Black Forest Gateau

Black Forest Gateau by The Fat Foodie

I have to be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of black forest gateau. I think it’s because it seems like such a 1980’s dessert. I’ve never liked dairy cream either, so the thought of eating a cake that’s so heavily dosed with thick whipped cream has never really floated my boat. However, I am a fan of chocolate and fresh cherries. Very much so indeed! So when my Mum gave me a punnet of perfectly ripe fresh cherries that needed to be used up I figured I’d have a bash at making a version of black forest gateau that I could actually enjoy.

Now according to the Monash app, a serving of 3 cherries (21g) is a yellow traffic light for fructose. A serving higher than 3 cherries (42g) becomes a red for fructose and a yellow for polyols, so if those are categories which cause you issues I’d exercise caution with the quantity of fresh cherries and cherry jam you use. However, if you’re fine with these categories it’s full steam ahead!

I used my standard sweet potato based chocolate sponge for this black forest gateau because it makes a gorgeous, moist, rich cake which works really well with the sweet ripe cherries and the whipped cream. I think the advent of a number of non-dairy creams that are now available on the market has really expanded my appreciation of creamy things, such as stroganoffs. Whereas once I would have given them a wide berth, now I’m willing to try making them myself and it’s really opening my eyes to a lot of recipes. The cream for this black forest gateau is simply made from coconut cream that’s been mixed with icing sugar, but if you don’t have a problem with dairy you could just use whipped double cream.

This black forest gateau is really easy to make and rewards you with beautifully moist chocolate sponge layers which are thinly spread with cherry jam, wrapped in a duvet of whipped cream, topped with fresh, ripe cherry halves and finished with a generous dusting of grated dark chocolate. It’s no wonder really, that in the all-encompassing cake world it’s considered an immortal.

Ingredients:

420g raw sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into small pieces)

150ml vegetable oil

50g cocoa

100g gluten-free flour

200g brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

140ml rice milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate:

170g black cherries (halved and pitted)

100g cherry jam (optional)

Non-dairy cream (I used the coconut cream from a really good quality tin of coconut milk and mixed it with 3 tbsps of icing sugar)

Grated dark chocolate

Method:

Put a tin of coconut milk in the fridge to cool.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Line two 9″ cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Peel your sweet potato and cut them into small cubes (about 2cm square). Place on a plate and cook on high in the microwave until the sweet potato is soft. Leave to cool down a bit.

Make your coconut cream by opening the tin of chilled coconut milk, pouring out the coconut milk and putting the solidified coconut cream in a bowl. Mix 3 tbsps of icing sugar into the coconut cream.

Keeping the decorative jam, cherries and coconut cream aside, put all of the cake ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once the mixture is fully combined, spoon into the cake tins (making sure there’s an equal amount in each) and bake in the oven for 40-50 mins (or until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cakes comes out clean).

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before topping one of the cakes with jam, coconut cream and a third of the cherries. Lay the second cake on top and coat it with jam, the rest of the cream and the rest of the cherries before scattering with icing sugar and the grated dark chocolate. Serve.

Black Forest Gateaux by The Fat Foodie

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Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake (makes 12 slices)

Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake by The Fat Foodie

Pound cakes are so called because they are an American type of cake that uses a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs to create the cake. They are normally baked in a loaf tin and drizzled with icing sugar or a sugar glaze and then served in slices. This lemon and poppy seed pound cake has a base of gluten-free flour and ground almonds, but although almonds become high FODMAP at servings of over 12g, this cake yields a total of 12 slices which keeps the FODMAP quota low.

I’ve fancied making a lemon cake for quite a while because I think it’s a lovely fresh summer cake, but I hadn’t really found the time to do so. However, the other day I discovered some beautiful flowers in the garden that I knew would look stunning on top of a lemon and poppy seed pound cake.

Now, I know we shouldn’t pick wildflowers, but when I saw that I had some cornflowers growing in my garden as a result of a bee-friendly wildflower seed mix I’d optimistically thrown down at the start of the summer I couldn’t resist picking a few flower heads to scatter their beautiful azure blue petals over the top of this cake. I’d also picked a handful of plump, ripe blue-black blackberries as I was walking home the other day which I thought would be a lovely taste contrast to add to the cake. (Exercise caution when using edible flowers and only use them if you’re absolutely certain about the variety you’re using. A comprehensive list of flowers which are safe to eat can be found here.)

After I’d taken the lemon and poppy seed pound cake out of the oven and let it cool down I drizzled it with icing sugar, scattered the cornflower petals over the top and plonked the blackberries on. Needless to say, that evening after dinner we enjoyed a generous slice of the lemon-infused cake that married wonderfully with the sweet, tart blackberries. Long live summer!

Ingredients:

140g ground almonds

1 tbsp poppyseeds

100g gluten-free flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

150g sugar

120ml vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 tsps lemon extract

120ml rice milk

2 tsps lemon juice

For decoration:

Icing sugar

Dried cornflowers

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160 Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Line a two pound loaf tin with greaseproof paper. (I buy these greaseproof loaf tin liners and they make life so much easier!)

In a large mixing bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients together and then mix in the dry ingredients.

Once it’s all combined, pour your cake batter into the loaf tin, smooth it out and bake it in the oven for around 50 mins to an hour. Don’t worry if it needs a little longer. (You’ll know it’s baked when a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.)

Once it’s baked, let it cool on a cooling rack.

Make some icing by mixing icing sugar with a little water at a time until it just coats the back of a spoon. Once your cake is cool, drizzle it with some icing sugar and add any decoration you like. Serve.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake by The Fat Foodie

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Palmiers

Palmiers by The Fat Foodie

My friend came for lunch the other day and in advance I’d taken some ready-rolled puff pastry out of the freezer to make us a quiche lorraine. However, after it had defrosted I unrolled it and, upon getting a lovely waft of butter scent, I remembered that it was actually a sheet of Marks and Spencer’s all-butter puff pastry. Now, as much as I like my friend who was coming for lunch, I couldn’t bear to waste this beautiful pastry on a simple quiche. As a result, I made the quiche lorraine with a homemade thyme pastry crust and devoted the all-butter puff pastry to making a batch of palmiers instead.

If you don’t already know, palmiers are French pastries that are made from sheets of butter-enriched puff pastry and coated in sugar before being folded (or rolled) from each side into the middle to create the distinctive shape of a palmier. A popular variant of palmiers are arlettes, which are essentially the same thing, but have cinnamon added to their sugar topping and are rolled into flat discs before baking.

Palmiers have to be one of the easiest biscuits I’ve ever made, mainly because if you buy a batch of all-butter puff pastry then most of the work is done for you. It’s literally just a case of rolling out the pastry, scattering it with a little water and sugar (and cinnamon, if you fancy) and then rolling it up before cutting it into slices. You can’t get any easier than that!

I made these palmiers with normal puff pastry (i.e. not gluten-free or dairy-free) because I knew that by only having one I wouldn’t suffer any ill-consequences, but you could make them with gluten-free puff pastry if you like. I’ve never seen an all-butter gluten-free puff pastry before though, so if you’re going to use the gluten-free pastry you might need to add a bit more sugar and cinnamon to help add flavour to the palmiers. If you do that and find they still don’t hit the spot I’d drizzle them with melted dark chocolate. They’d be awesome!

If you make these palmiers you’ll be rewarded with a batch of flaky, butter-enriched pastries which crumble and fracture into sweet shards of butteriness in your mouth while infusing it with a delicious blend of crisp, caramelised sugar and warm cinnamon flavours. These went down a treat in my house. I wonder how long they’ll last in yours?

Ingredients:

1 block of all-butter puff pastry (mine weighed 320g)

80g caster sugar (plus a little extra)

1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

If you’re using the cinnamon, mix it into the sugar.

Roll out your puff pastry until it’s a large rectangle and lightly wet it with a little cold water.

Scatter half of the sugar over the pastry and spread it until it’s even.

Turn the pastry over, wet it again, and scatter the other half of the sugar over it and spread it until it’s even.

Take the left and right sides of the pastry and fold them into the centre of the pastry so the two sides meet in the middle. Repeat once again and then fold the two sides together so that a large sausage shape is formed.

Turn the pastry horizontally and cut it into 1 cm thick slices before lying them on the baking trays with a generous gap between each palmier.

Scatter them with a little more caster sugar and then bake them in the oven for 12-15 mins or until puffed up and golden brown.

Leave on a cooling rack to cool slightly before eating.

Palmiers by The Fat Foodie

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Dark Chocolate Gingers

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

I love ginger. I think it’s such a variable spice. It adds a gorgeous fragrant, warming note to curries and noodle bowls while providing a delicious-tasting background heat. However, although I more than appreciate the merits of ginger in savoury recipes, I think ginger really comes into its own when used in sweet dishes. What would an autumnal bonfire night be without thick slabs of sticky gingerbread that are topped with a creamy spreading of real butter? Or a rainy October afternoon stuck inside the house while you watch black and white old movies with a steaming hot cup of builder’s tea and a couple of gingernut biscuits lying at its side? Sheer bliss.

For all that I love a biscuit that’s solely flavoured with ginger, I think the spice is really elevated when paired with dark chocolate. There’s something about the spicy heat of the ginger being tempered by the creamy bitterness of dark chocolate that makes me appreciate the humble dark chocolate ginger biscuit. I’ve also added a little bit of lemon extract to the biscuit dough which helps to keep the flavour fresh and not too heavy. (You could use the zest of a lemon if you don’t have lemon extract.)

These dark chocolate gingers are crisp, buttery rounds of crumbly biscuit that are infused with the background heat of ginger and are generously slathered in a coating of thick, creamy dark chocolate. They’re very quick to make and are ideal for accompanying a cuppa on a rainy afternoon.

Ingredients:

100g cornflour

150g gluten-free flour

95g icing sugar

125g salted butter (or a non-dairy version)

1 tsp lemon extract

2 tbsps rice milk

1 tsp ground ginger

100g dark chocolate (for coating the biscuits)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay greaseproof paper out onto two baking trays.

Measure all of your ingredients into a plastic jug or mixing bowl and then mix it all together with an electric whisk. (If you want to make it by hand then just rub the butter into the dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients and mixing together.)

Add more rice milk if you feel the dough is too dry. (Gluten-free flour can be notoriously absorbent.)

Take small handfuls of biscuit dough and roll into a ball before flattening between your palms and placing them on the baking trays. Continue until the mix is all used up.

Bake the ginger biscuits in the oven until they are golden brown and then place them on a cooling rack to cool down.

Once cold, melt the dark chocolate and spread a thick layer over the top of the biscuits. Leave to cool until the chocolate has solidified and then serve.

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

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Financiers (makes 16)

Financiers by The Fat Foodie

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the talented Kirsten Gilmour, the owner of The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore and the author of The Mountain Cafe Cookbook, and her lovely publisher at Kitchen Press, Emily Dewhurst. Although Kirsten had generously brought along a veritable buffet of delicious baked sweet treats to her book signing, I couldn’t eat any of it because days before, I’d eaten a meal which included onion rings, had a horrible IBS reaction that evening, and then after some research that night I began the low FODMAP diet exclusion period the day after. However, I had a great chat with Kirsten and Emily about trying to live gluten-free and Emily very kindly emailed me a cracking recipe for gluten-free almond financiers the following day. She’s so nice!

I’ve never had a financier before, but I’m astonished at how tasty they are and how easy they are to make. Financiers are small French cakes that are based on ground almonds and are normally baked in small rectangular cake tins which make them resemble bars of gold. Hence the French name ‘financier’. They are light and airy, but remain moist upon cooking and last for quite a while in the biscuit tin. I don’t have a cake tin that resembles anything like a gold bar so I just baked mine in a mini muffin tray and they turned out brilliantly.

Now, I’m going to ‘fess up here. I screwed up the first batch I made. It was such a simple mistake, but one that could have been avoided if I’d been focusing more on double checking the ingredients. Basically, I used salted butter instead of unsalted, but this meant that when it was added to the 1/2 tsp of salt the original recipe required they were massively over-salted, to the extent that when I first tasted the financiers I spat them back out because they were far too salty.

The thing is, I always use salted butter (even in my cakes) because salt adds seasoning and contributes a fantastic dual taste component to sweet dishes. In fact, most American cake recipes state that you should add some salt because they understand very well how the sweet/salty combination works. Sadly, in the case of my first batch of financiers however, it was simply salt overload and didn’t work. That’s why I’ve removed the added salt and just stipulated that you should use salted butter instead. It takes away the possibility of you making the same mistake as me. You’re welcome.  😉

Joking aside, if you enjoy a sweet treat, particularly one that’s packed with almond flavour, then this is the recipe for you. Although they’re based around ground almonds, one financier contains just enough almond to keep the cakes low FODMAP. After baking, the financiers turn out as sweet, rich little almond-scented cakes that are enriched with browned butter and dark cocoa powder. They’re not dairy-free because I really think you need the flavour of the browned butter to be true to a traditional financier, but they are gluten-free. However, if you’re dairy intolerant you could certainly have a bash at making them with dairy-free butter. You’ll still get a tasty almond cake, but it will lack the butter flavour. Whatever way you decide to make them, I’ll bet you give them a thumbs-up.

Ingredients:

85g of salted butter (or dairy-free or coconut oil)

2 large egg whites

130g ground almonds

100g icing sugar

4 tbsps cocoa powder

1/4 tsp almond extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Grease and flour your mini muffin tray so the financiers don’t get stuck inside upon baking.

Melt the butter in a saucepan until is goes slightly brown and smells caramelly and then let it cool down slightly. (If you’re using non-dairy butter then just melt it and leave it to cool. You don’t need to brown it before using it, it just needs to be liquid.)

Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and add the browned butter.

Lightly beat the egg whites and then fold them into the mixture.

Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture in each mini muffin tray section and bake for 10-15 mins.

Leave to cool slightly before eating.

Financiers by The Fat Foodie

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