It really is possible to have too much cake. You may not agree, but when you have had cake, biscuits and muffins for lunch and afternoon tea over five days you may start to think otherwise. By the end of the week we were all experiencing a slight sugar overload.
I have made many cakes and muffins in my time. I’ve even won a few prizes for them. Until recently, however, most of my baking involved white flour and sugar. Making baked goods with alternative flours and sweeteners is a whole different ball game. Baking is a science. You really do need to be particular about your dry:liquid ratios, and this becomes even more apparent when you start working with low gluten and gluten free flours.
Muffins and scones were our first true test and I was extremely impressed with the results. A really good gluten free recipe is one that makes you question whether your muffin has been mislabelled and actually does contain gluten after all. Our apple and cinnamon muffins rose beautifully and had such a great texture I would happily make them for myself, and I have no issues with gluten.
I have fallen in love with oat and barley flours in cakes. They lend a soft texture to the crumb and have a flavour that goes brilliantly with fruit. We made a lovely apple and berry streusel cake that would make a fantastic dessert with loads of cream (it was good without cream, but cream makes everything ten times better doesn’t it?).
Wednesday saw us playing with gelatine and agar to create lovely dairy and dairy free desserts. It’s interesting that you can create many different desserts by using the same base ingredients and just varying the flavourings. The undisputed favourite was the cocoa nib pannacotta, something I have every intention of making myself. My partner and I scored the most complicated dessert of the day, a Passionfruit bavois, made with agar and a gluten free crust. I think we did none too shabby a job in the end.
After learning the basic techniques, Thursday and Friday were devoted to pulling together all that we had learnt through the week. We were set the task of developing a celebratory spread in preparation for a photo shoot on Friday afternoon. Butter cakes, gluten free cakes and cupcakes were iced and decorated with beautiful fresh flowers. Genoise cakes were turned into trifles, and chocolate and lemon tiramisu. The table was laid and the photography began. It was really interesting to see a professional shoot develop, and personally I found it an extremely valuable experience.
Many of the recipes we made throughout the week were from Jude Blereau’s new book Wholefood Baking. If you love baking and don’t already own this book you should consider the investment. Jude has developed some fabulous gluten free recipes that don’t rely just on white starches to construct a cake.
After the week of muffins, everyday cakes and butter cakes I would be quite happy not to see cake for a while, but the butter overload is not yet finished. Next week … pastry!