Gluten Free Squishy Gingerbread

a cold and frosty morning
It’s been cold around these parts recently and I’ve got to say that after an exceptionally mild December and January this has been a little shocking to the system. (Hey, I’m British…we talk about the weather 😀 ).

squishy gingerbread

Cold and frosty mornings, grey afternoons and icy evenings have triggered cravings for squishy, sticky ginger cake, thrumming with warm spices and satisfyingly substantial.

Wanna try some?

Ingredients
300g self raising gluten free flour
2-3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
250ml full fat milk (it has to be full fat!)
2 large eggs
150g butter
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle
120g brown sugar (the darker and more ‘treacley’ the better – muscovado is ideal)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water

For the Icing (which is not at all necessary but I like it!)
Fresh lemon juice – about 3 teaspoons
Icing sugar – about 4 tablespoons
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Grease your baking tin (a 20cm square cake tin is a good size) and line with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C/325°F

Put the flour, ground ginger and ground spice into a largeish mixing bowl and make a well in the middle – set to one side.

Lightly beat eggs and milk together – set to one side.

Melt butter, sugar, syrup and treacle

Melt the butter, sugar, syrup and treacle in a saucepan over a low heat.

Remove from heat, then mix in the beaten egg and milk, and the dissolved bicarbonate of soda.

add liquid to flour

Using a hand whisk to mix, slowly and steadily pour the the liquid ingredients into the flour,  continuing to beat until smooth.   The best way to avoid lumpy bits is to make a thick paste with a small amount of the liquid and then slowly whisk in the rest – don’t dump the whole lot in at once or you’ll be chasing little flour capsules for ages!

This is a very runny batter so don’t worry – improbable as it seems, that liquid mix will firm up and become gingerbread 🙂

pour into prepared tin

It will start bubbling and fizzing as the bicarbonate of soda begins to react, so you need to move quickly to make sure you don’t lose precious ‘lift’ for your cake.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45–60 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.  To decide if it’s done, use a finger to gently press the cake – if it’s springy, it’s done.  If you use the toothpick test and your toothpick comes out clean, you’ve over baked it.

Carefully remove baking parchment

Leave in the tin to cool before carefully turning out and removing baking parchment.

drizzle with icing and cut into squares

To make the icing: mix lemon juice with icing sugar until you reach the desired consistency (about the consistency of pouring cream).  When you’re happy, drizzle over the gingerbread.

Let icing set before cutting into squares.  As you can see, because the top of the gingerbread is sticky it will discolour your icing – it doesn’t affect taste!

squishy gingerbread and hot choc

If you fancy a steaming mug of luxurious, thick hot chocolate to go with this, you should look here 🙂

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Stuffed Peppers

After a slightly confused conversation with Chef J recently I feel I should explain something, for the benefit of the non-European readers amongst you: what we call ‘minced’ beef/pork/lamb you would call ‘ground’ meat.

You should also be aware that mincemeat (all one word) has nothing to do with meat at all (any more) and is in fact a sweet mixture made with dried fruit, spices, suet and sugar, used for filling pies at Christmas. I say ‘any more’ because originally there was chopped up meat in the mixture; I believe it was a way of using up roast meat left overs, with the spices used to help disguise the less than fresh quality of said meat, but that may be wrong…who knows what went on in the minds of 17th century cooks?!

Does that all make sense?  We don’t want any Rachel’s trifle type dishes now, do we 😉

halved peppers

Serves 4 hungry people

Ingredients
4 red peppers, washed halved and de-seeded
500g minced pork (or beef or lamb – as you fancy)
1-2 red onions, finely diced
1-2 celery sticks, finely diced
1-2 carrots, finely diced (no need to peel unless they’re very old carrots)
a good glug of olive oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 red chillies, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 slices of cheese – not pre-sliced, processed nastiness – some slabs of something good, like a very mature cheddar, carved from the block.  Don’t forget to eat one or two pieces, for quality control purposes.

For the sauce
a splosh of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 courgette, diced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock pot/stock cube
½ a glass of white wine (optional)

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Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350°F

diced courgette and onion with tinned tomatoesFor the sauce – heat the olive oil, add onions and courgettes and cook over a low heat until the onions begin to caramelise (go a little bit brown and sticky!)

Add wine, tinned tomatoes and stock pot. Stir well to mix, bring to a simmer then turn off heat and set to one side.

diced red onion, carrot and celeryIn a different pan, heat a small amount of oil, add minced pork and cook, stirring, until there is no pink left.  Drain off any excess fat, put in a bowl and set to one side.

Now heat another glug of olive oil, add onions, celery and carrots and cook over a medium to low heat until soft but not brown.

spices and chopped garlicAdd chillies, garlic and spices and cook for another minute or so.

Throw the cooked meat back in and give it a good stirring to be sure everything’s mixed well.

Pour a layer of sauce into the bottom of an oven proof dish,keeping a few tablespoons in reserve for topping your peppers.

slices of cheese on topFill each pepper half with meat mixture, squashing it down well with the back of your spoon. Top each one with a spoonful of the reserved sauce and a slice of cheese then place into the sauce bedded dish.

Baked peppersBake in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes, or until the pepper has cooked. To test cookedness, you’ll have to put on you asbestos fingers and give it a little squeeze – I know of no other way!

served on a bed of riceServe on a bed of steamed rice with now thickened sauce spooned over or around.
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Autumn Cupcakes

During October 2013 I did a fair bit of experimentation with cupcake flavours, creating three new recipes with which I was happy.  I’m happy to verify that relaxed bliss can be achieved by taking any of the following Autumnal creations, adding hot chocolate, a snuggly blanket and a black & white afternoon matinee.

Cherry Bakewell CupcakesCherry Bakewell cupcakes: almond sponge cake, centrally filled with morello cherry flavour buttercream, covered with lemon laced fondant and topped with a cherry.  All boxed up ready to go to Mum and Big Sis.

Banoffee grows upGrown up banoffee cupcakes: roasted banana sponge topped with a puddle of dulce de leche (which is just a posh name for caramel made using a boiled tin of condensed milk), dark chocolate buttercream and a banana chip.  These were incredibly good.

Spiced Toffee AppleSpiced toffee apple cupcakes: fresh apple pieces set between two layers of gently spiced vanilla sponge cake (cinnamon and cloves).  Topped with a cloud of vanilla buttercream, drizzled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with toasted nuts and cinnamon spiced dried apple pieces.

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