Gluten free sticky date pudding and please, let me go

Let’s make this clear, it’s entirely my own fault. A little while ago, I purchased our two young lads the soundtrack to the movie Frozen. This Cheergerm adores musicals, loves them in fact. (Repeat after me, life IS a musical.) However, after one solid week of hearing the song ‘Let It Go’ over and over again (whilst they play sword fights), I have one small sentence.

Please, let me go….

Which brings me to this dessert I baked last weekend for company. (How very Little House on the Prairie of me). I had made a banging Osso Buco in my stupid slow cooker that I may or may not be getting the hang of. I have an ongoing love affair with my Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish and using the slow cooker feels somewhat like cheating on one’s husband. (It’s an emotional topic we shall save for another place and time.)

It was bloody freezing, so what better way to end a meal on a brass monkey kind of night, than with sticky date pudding? Cheergermed of course.

This pudding was light and airy, and it must be said, one of my happiest and most raved about gluten free desserts thus far. Due to extreme pudding hunger (pudger?) I rushed the sauce and didn’t caramelise the sugar and water enough. Hence, when I added the cream and butter, it turned an insipid white creamy brown. Panic set in, (not helped by the glass or two of sparkling Shiraz that may or may not have been consumed.) The peanut gallery, aka Sister number 3 and Mancurian bro-in-law shouted in rough tavern-like voices, ‘add brown sugar’ and ‘add treacle!’ ‘Eureka’ I yelled, ‘I shall add organic molasses!’ So I whacked a tablespoon of that crazy, unctuous goo into the sauce. Disaster averted.

It was good and they ate.

Gluten free sticky date pudding

WHAT YOU NEED
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and finely chopped (note my awesome 5kg bag of chopped dates is really coming in handy)
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 cup boiling water
100g sorghum flour
50g buckwheat flour
30g almond meal
1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract if you don’t have this)
1/4 tsp xanthum gum
75g butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar (or rapadura or coconut sugar)
2 large eggs

Caramel Sauce
2/3 cup raw caster sugar
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup thickened cream
20g butter

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced.) Grease and line the base of a 20cm square cake pan.
Combine the dates and bicarbonate of soda in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over. Set aside whilst preparing the cake batter.
Sift the sorghum flour, buckwheat flour, almond meal, vanilla powder and xanthum gum into a large bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar into a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time (if you are using vanilla extract instead of vanilla powder, add it here.)
Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture then stir through the date mixture until smooth.
Pour into the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Stand in pan for 5 minutes then remove to a rack.
Caramel Sauce
Place sugar and water in frying pan. Swirl until sugar has melted.
Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture is a deep, golden caramel colour, about 4-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the cream and butter, whisking until smooth.
Return to heat and simmer, whisking for 2 minutes or until thickened slightly and is a rich, caramel colour. (It was at this point I added the tablespoon of molasses but hopefully, you won’t need to!)
Slice cake into squares and drizzle over sauce. Serve with cream or ice-cream if you so desire.

A Cheergerm Adapatation of a recipe from the Coles website, see after photos for the link.

http://recipes.coles.com.au/recipes/1677/gluten-free-sticky-date-pudding-with-caramel-sauce/

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Bathurst and bagpipes

We recently took an extended weekend to travel to the NSW country town of Bathurst. This is the chosen place of residence for our Papa, Mr Bagpipes. He was celebrating a rather, cough cough, significant birthday. How old you ask? Bloody 70, he would reply. Despite his misgivings, this is a good thing. He is a young 70.. I mean, like a 21 year old 70.

Beautiful Bathurst was the place of the first goldrush in Australia. With a population of around 41,000 people, there is an elegant and historic city centre with a slightly slowed down country feel. To balance this, Bathurst is also a university town with a youthful and energetic vibe. It is famous for Mount Panaroma, an internationally known race track that attracts petrolheads from all over every October for the awesomely noisy Bathurst 1000.

Bathurst is a bit of an understated beauty. The dark haired, brown eyed demure lass who stands undemandingly in the corner. But when you give her your full attention, she shines like soft sunlight on a stained glass window.

There is no sugar coating it, in winter it is BC…Bloody Cold. But what better excuse to rug up in your snuggliest clothes and traverse from shop to shop, park to park, red apple cheeked like someone from a 1950’s American TV sitcom? There is much to appreciate. The fine architecture, fabulous food and coffee and great shoes. (Shoes do matter, well, they do to me….)

First stop, Legall Patisserie, this is when I really know we are in Bathurst. Toffee choux, lemon tart and creme brûlée tart. Naturally, I have no scientific basis for the next claim but this has got to be the best patisserie in Australia. I kid you not. The light choux pastry balls filled with fresh cream and coated in a thin crunchy almost burnt but not, toffee coating almost bring me undone. Served with Fish River coffee, blended locally, this java always has a luscious, smooth mouthfeel and great aftertaste. It ain’t crap people.

Icicles on bench parks and shrubbery, Jack Duggans Irish pub for plates of cockle warming country food the size of a small galaxy and pints of velvety Guinness that make the world a happier place. Duck feeding at the pond, excellent takeaway coffee from Crema or Country Fruit and fat ice creams (yes, children will still eat them, even when it is 9 degrees outside.)

Green leprechaun boots from Gorgeousness, the temple of all things girly and beauiful. The very cool Keppel Street with the marvellous secondhand shop The Naked Bud, op shops and other delightful wee retail outlets worth a squiz at. Artisan handcrafted takeaway pizza from Capers, devoured in the stunning cottage rented by Sister No 4. (We all had serious rental house envy.)

And the shindig itself? Come Saturday evening, we popped our glad rags on and headed off to celebrate. Mr Bagpipes had booked out The Hub, Espresso Bar & Eatery for the entire evening. A charming, partially red wall painted, cosy eatery on the aforementioned Keppell Street. Owned and operated by Mr Ross, a chilled out dude who’s personality is reflected in the happy food and service this wee gem provides.

Family and friends of Mr Bagpipes gathered from near and far in this welcoming space and sipped on sparkling wine whilst snarfling delicious tidbits of canapés. The chilled dinner party atmosphere was framed by the beautiful musicianship of Aaron Hopper and Rob Shannon. Mr Bagpipes surprised us all by banging out a few cool tunes on the bagpipes accompanied by Mr Shannon on the tabla, an Indian drum. The mystic sounds took us to a more ancient time where windy, bagged instruments ran free on stilted legs, shepherded by crazy, wee percussion instruments.

Back to the food. To start, a cauliflower soup served with truffle oil and fine shavings of fresh truffle. Holy fungi! Seriously, one of the most luxurious soups to ever slide down the gob of this greedy Cheergerm. The sweet brassica was highlighted by the hard to describe, earthy taste that is that strange little orb, the truffle. This was followed by tender crusted lamb rack on a bed of kumara mash, a red wine jus and lovely steamed fresh garden vegetables. Vegetarians and the vegetarian Silly Yak dined on a tasty veggie curry. They were well pleased.

Music, warmth, poetry, food, wine and laughter. Hopefully Mr Bagpipe’s heart swelled as his friend piped in the kiwi decorated birthday cake. Celebrations are important, they might not totally erase the darker times but they feed our souls and give us hope for the future.

Enough of that serious malarkey, let’s talk dessert. Adorable piccolos of Fish River Coffee came to the table accompanied by Sister No 2’s amazeballs kiwi covered birthday chocolate stout fruit cake and slices of lemon tart from Legall next door.

Sunday, in party recovery mode, we drove through freezing cold sleet like rain to visit the Beekeepers Inn 20 minutes outside of Bathurst. We enjoyed nice food and coffee along with a great honey tasting station, a myriad of amber honey jars, bee type goodies and gourmet yummy things to peruse. As night fell, we met once again in the enviable cottage rental for great warming Indian curry from Tamarin Indian Restaurant.

Before we took our leave on Monday, we needed to stuff our faces for the last hurrah. Back to The Hub we went. Trunkey Creek triple smoked bacon was the business served with heavenly (give me a hallelujah chorus from the balcony) scrambled eggs that were like tiny little hobbit clouds. A friend devoured chorizo, sweet potato rosti and poached eggs topped with a silky hollandaise sauce that was lemony and not heavy or overpowering as some. A reliable expert on sausages (the Polish stepfather) assured me the fennel and pork sausage with beans was superb. No words left his mouth whilst he chowed down.

So happy birthday Dad, as you traverse into the next decade of your life, may the road rise up to meet you and the melodic drone of bagpipes be the continuing soundtrack to your life.

Bathurst, we will be back.

https://www.facebook.com/LegallPatisserieCafe

http://www.fishriverroasters.com.au

https://www.facebook.com/thehubbathurst

http://www.jackduggans.com.au

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Naked-Bud/138814430734

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gorgeousness/264710080253858

http://www.beekeepersinn.com

https://www.facebook.com/TamarinRestaraunt

http://www.trunkey.com.au

http://www.encoreapartments.com.au

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/bathurst-area


Good as gold gluten free lemon muffins

Things our Pop (Dad’s father), used to say.

Good as gold.
Right as rain.
That joker down the road.

We miss him. School holidays arrived and baking for both chilluns and the spouse was required. These muffins have a lovely soft crumb, a fabulous sharp lemon zip and an ever so slightly crunchy top that will put the zing back in your zang.

Vanilla is always your friend when baking, gluten free people. (The comma saves this rather odd sentence, rest assured this Cheergerm does NOT advocate the baking of real life gluten allergic/intolerant human beings.) In all seriousness, one cannot advocate the use of vanilla enough when baking sweet goodies using gluten free ingredients.

Being a huge fan of vanilla beans, vanilla bean paste and pure vanilla extract, I am quite excited to try the new vanilla powder that we ordered in our most recent food co-op order. It arrived too late for these luscious lemon ladies but there will be much vanilla powder experimentation in the future.

I regularly bake a gluten laden version of these (with a mixture of spelt and wholemeal flour) and the progeny couldn’t tell the difference.

These muffins are as good as gold, just go ask that joker down the road.

GLUTEN FREE LEMON MUFFINS

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup self raising gf flour (whatever blend floats your baking boat)
2/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt (a weird amount but it works!)
1/8 tsp xanthum gum (ditto)
1/3 cup almond meal
2/3 cup raw sugar ( I used a scant cup. Feel free to use coconut sugar, rapadura or panela)
75 g butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Grated rind 1 large or 2 small lemons (we love lemon so I used the rind of 2 large lemons but use your lemon discretion as suits)

Topping
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup raw sugar

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Sift the self raising, sorghum, buckwheat, baking powder, salt and xanthum gum into a large bowl.
Mix in the almond meal and 2/3 cup sugar.
Melt the butter, add the egg, milk, vanilla and lemon rind and beat well with a fork until combined.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and combine until the dry ingredients have been slightly dampened.
Divide the mixture evenly between a 12 medium-sized muffin tin lined with muffin cases and sprayed lightly with a non-stick spray.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Stir the lemon juice and sugar without dissolving the sugar and drizzle this over the hot muffins as soon as they are removed from the oven.
Let cool down.

Makes 12 muffins.

A Cheergerm adaptation from Marvellous Muffins by Alison Holst

Muffins tips: make sure all of your wet ingredients are room temperature and don’t overmix.