Yule / Winter Solstice / Christmas cake. Gluten, dairy and citrus free

March 22nd, 2017

Living in a house full of allergies and coeliac disease means certain treats can be hard to come by and although it’s fairly easy to get gluten free christmas cake, It’s impossible to find one that is citrus free as well.  So I make my own (and alot of other things as well).  My husband has a citrus allergy and nearly all of the christmas food is full of citrus peel, so I thought I’d post my recipe for other sufferers.  Always check your ingredients for hidden allergens, I use a berry mix and dried apricots to simulate the colours of mixed peel and some crystalised ginger to increase the depth of flavour.  I’ve made this cake four years in a row and it’s universally loved.  This makes one eight inch cake.

Ingredients:

500g dried fruit e.g. the following
75g Currants
75g Sultanas
50g chopped dried apricots
50g chopped crystalised ginger
50g dried berries/cherries
200g raisins
150ml brandy
2 tsp cider vinegar
vegetable oil or spray for oiling tin
150g gluten free flour (I use Doves Farm)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp mixed spice (½ cinnamon, ½ ginger)
1 tsp ground allspice
150g butter
150g dark brown sugar
3 medium eggs
50g ground almonds
2 tablespoons soya milk
50g whole blanched almonds chopped
1 tbsp treacle or maple syrup
1 tbsp clear honey

Method:

1. Start yesterday. Add the dried fruit, brandy and vinegar to a pan and heat to simmering point, take off the heat and cover. Leave to soak over night.
2. Preheat the oven to 150° C.
3. Oil and line the base of a 8″ round or square cake tin.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder, xanthum gum and spices together.
5. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
6. Gradually add the eggs and flour, alternately, a little at a time.
7. Mix in the ground almonds.
8. Stir in the milk.
9. Add the soaked dried fruit
10. Add the chopped almonds.
11. Finally stir in the treacle and honey.
12. Give the whole mixture a good stir.
13. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth.
14. Bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
15. Leave to cool in the tin.

Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil in an airtight container. Will keep for one month or freeze, allow 3 to 4 hours to defrost.

 

I usually make this about 3 weeks before I need it, then add marzipan and fondant icing.

where did I go….

March 15th, 2017

Well I’m still here, but unfortunately, last August I had to put my hours up at work and a few things fell by the way side… including my blog.  I’m going to try and catch up soon as I’m hoping that in the not too distant future, I will be working from home more.

Temporary tattoos

July 14th, 2016

Well the tattoos have been a success, I just need to put together instructions and photos for uploading to my Etsy store.  The last few weeks have been rather overshadowed for me by the astounding goings on with UK politics.  52% of people in this country voted to leave the EU, although if you see some of the videos going around, you may realise that some of them didn’t know what they were voting for or understood the issues.  I personally voted to remain, being part of the EU was, in my opinion, beneficial to all of us.  Being a member of the Green party which is socialist by nature, having another body above our current conservative government (right wing) felt like having a safety net.  EU rules have done a great deal of good in protecting people’s rights, especially concerning minimum wage, maternity and paternity pay, and the working times directive.  I liked the idea of being part of a European community and I think isolation is a step backwards in this day and age.  The issues still aren’t settled and I don’t know what’s going to happen with Scotland and Northern Ireland who both voted to remain.  Perhaps they will leave the United Kingdom and this country will have a different name.  Being half scottish, I can’t help feeling that if this happens, we may go to Scotland but I guess we’ll have to wait for the dust to settle.

Summer Solstice morning

July 14th, 2016

Well in years gone past, I’ve stayed up on Dartmoor over night with friends (in the rain) to see the sun rise on the solstice, but this year with another predicted wet and rainy morning I didn’t set up alarm.  However, Daffyd, one of my cats, woke me up at 04:10 so I got up, to greet the wet morning.  Living in a small town I couldn’t see the sun rise, but I did light a candle and welcome the dawn.

Summer Solstice

June 16th, 2016

Well the Summer Solstice is almost upon us and the weather in typical British style has involved heavy rain and thunder-storms this week.  As I have two weeks off work after tomorrow, I am hoping it will improve.  I have finalised the design for my first set of temporary tattoos and have been experimenting on myself, although I’m going to try them on a few friends as well before I put them up on my Etsy Store.

tat1

sun fire tat ideas

Online Tarot

May 5th, 2016

A few years ago I decided to create my own Tarot and although I’m an artist, seventy eight cards was a bit daunting.  I did create them, but some of the images are stock art.  One day I will get around to creating new images, probably birds as I do love drawing them… so when I have a spare few hundred hours I’ll do that.

I researched and wrote all the meanings, they are brief but have significance to me and I think they still work well for me.

There is a link at the bottom of the sidebar, or if you want to try it now click here.

There is a database that stores the readings, so if you can’t print it, go to the overview page and if you save the link you can go back and look at it again.  I have quite a lot of space on my hosting, so have no plans to empty the database for a while.  I could do logins and such but it is rather a lot of work for a simple little tool.

Blessed Beltane

May 5th, 2016

Well the weather for Beltane was a bit dismal, but things have certainly brightened up this week in Mid-Devon, and we’re having a mini heat wave now.  I’ve been managing to get out in the garden and start doing a bit of weeding after 18 months of mother’s ill health and then mine, so the garden needs a lot of work, but I’m trying to do it, little by little.

I’ve started designing some temporary tattoos for my Etsy store, I decided to start with Summer Solstice themed and noticed I was swinging between two design styles, so am going to do two different sheets, one titled Sun and Fire and the other Henna Lace.  My paper supplier has of course run out of tattoo paper, but it gives me a bit more time to finalise the designs.  I’m also planning a Black and grey series for later in the year for Samhain… I’ll post images as I go and let you know when they are available in my shop.

sun fire tat ideas

Happy Imbolc

February 1st, 2016

Imbolc

The first days of Spring,

Winter is ending,

Snow is melting,

First buds are showing.

Imbolc the festival of Brigid,

Burning bright and lighting the way for Spring in all its glory.

The beginning, the first breath before the earth starts to ripen,

The circle turns, bringing new life and hope.

It feels strange to be celebrating Imbolc when I feel like we haven’t had a proper winter this year.   Imbolc is not a festival we do much for, it’s a time for contemplation and planning for the year to come.

I have started my online watercolour class, and so far so good, I hope to post some examples soon.

The sun returns

January 7th, 2016

Well the solstice has been and gone and the plans that we had to go out on the morning and find a yule log were put to bed with Gareth as he had man flu.  It’s been a quiet holiday, with lots of cooking and eating, the year before I felt we had missed out as it’s difficult to buy food to cover four allergies/intolerances, so this year I did a lot of cooking and most of it was a success.  I made the cake as posted before, although the decorations didn’t turn out quite how I wanted, gluten free lebkuchen, apple and mincemeat tart, and mushroom  wellington for our Yule main.  I’ve also been playing around with coconut panna cotta using agar agar which worked surprisingly well so will be added to the regular repertoire.

As my real world art course was cancelled I’ve signed up for an online course which I’m hoping to start soon.  The dismal, dreary, constant rain we’ve had for months has put me off adventuring outside and has been quite depressing.  However, I have plans for a couple of paintings and poems to go with, which I have started, so all is not lost yet.

Winter is coming

November 18th, 2015

Well my plans for the watercolour course have fizzled out as the course got cancelled due to lack of interest.  I’ve had this problem with learndevon before, they don’t seem to do much promoting.  I’ve contacted the artist running the course and she’s planning to try again in the spring and I might try promoting it myself to see if I can get people interested. I think in the interim I might try an online course.  I have been painting, mainly autumnal leaves, and am beginning to get my colours to blend nicely.  When I was a child I was fan of Rosina Wachtmeister partly because I love cats, and partly because I loved the metallic elements she added.  On this theme I outlined a recent leaf watercolour with a  bronze pen which worked very well, what didn’t work so well was highlighting the veins in gold, the pen was a bit too fat and the lines are too big, but it’s given me some ideas.  I’ve also decided, after watching a few videos on youtube to start sketching simple shapes like leaves with watercolour pencils rather than graphite pencils as they give a softer line.  I’ll post some photos soon of how I’m getting on.

As the weather is drawing in here, we’ve had rain and lots of wind so the garden is a riot of fallen leaves and as we head towards the solstice, like most people I’m making preparations for that, including starting my Yule cake today.  With all the food allergies (bananas, citrus, gluten and dairy) in this house, I have to make everything from scratch.  I substitute citrus peel for crystalised ginger in my cake and it works really well.  I have some ideas for decorating it this year and I’ll post a photo when I’m done.  Now to think about Solstice cards…