Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Recipe time! Gluten-free brownies

Photo: Oli Sandler 

Some recipes I spend ages adapting and improving, or just making up from scratch. A finished product can take five or six test bakes, pages of notes and lots of tastings by friends and family until I'm happy with the result. Even recipes I've made for years sometimes get changed too - a little less ginger, a little more salt, a darker chocolate.

And some recipes come at me fully formed straight from the internet, perfect at first bake. This is one such recipe.

It's here for two reasons: firstly because I get asked for recipes a lot. When I make something that people come back for, that I feel is unique to me, I'm reluctant to give up the recipe. After all, this is my business, and giving away my best work for people to make themselves might be a little too generous. So occasionally I like to share the recipes I use and love but for which I cannot claim credit.

Secondly, I did a craft fair last week with lots of helpful and enthusiastic brownies (the girl kind, not the cake kind) and one of them, Paige, asked me for the recipe. I hope this gets passed on to her with an apology that I didn't get a chance to write it down for her there.

This recipe comes from Doves Farm and it is a great first-time gluten-free bake. The relatively small amount of flour in a brownie means there's no crumbling and no need for Xanthan gum. It both keeps and freezes well, although I'd advise not cutting it up until you're about to eat it. I love many different brownies but this is my last-minute go-to recipe.

Gluten-free brownies

100 g Butter
150 g Dark Chocolate
100 g Gluten Free Plain Flour
100 g Chopped Hazelnuts or Walnuts(optional)
200 g Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tsp Baking Powder

Gently melt together the butter and chocolate.
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar.
Beat in the eggs followed by the melted butter and chocolate mixture.
Stir in the nuts if used.
Pour into 150 x 200mm/6"x8" oiled and lined baking dish.
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 35/40 minutes..
Cut into slices before serving.

See? Considerably easier than pie. Happy brownie making!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Calling gluten-free cake lovers

One of the things I like to make for cake stalls is gluten-free brownies. Simple and tasty, and a favourite at these events. These week I've also made GF courgette muffins ("Health by stealth", someone told me today).

This morning I talked to a food buyer from a small chain of coffee shops and we discussed gluten-free baking. He cannot by law accept any GF products made in a kitchen that uses regular flours and call them gluten-free.

There are three levels of gluten content in law:

1. Gluten-free - is covered by the law and applies only to food which has 20 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten

2. Very low gluten - is covered by the law and is for foods which have between 21 and 100 ppm, but we are not yet aware of anyone using this term and because of the rules around its use, you won't see this in restaurants

3. No gluten-containing ingredients - this is not covered by the law and is for foods that are made with ingredients that don’t contain gluten and where cross contamination controls are in place. These foods will have very low levels of gluten but have not been tested to the same extent as those labelled gluten-free or very low gluten

(Taken from

I of course clean thoroughly before baking GF cakes but that I use regular flour in my kitchen would mean my food would be in category 3: No gluten-containing ingredients.

In this respect, it is the same as nuts. I use nuts in lots of baking, and always scrub well afterwards but the well-known packaging phrase "Cannot guarantee nut-free" always applies.

I know there are many levels of gluten-free, from coeliac to intolerance. Coeliacs have to be very careful about what they buy, those who have given up gluten for nutritional benefits less so. I only know one person who is gluten free, which is a small representative sample, so I need you!

How careful are you about buying GF products? Are you happy to buy GF baking that has been made in a non GF kitchen? Do you buy from bakers an cake stalls, and do you question the baker about what you are buying?

I will never be a gluten-free kitchen but don't feel anyone should miss out on cake. I would appreciate your input.

Now if you don't mind, I have a no-gluten-containing courgette muffin to eat.