Sunday, 5 June 2016

FGGF Scones. Fucking Good Gluten Free Scones

BRAG: I've nailed it.
I think I finally understand Gluten Free flour.  Kind of. I mean, I was making stuff up as I went, but this worked.  It really did!  It's not textbook, it goes against the rules of baking, but the results are delicious.  And I hope it wasn't a fluke and that next time, things all pan out just as well.  It would be great to hear your feedback if you try the recipe.

Please enjoy these with butter, cream, jam, tea, whatever you fancy!

250g gluten-free flour (I used Dove's Farm)
75g ground almonds
pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar (golden or white, it's up to you, I used golden)
3 eggs
100ml milk
50g sultanas

Makes 6-10, depending on size.
Pre-heat the over to Gas Mark 5 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Put the flour, almonds, and salt in a bowl and briefly mix with a wooden spoon.
Cube the butter into approx 1cm cubes, add to the flour and rub the ingredients together with your finger tips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. This may take five minutes or so - be patient.
Add the sugar and mix.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture.
Crack just one of the eggs into the well and add the milk.
With a fork, mix the egg and milk together and slowly radiate outwards to mix in the flour mixture.  Keep going until everything is all well combined.
Now here is where baking methods collide.  Separate the other two eggs and whisk the whites until they form floppy white peaks - this shouldn't take too long as it's not much to whisk, but you can do it with an electric mixer if you want to speed the process up, or if you don't need to exercise your bingo wingos (liar!).
Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture and add the sultanas.  Keep folding until you have what seems like a really wet dough, almost like a thick batter! Do not panic.  It should be this way.
Flour a clean surface and tip the dough onto the surface.
Knead the dough until it is smooth and drier, keep flouring the surface if the dough sticks.
Push the dough out with your hands until it is 2cm thick.
Using a cutter of your size (I went for medium / large), cut out the scones from the dough and place on the baking parchment.  I got 7 out of the mixture.
Mix the two remaining egg yolks in a bowl and, with a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the scones to make them golden once baked.
Depending on their size, bake the scones for 15-25 minutes on a middle shelf of the oven.
Let cool (slightly or completely), before serving with clotted cream and raspberry jam.

With love and gluten-free floury hugs xx

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Afternoon Teas, Yes Please

I've recently been adding to past indulgences and making the effort to head out for Afternoon Tea or Cream tea at a few different locations, often by myself.  A chance to get away from it all, read a paper or a book and forget about the crapness of other things in life!  it seems like you can't escape Afternoon Tea on voucher websites, but it should be something special and thought through, so here are my favourites of late and vouchers here!  Here are my thoughts.

Apex, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh - all the stars!

Cotton Rake, Glasgow
Cream Tea from £5
Cotton Rake is one of my favourite places, I think, anywhere.  I was introduced to it by a friend in Glasgow, when they used to have a little shop in Partick, which is now closed.  But the Great Western Road branch seems to be doing a roaring trade.  I popped in one lazy weekday afternoon for a delicious, and generously sized scone with whipped vanilla cream a raspberry cream.  The second best thing about this place is the music - that particular day I struggled to vacate the table because the r n' b hits just kept coming!  They don't strictly do Afternoon tea, but they have a a great selection of cakes and pastries, sweets and savouries, to eat in or take out - great tea and coffee too, so why not construct your own!  The Financiers are particularly wonderful.

Cup Tea Lounge, Glasgow
Cream Tea Afternoon Tea from £22
This was a massive disappointment.  I'd read that the original branch was west-end and that filled me with confidence but the city lounge was such a let down. The setting has the potential to be beautiful - set within an original tea-room tile clad interior - it really is stunning.  But the furniture (except for the bar) completely clashes, and that ruins the atmosphere. It's also pricey - but you get your money's worth - the Afternoon Tea comes as three course, with an Amuse-bouche to start, which, quite frankly, tasted like warmed up shop-bought soup, and then a course of savouries followed by a course of sweets.  The concept is nice but it's far too much food to manage, some of the savouries were stale and the sweets wooden tower was actually dusty.  Not very impressed - I won't be returning!

Black Medicine, Edinburgh
Cream Tea £5
This is really just a great cafe and I opted for scones, butter and jam - wonderfully driftwood interior, with lots of nooks to sit away for long afternoons whilst working or reading.  Very cosy, laid back, and friendly.

Afternoon Tea £15
This is the dream.  Simple and really well considered, great service.  Lovely fresh sandwiches, and an eye watering amount of sweet treats - gravity defying marshmallow, fruit tartlets, little profiteroles, fruit scones, carrot cake, fresh raspberries and strawberries, and a pot of warm dipping chocolate on the.  Excellent value for money and a glamorous setting for a special occasion or if you're passing by after a hectic Princes Street shopping marathon.

Forbury Hotel, Reading
Cream Tea £9, Afternoon Tea from £22
I'm a regular here.  Well, maybe regular is a bit strong.  But this place never disappoints.  Wonderful service, and although it's a bit more pricey, there's no rush - great for catching up with pals for a special occasion.  Probably the best fruity scones I've had in a long time!

The Tearoom at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond-upon-Thames
Tea and Cake from £5
Strictly speaking, this place doesn't serve High Tea, but they have a great selection of cakes, tea, and coffee, and who wouldn't want all of those things whilst sat inside the greenest of greenhouses on the banks of the Thames.  Quaint and glorious.

Still to come...

Another visit to Glasgow will take me to The Salon at Blythswood Square Hotel, Glasgow, for a cheeky solo afternoon tea, and I'm off to the Sketch, Soho, in May, with a couple of pals, so watch this space for some further Afternoon Tea action!

Claridges, day
The Ritz, Mayfair...the next day
Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield...maybe for a birthday
Aqua Shard, up the Shard...for the views

Other Recommended Afternoon Tea's from the past...

Afternoon Tea from £28
This is, hands down, my favourite Afternoon Tea haunt of late.  Tucked away down a quiet Marylebone lane in Marylebone, you can't go wrong.  The unequivocally modern-french decor, together with the personable and friendly service makes this place truly special - whether you're just passing or celebrating.  The well considered and manageable menu is also available Gluten Free - and you wouldn't be able to guess the difference - there's no compromise on quality!

(now sadly closed)
Until it's closure a couple of years ago, the Paramount bar and restaurant at the top of centre point had been an absolute gem of a place to catch up with pals over tea and sweet treats, at a reasonable price.  But the building is being developed and the irony of Centre Point being converted into luxury apartments should not be lost on anyone.

Cream Tea £7, High Tea £15, Champagne High Tea from £45
Serving traditional High Tea, Cream Tea and Champagne options, this is a cosy and well established tea room, but it relies heavily on the tourism generated by the Botanical Gardens, just over the road - it's a bit of a tourist trap these days.

Cream Tea £6.50, Afternoon Tea from £18.50
The setting of this place is fantastic!  Entry to The Wallace Collection is free and Afternoon Tea in the glorious courtyard is a bonus.  Great place for a date or birthday outing.

Cream Tea £9.50, Afternoon Tea from £15.50
This is a modest Afternoon Tea serving but perfect for a break from the shops (or art) if you're passing by!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Fruity Teacake (Gluten Free)

Probably the most boring title for a cake, ever. But there it is.

This is a twist on the traditional teacake - a classic for afternoon tea fans or those who just want to nibble on something sweet alongside a brew.  The list of ingredients may seem daunting, but if you look at the quantity of dry and wet ingredients, you can substitute and play around with things a little:  If you don't have the different types of sugar to hand, then just use 6oz of golden caster.  If you prefer using traditional flour, then forget the almonds and polenta and use self-raising instead, or mix it up.  But remember to retain the quantities.  

6oz (170g) unsalted butter
3oz (85g) of golden caster
2oz (55g) of soft dark brown
1oz (30g) of dark muscovado
3 medium free range eggs
7oz (200g) ground almonds
5oz (150g) fine polenta
2oz (55g) of rolled gluten free oats
150ml of fruit juice (not from concentrate) - I used orange and raspberry
2 tsp rosewater (omit if preferred or if you don't have any it just gives it a nice smell)
1 tsp vanilla extract
8oz (225g) mixed dried fruits - mine includes sultanas, fruit peels and cranberries.

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (170 / 190) and line the base of your tin with baking parchment - you could use one 23" round springform or loose base tin.  Alternatively, you can spread the mixture across several smaller ones, as I did (2 x 4" tins + 1 x 8" tin).

Cream the butter and the sugar together in an electric mixer if you have one, if not, well done - you will probably never have bingo wings.  Whilst that is working away, measure out the dry ingredients - almonds, polenta and oats - into a large bowl, and add the fruit juice.  Stir together for a minute or so, just so things are combined a little.  It will still be very dry.

Crack the eggs into a separate little bowl and lightly whisk with a fork.  Add them, a little at a time, to the creaming butter and sugar.  If the mixture looks like it might curdle, add a spoonful of the dry ingredients (almonds, polenta and oats).  Once all of the egg is added and combined, add the rosewater and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined.

A spoonful at a time, at the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully combined, smooth and delicious looking!  Finally, add the dried fruits and mix by hand with a spoon.

Pour the mixture into your tin(s) and place it in the middle of the oven for as long as it takes!  If you are using different sized tins then bake them separately as larger tins will take longer.  The 4" tins took around 25-30mins and the 8" about 40.  So if you had a 23" tin, I'd say check on it after 50mins but it could take an hour.  Skewer test to check!

Serve with some loose leaf tea and a portion of love! xx