie recipe in the Baking Made Easy cookbook. These are brownies with crushed Oreo biscuits baked in to them and are a revelation. I’ve made them so many times and they’re always successful but I wanted to try something different so I’ve adapted the recipe to remove the biscuits and replace them with spoonfuls of peanut butter.

Makes 16

What you need:

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 170g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter

What you do:

  1. Line a 20cm square baking tin with foil and pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan on a low heat. Once it has melted, add the chopped chocolate, stir to combine then remove from the heat and leave to sit to allow the chocolate to melt completely.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the 3 whole eggs with the 2 yolks and the vanilla until light and fluffy. Once you reach the right stage of fluffiness, add the sugar half at a time, whisking well between additions. Keep whisking until the mixture stiffens.
  4. Now, add the melted chocolate and butter mixture and stir well.
  5. Spoon in the flour and cocoa powder and fold the mixture until everything is evenly combined. Pour this into your prepared tin.
  6. Take small dollops of peanut butter and place them evenly on top of the brownie mixture, then use a flat knife to swirl the dollops into the chocolate batter. Bake for around 25-30 minutes.
  7. Once the brownies are cooked but still gooey in the centre, remove them from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. Cut into squares when cool and give them to your friends or eat them all yourself, I’m not bothered.

You can serve them up all fancy shmancy style on a plate that’s far too big with some raspberries, icing sugar and double cream if you like. Or you can just eat them.

20160710_162829.jpg

20160710_162848.jpg

 

Recipe: MasterChef Style Smoked Haddock

I’m a little bit obsessed with Celebrity MasterChef at the moment. Seeing Sinitta nearly poison John and Gregg with raw mince in a raw aubergine was a particular highlight. Sinitta will do anything for a few quid it would seem but sadly she was booted off before she could find a new cooking career and, more importantly, before she actually killed someone. One of my favourite Essex exports, Amy Childs, also left the competition early. Despite continuously pouting her way through the first round, it wasn’t enough to make up for her raw steak and she too was asked to leave.

On a much more positive note, I loved watching Mo from Eastenders try to make her liver and bacon dish look more Masterchef friendly by piping her mashed potato in three tiny pea-like dots around the plate, which didn’t go down too well with the celebrity judges. Sid Owen (Rickaaaaayyyyyy) and Alexis Conran (I know right – who?) have both got off to a good start and have delivered some tasty meals to John and Gregg. I’ve been thinking about Sid’s bread and butter pudding since watching the episode.

Taking inspiration from some of the dishes the celebs have made, I decided to up my game and take myself out of my comfort zone and create a dish that I think John would describe as a ‘tasty, tasty thing’ and Gregg would be like ‘GET IN MY FACE’. Not blowing my own trumpet (I am) but I think I achieved it. If only I had India Fisher to soothingly describe my dish to you. I will just have to do it myself.

Tania has made poached smoked haddock on a bed of mustard mash with a cheddar cheese sauce and spinach cooked with lemon juice and crispy bacon.

Serves 2

What you need:

For the mash –

  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • a splash of milk
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp soft butter
  • a good pinch of salt

For the fish –

  • 2 fillets of smoked haddock
  • enough milk to almost cover the fish in a shallow dish
  • 1 spring onion, halved
  • a few black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp soft butter

For the cheese sauce –

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese

For the spinach –

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach leaves
  • squeeze of lemon juice

What you do:

  1. To make the mash, boil the potatoes in salted water until they are tender then drain well and mash thoroughly with the butter, milk, salt and mustard. Beat with a wooden spoon for fluffy, creamy mash. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  2. Grease a shallow dish that is the right size to allow the fish to sit in without overlapping. Lay the haddock fillets in skin side down and cover almost all the way with the milk. Add in the halved spring onion and black peppercorns then spread the soft butter on top of the fish before covering the whole dish tightly with foil and placing this in the oven at 180°c for 15 minutes.
  3. When the fish is cooked, remove it from the milky liquid and keep it warm. Strain the milk into a jug as you will need this for the cheese sauce.
  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan then add in the flour and stir to create a roux. Gradually whisk in the strained milk until you have a smooth, voluptuous sauce. Add a little extra milk if it’s too thick. Cook out for a few minutes before beating in the grated cheese off the heat and adding salt and pepper if needed.
  5. To make the spinach topping, heat the olive oil in a pan on a high heat and cook off the bacon until it’s golden and crispy. Add in the spinach and keep tossing in the heat until it’s wilted then squeeze in a little lemon juice to taste.
  6. To plate up, create a ring of mashed potato in the middle of your plate. Remove the skin from the haddock then lay the fish fillet on top of the mash. Spoon over some of your lovely cheese sauce then top with the spinach and bacon mixture.

20160710_1612121.jpg

The soft, creamy mash spiked with sharp mustard makes a delicious base for the flaky smoked fish and the rich, indulgent sauce. The spinach with its tang of lemon cuts through the richness and the crispy little shards of bacon add a welcome crunch. I’m putting myself out there here but I’m certain that this is one of the best dishes I have ever made.

20160710_161137.jpg

You should have seen the state of my kitchen though. MESS EVERYWHERE.