Three simple desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth
Quick sweet treats you can make at home (and a cheat for absolute beginners!)
I love cooking but when it comes to baking and making desserts I’m not so confident. As far as I’m concerned, any savoury dish can be saved if it goes slightly wrong and I also think it’s easier to be creative. So I thought I’d ask fellow mum in business, Ali Walsh, to give us some tips and hints as she is the expert.
Over to you Ali
Hate baking? Want to try but don’t know where to begin? Or maybe you’ve had a cake fail and feel it’s a case of ‘once burnt, twice shy’.
Whatever your dessert woes, there’s always something you can get right. Trust me, as someone who once made a love heart cake, iced it in the tin and discovered it was raw, I’ve had my fair share of disasters.
I’ve also had to contend with a big setback. At the age of twenty, I got coeliac disease, which threw my love of baking into stormy times indeed. How on earth would I get anything to rise without gluten? Bread was swiftly deemed a no-go area, as were biscuits. Cakes came out like chicken feed (powdery, dense and gritty) and there seemed nothing for it but to dismiss any food that wasn’t naturally gluten-free.
And you may feel the same. If your little one can’t have wheat or you’ve got an intolerance to dairy, it may have put you off experimenting in the kitchen. Let’s face it, not many of us persevere after multiple cake-bombs.
But persevere I did! And I’ve now struck gold with an award-winning cake business.
So, the following three ideas are not only for beginners but also for people who are still struggling, possibly because of a dietary need. All the recipes are naturally gluten- and wheat-free. Two don’t contain dairy or egg and none of them contain nuts.
Ah, the good old meringue. Never gets made enough. Those ones in the supermarket will be fine, right? Well, if you’ve tried one lately you’ll know they’re rock hard and taste like sugar straight from the bag. Although that might be every child’s dream come true, it’s a bit much to take as an adult, particularly if you have to look after that darling dream child ten minutes later when they’re bouncing off the walls.
The secret to a good meringue is
- not to get any egg yolk in it, not even the teeniest trace
- to check your oven is at a very low temperature indeed. I once had an oven where meringues never worked. A quick check with a thermometer showed it was a hundred degrees higher than it was meant to be – seriously – A HUNDRED!
You’ll need 3 large eggs & 120g caster sugar.
Just two ingredients.
Could it get any easier?
Well, an electric whisk helps, but if you’re keen to improve your biceps, a hand whisk will do. Just don’t hate me when you’re there for an hour trying to beat 3 egg whites into submission.
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.
- Line a baking tray with parchment.
- Gently crack an egg into a saucer.
- Place an egg-cup over the yolk and tip the white into a bowl. Put the yolk into a mug.
- Repeat with the other two eggs and put the yolks to one side.
If you’re feeling brave you can make those yolks into a custard. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
- Whisk the egg whites until they firm up and you get soft peaks in the mixture.
- Gently start sprinkling the sugar on top and fold in the sugar.
Remember: gently! This is not the time to take it out on the egg whites; you should have done that earlier.
- Using two spoons, place a dollop of meringue on the baking tray and leave 5cm before placing another dollop alongside. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture.
- Place in the oven for 90 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, they should be tap-able underneath.
Is tap-able a word? If not, it should be.
- When they’ve cooled, sandwich them together with fromage frais. If you’re feeling really decadent, melt some chocolate and dip the tops in.
NOTE: pop plain meringues into an airtight container and they’ll last 2 weeks. They also freeze.
Who said all sweet treats need a sweet base? Not this one! If you’re trying to cut down on sugar or you find it a little sickly, this is a perfect combination of savoury and sweet.
You’ll need: gram flour, rice flour, olive oil, yogurt and a selection of fruit & chocolate sauce.
- Add a cup of gram flour and a cup of rice flour to a bowl and mix.
There’s no need to use American cups – just grab whatever you have from the cupboard.
- Add a cup of water and mix to a paste.
- Add another cup of water and mix again.
- Cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
- Add a little oil into a frying pan and heat fairly high.
- Pour over about 100ml of dosa mix and quickly spread around the pan.
You may not get this right first time so use your initial pancake as a tester.
- Fry gently for 2 or 3 minutes and then flip over when the sides start to golden.
- Fry for another 2 minutes and then turn out onto a plate.
- Serve immediately with a dollop of natural yogurt, your favourite fresh fruit and a squirt of chocolate sauce.
Nature’s Store does one that’s gluten-free and vegan.
Cheat’s pudding (otherwise known as ice cream with chocolate honeycomb)
So, you really can’t bake? No-one will ever guess with this cheat’s pudding. All you need is some vanilla ice cream and a Crunchie. And to make this even more of a cheat, I once saw Gordon Ramsay do this live, so yes, I’m a cheat too for letting you in on his secret.
- Place scoops of ice cream in glass dessert bowls.
- Using a grater, finely grate a Crunchie bar over the top to produce a beautiful powder of chocolate honeycomb.
- Take to the dinner table, triumphant!
Of course, if you really can’t get anything right or you’re just short on time, you may prefer to contact a professional. I’ve been running my gluten-free cake business for 8 years now and have won multiple awards for my creations (years of testing new recipes finally paid off!). I also offer vegan cakes, which means I pretty much cover every allergy or dietary requirement going.
Get in touch: www.thelocalbakehouse.com or call me on 0117 908 9193.
What will you bake?
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