Thursday, 28 August 2014

Individual baked alaska

Dessert week on the great British bake off this week and the contestants had to tackle puddings with a sauce, either inside or hidden beneath, the technical challenge was a tiramasu and the showstopper a baked alaska. I will not spoil anything for those of you still to catch up but my word... I was on the edge of my seat!

Now I could have made a self saucing pudding, I have made chocolate fondants before so thought this seemed a little too easy. I was not going to make tiramasu as coffee is one of the few things I actually dislike. This left me with baked alaska.

First of all I was never going to make a whole baked alaska, there are only two of us and this pudding certainly does not keep. So I did my research and yes, individual baked alaskas are definitely a thing. Individual ones are either quickly put under a grill to brown or a blowtorch is used. An excuse to use my blowtorch? I was sold.

A baked alaska has a sponge base, topped with a scoop of ice cream and the whole thing is encased by browned meringue.

Those of you who read this blog will know that I cannot tolerate lactose at all, and even dairy without lactose can be a dodgy. This means ice cream is quite often out, though there are a few dairy free tubs out there. I decided this was the push I needed to dust of my poor neglected ice cream maker and get experimenting. First things first I had to chose a flavour, this was dictated to a degree by my sponge base.

My sponge base was already sorted as I had a little of the lemon semolina cake left over from Sunday, so I cut two slices then used a cookie cutter to get two circles.

So my ice cream had to be flavour that went well with lemon. Many dairy free ice cream recipes make use of coconut milk, and I had plenty of raspberries in the fridge and so I thought a coconut and raspberry ice cream atop a lemon sponge would be rather good and that is what I went ahead with. The ice cream in made half and half with coconut milk and almond milk and so it is not super super coconuty, but the coconut flavour is definitely there.

Coconut raspberry ripple ice cream (dairy free)

300ml almond milk
300ml coconut milk (full fat, shake the can really well before opening. 
75g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
2  heaped tsp cornflour
60g raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Put the almond milk, coconut milk, caster sugar and vanilla into a saucepan and heat gently, with stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the cornflour with a plash of water or almond milk then add to the pan, increase the heat a little and cook until thickened slightly. The mixture will coat the back of the spoon but will not be super thick like custard, this is how it should be. Transfer the mixture to a jug and refrigerate.

Once the mixture is cool add to an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturers instructions.

While the ice cream is churning mash the recipes to a runny pulp, taste and add a little sugar if you think that it is necessary. When the ice cream forms a soft-medium scoop then transfer it to a tupperware and quickly swirl through the raspberries. Place in the freezer for a few hours to allow the ice cream to firm up, at this point I left the ice cream overnight ready for the next step. 

This ice cream tasted lovely and was perfect for the baked alaska but if eating it as just an ice cream I would need it to be creamier.. I reckon using coconut cream would work, I will continue my ice cream experimentation at a later date!

I must confess that when making my alaska I did not follow a recipe and nor did I weigh out anything. However what I did is as follows...

Individual baked alaska

I formed two scoops of ice cream and put them on a plate in the freezer to make sure they were set solid.

A couple of hours later I cut two circles with a cutter from two slices of cake that I had made 

I then made my meringue, I whipped up two eggs whites in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water until soft peaks formed then added sugar (by eye, sorry) and whipped until stiff glossy peaks were formed. Many of the contestants used Italian meringue, or you could use swiss, google will tell you the amounts to use!

I then assembled! I placed the hardened scoop of ice cream onto the round of sponge. Then I topped the whole thing with meringue making sure that all the ice cream and most of the sponge was covered. I used a teaspoon to make rustic peaks but you could use a piping bag. I then toasted the whole thing with my cook blow torch. If you had no blow torch you could put the whole thing under a hot grill for a minute or two... watch it like a hawk!

I did enjoy my very first baked alaska, they look amazing and unusual flavor combinations could turn this into a very stunning dessert to impress others with.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Lemon semonlina cake

I had lemons in the fruit bowl and a massive bag of semolina in my cupboard, so when deciding what to bake this weekend it seemed like fate that I found this recipe for lemon semolina cake in the first book I was flicking through.

This is a recipe from Peyton and Byrne, British Baking.

Lemon Semolina Cake (Peyton and Bryne)

125g dairy free spread (I use pure)
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
3 medium eggs
3 tbsp dairy free milk (I used almond milk)
Zest and juice of two lemons
1/2 tsp vanilla paste/extract
125g semolina flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 170/150C FAN/ GAS MARK 3. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line the base with a stip of parchment paper.

Beat together the DF spread and sugar until pale and creamy, add the almonds and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the milk, then add in the lemon zest and juice and vanilla extract. Sift in the semolina and baking powder and mix into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth into the corners. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

This cake will keep well for 3 or so days in an airtight tin

The recipe suggests dusting with icing sugar and serving with fresh berries

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Gluten free bread rolls

Bread week on bake off, great to watch not so much fun to try and recreate. Gluten free bread has come on leaps and bounds in the supermarkets but just take a look at all the ingredients. Even recipes for 'make at home' gluten free bread have more ingredients than homemade wheat bread. I am trying to accept this but making gluten free bread still makes me miss wheat bread incredibly.

My first foray into gluten free bread was a disaster. I followed a recipe for gluten free baguettes... they were tough, tasteless and only made vaguely palatable when I toasted thin slices and smothered them with a homemade roast garlic paste and served them alongside a flavoursome fish stew.

I decided to try again and the Bake off inspired me to try rolls. Now I obviously could not make rye rolls but I decided to try making rolls with some buckwheat flour, as this has a characteristic nutty character, not too unlike rye. Buckwheat contrary to its name is not actually wheat, they are from two completely different families. Be careful when buying buckwheat flour, many say they contain gluten simply because the buckwheat is so are so contaminated during the growth and milling process.

I made my own recipe based on what I researched on-line. The recipe is in american cup measurements as much of the research I read was in american measurements.

2 cups, dove farm GF bread flour mix
1/2 cup GF buckwheat flour
1/4 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
1½ tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp (7g) dried quick yeast
2 scant tsp brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup warm water 
2 Tbsp dairy-free margarine
1 egg (preferably room temp)
1 tsp. cider vinegar

In a mixing bowl mix together the flours, xanthan gum, quick yeast, sugar, and salt.
With and electric mixer running on low speed, add in the water, DF spread, egg, and cider vinegar and mix on high speed 3 minutes.
Lightly oil a 8 inch springfrom cake tin  and using a ⅓ cup measuring cup, scoop the dough into 7 mounds in the pan. I placed one mound in middle, then scoop 6 mounds of dough side by side all the way around the pan.

 Dip your fingertips into warm water and use to smooth out the tops of the rolls, continuing to wet fingers as needed.

Cover with a dry towel and let rise in a warm place 45 minutes to 1 hour. During the last few minutes that the rolls are rising, preheat oven to GAS MARK 6.

Bake in  the preheated oven for 26-30 minutes until the tops are golden brown before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

The rolls turned out much fluffier then my baguettes, in fact the crust was crusty and the inside soft and fluffy just like wheat bread. This made me very happy. I will be making these again but I will add more buckwheat flour as I did not quite feel that the amount used came through enough... I was sparing based on others saying it was really nutty in flavour, on tasting these rolls could easily take more.

I want to try finding a Gluten free bread with a few less ingredients and without the egg, not because I have anything against eggs but I think you can taste it a little and I do not really want that taste in my bread. Saying that I would prefer to use egg over artificial chemicals so I think some experimenting is in order!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Pecorino biscuits

Hi, prepare for a few bake off posts in a row, I had planned to bake along with the bake off and of course as soon as it came on TV I went off to do volunteer work. I am catching up over the weekend and should be back on track by the episode on Wednesday.

I decided to make savoury biscuits for biscuit week, I have already made Florentines and to be honest did not have time to make a 3D creation, why you ask? because I HANDED MY THESIS IN!!! Anyway I genuinely liked the sound of a savoury nibble.

As an added bonus I used pecorino and pumpkin seeds and so I will enter these into this months alpha bakes.

These are gluten free and lactose free, I used lactose free pecorino, if lactose is your issue these are fab but not suitable for other dairy allergy sufferers. If you do not have an issue with gluten feel free to use plain flour and they will work perfectly too.

Pecorino rounds

50g GF plain flour
pinch of cayenne pepper
15g semolina
50g DF spread (I use pure)
50g pecorino cheese, grated
1 medium egg yolk
1 tsp olive oil

1 egg yolk
15g pecorino cheese grated
pumpkin seeds
pinch of cayenne

Put the flour, cayenne pepper and semolina into a bowl and mix. Rub the spread with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Dairy free spread is softer than butter so work quickly and don't worry that your 'breadcrumbs' are large. Stir in the 50g of cheese using a metal spoon. Briefly beat the egg and then add the egg and olive oil to the dry ingredients and bring together into a dough using a metal knife and cutting motion. Form the dough into a fat disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN/GAS MARK 4 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the chilled dough to a thickness of 3mm. Cut out small rounds and place them on the prepared sheet. Push remaining dough together, re roll and cut more biscuits.

Brush the biscuits with a little beaten egg, sprinkle over the 15g of cheese, place a couple of pumpkin seeds on top and add a small dusting of cayenne pepper. Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden, transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before consuming.

We had these warm with a glass of prosecco before a light evening meal and they were delicious, we also had the leftovers later that evening, cold but still delicious... I therefore have no idea how well they keep!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Swiss Roll

The bake of is back! I know for a fact that I am not the only one thrilled by this, the cakes, the drama, Paul and Mary’s scrutiny and the soggy bottoms make for tasty TV!

Last year I wanted to bake along with the bake off but fell along the wayside thanks to illness and diagnosis with dairy intolerance. Well this year I can no longer eat gluten or dairy. Which poses some challenges for a baker but I am finding I am managing quite well. This year I am going to attempt again to bake along with the bakes off AND adapt their bakes for anyone suffering with any dairy or gluten intolerance/allergy.

The first week saw the 12 new hopefuls make signature swiss roles, tackle Marys cherry cake and produce 36 identical mini bakes… some of the contestants could have done with a dictionary to look up ‘mini’ but everything looked delicious.

I made a swiss roll, I have never made one before and was a little nervous. A swiss roll sponge is naturally a fatless sponge so that solved the dairy conundrum right off! I used gluten free flour and it worked like a charm. I filled it with a strawberry jam, classic and simple.

I was really proud of my first swiss roll, I was a little hesitant when rolling and feel that the swirl could have been tighter but saying that I think Paul and Mary would have not been too unkind… it did taste scrummy!

Jam swiss roll

3 eggs
75g caster sugar, plus extra
½ tsp vanilla paste
75g plain GF flour
1 tsp GF baking powder
½ tsp xantham gum
Strawberry jam to fill

Preheat the oven to 180C/160 FAN/GAS MARK 6. Grease and line a brownie tin, If you happen to have an actual swiss role tin all the better, simply increase the eggs to four and the flour and sugar to 100g each.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until very pale and thick, when thick enough a ribbon of mix will sit on the top of the mix. This took me about ten minutes with a powerful handheld mixer so be patient! Next very gently fold in the remaining ingredients (except the jam), do not over mix but do make sure all the flour is thoroughly combined. Gently pour the mix into your prepared tin and tilt the tin so that the mixture spreads to the corners. Bake in the preheated oven for ten minutes.

While in the oven sprinkle a piece of parchment, a little bigger than your tin, with caster sugar. When the swiss roll is ready remove from the oven and invert onto the parchment paper.  Trim the edges with a sharp knife, and score a grove an inch from one of the short edges, be careful not to cut all the way through. Spread with jam (its easier to do this if you soften your jam by beating it with a spoon) and then starting with the side with the grove tightly roll up the swiss roll.

A crack is nothing to worry about, it looks lovely and homemade, lots of cracks suggest that your sponge is a little on the dry side.

This is best eaten relatively soon, ours was finished 28 hours after baking. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Raspberry frangipane traybake

Another gluten free and dairy free bake, this time a simple tray bake to satisfy a cake craving that did not want to wait around forever to be satisfied.

The cake is icing free but does not need any, the sponge is moist with almonds and the sharpness of raspberry is an amazing flavour pairing.

This is a good cake to have in the tin ready for partnering with a cup of tea and a book!

Raspberry frangipane traybake

200g DF spread (I use pure)
200g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
Tsp almond extract
3 eggs
250g plain GF flour
1/2 tsp xantham gum
2 tsp GF baking powder
50g ground almonds
200g rasperries, halved

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN/GAS MARK 4 and grease and line a traybake tin.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy, add one egg at a time  along with a tablespoon of the flour, add in the almond extract and beat until combined. Add the remaining flour, xantham gum, baking powder and ground almonds and fold in. 

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the top. Line the raspberries, cut side down, on top of the frangipane, no need to press in. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until golden and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.

Allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes -1 hour then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.