I love food! Not just eating it, but creating it. What beats an afternoon in the kitchen, making a mess as well as scrumptious treats? But when a friend had to alter her diet due to food intolerances I realised not everyone can carelessly indulge. So I set out to make a cake she could eat, and when I achieved a flourless, vegan chocolate cake that tasted pretty good I wondered what else was possible. And so my journey begins into a world of baking where there is always something missing...
time for some more Christmas baking fun and as the big day gets ever closer
overindulgence now rules! The yule log or Bûche de Noël is a traditional
Christmas desert but not something that has ever been a major part of our
celebrations (we are much more of a Christmas pudding family!). And I had never
attempted to make a yule log…until now that is, and after reading a few tips from The Guardian website I came up with a pretty delicious treat. And the great thing about the light
and airy sponge that makes the base of the yule log is that it is often
naturally gluten free and many recipes contain absolutely no flour but are just
lots of whipped up eggs and cocoa powder, so a perfect gluten free addition to
the Christmas dinner table, and not as tricky to make as you may think!!
large eggs, separated 150g caster
sugar 60g cocoa powder
jar of chestnut jam (you can make your own by checking out this recipe)
frozen cherries (or other red berries as preferred)
the oven to 180°C. Line a swiss roll tin (or shallow rectangular baking tin)
with grease proof paper, being careful to fully tuck the paper into the corners
of the tin so that they are neatly folded in as this will allow the cake to
the eggs dividing the egg whites and egg yolks into separate bowls.
the sugar to the egg yolks and beat with an electric mixer until a thick and
glossy mixture is formed. Add the cocoa powder to the mixture and continue to
beat until fully combined.
that the electric mixer is fully cleaned and has no traces of the egg yolk
mixture and then beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.
fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture a little at a time until
fully combined. But be careful not to knock all of the air out of the egg whites.
the mixture into the prepared tin and place in the centre for about 25 minutes
until firm to the touch.
the cake from the oven, place another sheet of baking paper on top of the cake
and invert onto the kitchen surface. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and
peel off the baking paper that had lined the tin. Then, using the paper now
underneath the cake carefully roll the cake up along the longest edge until a
tight roll is formed. Leave the cake to cool rolled up (you can make the cake
the day before you require it and leave it rolled up overnight before
decorating the following day).
you are ready to construct the Bûch carefully unroll the cake (don’t worry if
it cracks a little at this point, any little faults will be covered up with all
filled mine with chestnut jam which I had previously made (following this
recipe, but if you don’t have a personal supply of chestnuts and enough time to
make yourself some jam sweetened chestnut puree will work just fine) and sweetened
mascarpone which I made by combining the mascarpone with the icing sugar.
Spread the chestnut jam evenly over the cake. Then sprinkle with the cherries
and top with the sweetened mascarpone. Carefully re-roll the cake using the
baking paper for support as you roll.
transfer the roll to your serving plate and then liberally coat with chocolate
ganache which is made be breaking the chocolate into a heat proof bowl, then
bring the cream to the boil in a small pan, as soon as the cream begins to boil
remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir the mixture until the
chocolate has melted and a smooth glossy mixture has formed. Stir in a glug of
rum and then pour the ganache over the cake and spread across with a spatula
until it is fully covered.
melted a little extra chocolate and piped out holly leaf shapes onto some
non-stick baking parchment and once set used these to decorate my yule log but
a liberal dusting of icing sugar would look just as festive.
get stuck in and enjoy this gorgeously indulgent chocolate desert…it is
Christmas after all.
Christmas really is fast approaching now, and although I am
a right scrooge when I hear Christmas songs in the shops in September my ‘Bah Humbug’
attitude quickly dissipates once December arrives. This week I have been
getting rather festive in the kitchen and have been having a massive kitchen
baking session with cheesy Christmas music playing in the background whilst I
have been liberally dusting every surface with icing sugar.
Now Christmas isn’t Christmas without a copious amounts of
mince pies but I like to experiment a little with my mincemeat! And after
making mincemeat Danish pastries last year I thought I would get creative again
and so the mincemeat cookie was born. If you aren’t a big fan of pastry these
are a perfect yule time treat with a little dollop of the sticky mincemeat mix
hidden inside a gorgeous almond and vanilla cookie.
150g golden caster sugar
100g almond butter (you could use peanut butter here if you
can’t find almond butter, but it is available in many supermarkets and all good
health food shops)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
Seeds from half a vanilla pod
25g ground almonds
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g plain flour
50 g rye flour
1 jar of mincemeat (or if you feel a bit more adventurous
you can make your own!)
Makes approx. 20
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the almond butter, egg, golden syrup and vanilla to the
mixture and continue to beat until smooth and well combined.
Finally mix in the ground almonds, baking powder,
bicarbonate of soda and both flours and fold in until a firm dough if formed.
Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
To construct the biscuits begin by taking a small ball and
making a dent/well in the centre. Place a teaspoon full of mincemeat into the
Take another piece of the dough and form into a small round
disc and place over the top of the mincemeat.
Then work the two bits of dough together forming a fat disc
of cookie dough with the mincemeat hidden inside.
Place the cookies on a lined baking tray, leaving a little
bit of space between them so they have room to spread a little.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool a
little before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Will keep in
an air tight container for a few days….but I doubt these delicious cookies will
last that long!!!
Before the year runs away with me and we all get engulfed by
Christmas I wanted to post this autumnal recipe. I have previously blogged
about my love of chestnuts and how I am fortunate enough that my parents garden
contains a couple of chestnut trees, so I have grown up picking these little
mahogany balls of yumminess straight from among the leaves on the ground
each year, rather than having to fork out a considerable amount of cash for a
small little net in a supermarket. And in the last couple of years I have
experimented with the many different uses of the chestnut from chocolate
pots, and truffle
cake to gnocchi.
When my mum started bragging about how plump and delicious
this year’s crop of chestnuts are I immediately put in my order and started researching
possible recipes to use the chestnuts in. This was when I came across quite a
few pesto recipes that replace the pine nuts often found in pesto with
chestnuts instead. Pine nuts can be quite an expensive ingredient so I loved
the idea of replacing them with something foraged for free. I’m also not a big
fan of pine nuts so this seemed like a perfect substitution for me. I made a
very chestnut heavy version of pesto but you could easily increase the proportion
of the other ingredients to suit your own tastes, but I didn’t want the
chestnut to be over powered by the basil in this recipe. The resultant pesto is
great stirred into freshly cooked spaghetti with a few wild mushrooms thrown in
for good measure or a little fried up smokey bacon to create autumn on a plate.
80g raw, shelled chestnuts
A large handful of fresh basil
80ml of good quality olive oil
25g grated parmesan
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
A good pinch of sea salt.
After peeling the chestnuts (this can be a little time
consuming and I find if I slit the top of the chestnuts with a sharp knife and
then plunge into boiling water for a few seconds it is a lot easier to remove
the chestnuts from their shells) place in a saucepan of boiling water and cook
for about 5 minutes until they are just starting to cook but are still firm and
Drain the chestnuts and place with the remaining ingredients
in a food processor. Blitz until a slightly grainy paste is formed (adding a
little extra olive oil if needed to reach the desired consistency).
Use as you would with any other pesto.
Store in the fridge.
Disclaimer: I feel that I should say that unless you are
100% certain what you are eating it is best to buy your chestnuts rather than
go foraging for them, conkers for example are not edible and should not be
confused with chestnuts!!