Here’s another recipe from Sainsbury’s Little Ones, which is one of my favourite sites for recipes that all three of us enjoy and are relatively easy and cheap to do. As I was browsing through, looking for something that Andrew would like to eat as a snack, I came across this one, and noticed, by looking down the list of ingredients (it wasn’t particularly advertised), that it was in fact wheat-free too. My mum-in-law is wheat intolerant, so I’ve been on the look out for recipes that she can eat too, and I’ve ended up killing two birds with one stone by baking this recipe (don’t worry, no feathery friends were harmed in the making of this cake!)
I hardly need to point out these days that I adapted it slightly – a little less sugar, and only two thirds of what the original recipe said, mainly because I only bought that amount of almonds. It’s the almonds that replace the flour to make it wheat-free, and they also make it lovely and moist, if a little fragile. It rose surprisingly well; I know a common problem with wheat-free stuff is it can be a bit brick-like! I think the key thing was whisking the eggs for as long as the recipe says, as this really made the mixture increase a lot in volume. The flavours are specific to this time of year, and although I’d never thought of boiling and liquidizing clementines to put in a cake, it works really well and gives such a lovely fruity flavour – a great way to sneak fruit in without a fussy toddler knowing! (Not that I have that problem with Andrew… yet!)
butter, for greasing
icing sugar, for dusting
8 (about 400g) clementines, whole and unpeeled
3cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp cinnamon
200g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C, gas 5. Grease a 22cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.
Wash the clementines and put in a pan. Cover with water and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 1 hour, adding water to make sure the pan doesn’t go dry. Drain and allow to cool.
Quarter the clementines and discard any pips.
Place in a blender, still in their skins, and purée until smooth.
Whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric hand whisk in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 6-7 mins.
Fold in the clementine purée, ginger, cinnamon, almonds and baking powder.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook in the centre of the oven for 1-1 ½ hours. Check if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow to cool in the tin before removing.
Dust with icing sugar.
This went down really well with Andrew and Tom, though his mum isn’t here to let me know what she thinks. I’d love to hear if you have any tasty wheat-free recipes, as it’s an area of baking that I haven’t really ventured into much at all.
Another one of my favourite foods at Christmas is stollen (being German it should be spelled with a capital S, but I guess it’s become anglicised enough now to lower case it). This bread-like cake with dried fruit and marzipan has all the good bits of a traditional English Christmas cake, but without the sickly sweet white royal icing, and is generally much lighter (in colour and stodginess). Once again, German trumps British Christmas food. I’ve eaten a fair few stollen in my time (and been through, several times, the inevitable family joke of being a thief – stollen/stolen – it’s all the same to those who don’t sprechen Deutsch; incidentally it’s pronounced something more like ‘shto-luhn’ – ‘o’ as in ‘pot’), but this is the first time I’ve ventured into producing a homemade one. As there is very little sugar in the dough, it’s great for Andrew too, though I left out the nuts, and only put a small amount of sugar-laden marzipan into his ‘stollen bites’.
This recipe is based on one from Delia Smith online. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read previous baking posts on this blog that I adapted the recipe – no almonds (not great for Andrew), mixed dried fruit instead of separate amounts of raisins, currants, apricots, cherries and dried fruit peel (why bother when Mr Sainsbury can do it for you?), plain flour instead of strong white bread flour (other recipes I have seen for stollen don’t insist on bread flour, though see comments below), and simply dusted with icing sugar to finish instead of a glaze with lemon juice (I’m not overly fussed about lemon and all the stollen I’ve had from Germany just had icing sugar on top).
This recipe is enough to make 1 large one. I made double this, because you can’t buy smaller packs of marzipan, and stollen is great to freeze, so I made 2 bigger ones and about a dozen small ‘bites’ for Andrew; half of all this went in the freezer.
150 ml milk
50 g caster sugar
2 level teaspoons dried yeast (not easy-blend)
400 g plain flour
110 g softened butter
1 large egg, beaten
200 g mixed dried fruit
200 g marzipan
icing sugar, sifted, to dust on top
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
Warm the milk, until you can just still dip your little finger in it.
Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar along with the dried yeast and leave it until it forms a frothy head of about 1 inch.
Meanwhile sift 350 g of the flour together with the remaining sugar into a mixing bowl, and make a well in the centre.
Pour the milk and yeast mixture into this, then add the softened butter and beaten egg.
Mix everything together either with your hands or with a wooden spoon – until the mixture is well blended and leaves the side of the bowl cleanly.
Then work in the fruit, distributing it as evenly as possible. Knead the dough on a work surface for 5 minutes until it is springy and elastic.
Now leave the dough in a warm place, covered with clingfilm, until it has doubled in size (the time this takes can vary depending on the temperature – it could take up to 2 hours).
Turn the risen dough out on to a board floured with the reserved 50 g of flour, and knock the air out of it and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
At this stage roll or press out the dough to an oblong 10 x 8 inches. Using your hands, roll out the marzipan to form a sausage shape and place this along the centre of the dough, finishing just short of the edges.
Fold the dough over the marzipan and carefully place the whole thing on a baking sheet, allowing plenty of room for expansion.
Leave it to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size again, then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Allow it to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before lifting it on to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Dust the top with the icing sugar to finish.
You can probably tell from the photos that the stollen turned out quite flat. I suspect this is because I didn’t use strong white bread flour (its ‘strength’ holds the air bubbles from the yeast better). But they taste delicious, and Andrew loves his little baby bites too. Plus we’ve got another loaf and some bites in the freezer to enjoy in the New Year.
Do you have special foods that you like to bake/eat at Christmas? Are there cakes/biscuits/other sweet things that remind you of childhood or being with family for Christmas? Do you prefer Christmas foods traditional in other cultures more than those in your own? I’d love to hear about other foody traditions at this time of year. It’s special occasions like this that really inspire me to bake and try out new recipes. I hope you’re enjoying reading about my Christmas baking adventures!
I was looking for a recipe for some muffins or little cakes that Andrew would enjoy. I’m not against him having some sugar, because I think if I completely deprive him of treats now, he’ll only rebel and go for it when he’s older anyway. And that’s what cakes are – treats – to be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle (I sound like something off the back of a crisp packet or chocolate bar!) Tom and I like our cakes and puddings, but we also eat a varied diet with plenty of fruit and veg, and we can’t go for a day without some exercise. So that’s what Andrew is becoming accustomed to as well. That’s enough of an intro – I could probably write a whole post it seems on this topic. On with the recipe….
It’s based on one I found on the Sainsbury’s Little Ones website. This is a great collection of recipes suitable for babies, toddlers and adults. More of these recipes will no doubt feature in future posts, as I’ve tried several of them already and would love to share more. I adapted it slightly (basically less sugar and half oil / half milk instead of all the oil) to suit Andrew better. So, here we go.
250g plain flour
75g porridge oats, plus extra for decoration
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
125ml oil- I used olive as that’s what we have in
2 medium-ripe bananas, chopped small
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, fan 160ºC, gas 4. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cases (I used a big muffin tin for Mummy/Daddy-sized treats and a fairy cake tin for Andrew-sized treats).
Sift the flour, oats and baking powder together (I didn’t sift the oats – how is that possible?!)
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and milk together until pale and fluffy.
Fold this mixture, and bananas, into the flour and oat mixture.
Spoon the combined mixture into the muffin tin. Sprinkle the extra oats over and bake for 15 minutes until the muffins have risen and are golden. (I found that the bigger muffins needed more like 20 minutes, whereas the small ones were fine with 15 minutes).
When cooked through, transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for three days (if they stay uneaten for that long!) or freeze.
Andrew approved – he ate one for a snack on not long after I baked them on Sunday. Tom was also impressed, so I’ll definitely be baking some more of these, and it’s handy that they go in the freezer to have a stock for when I don’t have time to bake them fresh.