Archives for posts with tag: dessert

gluten free pear and ginger crumble

I usually hate winter…and I hate autumn because of what it foreshadows. I live for the spring and the summer…or, in reality, I live for the springs and summers that I remember from my childhood: when the six-week summer holiday stretched endlessly and the sun seemed to shine every day in a cloudless cornflower blue sky.

But after what has been the most waterlogged and depressing British summer ever, I’ve resolved to take pleasure in both autumn and winter this year, and henceforward. Otherwise, I’m going to spend the rest of my life vacillating between states of wishing my life away and constant disappointment.

So, so far, I’ve enjoyed the farmers’ market starting up again in Cirencester last Saturday (and the gorgeous gluten-free sausages and brownies that we found there!), the fragrance of the damp leaves we went tramping through on our woodland walk on Monday, the sense of comfort emanating from the radiators now that we’ve switched the heating on…and the smells of baking, stewing and casseroling that have been wafting from the oven. We picked the last of the pears from the tree in our garden today – I hope I did them justice!

gluten free pear and ginger crumble

Gluten-free pear and ginger crumble

The ripeness of your uncooked pears will determine the texture of the finished dish. I prefer the cooked pears to be quite firm to the bite so I used fairly unripe ones. If you prefer a softer texture, use ripe pears and cut down on the sugar in the filling.

Serves 4-6

For the crumble:
100g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
50g butter, cubed
25g demerara sugar
100g gluten-free stem ginger biscuits (they’re available in both Sainsbury’s and Asda)

For the filling:
500g prepared pears (peeled, quartered, cored and cut into chunks)
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar

You will also need a 2-litre capacity ovenproof dish

Preheat the oven to 180°C (my oven is fan-assisted, so adjust accordingly).

First, make the crumble topping. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Rub the chunks of butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the demerara sugar. Whizz the stem ginger biscuits in a food processor to a coarse crumb (or put them in a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin). Stir into the flour, butter and sugar mixture.

Next, scatter the pear chunks in the bottom of the ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the soft brown sugar and cover with the crumble mixture. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve with cream, custard or ice cream.

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One thing I really love about the Great Gluten-Free Recipe Challenges, set so fiendishly by Caleigh over at GlutenFree[k], is that they really ARE challenging. The additional restrictions and essential ingredient, vegan as well as gluten-free and beetroot this time, make me think very hard and put me out of my comfort zone. This challenge has been no exception.

I’ve come round to beetroot only in the last few years when I’ve had it grated raw in salads. I’ve had a devil of a job tracking it down though. The only type I’ve been able to find in the supermarket is cooked beetroot, swathed in plastic and drenched in vinegar: yuk.

I’ve started using a High Street greengrocer to buy my veggies, rather than going to the supermarket: it’s cheaper and the produce is generally of much better quality. I’ve talked before of my pet peeve about tomatoes. The tomatoes that you can buy at this shop are beautifully red and flavoursome and you get almost twice as much for your money. I decided to pay them a visit and, sure enough, there were bundles of raw beetroot in all their purple glory.

Caught in the act: a sneaky photo taken by my husband through the kitchen window this morning!

This is my first foray into the world of silken tofu but it won’t be my last. I know that I can rely too much on milk, cream and eggs and this seems a perfect alternative when I want to make desserts and quiches. The filling is beautifully creamy and the beetroot not only adds an earthy, but not intrusive, undertone, but a gorgeous purple colour.

Gluten-free and vegan chocolate, beetroot and orange mousse cake

Serves 8-12

200g gluten-free, vegan biscuits (I used Sainsbury’s Free From Rich Tea biscuits)
50g dairy-free spread
200g peeled raw beetroot, cut into 1cm dice
350g silken tofu
3 tbsp caster sugar
zest 1 large orange
60ml dairy-free single cream (I used Alpro soya single cream)
4 level tbsp cocoa powder
170g gluten-free, vegan plain chocolate (I used Kinnerton), broken into squares

You will also need a 20cm diameter, loose-bottomed non-stick cake tin

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (my oven is fan-assisted, so adjust accordingly).

Crush the biscuits to a coarse meal, either in a food processor or put them in a plastic bag and give them a good bashing with a rolling pin. Put the dairy-free spread in a small saucepan and melt over a low flame. When the spread is completely liquid, add the crushed biscuits and stir until completely combined. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and press firmly into the base with your fingers. Put in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 160°C.

While the biscuit base is baking, place the diced beetroot in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain and blend to a smooth purée.

In a large bowl, place the silken tofu, the caster sugar, the orange zest and the dairy-free single cream. Whisk for several minutes until smooth. Sift the cocoa powder over the mixture and stir in manually with the beaters (to avoid spraying cocoa powder all over the kitchen!) before whisking again until well-combined.

Place the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water), and stir until melted. Stir the melted chocolate and beetroot purée into the silken tofu mixture. Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base, cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. When cool, put in the refrigerator and chill for several hours before serving.

Serve chilled with dairy-free single cream.

When we arrived in our new home in Cheltenham last December, the garden was hibernating: the trees were bare and the borders were straggly and uninteresting. I didn’t spend much time out there because it looked cold and muddy and our son, who had only just started to walk, was still spending more of his time on his hands and knees than on his feet.

Even though we had viewed the house over the summer, I couldn’t remember at all what it had been like. I’m the first to admit that I’m no gardener and what had been important to me was that a) it was big enough to kick a football around in and b) (after having lived in a house for eight years with a gloomy north-east facing garden) it faced south.

So it has been a complete joy since the start of the spring to watch our new garden slowly re-awakening because we really have had no idea what to expect: one morning I pulled the curtains in my son’s bedroom to find the tree at the bottom covered in a billowing snowy duvet of blossom; on other days, I’ve been greeted with slashes of orange, hot pink and pale blue or the delicate aroma wafting from the rose tree.

We were aware that we had inherited three fruit trees, neatly espaliered against the fence, but we didn’t know what they were, until I discovered miniature pears and apples shortly after the blossom dropped. I’ve been carefully monitoring them ever since.

This cake has been made from the first pears that I harvested from our tree yesterday. The variations are endless though: chopped stem ginger or crushed walnuts would be a delicious addition to the pears; I also made one a couple of weeks ago using a medium cooking apple and 150g blackberries. The recipe is based upon one that my mum copied down from Jimmy Young’s Radio 2 show about 30 years ago. Originally it was made with apples and oats but I unfortunately can’t even eat gluten-free oats these days. I have used a rice and buckwheat porridge mix instead that I found at Sainsbury’s. If you can eat gluten-free oats, feel free to make it with them instead: the original recipe didn’t use milk but I found that I had to add it to the rice and buckwheat otherwise it was too dry and made a very crumbly cake.

Gluten-free pear cake

A beautifully moist cake with a crunchy crust. Perfect for afternoon tea with a cuppa or for dessert with cream.

100g gluten-free self-raising flour
100g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
200g gluten-free rice and buckwheat porridge flakes
200g butter, cubed
200g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
200ml milk
2 medium firm pears, peeled, quartered, cored and cut into 5mm slices

You will also need a 24cm x 20cm x 4cm rectangular cake tin, lined with baking parchment

Preheat the oven to 180C (my oven is fan-assisted, so adjust accordingly).

Sift the flours into a bowl and mix in the rice and buckwheat porridge flakes. Place the cubed butter and caster sugar in a solid-bottomed saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted. When it has reached a consistency and colour akin to lemon curd, take the pan off the heat. Quickly stir the flour and porridge into the butter and sugar mixture. When the flour is thoroughly combined, stir in the eggs and milk.

Pour half of the mixture into the cake tin and spread evenly over the base. Now place the pear slices in a single layer. Pour the remaining cake batter over the top and smooth the surface. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack before taking out of the tin. To remove the baking parchment, place a dinner plate over the top of the cake, so that it is sandwiched between the cooling rack and the plate and carefully invert. Remove the cooling rack and peel off the baking parchment. Replace the cooling rack and carefully invert once more.

Eat cut into slabs, with cream, custard, ice cream or as nature intended.

It’s true to say, due to family illness and the lots of travel that that is involving at the moment, that I’ve somewhat lost my blogging mojo. Hence the distinct lack of recipes over the last month. My toddler has also chosen this moment to become, yes, you’ve guessed it, a TODDLER! I thought I had been blessed with an incredibly easy baby… he’s generally very even-tempered, smiley, doesn’t seem to mind being taken on car journeys and being lugged round the shops. He also, much to the envy of some of my friends, will nap for three to four hours in the afternoon and then go a full twelve hours at night. That’s not to say he’s a placid baby though: he’s full of energy and into absolutely everything. A complete joy.

Most of the time.

He is, however, turning into a bit of a fusspot at the dinner table. The range of foods he is prepared to eat seems to narrow on a daily basis; but luckily, the majority of them are relatively healthy…bananas, strawberries, satsumas, tomatoes, fromage frais, yoghurt, hummus, brown bread, cereal, milk, corned beef, salami, frankfurters and chorizo (?!?!?!)… as well as biscuits, chocolate and ice cream, which he can always find room for, funnily enough!

Anyway, enough about my son – this is a cooking blog, not a ‘mummy’ blog, after all…! The upshot of all of this is that, currently, creating, cooking and blogging has slipped down my list of priorities: I’m eating a lot of grilled meat and salad at the moment: easy to buy, easy to cook and easy to eat and…not really worthy of a blog post! I’ve still managed to contribute my monthly guest blog recipe at LiveGlutenFree, though, which I have also been somewhat neglectful in advertising:

Gluten-free orange-double-choc-chip refrigerator cookies

Gluten-free lime-frosted carrot cake muffins

Then I received an email, the day before yesterday, from Caleigh over at the lifestyle blog Domestic Sluttery asking for gluten-free contributions of a chocolate pudding nature for the blog’s newly-launched pudding club. So I switched on the oven, dusted off the mixing bowls and cracked open a packet of the brown stuff.

Once again, please forgive the main photos – not being prepared has meant that the camera battery wasn’t charged yet again. Enter dodgy, ever-so-slightly fuzzy, smartphone photography…

Gluten-free souffléed mocha pots

Salt is one of those ingredients which really brings out the flavour of chocolate. Coffee is another. I used decaffeinated espresso but feel free to substitute whatever you’ve got. I should imagine that 1-1.5 teaspoons of instant in two tablespoons of boiling water would be about right, but that’s just an educated guess. The cooking time is flexible, depending upon how squidgy or how souffléed you want them. At ten minutes, mine were slightly underdone and could have done with another couple of minutes. I would suggest 12-15 minutes. Don’t overfill the ramekins because as they rise, they have the tendency to overflow. If aesthetics are important to you, it is imperative to eat them immediately. My photo was taken about 5 minutes after it had come out of the oven and it was already starting to sink. A spoonful (or three) of single cream helps to cut through the richness (let’s face it, this isn’t diet food!)

Serves 4

butter, for greasing
4 medium eggs, separated
140g caster sugar
30g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1tsp gluten-free baking powder
100g gluten-free dark chocolate (I used 74% cocoa solids), broken up into small pieces
2 tablespoons strong espresso
350ml milk

You will also need 4 200ml-capacity ramekins

Preheat the oven to 180°C (my oven is fan-assisted, so adjust accordingly) and place a baking (cookie) sheet on the top shelf. Liberally butter the insides of the ramekins.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar for several minutes until pale yellow, thick and creamy. Add the flour and baking powder and stir until well-combined.

Put the chocolate pieces and espresso in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water) until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Heat the milk up in a small saucepan until just below boiling point. Take off the heat.

Add the coffee and chocolate mixture to the egg yolks, sugar and flour and stir until well-combined. Add the heated milk and stir until smooth. Return to the saucepan and put back on a low heat. Whisk until thickened (a couple of minutes). Take off the heat, return to the mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Whisk the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl until at the stiff peak stage. Using a metal spoon, stir one-third of the egg white into the chocolate mixture to loosen it. Fold in the remaining two-thirds in two lots, until no streaks of egg white can still be seen. Pour carefully into the ramekins, making sure not to spill any on the rim, otherwise they will not rise.

Place on the heated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes according to how squidgy you want them (resist the temptation to peek by opening the door – if you haven’t got an oven light, do what I do and use a torch). Eat immediately with single cream slathered all over.

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