I'm not quite sure why I decided to play around with gluten-free recipes this week. Nobody is gluten-intolerant or coeliac in my family, so I've never been under pressure to delve deeply into gluten-free recipes. Let's call it curiosity. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a trend…
What I know is that I'm naturally attracted to food that tastes light and doesn't make me feel heavy; both qualities I've been recognising in good gluten-free cakes. And then there are my customers and friends, of course. As more people are finding out that they have some kind of intolerance to gluten, requests for dishes to be gluten-free have become a part of daily life.
My main criterion when working on these recipes was that first and foremost they should pass the deliciousness test. A cake that doesn't put a smile on your face when you take the first bite just isn't worth eating. And with the ever-increasing selection of gluten-free flours now stocked in supermarkets, there is no reason why we shouldn't all be able to have our cake and eat it.
Spiced carrot muffins with maple-syrup mascarpone icing
When making these for the first time I was sure I had messed up somewhere – the mixture seemed too wet and sloppy, nothing like a "proper" muffin batter. I shouldn't have worried: they baked beautifully.
150ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
125g rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
200g golden caster sugar
175g carrots, coarsely grated
Grated zest 1 orange
50g pecans, finely chopped, plus extra for decoration
2 tbsp maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Grease a 9-hole muffin tin with oil. Combine the rice flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and spices in a large bowl. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl and stir in the 150ml of vegetable oil and sugar.
Tip in the carrots, orange zest and 50g of pecans, and combine. Add the flour-spice mixture and fold with a large metal spoon until well combined. Spoon evenly into the tin. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes until well risen and golden. Remove from the tray and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Tip the mascarpone into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon to soften. Fold through the maple syrup and top the muffins. Top with the extra pecans.
Clementine and almond tray bake with a ginger, cardamom and pomegranate syrup
I don't think a cake could be more deliciously gooey and sticky than this. It's also unintentionally quite festive. Sherry, anyone?
Softened butter, for greasing
250g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
For the syrup
100g caster sugar
2 thick slices ginger
3 cardamom seeds, bashed with the side of a knife
Seeds of ½ pomegranate
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas4. Grease a 30cm x 40cm baking tin and line with greaseproof paper. Whizz the clementines in a blender or food processor until you have a smooth purée. Add the eggs, sugar, almonds and baking powder and blend until well combined. Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.
For the syrup, place the sugar, ginger and cardamom in a pan with 150ml of water. Heat slowly, stirring, till the sugar dissolves, then simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside and, once cooled, remove the ginger and cardamom and discard. Stir the pomegranate seeds into the syrup and spoon over the cake just before serving.
Chocolate, pistachio and buckwheat cake
A rich, grown-up dessert cake.
150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
150g 70 per cent plain chocolate, broken into pieces
125g golden caster sugar
50g buckwheat flour
Icing sugar, to dust
250g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp good-quality berry compote
Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 6 to 8 minutes, until very thick and pale. Fold in the melted-chocolate mixture then the ground pistachios and buckwheat flour. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until just set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out. Dust with icing sugar.
Swirl the compote into the yoghurt in a bowl. Serve with slices of the warm cake.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, and 50 Sekforde Street, London EC1, tel: 020 7251 9032, grangerandco.com. Follow Bill on Instagram at bill.granger
Food preparation: Lizzie Harris; Props merchandising: Rachel JukesReuse content