Archive for the ‘The Great British Bake Off’ Category

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – The Final

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Technical Challenge – The Final. Gluten and dairy free fondant fancies.

I’ve really enjoyed my own technical challenge. I hope I have proved that most dishes can be adapted to suit a gluten and dairy free diet which are just as tasty.

I had a bit of an issue with this challenge. I have never used powdered fondant sugar before. I have always used block fondant available from bakery wholesalers.

I thought I would use the powdered fondant sugar this time as it is available from supermarkets and the allergy information easier to find.

I definitely prefer block fondant so if you can get it I recommend using it. I found the powdered fondant icing sugar takes ages to set and the sugar feels grainy in your mouth.

I read in Peggy Porschen’s fondant fancy recipe that block fondant is available from I have contacted the company and this fondant is free from all allergens.

I used four 500g boxes of fondant icing sugar to cover 25 fondant fancies! The instructions state to add 6 tablespoons of water to 500g sugar. I added 5 tablespoons water. I had to coat the sponges twice to get a thick enough coating. I’m wondering if I had added even less water and warmed  the sugar up instead then one coat would have been thick enough. If anybody has success with this sugar I would love to get some tips.

The Recipe


For the sponge

125g Doves Farm plain gluten free flour
65g fine maize flour or cornflour
60g ground almonds
1 heaped teaspoon gluten free baking powder
250g dairy free margarine – I use Vitalite
250g caster sugar
gluten and dairy free flavouring
5 free-range eggs

For the dairy free ‘buttercream’

150g dairy free margarine
600g icing sugar
vanilla extract

200g gluten and dairy free marzipan

For the icing and decoration

1 – 2 kg white fondant icing sugar, depending on your success! Or 1kg gluten and dairy free block fondant icing
gluten and dairy free flavouring
gluten and dairy free liquid or paste food colouring
100g gluten and dairy free dark chocolate – I use Plamil 60% dark chocolate


Grease and line a 20cm / 8 inch square cake tin. Run a knife along each side of the tin to give a sharp edge. Make sure your baking parchment sticks to the sides of the cake tin or your sponge will not have straight sides.

Preheat oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas mark 5.

Combine the gluten free flour, maize flour, ground almonds and gluten free baking powder. Sieve together four times to fully distribute all of the ingredients.

Cream together the caster sugar and dairy free margarine until light and fluffy. It is best to do this using a food mixer with a beater attachment or use a hand held electric mixer.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork.

Beat the egg into the creamed mixture a bit at a time making sure to beat in each addition properly before adding the next. If the mixture starts to split, mix in a spoonful of the flour.

Add the flavouring.

Fold in the gluten free flour with a large spoon.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until firm to touch and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate then turn onto the cooling wire so the cake cools the right way up or it could break in half.

For the dairy free butter cream

Mix the icing sugar and flavouring into the dairy free margarine. Do not overbeat the mixture as it will split. Stir in a few drops of water until it reaches the required consistency.

You may think this is a lot of icing sugar. If you use less icing sugar to margarine, the mixture will split. Add a little extra flavouring to this buttercream.

Place 100g/3½oz of the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Keep the rest in a bowl for the cake sides.

When the sponge is cold. Level the top of the sponge. You want the sponge 4cm high. Turn the cake over so the bottom is now the top. Spread a thin coat of dairy free buttercream over the top of the sponge.

Roll the marzipan out very thinly, cover the top of the cake.

Cut the cake into 25 equal squares (each 4cm/1½in square). You may need to cut off the edges if they have rounded and pulled away from the sides of the tin – all the edges must be straight and neat.

Cover four sides of each square with dairy free buttercream (not the marzipan top or the base). Using the buttercream in the piping bag, pipe a blob in the centre of each square on top of the marzipan. Place in the freezer for 2 hours.

How I used the powdered fondant sugar – I mixed one 500g pack at a time with 5 tablespoons water until smooth and add food colouring and flavouring. I spooned the fondant over each sponge until completely covered then placed onto a cooling wire to let the excess drip off. Continue with the rest of the squares. Leave to set. My coating was too thin so I coated each square a second time.

I would prefer to use block fondant. To use this, place 1kg fondant into a large bowl that can fit in a microwave. Cover the fondant with water then drain off. Place on a low heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in the colouring and flavouring if using. If the fondant is still quite stiff, add a drop more water and place in the microwave for 15 seconds, stir and repeat until the fondant is easy to stir. Hold the sponge underneath and scoop through the fondant. Leave to set on a cooling wire.

Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Once melted, place the chocolate in piping bag and set aside.

Using the piping bag of melted chocolate, drizzle the chocolate over each fancy in a zig-zag pattern.

Leave to set and then place on a cake stand to serve.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – Week 9

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Technical Challenge – week 9. Gluten and dairy free Fraisier cake.

I’ve really been enjoying adapting the technical challenges. I’ve been able to bake lovely things for my family that I probably wouldn’t have made otherwise.

This weeks challenge is my kind of pudding. I remember the first time I tasted crème pâtissière, I thought it was the nicest thing I had ever eaten.

The Recipe

20 cm/8 inch cake

For the genoise sponge

150g caster sugar
4 eggs
75g ground almonds
75g cornflour
40g dairy free margarine, melted and cooled

For the crème pâtissière

570 ml almond milk
100g caster sugar
4 eggs
80g cornflour
20g gluten free custard powder
a few drops of vanilla extract

For the lemon syrup

75g/2¾oz caster sugar
2 lemons, juice only

To finish the cake

200g/7oz marzipan
50g/2oz dairy and gluten free dark chocolate, for decoration
50g/2oz dairy and gluten free white chocolate, for decoration
600g/1lb 5oz medium sized strawberries

For the genoise sponge

Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas mark 5.

Grease and line 2 x 20cm/ 8in cake tins.

Melt the dairy free margarine in the microwave on a low setting.

If you are using a food mixer – place the caster sugar and eggs into the machine bowl, fit the whisk attachment and whisk on a fast speed for 8 – 10 minutes. It is whisked enough when you lift up the whisk it leaves a trail on the top of the mixture for a second. This is called a sabayon.

If you are using a hand whisk or electric hand whisk – find a large saucepan and a large heatproof bowl that will sit on top.

Fill the saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to the boil. Take off the heat.

Place the caster sugar and eggs into the bowl and whisk together.

Place on top of the saucepan and whisk for 10 minutes until when you lift up the whisk it leaves a trail on top of the mixture.

Using the pan of hot water speeds up this process.

Sift together the ground almonds and cornflour. Use a spoon to add the flour and melted, cooled dairy free margarine to the sabayon and fold in carefully. You want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible so try not to bang the bowl!

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until firm to touch.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling wire.

For the crème pâtissière

Pour the almond milk into a large saucepan and place on the heat.

Beat the sugar and eggs together until white and creamy.

Stir the cornflour and custard powder into the egg.

When the almond milk has come to the boil whisk half the milk into the egg mixture then pour this back into the hot milk. Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens then beat until smooth.

Cool and store in a fridge until needed.

The custard can be made thinner by whisking in more almond milk to the cold crème pâtissière until it is the required consistency.

I have taken the rest of the recipe from Mary Berry’s recipe used on The Great British Bake Off

Place the ingredients for the lemon syrup in a small saucepan with 70ml/4½ tbsp water. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly for two minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roll out a thin disc of marzipan to fit a 20cm/8in circumference circle. It is best if you draw around the 20cm/8in base of another loose bottomed tin for the perfect circle. For best results and a perfectly flat surface, chill it in the fridge until it is needed.

Place a strip of acetate plastic or a double strip of baking parchment around the inside of the springform tin. Or line the base and sides with cling film or parchment lined foil.

Place one layer of sponge cake in the bottom of the cake tin. Then liberally brush the sponge with half the syrup. With the back of a spoon, gently squash the edges of the cake down so that they are pushed directly against the sides of the tin, creating the defined edges necessary for the Fraisier cake.

Rinse, hull and halve about 12 strawberries, try and make sure they are all the same height.

Place the cut sides of the strawberries against the plastic on the inside of the tin. The strawberry halves should be sitting snugly beside each other, so it looks like a little crown inside the tin.

Take the chilled crème pâtissière out of the fridge and spoon two thirds of the crème into a piping bag, fitted with a 1cm/½in nozzle.

Pipe a swirl covering the exposed sponge completely in the bottom of the tin.

Then pipe between each of the strawberries so the gaps are filled right to the top with the crème pâtissière.

Set about 3-5 strawberries to one side for decoration, then hull and quarter the rest of them and place on top of the crème, so it raises the inside of the cake by about an inch.

Pipe another swirl of crème pâtissière on top of the cut strawberries to cover the whole surface. Then smooth with a palette knife.

Place the other disc of sponge on top of this, with the cut side uppermost, so it has a completely flat top. Brush with the remaining syrup.

Gently press the top down quite firmly, so that the cake and filling push against the acetate to create the distinctive smooth and defined sides of the Fraisier cake.

Lay the chilled marzipan circle on top of the cake and put the whole thing back in the fridge to set.

Make some pretty decorations of your choice with melted chocolate.

When ready to serve, remove the cake from fridge.

Very carefully release the spring tin/loose bottom and remove the cake from the tin and from the acetate or cling film.

Place onto a serving plate and decorate with reserved strawberries, chocolate decoration and a dusting of icing sugar. Serve chilled.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 8

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Technical challenge – week 8. Gluten and dairy free teacakes

Making teacakes took me back to when I worked in a bakery in cornwall.

We made the biscuits ourselves but the marshmallow came in 10kg buckets. It was a thick rubbery clear jelly which you whisked for 10 minutes to make the marshmallow. It definitely didn’t taste as good as this recipe.

My silicon mould is slightly smaller than the recipe so I have sat my biscuit above the line of the mould to allow for a good portion of marshmallow.

I have adapted Mary Berry’s recipe.

Makes 6

Equipment and preparation: You will need a silicone mould that has 6 x 7.5cm/3in wide, half sphere moulds.


400g/14oz dark dairy and gluten free chocolate. I used Plamil 60% chocolate 
50g/1¾oz Doves Farm plain gluten free flour
50g/1¾oz maize flour
pinch salt
½ tsp gluten free baking powder
25g/1oz caster sugar
25g/1oz dairy free margarine
1 tbsp almond or soya milk

For the marshmallow

3 free-range eggs, whites only
150g/5½oz caster sugar
6 tsp golden syrup
½ tsp salt
½ vanilla pod, seeds only

Preparation method

1.To be able to get the teacakes out of the mould easily without breaking and with a lovely shiny chocolate you need to temper the chocolate first. I find it easier to do this in a microwave. Break up 300g/ 10½oz chocolate into a microwavable bowl. Melt on a low microwave setting stirring every 30 seconds.

Stop heating the chocolate when you can just see tiny lumps of unmelted chocolate, stir slowly until completely melted. If you stick your clean finger in the chocolate it should feel just warm, not hot.

Pour the chocolate into the mould. Move the mould around so all of it is covered with the chocolate.

Turn the mould upside down over the bowl so the excess chocolate falls out. Place still upside down onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and leave to set.

Do not put the domes in the fridge as the chocolate will lose its shine. When the chocolate has set, pick up the mould at the edge, try not to touch the chocolate as the warmth of your hand will melt the chocolate onto the mould.

2.Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.

3.To make the biscuits, put the gluten free flours, salt, gluten free baking powder and caster sugar into a bowl and rub in the dairy free margarine with your fingertips. Add the almond milk and stir everything together to form a smooth ball.

4.On a surface dusted with gluten free flour roll out the dough to about 5mm/¼in thick. Cut out six rounds with a 7.5cm/3in straight sided round cutter.

5.Place the rounds on a flat plate or board and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Make sure the biscuits are perfectly round and well chilled, otherwise they might spread or shrink when baked.

6.Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes. They do need to be hard, not soft as they form the base of the teacake.

7.Remove the biscuits from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

8.Meanwhile dip the cooled biscuits in the remaining melted chocolate, covering them completely (you may need to melt more chocolate). You can either dip the biscuits in the chocolate or spread the chocolate onto the biscuits with a palette knife. Place the coated biscuits onto parchment paper.

9.For the marshmallow, place all of the ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water), and whisk with an electric hand whisk for 6-8 minutes, making sure it is smooth, silky and doubled in volume. Make sure it is very stiff, the consistency of whipped cream, so it will hold when piped – you don’t want it runny.

10.Spoon the marshmallow mixture into a piping bag.

11.Melt the remaining chocolate, and place into a disposable piping bag with a sealed end. Set aside to cool and stiffen up a bit, but not harden.

12.Peel the biscuits off the parchment and place them onto clean parchment, flat side down.

13.Pipe the marshmallow into each chocolate-lined mould just up to the top.

14.Snip a 2cm/¾in end off the piping bag with the chocolate in it.

15.Carefully pipe some chocolate on the marshmallow and a rim of chocolate around the biscuit base and swiftly place the biscuit on top of the marshmallow filled dome. Smooth the join with a knife.

16.Leave the teacakes to set until completely cool and sealed together.

17.Very carefully remove the completed teacakes from the mould – be careful of fingerprints on the glossy dome.

18.Place on a plate and keep cool – but do not refrigerate, to make sure the chocolate keeps its glossy shine.

I had a lot of marshmallow left over so I made some dairy free snowballs. I piped the marshmallow onto baking parchment. Placed in the freezer to firm up slightly then dipped into melted chocolate and coated with coconut. I’m afraid my photos were not too pretty as I did this very quickly so I am not going to post them.

I have now eaten so much of the leftover marshmallow I cannot face anymore teacakes so I am going to make some mums at school very happy with the leftovers.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 7

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Technical challenge – week 7. Dairy and gluten free jam doughnut

Can you buy a gluten free doughnut? I don’t think I’ve seen one.

These are best when freshly made. They are so quick to make and no kneading involved.

Remember if you are serving gluten and dairy free doughnuts to somebody who is intolerant or allergic – make sure your oil hasn’t been used to fry foods containing those allergens.

makes 8


200g gluten free plain flour
100g cornflour
100g ground almonds
2tsp xanthan gum
1tsp salt
100g caster sugar
8tsp (4 x 7g sachets) dried yeast
1 egg
60g dairy free margarine, melted
300ml almond milk
caster sugar
sieved jam


Cover a baking tray with cling film. Brush the cling film with sunflower oil.

Mix together the gluten free flour, cornflour, ground almonds, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and yeast.

Pour in the melted dairy free margarine.

Beat the egg into the almond milk and pour into the dry ingredients. Beat until smooth.

Scoop the mixture onto the baking tray to make 8 equal sized buns.

Grease your hands with sunflower oil to stop the buns sticking and mould each bun into your required shape.

Brush another piece of cling film with sunflower oil and place on top of the buns.

Leave in a warm place to prove for 30 – 45 minutes.

Heat a deep fat fryer to 180°c / 350°f.

Lift each bun carefully and place into the hot oil. Cook 2 at a time for 4/5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Lift out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

Coat the doughnuts in the sugar while still hot.

Leave to cool. Spoon the jam into a piping bag with a small nozzle.

Make a hole in the side of each doughnut all the way to the centre. Pipe the jam into the hole.

They are best eaten on the day of making.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 6

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Technical challenge – week 6. Gluten and dairy free Queen of pudding

I haven’t made this pudding since I was at college. When I made it then, we piped a criss cross of meringue so you could see the jam in the spaces. Maybe this is a bit      80’s now? Plus you don’t get enough meringue which to me is the best bit.

You will notice in the recipe that I have used cake crumbs again instead of breadcrumbs. This is my personal taste. You can use breadcrumbs if you prefer.

The Recipe

Serves 4 – 6

100g gluten and dairy free cake crumbs (sponge cake recipe) or 90g gluten and dairy free bread crumbs

570ml / 1 pint almond milk
25g dairy free margarine (only if using breadcrumbs)
3 egg yolks
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 lemon, zest

6 tablespoons raspberry jam

3 egg whites
150g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas mark 3 and grease a 1.4 litre/2½ pint shallow ovenproof dish (one that will fit into a roasting tin) with dairy free margarine.

Crumble the cake crumbs into the ovenproof dish.

Warm the almond milk in a small saucepan. Add the dairy free margarine (if using gluten and dairy free breadcrumbs).

Lightly whisk the egg yolks and 1 whole egg in a bowl with the sugar and lemon zest. Whisk the warm milk into the eggs and strain over the cake crumbs. Leave to stand for about 15 minutes, so the cake crumbs absorb the liquid.

Carefully place the dish into a roasting tin and fill the tin halfway with hot water. Bake the custard in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes until the custard has set. Remove from the oven, carefully take the dish out of the roasting tin and set aside to cool for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven up to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4

Place the egg whites into a mixing bowl and whisk until stiff (it is whisked enough when you can turn the bowl upside down and the egg white doesn’t move).

Whisk in 1/3 of the caster sugar until the meringue comes back to peak.

Add another 1/3 of the sugar and do the same.

Add the last 1/3 of sugar and whisk until stiff and shiny. Fill a large piping bag with the meringue.

Spread a layer of raspberry jam over the set custard, then pipe the meringue on top.

Return the dish to the oven for 10 minutes, without the roasting tin until the top of the meringue is golden.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 5

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Technical challenge – week 5. Gluten and dairy free hand – raised chicken and bacon pie.

I was slightly nervous about this challenge. I have attempted gluten free hot water pastry before and wasn’t happy with the results. It’s taken me a couple of days as I needed to make a special trip to my butchers – the lovely Martin at Boathouse Organics in Lewes. He makes lovely gluten free free range sausages and you can buy fresh organic suet from him too.

I also couldn’t find a pie dolly. Cook shops must be kicking themselves this week for not stocking them, as am I for not buying one years ago when I ummed and arred in the shop.

So here goes…. I am really happy with my pie. What do you think?

I’ve followed Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the filling. I remembered to take more photos this week too!

I’ve used Vitalite dairy free spread in place of lard. Mainly because I forgot to buy it and I thought the margarine – sorry, ‘dairy free spread’ would give the pastry more flavour. You can use lard if you want to.

The Recipe

Makes 2 pies


125g gluten free plain flour
125g maize flour
¼teaspoon xanthan gum
1teaspoon salt
125g dairy free margarine
125ml water

200g/7oz raw chicken meat
200g/7oz smoked back bacon rashers
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g/5oz dried apricots, chopped
2 leaves gelatine
¼ pint hot water
¼ organic Kallo chicken stock cube


1.Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2.Grease two medium sized pie dollies, approx 13x7cm/5x3in, with some oil. I used two glasses roughly this size, oiled.

3.In a large mixing bowl, combine the gluten free flour and maize flour with the xanthan gum.

4.Mix together the boiling water, salt and dairy free spread in small saucepan. Heat and stir together until the dairy free spread melts.

5.Pour the fat and water mixture on top of the flour mixture, stirring with a spoon until everything comes together.

6.Tip the dough onto a surface dusted with gluten free flour and bring together into a ball.

7.Divide the pastry in two, then remove a quarter from each half for the lids of the pies.

8.Work quickly while pastry is still quite hot. With the remaining three-quarters of the pastry, place on a flat surface and place the dolly/glass on top of the pastry in the middle. Sculpt the still warm pastry around the dolly, try and make sure the pastry is the same thickness. (You can roll out slightly first and wrap around the dollies, but be careful not to have an uneven thickness around the dollies if you do it this way). Make sure the bottom is not very thick.

9.Ensure there are no holes in the pastry.

10.Chill the pastry wrapped around the dollies in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

11.Roll out the reserved quarter of pastry into a circle to match the size of the dolly. Make a hole in the centre of each one and chill in the fridge.

12.Slice the chicken meat, and the bacon. Keep them separate. Season well with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

13.Take the dollies out of the fridge and carefully coax the chilled pastry off in one piece. I slid a long thin palette knife down the sides of the pastry and I found using the glass made this easy because I could see where the pastry was sticking before pulling the glass away. If it softens from handling you may need to chill again for 10 minutes or so. Trim the top of the pie shells to make sure they are even, and not too tall, otherwise the sides will sag during baking.

14.Brush the inside of each pastry case with beaten egg in hope of sealing any tiny holes. Now pack the filling into the pie, start with bacon, then chicken, then a layer of roughly chopped apricots. Repeat until the filling is all used up.

15.Place on the lid. As this pastry will crack very easily, I trimmed the pastry with scissors in line with the sides of the pie then gently crimped around the sides, sealing thoroughly.

16.Brush the lids and the sides of the pies with egg wash. Place on a baking tray and cook for 50-60 minutes, or until the pastry is nice and crisp all the way around. The pastry will not colour as much as pastry made with wheat.

17.While the pies are baking, dissolve the chicken stock cube in 150ml/5fl oz of hot water.

18.Soak two leaves of gelatine in cold water for five minutes. When soft, squeeze out the excess water and whisk into the warm stock.

19.When the pies are cooked, place them on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

20.Carefully pour the stock into the slit on the pie lid, to fill in any spaces inside the pie with (what will be) chicken stock jelly. This must be done when the pie is hot, if done when cold the jelly will just sit on the top and not soak into every nook and cranny.

21.Leave to set overnight before eating.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 4

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Technical challenge – week 4. Dairy free creme caramel.

I had forgotten how much I like creme caramel. My two boys were very happy with the end product too. They’re enjoying this challenge as much as I am. My oldest is now expecting pudding after every meal.

Creme caramel is naturally gluten free so how to make it dairy free and taste good?

 I have used my favourite almond milk for the custard and I tried using 2 egg yolks in place of one egg to add richness to the custard. I thought this worked really well.


Serves 6 

120g white caster sugar
500ml almond milk
3 eggs and 2 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas mark 3

Place 6 dariole moulds in a deep ovenproof dish.

Place the first sugar in a small saucepan with enough water to moisten the sugar.

Have a cup of water handy and a pastry brush

Measure 2 tablespoons water into a cup.

Put the saucepan on the heat and stir with a metal spoon until boiling. Once boiling, stop stirring. Dip the pastry brush in the water and brush around the inside of the pan to ensure any grains of sugar are washed into the caramel. If not the caramel can crystalise.

Boil until the sugar changes to a deep caramel colour. Don’t stir, if the caramel is colouring quicker in one spot, swirl the pan gently to mix.

Quickly add 2 tablespoons water, be careful the caramel will spit. Swirl the pan to mix in the water then pour equal amounts into the moulds.

Whisk the eggs, second sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl.

Heat the almond milk until hot but not boiling. Whisk into the eggs and sugar. Strain into a jug and fill the dariole moulds to the top.

Place the ovenproof dish onto a shelf in the oven and pour boiling water into the dish around the dariole mould ¾ way up.

Cook for 30 minutes. To test if cooked, insert the tip of a knife into the centre. The custard should be set.

Take each mould out of the water and leave to cool. Once cold, cover and store in the fridge over night.

To empty out the creme caramel – I find it best to dip each mould into a bowl of boiling water for a few seconds, place a plate on top and turn over onto the plate. The dairy free version is a bit more delicate than with dairy milk so empty out gently.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 3

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Technical challenge – week 3. Gluten and dairy free treacle tart with woven lattice top.

Treacle tart – no problem. Woven lattice top with gluten free pastry – yeah, I can do that!

Making a lattice with normal sweet pastry can be a challenge. Luckily I had a lot of practise of this when I worked as a pastry chef. Lattice apple pie was a banquet favourite. Problem – you can lay the strips over an apple filling, not so over a treacle filling. I’ll admit it took me a few attempts, but enjoyable. I do miss being a pastry chef!

So I got there in the end. I did this by heavily flouring a flat baking tray with gluten free flour. I made my lattice top on the very edge of the tray then slid it over the treacle tart.

There is slightly less filling in the tart than there should be as a bit had been scooped out with previous lattice attempts!

You’ll notice I have used gluten and dairy free cake crumbs in my treacle filling. I just prefer the taste, in a wheat based treacle tart too.

The recipe

Sweet pastry
100g dairy free margarine ( I prefer vitalite)
50g caster sugar
1 medium egg
100g Doves Farm gluten free plain flour
100g maize flour

Treacle filling
225g golden syrup
225g dairy and gluten free vanilla sponge, blitzed in a food processor into fine crumbs. Here’s my recipe
1teaspoon lemon juice

For the pastry
Place the dairy free margarine, sugar and egg into a food mixer or a large bowl. Mix until all ingredients are combined.

Mix in the gluten free flour and maize flour until it comes together as a dough. When making pastry with wheat flour the pastry needs time to relax before rolling out or the gluten in the flour causes the pastry to shrink when cooking. As this pastry does not contain gluten we do not need to do this but if the pastry feels soft bring together into a ball, flatten slightly. Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge for 20 minutes.

Rub a layer of margarine or butter all over the flan ring or tin. Lightly dust the work top with gluten free flour. Roll the pastry one way, turn the pastry 90° making sure there is gluten free flour underneath and roll again. Continue rolling out the pastry moving the pastry around between rolls to make sure it doesn’t stick to the table.

Roll up the pastry onto the rolling pin and unroll over the flan ring. This pastry is crumblier than wheat pastry so if you find it difficult to roll out, roll out onto a plastic food bag or cling film. Fold the pastry into the corners of the flan ring. Try not to stretch the pastry as it will tear. If you get holes in the pastry push the pastry together and rub the join.

Preheat oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas mark 5.

Depending on your oven you may want to part bake your pastry case before adding your filling. Line the pastry case with baking parchment or tin foil. Fill with baking beans and part bake for 10 minutes.

For more tips on making gluten free pastry.

Warm the golden syrup in a saucepan until runny. Stir in the cake crumbs and the lemon juice. Pour into the pastry case.

Lattice top.
Roll out the leftover pastry and cut into strips. You may want to cover the strips with cling film to prevent the pastry drying.

Heavily flour a flat baking tray with gluten free flour. Lay your lattice strips at the edge of the tray. Slide the lattice over the top of the treacle filling. Trim the pastry around the edge. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until golden.

Just out of the oven.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 2

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Technical challenge – week 2. Gluten and dairy free 8 strand plaited loaf

Ok I kinda cheated on this one. If you’ve ever made gluten free bread you’ll know that you make a batter and not a dough. So how do I plait a batter? Pipe it of course. Am I still in the contest?

Here’s my recipe

200g Doves Farm gluten free plain flour
100g cornflour
100g ground almonds
2tsp xanthan gum
1tsp salt
2tsp caster sugar
4tsp (2 x 7g sachets) dried yeast
30ml sunflower oil
1 egg
360ml lukewarm water – just warm, if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast.


Preheat the oven to 200°c / gas mark 6.

Stick a sheet of baking parchment onto a baking tray.

Mix together the gluten free flour, cornflour, ground almonds, xanthan gum, salt, caster sugar and yeast in a large bowl.

Measure the sunflower oil, egg and water together.

Pour the liquid into the flour and beat until smooth. The mixture should just be able to fall from the spoon.

Spoon the batter into a large piping bag fitted with an inch wide round nozzle.

If you look at the 8 strand plaited loaf, it looks like one plait sitting on top of a wider plait. So I piped a wide plait onto the baking tray, then a smaller neat plait on top. Not bad I thought!

leave in a warm place to prove for 45 minutes.

Brush the top with a beaten egg. Leave for a few minutes then repeat to give a good colour to the bread.

Bake for 25 – 35 minutes until brown on all sides. Take the loaf out of the tin and tap the bottom. If it is cooked it will sound hollow.

Cool on a wire rack. This is best eaten on the day of baking.

Just piped gluten and dairy free 8 strand plaited loaf.

Dough proved, brushed with beaten egg and ready for the oven.

The finished loaf.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 1

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

I mentioned on my Facebook page how good it would be to enter The Great British Bake Off and to make everything gluten and dairy free. Somebody tweeted asking if I would be able to complete the technical challenge. So I thought I would give it a go, I like a challenge!

I was away in the middle of Dartmoor last week with no television or internet so had to wait until now to start.

Technical Challenge – week 1. Gluten and Dairy Free Rum Baba

I’ve never understood the appeal of a rum baba. You make a gorgeously rich dough bun then completely ruin it in my opinion by soaking it in rum syrup which you then serve with too much cream thus ending your meal with indigestion.

A far better idea would be to take your bun and top it with fondant and maybe add dried fruit to the dough to make a luxurious Swiss bun / iced finger – my favourite. How a Swiss bun should be, not just a bread roll with fondant on the top – bakeries you know who you are!

Some people may be horrified of the thought of fondant on top of such a bun, but if you are a Swiss bun fan as I am then this is the ultimate.

I found this challenge quite easy to adapt. I also made a rum baba containing wheat and dairy using Paul Hollywood’s recipe to compare.

Rum Baba has quite a close texture which my gluten and dairy free version matched and the flavour was similar. Once the babas were soaked in the rum syrup I don’t think you could tell the difference.

You can buy dairy free whippable cream but I couldn’t find any locally so I filled my rum baba with whipped coconut cream which I added a drop of vanilla extract and icing sugar to flavour.

The recipe

Serves 4

100g Doves Farm gluten free plain flour
50g cornflour
50g ground almonds
1tsp xanthan gum
½tsp salt
50g caster sugar
4tsp (2 x 7g sachets) dried yeast
½ egg, beaten
80g dairy free margarine, melted
100ml warm water

For the syrup
250g caster sugar
3 – 4 tbsp

1 carton coconut cream, chilled

Grease the rum baba moulds with vegetable oil and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Mix together the gluten free flour, cornflour, ground almonds, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and yeast.

Melt the dairy free margarine and pour into the flour with the beaten egg and water, beat until smooth.

Fill a large piping bag fitted with an inch wide round nozzle with the dough. Pipe the mixture into the rum baba moulds. Leave in a warm place to prove for 30 – 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas mark 6.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Gently take the buns out of the mould. Tap the bottom of a bun, if it sounds hollow it is cooked.

Leave on a wire rack to cool. The buns can be frozen at this stage if needed for a later date.

Before serving, make the syrup. Place the sugar in a saucepan with the rum and 250ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Brush the syrup all over the buns allowing it to completely soak in.

If filling with coconut cream, place the chilled coconut cream in a large bowl with a drop of vanilla extract and enough icing sugar to sweeten. Whisk until light and fluffy.

Coming out of the oven…. my version is on the right.

Paul Hollywood’s recipe is on the left and my version on the right.

A very promising and tasty start (if I do say so myself) – wish me luck with challenge 2.