Gluten Free Lemon Cake

As much as I’m enjoying experimenting with my low-sugar recipes, sometimes life just calls for a bit more of the white stuff (the legal kind). So I made this lemon cake with normal caster sugar and tried my hand at buttercream frosting using some very clever tips from a few YouTube videos (thank the Lord for the internet!) The result? A light, yet indulgent lemon cake with a tangy, fluffy buttercream to top it all off – perfect with a good English cuppa. I even made some fanciful candied lemons for an extra bit of pizzazz!

Beautiful if I may say so myself!

TIPS: If you want to add the candied lemons, you can make these in your sugar syrup and then use the leftover syrup to drizzle over your cake. I’ve included separate cooking methods just in case you don’t want to add the candied lemon slices to your cake (it is extra effort after all). Either way, the sugar syrup adds an extra bit of moisture and sweetness (especially when it gathers at the bottom of the cake *licks lips*).

INGREDIENTS:
For the cake:
1 cup Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Sugar or Natural Sweetener
1 cup Butter
3 Eggs
2 tbsp Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Lemon

For the sugar syrup:
Remember to add lemon slices if you want to make candied lemons together with the syrup!
1/2 cup Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon
Water (add to the lemon juice to make 1/3 cup of liquid)
4 slices of lemon (thinly sliced) if making the candied lemons

For the buttercream:
1/2 cup Butter (room temperature)
2-3 cups Icing Sugar (sifted)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Milk (optional)

For the candied lemons (optional):
Recipe if you want to make these separately to the sugar syrup!
4 slices of lemon (thinly sliced but thick enough to hold their shape)
1/2 cup Sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Water (add to the lemon juice to make 1/3 cup of liquid)

METHOD

Perfectly browned in my new cake tin!

CAKE FIRST!
1) Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (for fan ovens).
2) Lightly line your cake tin with a bit of butter or oil.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, vanilla and milk until light and fluffy.
4) Add the eggs in one at a time and combine.
5) Grate in the lemon zest and combine.
6) Sift in the flour and baking powder and combine until you have a smooth batter (add more milk if needed).
7) Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 30-40 minutes until nicely brown on top (my oven cooks really quickly!) Leave the cake to cool in the tin whilst you prep your sugar syrup.

Just the right cake batter consistency

SUGAR SYRUP
Reserve a few slices of lemon for the candied lemons if you wish to add them on top!
1) Juice the lemon and add into a small saucepan with the sugar and water.
2) Bring to the boil, shaking the pan every so often to combine.
3) Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until a syrup texture has formed (this will become more syrup-like once cooled).
4) Poke holes in your still-warm cake using a skewer (all the way through to the bottom).
5) Carefully pour the syrup all over the top of the cake and leave to cool in the tin.

A glossy syrup finish!

CANDIED LEMON SLICES
Make in the same pan with the sugar syrup to save washing up!
1) Juice the lemon and add into a small saucepan with the sugar and water.
2) Bring to the boil, shaking the pan every so often to combine.
3) Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat and add the lemon slices, making sure they are covered in the liquid and not lying on top of each other.
4) Gently simmer, turning the lemon slices occasionally, for around 15 minutes until the lemon slices have softened and a syrup has formed from the liquid.
5) Remove the lemon slices and place on to a plate to cool and turn sticky (make sure they don’t stick to the surface you’re cooling them on!)
6) Poke holes in your still-warm cake using a skewer (all the way through to the bottom).
7) Carefully pour the remaining syrup from the pan all over the top of the cake and leave to cool in the tin.

Try to cut the slices just thick enough to hold their shape!

BUTTERCREAM
If you want to make a more lemon-y topping, add in some lemon zest!
1) Whisk the butter in a large bowl for at least 5 minutes until fluffy and lighter in colour
(PRO YOUTUBE TIP:  use an electric whisk or stand mixer and beat on high for around 5 minutes to make the butter incredibly light and almost white in colour).
2) Carefully add in the vanilla extract and icing sugar and combine with a spoon before whisking for a further 2 minutes.
3) If your mixture is too stiff, add in a tablespoon of milk, whisk again and test. The icing should be almost like whisked egg whites in texture, soft enough to spread onto your cake but firm enough to hold its shape and not drip everywhere!
4) Once your cake has cooled completely, remove from the tin and spread an even layer of icing on top. Top off with your candied lemon slices or a twirl of lemon zest to impress any tea party.

Cake alllll day long

Delicious indulgence without that heavy, full feeling after a big slice! Lemon cake is perfectly light  and great for morning tea or dessert – and who doesn’t like lemon!

That’s what I call a crumb!

What’s your favourite gluten free cake flavour? Are you more of a fruit-loop or chocoholic?

Happy baking! 🙂

Gluten Free, Low Sugar Choc Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

I hate to admit it, but I’m an emotional eater. Even the slightest bit of stress triggers my sugar cravings. This is one of the main reasons behind experimenting with sugar-free or low-sugar treats – so I don’t have to punish myself or feel incredibly guilty if I do give into the cravings.

I never used to like peanut butter – I mean I still wouldn’t eat it out of the jar – but I’ve used it a lot in Asian-style cooking and decided to try baking with it too. The majority of commercial peanut butters contain a lot of crap – high in sugar, fat and oil. I decided to try a healthier, low sugar option and I found that Mayver’s Smooth Peanut Butter ticked all the boxes. It’s all-natural with no added sugar (only 0.8g of sugar per 1 tablespoon) and dairy, gluten and cholesterol free. PLUS it was the same price as most of the standard peanut butters so it just made sense!

A delicious alternative!

With my low-sugar or sugar-free recipes I replace the sugar with granulated natural sweetener (Natvia is my current preference). I feel that artificial sweeteners are a) too sweet and b) full of weird and wonderful chemicals that I would just rather steer clear of ( I also think they may be linked to many of my stomach issues in the past but we’ll leave that for another day!)

My favourite sugar alternative!

These cookies are super easy to make and bake in around 12-15 minutes. They will come out feeling way too soft, but harden up as they cool.

Boyfriend approved!

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup Granulated Nativa (or any granulated sweetener)
1/2 Cup Butter (Melted)
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter (Room Temperature)
1 Egg (Beaten)
1 1/2 Cups Gluten Free Self-Raising Flour Mix (I used Orgran)
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder (I used McKenzie’s)
Handful Choc Chips

Mix, divide, roll and bake!

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line baking tray with baking paper.
2. Add melted butter, beaten egg, vanilla essence and Natvia into a bowl and combine.
3. Add in the peanut butter and combine.
4. Sprinkle in the choc chips and mix throughout.
5. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix well to form a soft dough.
6. Measure out a tablespoon of the dough and roll into a ball.
7. Place the ball onto the baking tray and press down lightly on top.
8. Repeat above until all the dough has been used – placing balls around 3cm apart.
9. Bake in the middle of the oven for around 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
10. Allow to cool before enjoying!

The end result!

Are you a fan of low-sugar or sugar-free baking? Do you feel it has helped you to manage your sugar cravings? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy baking! 🙂

Gluten Free Vanilla Choc Chip Muffins

Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding crept up on me out of nowhere and I realised I just had to celebrate somehow! Even here in Australia we haven’t been able to escape the mass media coverage of this global event (and all its dramas) but it seems the celebrations are a little less sought after on the southern side of the equator.

So, a less extravagant way to celebrate is by baking of course! And who doesn’t like choc chip muffins? I decide on plain vanilla muffins with the choc chips as I wanted to top with some colourful icing, so I didn’t want the muffins to be too sweet (but not too plain either!)

The result after baking (a bit browner than I’d like!)

This recipe should make 10-12 smallish muffins (or large cupcakes) however it depends on how generous you are with the portions and how much of the batter you eat during the baking process (oops).

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 Cups Self-Raising Gluten Free Flour (I used Coles brand)
1/2 Cup Almond Meal/Ground Almonds
3/4 Cup Caster Sugar (you can replace with natural granulated sweetener)
180g Butter (softened)
1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Handful of Chocolate Chips, dark, milk or white (I used Coles brand milk chocolate buttons)

TIPS:
Always check the ingredients when buying for gluten free recipes. Make sure they are 100% gluten free as you don’t want to poison yourself or others!

METHOD:
1) Cream together the softened butter, sugar and vanilla extract.
2) Combine the eggs one at a time.
3) Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients, adding the chocolate chips in last.
4) If you’re using a muffin tray, line the tray with a bit of butter or light cooking oil. Otherwise spoon your mixture into muffin or large cupcake cases.
5) Bake in the middle of the oven for around 12-15 minutes at 180°C.

TOP TIPS:
1) I always taste my batter. No, I don’t recommend that you do this since we are now encouraged to steer away from raw eggs, however I think it helps when you’re unsure if you’ve missed something or added in too much/too little of something.
2) Gluten free cake batter needs to be more moist than your standard cake batter. This is to ensure the cakes aren’t too dry and crumbly after baking. If your batter feels too thick, loosen it with a bit of milk. It should be a slightly thick batter but not too dry.
3) Fill your muffin/cupcake cases/trays to just over half-way if you’re planning on decorating your muffins. Filling to half way will ensure an even rise with a relatively flat top, perfect for icing!
4) Don’t add too much baking powder as the muffins may over-rise!
5) Bake in the middle of the oven. I find that even in fan ovens the top of the oven gets way hotter than the bottom. Cook in the middle and keep an eye on your muffins to make sure you don’t over-bake them (I always get distracted!)

TO DECORATE:
The main reason I didn’t make these muffins sugar-free was because I wanted to decorate them with icing and I haven’t quite mastered the sugar-free icing yet (to be honest I haven’t mastered the standard one either!)

Not too bad for a first attempt!

INGREDIENTS:
2-3 Cups Icing Sugar
1/3 Cup Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Drop of Natural Food Dye (I used blue and red)
Splash of Milk (if icing is too thick)

METHOD:
1) Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and combine with butter and vanilla extract.
2) Separate the icing into separate bowls and add food dye (I had a bowl of the basic white icing, a bowl of blue and a bowl of red).
3) Add the nozzle into your piping bag, then add your different coloured icing into sections, depending on how you want your icing to look. I did a stripe of white, stripe of blue and stripe of red (trying to keep the white in the middle to avoid purple!)
NOTE: You want your icing to be quite stiff to hold its shape!
4) Make sure your muffins are completely cooled then decorate your muffins as desired!

Try to keep your colours separate!

I made my icing way too soft so it didn’t hold its shape well at all! Try and make your icing quite hard if you want it to stay in shape on top of your muffins. Otherwise, the end result wasn’t too shabby and they tasted delicious!

My attempt at Union Jack icing!

Hope you all enjoyed watching the Royal Wedding! We certainly did 🙂

If you’ve got any top icing tips I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Happy baking! 🙂

Valentine’s Gluten Free Chocolate Trifle

Instead of going out for a fancy meal this Valentine’s Day, we decided to make one for ourselves. Dessert consisted of a delicious chocolate trifle with some added fruit to cut through the richness of the chocolate and cream. The recipe below can be adapted to an easier version by simply buying pre-made gluten free shortbread and cake. However, if you have the time, making your own is much more satisfying.

Gluten Free Chocolate Trifle

INGREDIENTS:
For the chocolate cake (cupcakes):
15g gluten free self-raising flour (I use Doves Farm)
15g cocoa powder
30g caster sugar
30g butter or margarine
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tbsp milk (if the mixture is too thick)

For the shortbread (optional):
175g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175g butter
75g polenta
2 tbsp milk (optional)

For the layers:
1/2 tin of nectarines in syrup
2-3 ripe strawberries
75g melted chocolate
100g soft cream cheese
150ml double cream

METHOD:
1) Preheat the oven to 180C. Make the cupcakes by combining the ingredients together to make a thick cake batter. Pour into individual cupcake cases and bake in the oven at 180C for around 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack or plate to cool.
2) Turn the oven down to 150C. Make the shortbread by combining the ingredients (except the milk) in a bowl and rubbing together with your fingers to form a crumb. If the mixture does not combine to form a ball of dough, add a couple of tablespoons of milk until the dough is just wet enough to form a ball. Grease a round cake tin and press the dough into the tin. Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes at 150C until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3) Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water or microwave on a low heat until just melted. Stir the melted chocolate into the cream cheese and set aside. Whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks (best achieved with an electric mixer).
4) Start to layer your trifle. You can either layer into individual glasses (I got mine for 99p from a charity shop!) or you can use a larger glass dish to showcase the different layers.
Here’s how I layered mine:
– Slice the cupcakes in half horizontally and place at the bottom
– Add a layer of nectarines and some of the juices (or add a tablespoon of orange juice)
– Add a layer of the chocolatey cream cheese
– Add a layer of sliced strawberries
– Another layer of cupcake
– Another layer of nectarines
– More chocolate cream cheese
– Top with a layer of whipped double cream and crumbed shortbread with a heart-shaped strawberry slice.

Trifle Collage

This recipe made 3 glasses of trifle but could’ve stretched to 4 by adding more thinner layers.

Best served chilled by candlelight!

Gluten-free Cocoa Energy Balls

I’ve seen these little balls all over the internet and decided to try some for myself, however the majority of recipes use really expensive and hard-to-find ingredients so I decided to try a more affordable version. These energy balls are low in fat, affordable and packed with energy-boosting ingredients for a little lift when you need it most.
For this recipe, you’ll need a blender or a mini-chopper to make your own almond butter. This step takes a while but will make enough almond butter for 2 batches of balls. The more almonds you use, the more almond butter you’ll get!

Gluten-free Energy Balls

INGREDIENTS:
100g almonds
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey (Vegans can use maple syrup)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup gluten free oats
Pinch of salt

METHOD:

  1. First you will need to make your own almond butter. This takes a bit of patience but is worth it for the money-saving value! Evenly spread the almonds onto a baking tray (preferably lined with grease-proof paper) and roast in the oven at 180C for around 10 minutes until the almonds puff up and the oil starts to release. Take out of the oven to cool.
  2. Once cooled, add 1/3 of the almonds into your food processor and blend away! You will need to keep stopping every minute or so to scrape the almonds off the sides. Keep adding the remaining almonds in a bit at a time and blend until you achieve a smooth buttery paste.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the almond butter, vanilla and honey on a low heat. Once melted, add to the gluten-free oats in a large bowl and combined. Add the salt and chia seeds and mix together thoroughly until all the ingredients are combined.
  4. Roll the mixture into small 3-4cm balls and store in a air-tight container.

Perfect for a little afternoon boost!

Indulgent Lemon Curd Cake

Gluten Free Lemon Cake

Sometimes you just need something a little indulgent to get you through the day. This deliciously moist and flavorsome lemon curd cake is simple to make and is best served warm with a dash of cream.

INGREDIENTS:

170g Gluten free self raising flour
1 tsp Baking powder
120g Butter or margarine
1 Egg
170g Caster Sugar
2-3 tbsp Milk
2-3 tbsp Lemon Curd
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

METHOD:

(The ‘all-in-one’ method also works for this recipe!)

1. Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk, lemon curd and mix thoroughly.

Butter and SugarAdd the Egg Add the Flour
2. Add the flour and baking powder and stir through until you have a light mixture. If the mixture is too dense, add a little more milk or lemon curd.
3. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake in the oven at 180C for around 35-40 minutes. Test the cake is cooked by piercing with a knife. If the knife is clean the cake is cooked.
4. Take the cake out of the loaf tin and place on a rack to cool.
5. Once cooled, slice in half horizontally and add a layer of lemon curd in the middle (optional)

Best served warm with double cream or ice cream… delicious!

 

Easy Roast Chicken and Vegetables

Sometimes, you just want to cook something in the oven and forget about it whilst you carry on doing whatever it is you do.

wp-1453498925149.jpg

On evenings like this, I like to use a simple recipe and roasting method where the flavour of the food speaks for itself.

Cooking time: 1.5 – 2 hours

INGREDIENTS:
1 courgette
1 carrot
1/3 butternut squash
1 red onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 – 2 cups baby potatoes
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 free range medium chicken
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
3 – 4 cloves garlic
Dried or fresh basil
Salt and pepper

image

METHOD:
1) Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and add to the butter in a small bowl. Chop fresh basil or add dried basil and mix thoroughly.
2) Prepare your chicken. Use a spoon to loosen the skin from the breast meat. Carefully spoon the butter underneath the skin and smooth out to get even coverage. Season the outside of the chicken and place in a roasting tin in the oven. Cooking time is 45 minutes per kilogram plus an extra 20 minutes. My chicken was 1.5kg so I set the timer for 1.5 hours.
3) Chop the potatoes into medium chunks (leaving skin on) and part boil in a pan for 10-15 minutes then strain.
4) Whilst the potatoes are boiling, chop the rest of the vegetables into 1 inch chunks and smash the garlic using the flat edge of a knife.

The oven pan I use is a deep pan with a meat rack on top. I placed the chicken onto of the meat rack and added a little oil into the bottom of the pan to heat up and to cook the vegetables. Alternatively, place the chicken in a roasting tin and place a separate roasting tin in the oven with the olive oil in it.

5) When the chicken has 35 minutes left in the oven, add the potatoes, carrot, butternut squash and garlic into the bottom of the pan or the separate pan with the heated up olive oil and place back in the oven.
6) With 15 minutes left on the oven timer, add the rest of the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and add into the vegetable pan and continue to roast until brown.
7) When the timer is up, take out the chicken and check that it is cooked by slicing the leg of the chicken with a knife and see if the juices run clear. Set the chicken aside to rest and place some foil over the top to keep warm.
8) Once the vegetables are cooked, remove from the oven and serve with some sliced chicken.

Simply delicious!

Creamy Smoked Bacon Spaghetti with Homemade Béchamel Sauce

Gluten Free Bacon Pasta

This quick and creamy pasta recipe is indulgently delicious without all the guilt!

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS
200g gluten-free spaghetti (I used Dove’s Farm Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti)
2 rashers smoked bacon
1 red onion
Handful of mushrooms
2 small cloves garlic
Fresh or dried basil, salt and pepper to taste

Homemade Béchamel Sauce:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup gluten-free plain flour
300ml milk

METHOD:

  1. Make the Béchamel sauce by gently melting the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once the butter has melted, quickly stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until all of the butter has been absorbed (this will look very crumby). Gradually pour in the milk whilst whisking continuously, keeping the saucepan over a low heat. Keep whisking until you have incorporated all of the milk and the sauce thickens to a thick, creamy texture. Take the saucepan off the heat, whisk for a further minute then set aside.
  2. Bring a separate saucepan of water to the boil then add in the pasta.
  3. Chop the onion, mushrooms, garlic and bacon.
  4. Fry the bacon in a separate dry saucepan until crispy, then add in the onions and cook until soft (alternatively, you could grill the bacon then chop and add into the mixture towards the end). Add in the garlic and mushrooms and fry until cooked thoroughly.
  5. Turn down the heat and incorporate the Béchamel sauce. Stir through and season to taste with salt, black pepper and basil.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked (normally takes 10-15 minutes) strain off and add into the Béchamel sauce mixture.
  7. Serve with freshly grated cheese and fresh basil for the best results.

Notes: When I cooked this dish I cooked my gluten-free pasta and my partner’s wheat pasta in separate saucepans, strained my pasta first and returned to the saucepan, then added the sauce into my pasta. I then did the same with my partner’s pasta to avoid cross-contamination. It seems like a lot of pans but we’re used to it!