I have been promising that I would post more recipes in the experiments section, and I have been promising recipes from a new cookbook I was given for christmas as well. So – here we are! I have picked three recipes to add to this experiments section, although I have not been fortunate enough to have the time to snap pics for all of them. I still wanted to add them here, as I have a lot to talk about in regards to each recipe and want to share the experiences I had in making them (and taste-testing them). I will be giving a brief overview, and then going through what worked and what didn’t under the cut. Once I get a chance to do more work on these recipes I will also edit this post. But I wanted to give all the wonderful readers out there a chance to see what I have been working on.
So, to start with I want to talk about these sour cream sugar cookies. One thing I have noticed time and again with sugar cookies is that – like meringues, they seem to be sensitive to my local weather and climate. I thought it would remain nice and cold right up until the weekend when I wanted to bake these, but no such luck. I woke up to a stinking hot day, so unfortunately my dough wasn’t too pleased with me. However, their flavour was wonderful. I was worried the brandy in the recipe would be too strong, but it cooked out and became lovely and subtle. I also approved of the chance to use up the egg whites not used in the dough in a batch of royal icing to put on top, so there was no waste!
Secondly, I made some crumble bars. Originally I put these together as an extra snack for work, however, I found their sweetness overwhelming and had to give them to mum to take to work. Unlike me her co-workers are serious sweet tooths and gobbled them up. I absolutely loved the flavour of the biscuit base, and the crumble topping, however. And after some thought I realised a few things this recipe would need to make it perfect for us, including the use of real fruit instead of jam or fruit spread, and adding more biscuit dough to the base to make a thinner top.
Thirdly, I put together a vanilla cake with double chocolate frosting. This recipe was an absolute success, and not much of it needed improving. Although I do want to experiment further with flour blends, etc, and see what I can make of it. I will say that this case is extremely decadent, and very, very chocolate-y. So I would reserve it for a party or something of the like, as it’s a bit too rich for standard afternoon tea fare. I will also be including a tip I used on how to save a cake when the edges stick, or it doesn’t come out exactly as round as you were hoping! Happy FF!
Adapted from the Everyday Art of Gluten-Free’s
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
Makes: Up to 24 cookies, depending on size, Prep: Overnight, plus a few hours extra, Cook: 10-15 mins per batch
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp (230g) gluten free plain flour
- 1 cup + 2tbsp (225g) sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter, cold and diced
- 1 large egg, plus 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp (30ml) sour cream
- 2 tbsp brandy or white rum
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Glutinous rice flour, for dusting
Royal Icing Recipe (adapted from Donna Hay)
- 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 2 egg whites
- In a food processor, or using a mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Then add in the butter and mix until the mixture resembles damp breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream brandy or rum, vanilla and almond extract and mix until combined, and the dough is clinging to the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the sides and blend for a further 20 secs. The dough will be very soft.
- Cover the dough with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 8-12hrs (overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 175C (155-165C fan-forced), and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Dust a chopping board that can fit in your freezer with glutinous rice flour and turn out the dough. Knead it with the heel of your hands until it’s pliable, and then roll it out until it’s at a thickness of about 3-4mm.
- Place the chopping board in the freezer for 20mins to chill, and then remove and cut-out the cookies with your desired cutter. If you notice the dough getting too soft, pop it back in until it’s chilled. I would also recommend that once you do cut out all the shapes, and place them on the tray about an inch apart, you chill them again if they’re too soft.
- You can repeat this process over and over again, re-rolling the scraps of the dough and freezing them, cutting them out, etc, until no dough is left.
- Bake the cookies for up to 15 mins, or until lightly golden all around the edges, and then let them cool on the tray for up to 5 mins before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the cookies are cool, prepare the royal icing. In a bowl beat together the leftover egg whites from the egg yolks used in the dough with the icing sugar until uniform, nice and white, and the sugar has more or less dissolved.
- Spread a nice layer of icing on the cookies, and then leave them out until the icing has set.
- These cookies will keep up in an airtight container, or the dough can even be frozen – double-wrapped, for up to a month).
Keeping the dough as cold as humanly possible when cutting and preparing to bake – as this ensured the least amount of spread and helped them hold their shape much better, switching to a different royal icing recipe so as to use up the egg whites and prevent waste, not using less brandy than the recipe suggests as the flavour becomes nice and subtle after cooking, rolling the dough very, very thin (closer to the 3mm mark than the suggested max of 6mm) – as these cookies bake much better when thin, using the glutinous rice flour for dusting – as it seems to work much better to prevent sticking,
What Didn’t Work
Forgetting to put the air conditioner up to maximum before trying to use the dough – as the heat and humidity meant that the dough wasn’t as pleased with me as it could be, not re-chilling the cut-out cookies before baking – as I believe that this would have helped them hold their shape even better, not being able to store the dough overnight – as I believe this would have given it maximum firmness and helped the flavours develop even more.
Something I have learned from testing out a few batches of cookies is that the colder and thinner they are the better, and that this dough loves coldness. If you have a very sticky dough, consider chilling it. Chill it before you cut it, chill it after you cut it. I have had a lot of success with soft biscuits when I have chilled them both before and after cutting out the shapes. But I have often found with sticky doughs in general a little bit of chilling goes a long way. And be conscious of the temperature and conditions of the area in which you’re working, as some recipes can be very sensitive to weather, altitude, humidity and so on.
Adapted from the Everyday Art of Gluten-Free’s
Apricot Cinnamon Crumbles
Makes: up to 16 bars, Prep: 30-35 mins, Cook: up to 35 mins
- 4 cups (432g) gluten-free plain flour
- 1 cup (200g) white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp (196g) unsalted butter, cold and sliced
- Up to 4 tsp almond extract
- 1.5 cups pie fruit, for example apples, blueberries, etc (or you could try the original 1.5 cups of fruit preserves/spread)
- 1.5 cups (212g) flaked almonds, or as much as looks right
- 1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pre-heat the oven to 175C (155-165C fan-forced) and line a 23cm square pan with baking paper.
- In a large bowl or food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter until it has the texture of damp breadcrumbs. Add the almond extract and knead until the dough is uniform.
- Divide the dough, pressing 3/4 of the mixture onto the bottom of the pan, and leaving the remaining 1/4 in the bowl.
- Pre-bake the base of the dough until it’s gently golden, 5-10 mins, and then set aside.
- Prepare the crumble topping by crumbling the remaining dough, and working in the flaked almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Spread the fruit on top of the biscuit base, and then spread the crumble topping evenly over the top.
- Bake the crumble bars for up to 35 mins, or until the topping is golden and baked, and perhaps some of the fruit juices are bubbling up through the topping.
- Let the crumble bars cool in the pan on a wire rack. You can try cutting them up once they’re cool, but I found mine easier to cut when refrigerated.
- Store in an airtight container.
Switching to flaked almonds and adding as much as I thought was good visually, switching the flavour of the spread to test whether this dough suits a tart flavoured spread as well – which it does, thoroughly refrigerating the bars before cutting them, adding more dough to the base than what was suggested in the recipe.
What Didn’t Work
Using tinfoil as the recipe suggests – with this recipe you really want to use baking paper, not pre-baking the base – as I know from experience with these sorts of “wet” bars, not baking the base before the wet filling goes in will mean the base won’t cook as solid as I would like, the use of spread instead of real fruit – as I get the feeling these bars would be absolutely delicious with say apple pie filling, to make them proper fruit crumble bars.
Where you can, replace jams and spreads with proper fruit. This will still allow for a bit of sweetness, but prevent a recipe from becoming overwhelming, and will give the mix a bit of texture. In this crumble bar fruits like apples and berries would work marvellously because the biscuit dough is quite sweet, and so you don’t need to go adding extra sweetness with a spread filling! Also, when it comes to things like this with a biscuit base and a very wet filling, consider pre-baking the dough a smidgen first, just to get it a little firmer, as once the wet filling goes in it won’t be baking any firmer at all.
Adapted from the Everyday Art of Gluten-Free’s
Vanilla Cake with Double Chocolate Frosting
Serves: 8-10, Prep: up to 1hr, Cook: 35 mins or more
- 350g gluten free cake blend (which is made of 320g sorghum flour, 304g glutinous rice flour, 114g potato starch, 120g brown rice flour, 44g potato flour – I used coconut flour, and then left out the guar gum)
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 3.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/5 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, diced
- 6 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk
- 1/4 cup (60ml) sour cream
- 1/4 cup (60ml) vanilla extract
- Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup (120ml) thickened cream
- 170g dark chocolate chips
- 2.5 cups (250g) icing sugar
- 1 cup (118g) unsweetened chocolate powder
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1.5 cups (335g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 175C (155-165C fan-forced), and grease, dust and line two 20cm round cake tins. You want both sides of the paper lining on the base to be greased.
- Prepare the cake.
- In a bowl, combine the cake blend, baking powder, salt and sift twice.
- In another bowl whisk together the milk, sour cream, vanilla and vanilla seeds until smooth.
- Combine the wet mixture and dry mixture, followed by the eggs, and mix on high until very, very smooth. The mixture is very thin and runny.
- evenly divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for up to 35 mins, or until the cakes are golden and a wooden skewer inserted into their middles comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 mins, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely, remembering to remove the parchment.
- Once the cake is completely cool, make the frosting.
- Place the chocolate chips in a small, heatproof bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it’s steaming, but do not let it bowl. Then pour the cream over the chocolate chips and leave for 5 mins.
- Meanwhile, combine the softened butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt and beat until uniformly dark, smooth and fluffy.
- Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth, and all the cream and chocolate is combined, then add the chocolate cream mix to the buttercream mixture and beat on low until the melted chocolate and cream begins to incorporate properly. Then beat on high until the frosting is fluffy and shiny.
- Assembling the cake!
- If necessary, level the tops of the cakes. Place on cake layer on a serving plate, and taking a bit of the frosting you’re going to frost a very thin layer all over this cake. Top this with the second cake layer and cover it with a thin layer of frosting also. This is the crumb coat, it’ll help the proper frosting coating stick. Then pop the cake into the freezer for 15mins to chill.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and frost with the remaining frosting. I gently lifted my top layer and added extra underneath.
- You can there store this cake at room temperature under a sealed cake dome for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Giving the author’s flour blend a go worked out really well (although I didn’t have potato flour), not using less liquid than recommended as this kept the cake very moist, using the large amount of vanilla extract worked exactly like the author said it did – it balanced out the stronger flavours of the flours in the blend and didn’t become too overwhelming, using coconut flour in place of potato flour seemed to work quite well – and the chocolate and vanilla flavours worked really well with the hint of coconut.
I was using ancient cake tins which have now given up the ghost, and have sadly had to be thrown out. But despite my best efforts with greasing and flouring and lining, a small chunk of the top cake still stuck to the cake tin and refused to come out with the rest of the cake. However, this was no cause for panic! A tip for saving a cake if it doesn’t come out exactly as round as you would like, or you lose a chunk or two, is to find a small circular object, which will fit just inside the damaged or unwanted area, and to gently cut around it. You will end up with a smaller circle cake, but which when covered with icing, etc, will look perfect. I did this with my cake and covered it as directed with the double chocolate frosting and it looked lovely. In fact no one could tell that I hadn’t intended to have the top layer a smaller circle cake!
Remember, it’s not about your mistakes or your disasters, it’s how you come back from them. 🙂