I can never understand why gluten free options are, not always but so often, dry, dense and disappointing. I’m not a coeliac myself and am not a fan of demonising gluten, however, if you are genuinely unable to enjoy it then I’m a firm believer that there should and can be delicious alternatives! This cake is the first of many gluten free versions of classic baking staples I’m planning, and seriously, it’s so moreish it brings a tear to my eye (deeply melodramatic but you get the message).
For the cakes (makes one 7-8 inch sandwich cake)
- 200g ground almonds
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- generous pinch salt
- 175ml boiling water
- 2tsp instant coffee
- 80g cocoa powder
- 300g golden caster sugar
- 5 eggs
- 225ml vegetable oil
For the ganache
- 300ml double cream
- 200g 70% dark chocolate
- 100g mik chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7-8 inch cake tins.
- Stir the almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a small bowl. Mix the cocoa, coffee and boiling water together in a jug until smooth and set aside.
- Beat the eggs, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl (or in a stand mixer with paddle attachment) until pale and thick.
- Add the cocoa mix and continue whisking until you have a fairly liquid cake batter with no streaks. Add the almond mixture down the side of the bowl and fold in gently.
- Split the batter between the two tins and bake for 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
- While the cake is baking, make the ganache. Finely chop the chocolate and pop it in a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile, pour the cream into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. When it reaches scalding point (just before a simmer), take off the heat and pour directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then stir to create a smooth, glossy ganache. Allow this to cool and thicken to a spreadable consistency (15 minutes in the fridge once cooled to room temperature helps achieve this).
- Once the cakes are baked leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
- To assemble your cake, level off your cakes if necessary, then fill and cover with ganache.
These Bakewell inspired bars are made up of a crisp pastry base, zesty mince meat centre, cinnamon frangipane top, toasted almond sprinkling and a dollop of obligatory brandy cream; delicious and oh-so festive!
- 250g plain flour
- 140g butter
- 1tbsp caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 3tbsp water
- 1 jar good quality mince meat (optional: add the zest of 1 orange and a handful chopped walnuts to it)
- 150g butter
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 75g ground almonds
- 75g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- handful flaked almonds
- 150ml double cream
- 1tbsp brandy
- 2tbsp icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
- First, make the pastry (or skip steps 1 and 2 if you’re using shop bought shortcrust!). Place the butter, sugar and flour in a food processor and blitz until they form breadcrumbs. Pour into a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the water and egg. Add 4tbsp of this mix to the crumbs and stir with a cutlery knife. If there are still dry patches add a little more liquid until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Press into a thin disc shape and wrap in cling film. Chill for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190c. Lightly grease a rectangular tart tin. Take your chilled pastry and roll out to about 3mm thick. Line into the tart tin, pushing it into the corners as you go. Chill again for 10 minutes.
- Now it’s time to blind bake. Screw up a piece of greaseproof paper and unfold, then press down into the case. Fill with baking beans and spread out to completely cover the base. Bake for 15 minutes until the sides are set then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the base is dry and sandy. Don’t let it colour as it will be returning to the oven when filled.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 170c.
- Now make the frangipane. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a little of the flour to prevent curdling if you like). Once well combined, beat in the ground almonds and fold in the remaining flour and cinnamon.
- Now it’s time to assemble. Take your tart case and spread a generous layer of mince meat across the base. Top this with the frangipane and level out as best you can. Sprinkle with flaked almonds.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the frangipane is cooked through. If the pastry or almonds are browning too much just cover loosely with foil.
- Once baked, cool on a wire rack while you make the brandy cream. To do this simply whisk together the brandy, cream and icing sugar until thick. Spoon onto each bar, dust with icing sugar and serve.