Thursday, 26 June 2014

Fudgey chocolate squares (dairy, gluten free)

Thank you to anyone who has looked at my blog over the past month it has been a busy time due to writing my PhD thesis and organising a house move.

To add to the business I have not been well, and to cut a long story short I can currently eat no gluten or dairy. This does not make baking impossible but it does mean a little more planning.

I have made a simple Victoria sponge and that turned out beautifully and so I advanced a little more with fudgey chocolate squares. 

I hope to get back into my blog, a week volunteering and the move may slow me down a bit but i am back and ready to bake!

These fudgey chocolate squares are truly amazing. You honestly would not know that they lack either gluten or dairy. They are fudgey, chocolatey, rich, decadent and delicious. The frosting is amazing. 

I am going to enter these into this months alpha bakes, the letter is D, and these contain dark chocolate, dark cocoa powder and are dairy free!



Fudgey chocolate squares

Makes 18

200g dairy free spread, I use 'pure' sunflower
200g dark chocolate, check some dark chocolate contain dairy, even 70% ones
300g golden caster sugar
50g gluten free plain flour
1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp xantham gum
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
4 medium eggs

For the frosting

100g dairy free spread
30g cocoa powder
200g icing sugar
Boiling water
Walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and grease and line a brownie tin with baking paper.

Gently melt the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Add in the sugar  and mix to combine. Add in the flour, baking powder, xantham gum and cocoa powder and mix well.  Finally mix in the vanilla and the eggs until you have a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface, I found this easiest with a metal spoon dipped in hot water. 

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin, when cold use the baking paper to lift from the tin and place on a baking rack.

To make the icing melt the butter in pan over a gentle heat, add the cocoa powder and cook for 1 minute whilst stirring. remove from the heat and beat in the icing sugar, it will look terrible, like it has split, never fear, add in a tablespoon of boiling water and beat well, add in a second tablespoon and beat well. The frosting should be thick  and smooth, with no sign of splitting, add tiny touch more water if you feel it neccessry. 

Smooth the frosting over the top of the cooled traybake and press in the walnuts. The walnuts are optional but add a nice textural contrast.

Try to leave for an hour our two before slicing otherwise frosting will go everywhere! These keep well for at least 5 days in an airtight tin.





Sunday, 18 May 2014

Cherry and almond tray bake

It's national baking day, so I had to bake, and looking at my books it was clear which one I had to choose a recipe from, after all Mary Berry is the queen of baking!

I decided on a traybake, simple, uncomplicated, quick and delicious. The traybake I decided on was cherry and almond, a classic flavour combination.

 Now I did make a few tweaks, normally I would not tweak Mary's recipes but I am on a budget at the moment (3 weddings to go to in 1 month is expensive!) so I used what I had in the cupboards and did not buy extras apart from the cherries. I think Mary would approve of my thrifty-ness. 

Cherry and almond traybake

225g glacé cherries, my pack was 200g, I used 200g.
225g soft butter
225g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
Tsp almond extract
4 eggs
50g ground almonds
250g self raising flour
Tablespoon of milk
Flaked almonds for topping, I had none but chopped up a few whole almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN, and grease and line a traybake tin.

Chop the cherries into quarters, rinse well with cold water before draining and drying on kitchen paper (or clean tea towel), set aside.

Add all the other ingredients to a bowl except the almonds and mix for a minute until well combined, fold through the cherries.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the top. Scatter over the almonds. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes until golden and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.


Yum, a classic flavour combination and a delicious cake, happy world baking day!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Pumpkin, sage and cheese muffins

I am not a fan of the traditional sweet muffin, I will also chose cake, brownies, cookies, cupcakes and biscuits over them. I tend to find them a bit dry or at the other end of the spectrum claggy, I also find them a bit bland the majority of the time. The savoury muffin however is something a enjoy. I like them with soups. It seems much easier to pack savoury muffins with flavour and they are lovely with cheese all oozy and warm from the oven.

This particular recipe is from Scandilicious baking by Signe Johansen, with a few tiny tweaks 

Pumpkin, sage and cheese muffins

Makes 6

125g plain flour
20g spelt flakes (you can use oats)
2 tsp sugar (golden caster or brown)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 large sage leaves, finely chopped
140g pumpkin puree
50g plain yoghurt
25g butter, melted
1 egg
1 heaped tsp English mustard
50g cheese (jarlsberg, Gouda, cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere, mozzarella, or in my case vegan cheese), grated.

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN and line a muffin pan with liners. Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, including the sage and stir to combine.



Mix the pumpkin puree, yoghurt, and butter in a separate bowl, add the egg and the mustard, stir to combine then add in the cheese.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir, in a figure of 8 motion until all the ingredients are combined but not over mixed.

Divide the mix between the muffin cases and sprinkle with a few more spelt flakes (or oats). Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and devour warm.


Once cold wrap any leftover muffins in foil and freeze. To reheat the muffins heat the oven to 150C/130C FAN and bake them, in for foil for 10 minutes. Remove the foil, turn up the oven to 190C/ 170C FAN and bake the muffins for a further 5 minutes.


We had these muffins with a roasted squash and pumpkin seeds salad. The sage, cayenne and mustard really work to lift the pumpkin and cheese flavours. I cannot wait to eat the leftovers soon! 


Monday, 12 May 2014

Earl grey and lemon scones

Picture the scene, perfectly brewed earl grey, a slice of lemon and a freshly baked scone. Hmmmm, a perfect match. So perfect in fact, how about if we merged them? This idea came about as 1) I wanted fresh scones for breakfast and 2) the letter for this months alpha bake is 'E'.

I decided to soak raisins overnight in earl grey tea, before incorporating them into my scone along with plenty of lemon zest.

Earl grey and lemon scones

Earl grey tea bag
60g raisins
120ml milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
185g plain flour
120g oats
50g golden caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
110g butter
Zest of a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla paste/ extract

The night before you make the scones, make a strongish small cup of earl grey tea, and soak the raisins in it overnight. Come morning they will be plump and infused with earl grey.



Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and dust a baking sheet with flour. Mix the milk and vinegar together and set aside to curdle.

Mix the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the zest of a lemon. 

Add the vanilla to the milk and stir the milk mix into the dry ingredients until just combined, do not overmix. Dollop 8 equal blobs onto the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. 


Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before enjoying warm with butter, lemon curd, marmalade or jam.

Enjoy any leftovers the next day refreshed in a warm oven for five minutes.


The lemon and earl grey complement each other beautifully, the earl grey adds a fragrance and takes away a little of the sweetness of the raisins. For an experiment I was very pleased and would definitely make them again.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Chocolate brownie cookies

This is a complete winner of a recipe from waitrose. Well I made one change, I did not let the cookies cool then drizzle in chocolate. No no no. I kept the roll of dough in the fridge and cut a few of over a few days. I tucked in to them about 10 minutes after they came out of the oven for complete warm cookie/brownie bliss. I imagine if you left them to completely cool they would lose some of that fudgey goodness. If you are more patient than me and do let them cool, let me know what they are like!


Chocolate brownie cookies

150g dark chocolate
110g butter
100g golden caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
1/2 egg
1/2 tbsp golden syrup
Tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
Tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Gently melt half the chocolate and set aside to cool a little. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, syrup, vanilla and melted chocolate until combined. Add the remaining ingredients including the remaining chocolate (chopped)' and bear until everything is incorporated. 

Transfer the dough to parchment paper and shape into a rough sausage 20cm long. Wrap in the paper, twisting the ends and chill for at least an hour.

When ready to eat the cookies preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice cookies off the sausage about 1cm in width. 


Place on the prepared sheet and bake for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and leave on the sheet for ten minutes, they will be very very soft. After 10 minutes remove the cookies from the sheet and either transfer to a wire rack to cool or eat.



A few notes, the slices may not hold together, just squish them back together or place the pieces like a jigsaw on the baking sheet, the pieces will merge during baking. Do not attempt to remove the cookies from the sheet early, they are just too soft. Oh and I implore you to eat them while warm, fudgey and delicious.