Gluten free Christmas Cake

There’s no reason why a recipe for Christmas Cake shouldn’t be rebranded as any other kind of celebratory cake – I’ve just made a delicious birthday cake (for my mother-in-law’s 70th) using a slightly modified version of a Christmas cake recipe from Good Housekeeping.

Ingredients:

250g (or 9oz) of raisins
250g (or 9oz) of sultanas
100g (3.5oz) of cranberries or blueberries (I used blueberries, because thats what I had)
200g (7oz) of glace cherries, halved
200ml (7floz) of vanilla vodka
100g (3.5oz) of almonds
50g (2oz) ground almonds
200g(7oz) butter
200g (7oz) of dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs
100g (3.5oz) gluten free flour

I couldn’t find any vanilla vodka out here in the rurals, so I used Absolut vodka and added 2tbsps of vanilla extract.

Method

Soak all the fruit in the vanilla and vodka overnight – or for at least 3 hours, if you can’t wait.
Grease and line an 8″ (20.5cm) round tin, and preheat the oven to 150C.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
Gradually add in the beaten eggs, adding a little flour each time if the mixture begins to curdle.
Add the nuts and any remaining flour.
Add the soaked fruit and any remaining vodka and mix well.
Spoon the mixture into the tin, and level the surface.
Bake the cake for 3.5 hours – if it begins to look a little dark on top towards the end of the cooking time, cover the top with foil or baking parchment.
Let the cake cool in its tin before removing it.

Wrap it in a double layer of foil to store it until ready to decorate.

To decorate the cake

Assuming that you are going to decorate this in a traditional style, you will need apricot jam, marzipan, icing sugar and fondant icing. You can (and I did) sprinkle another tablespoon or so of vanilla vodka over the top of the cake – it should soak straight in. You may find that some of the blueberries have gone a bit singed on the top of the cake – just pick them off.

I use both readymade marzipan and readymade icing just because its easier. Do remember to check that both are gluten free (though they almost certainly will be).

Brush the cake with warmed apricot jam, to help the marzipan stick to the cake.
Sprinkle icing sugar onto your rolling surface, to stop the marzipan sticking to the table.
Roll out the marzipan until its about 0.5-0.75cm thick, and lay it gently over the cake. Cut off any excess around the bottom of the cake, and hide from the children until you can eat it yourself. Or save them to make marzipan decorations, if you’re creative.

It is usual to wrap up the cake again at this point and store it for about a week before adding the icing. I left mine overnight and then iced it.

Brush the marzipan with cool boiled water, to help the icing stick to the marzipan layer. Some people use sherry (or more vodka, I suppose!).
Sprinkle your working surface with icing sugar again, and roll out the icing, as above. Lift it gently over the cake, and smooth it down. Again, trim off any excess, and save for creative decorations.

At this point, you can add decorations, either made from the leftover marzipan/icing pieces, or use ready-made seasonal decorations, ribbons etc. I bought silk flowers and cut them down to make a spray of flowers for the top of the cake, and left bits around the sides too.

Gluten Free Honey & Ginger Cake

This cake worked well for us, and my daughter ate most of it – a rare event, because she isn’t really into cakes.

Ingredients

3 oz runny honey
8 oz gluten free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each of ground ginger and cinnamon
1/4 tsp of ground cloves
3 oz of sugar
zest of 1 small orange and 1 lemon
4 oz butter
1 egg
1 tsp bicarb of soda
2 oz chopped stem ginger

For icing: 6 oz icing sugar (confectioners sugar) and 1 tblsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Method

Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl and add the sugar and zest. Rub the butter in.

Warm the honey slightly, and beat it with the egg. Mix into the flour mixture.

Mix the bicarb with 3 tblsps of water until dissolved, then beat into the flour mixture.

Stir in the chopped ginger and tip the mix into a greased or lined 8″ round tin.

Cook for about 50 minutes. Cool it in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn it onto a cooling rack until cold.

Then sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the lemon juice and about 2 tblsps of water to get a thin icing – pour it over the cake. Do put a plate under the cake because this is very runny icing!

If you like, you could put more chopped stem ginger on the top to decorate it.

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Quick and easy chocolate brownies – using the cocoa and saucepan method. I know that people have tried and tested recipes for chocolate brownies, and have strong feelings about whether they should include melted chocolate or not … this recipe works well and is reliable.

You can add 2-4 oz of chopped nuts or chocolate pieces if you must, but it is very good as it is.

Ingredients

4 oz butter
8 oz granulated sugar
4 oz gluten free flour (and 1 tsp of baking powder if your flour is plain flour)
1.5 oz cocoa
2 eggs
1 tblsp milk
0.5 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (or essence, if that is what you have).

Method

Melt butter in a pan. Add sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
Beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
Add the egg mix to the pan, and beat well.
Pour into a lined and/or greased 8″ square baking pan and cook at about 180C for about 20 mins.
Allow to cool in the pan for 10 mins or so, and then take it out.

You can ice this with a coffee-flavoured butter icing, if you choose. I usually ice one half, and leave the other plain, because the children have different preferences.

To make a butter icing, beat together about 2 oz of butter with 4 oz of icing sugar (I think this is called confectioner’s sugar in the States), with some coffee essence if you have it, or 1 tblsp or so of strong black coffee. If it is too runny, add more icing sugar – or add a tiny bit more coffee flavouring if it is too stiff. It shouldn’t run off the fork, and you should be able to draw fork lines in it without them disappearing.

Brigid’s Chocolate Cake

This recipe was given to us by a friend who has since died from breast cancer. I call this Brigid’s cake – it reminds me of her every time we cook it – and it is excellent.

You will need:

4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
1 oz vanilla sugar
6 oz plain chocolate, broken into bits
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 oz gluten free flour
4 egg whites
a pinch of salt
an 8″ round (ideally loose-bottomed) cake tin, lined and greased
a saucepan
a spoon, bowl and whisk.

Melt the butter in the pan, and add both the sugars and the broken chocolate and melt together. Add the egg yolks, the baking powder and gluten free flour. Whisk the egg whites and salt in the bowl until stiff, and then fold gently into the chocolate mixture. Bake it for 40-45 minutes. Let it cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, and then take it out to cool completely.

This cake doesn’t need icing, but if you wanted to, you could sift icing sugar or cocoa powder over it, or melt yet more chocolate and pour that over. Or a chocolate butter cream icing would work too.

We have used milk chocolate for this recipe, but it just isn’t as good – but if that’s what you have, it will work.

Visit the Breast Cancer Care site to find information and support, or to find ways of helping research into breast cancer by donating, fund-raising – or shopping!