Scream if you wanna go gluten free…

Finding good gluten-free baked treats is often as easy as finding something good to say about Donald Trump’s hair. It takes dedication, perseverance and the ability to accept it’s likely to never happen…or so I thought until I stumbled into Cookies & Scream on Holloway Road.

An offshoot of the original cookie bar which popped up in Camden Market seven years ago, this little sit-down shop has all the original favourites plus a whole host of new faces on London’s gluten-free baking landscape. Small glass cases at the front of a shop that’s part goth-part Mary Berry were full of everything from cookies the size of dinner plates to brownies that seemed to be melting in a puddle of their own chocolaty goodness to My-Little-Pony coloured fruit pies…oh and did I mention that everything they make here is gluten, wheat, egg & dairy free?

Servings are generous (translation – wear your most elasticated of waistbands) and well worth their price-tags which hover around the £3-4 mark. Staff are friendly – one guy sporting what are unarguably the best curls in the capital FYI! – and patiently welcoming to a small queue which included everyone from school kids to OAP’s on the afternoon I visited. Read More

A virtuous take on the classic brownie with the help of a surprising ingredient…

Brownies. I swear, if there’s anything guaranteed to knock you off your diet or induce your waistband to inexplicably shrink, this is the gooey, fudgey, cocoa laden culprit but is there a way to have your cake and eat it?

Brownies were first created in 1893 at the time of the Chicago World Fair when a chef at the Palmer Hotel was asked to come up with a dessert for ladies attending the fair which should be cake like but smaller in form and easy to eat from a lunch box. This first version is still made today at the hotel to the original recipe featuring walnuts & apricot glaze though the addition of extra egg & chocolate in the early 1900’s was when the results became more akin to what we’d perceive today as a brownie.

More recently, there’s been a desire to indulge but with the added benefit of hidden ‘good for you ingredients’ such as sweet potato, beetroot or even black beans. Raw, vegan and vegetarian versions of sweet treats are taking the culinary world by storm and whether you’re Michelin starred or have ventured no further than your own kitchen, it seems everyone wants to eat something naughty without paying the price.

Everyone from Jillian Michaels to Martha Stewart to Jamie Oliver has their take on a ‘healthier’ version of brownies, often substituting things like apple sauce for butter and wholewheat flour for white. A recent glut of recipes for avocado brownies is what really caught my eye though – as someone obsessed with both of these things, the idea of a brownie loaded with good fats as opposed to bad instantly waved a flag of interest in my direction .

Southern-in-Law is a sweet Antipodean blog I stumbled across when searching for the perfect avocado brownie recipe and this formed the basis of a batch I tested on my guinea-pig colleagues at work. The main point of difference is that instead of butter, soft, rich, pale green avocado flesh provides the fat in a flour-free recipe that contains only one quarter cup of sugar – I generally bake with light or dark brown Muscovado sugar as I like the slightly more caramelised flavour and softer texture it provides.

The link to the post can be found here and it really is a simple way of making something that you can feel a tad more virtuous in stuffing down your chops, one silky, rich square at a time.

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An Introduction to Baking at Leiths, week 1…

So after a blissful month at Le Cordon Bleu, a four week ‘Introduction to Baking’ course at Leiths had quite a lot to live up to. When I picked all these courses, I knew that LCB and Leiths were two of the most well known and successful cooking schools and their reputation made feel fairly safe in booking classes with them. I don’t think I was expecting to love LCB quite as much as I did, therefore I trotted off to Goldhawk Road and the first class at Leiths with sky high expectations…

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