Tag Archives: gluten free

Gluten-free Goes Glam

20 May

Torta Gianduja


This weekend’s challenge was to produce something luscious and sexy that also happened to be gluten free. And I’ve found something which ticks all the boxes and more. Torta Gianduja is an Italian celebration cake, and I’ve used the Hairy Bikers recipe. (Hairy Bikers Bakeation on the BBC) I do love the lads, Si and Dave, and I must say this recipe is a real winner. However, I must point out that it requires a fair bit of effort. It’s a labour-intensive, time-consuming recipe, but hey, it’s so worth it.

You can save some time and effort by buying ready blanched hazelnuts. In fact you can save even more time and effort by buying them already ground. I did neither, so effectively added on about half an hour to my preparation time. I’ll know for the next time…

I’ll take you through it step by step.


250 g hazelnuts (blanched and ground if you’re clever)
200 g butter
200 g good quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85% cocoa solids – worth the extra expense)
6 large free-range eggs, separated
200 g golden caster sugar
3 tablespoons amaretto or similar liqueur. Or orange juice if you prefer.
A jar of Nutella for the topping – you’ll need about three tablespoons.

Grease and bottom line a 23 cm springform tin


First things first – prepare the hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 200 C and spread the whole hazelnuts onto two baking trays . Pop them into the hot oven for no more than ten minutes. Give them a shake from time to time and don’t let them burn or they’ll go bitter. Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before taking handfuls and rubbing them between your hands until the papery membrane rubs off. This is really easy to do.


Pop the blanche nuts into the food processor and pulse until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. They don’t have to be too finely ground, in fact a bit of texture is desirable.

Blanched and ready to grind

Break up the chocolate and cut up the butter and place together in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Leave to melt. You can be grinding the hazelnuts whilst the chocolate and butter melt together.

Remove the bowl from the heat, leave to cool a little, then stir in 200 g of the ground hazelnuts. Reserve the rest for the topping.

While this mixture cools, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar. Beaat well with an electtric mixer (I used my big Kenwood on a medium speed) for a good 5 – 7 minutes, until you have a thick, pale and creamy result. Stir the sugar and yolk mixture into the choclate and hazelnuts mixture and mix well until beautifully combined.

Creamed caster sugar and egg yolks

Now wash the bowl and beaters thoroughly and place the egg whites into the bowl, whisking at medium to high speed until the egg whites are really stiff.

Now stir the liqueur (or fruit juice) into the chocolate mixture, followed by a couple of spoons of egg white. Mix lightly and quickly with a metal spoon. Add the rest of the egg white. Fold it all in as gently as possible, then scrape into the preapred tin.

Torta Gianduja – nearly there!

Place in the centre of the oven ad bake for 50 – 60 minutes. The Hairy Bikers suggested 35 – 40 minutes but I found the centre of the cake still wet and squidgy after that time and it needed almost an hour to set nicely.

Torta Gianduja

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before removing the spring form tin. The cake should rise really well, souffle-like, and may sink back a little. Don’t worry.

I inverted the cake onto a serving platter to give a nice smooth, flat surface.

Spread three tablespoons of Nutella on the top of the cooled cake. Dip a metal spoon in boiling water to make iteasier to spread.

Torta Gianduja – buonissimo!

Sprinkle over the remaining ground hazelnuts.





Mmmmmmm, cheesecake!

23 Oct

There are cakes and then there’s cheesecake. It is the prince, no the king of all cakedom. Or perhaps, given it’s voluptuousness, its silkiness, its gorgeous creaminess, I should call it the queen of all cakedom.

You may gather from this that I am rather partial to a bit of cheesecake – and you’d be right. But only one sort. A proper baked cheesecake! Nothing else will do and please, please, please spare me from the sickly, over-sweetened gelatinous gloop which passes itself off as cheesecake in many a fifth rate emporium.

I’ve been working hard for some years now at perfecting my baked cheesecake and I do believe I’ve finally done it. My cheesecake is a fusion of several recipes and can be enjoyed in a  low fat format, as a gluten-free cake, or as a cake suitable for diabetics. I’ll give the recipe here for the full-fat, gluttonous version, with the alternatives to follow.


250g plain digestive biscuits
100g butter, melted
7 50g soft cheese OR 500g soft cheese and 250g mascarpone
3 large eggs
zest and juice of one large or two small lemons
180g caster sugar
4 heaped tablespoons plain flour


1. Heat the oven to 180 C and line the base of a 23cm springform tin.
2. Whizz the biscuits in a blender until completely crummified, then tip in the melted butter and press into the base of the tin. Pop the tin in the fridge whilst you make the filling.
3. Put all the other ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together until smooth and beautifully combined. Pour into tin and then bake for a bout 40 minutes until set and not too wobbly.
4. When baked, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in there to cool. It will probably crack, but that’s ok, they usually do!
5. Once it’s cool you can decorate the cake with one of the following…
a) Passion fruit pulp (my favourite)
b) Soured cream and lemon curd (my other favourite)
c) Raspberries or any other berry fruits you fancy (summer favourite)

Now then, what about the healthy options and the special dietary requirements? Easy peasy.

To make a lower-fat cheesecake use low-fat cream cheese. It’s still cake, it’s still gorgeous, but you’ll feel smug.

To make a gluten-free version, simply use ‘freefrom’ biscuits for the base and replace the flour with rice flour or corn starch.

The diabetic version is made in a pyrex pie dish rather than a springform tin, and the base is omitted completely. Leave out the sugar or replace it with a sugar substitute if you really want to. I used to make it without the sugar or the biscuit base for my mum and never had any complaints.

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