All posts filed under: Food stories

Gluten free Minnie Mouse cake

I can’t believe my granddaughter is 4! After I did a Thomas the Tank Engine cake for her brother, she requested Minnie Mouse for her own birthday. Chocolate, of course. Thank goodness for eBay, where I found a fondant Minnie Mouse face. No way could I do that myself. The cake had to be gluten free – a couple of guests were coeliac. I’ve been experimenting with chocolate cake recipes my whole cooking life, and I actually think this one is pretty close to Shangri-la. Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours. Chocolate Fudge Cake 400g sugar 200g white rice flour 50g oat flour 60g raw cacao powder 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 2 eggs 250ml milk 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 125ml rice bran oil, or other flavourless vegetable oil 250ml boiling water Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Grease and line two 23cm/9-inch or three 20cm/8-inch cake pans. Sift the dry ingredients – sugar, rice flour, oat flour, cacao powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and xanthan gum – into …

One a penny, two a penny

In common with many Londoners, I am rather addicted to hot cross buns from Gail’s Artisan Bakery. Every year before Easter I restrain myself and buy only half a dozen, my husband and I scoff the lot and then I run out and buy some more.The Financial Times likes them too. I have just discovered that Gail’s published their recipe online. My son had some blood tests recently, which indicated positive markers for coeliac condition, so he’s avoiding gluten. Which means no Gail’s hot cross buns. But wait! Could the recipe be adapted? The answer is yes! Here is my gluten free version. Hot Cross Buns Makes 12 Buns 400g gluten free bread flour mix (I use Dove’s Farm) 1 packet dry active yeast 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon 0.5 tsp freshly ground nutmeg 1 tsp mixed spice 200ml whole milk 70g caster sugar 2 eggs 70g unsalted butter, diced 40g sultanas 40g dry currants 40g dried unsweetened cranberries 70g mixed peel 0.5 tsp fine sea salt Egg wash 1 whole egg 1 egg yolk 1 tsp milk Cross topping 200g gluten free flour 230g icing sugar …

100 cookies

Made some chocolate chip cookies to help out with the launch of a new Foodbank in our borough of London – Hammersmith&Fulham. London Light TV covered the event. Our Foodbank is one of 400 run by the Trussell Trust, whose aim is to fight food poverty in the capital and throughout the UK. They run drop-in coffee mornings and afternoons where local residents referred by various organisations can get 3 days’ supply of dried goods and talk to advisers if they wish – on topics such as finance, employment and debt. The people who come along to these sessions are always offered a nice slice of freshly baked cake. Good for morale. That’s how I got involved. I love to bake and am very grateful for the appreciative clients at the Foodbank. Back at the launch of the new Foodbank, the 100 attendees got a chance to sample dishes from the new Trussell Trust Eat Well Spend Less cookery classes – sweet potato soup, couscous, mini beef burgers and veggie burgers – nutritious, tasty and economical, conjured up by super chef Louisa. I helped out with cookies and flapjacks from my own recipes – tasty I …

Vegan gluten free chocolate cake

I made this cake recently for my reluctantly vegan daughter-in-law. She was attending the same birthday party I made the Thomas the Tank Engine for. That cake was gluten free but did contain buttermilk and eggs. I just didn’t want her to feel left out. I remembered the vegan chocolate cake on the BBC’s Simply Nigella – it seemed the perfect solution. This second cake was so quick and easy to make, slipped in between doing the fondant icing decorations for Thomas. So that everyone at the party could try it, I made the cake gluten free as well as vegan. Everyone at the party did try it – tentatively eating tiny slivers. Then their expressions changed to surprised smiles. ‘I’ve never tried anything vegan before. This is actually really good’, they said. They wanted seconds. I got asked for the recipe. Below is my adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake original recipe. Make sure for the icing you use coconut butter and not coconut oil. for the icing: 60ml cold water 75g coconut butter (not coconut …

Gluten free Thomas the Tank Engine cake

A few weeks ago my daughter asked me to make a Thomas the Tank Engine cake for her toddler’s second birthday. She knows how I love doing birthday cakes. I thought I would browse YouTube to get some ideas. I didn’t ask her to send me the usual email reminder – after all how could I forget something like that? Between her house and mine my 70-year-old memory went AWOL and I didn’t make a note in my Outlook. I was really busy for a few days and then I totally forgot all about it. I don’t know what to do about this sort of thing. Just jump off a bridge now? Eat more Brazil nuts? The party was on a Saturday. The day before she said, ‘It’s a gluten free cake, isn’t it? So everyone can eat it?’ I nearly said, ‘What cake?’ and then it all came flooding back while I froze in terror. Luckily the shops were still open. By the time I got back to my kitchen it was 7:00pm. I …

Fruit cobbler

An email newsletter from Smitten Kitchen reminded me about cobblers. I hadn’t made one for … decades! My husband has to watch his cholesterol levels. A few months ago he started losing weight for no apparent reason. His trousers sagged and he notched his belt in to the last hole. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease some years ago, and when he mentioned the weight lost to his neurologist, the answer was, ‘Sometimes people with Parkinson’s lose weight rapidly. Sometimes they gain weight.’ Go figure. Every time I look at him I want to stuff him with calories. But of the low cholesterol kind. This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s cobbler. It work well with cholesterol-friendly coconut oil instead of butter. It works with wheat or gluten free flour. It works with dairy or non-dairy milk. It has no eggs, so vegans like my daughter-in-law can eat it. It has nice healthy fruit in it. The crust is crispy on top and soft underneath. Take it out of the oven and tap it with a …

Oat waffle sandwich

I started trying to cook with oats when my husband was diagnosed with high cholesterol. Oat pancakes are good. I think oat waffles are even better. The advantage of waffles is that you can pop them into a toaster to reheat and crisp up again. I took a double batch over to my daughter’s house for lunch. The two of us ate them with maple syrup. We felt very civilised as we were sitting at a table with plates and forks. Mainly nowadays she eats whatever she can manage with one hand, while propping a child on the other hip. The 3-year-old ate hers with a banana. The toddler ate his cut up in pieces as finger food, with the cleverly disguised carrot he didn’t even know was there. Then my son-in-law looped through on his way to putting the baby down for a nap. He’s coeliac but can eat these too. He stuck 2 waffles in the toaster for about a minute and half, then sandwiched them with grated cheddar cheese from the fridge. …