Chocolate cherry fudge brownies (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Homemade chocolate cherry fudge brownies. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello there. I hope you are keeping well and managing to stay cool in this very hot summer. The temperatures have been exceptional here in the UK and all over Europe which is great if you’re on holiday but not so good if you’re working. The garden is looking quite different this year due to the heat; many of the flowers are fading much more quickly than in previous years.

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Scottish wild cherry trees. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Last weekend, in an effort to stay cool and enjoy the outdoors at the same time, I went for a walk in some local woodland. I was looking to see how long it would be before the hedgerow blackberries (brambles) would be ripe enough to pick – I don’t think it’s going to be a good year for brambling sadly. Quite unexpectedly, I came across several wild cherries trees, completely untouched by birds, and laden with fruit as far as the eye could see.

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Wild cherry picking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I was completely unprepared for foraging. I had no bag other than the small holster bag I was using to carry a water bottle. Cherry trees are enormous in the wild, but there were quite a few fruits on the lowest branches and I was able to fill my bag with just under 1kg of fruit. The cherries were the sweetest, juiciest I have ever tasted. Such an unexpected treat. Apparently, it has been a bumper year for cherries because of the hot weather, but I am still amazed that the birds hadn’t been interested in them. If only I had gone walking with a ladder! 🙂

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Pitting ripe cherries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Back at home, I pitted the cherries. The firmer ones were easier to pit using my faithful old Italian cherry pitter, but the ripe ones I sliced and pitted using the tip of a sharp knife. Some went in the freezer, others were cooked in a crumble for tea, and the rest went into this week’s recipe.

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Wild cherry flavoured fudge brownies. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Easy to make, just a bit of advanced prep – you need to line a cake tin and make up a flax seed egg replacement mixture. Then, you are good to go. The brownies keep well but in this warmth, I kept them in the fridge to stop them going too soft and sticky. They also freeze perfectly. Eat them as a sweet treat but they are also good served with more fresh cherries or compote and ice cream for dessert.

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Chocolate cherry brownies, gloriously fudgy. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: 16

Ingredients

  • 175g dairy-free dark chocolate (I used 54% cocoa – if you use darker chocolate, omit the cocoa powder and add an extra 25g flour)
  • 150g lightly salted plant butter, cut into pieces
  • 25g ground flax seed
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 75g gluten-free plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 140g pitted cherries, halved (approx. 170g whole)

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C, 150°C fan oven, gas 5. Line an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Put 150g chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the butter and melt gently over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove from the water and cool for 10 minutes.

3. Make up the flax egg by mixing the flax seed with 110ml cold water and leave to stand for 5 minutes until thickened.

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Flax egg preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Preparing chocolate brownie mixture. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Mix the sugar and flax egg into the melted chocolate along with the vanilla paste, then add the flour and cocoa powder and stir well until everything is well blended.

5. Pour into the prepared tin and scatter the cherries on top. Bake for about 1 hour until the mixture is set in the middle – initially the mixture rises round the edges leaving the centre molten but after a longer time in the oven, the centre firms up. Leave to cool in the tin.

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Baking brownie batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Remove from the tin and peel away the lining paper. Cut into 16 squares – you may find it easier to chill the brownie before you cut it as the texture is quite soft at room temperature.

7. Melt the remaining chocolate. Put the brownie squares on a board and drizzle each piece with a little chocolate. Leave to set before serving. Best stored in the fridge.

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Adding a chocolate drizzle. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m off to enjoy another slice now. I’ll see you again towards the end of the month. Until then, keep well and stay cool 🙂

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Cherry brownies for tea. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Baked summer fruit (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Baked Summer fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well and are having a good summer. Since my last post, the UK, like the rest of Europe, has been subject to some very hot weather. Fortunately here, not for a particularly long spell as the high temperatures were unprecedented for this part of the world. It has cooled down again now and the air feels fresher and the sun less strong.

I was worried that the soft fruit in the garden would suffer in the heat. The rhubarb in particular likes a good soaking as well as the sunshine. I was pleased to see that it bounced back once the temperature dipped and we had some very welcome rain.

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Just picked, homegrown rhubarb. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe this week is a very simple one. I try to avoid putting the oven on in the hot weather, but I did make an exception for one of my favourite fruity combinations. Strawberries and rhubarb go together especially well, and when cooked with vanilla, I find the aroma and flavours is irresistible.

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Scottish rhubarb and strawberries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It has been a good year for Scottish strawberries. They have been juicy and have tasted fragrant and sweet. I didn’t grow these myself, they came from the local farm shop. I chose larger fruit to cook with the rhubarb as they hold their shape better in the oven.

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Homemade vanilla sugar. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I always have a jar of vanilla sugar in the cupboard. I chop up bits of vanilla pod that is past its prime or dried out too much and add it to caster sugar. I keep it in a glass jar with a screw-top lid. Every now and then I give the jar a shake to distribute the vanilla pieces. Sift the sugar as you use it to remove the pod pieces but keep the bits trapped in the sieve and put them back in the jar along with a top up of sugar ready for next time. You can replenish your supply more or less indefinitely.

On with the recipe. I allow the fruit to cool after baking as I prefer the flavours when they are cold and the fruit is more refreshing, but it’s personal preference. The fruit makes a deliciously light dessert or breakfast compote served with yogurt and toasted cereals.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 450g rhubarb
  • 50g vanilla or plain caster sugar – white sugar helps retain the colour of the fruit, but you may prefer to use brown for a more caramely flavour
  • 300g large fresh strawberries

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, 170°C fan oven, gas 5. Wash and trim the rhubarb. Cut into even-thickness and same-length pieces – this will help with even cooking.

2. Place in an oven-proof dish and sprinkle over the sugar. Cover the top with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

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Preparing rhubarb for baking with vanilla sugar. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Meanwhile, wash and hull the strawberries and cut in half. Uncover the rhubarb and add the strawberries. Bake, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes until the fruit is just tender.

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Preparing Strawberries for baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Leave to cool, then chill until ready to serve. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to develop. Delicious served with coconut yogurt.

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Baked fruit served with coconut yogurt. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week or so. I can hardly believe we’re just about to enter the month of August. Until next time, take care and my best wishes to you 🙂

Spring rhubarb with white chocolate and coconut mousse (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Rhubarb topped mousse. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. How lovely it is to be well and truly in the season of spring, my favourite time of year. It is a joy to be out of doors and in among all the new growth and activity in the garden.

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May 2022, fist rhubarb harvest. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Earlier in the month, I picked my first rhubarb of the season. It was a good harvest of tender, thin, colourful stems with a tangy, fruity flavour. My recipe this week is not so much about the rhubarb but about an indulgently, rich recipe to serve with this tasty seasonal treat.

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Mousse ingredients. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My very simple combination of vegan white chocolate, plant-based cream, coconut and vanilla, lightened with aquafaba foam makes a very delicious mousse to serve with any acidic fruit. If you’re not vegan, dairy-based products will work fine. Leave out the foam if you want a denser more custardy texture. If you don’t want to use cream, replace the creamed coconut and plant-based cream with full fat or reduced fat coconut milk.

The mousse is very rich and can easily spread to 6 portions if you use small serving glasses. Here’s the recipe.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 350g prepared rhubarb, cut into short lengths
  • 2-3tbsp caster sugar
  • 40g creamed or block coconut
  • approx. 60ml plant-based double cream
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 300g free-from white chocolate
  • 100ml aquafaba (I used canned cannellini bean liquid)

1. Put the rhubarb in a shallow pan with 2tbsp sugar and 3tbsp water. Heat until steaming, then cover with a lid and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until tender. Cool slightly, taste and add more sugar if required. Leave to cool completely, then chill until ready to serve.

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May rhubarb on the hob. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Shave the creamed coconut into thin pieces using a small sharp knife or vegetable peeler and put into a measuring jug. Spoon over 3tbsp boiling water and stir until dissolved. Make up to 100ml by adding sufficient plant-based cream. Stir in the vanilla paste.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over barely simmering water. Keep warm.

4. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the aquafaba for 4-5 minutes until thick and foamy – you should be able to leave a trace of the whisk in the foam when it is sufficiently whipped.

5. Mix the coconut cream into the warm melted chocolate until well blended and then gently fold in the whisked foam in several batches. The chocolate mixture will begin to thicken quite quickly once it starts to cool.

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White chocolate and coconut mousse prep. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Divide the mousse between 4 or 6 serving glasses and leave to cool completely before chilling until ready to serve.

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Ready to set. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spoon cooked rhubarb on top of each mousse just before serving. Delicious 🙂

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Fruity and creamy. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. I will be posting again at the end of the month. Until then, enjoy marvellous May!

Snowflake pies (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Very Christmassy, snowflake pies. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. With the Christmas break just a few days away, my post this week is a very simple and very seasonal dessert recipe which is easy to make and pretty to look at. With little snow in the forecast for the UK this year so far, this sweet treat is probably the closest I will come to experiencing a White Christmas.

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Light and fluffy, snowflake pie. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Assembled in paper cupcake cases, the pies have a biscuit crumb base, and a topping simply made from vegan marshmallows and plant-based double cream. All very straightforward. I flavoured the topping with vanilla extract but you could add some citrus zest or Christmas spice. As you can image, the pies are quite sweet, but I found they paired perfectly with cooked cranberries. I think orange, rhubarb or raspberries would also work very well – something with a bit of acidity is ideal. OK, on with the recipe…..

Makes: 8

Ingredients

  • 115g free-from Digestive biscuits
  • 65g plant-based butter
  • 175g white vegan marshmallows
  • 400ml plant-based double cream, at room temperature
  • 1tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • Icing snowflakes and edible silver glitter to decorate

1. Line 8 muffin tins with plain cupcake paper cases – you don’t need to use anything fancy; the cases are being used as tin liners to help you turn the pies out more easily. Put the biscuits in a clean bag and crush finely with a rolling pin.

2. Melt the butter, remove from the heat and stir in the crumbs until evenly coated. Divide the mixture between the cases; press down well and chill until required.

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Making the bases. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. For easier melting, cut the marshmallows into small pieces – kitchen scissors are good for this. Place in a saucepan and pour over 100ml of the cream and add the vanilla.

4. Heat very gently, stirring occasionally, until the marshmallows melt into the cream. This will take about 5-8 minutes. Keep the heat as low as possible to avoid boiling. Then whisk until smooth.

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Making the filling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. While the marshmallows are melting, whip a further 225ml cream until just peaking.

6. Working quickly, scrape the molten marshmallows mixture on top of the cream and gently mix the 2 together to make a fluffy, light mixture. The marshmallows will start to set again as soon as they meet the cream, so make sure the cream isn’t too cold.

7. Divide between the cases and chill for about 2hr until completely set, then remove from the tins and peel away the paper cases.

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Assembling the pies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins.

8. To serve, whip the remaining cream and spoon a little on top of each pie. Decorate with snowflakes and glitter. Delicious accompanied with a cranberry, or other fruit, compote.

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Cranberry compote. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This is my last recipe post of the year. Thank you for your continued interest in my blog. I hope you have a very happy and healthy Christmas and I look forward to returning to my blog in the new year.

Plum, sloe and apple cheese (naturally gluten-free and vegan)

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Homemade plum, sloe and apple cheese. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I have a very seasonal recipe to share with you this week. I have been out and about enjoying the autumnal colours. On one of my walks, I was fortunate enough to find some sloe berries still in situ on a wild blackthorn hedge. They were growing so thickly that they looked like bunches of grapes. I had a small bag with me and was able to fill it with a precious harvest of these dark blue-skinned fruits with their fine silvery bloom.

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Scottish sloe foraging. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Finding the sloes coincided with the last few Victoria plums ripening in the garden, and the beginning of the apple season. What better way to use them all than to combine them in a delicious thick and fruity preserve, the perfect colour to match the season.

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End of the season Victoria plums and new season Lord Derby cooking apples. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I have posted a similar recipe to this one, before using only plums. You can find the recipe here: Plum and bay membrillo (naturally gluten-free and vegan) This year’s version is very fruity and makes a delicious sweet treat on its own or with cream or yogurt. Serve it as an accompaniment to roasted, grilled or barbecued food, and if you eat cheese, it’s good served with just about any variety.

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Sugar-coating fruit cheeses. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I set the fruit cheese in individual silicone moulds and dusted them with more sugar; the remaining cheese went into a ramekin dish. Choose anything heatproof like a tin or ovenproof dish; line the container and then once it is cold you can slice it or turn it out. Keep the cheese wrapped up in the fridge for up to a month or it can be frozen. Set in a pretty little dish, I think it would make a lovely edible gift – if you can bring yourself to hand it over to anyone else!

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Sugar-coated fruit cheese. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: approx. 750g

Ingredients

  • 275g plums, stones removed, chopped
  • 275g sloes, washed
  • 500g cooking apples, cored and chopped
  • approx. 550g granulated white sugar + extra for dusting (optional)

1. Put all the fruit in a large saucepan and pour over 200ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and then simmer for 15-20 minutes until very soft.

2. Mash the fruit and push through a nylon sieve positioned over a large bowl until you have only dry matter left in the sieve. Weigh the purée. My yield was around 850g of fruit purée.

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Cooking the fruit for cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Clean the saucepan and put the purée back inside. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes to reduce the pulp by about one third – it should be thick enough to hold a “slice” in the bottom of the sauce.

4. To make the preserve, you need to stir in the same quantity of white sugar to the amount of thickened purée – I had 550g purée so I added 550g white sugar.

5. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and then bring back to the boil and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mix sticking on the bottom of the pan, until very thick. If you have a jam thermometer, cook the mixture to 105°C. I use a spatula for the stirring because it gets right into the edges of the pan which helps to prevent the mixture sticking and burning.

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Cooking the fruit purée. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Working quickly, spoon the mixture into whatever you have chosen to set the cheese. As the mixture cools, it becomes thicker and more solidified making it more challenging to shape. However, you can reheat the mixture gently to soften it if you need to.

7. Allow the cheese to cool and set completely before attempting to turn it out or to slice it. I would suggest chilling it for an hour after cooling if you want to turn it out cleanly.

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Moulding and unmoulding the fruit cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

If you are making individual cheeses, you will find that a sugar coating sticks easily to the surface. Simple sprinkle over or gently roll the cheeses in a pile of sugar. The sugar coating does make smaller pieces easier to wrap in waxed paper and helps prevent the cheese sticking to the wrapping.

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Fruit cheeses up close. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead and that you are able to get out and about to enjoy the beautiful shades of the season. Until next time, my best wishes to you 🙂

Just peachy: Peach and almond bake (gluten-free; dairy-free, vegan)

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Fresh out of the oven. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope life is treating you well. Time for a foodie post this week, and something to celebrate the fabulous fruit around at the moment. I picked Victoria plums from the garden last weekend and have been busy making compote and jam, and it won’t be long now until the apples and pears are ripe and ready. One of the most delicious fruits I have eaten recently have been fresh peaches (sadly not homegrown). As well as enjoying them just as they are in all their juicy-sweet deliciousness, I made this bake which I thought to share with you.

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Just peaches. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The bake will work with other seasonal fruits like plums and greengages – you’ll just need to adjust the sweetness accordingly. As well as adding flaked almonds to the topping, I have added my beloved marzipan but this can be left out and sweeten the topping with sugar instead. If you’re not an almond fan, try pecans or toasted hazelnuts and maple syrup, and add finely grated orange rind or vanilla extract for extra flavour.

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Preparing fresh peaches. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I did struggle a bit to remove the stones from the fruit as they were a little bit soft, so slightly less ripe work better for neat slices. I add lemon juice to the slices before sweetening as I find that peaches often discolour when cooked.

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Looking peachy. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 firm to ripe peaches
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)

For the topping:

  • 150g gluten-free plain flour blend
  • 75g dairy-free block margarine (or butter), cut into pieces
  • A pinch of salt
  • 75g marzipan, grated
  • 50g toasted flaked almonds
  • 15g chopped pistachios

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Wash and pat dry the peaches, then cut in half and remove the stones. Cut into thick slices and place in a baking dish. Toss in the lemon juice to help prevent browning. Set aside.

2. For the topping, put the flour in a bowl and add the margarine and salt. Rub the margarine into the flour until well blended. Stir in the marzipan making sure it is well distributed and then stir in the flaked almonds.

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Almond topping preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Mix the sugar and cornflour (cornstarch) into the peaches and sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Put the dish on a baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden. Best served warm, sprinkled with pistachios.

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Peaches and almond topping. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Inside peach and almond bake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all for another week. I hope enjoy the recipe and I look forward to posting again in a few days time. Until then, take care and stay safe 🙂

Cherry Bakewell tart (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Cherry Bakewell tart. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

As I sit down to write my post this week, I am looking out on a sunny garden, with blue sky and fluffy white clouds. This has been a rare sight this month. Here we are in the third week of May and the season feels like it is hardly shifting forward. In fact, at times it has felt that things were moving in retrograde with chilly strong winds, rain and grey skies.

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Classic almond-topped Bakewell tart. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Time to cheer myself up with a spot of baking, and a Bakewell tart always hits the spot. I was spurred on by the sight of newly set cherries on the espaliered Morello cherry tree in the garden. After another bumper blossoming, I was very happy to see lots of fruits forming. All my fussing around with fleece last month to protect the blossom from frost has paid off. Fingers crossed.

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This year’s blossom and newly formed fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I still have some of last year’s precious harvest in the freezer. Morello cherries have a tart, tangy flavour and make an ideal companion for the sweet, rich almondy sponge in a Bakewell tart. This time I kept the tart plain and simple with a classic topping of flaked almonds for a bit of crunch. A few weeks ago I made a slightly more indulgent version with extra cherries and pistachio nuts – options for either version below.

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2020 Morello harvest on ice. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Use whatever cherries you have for this recipe; fresh, canned or frozen will work fine. Other berry fruits will work as well such as blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, or try a layer of cooked apple and pear. The classic version is to spread the pastry base with jam; I find this a little too sweet nowadays, but it’s down to personal taste. If you find almond extract too overpowering, replace it with vanilla for a more subtle flavour. If you don’t want the bother of making your own pastry, use 325g ready-made gluten-free shortcrust.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 60g white vegetable fat, softened
  • 55g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 230g gluten-free plain flour blend such as Dove’s Farm
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (not essential but it does make the pastry easier to work with and slightly crisper)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling and topping:

  • 30g ground linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 125g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 25g gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 tsp almond extract (use vanilla for a less almondy flavour)
  • 225g – 300g pitted cherries, thawed if frozen (or other prepared berries)
  • Flaked almonds or chopped pistachios to sprinkle
  1. First make the pastry. Beat together the fats until smooth and creamy, then whisk in the sugar until well blended. Add the remaining pastry ingredients and carefully stir everything together to make a crumbly mixture.
  2. Bring the crumble together with your hands and knead gently to make a smooth, firm ball of dough. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. This pastry doesn’t firm up very much but it is easier to handle if you do refrigerate it before rolling out.
  3. Lightly dust the work surface with more flour and roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/2 cm – any thinner and the pastry tears easily. Transfer the pastry to a lightly greased 23cm loose-based fluted or plain flan tin, 3-4cm deep. You may find it easier to transfer the pastry in pieces and patch it together in the tin.
  4. Trim the edge to neaten the edge and then chill the pastry for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190°C, 170°C fan, Gas 5. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans or raw rice (or dry pulses). Bake for 15 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the beans and peel away the paper. Prick the base and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes to set the pastry all over. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, 160°C fan, Gas 4.
  6. While the pastry is cooking, make up the filling. Put the ground linseeds in a bowl and stir in 90ml cold water. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes until thickened. Mix together the margarine, sugar, almonds, flour and almond extract until well blended, then stir in the linseed paste, to make a smooth, creamy mixture.
  7. Spread 225g cherries over the base of the pastry case and smooth the almond mixture on top. For a very cherry version, gently push another 75g cherries into the almond mixture. Sprinkle with generously flaked almonds or pistachios and put the tin on a baking tray. Bake for about 1hr until golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin before removing.
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Making Cherry Bakewell tart. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Bakewell tart with extra cherries and chopped pistachios. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Classic Bakewell tart topped with crispy flaked almonds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I prefer to serve the tart at room temperature because I think it has more flavour, but it can be served warm as a pudding with cream or custard. I made a cherry sauce with the juices from the thawed cherries and a little fruit juice. Simply heated and thickened with cornflour. Any which way, this is bake is in my top 10 all-time favourite sweet treats.

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Bakewell tart with cherry sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

All the best for now. See you again in a couple of weeks. Take care and keep safe 🙂

April rhubarb – 2 easy recipes (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Hello again. I hope you have been enjoying some good weather these past few days. At last we are enjoying frost-free nights and blue-sky days. Long may it last!

I have been able to pick my first few stalks of rhubarb. I didn’t force any plants this year, so I was delighted to find 5 stems ready for picking so early on in the season.

The week before this rhubarb was ready, I used up my last bag of frozen rhubarb from last summer. I combined it with some frozen ripe bananas I keep in the freezer for making loaf cakes and made a compote. It’s not the best-looking mixture you’ll come across but it tasted great. The sweetness of the banana helped to reduce the sugar content.

I put 450g frozen rhubarb in a saucepan with 230g frozen very ripe banana and cooked them over a low heat with the lid on for about 30 minutes until they had thawed and become very soft. Mix together until well combined. I added 4 tbsp white sugar gradually. Taste and sweeten in small amounts to keep sugar content to a minimum. Best eaten cold for maximum flavour – it makes a lovely breakfast bowl with homemade coconut granola and coconut yogurt. You could make this with fresh rhubarb and ripe bananas, and simply reduce the cooking time.

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Rhubarb and banana compote breakfast bowl. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My second recipe is something I cooked up using the new season’s rhubarb. It is made from a very simple combination of ingredients I had in the fridge and freezer, and is something I was able to put together quickly.

Roll out 300g gluten-free rough puff or puff pastry (or you can use shortcrust if you prefer) to an approximate 25cm square. Trim to neaten the edges, and then keep the trimmings for decoration. Knead and roll 150g natural marzipan to an oblong about 8cm wide and place down the middle of the pastry. Top with 200g chopped fresh rhubarb (cut into 3cm long pieces) and spoon over 100g raspberry jam.

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Rhubarb plait preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Cut about 10 strips either side of the rhubarb, brush with a little dairy-free milk and fold over the top of the fruit, pressing together gently to seal together. Press the pastry at both ends together in order to seal the marzipan and fruit within.

Transfer to a lined baking tray, brush all over with 1 tbsp dairy-free milk mixed with 1 tbsp maple syrup. Decorate with any trimmings and brush these before baking in a preheated oven at 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6 for about 40 minutes until lightly golden and crisp. Best served warm. Serves: 6

That’s me for another week. I have a busy few days ahead of me now so it will next month before I get to post again. Until then, take care, keep safe, and enjoy the spring sunshine 🙂

Crumpet-style pancakes with peanut filling and caramel coconut sauce (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Wedges of pancakes topped with banana, coconut and caramel sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are well. It’s nearly Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day if you prefer. I often make pancakes, and at this time of year there is another excuse to make some more. I decided to venture into new territory this time, and have combined a plain pancake batter with a yeasted tea-time favourite, the crumpet. Very easy to make, you just need to get organised and make the batter up the day before so that the yeast can work away overnight in the fridge. I wish I could have come up with a more witty name for them but neither “pan-pet” nor “crump-cake” really did it for me 🙂

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Crumpet-pancake wedges. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I used a chopped salted peanut and sugar mix to fill the pancake, but you can add whatever you fancy. Chopped chocolate and coconut would work well, or even small berry fruits and a little jam. I have also included a recipe for a caramel coconut sauce which you may want to try. Otherwise a chocolate or fruit sauce would be an equally delicious choice to serve with your pancake.

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Chopped salted roast peanuts and sugar. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Time for the recipe. Just remember that you need to make the batter the day before you want to serve the pancakes.

Makes: 4 wedges

Ingredients

  • 125g gluten-free self raising flour
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (I add this to give a more chewy texture; the pancake will be softer without it)
  • 1 tsp fast-action dried yeast (This is the yeast that requires no activation and is added to the dry ingredients before liquid is added.
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 250ml dairy-free milk (I use oat milk)
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp cold water)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil plus extra for frying
  • 75g chopped salted roasted peanuts + extra to serve

For the caramel coconut sauce:

  • 50g golden syrup
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 20g dairy-free margarine
  • 90ml coconut milk (If you don’t want the coconut flavour, use a dairy-free pouring cream instead)
  • ½ tsp salt or 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl. Stir in the yeast and 2 tbsp sugar. Make a well in the centre and gradually blend in the milk, flax egg and 1 tbsp oil to make smooth, thick batter. Cover with film and put in the fridge overnight.

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Making the batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. The next day, remove the batter from the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for about an hour or until bubbles form on the surface.

3. Brush a 25cm base diameter frying pan lightly with a little oil and heat until hot. Stir the batter and then pour it into the hot pan. Reduce the heat to medium/low, spread the batter to the edge of the pan and a little up the sides, and cook gently for 6-7 minutes until bubbles appear and the top begins to set.

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Cooking the batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Mix the peanuts with the remaining sugar and sprinkle over one half of the batter. Cover with a lid and cook for a further 5 minutes until the pancake is completely set and the bottom is crisp and richly golden.

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Filling and final cooking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Carefully flip the plain side of the pancake over the peanuts and slide on to a board. Slice into 4 wedges and serve while still warm with your chosen toppings and sauces. I served mine with sliced banana, toasted coconut flakes and extra chopped peanuts.

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Folded and ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you fancy making your own caramel coconut sauce to go with the pancake. Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until everything has melted together, then raise the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until thick and slightly caramelised. Leave to cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve hot or cold, flavoured with salt or vanilla.

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Making caramel coconut sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Salty-sweet, nutty and delicious. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead, and enjoy making and eating pancakes. Until then, take care and keep safe.

Clootie dumpling (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Clootie dumpling. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well and safe, and if you are in a cooler part of the world right now, I hope it’s not too cold at the moment. It’s certainly been chilly here in central Scotland. As I type, the garden is very snow-laden and there is not much sign of it melting for the time being.

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Snowy January 2021. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I am, therefore, still feeling the need for comfort food. My recipe post this week is a traditional Scottish pudding that definitely falls into the aforementioned category. This coming Monday marks the annual celebration of Burns Night on the calendar, when the birth of Scotland’s national poet, Robert (Rabbie) Burns, is remembered. Usually a chance to meet up with friends and family and enjoy a dram of whisky or two, this year will inevitably be a much quieter affair.

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The serving of the pudding. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The recipe gets its name from the way this pudding is cooked. The fruity, oaty mixture is wrapped in a floured cloth or cloot and boiled. The perfect dumpling should have a firm texture on the outside with a soft, fruity and mildly spiced interior, so when the pudding has been boiled, it is popped in the oven to dry out for a few minutes and thus a shiny coating or skin forms on the outside.

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Clootie dumpling with custard and a wee dram on the side. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve the dumpling with custard and enjoy it hot with a wee nip of whisky or ginger wine to wash it down. Delicious. Here’s the recipe if you fancy giving it a go.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 125g gluten-free self raising flour (such as Doves Farm) + extra for dusting
  • 75g vegetable suet
  • 50g oatmeal (do check that this is certified gluten-free if you are Coeliac)
  • 50g dark soft brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125g mixed dried fruit (currants, sultanas and raisins)
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 45ml cold water (flax egg)
  • 90ml dairy-free milk (I used oat milk)

1. First prepare the cloth. You’ll need a large square of cheesecloth or muslin for this – or you could use a clean tea towel. My cloth is 42cm square. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and scald the cloth in the water for a few seconds. Drain well – I use tongs and a colander to help with this – and when cool enough to handle, wring out the excess water.

2. Lay the damp cloth flat on a tray or directly on the work surface and lightly dust all over with flour – about 25g will be sufficient. Use a sieve to keep the flour evenly sprinkled in order to achieve a smooth finish on the dumpling. Cut a length of string to tie it up, and put to one side along with the prepared cloth.

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Preparing the cloth or cloot. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the suet, oatmeal, sugar, spices and salt, and mix together. Stir in the fruit and treacle, and then bind everything together with the flax egg and milk to make a softish batter mix.

4. Spoon the mixture on to the centre of the cloth. Draw up the sides and tie together securely with the string. Don’t tie the cloth too tightly around the mixture, keep it baggy to allow the dumpling to expand during cooking.

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Preparing and assembling the dumpling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Place an upturned saucer or trivet in the bottom of a saucepan – choose a pan that neatly fits the saucer or trivet so that the dumpling doesn’t move around too much during cooking. Sit the dumpling on top and fill the pan with boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the dumpling. Bring to the boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer gently for 2 horrs. You may need to top up the water during cooking.

6. Towards the end of the cooking time, half fill a bowl with cold water, and preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. When the dumpling is cooked, carefully lift it out and dip in the cold water for 10 seconds – this helps you to remove the cloth more cleanly.

7. Drain the dumpling in a colander and open out the cloth. Put a heatproof dish over the bowl and carefully flip the dumpling on to the dish. Gently peel away the cloth, keeping the outer edge intact, and bake for 15 minutes to dry off. Serve the dumpling as soon as possible after cooking, and accompany with custard. You can reheat any leftovers in the microwave, or leave to cool and then wrap and freeze.

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Cooking the dumpling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Clootie dumpling close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. Until my next post, enjoy Burns Night if you are celebrating. Take care and keep safe 🙂