Chocolate Olive Oil Cake – Gluten & Dairy free

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I’ve been awfully quiet on the blog. First there was a trip to Thailand, then a spot of camping and last but not least I broke my arm. This puts me out of action on the cooking front although I’m trying madly to find recipes I can make one handed.

Anyway before the excitement of trips away and broken bones I had a few other minor health problems. One of the suggestions to help was a 2 week trial of being gluten free. I was resigned to not baking during that time, but the I stumbled upon this recipe from Nigella Lawson for a gluten and dairy free chocolate cake. I’ve never had much success with gluten free cakes, but if Nigella’s singing its praises it’s worth a go.

And….. it was so very very good. I think it was actually better eaten warm but was still pretty divine the next day.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake – recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson
50 grams cocoa powder
125 ml boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150 grams ground almonds (or Nigella says you can use 125g plain flour so obviously it becomes not gluten free & I didn’t make it this way so I can’t say what it would be like but probably pretty delicious)
½ teaspoon bi carb
200g sugar
3 eggs
150 ml olive oil (I just used everyday olive oil which I think would be best as it doesn’t have a massively strong flavour)
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 170°C Grease springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking paper.

Sift the cocoa powder into jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, just runny paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then let cool a little.

In another bowl, combine the ground almonds with bi carb and pinch of salt.

Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of mixer and beat together on high for about 3 minutes until its a pale and like thickened cream.

Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, when its all in slowly add the ground almond mixture.

Scrape down, and stir with a spatula, then pour batter into the tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and centre top still looks a bit moist. Check with a skewer and if it comes out clean with a few crumbs on it its done.

In its tin let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, and gently ease the sides of the cake with a small knife and spring it out of the tin.

Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as we did (thus making it not dairy free but I’m sure you can find a dairy free accompaniment or eat as is which given how good it is is perfectly justifiable)

Hot cross buns no. 2

I bake a lot, much more than the average person it would seem. I bake more than the average household should or even could eat, so what do I do with all this baking? Mainly I take it to work to share with my colleagues. It’s not that I want to load them up with butter and sugar or use them as test guinea pigs for my baking (well not all the time), it’s also the fact that there is something nice about bringing home baked goods, a way of saying thanks for putting up with my constant talking, my lack of attention to detail at times. I also particularly like the fact it makes people stop what they are doing and come to our work tea room and acquire some baking treat, and thus converse with their colleagues over non work stuff. If I ever own my own company I’m totally having daily morning teas and work kitchen fully stocked with baking supplies and a workplace cat, heated throw rugs, nanna naps… ok now I’m digressing.

But this like of sharing my baking with my colleagues is probably why I chose this recipe as recipe no. 2 in my great quest to bake the perfect soft hot cross buns (see here for history of the quest). It’s by Nigella, but she does the first lot of proving in the fridge overnight. This meant instead of getting up at like 4:30am to whip up a batch of hot cross buns to take to work I could start it the night before, take it out in the morning, shape it, prove it in the car on way to work, then bake at work. Which is what I did. And yet again the result whilst good wasn’t quite soft or fluffy enough

Let’s make hot cross buns (again)

There were whole spices and orange zest

Which then infused milk and melted butter

Of course there was yeast, more spices and fancy bread flour

and of course sultantas

kneaded by my fabulous dough hook

left to rise overnight in the fridge

And be shaped the next morning

And baked at work (because every respectable workplace should have an oven)

Hot cross buns – recipe adapted from Nigella Kitchen

FOR THE DOUGH:

150ml milk

50g butter

Zest of 1 orange

1 clove

2 cardamom pods

400g bread flour

2 teaspoon yeast

125g mixed dried fruit (I used just sultanas because that’s all I had)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 egg

FOR EGG WASH:

1 egg, beaten with a little milk

FOR THE CROSS ON THE BUNS:

3 tablespoons plain flour

½ tablespoon caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

FOR THE SUGAR GLAZE:

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon boiling water

Heat the milk, butter, orange zest, clove and cardamom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts, then leave to infuse (or cool as I over heated mine, you probably want it to be about blood temp when you add it to the dry ingredients)

Put the flour, yeast and dried fruit into a bowl and add the spices. When the milk is suitably infused and has reached blood temperature take out the clove and cardamom pods, and beat in the egg. Pour this liquid into dry ingredients.

Knead with a dough hook (or by hand if you don’t have a mixer with dough hook) if it is too dry add a little more warm milk or water. Keep kneading until you have silky, elastic dough

Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl covered with clingfilm, and leave to prove overnight in the fridge. You could leave it in a warm place to double for about 1- 1 1/2 hours instead of popping it in the fridge, but Nigella advises the flavour is better is you leave it to rise overnight in the fridge, plus it’s all ready to go in the morning when you wake up.

The next morning preheat oven to 220C. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

Punch the dough down, and knead it again until it is smooth and elastic. Divide into even sized balls and shape into buns.

Sit the buns on a baking paper. Make sure they are quite close together but not touching. Using the back of a knife, score the tops of the buns with the imprint of a cross (good luck with this I always mangle the damn buns attempting this). Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove again for about 45 minutes – they should have risen and almost joined up.

Brush the buns with an egg wash, and then mix the flour, sugar and water into a smooth, thick paste. Using a teaspoon, dribble two lines over the buns in the indent of the cross, and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

When the hot cross buns come out of the oven, mix the sugar and boiling water together for the glaze, and brush each hot bun to make them sweet and shiny.

Enjoy fresh from oven with real proper butter<!–

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Sweet and Salty Nutty Chocolate slice

I made this recipe after I saw it on Nigella’s Kitchen.  I’ve been a bit late to come to the whole chocolate sweet and salty chocolate party but since discovering this flavour combination I can’t seem to get enough and this slice is a really combination of the lovely sweetness of chocolate mixed with the saltiness of nuts.  Plus it’s got a ton of butter so it must be good.

So let’s make sweet and salty nutty chocolate slice

Of course we need chocolate

and nuts

and loads of butter

golden syrup

and honeycomb bars

Sweet and Salty Nutty chocolate Slice – adapted from Nigella Kitchen

300g chocolate (this can be all dark, all milk or a mix, I prefer 150g dark and 150 g milk)
125g unsalted butter
1  tbsp golden syrup
250g salted peanuts
2 x 80g Crunchie bars (this can be varied successfully if you forgot to buy the right quantity)

Line a slice tray 16cm x 26cm with foil

roughly chop nuts and crumble up crunchy bars

break chocolate up and add to saucepan with butter and golden syrup.  melt over a low heat

Once melted stir in peanuts and crumbled crunchy bars

Pour into slice tin, refrigerate for 4 hours or preferably overnight

Once hardened slice up.  and store in air tight container in fridge.  I’m unsure how long this would keep for because it goes so quickly in our house and if you make it it won’t last long at your house either I’d guess.