Archives for posts with tag: Christmas baking

gluten-free double-chocolate-chip gingerbread cake with brandy buttercream icing small

The final week of Caleigh’s Festive Free-From Challenge and what a challenge it has been! A big thanks to Caleigh for organising such a creative challenge and for posting the round-up on her blog. And the inspiration for the finale is “Christmas Future” or, festive food that fails to deliver, reinvented.

I’ve already mentioned that traditional Christmas fare in the form of nuts, dried fruit, suet, marzipan and slabs of rock-hard icing do little for me so you can imagine that Christmas cake is my worst nightmare. Thankfully I’m not alone in my family so we never have it in the house. Two years ago, I made instead a beautiful cider and apple cake from Harry Eastwood’s book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache, and last year we had a Christmas-spiced ricotta cheesecake. So, all things considered, this challenge was right up my street!

Gingerbread cake is very popular at this time of year but ginger is one of those spices that I either like in moderation or tempered with another flavour. I find that there is little food that is not improved by the addition of pastry and/or chocolate. For example, a sausage is delicious: but a sausage roll is sublime. Peanuts are the Devil’s food: but a Snickers is/was (are they gluten-free?) extremely palatable. So the addition of chocolate to a gingerbread cake recipe was a no-brainer for me. Not only have I replaced some of the flour with cocoa powder but I’ve also added a shed-load of chocolate chips. These melt into the cake to form little gooey nuggets of chocolatey loveliness. The ginger is there as a subtle, warming undertone but if you like your ginger to be a little more pugnacious, either bump up the quantity of powdered ginger or add 50g of chopped stem ginger with the chocolate chips.

gluten-free double-chocolate-chip gingerbread cake with brandy buttercream icing 2 small

Gluten-free double-chocolate-chip gingerbread cake with brandy buttercream icing

I’ve used a brandy butter from the supermarket because I don’t keep a bottle of brandy in the house but feel free to sub your own homemade butter.

Makes 1 medium cake

115g butter
115g soft light brown sugar
4 tbsp black treacle (molasses)
3 tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs
150ml milk
250g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
50g cocoa powder
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
150g milk chocolate chips
1 tbsp ground ginger
200g brandy butter, softened
70g butter, softened
100g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
2 tsp milk

You will also need a 23-cm diameter springform cake tin, greased and lined with a circle of baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (my oven is fan-assisted, so adjust accordingly).

In a small saucepan, place the butter, sugar, black treacle and golden syrup and warm gently over a low heat until the butter has melted. Give it a stir every now and again to thoroughly mix the ingredients and to stop it from catching. Remove from the heat.

In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and the milk. In a larger mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ginger. Beat in the egg mixture and the butter mixture until you have a rich, dark and sticky cake batter. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the centre of the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for five minutes in the tin when the edges of the cake should have begun to shrink away from the sides. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

To make the buttercream icing, place the brandy butter and the butter in a mixing bowl. Beat until soft and creamy. Sift half the icing sugar into the mixture and beat to incorporate before sifting and beating in the second half. Add the milk and beat again until creamy. Smoothe the icing over the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife. Decorate, if so inclined.

gluten-free white chocolate orange and pistachio biscottini_small

Another week, another challenge set by Caleigh over at GlutenFree[k]! This week, the inspiration is “Christmas Present”, as in an edible Christmas gift.

Christmas shopping shouldn’t be stressful and yet it so often is for me. I can feel that it is a somewhat pointless exercise in finding something tenuously appropriate for someone within a given budget. Time after time frustratingly I find the perfect present for someone which is, unfortunately, laughably out of my budget…or I find the perfect present for someone who I’m not buying for at all…or I find the perfect present for ME…which most certainly isn’t the plan! And I’d hate to think that people who are buying me presents are going through exactly the same stress too.

Of course I’m very appreciative of any presents that are bought for me but I think that there is no better way to show someone that you care than to make something for them, especially if you’re on a budget. The time and thought that go into creating a gift are of far more value to me than money. And as cooking is my thing, an edible gift is what immediately springs to mind.

gluten-free white chocolate orange and pistachio biscottini 3_small

Gluten-free white chocolate, orange and pistachio biscottini

I’ve called these biscotti “biscottini” because they seem much smaller than normal ones.

Makes 30

125g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
25g tapioca flour
100g caster sugar
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
100g good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped*
90g shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
Zest 2 oranges
2 eggs, lightly beaten

You will also need two baking (cookie) sheets lined with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F – my oven is fan-assisted, so adjust accordingly). Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

In a bowl, sift the flours, caster sugar, baking powder and xanthan gum. Stir in the chopped chocolate and pistachios and orange zest. Make a well in the centre and stir in the egg to make a sticky dough. You may need to get your hands in there to knead it together. It will seem at first as though there’s not enough liquid but persevere and it will come together.

Tip the dough out of the mixing bowl and divide in half. Shape each half into a rectangular log, about 25cm long by 5cm wide, and place on one of the baking sheets. Make sure you leave space in between them to allow for any spreading.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool. The loaves are easy to remove from the baking parchment with a palette knife and place on a wire cooling rack.

Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C (275°F). Cut each loaf into thin slices (about 5mm wide), on a slight diagonal, using a sharp bread knife. Spread the biscuits out over both the baking trays (I use fresh baking parchment on the tray I’ve already used) and bake for a further 20 minutes, turning them halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and place on wire cooling racks.

When cool, place in either a fancy gift bag, gift box, tin or jar and give to your loved one.

* I used a luxury supermarket brand white chocolate. If you go for something cheaper, then I would suggest adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the dough when you stir in the eggs.

gluten-free mince pies with a citrus shortcrust and low-fat mincemeat 2

It’s official: the Christmas season has started. Slade’s rendition of “Merry Christmas, Everyone” has at last been played on local radio and my son has cracked open his advent calendar.

So, also time for another round of challenges set by the ever-ingenious Caleigh over at Glutenfree[k]. This challenge has as its inspiration “Christmas Past”, for example, a traditional recipe that’s been passed down through the family.

As a family, we’re not very keen on the traditional Christmas fare of pies, puddings and cakes, stuffed with dried fruits, nuts and suet and smothered in marzipan. I find them far too rich, sickly and cloying and a little almond flavouring goes a long way with me.

My mum has been making this low-fat mincemeat for the last twenty-five years. I think she copied it down off the telly or from the Radio Times. It’s much lighter, fresher and fruitier than traditional mincemeat and much less sweet but is still packed full of the flavours of Christmas. People who profess not to like mincemeat love this.

This recipe makes a good three or four jars of mincemeat and you’ll only want about two-thirds of one jar for the mince pies here. But I guarantee, once you’ve eaten the first batch, you’ll be knocking up the second. And then the third…

gluten-free mince pies with a citrus shortcrust and low-fat mincemeat

Gluten-free low-fat mincemeat

Makes about 1.6kg

225g soft dark sugar
200ml apple juice
900g cooking apples, peeled and cored
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
225g raisins
225g sultanas (golden raisins)
55g slivered almonds
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Zest and juice of half an orange

You will also need sterilised jam jars and greaseproof paper discs.

In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the apple juice over a medium heat. While the sugar is dissolving, chop the apples into small pieces. When the sugar has dissolved, add the apple and all the other ingredients. Bring up to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes until the apple has turned to a mush and the raisins and sultanas (golden raisins) have become swollen and plump.

Bottle in sterilised jars whilst still hot. Put greaseproof paper discs on top of the mincemeat before screwing on the lids.

Because this contains no preservatives, it won’t keep indefinitely. Keep it somewhere cool and use it up over the Christmas season.

Gluten-free mince pies with a citrus shortcrust and low-fat mincemeat

Makes 12 mince pies

250g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar
140g chilled butter, cubed
Zest 1 lemon
Zest 1 orange
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp water
12 tbsp mincemeat (about 270g)
Icing (confectioner’s) sugar for dusting.

You will also need a 7.5cm, a 6cm and a star-shaped biscuit (cookie) cutter and a 12-hole shallow bun tin.

Place the flour, icing (confectioner’s) sugar, butter and lemon and orange zests in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add half the egg (reserving the other half for glazing the pies) and the tablespoon of cold water and pulse until the mixture comes together as a soft dough. Add a little extra water if the dough appears dry but avoid adding too much as it makes the pastry tough. Tip the dough out of the food processor, form into a ball,wrap in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (my oven is fan-assisted so adjust accordingly). Dust a sheet of greaseproof paper and your rolling pin with cornflour (cornstarch) and roll out two-thirds of your pastry to about 2-3mm thick (wrap the remaining third in clingfilm to avoid it drying out). Cut out 12 discs with the 7.5cm cutter and use these to line the bun tin, re-rolling scraps as necessary. It’s a good idea to put each disc into the bun tin as you cut it, as the longer it is in contact with the air, the drier it becomes and, therefore, more likely to crack when it is moulded into the tin.

Spoon a tablespoonful of mincemeat into each pastry case then roll out the rest of the pastry. Cut 6 discs with the 6cm cutter and cut star shapes out of the centre of each. Place the 6 lids and 6 stars on top of the pies and press the lids down gently. Brush each pastry top with a little beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out each pie carefully from the tin with a palette knife. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Notes from the Ledge

The secret to balancing it all is...well, I'll tell you if I ever figure it out.


The rise of a health nut

gf and me

Gluten Free Recipes & Tips

Bunny Eats Design

Happy things, tasty food and good design

sensitive flour

Gluten-free cooking, baking, eating

Little Gal in the City

Live and Love with your whole heart

No wheat please, I'm allergic

This site is the cat’s pajamas


Pre-publishing Services for eBooks and Print Publications

afra cooking

taking pleasure in all things food

colour me happy kitchen

Because there's more than one way to make a cake.

gluten free zen

Taking The Stress Out Of Gluten-Free Grain-Free & Dairy-Free Living


vibrant inspiring nourishing yoga

Pizzi e Fichi

Lo style del buon gusto

Fabulously Free From

Living Gluten Free, fabulously!

DO NOT feed the back packer!

A diary of my interests, my travels and my quest to find good Gluten Free food!

Mix It Up & Make It Nice

Amateur baker with a passion for eating!

My Blog

Just another site

Growing Up Gluten Free

Rantings, recipes, and reviews

Southerners in the Great White North

Ken & Becca's Canadian Adventure


Smile! You’re at the best site ever

travels around my kitchen

Just live, read, eat and travel!

Making myself useful

Striving for daily self-accountability

The Foodies

Traditional and New Recipes for All Food Lovers

Gluten Free Gus

Baking Joy Into Every Gluten-free Bite

An Orange Kitchen

A year of food adventures in my Boston kitchen