gluten-free

date-caramel and carob shortbread squares (V, GF)

4th March 2022

These date-caramel shortbread squares are from Aran Goyoaga new book ‘Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE.’

‘Here, pecan shortbread is topped with date caramel and a thin layer of chocolate, nuts and seeds.  The date caramel is more of a paste than a traditional caramel, but it smells and taste just like the classic, with the benefit of being naturally sweet.’ – Aran Goyoaga 

The changes which were made to the original recipe:

  • Toasting the pecan nuts in the crust
  • Swapping the chocolate for a carob glaze
  • Mixing the toasted nuts and seeds with maple syrup over heat to make them extra sweet and crunchy on top.

date-caramel and carob shortbread squares

(If you don’t have carob pieces, you could use this carob glaze.)

makes 18 squares

preparation 20 mins

baking 25 mins

cooling and setting time 3 hours

date-nut crust

⅔ cup/100g pecans

115g (about 7) plump pitted Medjool dates 

¾ cup/105g superfine brown rice flour

¼ cup/30g tapioca starch

¼ tsp fine rock salt

6 Tbsp/85g cold vegan butter or coconut oil, cut into ½-inch pieces

date caramel

⅓ cup/90g canned full-fat coconut milk

⅓ cup/90g melted virgin coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

⅛ tsp fine rock salt

240g (about 13) plump pitted Medjool dates 

carob/chocolate glaze

150g finely chopped unsweetened carob or chocolate pieces (70%)

1 tsp coconut oil

nut topping

½ cup + 2 Tbsp/60g toasted pecans, pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp raw sesame seeds

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp dried rose petals (optional)

preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Place the pecans in one pan, and the topping mix of pecans and pistachios in another pan, and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, grease the inside of an 8-inch square pan with coconut oil and line with baking paper, letting some hang over thes sides. Set aside. 

2. To make the date-nut crust, combine the pecans, dates, brown rice flour, nuts, tapioca starch, and salt in a food processor and pulse ten times until the dates and nuts are pulverized. Add the butter and pulse 5 times, until the dough becomes a dry crumble, and sticks together when pressed. If it feels dry, add a tsp of ice cold water.

3. Firmly press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, making sure it is evenly spread. *Use an extra square piece of baking paper to place over the top, run a flat bottomed cup over to even out. Use the edges of the baking paper, to fold over and run your finger along to create level sides and corners.

4. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden. Remove, and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the layers.

5. To make the date caramel, in a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and dates. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

6. Let the dates steep in the coconut milk for 10 minutes, then purree in a food processor. Be patient- it will take 3 – 5 minutes to puree to a fine and creamy texture. Scrape the date caramel onto the cooled crust and spread evenly. See above*.

7. To make the carob glaze, in a medium heatproof bowl, add the carob/chocolate pieces and coconut oil. Fill a small saucepan with one-quarter full with water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl on top and stir until melted. Pour over the date caramel and spread evenly.

8. To make the nut topping, oven medium heat, place the toasted nuts and sesame seeds in a small pan, add the maple syrup and stir until all are coated and maple syrup is absorbed, 1 – 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

9. Sprinkle the nuts and seeds, rose petals over the top of the carob. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until the carob and caramel hardens. This is important, otherwise it will be difficult to cut.

10. Lift the shortbread from the pan using the baking paper, and cut it lengthwise into 4 equal pieces, then cut each piece into quarters. See below for cutting tips. Once cut, store them in the refrigerator.

notes

  • Leftover coconut milk can be measured in seperate 90g bags and frozen for future use!

tips for cutting 

  • Make sure the shortbread have been refrigerated for at least 2 hours and the carob and caramel has fully hardened. Otherwise, the middle will collaspe when cutting.
  • Use a ruler for the most precise results, measure the squares with a ruler and use the tip of a knife to make small marks where you’ll slice. 
  • A chef’s knife is the best tool for slicing. Before you cut, dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a dry kitchen towel, or coat the blade with cooking spray and wipe it clean with a paper towel, before making each cut. Repeat this process between slices.
  • When it’s time to cut, press the blade of the knife down firmly, and then drag it back in a single motion. 

lemon-sourdough pound cake (vegan)

1st March 2021

Another delicious recipe by Aran Goyoaga which was shared in her newsletter. I adapted it slightly by making it vegan; replacing the 3 eggs with ground flaxseed, adding baking powder, using maple syrup instead of honey and reducing the glaze by half. 

I have recently entered the world of sourdough bread and every Monday I make a loaf of sourdough to bake the following day, so this recipe was perfect to use any leftover starter and use up the lemons which are hanging heavy from the trees in the garden. 

The sourdough starter does add more complexity to the crumb. I use a 1:1 ratio, meaning equal amounts of flour and water. 

If you don’t have a sourdough starter to discard, replace it with ½ cup/70g rice flour, and ⅓ cup/80g of water/buttermilk, and increase the baking powder to 1 ½ teaspoon.

Scroll down for the blueberry variation.

To save time, soak the flaxseed first, then grate the zest and prepare the other ingredients giving the flax the time it needs to thicken.

lemon-pound sourdough cake

Preparation 15 minutes

Baking 45 – 55 minutes

Makes one pound cake (11 x 25cm loaf pan)

*I take my starter (sourdough leaven) from the fridge in the evening, just before bed, and measure out 40g, and then feed it – 100g flour + 100g water. Allow it to sit overnight, by the morning, it may be fully active, or even if it has deflated already or hasn’t quite reached its full potential, no matter. With this starter, I make this lemon-pound sourdough cake.

ingredients

3 Tbsp/22g ground flaxseed + ½ cup/100g hot water (allow to sit for 10 mins as below)

¾ cup/150g light brown sugar

2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (zest from 3 lemons), plus more for garnishing

2 Tbsp/50g maple syrup (this gives a crisp caramelized exterior)

*½ cup + 2 Tbsp/200g sourdough starter

½ cup/110g extra virgin olive oil or neutral-tasting oil

¼ cup/55g lemon juice (1 very juicy lemon)

1 cup/140g brown rice flour

1 cup/100g almond flour

¼ cup/30g tapioca starch (or arrowroot powder)

¾ tsp fine rock salt

¾ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

glaze

2 Tbsp/25g light brown sugar

2 Tbsp/27g lemon juice (½ of a very juicy lemon)

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Generously grease your loaf pan.

2. Into a large bowl add the flax with water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then add sugar, zest, maple syrup, sourdough starter, oil and lemon juice – whisk until smooth.

3. In a small bowl measure out the brown rice flour, almond flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking soda and powder. 

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 55 minutes (my oven took 55 minutes.) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, then invert onto a platter.

5. Meanwhile, make the glaze by gently heating the sugar and lemon juice together in a small pan until the sugar dissolves – don’t heat for too long. Immediately brush the top of the cake allowing it to drip over the sides. Generously garnish the top with lemon zest (I like to use a combination of lime, lemon and orange.)  

note

  •  Use a metal pan, as suggested and grease it well. Alternately, you can line it with baking paper which makes it easier to lift out of the pan, but note that the exterior won’t caramelize, as it won’t be in direct contact with the metal.
  • Important! Let the cake cool completely. This will allow the crumb to set nicely and not fall apart.

variation with blueberries

  • Fold in 1 cup/125g of blueberries into the batter.

(Always toss the blueberries in cornstarch or tapioca flour before adding them to your batter. This will stop them from sinking to the bottom.)

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