An homage in the shape of a gluten free apricot slice

If people could be a fruit, my maternal Nana Dorothy would have been an apricot. Our grandparents owned an orchard in the Central Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. Pop’s apricot trees were special, as was the fruit they produced. They tasted of sunshine with a hint of savoury tartness. My memories of Nana are inexorably woven together with this small pale golden orange fruit. The blushing velvety exterior of an apricot still reminds me of her luminous complexion and whilst she was warm and kind, Dorothy also had a sharp wit and tongue when it was required.

If I close my eyes and remember those visits, I think of rosehips and grey wild thyme, whispering pines and the muted golden browns and tans of the surrounding craggy Central Otago hills. Tartan woollen blankets, bountiful stone fruit, apples, pears and the low rocky walls made of the unique local schist stone of the region. I can see Pop on the tractor amongst the variegated foliage of the fruit trees. I can hear the ear splitting bark of the cherry gun and watch the frost pots being readied when temperatures were set to drop.

Dorothy was a good cook and baker. How very grown up I felt when helping her carry the wicker baskets laden with a morning tea of something homemade down to the workers. I can see and almost smell the fat juicy sausages that Nana served with her homemade, piquant apricot sauce. Her baking tin always contained a slice or cake. She was generous with food, with her love and with her particularly joyously infectious laugh that I can still hear in my head.

This apricot slice is my homage to her. Sweet, buttery, tropically coconut and vanilla; beautifully offset by the faintly tart fruit. The apricot and almond meal are happy bedmates. I wish she was still with us so I could serve her a generous portion alongside a cup of tea and hear her laugh, just one more time. If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be? I think I too, would be an apricot.

GLUTEN FREE APRICOT SLICE

WHAT YOU NEED
185g butter, room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
100g almond meal
135g gluten free self-raising flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
12 fresh apricots (500g), halved and de-stoned
1 heaped tablespoon Apricot jam to glaze

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C (170C fan-forced) and line a 18cm x 28cm lamington tin with baking paper.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
Sift the almond meal and self-raising flour into a bowl, then stir in the coconut. Gently fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
Spread the mixture evenly over the base of the prepared pan.
Arrange the apricot halves cut side up on the cake batter, pressing them in slightly.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the slice comes out clean.
Whilst the cake is still hot, heat the apricot jam and brush it over the apricots.
Cool completely in the pan, then cut and serve.
Cooking Notes: this can also be served hot as a dessert with ice-cream, yoghurt or mix a tablespoon of honey into mascarpone or ricotta.

A Cheergerm adaptation of two recipes from the Taste Website. Links after photos.

I

image

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/26489/coconut+apricot+slice

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/347/apricot+and+almond+slice

Advertisements

Black sesame chocolate cake, looking into the heart of darkness

A person with a vivid imagination could easily gaze into the inky black oil slick that is this cake batter and associate it with all that is dark and evil. Easy to do, in the distressing and challenging times we are currently living in. The portion of my soul that is part poet longs to wax allegorically. However, the pragmatist within, gave the poet inside, a short sharp slap around the chops. Serving as a stern reminder that this was merely a cake made of black sesame powder, given as a gift by a sweet friend. Pondering what to do with this bounty, there was certainly something fortuitous in the recipe that popped up on my Facebook feed a day or so later.

Black sesame seeds are rich in vitamin B and iron and the Chinese believe they assist in slowing down the ageing process. (Anti-ageing you cry! Be warned, they can also have a laxative effect so don’t start chowing down on them by the handful.) They contain nutrients that protect the heart, aid digestion and can assist in lactation. Quite the tiny powerhouse indeed.

Ground sesame has the aroma of a musty health food store but this rich dense cake ends up tasting nutty and earthy. The generous slathering of chocolate ganache atop this somewhat grim looking bake is a decadent and welcome addition. Maybe it is a cake perfect for a Halloween or Day of the Dead celebration. Our children were extremely fond of this toothsome dessert despite it’s subdued sweetness. To the point of asking for extra servings, repeatedly. And there certainly isn’t anything dark about that.

BLACK SESAME CHOCOLATE CAKE, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
200g (1 1/3 cups) black sesame seeds (I used 1 cup ground sesame seed powder as that’s what I had.)
200g butter, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (1 cup) coconut sugar
100g (1 cup) almond meal
35g (1/3 cup) plain gluten free flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
Chocolate Ganache
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100 ml pure cream

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
Grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice mill. (I didn’t need to as my seeds were already ground.)
Put the butter and sesame seed paste into a saucepan and cook over a low heat until melted.
Remove from heat and place into a large bowl, allow to cool down for ten minutes.
Stir the eggs and sugar into the sesame seed mixture.
Sift the almond meal, flour and baking powder into the sesame seed mixture and gently fold to combine.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to stand in the tin for ten minutes before turning onto a cake tray to cool completely.
To make the chocolate ganache, combine the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes, until thickened.
Spread the ganache over the cake and allow to set. Cut into small pieces and serve.

Recipe from the SBS Food Website taken from Beautiful Food by Jody Vassallo, published by Harlequin.
http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/black-sesame-chocolate-cake?cid=23230


Crackers about gluten free Parmesan crackers

Personally, this Cheergerm has always thought you must be crackers to make your own crackers. No, not really, it’s just that writing that sentence was too good an opportunity to pass up. Upon reading the savoury biscuit blog posts of far less lazy cooks than myself, my admiration and envy has only grown. Many is the time I have murmured in a soft and sibilant whisper, ‘one day I will get off my behind and attempt to scale the lofty heights of cracker cooking.’ (The family no longer looks askance at such utterings, they are used to it by now.)

Just because I enjoy a challenge, it had to be a crisp biscuit that provided a punch of flavour and was also free of gluten. These are made with almond meal so sorry to say, out of the question for those with nut allergies.

Fortuitously, in attempting to dip my toe into these treacherous waters, I perchanced upon an easy (highly important) recipe from the marvellous SBS food website. Get Ye Splendid Selves Over to Thee Magnificent SBS Foodie Website and Ye Shall Be Richly Rewarded. (But if you don’t mind, please finish reading this blog post first, thanks, thanks kindly.)

These lightly bronzed tidbits were sharply piquant, nutty and went wonderfully with a gin and tonic. A few days later, I reheated the remainder in a low oven and they crisped up beautifully. I may have come late to the foray of savoury bikky baking but I am here to stay.

GLUTEN FREE PARMESAN CRACKERS

WHAT YOU NEED
200g (2 cups) almond meal
150g (1 1/4 cup) Parmesan cheese finely grated, do use the good stuff and you will be highly rewarded in the flavour stakes plus extra finely shredded to sprinkle
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I used 1/8 tsp of super hot chilli powder)
1 egg
2 tbsp olive oil and extra to brush on the biscuits

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan forced) and line two trays with baking paper.
Combine the almond meal, Parmesan and cayenne pepper in a medium size bowl.
Whisk the egg and olive oil together then add to the almond meal mixture, use your hands to mix into a soft dough.
Divide the mixture in half, place one portion in between two sheets of non-stick baking paper and roll to a 5mm thickness. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter (I used a pizza cutter) to cut into 5cm squares (mine were not exact) and place on the baking paper. I used a nonstick spatula to do this.
Repeat with the remaining portion of the dough and re-roll the cut offs. (If you so desire, I did and you get a lot more bikkies.)
Lightly brush the biscuits with a little extra olive oil and sprinkle with a little finely shredded Parmesan.
Bake for 10-15 minutes swapping the trays halfway through or until the biscuits are crisp and golden. Cool on the trays.
Store in an airtight container. I made about 40 crackers, by using all of the scraps.

Cooking Notes:
The crispier and golden they are, the better they are. After a few days, they do soften just a tad so I like to crisp them up in the oven for five minutes or so on 160C. Let them cool and they willmbe super nice and crunchy again.

Find the original recipe here:
http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/gluten-free-parmesan-crackers

https://stonepinedistillery.com.au


The last meal and a gluten free rhubarb frangipane tart

Nigh on an eon ago, whilst undertaking my food studies course, we made frangipane for the first time. Frangipane is a filling for a cake or tart made with, or flavoured by almonds. In this day and age, it is normally made of ground almonds, butter, egg and sugar. The manner in which this mixture puffed up and surrounded the fruit placed on top, seemed magical to me back then and still does today.

It appears that this fluffy almond concoction could also have been a favourite of a saint. Some googly research unearthed the charming story of Jacoba dei Settesoli, an Italian woman who married into the Frangipani family in 1210. After meeting Saint Frances of Assisi, she became a friend and follower of his, devoting her life to good works. The story goes that upon his death bed, Francis called for ‘Brother Jacoba’ (as he had named her due to her fortitude), to bring him some of his favourite almond treats. Much to the consternation of the other monks, she was allowed in to the monastery with a basket of almond pastries and stayed until the revered man took his last breath.

This tale of a woman before her time, feeding a saint the food he wished for on his death bed, led me to ponder what my last meal on earth would be. Before making this momentous decision, I asked The Yak what he would choose. He replied that it would have to be his ‘once favourite dish’ from his ‘once favourite’ Italian restaurant Buon Ricordo. The legendary cream and Parmesan fettuccine topped with a truffled egg. He would also feast on a basket of the finest gluten laden breads.

For myself at the time of writing (I am nothing if not fickle), it would probably include half a dozen Sydney rock oysters ‘au naturale’, a bowl of buttery garlic prawns, a slice of good sourdough bread to mop up the prawny juices, steamed asparagus spears drizzled with lemon, a splodge of the creamy French soft cheese Buche d’Affinois and an icy cold glass of champagne. (Well, maybe more than one.) For dessert, this pretty and delicate cake would certainly be a contender. The piquant rhubarb offsets the buttery, nutty, sweetness of the frangipane perfectly.

A tart worthy of a saint or a Cheergerm’s last meal.

RHUBARB FRANGIPANE TART, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 lemon rind finely grated
150g almond meal
35g (1/4 cup) gluten free plain flour
150g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease a 34 cm x 12 loose based tart tin rectangular tin or a 23cm loose based flan tin.
Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and lemon rind and beat well.
Add almond meal and flour and fold to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top with a spatula.
Arrange the rhubarb over the top of the mixture in a pleasing pattern.
Put in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
If you want to serve it warm, give it 15 minutes before trying to take it out of the tin. Otherwise, cool completely then gently loosen the edges before removing carefully and placing onto a plate for presentation.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or without. That’s really up to you.

Slightly adapted from the SBS food recipe website. Link follows the photos.

http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/rhubarb-pistachio-and-orange-blossom-frangipane-tart-rhubarb-syrup

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/feb-8-bl-jacoba-de-settesoli

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacoba_of_Settesoli

http://buonricordo.com.au

http://www.aoap.com.au/content_common/pr-white-mould-cheese_guilloteau-buche-daffinois.seo


Gluten free chocolate fudge biscuits and bringing glad back

Yes, it may be a bit Pollyanna of me (for those of you who remember the book and movie) but I am single-handedly bringing back the word ‘glad’.

Somewhere along the way, the word ‘grateful’ has become incredibly popular. Leaving it’s less glamorous cousin ‘glad’ sitting sadly against the wall, not unlike an unwanted wallflower at a school dance.

Considering myself a champion for the unpopular, daggy and less than glamorous; I have popped ‘glad ‘ into my handbag of current and favourite words. It somehow speaks of a more refined time. It is not effusive, nor is it ‘in yo face’.

Intrinsically, both words have similar dictionary meanings.

glad: feeling pleasure or happiness, grateful, willing
grateful: thankful, feeling or showing appreciation

To be grateful or show gratitude is a little bit Hollywood. To be glad sounds more London Westend musical. The understated vibe of the word ‘glad’ brings to mind adorable pastel coloured 1950’s hats adorned with fake flowers. It harks back to a time when lads and lasses dressed impeccably in pinstriped boating attire and daintily nibbled on teensy weensy cucumber sandwiches. I will leave ‘grateful’ to the gushing vocabulary of actors swathed in sequinned gowns and pretending to chow down on miniature sushi handrolls topped with beluga caviar.

All in all, I am glad that I found this lovely biscuit recipe on the web. (Not a spiders web but the world wide version.) It didn’t turn out as I had thought. In my minds eye, I envisaged that these cookies would be crunchy but then I went and changed the recipe. (Only because I lacked some of the necessary ingredients.) Ordinarily, I would not post a recipe that could be deemed a failure but to us they were chewy, richly chocolate and unctuous. Less biscuit, more like a brownie or cake.

Strangely enough, our cornflake biscuit eschewing lads, adored these. Go figure.

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE FUDGE BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl grapeseed oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean powder and added it in with the dry ingredients.)
2 tbl golden syrup
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup plus 1 tbl Cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
3 tbl cornflour
A pinch of salt
1 tbl milk

HOW YOU DO IT
Place all the wet ingredients except for the milk into a food processor or blender and mix until combined.
Add in all the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Add the milk and pulse until mixed through.
Place the mixture into a bowl and place into the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. (Mine was in there for 2 hours.)
Preheat the oven to 170C/350F and line two trays with baking paper.
Place large tablespoons of the mixture onto the trays leaving a gap of at least 3 cm /1 inch as they will spread. Place the trays back in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Remove the trays and place in the oven for 16-18 minutes, they will be slightly cracked on top. (Just like me…)
Cool on the tray for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack for cooling. They will harden up a little as they cool.
Made 19 biscuits.

Very lightly adapted from a recipe from the Mummy Made blog. The link to the original recipe is provided after the photos.

http://mummymade.it/2014/01/chocolate-ripple-bisuits.html


A little bit of what you fancy and gluten free banana bread

A particular comment on a television show we were watching recently has stuck in my mind. It was made by a British woman who had reached the magnificent age of 101. She was in remarkable good nick and during the interview had said ‘People always ask me, what is the secret to your longevity? And I always say, a little bit of what you fancy does you good but don’t make a pig of yourself.’

In this age of don’t eat this, eat more of that, eat less of that, eat only that; her view resonated with my food philosophy. Which would probably be ‘a little bit of this and a little bit of that, just don’t go nuts’. I will clarify this by saying that I do sometimes go overboard, being the happily imperfect human being I am.

Fanaticism and radicalism have never sat well with me. Sometimes it feels that my attempt at viewing food in a well balanced manner is under attack, albeit, by a well meaning barrage of good intentions. (It’s ok, no paranoia here, it is completely understood that it’s not directed purely at me.)

The issue is, as a devourer of new food information and being an open minded wee Cheergerm, it floats my boat to learn new things and experiment with different ingredients and recipes. It’s all about keeping it in perspective. Continuing to still enjoy what is loved as well as opening my mind up to new ideas. So the mantra of ‘a little bit of what you fancy’ is compelling in whatever direction that may take me.

Teresa Cutter, aka ‘The Healthy Chef’ has some great recipes. What I love about her is the many alternatives she provides in her recipes and so far, they have all worked. Three out of four CheergermYakatarians adore her nutritious (read low fat, low refined sugar) version of banana bread. I made a little adjustment and replaced some of the almond meal with sorghum flour to attain a lighter texture. Try using a stick blender to zshoosh the mixture as it really keeps the texture nice and light. The ground flaxseed acts as a fantastic natural binder in lieu of gluten.

This loaf is subtly bananaish, light and moist without too much squelchy almond meal texture. A hint of vanilla and cinnamon. Not sweet, at all…I mean, really not sweet but quite delicious with a smear of the good stuff, yeah, we are talking about butter. Give it a try, you might just fancy it.

GLUTEN FREE BANANA BREAD

WHAT YOU NEED
300g ripe, smashed banana (I only had 240g but it turned out fine)
3 eggs
60g/2 tbl maple syrup or honey
1/4 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla
60g or 1/4 cup grapeseed oil, macadamia nut oil or cold pressed olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarb soda/baking soda and 1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup almond meal (120g)
3/4 cup sorghum flour (80g)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 160C.
Oil a loaf tin and line the bottom with baking paper. The size I used was 13cm x 22cm. The original recipe used 10 1/2 cm wide by 26cm long.
Combine smashed banana, eggs, honey, vanilla, oil, cinnamon, bicarb soda and lemon juice (the lemon juice activates the bicarb) into a large bowl and mix by hand or better still, use a stick blender or big blender of some kind.
Add the almond meal, sorghum flour and flaxseed and mix thoroughly.
Spoon batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cover the top with foil if it starts to overbrown. I covered my loaf at 40 minutes and it was ready at 55 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out.
Slice and serve with a creamy smear of butter.

A slight adaptation from Teresa Cutter
https://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/01/gluten-free-banana-bread/


No more night songs and flourless chocolate cake

For as long as I can remember, Kid 1 has always wanted me to sing him a bed time song. That song is Edelweiss from The Sound of Music. (Please don’t ask if I sound better than Julie Andrews ever did, I don’t want to hurt her feelings.)

Recently, my pink and purple soul was trampled upon.

As I went in to sing; my beautiful, wombat hair coloured, think outside the box, question me always, ten year old said ‘No Mum. I don’t want a song thanks.’ ‘Are you sure?’ I asked. The wobble in my voice ever so slightly perceptible (from outer space I am sure.)

I tried singing the first line. ‘No mum, I really don’t want you to sing.’

Naturally I handled this situation with adult dignity and aplomb. I didn’t really say ‘Wow, you hurt my feelings!’ (Ummm, more than once, in the pathetic hope of guilting him into allowing me to sing to him.)

Time ticked by, I thought that he would shout to me at any moment. ‘Mum, can you sing me a song?’

But that night, not a peep, squeak, burp, fart or mild kerfluffle. Perhaps this was a sign of things to come. My heart hung low as I faced the fact that this special time may have passed between us.

This mum knows that we are lucky to have each other whole and hearty. Yet I am also a mumma with a tender squidgy middle. Somewhat akin to a Cadburys strawberry soft centred chocolate. (The kind of chocolate that we ate back in the old days and now pretend that we don’t like.)

Tomorrow, I thought to myself, I will bake him his favorite cake. This is it.

(I did not, I repeat, did not, go into his room when he was asleep and sing to him. I will deny it.)

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

This is our celebration cake and sometimes, our ‘just because’ cake. A meringue like crispy shell with a moist, fudgy but still light crumb. It is a Donna Hay recipe that I have been baking for over ten years now. This gluten free wonder has NEVER (sorry to shout, I got a bit excited) failed me.

Not wanting to go all chocolate elitist on you, I have baked this cake with regular dark cooking chocolate and it is always very, very good. But when you use top shelf swankarama chocolate, it is elevated to the realm of special cakes that will be served in heaven.

WHAT YOU NEED
200g (7oz) chopped dark cooking chocolate (I used Callebaut dark chocolate)
150g (5oz) butter, chopped
5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar (I used raw caster sugar)
1 1/2 cups almond meal
Icing sugar for dusting

WHAT YOU DO
Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Line and grease a non-stick 22cm (9 in) springform cake tin.
Place chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and combined.
Cool slightly, then pour into a large bowl.
Stir in the egg yolks, sugar and almond meal.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggwhites until stiff peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. (I usually test it at 50 minutes.)
Cool completely in the tin.
Run a knife around the edge of the cake and remove from the tin.
Dust with icing sugar. It’s grand when served with berries and double cream.

From a Donna hay magazine from 10 years ago. A second dedication goes out to Jon, cause she loves this cake.

Cooking Notes: when melting chocolate be aware that water is the enemy as it will make the mixture seize up. Use a super, clean bowl when whisking egg whites.

Variations on a theme: Use orange flavoured dark cooking chocolate and decorate with thin slices of candied orange. For a spiced version add 1/2 tsp each of cardamom powder and cinnamon powder to the almond meal and sugar mixture and stir well.

PostScript. Lately Kid 1 has wanted me to sing again so I am enjoying this reprieve whilst it lasts.

IMG_2108


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/


Gluten free rhubarb and berry bumble

Kid 1 is a crumble maniac, it all started at an early age. Back when he was a wee lad, he was unable to say ‘crumble’, instead it came out as ‘bumble’. His fave combo’s are rhubarb and apple or rhubarb and pear. However, he won’t say nay to the odd berry mix either. Usually I make two different crumble topping mixtures. One containing oats for Kid 1 and myself and a gluten free topping for the Yak.

Gluten free bumble toppings in the past have contained various combinations of buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, almond meal, quinoa flour (gag) and teff flour (yum but hard to get.) It’s always a bit of ‘let’s see what happens this time’ scenario.

Anyhoo, today was a day of ‘I can’t be, ummmm…bothered with two different toppings’. So I went hardcore on just the one gluten free bumble. I was curious to see if Kid 1 missed the texture that the oats provide.

Turned out to be a happy experiment, yes indeedy. This tart rhubarb and raspberry bumble, combined with the earthy buckwheat and almond flours, the crunch of the nuts and the warmth of the spices is bloody delicious.

The only sound heard from Kid 1’s direction was that of a 9 year old boy eating with his mouth open. Chomp, chomp, gobble, swallow. ‘More please Mum?’. This mean old mumma said ‘No sorry, not tonight’. The kid replied with ‘Go on, its not gluten free, so only you and I can eat it anyway.’

Oh, you poor misinformed and cheated wee bairn. Mission accomplished, sorry kiddo but it is GF and the Yak will probably fight you to the death for the leftovers.

We take our bumble seriously in this household.

YOU NEED

1 bunch rhubarb, chopped into 2cm lengths
2 tbls coconut sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh, blueberries are yummy too)
Crumble topping:
100g buckwheat flour
50g almond meal/flour
60g cold butter, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Place the rhubarb, coconut sugar and vanilla paste in a medium size saucepan, add a few splashes of water. Cook on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, until the rhubarb starts to collapse. Stir regularly to avoid the rhubarb sticking. Add a bit more water if needed.
Once the rhubarb is cooked, stir in the raspberries and place into a buttered 1 litre ovenproof dish.
Mix the buckwheat flour and almond meal in a medium size bowl.
Rub the butter through the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles pea sized chunks.
Mix the coconut sugar, baking powder, spices and walnuts in a small bowl.
Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture, stir and sprinkle over the fruit.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with a big dollop of yoghurt, ice-cream or cream. This also makes a great breakfast dish served with yoghurt.

An original Cheergerm recipe


Gluten free chocolate date loaf

IMG_5447

In honour of my 6 year old (Kid 2) being given his first phone number by a girl….I present to you my low fat gluten free date loaf. (I trust it will be many years before my youngest progeny goes on an actual date…). I adapted this from a recipe called ‘Uncle Bill’s Date Loaf’ given by a friend a few years ago.

I like to experiment with different gluten free flours in a continual search for an enjoyable texture and for health purposes as well. The Yak can too easily get stuck chowing down on food containing too much starchy flour such as white rice flour or tapioca flour.

In this version, I have combined buckwheat flour and almond meal, mixed with store bought gluten free plain flour. What’s so great about buckwheat flour you ask? Glad you did….there are too many benefits to list here but in short, diets that contain buckwheat have been linked to a lowered risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is actually not a grain but is a fruit seed, related to rhubarb and sorrel.

I also bake a version of this recipe using wholemeal wheat and spelt flour. (I shall post this some time in the future). I add the cocoa powder to distract my 9 year old (Kid 1) from the dates, anything chocolatey keeps that kid happy.

Coconut sugar and I have been having a passionate love affair for some time now (shhh…please don’t tell The Yak). There are many health claims attached to this sugar, it is meant to contain nutrients that cane sugar doesn’t have and is said to be a low GI alternative to cane sugar as well.

Basically, I ain’t a scientist…just a humble home cook. I like the taste and the possibility of it’s potential health benefits. I guess that stuffing oneself with too much sugar, no matter what it’s origin,  may not be the healthiest choice. But everything in moderation I say! (If you don’t have any coconut sugar use soft brown sugar and Bob’s your uncle, or is that Bill?).

YOU NEED
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups dates
1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or soft brown sugar)
1 egg
2 tbl cocoa powder
3/4 cup gluten free plain flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 1/2 tsps gluten free baking powder
pinch salt

METHOD
Heat oven to 180 C
Grease a loaf tin and line the base with baking paper.
Chop dates finely and place in a bowl, pour boiling water over. Add bi-carbonate soda and stir. Set aside until cool.
Sift cocoa powder, plain flour, buckwheat, baking powder and salt together. Stir in almond meal.
Put butter and sugar into a bowl and beat until smooth.
Add egg and beat well.
Add date mixture and flour, stir until combined.
Preheat oven to 180 C.
Pour into tin and bake for 35- 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Totally delicious when served hot and with butter or whatever your favourite spread is.