Gluten Free Lemon and Ricotta Protein Cake

lemon and ricotta protein cakeI accidentally-on-purpose made an amazingly delicious gluten free protein cake this weekend.

On purpose because we had a birthday in the house; accidentally because I’d experimented with altering a recipe—and didn’t realise that my oven thermostat was broken.

It was a lemon zest and ricotta flourless cake, based on this recipe from Cakelets and Doilies.

Belle’s recipe looked great—I’m not claiming to have improved it, just used different ingredients and an accidentally cooler oven.

We’re currently on a big protein kick here, so I replaced some of the ground almonds with cricket flour from Gathr, and added in some whey protein. If you want to try this cake, these are not essential ingredients! You can just use 240g of ground almonds (no cricket flour or whey protein).

Ingredients for the lemon and ricotta protein cake

120g unsalted butter
275g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
zest of 4 lemons
4 eggs
230g of ground almonds and 10g of cricket flour OR 240g of ground almonds
1 scoop (30g) of vanilla whey protein powder – this is entirely optional
300g of ricotta
icing sugar to dust it with, and maybe some almond flakes as well

You’re going to need a 20cm cake tin and two big mixing bowls.


  1. Heat the oven to 160C (fan-assisted) 180C (conventional oven). Who knows what temperature mine was? I’m guessing 140C (conventional), so ignore that!
  2. Line a 20cm round cake tin. I like to use baking paper cake tin liners (e.g. from Lakeland) but you can do it any way you like.
  3. Cut the vanilla pod lengthways, and scoop out the seeds.
  4. Zest the lemons, saving the rest of the lemon for another time.
  5. Separate the eggs: put the yolks into a small container, and the whites into a big mixing bowl.
  6. Put the butter, 165g of the caster sugar, the vanilla seeds and the lemon zest in another big mixing bowl, and beat using an electric beater until the mixture is pale and creamy.
  7. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  8. Add the ground almonds and the cricket flour/whey protein if you’re using those. Beat it all together well. It will be a very stiff dough. Fold the ricotta gently into the almond mixture.
  9. Scrape the beaters into the mixture and wash them well—you’re going to need them to whisk the egg whites.
  10. Whisk the egg whites using the clean beaters until you’ve got soft peaks. Gently add the remaining caster sugar to the egg whites a bit at a time, whisking after each addition until you’ve got stiff peaks.
  11. Now fold (gently, gently) about a third of the egg whites and sugar mix into the cake mixture. The aim is to keep as much air in the egg white mix as possible, so add the egg white mix in portions, and fold it in very gently.
  12. Once all the ingredients (except for the icing sugar) have been combined, pour it into the cake tin, and smooth the top. Belle suggests adding almond flakes on top for decoration; I didn’t have any, and it was fine.
  13. Bake the cake in the middle of your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until it is cooked, and firm to the touch. (My cake took 90 minutes, which just shows you how cool my oven was!)
  14. Then cool the cake in the cake tin, and once it is completely cold, you can dust it with icing sugar to serve it. I use an old tea-strainer, put the icing sugar in that, hold it over the cake and tap it gently with a spoon – the icing sugar will sift down onto the cake.


Don’t be confused by the image: on the plate with the cake is a different protein cake – a cacao protein ball, made with flax seeds and brought by a friend. I did mention that the birthday boy is eating a lot of protein…

And my oven is seriously broken—it cooked way too cool on the cake-making day, and over 35C too hot on the next day, despite showing the same temperature on the dial. Now that is a nuisance.

Surprisingly Successful Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns


Coeliac Daughter is home from university for the holidays, and fancied baking at the weekend. So, it being nearly Easter, she decided to have a go at making gluten free hot cross buns.

We’ve tried making hot cross buns before, and never been very successful, but this recipe worked surprisingly well. The original is available on the UDI site, but we made some amendments based on what we had available…

Ingredients for gluten free hot cross buns

  • 3 1/4 cups gluten free flour mix – we used Dove’s plain white flour, available from supermarkets here in the UK.
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ginger and nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of dried fruit or other goodies – we used 1/2 cup sultanas and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to create two different kinds of buns, but I think that dried cranberries would be nice too
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Egg wash (Mix 1 egg with 1 tablespoon milk)


  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water.


Mix all the dry ingredients (except for the dried fruit or chocolate chips).

Mix all the wet ingredients and then add them to the mixed dry ingredients.

Split the dough into two bowls and fold the sultanas into one half, and chocolate chips into the other half. (Of course, if you just want to make one batch in a single bowl, that’s fine).

After mixing dough thoroughly, cover the bowl(s) and refrigerate for a couple of hours. (The UDI instructions say overnight but we couldn’t wait).

When you are ready to start again, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast in 1 tablespoon of water, and stir half into each bowl – or, or course, all of it into the one bowl, if you’ve not split yours into two.

Grease or line two 8″x8″ cake tins and place 9 balls of the dough into each one. We only have one 8*8 cake tin, so used that for half the dough and put the other half into an 8″ round cake tin – and it worked perfectly well.

Smooth out the tops of the buns and brush with the egg wash.

With a sharp knife, slice a shallow cross in the top of each bun. Let them prove (stand in a warm room or cool oven, covered with a clean teatowel) for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven while they are proving.

Now bake the buns at 180C for about 30 minutes in the centre of the preheated oven and bake, turning during baking if needed, until the buns are golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow the buns to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the buns are cooling, mix together the icing sugar and water with a fork until the icing is smooth.

Once the buns have cooled, ice a cross on each bun. Traditionally, this isn’t done with icing, but with a flour and water paste – but the icing does add a dash of sweetness to the buns which I rather like.

Don’t forget the gluten free Simnel cake either – we’re going to make one later this week…

Is there lecitem in your toffee apple?

toffee-applesHave you ever heard of lecitem?

I hadn’t, until coeliac daughter told me about it recently.

She’d bought a toffee apple (her first ever) as a reward for herself after an interview, but discovered it was not gluten free, since it contained lecitem.

Not gluten free? Surely it’s just an apple, with sugar, syrup, water, and maybe a tiny bit of (gluten free!) vinegar?

Lecitem, it turns out, is a type of bread improver, and contains malt and wheat gluten. When used for bread, it makes it more ‘machineable’ – silkier and smoother – especially if you’re using a high speed or spiral mixer. Perhaps, when added to the toffee, it makes it run through the machines better?

In any case, it was a surprise to me, and a disappointment to her. The things they decide to put gluten in!

So I made her toffee apples. I’m such a mean mother: I’d never done that before.

I used this recipe, based on the one from BBC Good Food:

Six crunchy eating apples
200g sugar
½ tsp cider vinegar
2 tbsps golden syrup

  • Blanch the apples by covering them in boiling water briefly to remove the waxy coating. Dry them, twist off the stalks, and push a wooden skewer or lolly stick into the stalk end of the apple. This will be your handle.
  • Put the sugar and 50ml of water into a pan, and heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the vinegar and syrup.
  • Prepare a sheet of baking parchment for cooling the apples on.
  • Boil until the mix reaches the ‘hard crack’ stage (or 140C). Testing with a sugar thermometer is easy, but if you don’t have one, drop a small amount of the toffee mix into a bowl of cold water. It should go hard immediately, and be easy to break when you take it out of the water. If you can still mould it into different shapes, go on boiling the toffee.
  • Then dip and rotate each apple in the hot toffee until it is covered, let the excess drip off, and then put it on the baking parchment to harden.

Make sure the toffee is cool before you eat it!

FreeFrom Nut Roast

Sainsbury’s have kindly shared this recipe for a gluten free nut roast with me – and given me permission to share it with you!

You may remember that I went to a FreeFrom Christmas dinner at Sainsbury’s HQ recently; this was one of the vegetarian options, and is the invention of Mary from the Sainsbury’s Try Team.

It’s fabulous: moist and tasty. When you read the list of ingredients, you’ll see why… I was amazed to discover that there is no bread at all in this nut roast.

Enjoy! (I plan to).

FreeFrom Nut Roast

Rediscover nut roast with this moist, light, tasty recipe, made without breadcrumbs. Nut roast is the classic vegetarian alternative to the roast dinner, but it doesn’t end there. It’s an excellent dish for entertaining and special occasions, with the added benefit that leftovers are delicious served cold or in sandwiches.

Serves: 4

Make and cook time: 30 minutes preparation plus 1 hour cooking time

85g nuts (eg Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Marcona almonds), chopped to the size of a pea
255g finely ground nuts (eg Sainsbury’s ground almonds)
300g root vegetables, coarsely grated (eg parsnip, celeriac and carrot)
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 x 15ml spoonfuls vegetable oil
2 medium size eggs, beaten
½ x 5ml spoonful white pepper
1 x 5ml spoonful dried thyme
1 x 5ml spoonful salt

You will need: an 850ml capacity loaf tin, lined with non stick baking parchment

1. Preheat oven to 170’C/ Gas 3
2. Gently cook grated vegetables and onion with the oil, in a non stick pan until tender (10-15 mins).
3. Mix cooked vegetables together with all other ingredients. Press mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
4. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Test by inserting a skewer into the nut roast, which should come out clean. Leave the nut roast to stand in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Turn onto serving plate. Slice carefully using a sharp serrated carving knife.

Recipe by Mary Scott Morgan (Try Team)

When we ate this, it wasn’t presented in a loaf tin shape, but in more of a jelly-mould shape. Obviously there were more of us to feed, but my point is that you don’t need to be constrained to the loaf tin. Just bear in mind that cooking time might vary.

Photo credit: copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Fig and Ginger Goats Cheese Tart

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a jar of McQuade’s Celtic Fig and Ginger chutney from Blake Makes. If you’ve not been over to visit there yet, you should visit at least once. It isn’t a gluten free blog, but it is definitely a foodie one.

Fig and Ginger ChutneyThe task was to suggest how you might use this chutney in a recipe. I was rather surprised to see in the comments that some people were unfamiliar with chutney, but there were many excellent and mouthwatering suggestions. This was mine:


I think goats cheese too.

I’m thinking pastry shell (gluten free, naturally), layer of fig and ginger chutney across bottom, goats cheese either sliced or shredded and sprinkled, depending on whether it is a hard or soft cheese, and then cooked in the oven to crisp the pastry and melt the cheese.

Or (perhaps and, if I’m being particularly greedy), fig and ginger icecream, served with (gluten free!) ginger biscuits or flapjack. Depending on the size of the chunks in the chutney, might need to blend the chutney a bit first …

And Lo: a jar of chutney arrived on my doorstep at the end of April.

For various reasons, it took me a while to complete my mission, and actually to cook something with this chutney, but I’ve done it. I used Lifestyle ready-made gluten free pastry rather than making some from scratch, because it was there in the freezer, and needed eating, and also – if I’m honest – because I’m run off my feet with work, and didn’t have time to make my own pastry. But I think a few shortcuts are OK occasionally.

Then I spread the chutney liberally across the bottom of my pastry shell. Not too liberally – I wanted to reserve some to taste separately! – and sprinkled goat’s cheese across the top before cooking it.

It was absolutely delicious. The chutney was also delicious with cheese and crackers. So good, that there’s none left to try the icecream out, but I do think this would work, because of the sweet and sour virtue of good chutney. My husband – a connoisseur of good chutneys – was heard to say (through a mouthful) that it was class. He may have said that it was even better than my own damson chutney, or my cranberry and shallot chutney, but I’m pretending I didn’t hear that.

It is truly a great chutney. Perhaps not, as their publicity says, reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands (figs just don’t grow that far north), but really good. Guys, why aren’t you selling it here? No, really – why not?

(I notice, incidentally, that the recipe at the top of the McQuade’s site is also a goat’s cheese and pastry one, so clearly great taste-buds work alike.)