Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Hold the gluten, please

Gluten-free sweet treats can still be delicious, as Cathi Litzenberger discovers

Today I wanted to offer a couple of  Christmas recipes for those of you who must avoid gluten in your diets because of celiac, or allergies that cause blood and skin reactions. OK, truth is, I’m feeling somewhat sorry for myself this week because I now fall into this category and can’t believe I’ll never again be free to enjoy the variety of baked goods I normally produce at Christmas. It’s so unfair! Having had my pity party, I’m now into testing recipes and hope to compile a number to share.

Today I’m offering a Christmas cake and  pudding recipe that fit the bill. The Christmas cake doesn’t have to be made in advance, so there’s lots of time to make and have it on hand to enjoy. Be sure to wrap it tightly and store it in the refrigerator. Sticky toffee pudding is an English favourite and lends itself to this gluten-free version exceptionally well. Thanks to Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix.

Though gluten-free, these can be enjoyed by anyone.

Gluten-free Christmas cake

850g dried mixed fruit

1 cup brandy, divided

150g butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup gluten-free plain flour

1/4 cup gluten-free self-raising flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup blanched almonds

1/4 cup apricot jam

Place dried fruit and 2/3 cup brandy in a large airtight container. Mix well. Cover and stand overnight or preferably for 1 week, stirring occasionally.  Preheat oven to 150 C. Lightly grease a 7cm deep, 20cm (base) round cake pan. Line base and side with double layers of parchment paper.

Using an electric beater, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift flours and spices over butter mixture. Add fruit mixture and stir until well-combined. Press mixture into pan. Smooth surface. Decorate top with almonds. Bake cake for 2 to 2-1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Pour remaining 1/3 cup brandy over hot cake. Allow to cool completely in pan.

Place jam in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%) for 30 seconds or until warm. Remove cake from pan and brush top with warm jam. Allow to set. Serve.

English Sticky

Toffee Pudding

1 cup boiling water

10 oz. pitted dates + 1 tsp. baking soda

5 Tbsp. sugar

4 oz. soft butter (1 stick or 1/2 cup)

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix

1 tsp. baking soda

Pinch of salt

Toffee Sauce:

4 oz. butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 pint whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour boiling water on dates and baking soda, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Grease and line a round springform pan with wax paper.

Beat sugar and butter until airy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again until well-mixed. Stir in Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix, baking soda and salt with a spatula until well- mixed. Add date mixture. Pour into springform pan. Bake 30 minutes in centre of oven. Let cool 5 minutes then invert onto a serving plate.

For the sauce, melt butter and sugar together then add cream and simmer while stirring for 3 minutes. Pour on the cake and serve with fresh whipped cream.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.