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Marrow Praline Cake

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

Marrows are undoubtedly the bland cousin of the courgette family. Their fairly plain taste, firm outer flesh and strange cotton wool core (which is discarded before cooking) leaves it decidedly lagging behind in the Vegetable Of The Year contest. However, for all that I’ve just disparaged the poor marrow, it acts extremely well as a carrier vegetable which can be stuffed with strong, well-flavoured fillings, allowing the flavours of your chosen stuffing to sing very loudly indeed.

I’ve always asserted that the manifesto of my website is to share my adventures in food therefore, when I spotted a small marrow for the reduced price of 15p in the supermarket the other day I thought I’d attempt to have a small adventure with the humble marrow. After looking on the internet for some advice as to how to approach cooking marrows to get the best results from them I decided to make two things with it. The first experiment was this marrow praline cake and the second is savoury stuffed marrow (a recipe which will be posted on the website soon).

Much like when I first made courgette cake, I was pretty unsure how the marrow praline cake would turn out. Would it have a strong flavour? Would the marrow flesh be too dry or even too wet for the cake batter to cook properly? And how would it work with the gluten-free flours I tend to bake with nowadays?

When I was preparing the marrow I was struck by the fact that it had a lovely fresh, grassy, peanut sort of smell and wasn’t overpowering at all. As a result, the grated marrow worked just like courgette does, adding no real vegetable flavour to the cake sponge, but still infusing it with a fantastic amount of moisture and texture. (I only used about half of my marrow for the cake. I reserved the other half to make stuffed marrow slices for dinner that night, so you probably won’t need to use the whole thing.)

This marrow praline cake is a delightfully moist chocolatey cake that’s dotted throughout with crunchy pieces of hazelnut and sandwiched and topped with a maple syrup-infused hazelnut buttercream. It’s a delight to serve, a pleasure to eat and most certainly elevates the Vegetable of the Year status of the plain old marrow.

A Marrow!

The Inside of a Marrow

 

Ingredients:

300g grated marrow

2 large eggs

80ml vegetable oil

60ml coconut oil (melted)

2 tsps vanilla extract

80 ml rice milk

200g brown sugar

150g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

50g cocoa

200g chopped hazelnuts (put 150g into the cake mix, but keep 50g aside to decorate the cake)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

For the buttercream icing:

150g icing sugar

75g butter (or dairy-free butter)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp of rice milk

Method:

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

Line two cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Prepare your marrow by washing it, cutting off the two ends, slicing it down the middle, removing the inner core with a spoon, and grating the remaining flesh. (I used my food processor for this job which made it a lot easier to grate the large amount of marrow.)

Measure all of your wet ingredients into a mixing bowl (the grated marrow, eggs, oils, vanilla and milk).

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and stir until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.

Divide the cake mix between the two cake tins equally and bake for 45 to 50 mins or until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out fairly clean. (It’s quite a moist cake anyway, so don’t worry too much if the skewer has a little moisture on it.)

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool, blend the maple buttercream ingredients together and sandwich the cake together with half of the buttercream before topping the cake with the other half of the buttercream icing.

Decorate with the leftover chopped hazelnuts and serve.

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

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Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

The other day my Mum was lucky enough to get a huge tray of strawberries at a massively reduced price and after we’d eaten our fill of them accompanied by the outstanding dairy-free ice cream that is Booja-Booja, she very generously gave me the leftovers to use for my blog. I hummed and hawed for a while about what to do with them before settling on the idea of making summery strawberry cupcakes.

Strawberries aren’t usually used in cake mixes because they tend to become a very wet ingredient when added to cake batter, but because of the dry, absorbent nature of gluten-free flour strawberries are exactly the type of fruit ingredient that works well in a gluten-free cake. I thought there might have been a risk that the strawberry flavour wouldn’t come through very strongly, but I was wrong because it created a light, gluten-free sponge that was dotted with sweet little gems of jammy strawberries.

Sometimes I like my sponge cakes to be plain, but other times it’s nice to add a flavouring extract or spice that will complement the key ingredient in a cake and will enhance the overall flavour. Strawberries are well complemented by ginger, so I thought I would add a little bit of ground ginger to the cake batter just to add a subtle kick of heat and background spiciness to the fruity strawberry cupcakes.

This idea worked very well indeed, creating strawberry cupcakes that are comprised of a very soft, airy sponge cake with the delicate background spice of ginger that is generously infused with deliciously fruity jammy chunks of fresh strawberry and topped with creamy buttercream icing. I’d say it’s the perfect cupcake for a summer day.

Strawberry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

120g fine polenta meal

75g ground almonds

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

1 tsp 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 strawberries (chopped into small pieces and reserving 12 small slices for the top of the cakes)

To make buttercream icing:

70g dairy-free butter

180g icing sugar

1 tbsp rice milk

1/2 tsp red food colouring

Method:

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

Lay your cupcake cases into a couple of muffin trays.

Cut the strawberries 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 strawberries 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 in the meantime make the buttercream icing by simply whisking all of the icing ingredients together.

Serve the strawberry cupcakes either as they are or with the buttercream icing spread on top.

Strawberry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

I’ll bet you all get tired of hearing about how frequently I find over-ripe blackened bananas in my kitchen, but unfortunately it’s a common occurrence. Surely I can’t be the only person who experiences this on a fortnightly basis, so what do you all do with your over-ripe bananas?

One of the best ways I find inspiration for my blog is by looking at what ingredients need used up in my kitchen and developing a recipe around them, so when I was given a pack of leftover marzipan by my mother-in-law recently I figured it might be nice to use up in some baking. In the bookshop that I work in we sell a book called The Flavour Thesaurus, a fantastic book which tells you what flavours work well with others. Sadly I don’t own a copy of this book, but I’m quite good at imagining what flavours marry well, so when I thought of banana and marzipan together, in my mind the natural ingredient to add to the mix to complete the triad was chocolate. Thankfully, as these muffins demonstrated, I can trust my instincts!

This recipe for chocolate banana marzipan muffins is a winner in my book because as the marzipan cooks it melts through the chocolate banana muffins to create little pockets of sweetness that infuse the surrounding cake with the delicate flavour of almond. As a result, you’ve got a deliciously moist muffin that’s the perfect blend of cocoa and banana flavoured cake base with the added surprise of almond marzipan chunks throughout it. That’s pretty damn tasty in my book.

Ingredients:

50g ground almonds

175g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

100g dark brown sugar

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

120g marzipan (rolled into small balls)

3 over-ripe bananas (mine weighed 330g in total)

125ml sunflower oil

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

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

Lay out your muffin cases in a muffin tray. (I’m particularly enamoured with the Jamie Oliver muffin tray my Mum got for me recently.)

Measure your bananas, oil, eggs and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl measure all of your dry ingredients.

Break the marzipan up into small pieces and add them to the dry ingredients, mixing them through so they become coated.

Add the wet mixture into the dry and mix thoroughly.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 25 to 30 mins or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool.

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

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