Thursday, 26 January 2012

a better gluten free coffee and walnut cake

Yesterday's test coffee and walnut cake turned out to be too sweet and a bit too greasy.  Today's version has less fat and sugar and more walnuts.  It produces a light cake that is perhaps too walnutty for some, I just finished the packet so I let that urge overwhelm my first instincts on proportions.  Just reduce the walnuts if you want to, you don't need to change anything else.

This made two 8inch/20cm cakes.  I made a tiny test cake in a ramekin and it came out of the dish without any trouble, but if this is for a special event I recommend lining the tins with baking parchment.

250g flour (40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
5tsp baking powder (cut this down if you want a denser cake)
200 g butter, soft
200g sugar
2 tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in
2 dstp water
1 tbsp vegetable oil ( I find this helps keep a cake moist)
130g walnuts, finely chopped or whizzed in a blender (use 100g for a less intense flavour)
6 medium eggs

Beat sugar and fat together until light and creamy.  Add oil and eggs and beat.  Whisk flours and baking powder together, add chopped/ground walnuts and add to mixture.  Add coffee.  As this is a gluten free mixture you don't need to worry about over beating.

Spoon into prepared tins, level and bake at 170C (fan) for 30 minutes.  Turn out on to cooling rack.  Ice as desired when cold.

I will ice this with a thin layer of coffee butter cream in the middle and a glace icing on top for contrast.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Coffee and Walnut cake

Busy making cakes for my brother-in-law's big birthday bash this weekend.  His favourite is coffee and walnut, so got to test that.  Found a great looking recipe from Italy, but thought probably safer to go with Delia Smith's basic coffee and walnut sponge.

To make this I had to grind some lentils for the first time in this flat.  Wondering why I bought my cornmeal in a 5kg bag last time.  Was I expecting a great rush on cakes?  Maybe it was so I could take flour to the teaching I am scheduled to do at the Yorkshire Wold Cookery School next month, since my flour is still not available via Shipton Mill in the stores.  A 5kg bag seem immense when it has to be lifted down from a high shelf.

So, Delia suggests the usual matching weights of flour, sugar, fat, eggs, and baking powder, instant coffee, water and finely chopped walnuts.

My recipe is (for a smallish test cake in a 9inch square pan, all that has made it out of storage so far)

110g flour (40%urid, 40%tapioca, 20%cornmeal)
1.5tsp baking powder
110g caster sugar
110g soft butter/soft margarine-
3 small eggs (Delia said 2 large, but my organic eggs come in mixed sizes and there was only one large egg)
50g finely chopped walnuts
1 tbs instant coffee - I use the excellent Kenco Millicano wholebean instant
1 dessertspoon hot water to mix

Cream fat and sugar till light and fluffy.  Mix in beaten eggs a little at a time.  Mix flour and baking powder well; add to batter mixture.  Add walnuts and coffee.

Spoon into a prepared cake tin, bake at 170C for about 30 minutes.

Cool on a baking rack, ice as wanted.  I used a simple butter cream ( 75g butter, 150g icing sugar) whipped together until fluffy, and added some very strong coffee until I thought the flavour was good.  I also added a few drops of vanilla.

This cake is sweeter than my taste.  Delia suggests making a mouselline icing, which would be less sweet ( sugar syrup and egg yolk) but I don't want to try a new icing type at this stage as I need the cake for Saturday, and the cake has to travel for several hours.  There isn't anyone else around to give an opinion at the moment. I prefer it without the icing, where it leaves a warmly coffee flavoured cake with a bit of crunch from the walnuts.

The Italian recipe 'Torta Rustica di Moci al Caffe', from my ancient 'The Good Cook Cakes and Pastries' is:

10-15cl strong coffee
200g shelled walnuts, very finely chopped
100g butter, softened
300g castor sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
200g flour, sieved with 1 tbsp (yes, tablespoon) of baking powder

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, add flour alternatively with coffee, add nuts, bake for about1 hour at 180C. Makes one 20cm/8inch cake.

Anyone trying this second recipe let me know what it is like.  It seems to me that it would be a denser more walnutty flavoured cake, with some of the characteristics of a cake made with almond flour - moist, keeps well.

The English Provender Co, single portion gluten free salad dressings

I have been in restaurants who won't even feed me a bare salad.  I have been in restaurants who will allow me to have a salad, but won't tell me what is in the salad dressing.  I have been in cafes - for example beach cafes in Devon and Cornwall, where the salad dressing single portions say 'may contain' - and then list every designated allergen.

Today I spotted these single portion sachets of classic French Dressing and Honey and Mustard Dressing.  I think they are aimed at people who want to manage portion control - they state the calories on the front of the pack (21 and 44).  They do also state suitable for vegetarians and coeliacs on the back, and don't contain  any ingredients that are permitted as 'suitable for coeliacs' but a problem for those of us that are super sensitive such as codex wheat starch.

I am going to keep some of these in the campervan and also add them to my stock of 'handbag food' for when I am travelling.  I haven't tried the quality yet, but I think The English Provender Co tends to make reasonable products.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Karma - A great, gf safe, Indian restaurant in Worcester Uk-

Just ate at an Indian restaurant in Worcester, Karma, on Broad St.  Each dish had real flavour, distinct textures and aromas.  The restaurant was clean and spacious, the music discrete, and the service attentive without being intrusive

The process was amazing.  I mentioned I had a gluten intolerance and needed to avoid flour.  The waiter didn't know what a gluten intolerance was, but said he would make sure things were fine.  Pappadums we had hadn't ordered arrived.  I explained they sometimes had wheat flour in.  He went and checked, and then, without asking, fetched the package for me to read the label.  I asked about the fat they fried them in - they have a separate fryer for pappadums.

The pickles and other accompaniments were good, and the lime pickle the best we remember tasting.

When the curries came the waiter made a point of putting Rod's nan on his side of the table well away from me.  I didn't have to make the point.  He did say, before he handed me the rice I had ordered, 'is rice all right?' so I did explain it was wheat, rye, barley and oats.

Three hours later and I have no sign of any ill effects.  We will definitely be eating there again.

(the restaurant is empty as it is just after opening - 5:30pm)

A delicious meal at Getti, - and why I won't order gf pizza or pasta

A quick trip to look at some furniture for the new flat - a desk that converts to a bed.  Didn't order it, but did have a delicious meal at Getti, 42 Marylebone High St London.

I ordered the cod with tomato and chili sauce with green beans.  Usually when I eat in a restaurant I think I could have cooked better at home.  This time I realised I didn't know how to cook fish at all.  It was exquisite, and this from a person who doesn't really like fish, and can't eat the stronger tasting ones without wanting to cry.

I had asked if they could feed me safely, and they said of course, one of their staff had coeliac disease, and they had good gf pasta they imported from Italy, and made pizza as well.  Rod ordered pizza.  When the meal arrived the waiter went to put the pizza in front of me.  Not a good sign.  For desert I ordered their sorbet - mango, strawberry and lemon, with a fruit couli.  It arrived, looking very splendid, with a cape gooseberry (physallis) and......two wafers stuffed on top.

I backed away with horror and said that the whole thing would need to be redone as it was poison.  They apologised and brought a new one several minutes later.  For some reason Rod's version had strawberry ice cream rather than strawberry sorbet, so I wouldn't have wanted that either.

Now, in both these cases I could see instantly that a mistake was being made.  If I had ordered a pizza and it had been good would I have been sure they had got it right?  Of course, half an hour later I would have been very sure if they had got it wrong, but would I have dared to eat the food?  Not only do we have to be sure that the ingredients are safe, the cooking is safe, but also that all the steps between kitchen and table are included in the risk management process.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Pizza - so quick, so scrumptious

I have missed pizza over the last month.  With the tub of my gf flour handy, and baking powder - no yeast as haven't unpacked that yet, I rustled up an almost instant pizza.

Flour enough for two people in a bowl, a sprinkling of baking powder, mix together with water to form a soft damp dough.  I spread this on a non-stick liner in my baking sheet, rolling out with my silicon roller - if I don't use it I need to lose it.  Normally I would just push it out with my hands.

On top, as this was an impromptu pizza, went things that were already to hand in the fridge and pantry.  A jar of salsa provided the base, topped with salami, pepperoni, cheddar and Parmesan on one half, and my half had the salsa and some sliced red onion.  Oven on full blast and eighteen minutes later a light crisp and tasty pizza.

At last, some baking in the new flat

I have been bereft of baking ingredients for the last month while we sold our old farmhouse and moved into a new flat.  Anyone with a strong stomach who wants to know why it took so long can read the tale on my housemoving blog.  I still haven't found my main supply of ingredients in the storage unit, but have manage to bring over my flour mill and a small amount of premixed flour.

I found that jar last night, so this morning, after a quick trip to our gym, now about a half a minute walk away on the other side of the canal, I just had to try to make some cookies.  I only had about a cubic cm of butter and no eggs, so just made a tiny batch of cookies - no scales or other measuring devices and no recipes.

The little bit of butter, rubbed into a dollop of flour, some sugar, a grind of pepper (couldn't find the cinnamon I wanted) and a bit of cocoa powder.  Water to make the mixture cohere and then onto a baking tray.

My lovely non stick super quality baking trays won't fit in my new oven, so I had to use the tin that came with the oven.  Four small discs, a quick press with a fork, and twelve minutes later (at least the oven has a fan and is quick to heat) and I had four cookies.  They were a bit bland,  so I rustled up some filling - icing sugar, cocoa and some soft spreadable butter - OK for icing but didn't want to use for the baking.  Cookies almost cool, press together, and hey presto, for the first time in a month I could have a cookie with my mid-morning drink.

Very pleasant, and total confirmation that my flour mix is robust and useful.  I made an apple cobbler the other day, with Doves Farm flour, and as soon as the dish got hot in the oven all the batter vanished down to the bottom.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

the Waterside cafe. Worcester

This is now my local cafe. They routinely have gf cakes,today one based on toblerone and one on snickers.  The staff use separate tongs to pick up the gf cakes, and always use tongs so that they don't transfer gluten to the excellent TeaPigs teas and other utensils.  The rest of the baked goods are made by the owner.

At the moment the cake are in the display case alongside the ordinary cakes, but now that I have asked the question the owner, Mark, will keep some in the box for people who are very sensitive.  Rod tried the toblerone cake and thought it was excellent.