A gluten free showstopper – 3 tier autumn spice cake

To coincide with the Great British Bakeoff, gluten free brand Delicious Alchemy held their own ‘gluten free magic bake off’. After trying a little harder than usual to solicit votes for my entry (goodness social media begging makes me cringe); I was glowing with satisfaction to win a spot in the final round! The task? To make 3 tiers of gluten free magic – a showstopper cake to impress their judges. I immediately set about pinning and sketching my ideas – this was the most ambitious kitchen project I have ever undertaken! I am more than a little bit competitive. Not so much with the other two finalists – but with myself. Could I make a cake that lived up to my Instagram dreams?! I’ll let you be the judge.

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The bottom tier:

Pumpkin, orange zest & cardamom cake.

Pumpkin can play the same role as carrot in a carrot cake – so not as weird as you might think! You only need a pinch of exotic and powerful cardamom to give this a more sophisticated flavour than the classic ‘pumpkin spice’; using olive oil in place of butter just finishes off this luxurious cake.

Ingredients (For a 2 layer 8 inch cake. I used 1 ½ x this recipe for the bottom layer of my show stopper)

  • 3 large eggs
  • 140ml mild olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 small orange
  • 250g pumpkin or butternut squash flesh, finely grated
  • 1 bag of Delicious Alchemy vanilla sponge mix
  • The seeds from 3-4 cardamom pods, finely ground

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°c (fan), oil and line cake tins.
  2. Mix together the eggs, olive oil and orange juice with an electric whisk.
  3. Add in the sponge mix and cardamom and mix again until well combined.
  4. Fold through the grated pumpkin and orange zest.
  5. Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and when a knife pushed into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Sandwich together with cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.

Processed with Snapseed.

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The middle tier:

Apple & sumac cake

A lighter apple sponge with a slightly citrusy tang from middle eastern sumac. If you don’t have sumac, you can leave it out or replace with extra cinnamon.

Ingredients (For a 3 layer 6 inch cake or 2 layer 8 inch cake)

  • 3 large eggs
  • 180g soft dairy free margarine (e.g. Stork block – harder margarines don’t work)
  • 1 large or 2 small eating apples
  • 1 bag of Delicious Alchemy vanilla sponge mix
  • 20ml water
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°c (fan), oil and line cake tins.
  2. Peel and finely dice the apple.
  3. Beat the margarine until smooth, then add in the remaining ingredients except the apple. Mix until well combined.
  4. Fold through the apple pieces.
  5. Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and when a knife pushed into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  7. Sandwich together with cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.

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The top tier:

Stem ginger and dark chocolate chip sponge

This would make a lovely alternative to a traditional Christmas cake for those who don’t like dried fruit or heavy icing – especially if you replaced my gingerbread autumn leaves with little gingerbread houses around the outside. Simply make the sponge ahead of time and freeze it after cooling, then ice and decorate on the day you need it.

Ingredients (For a 2 layer 8 inch cake. I used half of this quantity for the top layer of my showstopper.)

  • 3 large eggs
  • 180g soft dairy free margarine (e.g. Stork block – harder margarines don’t work)
  • 1 bag of Delicious Alchemy vanilla sponge mix
  • 20 ml water
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 3 pieces of crystallised stem ginger in syrup
  • 100 g dark chocolate drops (check they are gluten and dairy free)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°c (fan), oil and line cake tins.
  2. Finely chop the ginger.
  3. Beat the margarine until smooth, then add in the eggs, water, cake mix and ground ginger. Mix until well combined.
  4. Fold through the stem ginger and dark chocolate.
  5. Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and when a knife pushed into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  7. Sandwich together with cream cheese frosting or chocolate ganache and decorate as desired.

I decorated my cake with dairy free ‘cream cheese’ frosting, gingerbread autumn leaves made using the Delicious Alchemy gingerbread biscuit mix; and homemade macarons in 3 flavours – pumpkin seed and spice (nut free), blackberry, and pistachio.

Dairy free ‘buttercream’ (makes enough to fill and cover 1 large cake)

Beat together 150g soft dairy free margarine (I use Tomor or Stork block) and 200g mild dairy free cream cheese (I use Sheese). Gradually add 400g sifted icing sugar, beating after each addition until smooth. Add in your choice of flavouring e.g. mixed spice, cinnamon, lemon zest or vanilla.

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Thanks to Delicious Alchemy for the chance to take part, and of course to my ever-patient husband who doesn’t even like cake. (What a weirdo!)

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