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Since moving to Belgium I have indulged in my love of baking and extended my repertoire to tarts and patisserie that I never dreamt I’d be able to master. Then, a couple of years ago, I realised that I was having problems with gluten – you can imagine how devastating this was to someone who baked for pleasure. Diet-wise it was not hard for me to give up bread, pasta and beer, but there are times when one really misses one’s desserts!

So I’ve been learning to deal with a whole new and much more challenging area of baking – the art of substitution, recipe tinkering and getting texture and lift into cakes without flour. Gluten-free baking products are not that readily available here; you can find a small range of prepared baked goods but that’s not my style at all. My collection of “safe recipes” is slowly growing and I’d like to share a couple that are set to become regulars.

First up this Chocolate and Almond Cake

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I personally found the sugar content a little high, so I reduced the chocolate solids by 50g and added 25g of good quality cocoa powder to offset this a little.  I suppose it depends how sweet your dark chocolate is, I use one with about 55% cocoa solids for baking, maybe if you used higher you’d need the extra sugar. If you’re impatient and dive straight in on baking day then you can spot the almonds, however after 24 hours in the fridge the moisture was amazing and even my daughter, who is not big on almond cakes, declared it a winner.

The next recipe was less experimental as it’s a tried and tested one with a heap of good reviews. The idea of a gluten-free Lemon Drizzle cake was too tempting for words, we just had to give that a go!

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It is definitely moist, it had a good crust on it but could probably have done with a few extra minutes in the oven for the middle. The gooeyness wasn’t helped by an unsupervised child doing the drizzling and most of the syrup running to the middle which was already quite soft!

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Any citrus drizzle cake goes down very well in this house, so the possibility that I could eat it too was worth getting over the weirdness of putting mashed potato in a cake. I made my daughter promise not to tell Daddy what the secret ingredient was until after he’d tried it. He’s not a big potato man so it was touch and go for a while there but he honestly didn’t spot it and, even after he’d worked it out, he rapidly overcame the mental block of “mashed spud cake” and polished off second helpings.

Now I really must get back to the sewing… there is a lot of work in progress but I just can’t share it yet.

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