Friday, September 25, 2015

Snickerdoodle Apple cake

I love the flavours of snickerdoodles - a classic American cookie which I first discovered thanks to Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess. For the non-US readers in the house, these have nothing to do with Snickers bars, there is not a peanut or chocolate in sight. Instead a simple, rather old fashioned mix of some of my favourite spices: vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. And they're all flavours that go superbly well with apples... so a new recipe idea was formed!

We are really lucky that my father in law is an incredible grower of produce... but often that means that at this time of year we have a bags of produce that we can't eat, that need turning into something when they're a little past their best. Apples are one of those - our kids love crisp juicy apples, but after a couple of weeks home grown apples are soft and a little fluffy. Or are starting to get brown bits here and there. 

This recipe is great for using up eating apples that have gone this way in, and almost everyone in the family loves it. My kids don't like cinnamon, so this is a way I can make a cake that both adults and kids love - you can just slice the spice top off for fussy eaters.

150g soft butter
170g caster sugar 
200g plain flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 lg eggs
2 tbsp full fat milk
3 med eating apples, peeled, cored, brown bits cut out, and sliced into 1 inch chunks.

Preheat oven to 180C (170 fan)

Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the apple) whisk till light and well combined. Stir through the apple with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Line a large loaf pan or 9 inch, deep cake tin. Tip in the mixture, Smooth it off. 

Cook for 15 mins, then cover with foil, and cook for an extra 20-30 mins - check after the second 20 mins with a skewer - to see if it's done, if not return with foil still on. Any wobbly or wet mix coming out on the skewer and it's not done.

When cooked remove from tin and sprinkle with 2 tbsp demerara or caster sugar or a mix. 5 gratings nutmeg and 1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon depending on how much you like it.

Eat warm with ice cream. Or cold. Keeps 3-4 days well.

(Gluten Free Note: I have made this with my gluten free flour mix - see here - it's fine... but much nicer not GF, as it needs quite a long bake, which doesn't work so well for GF flours.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Raw Lemon and Cardamom Oat Cookies (Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free)

When the lovely Lucy here put out a call for "free-from" recipes I just knew I had to jump in. Not simply because I consider myself (in all modesty) a bit of an expert in the field of free-from baking (more on that later), but quite honestly, I have no other outlet just now for my creations (except my tummy). It's only fair to warn you, expert or no, that I have always been a haphazard baker. When I was about four I watched my Dad make drop scones without measuring any of the ingredients, and from there I never looked back.

Now, the only reason I measure when baking is:
1. If I'm using a mixture of ingredients I'm unfamiliar with, and
2. In retrospect when creating new recipes, in order to vaguely remember the formula for next time. There: you have been duly warned

I came to free-from baking in a long, roundabout way. I have always experimented with different ingredients that entice and excite me. But like most, it has also been an enforced health journey for me. I first gave up dairy, and instantly cured many congestive complaints. Then I gave up wheat, and finally gluten altogether - curing me of chronic fatigue and digestive upsets.

More recently I have experimented with giving up sugar (of all kinds) in a bid to kill a chronic candida overgrowth (terrifyingly common in today's culture of refined foods, and basely responsible for most chronic illnesses). Suffice to say most of my bakes and creations these days are dairy, gluten AND sugar-free, and often vegan too (beat that GBBO!). This makes them no less tasty (I am particular on that front!) and above all they are QUICK and EASY, because I like pretty instant results.

I'm going to share two biscuit recipes over the next month - because what's more British than a biscuit? One is raw (and a favourite of Lucy's!) and the other is a bake I just created this week. Unusually for me, neither contains chocolate (sorry about that) but I do use cacao butter. If you can't source cacao butter easily, feel free to substitute as you see fit.

(Just like a posher version of the oaty biscuits in an orange packet)


1/3 cup GF whole oat groats/ flakes
1/3 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1 cardamom pod (or more if you're feeling brave/in need of more zing)
1 tbsp honey or favourite syrup
1 tbsp sultanas
1/4 cup cacao butter (Lucy's note: this gives me migraines so I use half white choc and half coconut oil instead).
 Zest of 1/2 lemon
Pinch crystal sea salt

To Make:

Split open the cardamom pod and extract the seeds for use then grind together the oats, almonds, cardamom seeds and salt to a rough flour (not too fine).

Melt the honey/syrup and cacao butter together over a bowl of hot water then add in the lemon rind. Mix everything together to form a dough. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and shape the dough into little cookies.

Freeze or chill until firm, then enjoy with your favourite hot beverage. These are particularly good dunked in my decadent Morning Macaccino.

If you liked this recipe, do try out my first ebook, Real Food Raw, which contains lots of fun, quick and easy wholefood recipes especially created for a free-from diet. There's also lots of great tips and help in there to support you in transitioning between food habits, and how you can make it easy for yourself.

 Zoë Foster is a Life Energy Alchemist at, where she helps soul-driven women balance their natural energetic highs and lows and find their own rhythm - one that maximises both creative output AND self-care on a whole-person level. Zoë is also a writer and yoga teacher and lives on the edge of magical Dartmoor in Devon, UK with her young family.

 You can connect with Zoë on Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest and Twitter at @ZoeKMFoster.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Italian Almond Delights - Ricciarelli (Gluten free, dairy free)

These are my go to, GF baking indulgence. Super fast, from first craving to in your mouth in under half an hour, these little Italian confections use ingredients that I tend to always have in my store cupboard, make the kitchen smell divine and give you a great homemade sugar hit... and last for days.

Perfect for dainty afternoon teas, as a mid-morning coffee biscuit or an after dinner petit fours, they are grown up treats of understated elegance. I am not a fan of marzipan, but these, these... oh my. The vanilla and the lemon zest cut the almondy-ness... I have decreased the almond essence hugely... but if you hate marzipan, then leave it out altogether.

This is my version of Nigella Lawson's recipe from her How to Be a Domestic Goddess. She recommends leaving them to dry for 24 hours before baking. That has NEVER happened in our house.

2 large egg whites
225g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond essence
250g ground almonds (have an extra 50g on standby just in case the mix is too soggy)
icing sugar, for dusting
Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they are stiff and then gradually whisk in the sugar. It will end up a bit like marshmallow fluff. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and almond essences. Then add the ground almonds, folding in with a spatula - it will become quite a dense mixture. If it is too wet to shape (see below) then add the remaining 50 g of ground almonds.
Shape tablespoonfuls into diamond shapes and place (evenly spaced) on the tray. It is a sticky mixture, and Nigella suggests dusting your hands periodically with icing sugar while you are shaping. Roll them in sieved icing sugar before putting on the baking tray.

Heat the oven 140C (slightly lower if yours is a fan oven), and cook for 20 minutes. They'll be pale and a little cracked when done. Check and see, if they are still very soft you will need to pop them back in for a little longer. Under done they are a moist and lightly chewy, the more they cook, the harder and chewier they become.

Cool and then dust with more icing sugar if you wish. They keep really well for several few days in an airtight container, but good luck getting them to last that long!


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