Monday, 25 July 2016

Dairy Free & Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Readers, for health reasons I’ve been trying to cut dairy from my diet.  The cheese is an issue.  A big issue.  Other than this, I’ve managed to find substitutions, including swapping to almond milk at breakfast, cutting tea and coffee (I’m trying to wean myself off bit by bit and swap to water) and eat as normally as I can, making dairy substitutions if possible.  I did a nutrition course last month and learnt loads about why eating less dairy can be good for you.  

Anyway, as I love a cake, I’d been trying to make some changes to a standard cupcake recipe.  Going home for the weekend, I didn’t want to turn up empty handed, but equally didn’t want to have to avoid my cakes I’d made.  So we went dairy free.  A word of warning – these will only keep 3 days tops, hence the smaller recipe for 6 cakes, as they don’t preserve too well.  I also kept mine in the fridge until just before serving , to keep the topping firm.   And who knew…. It’s even possible to make a substitute for buttercream!

Happy Dairy Free Baking!
dairy free gluten free cupcake


Ingredients (makes 6 large cupcakes)

125g coconut oil (solid consistency)
125g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g gluten free self raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
1 can full fat coconut milk (refrigerated for 24 hours before use)
Icing sugar to whip
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Strawberries and cherries to decorate

Method
  1. Put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for 24 hours before baking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.  Add 6 large cupcake cases to a muffin tin.
  3. Cream together the coconut oil and sugar, in the way you would do with butter.  The coconut oil needs to be firm and not in liquid form.  Add vanilla extract
  4. Once creamed and fluffy, add in the eggs one at a time and mix with a spoonful of flour to prevent curdling.  Then, add in the remaining flour.  The batter should look like a cake mix. If it’s a little too thick, add a splash of almond milk to loosen.
  5. Spoon the mix into the cases to around ¾ full then bake in the oven for around 17 minutes, or until golden in colour and skewer in each cake comes out clean.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Put a mixing bowl and your beaters into the freezer for 10 minutes.
  7. Whilst cakes are cooling, start to prepare your topping.  Remove the bowl and beaters from the freezer.  The cold will help set the frosting.  Tip the coconut milk upside down,  This will separate any liquid from the solid. Drain off the liquid and transfer the solid to the mixing bowl.
  8. Slowing add in icing sugar and start to whip up as you would butter cream.  Add in the vanilla extract and taste as you go – the aim is to have a sweet frosting to your liking, with a hint of coconut. Mix until the frosting is strong enough to be piped through a nozzle and hold its shape. 
  9. Once happy with consistency, transfer to a piping bag with an open star nozzle.   Check cakes are cool before piping a swirl on each.
  10. Finish with a cherry or strawberry.  Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to eat.

dairy free gluten free cupcake


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Glasgow Living Part 6 - Dinner at Atlantic Bar & Brasserie


Readers, it’s been an exciting week for my wee Glasgow living feature.  On Tuesday night, Nikki from Couthie Cantie and I were invited along to an exclusive blogger event being held at Atlantic Bar and Brasserie at St Vincent Place in the City Centre.  Owned by the Di Maggio Group and located under sister venue Anchor Line, this classic French bar and bistro was the high of a sophistication for some Tuesday dining in the city.
 
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow
Welcome to Atlantic
We were spoiled with the weather – the sun was splitting the pavement when we arrived and hoards of people were enjoying cocktails and drinks on the terrace.  Honestly, we could have been in a glamorous European city when we turned up. 

Our event started at 7pm with cocktails in the bar.   We had a choice from some fantastic beverages, all mixed in house in front of us by some great mixologists. Nikki went for a Bardot to start, whilst, as a gin lover, I stuck to the Saveur D’Orange with refreshing citrus flavours, which got us set up for the night.  We could have enjoyed several cocktails but instead decided to stick to one and move onto wine with dinner.

We were seated at an elegant table for two in the back corner of the restaurant – surrounded by photos and memorabilia from the golden age of sea travel.  Coat pegs were numbered – just like you’d find on the cabin of a boat… how very elegant!

We were offered a L’Escargot to begin out night.  Needless to say, neither of us are regular snail eaters so were apprehensive, but after one of the staff suggested there was no better time to try than in a French restaurant, we gave them a go.  Served in a delicious sauce with bread, the idea was more scary than the actual eating of them.  We managed 3 each, before toasting each other with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the house selection – delighted we’d conquered the fear.
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow
L'Escargot
Next we moved onto starters -  as two people who were completely indecisive when it came to selecting our choice, some guidance from the incredibly helpful staff led us to try the scallops and black pudding with apple puree, as well the charcuterie selection (meant for two).  So there’s already enough for three on the table, but we went for it., leaving a little morsel of scallop behind.  The scallops were beautifully presented with a portion having 3 scallops on the plate – just the right amount.
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow

Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow


After warming up with starters, meat loving Nikki decided to take a risk on a vegetarian main and was not disappointed.  Choosing La Tartiflette, she wasn’t disappointed by the layers of Ratte potatoes with garlic, onions, crème fraiche and golden melted cheese which arrived.  It smelled and looked amazing, however, as I’m currently cutting out dairy, I could only admire from afar. I selected a classic beef bourguignon.  It was soft, tender, slow cooked and was richly flavoured with Burgundy red, served with mash and carrots and courgette.  Rich comfort food at its best. Portions were generous and had it been a cold winters day, I probably would have demolished it all.  Given we’d gone overboard on the starters, I didn’t quite manage a clear plate.

Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow

There was no way we were leaving hungry and our lovely servers were keen to make sure we enjoyed something from the selection of delicious desserts.  I’d have tried everything given half the chance, however, due to current dairy restrictions, I’d to ask for an off menu selection.  The staff couldn’t have been more helpful, suggesting a blackcurrant sorbet with a selection of forest fruits.  It was the perfect end to a rich dinner.
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow

So highlights from us – the staff for sure.  We felt like each of them really cared about their job and the customer.  They were knowledgeable, helpful and went the extra mile to ensure that we were looked after.  Nothing was too much trouble.    The owner even popped in to see us, took the time to come over to each table and asked what we’d enjoyed about the night.

A relative newbie to the Glasgow dining scene, we were impressed by the experience, loved the décor and thought it would be a great place for a girls dinner… starting with a cocktail in the bar and ending with a crème brulee (or two) over a Glasgow of cool, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Cocktail Menu! 


For more information check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Disclaimer:  We were invited along to dine at Atlantic as guest bloggers. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Product Review: New 250ml Cans from Karma Cola

Readers, the one thing I love about blogging is the opportunity to discover cult, new, interesting brands.  And it’s happened again.  An organic soft drink with no nasties? AHOY! Read on…

Karma Cola started its life in lovely looking glass bottles, however, spotting a need in the food to go category, have developed oh so cute dumpy little 250ml cans.  Why I love these guys – the PR guide suggests that water should always be your first port of call for hydration, however, if you are fancying something a little more exciting as a treat, this could be the soft drink for you.
karma cola
Amazing artwork on the cans


The brand currently produces three different varieties -  the classic karma cola, delicious and zesty lemonade and a ginger ale, fronted by the gorgeous and voluptuous “Gingerlla”.
Lemonade, Gingerella and the Karma Cola original bottle
Each can is filled with organic and fairtrade ingredients, so you can rest easy that the farms supplying to the company are being given a fair price for the products they produce.  On the nasty-o-meter these products rate pretty low, thanks to the organic produce that’s used in each can.

Cola nut farmers in Sierra Leone are receiving a proportion from each sale to invest in their own community projects – helping build an economy and preventing locals from relying on NGO handouts.

So, ever since these lovely arty cans arrived at my door, I’ve spotted the products popping up at a number of community interest cafes and lovely eateries locally, including the new Naked Café in Edinburgh (calm down all, it’s the food that’s naked, not the staff or the diners) and my brunch go-to The Glad Café in Glasgow.

Fear not, if you haven’t yet seen these great products in your local café – cans are available at Waitrose, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Ocado at £1.25 per can… and if you’re looking to stock up in bulk there’s also 4 packs available for £3.95 (less than £1 a can, to be a good person and support nice people, y’all).
Loving the cans so much, we've added them to the shelf!


And if the 250ml can isn't enough, you’ll find the larger glass bottles on sale in Waitrose (in store and online) and also on Ocado, priced at £1.59 each

So the verdict in our house… Mr WhatClaireBaked loves the Ginger Ale and is looking forward to trying it as a cocktail mixer.  Me on the other hand, I’m more classic…. Karma Cola all the way

#drinknoevil       OK! 

For more information, check out the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Disclaimer: I received samples of the new 250ml cans to test and review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Glasgow Living Part 5 - Wontons at The Glad Café

Readers, I’m off back to my ever popular Glasgow living series tonight.   I discovered a great activity the other night… Wonton making at The Glad Cafe

Organised by Ricefield Arts – a cultural group bringing Chinese culture across Scotland – it was a fantastic night, great value for money and the only disappointment being that not more people attended.  All in there were around 8 of us – meaning we could really learn what we were doing in a small group environment.

Our teachers were young people who’d come over to Scotland – some as students, some for careers but all in, they wanted to share their experiences of real Chinese food with us all. We travelled to Northern China and Inner Mongolia back in 2014, so could share our experiences of food and travel with everyone.

The night got started with a presentation from Ricefield, telling us about wontons – how they vary across the country, how many ways they could be folded and the different things they could be filled with.  We split the group by meat and veggie – we took up some spaces at the meat table and learned how to make “little clouds” – when the dumplings are boiled they go a little like pasta and suck in towards the filling, making something that translates as swallowing crowds.  Our teachers also fried up some dumplings to start with, which were amazing.
ricefield arts wonton night
Making our dumplings

We used pre-made dumpling wrappers, available from your local Chinese supermarket and learned how to fold them in different ways.  Our teachers then took our dumplings back to the kitchen and turned them into a delicious broth, made with water soy, bok choi and cabbage.   Not only did we get to learn a new skill, we also got fed.

ricefield arts wonton night
Our soup (cooked up by the experts)

Many of you will be aware that I love The Glad Café for brunch, but until Thursday, I had no idea there was a whole area through the back, with a stage and bar.  It’s usually used for gigs, but provided the perfect space for us to work from.   

The highlight for us, was sitting down as a group at the end of the night and sharing our wonton soup around the table whilst discussing our different cultures and learning from others.  After everything that’s been in the news in the last week about racial hate crimes on the rise, our evening couldn’t have been further from this.  What makes me proud to live in Glasgow, is our acceptance towards different communities and the fact we all live peacefully and integrate with each other.  Part of Ricefield’s remit is to help the Chinese community integrate better with their Scottish neighbours and this definitely was achieved on Thursday night...
Hi everyone!

...Oh and the best bit, the whole night cost us less than £10 each (excluding the additional alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks we purchased). 

A great event, a fantastic way to bring different backgrounds together and I’m really hoping to get along to one of their future classes.

For more information, visit the Ricefield Arts website.


Until next time, happy weekend! 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Salted Caramel Rocky Road

Readers, I'm telling you now that these are seriously naughty bakes!  I repeat... seriously naughty.  Although, if you cut into 20 pieces rather than 10, it might not be quite so bad?  And they've got dried fruit in them...

These salted caramel rocky road bars are the ultimate for a sweet tooth.  Great for preparing ahead of time if you're having a bake sale, afternoon tea party or a potluck event.   

My traybake recipes are generally always popular on the blog, so I hope you enjoy this one too! 

Happy Baking!
salted caramel rocky road bars


Salted Caramel Rocky Road Bars

Ingredients

Makes 10 slices or 20 small bitesize pieces
300g crushed Hobnobs
3 dessert spoons golden syrup
125g salted butter
75g mini marshmallows
50g chopped yoghurt coated bananas
50g dried cranberries
180g dark chocolate
Topping
100g dark chocolate (melted)
Handful mini marshmallows
Handful chopped yoghurt bananas
20 raisins                                            
Salted caramel sauce to drizzle
Salted Caramel Sauce
100g golden caster sugar
50g salted butter
70ml double cream
2 pinches sea salt (ground)

Method

  1. Firstly, make the salted caramel sauce by adding the golden caster sugar to a pan over a medium heat.  This is the dry method of making caramel, so keep stirring the sugar with a heat proof spatula so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  The sugar will begin to clump together and melt into a golden colour.  Be careful not to burn it. Keep stirring!
  2. Once sugar has melted, stir in the butter and boil for 2-3 minutes – be careful, the mix will bubble up when the fat is added. Then slowly add in the double cream and stir through.  Heat for around another minute, continuously stirring then remove from heat and allow to thicken.
  3. If there are any lumps in the sauce, pass through a sieve to remove, then stir in sea salt to taste.
    Making the sauce
  4. Next, make the base for the rocky road.  Add 180g dark chocolate, 3 dessert spoons golden syrup and 125g salted butter to a pan over a medium heat.  Melt all ingredients together and remove from the heat.

    Preparing the base
  5. Once melted, allow to cool slightly, before breaking up the hobnobs into the mix. You want to keep the pieces a reasonable size, rather than a crumb, so the tray bake has some bite.
  6. Stir in the mini marshmallows, chopped yoghurt banana chips and dried cranberries to the mix.
  7. Using an 8in x 8in silicone bake pan, pour in around half of the base mixture and flatten out into the pan, making sure to reach the corners.  Then, drizzle 3 teaspoons of salted caramel sauce over the top, before adding the remaining half of the base mixture over the sauce.  You’re almost creating a salted caramel sandwich! Flatten out, as per the first half.
    Add the salted caramel filling to the rocky road bars
  8. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set into a solid block (around 1 hour).
  9. Once chilled, melt 100g dark chocolate in a microwave cup for around 1 minute until smooth.  Pour over the base mixture and use a spatula to flatten out into a chocolate topping.  Then, add some raisins, marshmallows and chopped yoghurt bananas scattered across the chocolate, before finishing with 3 teaspoons of salted caramel sauce drizzled on the top.
  10. Return to the fridge to set the topping (around 1 hour) before cutting into 10 equal sized bars. 

Top Tips
  • This can be made a day ahead of time and stored overnight – just cut before you are ready to serve.
  • The recipe is fairly dense, so you could get 20 smaller pieces out of the mix, if bitesize blocks are more your thing.
  • The rocky road will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for around 4-5 days after being made.
  • Use pre-made salted caramel sauce for the filling and topping if you are unsure about making the caramel from scratch.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Product Review: Lavazza Prontissimo Coffee

Readers, it’s nice to be doing a product review again… for some lovely coffee.  The PR team at Lavazza sent me over some of their new instant coffee to sample and give my feedback.  Hello Lavazza Prontissimo.

I received one tin of medium and one of the intense varieties.   Naturally, an office job that’s client facing and involves having to converse with people in the morning requires the strongest hit first thing.  The “intenso” has now been relocated to my desk at work.
lavazza prontissimo review
Behold... Intenso

Happened to offer a cup to my colleague the other day who was really impressed by the standard of product and claimed it tasted “almost the same as straight from a cafetiere”.  So in short, they were impressed.

Office coffee is an interesting thing… I watch people going into the canteen with their cafetiere-for-one and very expensive, sourced from the deli ground beans.  Frankly, I’m lazy when it comes to that and too tight go via overpriced-coffee-chain-brand on my way to the office in the morning… At £3 a cup, once per day, that’s easily £60 a month on coffee alone.

The beauty of these tins is that there’s 52 servings in each.  At £4.70 for a 95g tin, that’s value.  Trying to save money?  Coffee lovers could save £55 a month by forgoing their chain store cup for a make your own version.  What’s better, there’s no faffing about.  Add a teaspoon or two to your cup, add hot (NOT BOILING!) water and stir in milk and sugar if desired.  That’s all it takes.  Caffeine hit achieved, without hitting the pocket hard.
lavazza prontissimo review

Prontissimo is Lavazza’s first foray into the instant coffee market. With a high percentage of microground roast coffee granules which maintain the coffee oils, there’s more flavour here per cup than your average instant.

The Medio variety comes with 20% microground coffee and is a lower acidity than the Intenso with notes of caramel.   I prefer the Intenso to get me going in the morning and the Medio mid-morning, when I’m ready for a bit of a pastry and have woken up to the world.
lavazza prontissimo review

Lavazza’s new Prontissimo range is available in Sainsburys, Waitrose and Tesco stores across the UK, priced at £4.70 for the 95g tins and £3.75 for the smaller pouches.


Disclaimer: I was sent some samples of Prontissimo to try and review. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Muffins

Readers, I found myself back in the kitchen tonight after a request from Mr WhatClaireBaked for some chocolate muffins.  Muffins are SO EASY to make at home but it’s something I save for special treats as they aren’t the healthiest.

Tonight’s challenge was to take muffins to the next level… mission complete.  These bad boys are Nutella stuffed. 

I possibly slightly over estimated on the amount of mix, but can guarantee this recipe will produce at least 10 generous muffins.   They are best eaten slightly warm or, if it’s the day after, go for 15 seconds in the microwave before you eat them.

Perfect with a fresh coffee in the afternoon.

Enjoy!
nutella stuffed muffins

 Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients (makes 10 generously sized muffins)

3 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sunflower oil
1 cup semi skimmed milk
1 packet milk chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Add the sugar and eggs to a bowl and using a hand whisk, bring the two together.  Add the vanilla extract, milk and sunflower oil.  Mix to combine.
  3. Add in the flour and baking powder (don’t worry about sifting – mix should be lumpy).  Mix to JUST combine, then stir in the chocolate chips.  Thick and lumpy batter is ideal!
  4. Add muffin cases to a muffin tin. Add mix to about halfway up each case. Then, dollop a half teaspoon of Nutella on to op of each mix.   Following this, add a little more batter to encase the Nutella.   This should take you to around ¾ full in each case.

  5. Transfer to the pre-heated oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted to the batter leaves each muffin with a few crumbs.
  6. Allow to cool slightly before serving with coffee.   Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
nutella stuffed muffins
Nutella Stuffed Muffins



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