Banana butterscotch fudge muffins


Adapted from Nigella’s Banana Butterscotch Muffins

We’re all about banana at the moment.  This is the third recipe in a row containing this most useful of ingredients but it’s just how things have shaken out recently.  After torturing my guinea pigs (hello long-suffering friends!) with all sorts of trial bakes in a variety of sorry states I owed them something good.  Step in the banana muffin.  I usually do these with a chocolate chip (and you can certainly substitute those if you’d rather) but I thought I’d go a slightly different direction with these.  Pottering around the internet I found that Nigella has a recipe, but her butterscotch morsels are, I think, those found in the US which have the consistency of white chocolate chips.  (I’ve seen peanut butter morsels too – am very jealous).  I thought briefly about using a chopped Caramac bar, as I figure this is the most likely UK equivalent.  But further online delving suggests the Caramac is laced with gluten.  Delicious!  Not.  So I went to the ‘ole faithful’ that is Waitrose.  Here you have a choice of butterscotch pieces, which are hard, not soft, and bubble up crazily creating molten hot streaks of sweet crunch in the muffin, or fudge chunks, all soft and melty.  Neither are quite like the butterscotch pieces originally used in all likelihood, but both will create a very satisfying muffin.  You could try mixing the two in one muffin, or splitting the batch and doing half and half.  Any way you decide to go you will not be disappointed.  Please note though that both the butterscotch pieces and fudge chunks I’ve used contain condensed milk, and so this recipe is not dairy-free.  Since the proportion of lactose in the final portions is likely to be very small I’ve gone with it.  Also, both are made using glucose from wheat syrup, which Coeliac UK states is suitable for those avoiding gluten but will not be for those with a wheat allergy.

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Hale & Hearty banana brownies: product review


I’ve not posted a product review on this blog yet – mostly because that’s not what I’m here to do, by my choosing, and people don’t send me free stuff!  And I’m more of a fan of making things from scratch, because taking a ‘normal’ recipe and removing the gluten, or finding something delicious that is naturally gluten-free is just more interesting to me.  This is therefore likely to be one of very few indeed.  But I have recently been away a little bit, (term has now started so normal service will shortly be resumed), pretty much for the first time since going gluten-free and where “self-catering” has been the order of the day.  Although I think I’ve found a flour blend that works for most cakes, and a different one that works for most cookies, I still find myself dipping into various jars when I’m testing out how to convert a recipe.  No one would take 10 different flours on holiday, would they?  So what should you do when you’re not familiar with an area, and are not sure what the local shops will sell you, but being gluten-free means you’re unlikely to just find brown rice flour at the nearest corner shop?  I also think this sort of box mix might be the middle ground answer for anyone catering for someone gluten-free who doesn’t want to buy something ready made, but doesn’t want to spend money on a ton of different flours they’ll likely not use again.  Usual disclaimer stuff – I didn’t get the product free, I’m not being paid, and I don’t know anyone who works for the company.

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Date, honey and walnut cake

Date, honey and walnut cake

Adapted from Walnut, date & honey cake by Mary Cadogan at BBC Good Food

I’ve adapted this recipe primarily to test out for the next camping trip to the Isle of Wight.  Upon arrival a nice cup of tea and a restorative slice of cake is required to ensure the smooth erection of a tent!  Chocolate cake does not go down well with this audience so I’ve been investigating other options, and in this case something with dates and walnuts, which should meet with approval.  It is also super easy so I should be able to whip it up, get it in the oven, cooled and spread with a little honey topping before I set off for our afternoon sailing.  Then we can have a nice fresh slice on arrival.  Yum, yum.  This cake, as with many other gluten-free cakes I’ve found, looks a little like it is curdling after you’ve whisked it up.  Don’t panic!  If you find you’ve left it in the bowl a bit too long before tipping it into the tin, just give it another quick whisk before pouring it in.  It’ll be fine – just trust me!  You should wait until this loaf is completely cold before spreading the honey on top or it’ll just slide right off AND before cutting it so you get the best texture.  I bet you don’t hold out long enough… 🙂  This cake also doesn’t keep terribly well so you’ll have to just eat it all.  Such a shame!!

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Marbled banana and chocolate buns

Marbled banana and chocolate buns

Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen’s Marbled Banana Bread

I’ve called these little treats buns, although they are not yeasted.  I derived the recipe from one for a banana bread, and they don’t rise as much as a muffin and retain a heavier texture than a regular sponge.  So I’m going with buns and you can’t stop me!  I’ve also left these nut-free so it would be safe to feed a herd of kiddy-winks over the summer holidays without fear of anyone whipping out their epi-pen.  I’m starting to get pre-school nut fear.  Not because C is allergic, but because almond milk is my go-to non-dairy milk and I just don’t think about it being ‘nutty’.  I know people can be allergic to pretty much anything so it’d be difficult to avoid everything that might set someone off.  They play with salt dough made with wheat at pre-school so I’m thinking of sheep dipping C at the front door on her return every day!  We’ve been told though to avoid nuts and kiwi fruit.  I should be able to do this very easily, but I still have the fear that I’ll send C off one day with some fairly boring leftovers to consume and then be running back down the street some minutes later shouting, “Nooooooooooooooooo”, because I’ve put almond milk in a biscuit I made four days ago and just forgot.  Maybe I’ll have to tape a note to the front door.  Perhaps it should just say, “NUTS”, because some days that could help me on a number of levels.

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Peanut butter and white chocolate chip blondies

Peanut butter and white chocolate blondie

Adapted from Cake Angel’s White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies by Julia Thomas

Having recently moaned about brownies being everywhere, here is a blondie recipe.  Because they are completely different, right??  Depending on which brand of chocolate you use, you might find the chunks just dissolve during cooking.  Sometimes this happens and I never remember to go back and look at the chocolate wrapper so I can’t advise on which ones work and which don’t.  But never mind, even if you can’t find the chocolate chunks in the end result, it still tastes delicious.  A lovely change from a brownie but with all the convenience of such a baked good.  This time I took mine as my contribution to a BBQ.  The host had made delicious looking deconstructed strawberry cheesecakes (basically, fill the bottom of a disposable glass with crushed biscuit, top with a sweetened cream cheese mixture and top with chopped sweetened strawberries) and a chocolate cake.  Obviously I couldn’t eat either of those, but they looked great!  I might have to try finding a way to make the deconstructed cheesecake, without the gluten and the lactose.  Can you hear the cogs in my brain turning?

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Fancy flapjacks

Fancy flapjack

Adapted from Kids’ Baking by Sara Lewis

Why are these flapjacks fancy I hear you all cry?!  Because you will need TWO saucepans people to make these.  Not just the one you might be expecting, but two whole saucepans.  Fancy, right??  (Note: if you only have one saucepan, do not despair!  There is nothing to say you can’t just wash up your one saucepan in between making the two bits of this.  I’m just lazy.)  The reason you will need two is because they have a special layer of apple and date goo and it makes them fabulous.  I like flapjacks well enough but sometimes I can find them a bit dry.  No chance of that with these.  The extra layer makes them moist and moreish!  I think the book they came from is out of print, and I came by it when the book van came to our office.  It feels like a million years since I worked out there in the big real world (actually it’s been getting on for 5 years) but I can’t imagine the book van isn’t still a common thing.  I think the premise is books that have been published for a while are sold at discount prices because the stock has been bought wholesale.  Anyway, as soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it.  I didn’t have a child then so I didn’t buy this so a youngster could make the recipes, it was entirely for me!  What I liked was how easy the recipes seemed, no unnecessary faffing about, and no fancy ingredients you’d never use again.  A solid workhorse of a cookbook.  I even bought a copy for my mum after she ate the banana gingerbread (another recipe that is really good).  If you happen to come across a copy you should pick it up as it won’t disappoint.

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Chocolate beetroot cakes with cherry frosting

Chocolate beetroot cakes with cherry frosting

Adapted from BBC Food’s Chocolate Beetroot Cakes by Jill Dupleix and My Darlings and Me’s Cherry Blossom Cupcakes

It has come to my attention that I’ve posted cookie recipes, and big cake recipes, and refrigerator cake recipes, but the individual baked cake department is a little empty.  Luckily the veg box provided beetroot this week, and I didn’t do a roast at the weekend or they would have been consumed already.  Time for little chocolate cakes me thinks!  As I’m sure you know, the chocolate masks the taste of actual beetroot in these, although it does provide a depth to the chocolate flavour that’s quite moreish.  Plus, we also know gluten-free baking can be a little dry so recipes with fruit, or vegetables, in the mix are already helping us out by providing moisture and some binding.  I’ve gone with cherry frosting here because I love the chocolate cherry combination.  Cherries are possibly my favourite fruit, although raspberries and strawberries are right up there.  The icing is a lovely delicate pink colour in contrast to the dark chocolate of the muffin.  I also think this cake might be ‘the one’ for C’s robot birthday cake in June.  The iced chocolate traybake I made previously was very light and I suspect it would collapse under the weight of thicker icing and/or candles.  The beetroot in this makes a firmer cake, but because it is moist and a bit fudgy I also think it won’t fall apart as soon as you look at it.  If your beetroot isn’t already cooked (you could use up leftovers here if no strong flavours were used in the original cooking), then the quickest way to cook your beetroot is to boil it.  You should allow an hour for this: 30-40 minutes of simmering, and 20 minutes of cooling before you can handle them.  Of course you can absolutely do this ahead of making the cake, and the puree will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.  See the note at the bottom of the recipe for more detailed instructions.  If you haven’t tried a chocolate beetroot cake before, and find the idea a bit unappealing, I urge you to give it a go.  I’m sure you will be very pleasantly surprised by the results!

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