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.
I’ve tried a lot of vegan brownies which are dry, crumbly or ‘raw’. Sure, there’s a time and a place for healthy alternatives and we can’t just slob around eating sugar-laden baked goods all day, but if I want a brownie and I’m vegan (I’m not I’m just being really selfless…) I want the real thing, not a load of dates and coconut oil. With this not-very-2018 thought in mind, I’ve been attempting to put together a recipe for a completely vegan and gluten free brownie which rivals a conventional dairy/egg based one. The recipe I’ve devised delivers a fudgy core and crisp top, rich flavour and all round delicious result- give it a try, it’s a good place to start with vegan baking.
Ingredients (makes 16 small brownies, or 9 big ones!)
- 125g smooth peanut butter, plus 50g more for the core and topping
- 75ml vegetable oil
- 275g dark chocolate (I used half 60% and half 80%), plus 75g roughly chopped for chocolate chips
- large pinch salt
- 100ml aquafaba (the starchy water you get in a can of chickpeas- you will get about 100ml from one can)
- 1tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 1tbsp water (this replicates an egg yolk very well!)
- 100g dark brown soft sugar
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 100g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves Farm)
- few chopped peanuts, for topping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 20x20cm square brownie tin.
- Mix together the flaxseed and water at this stage to give it time to thicken an form an egg-yolk consistency. Put the oil, peanut butter and 275g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Allow the ingredients to melt together, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat to cool to room temperature.
- Place the aquafaba in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until soft peaks just form. At this stage add in the flax mixture, sugars and salt (it’s amazing how much this looks like eggs whisked together with sugar!). Whisk again until the sugars are well incorporated then fold in the cooled chocolate mixture with a metal spoon, followed by the flour. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared tin then dot over half of the extra peanut butter and some of the chopped chocolate. Top with the remaining batter and repeat the peanut butter/chocolate stage, then finish with the peanuts (if using).
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until crisp on top but very slightly wobbly in the middle. Leave to cool completely then slice up and serve.