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I love this time of year for many reasons and several of those reasons are food related. Today I’m sharing 2 of my favourite seasonal foods with you and their Gluten Free recipes. When I found out I was Gluten Intolerant 3 years ago I thought I’d have to miss out on so many things. Sure, some stuff I’ll never eat again but these are 2 recipes that taste just as good without gluten as they did with it!
I bake my Christmas cake around a month before Christmas to give it time to mature. You don’t need to do this as this cake tastes amazing fresh too but it keeps for ages in an airtight tin. This recipe is based on one by Delia Smith. She is my go to cook for everything Christmas! It’s been really easy to adapt it for my coeliac needs. Be sure to check all your ingredients before you use them if you’re cooking Gluten Free as traces can be found in the most unexpected of places.
1 lb currants
6 oz sultanas
6 oz raisins
2 oz glacé cherries, quartered
2 oz mixed candied peel, chopped small.
2 tablespoons brandy
8 oz plain Gluten Free flour (your fave blend. If you don’t need GF, regular plain flour is fine)
½ level teaspoon salt
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground mixed spice
8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz soft dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz flaked almonds
1 dessertspoon black treacle
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
Night before you plan to bake the cake:
weigh out currants, sultanas, raisins and mixed peel and place in a BIG bowl. Cover with the brandy (add a little extra if you like your booze!) and stir to evenly distribute. Leave covered with a clean tea towel overnight to soak in the alcohol.
Cake baking day:
Preheat oven to gas mark 1
sift the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, put to one side. In another big bowl mix the butter and the sugar until really light and fluffy. This is very important so don’t skimp on the beating and whipping!
Beat your 4 eggs together in a small bowl then add a spoonful at a time to the butter mix and keep stirring as you add. This means it won’t curdle but if it does, don’t panic, it’ll still taste yummy!
Fold in the flour and spice mix, be gentle but thorough so everything is incorporated but you keep the air in the mixture too. Now add the fruit mix you soaked last night with the glace cherries, nuts, treacle and lemon and orange zests. Keep folding, don’t beat the mixture too much.
Place the mix into a prepared 7inch square cake tin. Prepare it by greasing and adding greaseproof paper to the bottom and sides. Wrap some greasproof around the outside of the tin too (attach with string) so the cake bakes slowly and gently. Smooth down.
Place in the oven on the lowest shelf and cook for 41/2 hour ish. Check after 4 hours (no earlier) and keep cooking until it is golden brown on top and when a skewer/cocktail stick is pressed in it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Don’t panic! Your cake could take 5 hours to bake or even 6. This is fine, don’t panic and up the temperature of the oven, it’s very important it cooks slowly to keep it’s moistness.
Cool the cake in the tin, don’t try to take it out too early if it’s Gluten free as the cake will crumble. If you have used regular flour, you can remove the cake from the tin just 30 mins after it’s come out of the oven. When it is cool prick it all over with a skewer/ cocktail stick but be sure not to penetrate all the way through the cake. Dribble over a table spoon of brandy and let the cake drink it in. Wrap in fresh greaseproof paper then a layer of tinfoil and place in an airtight container in a cool place.
You can ‘feed’ your cake more brandy if you like as the weeks pass until Christmas but I don’t find this necessary. I add just one more tablespoon just before I ice the cake.
To ice the cake
750g (approx) royal icing
A little brandy/ a few tablespoons of warmed apricot jam to attach the icing.
I use ready made marzipan and royal icing, you can get some really good ones out there, just check the labels to be sure they’re Gluten free!
Start by rolling your marzipan to a square big enough to cover the cake allowing an extra half inch all round. You want the marzipan to be about ¼ inch thick.
Makes two 2 pint puddings: easily halved and even quartered! Can be prepared up to 6 weeks ahead of time but also delicious freshly made. The original recipe of this is a Delia Smith classic and has been made Gluten free with a few changes.
Now step one to making a Gluten free Pudding is to make your own suet! It is not as daunting as it sounds. First you need some Lard (easily bought in supermarkets) and all you do is mix it in a bowl 2 parts Lard to 1 part potato starch. Pull it together into a ball, wrap in cling film and freeze. When you want to use it take it out, unwrap and grate. It’s a little finer than shop bought suet but does exactly the same trick!
Now on with the main event!
8 oz shredded suet
4oz self raising flour
8oz white breadcrumbs, grated from a stale loaf of Gluten Free bread
1 heaped tsp mixed spice
1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1 lb soft brown sugar
8 oz raisins
1 1/4lb currants
2oz mixed peel
2 oz flaked almonds
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped.
Grated ring of 1 lemon and 1 orange
4 tablespoons rum
10 fl oz fresh orange juice (or up the rum and reduce the orange juice. If you’re not Gluten intolerant you can use stout in place of the orange juice)
Put suet, flour, breadcrumbs, spices and sugar in a very large bowl, thoroughly mixing each ingredient in before adding the next. Gradually mix in the fruit, peel and almonds and follow these with the apple, orange and lemon rind.
In a different bowl beat the eggs and add the rum and orange juice to them and mix well. Empty this all over the dry ingredients and then stir very hard indeed!
(When my Nanna and Grandad did this, we all got to have a stir and make a wish, get the family and friends in and make it a tradition!) You may need more rum or juice, depending on your dry ingredients and how much liquid they take in. You want the mixture to drop easily off a spoon, then it is perfect.
After mixing, cover the bowl with a clean cloth/tea towel and leave it overnight. The next day grease two large pudding basins, 4 medium pudding basins or several small individual pudding dishes and then pack the mixture into them right up to the top. Tie a square of greaseproof paper over the top and if you want, a square of pudding cloth, too. If you use the pudding cloth you can tie the four corners together and make a handle, but this is not essential. Cover with tinfoil if you don’t have the pudding cloths.
Steam the pudding for 8 hours in a steamer or in a slow cooker/crock pot is ideal. Make sure the water never boils dry! You can also steam your puddings in a plain pan if you turn a saucer upside down and put it in the bottom of a pan then put your pudding on top of that and fill the pan just to the bottom of the pudding. You have to be very, very, very careful not to let this boil dry! Keep the lid on at all times, peeking to check the water level is acceptable though!
When cooked leave to cool then replace the greaseproof paper and cloth with new paper and cloth. You can wrap the puddings in foil if you have no pudding cloths, make sure you wrap it up nice and tight.
Steam your pudding for 2 hours on Christmas day or the day you’re going to serve it, smaller puddings don’t need this long, just make sure it’s heated all the way through.