Tag Archives: gluten free

Halloween Special- Spicy Roast Pumpkin

We have filmed a Halloween special and it is a delicious recipe with origins from Italy. You’ll notice that our make up artist made us look even more witch like than usual, largely on the instructions of Fanny who felt that looking even more gorgeous was quite necessary.

fanny and brenda's spicy herb roast pumpkin - ideal for halloween

Ingredients to serve 4

1-1.5kg pumpkin
350ml double cream
100ml milk
As much garlic as you like (we used 5 cloves)
A handful of red chilli flakes
Fresh thyme
100g fresh strong cheddar/gruyere/parmesan. We used a cheddar parmesan mix
Sea salt and ground black pepper for seasoning


Preheat the oven to 150°c

Cut lid off pumpkin

Scoop out seeds

Squish garlic through a press and add to milk and cream

Add thyme,chillies,salt and pepper

Heat cream,milk,garlic,thyme,chillies,salt and pepper

Bring to boil and allow mixture to thicken

When hot, pour into pumpkin

Sprinkle in half the cheese

Replace the lid of the pumpkin and place in oven

Remove lid and sprinkle with pepper and rest of cheese

Bake for 15 minutes more

Scatter over the remaining thyme

Scoop the pumpkin and cream into bowls

Serve with a wedge of crusty bread

Windfall Plum Crumble

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free photography by simon c bennett
It never fails to amaze me that people can think that free fruit is probably ghastly or at worst poisonous. It’s very useful that such ignorance pervades when foraging, as free food of this ilk is a superb bounty for the cook that desires high quality but doesn’t want to pay through the nose at the local supermarket. Sometimes free food is growing in one’s own garden.

Fanny has a very old plum tree in her garden which she studiously ignores, as it obliterates a ghastly anti social neighbour when it’s in full leaf in the summer. So it is rather unruly but rather fabulously it does tend to crop quite heavily. I suspect it is an Early Rivers plum, – small purpley skin with yellow flesh. It’s better cooked than raw – there are more interesting plums for the fruit bowl if I am honest.

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free

Ruby the cat looked astonished as she saw me scrabbling around on all fours picking up the fallers. I tend to leave the ones that have been eaten by the insects (- although they are probably the sweeter ones). However once I had my kg of plums I strode back to the kitchen, washed them, de-stoned them and put them in a small pan with about 200ml of water and some sugar to stew them for about quarter of an hour.

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free

And all this before breakfast! Fanny meanwhile was sleeping her head off upstairs and I can tell you the snoring was horrendous. How there aren’t cracks in the foundations I really don’t know.

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free photographer simon bennett

Whilst the plums were stewing I got out some ground almonds, butter and some almond flour and combined them till I had a flakey texture in my hands.

I poured the gorgeous plums into the souffle dish, added some cinnamon and star anise and a measure of plum liqueur. Actually I added two measures and knocked one back myself to check it was ok. It was perfect. The day had started well.

I then put the almond flour mixture on top and then added a layer of demerara sugar. The trick here is to cook for 35 minutes at 150° and then whack up the temperature for the last 15 mins to 200° to get the sugar to crisp

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free

We then served it with some of Fanny’s home made plain yoghurt!

1 kg of plums
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 measures of plum liqueur ( we used Prucia)
100g ground almonds
100g almond flour
30g of butter

Gluten Free Tarte Tatin Bake off

Regular readers (all one of you) will know that we have an increasing interest in the making of our own pastry and the use of different flours. This week we have been experimenting with chestnut flour and almond flour in a tarte tatin bake off.

So which is the better?

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

Recipe 1 Chestnut flour pastry

100g chestnut flour
70g cold butter- diced
15g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 table spoons of cold water or more if necessary.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

This is not the easiest flour to work with. It’s a very dry rustic smelling flour which has a gritty sensibility to it. As Niki Segnit says in her book  “The Flavour Thesaurus” (an excellent book about how flavours work together – I don’t agree with every single one but it’s a well written tome nonetheless)  “chestnut flour has a curious aroma, somewhere between cocoa and silage, which makes for a rustic flavour experience. I mean really rustic: it tastes like the floor of a shepherds refuge.” One can assume it’s not a favourite in the Segnit household then. That said; it is rustic and coarse and has a low fat content, but that is also its appeal. It is quite difficult to work with initially and needs to be coaxed a bit to get what you require- a nice flat pastry for the tarte tatin top.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

Recipe 2 Almond flour pastry

150g Almond flour
10g cold butter
15g icing sugar

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

A very different flour – crumblier, less gritty, and much more oil content. I don’t always use butter but sometimes I add it for a little bit of luxury, because frankly living with Fanny’s long face is almost too much to bear. It is also much more moist which means that it binds more easily. Rolled out on a floured surface it is a sticky flour and will need some care as you lift it on to the apples. This feels like a luxuriant pastry and indeed it tastes like it – even before being cooked!

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

To prepare the pastry:

Put the flour and butter into a mixing bowl and rub the flour and butter together till you get a crumbly texture. Once you have, add the icing sugar and bring it together in a ball. The chestnut flour will require the eggs and some water to help it bind.
Now leave it in the fridge to harden up.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

Ingredients for the caramel mixture

100g butter
100g demerara sugar

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

Tart filling ingredients

1 kg Cox Orange Pippins (or similar eating apples)
Zest and juice from one lemon.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour


Get yourself a flan pan for the tarte tatin.

First peel your apples, core them and slice them quite thinly.

Place the butter and sugar in a pan and on a low heat melt the sugar and butter and stir. You will need to cook it for about five minutes, stirring. When it starts to darken take it off the heat and pour it into the flan dish.

Then arrange your apples on top of the caramel

Turn on oven and preheat to 180°C

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
Now take the pastry out of the fridge, flour your board and grab your rolling pin.

Roll out your ball carefully. Whichever flour you have used will take some care to roll out as neither of these binds with the flexibility of a normal processed plain flour. When it comes to lifting the pastry on to the apples, beware that the almond pastry could be quite sticky and may need to be helped off the floured board. If you are using the chestnut pastry, you may find it is more crumbly – do not worry this is standard.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
Place the pastry onto the apples and tuck it in at the sides.

Place the flan pan the oven on a flat baking tray for 30 minutes till brown.

When it is cooked you will need to turn it out of the flan base pretty quickly – and before the caramel sets. Place a plate or a board over the pan and turn upside down. Let gravity do its work.

Serve with a large bowl of chantilly cream.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
Both of these tartes have distinctive qualities. The chestnut would be a lovely wintry recipe with its robust earthy tones. The almond pastry is much more luxuriant and presents a quite different flavour, and the almond one won the vote here. The choice is yours!

No more tasteless pastry for us

forays into pastry making

A little while ago Brenda was making apple strudels. I don’t know what got into her but she started making these infernal things and I had to keep on giving them away when she wasn’t looking. They were perfectly acceptable but after the 20th had been baked it seemed kinder to let other people enjoy them.

Now I’ll be frank. All the recipes included the use of pre-made pastry – in this case filo. I became aware that my taste buds were picking up no sense of flavour, and the texture was like thin cardboard. Her fillings were excellent so I know it wasn’t Brenda having a senior moment. She used different pastry brands but the end result was much the same. In my view that wasn’t very satisfactory and I informed her that she would be better off spending some time studying the art of pastry before we had to suffer any more.

Furthermore we have to think about Laura the lodger who is a coeliac and has problems with gluten. Therefore, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to see where we could take this exploration.

The first of these was to use ground almonds instead of wheat flour. It is difficult to make this seem like a gluey dough that will stick together, and it does take some patience because of its crumblier texture. However the results were significant- a great flavour and much better texture. If you’re serious about your pies and tarts then keep tuned here at FannyandBrenda.com as we are developing our art and will share with you the secrets as we learn them.

For the almond pastry:

300g ground almonds
1tsp sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g soft but not melted butter

Mix all the pastry ingredients together to create a dough. Chill for half an hour to an hour as it’s very sticky – while that’s chilling, put the oven on 200°C (180°C if fan assisted)

Meanwhile, use the time to butter a 24cm tart dish.

Take the pastry from the freezer and using a WELL floured rolling pin (we used potato flour for this just so we could inform Laura that there is no wheat in this dish at all) and roll out to approximately 3mm thick on flat greaseproof paper or baking paper. You will have to roll it carefully towards the edges because of its crumbly texture.

Then line the greased tin with your pastry -to do this pop the tin upside down over the pastry and and then you invert the whole thing – it is unfortunately quite delicate and by the way, feel free to fill any holes or gaps with the spare that you cut from the edges).

Line the tart dish with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans (or anything else suitable), bake for 10 mins, remove from the oven and take out the parchment and baking beans and put the pastry case back in for another 10 mins to brown.This is better if its left to become a good biscuity colour.

At this point you are ready for the filling of your choice, sweet or savoury.