Friday, 23 March 2012

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, vegan

Beetroot? Seriously?

 There are some days when the air is heavy with the promise of a discretionary purchase.  Yes, I’m talking about shopping.

Not the boring shopping where you’re chained to a scribbled list, but the truly thrilling kind where you know that you can’t justify the spend.

If you’ve ever watched a woman about to make a frivolous purchase you can hear the cogs turning.

Goes something like this...

‘Oh! That’s lovely! The perfect colour, I can’t believe it!  I’ve been after one for ages.  Bet it’s expensive...f$%*k me, yes it is!’

Turns item over in her hands...


(FYI ladies, the minute you say ‘but’ the game is up.  You should cut to the chase and go straight to the till.)

‘But I have been looking for one like this for so long.’

And then this is the part I love, the Rationalisation Economics.  Keynes definitely missed a trick...

‘And last week I didn’t drink for three days, so that saved about £10 and I didn’t buy those trousers a while ago which were £60.  And if I don’t eat chocolate for a month...yeah, I’m going to buy this!’

Love it, love it, love it. 

Particularly as we know that she’ll eat chocolate as soon as she gets home to celebrate her purchase.

I had a moment of discretionary spend bliss recently.                                 

It was a trip for essentials like birthday presents and some sports kit for my son.  Not frivolous at all.  My trip had gravitas.

And then I found myself in TKMaxx.

In TK Maxx you may as well set up a tab as you walk in because it is discount heaven.

I did well to resist fluffy cushions and thankfully they didn’t have Hunter wellies in my size.  But then I found the cookery books and it all unravelled...

There was the usual cupcake  - yadda - bake with your kids – yadda - ultimate slow cooker bible - yadda.  

And  then Bill’s book caught my eye.

‘Oh! That’s lovely!....’

Well you know the rest don’t you? 

One discretionary purchase later (two actually because a girl always needs some Ted Baker sunglasses at a knock-down price) I was in the car and speeding home to pore over this beautiful book.

Beeyootiful photos, brilliant writing and on page 93 a chocolate and beetroot cake to try.

Yay!  Praise Be to Bill, women and unplanned, discretionary spending!  I commend ‘Cook Eat Smile’ to you all.  Amen.

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

I made this first with egg replacer and wheat flour.  Nearly fell off my chair because it rose HIGH and it was springy and well we really couldn’t believe an egg-free cake could look and taste so amazing.

And then the gluten free cake really made me work for my supper.  I’ve had to use quite a lot of xanthan gum to get the springy feel and I insist on the vanilla bean paste because it hides the taste of...not sure what.  Did I have a bad batch of GF flour?  Was it particularly pungent beetroot?  Dunno, but leave the vanilla bean paste out at your peril...

And are you cursing me for using what-the-hell-is psyllium husk?  Sorry.  But it’s my latest egg replacer of choice and although it seems expensive, you hardly use any and it will last for ages.  If you haven’t got any, use 4 tsps of Orgran no-egg, a tbsp of ground linseeds and the same amount of xanthan gum.

Haven’t tried this recipe with eggs yet, but substitute the egg replacer for 3 large eggs.

All versions:
300g cooked beetroot, finely grated
300g sugar
250ml vegetable oil
75g cocoa powder
1½ tsps bicarbonate of soda
100 – 150ml of rice milk (you’ll need less if using wheat flour)
a squidge of vanilla bean paste

Gluten free
250g Doves Farm gluten free self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp xanthan gum

With wheat flour
250g plain wheat flour
3 tsps baking powder

Egg free
4 tsps psyllium husk (if you buy them whole you'll need to grind them in a blender)
¼ tsp xanthan gum
enough rice milk to make a sloppy paste.  You’ll probably have to add extra milk as the psyllium is very absorbent
If you don’t have psyllium husk, see intro above for alternative egg replacer

With eggs
Use 3 large eggs (see above for disclaimer about eggs)
For the filling:
200g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
2 tbsps of  GF cocoa
2 squares of dark, GF, DF chocolate – melted
100g dairy free margarine (or butter)
2-3 tbsps cherry jam
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  • Grease two 20cm cake tins and line them with baking parchment
  • If using an egg replacer, mix up the psyllium husk, xanthan gum and milk (or see intro for an alternative egg replacer) and set aside
  • Finely grate the cooked beetroot (don’t leave any lumps or the kids will find them)
  • Preheat the oven to 180˚C/ gas 4
  • Put the oil, sugar and vanilla bean paste into a large bowl and whisk either with a hand whisk or a KitchenAid (name dropping...)
  • Check the egg replacer and add a little more milk if it’s really stiff.  Add egg replacer – or 3 eggs – to the oil and sugar and whisk again
  • Add the grated beetroot and mix
  • Add the cocoa powder, mix again
  • Add the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.  If using gluten free flour, don’t hold back on the liquid; nothing worse than a dry gluten free cake
  • Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and level the surface.  Bake for 30-40 mins until risen and springy to the touch. Check the inside is cooked by inserting a skewer
  • Leave in the cake tins for about 15 minutes then turn them onto a wire rack to cool completely
  • Make the filling.  Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and add the margarine/butter.  Beat it together until it is smooth and then add the melted chocolate
  • Put one of the cakes onto a serving plate and spread it with the chocolate filling.  Spread the other cake with cherry jam.  Very carefully place the cherry jam one on top of the chocolatey one and squidge together
  • Dust the surface with icing sugar and chow down
  • Isn’t shopping wonderful?!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Gluten free, vegan Chocolate Cake (with secret ingredient)

Look at this bad boy!

This is coming soon my darlings!

And yes I will reveal the identity of the secret ingredient.

And now I have to clean the house.  God I hate reality.

Pig x 
© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Carrot Whoopie Pies (gluten free, vegan)

These pies contain carrot. That definitely makes them healthy. Ish.

I was going to re-write this because I’ve missed Valentine’s Day by at least two  weeks, but then I thought that you’d probably forgive me.  Let’s hope so...

It happened in about 1983. 

The day dawned and there – miraculously - was a Valentine’s Day card.  Cute teddy picture, beguiling question mark, no other clue.

It triggered a perfect storm of adolescent angst and romantic yearning that lasted for years.

WHO had sent me the card?

Joanna Ellis was convinced that it was the sexy guy from the yacht club who had made vaguely inappropriate comments about how pretty I was.  And what a ‘cracker’ I was going to be when I grew up.  That was in the days before grooming and feminism, so I was just happy that a sexy seventeen year old was commenting on my 12 year old ‘cracker’ status.

Sorry, the feminist in me is spluttering and needs to say something.  Cracker?? Seriously?  What does that even mean?  Something you pull, play with, get bored of and then discard when she asks you to help with chores around the house?  Something that looks pretty but is of no real use?

OK, hush, hush, it’s ok. 


There, the feminist is back in the box and I’m again pretending that the times have really moved on and I did not get called ‘Darling’ twice last week. 

All back under control and I’m being nice again, although I have rather lost the thread of what I was saying.

Ah, the Valentine’s card. 

Reader, for years and years and years I wondered who had sent me that card and I harboured a fantasy that one day the card-bearer would come and sweep me off my feet.  (Where do girls get these mad ideas from?)

It was not to be.

I eventually found out that Mum sent me the card.

didn't know what to feel about that. 

Rage – obviously - that for bloody months she listened to me agonise about who could have sent me the card and said nothing. 

Sadness, because she died a few years after sending the card, so I couldn’t ever thank her for the sweet gesture.

And smug wisdom, because I knew better than my mother.  Namely that it is never, ever a good idea to send your children secret Valentine’s cards. It will provoke a maelstrom of agony and can never end well. 

So this year I baked whoopie pies for my darlings and also - because they were dirt cheap and rather cute – I bought them a mug each containing a small cuddly toy.  Which was much better than resorting to underhand Valentine’s cards.

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day.  

And if you foolishly sent your child a secret Valentine, ‘fess up now before you die.

Carrot Whoopie Pies
Note: This cake does not require eggs.  If you want to use wheat flour, substitute the gluten free flour for plain flour.

All versions:
175g grated carrots
1 medium apple
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
130g agave syrup (or 125g sugar)
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (or a good grating of fresh nutmeg)
70ml vegetable oil
2 tbsps ground linseeds
3 tbsps rice milk

Egg free, dairy free, gluten free:
160g Doves Farm GF flour
1½ tsp GF baking powder

For the filling: (rough measurements, do rely on your taste buds)
150g dairy free margarine
175-200g icing sugar
¼-½tsp cream of tartar
squidge of vanilla bean paste or vanilla powder

  • Mix the linseeds with the rice milk and set aside
  • Grate the carrots and peel, core and finely grate the apple
  • Put the agave syrup or sugar, linseed mix and oil into a large mixing bowl and beat together using a wooden spoon
  • Add the apple and carrot and mix
  • Add the flour, baking powder and spices and mix
  • Place the mix into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.  This will help thicken it up slightly
  • Heat the oven to 180˚ Celsius/Gas 4
  • Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper
  • Place small spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. 
  • Cajole them into a vaguely round shape, but don’t worry too much
  • Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture
  • Bake for about 12 minutes in the oven, they will turn slightly golden
  • Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack
For the filling:
  • Beat the margarine until it is soft.
  • Sieve in the icing sugar and mix it all together to make a paste.  Add the cream of tartar (helps hold it all together) and the squidge of vanilla bean paste
  • Place in the refrigerator and have a cup of tea (or write a Valentine’s card or something)
  • When your ‘pies’ are cold, spread one half with the icing then gently sandwich the two halves together. Yummy! Repeat until all the pies are matched up
  • If you manage not to sample one in the sandwiching process I’ll be really impressed.  I’m such a hog (oh, geddit?) I eat half a pie when it’s still warm and spread the icing over so that it melts.  And then you know when you take a bite and there’s some cake not covered by icing?  I add a bit of icing to that too. 
  • Good thing I just discovered an off-road bike trail this week, I’m going to have to do tons of exercise to atone for my whoopie pie guzzling.

 © Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved