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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Lemon Tarts

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Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

A while ago I made chocolate bundt cakes to celebrate my 100th blog post and the sponge I made them with was so tasty that I wanted to try making other things with it. I’ve always loved whoopie pies, but sometimes shop-bought whoopie pies can be a bit too sickly because they have too much filling inside them and the quality of the buttercream icing often leaves a lot to be desired. The beauty of baking your own therefore, is that you can control the buttercream icing to baked sponge ratio to suit your own taste.

Although I used a proper whoopie pie tin it’s not completely necessary because you could just use a yorkshire pudding tin or something like it to bake your whoopie pies in. All you’re looking for is something that’ll control the spread of the sponge as it bakes and allow it to rise. In fact, if you don’t mind your whoopies looking a little odd you could even use a traditional fairycake shallow tin to bake them in.

I made my whoopie pies traditional chocolate ones, but you could omit the cocoa powder and make them with other flavours instead, such as vanilla (using 1 tsp vanilla extract), lemon (using the zest of 1 lemon) or bake them as a plain sponge but sandwich them with fruit jam as well as buttercream icing.

I can highly recommend making the chocolate whoopie pies though because they result in two rich, moist chocolate sponges that are bonded together with a lightly whipped decadent cocoa buttercream, creating the perfect cake for one. Stopping at only eating one is a different matter entirely though.

Ingredients:

220g dark brown sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
80g cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream:
150g dairy-free butter
170g icing sugar
30g cocoa
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

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

Lay out your whoopie pie tins and give them a light greasing before dusting them with flour.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and give it a stir.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into the whoopie pie tins.

Bake in the oven for around 10-12 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack before taking the whoopie pies out of the tin.

Place your buttercream ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once cool, sandwich the whoopie pies with the buttercream icing.

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

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Citrus Cupcakes (makes 12)

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Sometimes I bake cakes purely because a pretty cupcake case has caught my eye that begs to be filled with something delicious. This was the case (excuse the pun) when I saw some beautiful, bright, sunshine-coloured cupcake cases in Flying Tiger the other day. (I tried to find a link to their website so you could buy them yourself, but they don’t have them listed on their site unfortunately.)

Ordinarily I’m a real chocolate cake fan, loving the deep, moist fudginess that is inherent within all decent chocolate cakes, but I recognise that sometimes there’s nothing nicer than a light fruit-flavoured cake and these cupcake cases were ideal for making gluten-free citrus cupcakes in.

As the days are getting sunnier and warmer it’s nice to move away from the heavy puddings and crumbles of winter and embrace lighter flavours, such as those found in citrus fruits. Although I made my citrus cupcakes flavoured with lemon and orange you could choose to flavour them with lime or even grapefruit if you had a mind to. All you’re looking for are the strong oils in the fruit’s zest to impart a citrus note into the cake’s sponge.

These citrus cupcakes are light, but moist (even though they’re made with gluten-free flour) and keep for a good few days in an airtight tin. Although if your family’s anything like mine it’s highly unlikely that these delicious bakes will last that long. I might need to make another batch…

Ingredients:

220g caster sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
60g dessicated coconut
A pinch of salt
The zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream icing:
100g dairy-free butter
240g icing sugar
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

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

Lay out your cupcake cases onto a flat baking tray.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into each of the cupcake cases, lay them on the baking trays and bake in the oven for around 25 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Make the buttercream icing by placing all of the buttercream ingredients into a jug and whisking until a smooth icing is produced.

Once the citrus cupcakes are cool, decorate them with the buttercream icing.

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Rhubarb and Ginger Cake

Rhubarb and Ginger Cake by The Fat Foodie

This rhubarb and ginger cake is one of those delightful ‘chuck all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix’ jobs, a cake baking technique that’s a firm favourite with me. I’ve written before about the ‘generosity’ of gardeners in their ‘donating’ of rhubarb to me and with the turn of spring this year has turned out to be no different. (I jest, of course.) My Dad gave me a lovely bunch of lurid, thin pink rhubarb stalks the other day and although I’d been debating about making them into a jam, after flicking through Emma Hatcher’s The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook I decided to try making her rhubarb polenta cake.

It would be more accurate for me to describe this as a variation of Emma’s recipe because I made quite a few changes, the most important of which was adding a generous amount of ground ginger. I always think that rhubarb and ginger marry well together. My aunt and uncle who are both avid allotment gardeners make a delicious rhubarb and ginger jam that’s to die for. In fact, if you try to steal some from my Dad you run the risk of death, so it really is ‘to die for’. Worth it though…

When I read that the flour base of this rhubarb and ginger cake was polenta, ground almonds and gluten-free flour I strongly suspected that the cake would be dry and tasteless, but from the minute I started mixing the cake together I could see that this assumption was very wrong. It mixed together like a ‘normal’ cake would without the granular texture I’ve come to expect from gluten-free cakes and baked very well indeed.

The base ingredients of this cake work so well that this could easily become my go-to gluten-free cake mix to use with other flavours. Accordingly, the finished product is a light, moist vanilla-scented cake that’s generously dotted with little chunks of soft, tart rhubarb and complemented by the warming presence of the ground ginger. The rhubarb and ginger cake is beautiful on its own, but I think it would lend itself well to a dollop of crème fraîche or a dairy-free equivalent. However you serve it, I guarantee it’ll be well received by all.

Also, if you want to try the original recipe from Emma’s book you can find it online on her publisher’s website here at Yellow Kite Books.

Ingredients:

120g fine polenta meal

75g ground almonds

50g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

3 tsps ground ginger

2 tsps xanthan gum

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g sugar

120ml vegetable oil

120ml rice milk

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

120g rhubarb (chopped into small pieces)

Method:

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

Prepare an 8″ cake tin with greaseproof paper or a cake tin liner (a wonderful invention which makes cake baking infinitely easier than having to cut out circles of greaseproof paper to fit your tins!).

Cut the rhubarb into small pieces.

Measure the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and give it a good stir so that they’re all fully mixed.

Measure the wet ingredients into a jug or bowl.

Toss the rhubarb in the dry ingredients and then add the wet mixture and stir really well.

Pour into your cake tin and bake for 35 to 40 mins or until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool and then serve.

Rhubarb and Ginger Cake by The Fat Foodie

Rhubarb and Ginger Cake by The Fat Foodie

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