Topic: November - Making Gluten Free Christmas Cake
For the last ten years or so I have tried to use half term to get my Christmas cake and pudding made and stored away. There have been so many years where the children have been ill, or I’ve been about to have a baby or some crisis has arisen, that had I not done so, I would never have got round to it. However in 2006 having baked the cake and lovingly stirred and steamed the Christmas pud during the Oct half term I was never to taste either. I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in mid-November so from then on all things gluten-containing were off my menu! I did actually bother to make a second, gluten free cake which turned out rather well. I didn’t attempt a pudding though and made do with a small supermarket pud in a plastic pot. It wasn’t too bad at all if a little synthetic but with a good dollop of strong brandy butter I wasn’t complaining.
Back to the cake...It was less obviously gluten free than any other cake I’d tried to make. I used the same recipe I’d always used but with gluten free flour. With a few adjustments since that first attempt I feel its pretty fool proof. So during the children’s half term I managed to keep up the tradition and cook an extra cake to put away. However, it accidentally got started! (that’s another story but with 6 hungry kids you can guess the rest). I have just managed to do another and wrap it up before it was spotted. As you’ll see from the recipe below it is such a quick cake to prepare, in fact, if you stay with me over the coming months you’ll see that I only do ‘easy’ recipes. ‘Just as well’ you’re probably thinking the rate I’ve been baking cakes recently.
A major gluten free cooking tip; make sure the cake tins, weighing scales and mixing utensils are really clean to avoid cross contamination with gluten containing ingredients or food. I now only cook gluten free cakes etc as the kids can’t tell the difference. The worry of cross-contamination is then removed.
Put 8oz butter, 8oz light brown sugar, 1lb2oz mixed dried fruit, 4oz apricots, 4oz glace cherries, grated zest and juice of a lemon and an orange in a large saucepan and simmer for 10mins. Cool for 15mins.
Meanwhile weigh out 12oz of Doves gluten free Self Raising Flour, add 2 teaspoons of mixed spice and ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg (I add them whilst still in the weighing scales pan to save on washing up). Then beat up 4 eggs.
Once the boiled mixture has cooled for 15mins add the other ingredients plus 4 tablespoons of milk. Don’t rush this. I’m always trying to take short cuts but if you rush this and add them whilst the mixture is too hot the flour and eggs start to cook in the boiling mix. The cake still works but doesn’t seem to rise as much. Stir it all up in the saucepan (again saving washing up additional bowls) then pour it into a lined 9inch, deep cake tin.
It cooks for 1 ¾ hours to 2hrs at 150 C. I set the timer for 1 ¾ hrs and then check by pressing on the top , if it bounces back its done, if not pop it back in for a little longer. Leave it to cool in the tin for about 30mins before tipping it out. If you are putting it away for Christmas wrap it in baking paper once cool and then a layer of silver foil before putting it in an air tight container. The tradition of feeding it each week with brandy is fun. I just prod the cake with a fork and pour a teaspoon of brandy (the cheapest you can buy) over the holes.
I’m afraid I have always resorted to shop bought GF mince pies but I have just purchased some readymade GF short crust pastry and intend to give it a go - I’ll let you know how I get on in the next piece. Meanwhile let me know how you get on and any feedback would be great.