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Double chocolate muffins

cakes | October 29, 2015 | By

In the throes of trying to nail this recipe, I have discovered that I’m pretty picky. That won’t be news to many who know me… but still, I was surprised how many recipes for gluten free muffins I trialled failed to make the grade. A chocolate muffin should be dark, moist and chocolatey. It doesn’t seem so very much to ask, but it wasn’t until fell back onto one of my own top tips for GF baking – using whole milk yogurt – that I was happy with the result.

Whatever your take on what you use elsewhere in your hot drinks and general cooking, I always recommend using whole milk products for GF baking. Whether it’s butter, milk or yogurt, the fat in whole milk products helps lock moisture in, combatting the driness that is always the enemy of the GF baker. Whole milk products are also free of thickening agents, which can only be a good thing.

If I hadn’t been making them for a coffee-phobe today, then I would try using a shot of espresso to replace part of the volume of milk. A little coffee always flatters the flavour of chocolate, and it’s a trick used with great success in chocolate mousse. And now that gets me thinking of using any leftover muffins as the base of a chocolate cherry triflesque (if that is a word) dessert , with cherries and chocolate mousse layer. Watch this space…

Double chocolate muffins
  1. 130g Lisa’s four flour blend (or other gum free GF blend)
  2. 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  3. 25g cocoa powder
  4. 75g sugar
  5. 1/8 tsp sea salt
  6. 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  9. 125g natural whole milk yogurt
  10. 60g milk (or espresso coffee + milk combined, see above)
  11. 50g cooled melted butter or oil
  12. handful chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C Fan). Place 8 muffin cases on a baking tray.
  2. Combine the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and whisk together to combine well.
  3. In a second bowl combine the egg, vanilla, yogurt, milk and butter (or oil) and mix until combined.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients, scatter in the chocolate chips (holding a few back for topping) and then pour the wet ingredients in. Stir slowly with a spatula until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, but the mixture is still lumpy. Do not over mix.
  5. Fill the muffin cases 3/4 full. Top with the reserved chocolate chips.
  6. Bake in the oven for approx 20 mins, until the top springs back when pressed with your finger.
  1. If baking in mini muffin cases then bake for approx 15 mins.
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Diwali 2015 – Festival of Lights, and laughter

desserts, sweets | October 25, 2015 | By

Screenshot 2015-10-25 15.03.36

Even though the national dish of the UK is rumoured to be chicken tikka masala, and most British families have an Indian recipe or two in their repertoire, I have never had a homemade Indian dessert. In multicultural Singapore there was the chance to witness many special festivals and as food features prominently in most of them, there was always something to learn. Diwali, or Deepavali, the festival of lights is being celebrated this year on November 11th, so why not try making something different?

Sweets or ‘mithai’ are as part of Diwali as the tin of Quality Street chocolates is at Christmas in the UK. Sweets are also given to, and received by, extended family and business contacts during this period, just like mooncakes for the lunar festival in the Chinese culture. They also figure prominently at weddings and all kinds of celebrations from graduation to weddings and the welcoming of new babies into the family.

Barfi (or burfi) is one of the easiest types of Indian set to recreate at home, as it is naturally gluten free, unlike many of the others. Almost like a fudge, it is made by boiling together milk and sugar, with the addition of ingredients such as coconut, cardamom, rosewater, pistachios. There are even recipes now for chocolate barfi! I would serve this cut into tiny squares (it is VERY rich!) alongside clementines or dates and nuts as a platter for dessert with coffee.

While I was in Singapore recently I recorded a podcast of this recipe with my friend Karen who runs the Singapore Coeliacs support group. If you’d like to hear me talking about this recipe (and me laughing a lot), then you can find it here

Sesame & cardamom barfi
  1. 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  2. 1 cup double cream
  3. 1 cup dried whole milk powder
  4. 1/2 cup sugar
  5. 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom seed
  1. Roast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat till they are golden in colour - about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a non-stick frying pan combine the cream and dried milk powder. Heat over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the mixture starts to bubble.
 Lower the heat to medium and keep stirring and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan for 8-10 minutes, until mixture comes together to form a thick paste.
  3. Add the roasted sesame seeds and mix well. Stir for another 2-3 minutes until mixture starts to look like a soft dough.
  4. Lower the heat to low and add sugar and cardamom powder and mix well. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes and bring the burfi back to a dough-like texture.
  5. Spread barfi mixture in a lightly greased 6"/15cm square cake tin to approximately ½"/1.25cm thick. Let it set for two hours at room temperature before cutting to desired shape.
  1. The pieces of barfi will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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Belated happy birthday!

cakes | October 15, 2015 | By

I’ve been saving this post for gluten free cinder toffee cupcakes up since August, when I made them for my(non GF) son’s birthday. He was celebrating his 19th birthday and requested cupcakes this year. I have a pathological fear of icing (along with deep-frying, but that’s a different story…) – most of what I bake is very much on the rustic end of the baking style spectrum, as you may have noticed. 

However his birthday gave me an excuse to push the boat out and this recipe from Vagabond Baker fitted the bill. He’s a bit of a caramel/fudge nut, and this cake was easy to convert to gluten free. For bakers just starting out on their gluten free journey I always recommend starting with Doves Farm self raising flour as (unlike their plain flour) it already contains a perfect amount of xanthan gum for recipes that are likely to use SR flour, so it can be substituted ‘1 for 1’ in any recipe using SR flour. The alternative gluten free flour fridge-filling extravaganza that usually ensues from experiments in gluten free baking can wait for a while, until people get confidence and become more inquisitive about other options in texture and flavour available.

I will not reproduce the recipe as I made it pretty much as written, except for the flour substitution. I would say that you need to assemble these on the day. The cinder toffee ((like a homemade crunchy!) weirdly dissolved in the cakes left overnight, despite coating the bases in chocolate. You can find the recipe here.

Gluten free baking classes in Paris (western suburbs)

classes | October 12, 2015 | By

Just a little update on cookery classes! 

My Cookery Class page has all the details of upcoming classes to be held in my home kitchen near St Germain en Laye. And if you fancy a more intensive experience in the fresh, clean air of the French Alps then please take a look here.

Classes run on varied days of the weeks. If you would like a private class for yourself and a group of friends on a different day, or would like a personalised menu for your group, then please get in touch.

Please contact me via email: or alternatively use the contact form below:

Tennis balls (aka coconut & cacao balls)

snacks, sweets | October 8, 2015 | By

My name is Lisa and I own a Thermomix. There, I said it. 

These energy-dense balls have been part of my repertoire since the very early days of owning my machine and they have recently found an appreciative audience amongst the lovely group of women I play tennis with on Thursday mornings. They are the perfect healthy post-exercise snack, quick to rustle up in the early morning when I don’t really feel like putting the oven on, and easily transported.

There are hundreds of similar recipes to be found on the net. I wrote this one with mums in mind as, unlike many others. they contain no nuts, just lots of seeds, so are safe for lunch boxes. To get a nice smooth texture you will need a high speed blender of some description, otherwise they will be rather gritty, because of all those seeds.

I sometimes roll them in more cacao, but the oil from the seeds quickly darkens it, so if you’re serving these a while after preparing them then I’d stick to the coconut coating. And as with all my recipes, modify it to suit your tastebuds or store cupboard. If you don’t have (or like) one particular type of seed then add more of one of the others. If you don’t have cacao, use cocoa. If you don’t have maple syrup, use honey. If you don’t have any seeds at all, make something else.

Coconut & cacao balls
  1. 2 tbsp flax seeds
  2. 2 tbsp chia seeds
  3. 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  4. 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  5. 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  6. 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
  7. 2-3 tbsp cacao (depending how chocolatey you like them)
  8. 6 medjool dates, stones removed
  9. 1 tbsp maple syrup
  10. to roll : desiccated coconut
  1. Place all the seeds and coconut in your high speed blender and blend until fine.
  2. Add the cacao and dates and maple syrup and blend until the mixture is fine and even (it will look crumbly).
  3. Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls - smaller or larger as you wish.
  4. Roll them in desiccated coconut.
  5. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (a complete guess as mine never last that long!).
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