Tag Archives: gluten free

Bringing it back…Black Forest Gateau

3 Nov

It seems to be that, generally speaking, Black Forest Gateau is regarded as being very 70’s and highly unfashionable. It’s one of those desserts that is always stocked in a supermarket freezer cabinet, all soggy cake and faux cream. Bleurgh.

But, when made properly and freshly, it is an absolute *dream* dessert (I know it’s a cake, but it’s very much a pudding cake) and so simple to make. It also happens to be my husband’s favourite cake (although every cake seems to be his favourite cake…) so he was pretty pleased when I told him that I would be making Black Forest Gateau a few weeks ago. Sadly for him, it was for our neighbour’s birthday, but I don’t think that he will need to wait long to have some – I absolutely adore the combination of cherries and chocolate, so now I just need a decent excuse to indulge so that I can make it again!

I tend to find that my first port of call when looking for classic recipes is the wonderful Delia Smith, in particular her Complete Cookery Course book, and this time was no exception. Her recipe contains no flour, which makes it great for anyone followng a gluten-free diet.

Black Forest Gateau


~ 6 large eggs
~ 5 oz/150g caster sugar
~ 2 oz/50g good quality cocoa powder, sifted (Green & Blacks cocoa powder is wonderful)

For the filling and topping

10 fl oz/275ml double cream
1 level tabespoon caster sugar
1lb/450g tin or jar morello cherries
1-2 tablespoons kirsch or rum
2 oz/50g plain chocolate


~ Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180c and then oil and line two 8″ (20cm) sandwich tins.

~ Start by separating the eggs and placing the whites in a clean grease-free bowl. Put the yolks in another bowl and whisk them with the caster sugar until they just begin to pale and thicken. Be careful not to thicken them too much.

whisking eggs with sugar

thickened eggs & sugar

~ Now fold in the sifted cocoa powder

~ Next with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff but not too dry.  Stir a heaped tablespoon of the egg white into the chocolate mixture to loosen it up a bit.  Then, using  a metal spoon, carefully and gently fold in the rest of the egg white (trying not to lose any air).

~ Divide the mixture equally into the prepared sandwich tins and bake them near the centre of the oven for about 15-20 minutes.  They won’t appear to be cooked exactly, just set and slightly puffy.  When you take them out of the oven they will shrink, but that’s normal. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins, but turn them out while they’re still faintly warm and strip off the base papers.

~ Now whip the cream with the  tablespoon of caster sugar until it is a floppy, spreadable consistency.

whipping the cream

~ Next empty the tin of cherries into a sieve set over  bowl and combine 2 tablespoons of the juice with the Kirsch or rum.  Sprinkle this over the cake layers and, using a palette knife, spread about a third of the whipped cream over one cake.

halved cherries

~ Then slice the cherries in half.  Leave about a dozen whole cherries for the decoration.  Now arrange the sliced cherries all over the cake spread with cream.

~ Next, carefully place the other cake on top and cover the entire cake with the remaining cherries.  Carefully place the other cake on top and cover the entire cake with the remaining cream.

~ Finish off by arranging the whole cherries around the edge, then finely grate the chocolate and sprinkle it all over the cake.


Gluten-free baking *guest post*

27 Oct

Just to get a little introduction out of the way – this is a ‘guest writer’ appearance by Rachel’s youngest brother, Andrew. I will be doing a guest post on the mysterious subject of gluten-free baking and will share with you some of my experiences about this little-explored subject.

I myself, am relatively new to gluten-free cooking and baking. As a classically trained chef, I am familiar with techniques and recipes that tend to use a lot of wheat flour and with that comes gluten. As such, the idea of coming up with methods for creating things such as gluten-free cupcakes appealed to me; any chance to broaden my horizons and skill set is something that I actively pursue. I happen to know some very dear people that are gluten/wheat intolerant and any chance to devise and scheme on their behalf is a challenge I want to take on.

I’m going to get the scientific part out of the way (apologies for this part…) The main obstacle facing coeliacs and those pursuing a gluten-free diet is the reliance on plain and self-raising flours used in traditional recipes. Plain and self-raising flour that are made from wheat contain gluten and so an alternative has to be sought for gluten-free baking. Unfortunately – gluten is the all important composite that lends elasticity and texture to our traditional baked goods. It also helps foods to rise by trapping air; it acts as a sort of flexible web, allowing our cupcake batter to rise and take on that wonderful shape. So if we can’t use the magical properties that gluten lend, how do we effectively replicate/mimic it?

Fortunately, cake batters don’t require a lot of gluten. Eggs, sugar and butter/margarine all help to aid moisture and flavour in our recipes. When sugar and butter are creamed together, air bubbles are trapped.  With the addition of egg yolks which help to emulsify fats, you can hold a lot of moisture in suspension in your mix without the aid of gluten.

But one complaint about gluten-free baking is that it is hard to get that same texture and ‘mouthfeel’ that you can get with regular wheat flour.

It’s all about getting the right mix of gluten-free flours to help mimic the characteristics of wheat flour. I’ve often seen recipes that call for mixes of cornflour, potato flour, tapioca flour, rice four, soy flour, maize flour…and the list sometimes goes on… A good base flour to use is brown rice flour, which isn’t dense or gritty. You could mix and match with cornflour or potato flour for example. The possibilities for experimentation are endless 🙂

Supermarkets are now carrying a greater selection of flours and gluten-free products. Glycerine can be added to batter mixes to help with moisture retention and thus texture. I have experimented with glycerine and the results don’t vary a huge deal. But, anything that helps right…? The same goes for Xanthan gum; it is used in gluten-free baking to aid the texture of the crumb. I have used it in a bread recipe once and it did an okay job. It’s more needed for bread making than cupcakes though, as bread needs strong, developed gluten to help achieve the texture that bread should have.

The first time I used a gluten-free flour combo, I simply substituted my normal self-raising wheat flour and I kept all the other variables such as eggs, butter and sugar, the same. I have to say that I was really, really impressed with the results. I was looking for noticeable differences in taste, texture and aroma; of these, only the aroma was different. Even then it was a very small difference, only ever so slightly ‘savoury.’ Most impressive for me was the achieved texture; this particular gluten-free flour mix was able to mimic that crumbly, moist texture that wheat flour gives. In a ‘blind’ taste test – 4 out of 4 family members could not tell the difference. And bear in mind these 4 subjects have been accustomed to baked goods with gluten in them for donkeys years!

Fresh from the oven...

This trial batch was sent away on the very same day to some relatives in Cardiff who promptly ate them all, without noticing that they were gluten-free. I kept a couple behind just to see how they would hold up after a day or so.

Two days later, these little hotcakes were still holding up okay. One of them even got blitzed in the microwave by grandma and survived. Until she ate it.

So there you have it. Gluten-free baking is no more technical than ordinary baking, really. It’s about the right mix of flours and trying to mimic what ordinary wheat flour does. As long as you experiment and find a good mix of flours, gluten-free cupcakes can be just as successful as the ‘normal’ ones…

Looks just like a 'normal' cupcake.

At the end of the day, any kind of cupcake is better than no cupcake, right?

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