Many of my weekends are spent reading cook books or in the kitchen experimenting with a recipe that I have read or just simply making something up. One of the best things about cooking is that you almost always have something tasty to eat after using a pile of ingredients. If something does not work out then you learn from it and next time you make it, you make changes so that it does work.
Since starting up my blog I have become an ‘inspiration’ to several of my friends… I find that a funny term. What I like to think they are saying is that I have shown them that you should not be afraid to take a recipe and either make it your own or just have a go because you never know.
A friend of mine, Jane, has just done that. She had seen a recipe that she wanted to try and what was even better is that she wanted to make it gluten free so that I could try it and give her some feedback.
You will have to imagine me as a young Mary Berry-type judge standing in a office, lit by several fluorescent bulbs and being presented a tin foil wrapped package. With an excited squeak I tentatively opened the shiny packet and inhaled the smell of spice and sweet dried fruit. Looking at the sponge and giving a little squeeze I bite into a small slice.
Jane was glaring at me with such a worried look as I chewed this little light brown square of cake. A smile crept over my face and Jane started to look relieved but was awaiting my verbal verdict.
The cake had a good crumb structure, was moist and you could taste the tea. I did ask how old her spices were as I could taste that they had lost their zing and there was a slight powdery after taste. Jane’s face was a picture as she admitted that they were old and was rather surprised that I was able to pick up on it.
It is important to not use spices that are past their sell by date. I often taste spices before adding them to cakes just in case they have that ‘old’ taste. If they do, throw them away and use new ones, it will be worth it.
Another colleague of mine was presented with a slice of the cake with his cup of morning coffee. He agreed that the spices were a little old, but he did enjoy it. “I’m a great devotee of good, rich and moist fruit cakes with a nice spicy and fruity undertone. The cake had excellent texture. Personally, I like a darker cake and slightly more powerful on the flavourings,” he said.
If you would like to try Jane’s gluten free version of the Hairy Dieters low fat fruit tea loaf the recipe is below. Or click on the link below for the original recipe.
Jane followed the quantities and construction instructions from the original recipe but tweaked the ingredients to suit her taste and store cupboard!
1 tea bag – I used a Twining lemon and ginger infusion 400ml just boiled water
1 unwaxed lemon – left this out in view of the choice of teabag
250g ready to eat prunes, quartered
500g luxury dried mixed fruit – this comprised mostly sultanas with apricots, dates and crystallised ginger chopped in
3 tsp mixed spice – I used 2 tsp all spice plus 1 tsp turmeric
4 large eggs
banana – approx 115g peeled weight – ended up more like 140g
4tbsp semi skimmed milk
300g self raising flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1. Infuse the teabag in the water for 5 minutes then put the liquid only in saucepan with the dried fruits and prunes, stir well whilst bringing to gentle simmer, cook for around 5 mins until most of liquid absorbed. Remove from heat and tip into large mixing bowl, leave to cool but not go cold.
2. Preheat oven – 170 / 150 fan / Gas mark 3.5. Line a baking tin 25cm x 25cm.
3. Peel the banana(s) and whizz in a food processor with the eggs and milk to make a puree.
Add the flour and baking powder, blend again until smooth.
5. Pour the batter over the fruit and stir thoroughly to combine. Spoon into the baking tin and level the mixture.
6. Bake in centre of the oven until golden brown on the top and the skewer test comes clean, approx 30-40 mins.
7. Cool in tin for half an hour the turn out on to a wire rack, leave to cool. When cooled, cut into squares, wrap well and store in fridge before eating over the next week.
Happy gluten free baking 🙂