Thursday, 23 February 2017

Hummingbird cake for a winter celebration...

 Twice a year in my office we hold little birthday celebrations for all the "winter babies" and the "summer babies". This time around I wanted to make a Hummingbird cake* which I had come across a long time ago in one of my first ever gluten free baking books but had never attempted. I have adapted it slightly along the way but it wouldn't be me if I didn't have all the right ingredients, right!

I am always nervous agreeing to bake for a specific functions to the point where the fear of disappointment is too much to bear and I say no. I am trying to do better and have more confidence in myself and my abilities but it's hard, right. I know my baking trials most of the time are perfect but that little voice inside can be so load! 
This time round I bit the bullet and told my boss I'd make a cake which she promptly went on to announce to the whole department, so there was no backing out then.
Let me first apologize for the crappy iPhone pictures. It was after 10 pm by the time I got it all finished and I was way passed pretty pictures at that stage. 

5 tbsp. Walnuts
3 tbsp Coconut flakes
Tin of Pineapple
2 ripe Bananas
150 ml Coconut Oil
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Gluten Free self-raising flour*
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup Caster Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 Large Egg white
175g Caster Sugar
1/4 tsp Cream of Tarter
2 tbsp Water
*I had some of the Robin Hood Gluten Free All Purpose Flour blend left over from Christmas so to make it self-raising I added 2 tsp of baking powder to 1 cup of flour as per the Ask Nigella forum. Sift the flour and baking powder together and mix well before adding any of the recipe ingredients.
Preheat oven to 195C/Gas mark 5. Grease and line two 8 inch sandwich tins. Chop walnuts and place in a single layer a baking sheet, toast for 8 minutes. Spread the coconut on a separate baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Remove both from oven and put aside.
Place pineapple, with 4 tablespoons of the juice in a food processor, add bananas, coconut oil, toasted walnuts, eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined well.
In a large bowl combine, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and salt and make a well. Add the pineapple banana mixture and whisk until smooth.
Pour mixture evenly into the prepared sandwich tins and smooth top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes depending on your oven, until cakes are well risen and golden. Use a skewer to check the inside.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for at least 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack to cool entirely.
The frosting sets very quickly so I waited until the cakes where completed cooled before starting to make it. Place all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Mix with a hand mixer on medium speed until thick, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Place a sponge on a serving plate or cake board, coat with an even layer of frosting, then place the second sponge carefully on top. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, then sprinkle the toasted coconut around the sides.
Allow to set in a cool place, but not the fridge, before serving. This cake can be stored for up to two days in an air tight container. 
Mine didn't last long enough for left overs, everyone loved it and were very surprised to hear it was gluten free.
 If you like this recipe and want to see more recipe trails from the country cottage musings kitchen be sure to check us out on Facebook or follow on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.
Michelle xxx

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas pudding

Dare I say I started the Christmas preparations back in October. Well essentially it consisted of spending maybe 15 minutes mixing the fruit but it counts right..
I ended up going back home for a weekend to celebrate my brothers graduation so what was supposed to be a week of soakage turned into more than 3. 

As usually happens things always fall together and I literally got off the plane to go on a 3 day intensive work course which just knocked the stuffing clean out of me and baking was the last thing on my mind. 

Eventually found my mojo and set about making a gluten free version of this Nigella recipe. Now as with all my recipes I tend to use what I have, in this case I didn't have sherry so I used whiskey and I couldn't get gluten free suet but after some research found a great alternative.

       1¼ cups currants            
1 cup golden raisins 
1 cup roughly chopped pitted prunes          
¾ cup Whiskey
⅔ cup gluten free flour
2⅓ cups gluten free breadcrumbs
14 tablespoons coarsely grated vegetable shortening
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder      
grated zest of 1 lemon   
3 large eggs
1 medium apple (peeled and grated)
2 tablespoons honey
Combine the currants, sultanas and prunes in a bowl with the whiskey and mix well. Cover with cling film and leave to steep overnight or for up to a week. If like me you intend a longer steeping time I recommend putting the fruits in a Ziploc bag to minimize use of fridge space.
While the fruits are steeping I put the vegetable shortening in the freezer, it makes it so much easier to grate when it comes time to put everything together.
When your done steeping and ready to move on with the process, grease your pudding dish and put some water on to boil. Check the level with your dish to ensure the water wont come over the side of the pudding dish. 
Combine all the remaining pudding ingredients in a large bowl. Add the steeped fruits and mix well. Put into your dish and push down to press out any air holes. At this point you can pop on the lid to the pudding bowl. Mine didn't have one so I wrapped my dish in 3 layers of parchment paper and tied it up. I had some mixture left over so used two ramekin dishes for the remaining mixture and wrapped them in parchment also. Place in the pot of water and cook for 5 hours, checking regularly to ensure the water level is maintained.

Once finished cooking, carefully remove from the pot and wrapping but leave in the dish. Allow to cool completely then place in an airtight container for Christmas. The smaller puddings turned out great, I think these would be fantastic as individual servings if you where having a dinner party or if like me you have no patience you can munch on them in the run up to the big day without sacrificing the main feature.. a win win if you ask me!
And finally on the day you intend to serve the pudding, you need to steam it again for 3 hours. Make sure you wrap it well in parchment or tin foil and place in pot of water as before. To serve remove from pot and parchment, turn out onto a plate and remove pudding dish. Decorate as desired.

The pudding can be made up to 6 weeks in advance and stored in a cool dark place until you are ready to serve or you could make and freeze it up to 1 year ahead of time. Just thaw over night at room temperature and follow reheating instructions from serving day above.
 I am way behind on my Christmas decorating this year, these pictures are actually from last years pudding that I never got around to posting. Don't worry I have Septa Unella from Game of Thrones ringing the bell and shouting SHAME in my direction.
She will no doubt get me back later in the week with a Christmas cake recipe trial once I get the decorations up and can get some festive pictures. This years I promise, I didn't make one last year. SHAME!
Don't forget to check us out on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.

Michelle xxx

Thursday, 1 September 2016

365 Days...

as Mrs. Ni Tuama!!!
I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone by. I honestly feel like we are only now coming around to the idea that this is for real, we are married. It still feels weird to say my husband...
So to mark our first year it seems appropriate to share some of the wedding photos I promised waaaaay back {apologies procrastination is my middle name, I'm working on it} Be warned there are a lot of them as I haven't gotten round to sorting our album yet so for now this will serve as our go to reminder. You can also check out our wedding teaser here if pictures seriously bore you. I cannot recommend our videographer enough, Sinead is amazing, any one in Ireland looking for a wedding videographer Under the Apple Tree should be your first call

We have a lot of nieces and nephews between us and wanted to get the younger ones involved in the day in some way. These signs were just the ticket for three of the boys.
Check out how we made out ceremony booklets here. Our invitations were made from the same seeded paper range from Botanical Paper Works, you can see the details here.


When deciding center pieces I knew I didn't want big candelabras or anything like that and this teapot idea really got my attention, to make it that bit more special the one pictured belonged to Justins mam Eileen who passed away before we got engaged. We had it on our table and the other tables had all white teapots but in different designs.
I made up these little booklet and activity bags to keep the kids entertained during the speeches. They where personalized to each of the kids likes such as the Lion King, Batman, Disney princess you know yourself. They were definitely a couple of hours well spent. There wasn't a peep out of them at the table.


We had such a lovely day, everyone really enjoyed themselves and loved the extra little touches we added.
Happy First Anniversary Hubby here's to the year ahead!!
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Michelle xxx