Browsing Category


baking gluten free

Banana Rhubarb Bread

April 12, 2017

Make a BIG loaf of this Banana Rhubarb Bread and feast on it for breakfast! I love it, it’s gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free too. Swap out the rhubarb for other fruit such as feijoa, apple, pear, berries etc.

gluten free/dairy free/refined sugar free

Makes a LARGE size loaf, halve the recipe if you only have a small loaf tin.

1½ cups buckwheat flour
1½ cups almond meal
2 cups of light muscavado sugar (or another unrefined sugar)
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
4 teaspoons of cinnamon
4 bananas + 1 for decoration
2 eggs
1 cup of dairy free coconut yoghurt
½ cup of grapeseed or rice bran oil
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla

Pre-heat over to 160 degrees celsius.

Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add all of the other ingredients on the list above and process till mixed. Tip the mixture into a large bowl.

Add 1 cup of chopped rhubarb (or other fruit) and ¼ cup of chia seeds (optional).
Mix well.

Pour mixture into a large loaf tin lined with baking paper.

Slice a banana lengthwise and place the 2 halves on the top of the loaf for decoration or if you are using rhubarb you could use 2 stalks instead.

BAKE 1 hour – test with skewer, bake another ten minutes if required and test again.

Cool in tin for 30 mins then remove to a cooling rack.

Keeps well for several days in an airtight container and also freezes well 🙂

Go a step further, make it into French Toast like I have done on the Bestow Beauty Blog here –


Chocolate salami or Čokoladna salama

December 18, 2016

It’s a dream of mine to be a travelling food writer/photographer so I recently decided to start researching that idea. As I’m part Croatian that seemed as good a place as any to begin which lead me to this stunning blog – I am in awe of John’s photography and in particular his Croatian recipes, this is one of them.

Čokoladna salama is a traditional Croatian christmas treat that is created to look like salami – relax that is where the resemblance ends, this is solid chocolate decadence with an intoxicating mix of figs, spices, nuts and rum!


This is John’s recipe with a couple of small changes.

Makes 1 x 25 cm log

200g dark chocolate
100g butter
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp rum
¼ tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg & ground cloves
1 tablespoon of blanched almonds, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of blanched pistachios, roughly chopped
6 Arrowroot biscuits, broken into small pieces
2 dried figs, chopped
½ cup ground almonds
Icing sugar, to coat

Place the chocolate and butter into a glass or ceramic bowl over a pot of simmering water. Melt gently until smooth.

Remove from heat, add the egg yolks and mix for about a minute. Add the cocoa, caster sugar and rum. Mix well. Then add the remaining ingredients, except the icing sugar. Stir well and set aside or refrigerate until it’s firm enough to shape with your hands (about 15 minutes). Place the mixture along the centre of a large rectangular piece of plastic wrap. Fold the wrap over and mould into a log shape of about 25 cm long. Twist the ends to seal and refrigerate for overnight or longer if you can so that the flavours develop.

To serve, roll in icing sugar then slice at least 5 mm thick.





baking desserts gluten free

Kumara and Boysenberry Cake – Gluten Free

December 9, 2015

Here’s a stunning cake recipe from our recipe journal – Bestow Treats II. I personally love this cake, it embraces New Zealand food with the use of kumara and berries, is easy to make and tastes delicious. Make it for Christmas day just to be different or make it to take to pre Christmas celebrations, it’s also great as a dessert.

Now that berry season is upon us, use fresh berries rather than frozen.


3 cups of almond meal
Pinch of Himalayan or sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1/4 cup of macadamia or coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups (500g) red kumara (sweet potato), cooked, mashed or pureed
1 cup of boysenberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius.

Line the base of a round, springform 23cm (9 inch) cake tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl mix together dry ingredients. Add oil, vanilla, eggs and kumara. Mix well. Fold through boysenberries until colour is just starting to run.

Spoon mixture into cake tin and smooth out. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes until top has browned.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cool for a further 15 minutes.

Slice and serve with coconut yoghurt (dairy free) or whipped coconut cream.


Want more gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free recipes?

Many more recipes like this one are available in a gorgeous recipe journal – Bestow Treats II, that I have co-produced (as well as 3 other journals) with Janine Tait from Bestow Beauty.

BESTOW TREATS II is a gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free recipe book available through my online store –


baking desserts gluten free

Kate’s chocolate cardamom cake

June 24, 2015

Yes this is a rich, decadent chocolate cake BUT it is also gluten free and refined sugar free. And the cardamom overtones make it so much better than any ordinary chocolate cake. The recipe was kindly given to me by Kate from Boy Oh Boy cafe at Waihi Beach after I tried her one – I loved it soooooo much. I have changed the recipe a little by using coconut sugar and grinding cardamom pods that were given to me as a gift from Southern India. Enjoy x


with Avocado Mousse frosting

6 free range eggs
300g of fair trade dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa)
150 grams of butter
10 cardamom pods, ground or 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
4 tablespoons of coconut sugar

1 large, ripe avocado
1/2 cup of cacao powder plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup of 100%, organic maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of himalayan salt, ground

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
Line the base of a 19cm (7.5″)springform, non-stick cake tin with baking paper. I always use this size tin for a standard cake recipe so that I get a higher cake.
Melt the butter and chocolate together over a low heat. Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls. Add two tablespoons of the sugar to each bowl. Beat the egg yolks and coconut sugar until a pale caramel colour. Stir in the melted butter/chocolate mixture and the cardamom. Whip the egg whites and coconut sugar until firm and glossy. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour into your prepared cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 mins. Check after 30 mins by inserting a skewer and see if it comes out clean, if not cook for another 5-10 mins. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 30 mins then remove to a baking rack to cool completely. The cake will sink in the middle but that will be filled with frosting so don’t worry too much about it.

Blend all the frosting ingredients well with a stick blender, you want this to my smooth and silky. Spread all over your cake! You will be able to share this cake with a few people as smaller slices are enough due to the richness.














baking desserts

A birthday and a beautiful baked lemon cheesecake

June 1, 2014

I lived in Germany once, Bavaria to be exact, the home of the most outstanding cheesecakes in the world. I learnt to make them with quark, a soft, fresh curd that is lower in fat than a cream cheese and has a lovely fine texture. Luckily I can source quark from local German chef – Roland from Waitete Orchard Restaurant. This cheesecake is also one of my son’s favourites and today is his birthday 🙂 Happy Birthday Rhys xx




Fresh quark, nom nom, looks like freshly made vanilla ice cream!


Make your biscuit base first… then set it in the fridge while you make the filling…


A beautiful, creamy, velvety mixture.



Pre heat oven to 150 degrees celsius. Line a springform tin with baking paper.

250g digestive biscuits, crushed
120g butter, melted
3 tablespoons of caster sugar (optional)

Combine all the above ingredients. Spread the crumbed mixture over the bottom of your springform tin and press firmly. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

1kg fresh quark  (you could exchange for half cream cheese and half ricotta)
250g caster sugar
3 tablespoons of plain flour
4 fresh organic eggs
120g butter, melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
zest of one lemon

Combine the quark, sugar and flour in a large bowl and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, butter, vanilla and lemon zest and beat until smoothly blended. Pour the filling over the biscuit base in the springform tin. Place the tin on a baking tray as there may be some leakage from the base. Bake for 1 – 1 1/4 hours until the filling is set and the top is golden brown. Cool in tin and serve.





Cranberry & pistachio shortbread cookies

September 16, 2013

I first starting making these about 6 years ago and even though I don’t think I’m much of a baker I enjoy making these and love the taste. This is quite a big mix and makes alot of cookies, I always forget to count how many but I’d guess about 30.


350g Butter
2 cups icing sugar
5 cups plain flour
2 tsp Vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
1/4 cup of Milk
1 egg yolk
1 cup dried Cranberries
70g pistachio nuts

Beat butter and icing sugar untill pale and creamy. Add the flour, vanilla, lemon zest, milk and egg yolk. Mix well. Add the cranberries and pistachio nuts and mix to a firm dough. Turn mixture out on to floured surface. Shape into a long log or two shorter logs. Wrap in glad wrap or baking paper and refrigerate 1 hour. When the cookie mix is firm, slice into rounds about 1cm wide and place on baking tray. Bake at 180°C untill golden brown – 10-15 mins.


Marshmallow cookie mini-cakes

August 29, 2013

These were so much fun to make, I had a lovely assistant – Georgia age 17yrs and to be fair we got into a right sticky mess but it was well worth the effort! These are hugely decadent but oh so awesome. Originally I saw them here on Gourmet Traveller and Knew I had to make them. I changed the marshmallow recipe to one that I always used as a child, baking at home.


180g softened butter
170g brown sugar
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 eggs
220g each plain flour and wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For brown sugar biscuits, preheat oven to 180C. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes), then scrape down sides of bowl, add eggs and beat to combine. Sieve in flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt, and mix to combine. Divide dough in half, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick, then place on baking trays lined with baking paper and refrigerate until firm (30 minutes). Cut out 7cm rounds with a cookie cutter and place on baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake until dark golden (8-10 minutes), then cool completely.

1 cup cold water
1 tbsp gelatin powder
1 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 cup icing sugar

Place the cold water in a saucepan and sprinkle over the gelatin powder. Add sugar then bring to the boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil gently for eight minutes, then remove from the heat to cool a little. Place the egg white in a clean bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Beat in the icing sugar, and then slowly add the warm gelatin mixture. Continue beating until marshmallow is thick and fluffy. Spread marshmallow into a slice baking tin lined with baking paper. leave to cool.

Cut the marshmallow into segments with a 7cm cookie cutter, these are the filling.

1 tin of caramel condensed milk
250g dark cooking chocolate
1/2 cup cream

Empty the caramel into a small bowl and beat till nice and smooth – this stuff is divine so try not to eat it all! Put aside.

When you are ready to assemble your cookie cakes melt the chocolate gently in a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed in a pot of simmering water. When melted whisk in the cream

Spread biscuit bases thickly with the caramel, then top half the biscuits with the marshmallow rounds. Sandwich with remaining biscuits and drizzle or spread with the chocolate. Devour!

Note The dulce de leche available in jars and cans from select delicatessens is the perfect thick, spreadable consistency for these biscuits.


baking desserts gluten free tarts

Pear & manuka honey tarts – gluten free

July 18, 2013

These are delicious, light tarts that are not too sweet (no refined sugar) and are gluten free. I have also made this as one large tart you just need to cook the crust longer.



Almond Crust

130g butter
1/3 cup manuka honey
200g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Melt the butter and honey together then add in a bowl with all other ingredients, mix well. Using your fingertips, press dough into the bottoms and sides of 8 x 8cm tart pans (buttered or nonstick) ensuring the crust is not too thick. Prick holes with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 10 mins or until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tins, then place in the fridge til cold before you remove them carefully from the tins. I find this step helps with perfect tart shells.

Pear & honey filling

5 ripe pears, thinly sliced (I leave the skin on)
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup manuka honey
6 small sprigs of rosemary

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Turn down a little and cook until the pear are soft but not mushy and the mixture is surupy, this takes about 20 – 30 mins. Keep stirring to avoid the mixture from burning.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

When you’re ready to serve, scoop pear compote into the tart shells. Top each tart with a dollop of thickened cream, greek yoghurt or mascarpone and garnish with rosemary.

baking desserts tarts

Portugese custard tarts

June 29, 2013

Anything with custard in it is a winner in my world especially these portugese custard tarts (Pasteis de nata). Eat them while they are still warm from the oven, you’ll think you have died and gone to heaven.

My puff pastry seems to ‘overpuff’ they shouldn’t look quite as puffy as they do but they are still yummy. I’ve also made them with sweet short pastry which is equally as good but not the traditional way.

1 x 500g pack of flaky puff pastry
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 tblsp cornflour
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod, scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry and cut into 12cm rounds with a cookie cutter. Line muffin tins. Prick the pastry with a fork.

Place the sugar and water into a pot, stir and bring to the boil. Boil for 3 mins till syrupy. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

In a bowl mix the cornflour and 1 cup of milk to a smooth paste. Whisk in the egg yolks, the second cup of milk and the vanilla. Pour this mixture into the pot with the sugar syrup and mix well.

Stir constantly over a low heat until the custard thickens, takes about ten minutes. You should now have a thick, velvety custard.

Remove from the heat, cover and cool.

Place spoonfuls of cooled custard into the pastry cases and bake for 20 mins until custard is golden brown.




Nourish feijoa, coconut and ginger cake

June 26, 2013

I live in a small community which sometimes drives me batty but mostly I love. I share this community with some awesome people like Jayne from offthebench. Today she made a cake off the Nourish magazine website which then I photographed and was forced to eat. What a delicious cake even if Jayne tripped while carrying it which caused it to sink a bit in the middle. And the smell wafting through the house as it was cooking was divine.

As a rule I’m not a big fan of crystallized ginger but the subtle flavour with the feijoas is perfect.

So while the cake was not 100% perfect to look at after the tripping incident, the taste was amazing. Thank you Vicki from Nourish Magazine.

1 cup of self raising flour
½ cup coconut
¾ cup sugar
120 g butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8-10 peeled fejoias, cut in half or thirds (depending on the size)
¼ cup crystallised ginger, finely sliced

Mix all the ingredients except the fruit and ginger in a bowl. Pour this batter into a greased 21cm spring form tin (or smaller if you want a higher cake). Cram pack the top with the fruit then spread the ginger on top. Sprinkle the top with some brown or coconut sugar and coconut ships or threads. Bake in a 180°C oven for one hour. Check it is cooked by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Serve with a dollop of cream or yoghurt.