FODMAP Friendly Christmas Recipe – Spiced Gingerbread Cake (also Gluten Free & Dairy Free)

Spiced Gingerbread Cake - FODMAP friendly, gluten free and dairy free - Copy (2)

Christmas is fast approaching – the last time I checked, it was the start of November and I was still comfortably in my mid-twenties. I’m now what most people would call “mid to late” twenties and it’s scaring the hell out of me! Where does the time go – and can I rewind it please? While I sit here and panic not-so-silently, I’ll take the opportunity to share a new recipe for a cake that is a combination of my two favourite Christmas desserts: gingerbread and plum pudding. I don’t think you could get a more Christmas appropriate low FODMAP recipe, if you tried.

But first of all, merry Christmas! Or rather the all encompassing term I heard a couple of years ago: Happy Chrismakwanzakah!

Secondly, I am a HUGE fan of fruit cakes and puddings – I absolutely love them. If there were Beliebers for fruit cakes, I’d be right at the front, wearing a t-shirt and screaming my heart out… but, by some cruel twist of fate (damn you, GLUT-5 fructose transporters), if I was to have a slice now, I’d probably have to down a glass of glucose syrup afterwards to ward off any reactions – which is not a healthy thing to do.

As for gingerbread, it’s quite easily made gluten free and low FODMAP, the instructions for which can be found here.

For me, Christmas is all about food and family. It’s just a pity that so many traditional Christmas desserts aren’t easily adaptable to a low FODMAP diet, as they rely so heavily on fruits higher in fermentable carbohydrates. It’s also especially hard being literally half way around the world from the rest of my family at this time of year but it’s alright… I never cook alone. Or eat alone. Or unwrap my presents without an audience, because every dog knows that the rustling of paper and plastic equals treats.

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Obviously, a proper plum pudding/Christmas pudding/cake would not be FODMAP friendly. In fact, I don’t know if even the best chef in the world could turn a recipe that asked for ONE KILOGRAM of dried fruit per cake into a low FODMAP recipe. Seriously – challenge issued to anyone out there. Jamie Oliver? Stephanie Alexander? Helloooooooooo?

I made this spiced gingerbread cake for Christmas 2014 at a friend’s house. After the flop that was the gingerbread house I had made the year earlier (apparently nobody else liked gingerbread), I decided to tone down the ginger and amp up the other spices, to give it a more well-rounded Christmas taste. In all seriousness, I also wanted to challenge myself a little last year, knowing that my Friendsmas hosts were going all out to make the meal Nat-friendly (thanks Kendal and Raymond, much appreciated), so I decided to add in just a little dried fruit to this cake, in the spirit of festiveness and, really, because whiskey and sultanas need no explanation.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Whiskey is low FODMAP in 30 ml servings.
  2. Sultanas (aka raisins for those in the USA) are tricky. Grapes are low FODMAP in quite generous servings but the drying process means that the amount of sugar per volume of the grape (now sultana) increases. Monash University lists sultanas (very similar to raisins) as high FODMAP even in 1 tbsp. serves. The 1/4 cup of sultanas called for in this recipe, when divided by 12 (the number of servings it makes), means you will get 1 tsp. of sultanas per slice. As a safety measure, the added dextrose should help to balance out the concentrated sucrose but you can always leave them out if you are on elimination or know you react/for peace of mind.
  3. Dried cranberries are a low FODMAP alternative to sultanas, they are safe in 1 tbsp. serves and contain moderate amounts of fructans in 2 tbsp. serves.
  4. Coconut oil contains no carbohydrates, so is low FODMAP.
  5. All the sweeteners used are FODMAP friendly, the dextrose should balance out the extra fructose from the brown sugar (minute amounts) and the extra sucrose from the sultanas.
  6. Make sure your vanilla extract contains no high FODMAP additives.
  7. Use your favourite gluten free plain flour blend, or a self raising blend and omit the baking powder. Spelt flour is low FODMAP enough for some fructose malabsorbers but not for all – it is also NOT gluten free, as it is an ancient variety of wheat. Use what you feel comfortable with, as this cake batter performs equally well with either flour.
  8. Chia seeds are low FODMAP but still a great source of fibre and other nutrients. They work well as a xanthan gum replacement, for those sensitive to gums. If you only have xanthan gum, feel free to use that.
  9. The spices are all low FODMAP.
  10. Coconut milk (watered down coconut cream) is low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, which would be adhered to unless you ate 1/5 of this cake in a sitting.
  11. If you are still in the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, don’t include the optional sultanas/raisins or whiskey.

Spiced Gingerbread Cake

Serves 12-14.

Cake

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 2 tbsp. dextrose
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 500 g gluten free plain flour or spelt flour (not gluten free, omit chia or xanthan gum)
  • 1 tbsp. chia meal or 3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 3 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Optional: 1/4 cup sultanas or up to 1/2 cup of dried cranberries soaked in 1/8 cup whiskey for 4 hours

Royal Icing

  • 1 egg white
  • 1-1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Decorations

  • Nonpareils (the edible silver balls)
  • Strawberries or fruit of choice

At least four hours before you plan to make the cake, start soaking the sultanas or dried cranberries in whiskey. This is an optional step, you can omit the sultanas if they trigger your IBS, or swap in the dried cranberries.

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease your bundt pan, grease and line your 20 cm/9 in cake tin, or line your 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in the coconut oil, maple syrup, castor sugar, dextrose and brown sugar and beat for 1 minute at a low speed, followed by 2 minutes on high. Stop, add in the eggs and vanilla extract, then continue to mix for another minute at a medium speed. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sieve the flour of your choice, chia meal (if using gluten free flour), ground spices and salt and roughly mix them together.

Get the coconut milk ready and then alternate adding thirds of the dry mix and the milk and mixing, until everything is used. If you feel the batter is too runny, don’t use all the milk – coconut milks don’t have a uniform consistency, unfortunately, so yours may be different than mine.

Mix the freshly squeezed orange juice, white wine vinegar and baking powder together and quickly pour it into the cake batter, then mix on high for 30 seconds. Next, add in orange zest and the optional sultanas/dried cranberries and whiskey and mix through until combined. Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake according to the instructions below.

Baking instructions:

  • Bundt pan – bake at 180 C/350 F for 45-50 minutes, or until cake tests clean with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature.
  • Round tin – bake at 180 C/350 F for 50-60 minutes, or until cake tests clean with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature.
  • Muffin tin – makes 12, bake at 180 C/350 F for 15-18 minutes, or until a centre muffin tests clean with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature.

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Once the cake has cooled, flip it out onto your serving dish of choice and make the royal icing.

Beat the egg white until it forms a soft peak (it will look like sea-foam), then slowly add in the sieved icing sugar, until the batter just begins to form stiff peaks. If you add in too much, the icing will be quite stiff and harder to spread – this quality is great when you want to pipe fine details, like on gingerbread biscuits but not when you want to spread the icing easily over an entire cake.

When your icing is ready, immediately ice your cake and sprinkle with the nonpareils, or decorations of your choice. Royal icing dries very quickly when exposed to air, so it becomes rough, harder to spread and less sticky for your decorations. It will keep well for up to one week in an airtight container in the fridge.

This cake can be made a day or two in advance, just ice it no earlier than the night before you want to serve it. Enjoy this cake with freshly made warm vanilla bean custard, vanilla ice cream, lactose free yoghurt or fresh FODMAP friendly fruit. Merry Christmas!

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Low FODMAP & Gluten Free Treats to Spoil your Mum this Mothers’ Day

Mother's Day, low fodmap, fructose malabsorption, gluten free, ibs, irritable bowel syndrome, love, family

As much as I love Seattle, it does suck a little bit (at least), living literally half a world away from your family. Even more-so around holidays; Skype is great but it’s not the same as being there in person. It might be just another Hallmark Holiday to some but I do like having a chance to show my mum (and my dad, when it’s his turn) how much I am grateful for the time they spent caring for and raising me as a kid.

Given that I’m not going to make it to Melbourne by Sunday, even if I could, a phone call will have to do until we’re next together and I can make Mum her chocolate cake and Dad his pecan pie. But for those of you lucky enough to live in the same city as your family, here’s a collection of low FODMAP and gluten free recipes with which you can spoil your mum, whether you chose morning tea, brunch (my favourite) or just fitting it in whenever you can. Hopefully there’s a variety to suit everyone’s needs, including vegan/dairy free, some healthy and others not so much.

There are twenty-seven recipes, one for each year that my beautiful Mum has put up with been graced by my presence.

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We scrub up alright

Sweets

I have my priorities sorted, thank you.

Breakfasts

Salads

Main Meals

Drinks

  • Sangria – Not From A Packet Mix
  • Freshly squeezed mimosas – Inspired Taste (It’s basically the same recipe that I make but have never published… I’ve never measured in the triple sec, though. Use freshly squeezed OJ and limit to one serving)
  • Purple basil lemonade – Fructopia

Maureen’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Brownies – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Old Fashioned Chocolate Brownies - low FODMAP, gluten free, dairy free

When I was younger, a friend of Mum and Dad’s always made a plate of her amazing chocolate brownies on special occasions. At Christmas and on birthdays, Sharon would turn up with an ice cream container filled with chocolatey goodness – and Dad would then say that they weren’t made for the kids. He was terrible at hiding them, though, so it all worked out in the end. The second drawer in the garage filing cabinet wasn’t such a clever place, after all.

For years, I’ve been trying to work up the courage to try out brownies. It’s not that they’re an exact science, or really fiddly, like pastry but they weren’t ever made in my house, so I didn’t have any tried and true recipes to go from/convert to be gluten free and FODMAP friendly…

… Which is why I snagged someone else’s (not so) secret family recipe and FODMAPified that, instead. Apparently it’s at least 75 years old! I’ve been following Maureen, the Orgasmic Chef, for a few years now and am continuously wowed by what she creates – and her pace of blogging. Fair warning, it’s not a blog for those with food intolerances, so you’ll have to put on your thinking caps and tweak the recipes yourself but, really, I like that, as it allows me to give my own flare to meals at the same time.

After my first attempt, I was a little disheartened, as my brownies hadn’t developed the crispy/flaky crust that I love so much. After a bit of searching, I discovered that the more you beat your eggs, the more pronounced this crust will be, as it’s actually a thin layer of meringue. Well, I decided to go all out and whip the egg whites and sugar together before adding them to the mixture and voila! Batch number two had a perfect layer of brownie crispiness on top.

These little beauties take almost no time at all to whip up and you’ll end up with cake-like brownies; just chocolatey and sweet enough to satisfy a mid-afternoon or late night craving without making you feel sick and guilty. Perf. Maureen very kindly allowed me to share my altered version with you guys here, so thank her!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Unsweetened dairy free dark chocolate is low FODMAP in the amounts called for in this recipe.
  2. Coconut oil is FODMAP friendly (it’s 100% fat, no carbs) but it can be replaced with butter if you can tolerate dairy. PS. Butter is low in lactose, just not lactose free.
  3. I’ve reduced the sugar called for in Maureen’s original recipe, both to suit my tastes and to reduce the overall fructose load of the brownies. Feel free to up it back to 2 cups if you want and you know you can tolerate it.
  4. Almonds and walnuts are low FODMAP in the amounts called for in this recipe.
  5. I use milk in this recipe (even though the original doesn’t call for any), as gluten free baked goods are notoriously dry and need a little extra moisture to keep them soft. Use coconut/almond/rice milk etc if dairy free is required, or lactose free dairy milk if not.
  6. The chocolate chips are optional, just, as above, use chocolate that follows your dietary requirements.

Maureen’s Old Fashioned Brownies

Makes approximately 32.

  • 120 g unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp. coconut oil or butter
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten free flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 heaped tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup low FODMAP milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease and line a 9×13″ baking tray – or two 9×9″ cake tins (or there abouts), if you’re like me and don’t have the full sized pan.

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together over a very low heat (so as not to burn the chocolate). Mix thoroughly and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy and soft peaks form, then add in the castor sugar beat for another minute. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture, along with the egg yolks and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Add in the flours, cacao powder and xanthan gum and stir through, before adding in the milk. Finally, thoroughly stir through the chopped nuts and the optional chocolate chips, before pouring the mixture into the prepared baking tins and baking for 20-25 minutes, or until they just test clean with a skewer.

Let them cool to room temperature before slicing and serving, or they might crumble while you cut them. Enjoy them with some fresh strawberries and tea or coffee. Yum.

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And a behind the scenes shot… it’s almost warm enough for the poor, shaggy creature to get a hair cut.

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Banana Oatcakes – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free & No Added Sugar

Low FODMAP Banana Oatcakes - fructose friendly, gluten free, dairy free, no added sugar, vegetarian

Ahh, pancakes; we have a long and complicated history. At the tender age of twelve, I scored a free meal for my entire table at a restaurant in Mordialloc, thanks to the dodgy ice cream that your banana-laden brethren was served with. Maybe my pancakes for breakfast obsession stems from me trying to recreate that scenario at every restaurant and cafe possible (it hasn’t happened yet). Or, maybe, it’s just because you’re so delicious. I guess I’ll never know. My dad’s clever suggestion was to start carrying around a sachet of glass chips (the offender from the ice cream), as he liked not paying for his meal that day and, “could get used to it.” He’s always setting the best examples – though we both know that neither he nor I would do that; karma is a bitch.

Poor Mum, she really had three kids to deal with.

It stands to reason, then, that one of the things I miss most while eating low FODMAP (and nominally gluten free) is being able to safely order pancakes or waffles when out for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that it’s really a good thing – scrambled eggs and veggies is a much healthier and more nutritionally balanced option than a mixture of carbohydrates, more carbohydrates, some nutritious sugar (a fruit-based compote) and syrup thrown on top – but every now and then, a sweet treat for breakfast is okay in my books.

I have previously made flourless banana pancakes, which are delicious and also easy to prepare but almond meal can get expensive and I like to mix things up every now and then. Enter these banana oatcakes! Easy peasy to whip up and cook in 15 minutes and they contain what any kitchen – even a normal one – is likely to stock… everyone has chia seeds nowadays, right? Quick, delicious, nutritious and guilt free – that’s exactly what I want in a breakfast. Bonus – they also keep well, to make ahead of time and take for a portable lunch or snack. I haven’t tried freezing them, though you could always make the batter ahead of time and cook as required.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Oats are low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, according to Monash University. Use gluten free oats if you are sensitive to gluten.
  2. Common bananas are likewise low FODMAP in servings of one medium fruit, at all stages of ripeness. Lady Finger (aka Sugar bananas) do become higher in FODMAPs as they turn brown, just FYI.
  3. Eggs are low FODMAP, though are obviously unsuitable for those with egg allergies/intolerances.
  4. Cinnamon is low FODMAP.
  5. Chia seeds are low FODMAP; they are also little nutritional powerhouses.
  6. I served these with low FODMAP strawberry freezer jam and Greek yoghurt.

Banana Oatcakes

Serves 1.

  • 10 g (1 tbsp.) chia seeds (or sesame seeds, also delicious)
  • 30 g (1/4 cup.) traditional oats, gluten free if required
  • 1 medium ripe banana (common variety)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a clean spice/coffee grinder, blitz the chia seeds and oats to a flour like texture. If you can’t get them fine enough, that’s okay – the oatcakes will still work, they’ll just have visible chia seeds and a few chunks of oats (see last two photos). In a separate small food processor, or by hand, mash the ripe banana and briskly whisk the egg and cinnamon through until smooth. Add the oat/chia flour to the banana batter and blend until thoroughly combined, then set aside.

While the batter thickens a little, preheat your fry pan and melt your choice of oil (olive, coconut, butter etc). Keep the heat at just above medium temperature, as the natural sugars in the banana will burn easily.

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Divide the batter into three or four dollops on the pan and spread to about 5-6 cm in diameter. Cook over the medium heat for 4-5 minutes on the first side and about 3-4 minutes on the second side, until golden brown. Any bigger than this and the oatcakes will probably break as you flip them.

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Remove them from the heat when done and plate them up. Serve immediately, so that they are warm. If you are making a large batch, keep the cooked oatcakes on a plate in the oven on a warm setting until you’re ready to serve them.

I like to spread small amounts of strawberry jam between the oatcakes and place a dollop of natural Greek yoghurt on top. You could of course go for more traditional pancake toppings, if you wished. I just do my best to save those for special occasions. Enjoy!

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Make a Pup Cake for your Furry Friend’s Birthday – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Dog Friendly

Pup Cakes - Dog Friendly Birthday Cakes

What do you get the dog who already has everything?

He has more tennis balls than he knows what to do with, plenty of tug-of-war ropes, as well as a few bones buried in the backyard, where Nellie can’t find them… you make him a cake, of course.

You might remember the last birthday cake we made Bailey. They definitely enjoyed it but I wanted to make this year’s cake a little healthier.

These cakes are nutritious, dog-friendly and pretty tasty, too – when you make the “human-friendly” alterations; before that, they are understandably bland, as dogs’ stomachs can be upset by human food and they shouldn’t really have salt or red wine… poor things.

Speaking of “poor things,” Bails is having surgery today to remove a lipoma in his right groin region, so maybe I’ll have to make him some get-well-soon pup cakes this weekend. He won’t be able to do his usual off leash walk, so we’ll have to bribe him to stay still, somehow. I’m dreading the next week… a bored Bailey is a force to be reckoned with and they always feel better before they are safe to run and jump again.

FODMAP Notes

  1. According to my own research, all the ingredients are dog-friendly.
  2. Carrot and zucchini are low FODMAP.
  3. Celery contains polyols, if they bother you in the amount required, omit them and replace with green leek tips (not dog friendly).
  4. Sweet potato contains mannitol, if you can’t handle 2 tbsp. of mash, swap it out for mashed potatoes or yams.

Pup Cakes

Makes 12.

Cake

  • 800 g lean mince beef
  • 4 rashers of bacon, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced celery
  • 3/4 – 1 cup rice flour (or dog friendly flour of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup onion free/fructose friendly chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. ground chia seeds
  • Optional (if you’re cooking this for yourself) – use garlic infused oil, swap the chicken stock for red wine, and add 1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme, 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, and 1 tsp. dried chili flakes.

Icing

  • 400 g of sweet potato, pureed (tinned or fresh)

Prepare, then saute, the bacon, carrot, celery and zucchini in the olive oil for 15 to 20 minutes, adding in the chicken stock about halfway through, until most of the fluid has cooked out. Remove it from the heat and then let it cool.

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Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease a 12 hole muffin pan. Once the veggies have cooled, thoroughly mix all the ingredients together and divide the mixture between the muffin pans. Bake for 20 minutes and then let sit for another 20 minutes, before turning them out onto a cooling rack.

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To make the icing, roughly dice and boil 400 g of sweet potato until it’s fork tender – about 15 minutes. Drain the water, then blitz it with your immersion blender until smooth. Spread it on top of all the pup cakes before serving to the lucky dogs (or humans!).

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Poor Bailey, he had to pose for photos before he got to eat his birthday cake last month.

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Going, going… gone. Bailey and Nellie thoroughly enjoyed their cake and had left overs for the next few days, as well. Spoilt rotten!

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Potted Raspberry Cheesecakes – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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About a month ago I posted a recipe for a delicious baked ricotta cheesecake. When I made the batter to fill the cheesecake, I slightly really overestimated how much I would need and made way too much. Whoops! But instead of making an extra crust, I decided to bake these in ramekins, instead.

If you’re looking for an easy dessert for a dinner party that can be made ahead of time, then look no further. These cheesecakes are the perfect blend of fluffy and creamy; the zing from the lemon plays well with the berries and they are not overly sweet. They will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container (which prevents the top from drying out and forming a skin – yuck). As long as you keep your serving to one ramekin, you won’t walk away from this dessert feeling terribly guilty – just pleasantly satisfied… but this of course depends on everything else you’ve eaten that night.

Notes:

  1. Ricotta and cream cheese are not low in lactose, so this recipe isn’t suitable for those who malabsorb lactose.
  2. The eggs I used were 50 g each.
  3. Pure maple syrup does not have additives in it that may increase the level of FODMAPs present, thus should be safe.
  4. Fresh lemon juice is generally better tolerated than lemon juice concentrate. If you use the concentrate, only use 20 ml.
  5. Pure vanilla extract is low FODMAP.

Potted Raspberry and Ricotta Cheesecakes

Makes enough to fill 8 x 4 oz. ramekins

  • 275 g ricotta cheese
  • 115 g cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dextrose or castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 30 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Raspberries to scatter over base of ramekins

Pre-heat your oven to 150 C/300 F and boil a kettle full of water.

By hand or in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, blend the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, eggs, maple syrup, dextrose, lemon zest and vanilla extract together. A stand mixer will give a smoother end product and makes life a lot easier.

Meanwhile, mix the potato starch and lemon juice together to create a smooth paste. This step is important, because if you mix the potato starch into the mixture as a powder it may cause your baked cheesecakes to become gritty, which is not a texture we want to associate with this dessert.

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Scatter the bases of the ramekins with the raspberries and cover with the cheesecake batter. Lightly tap each ramekin on the bench top to eliminate air bubbles.

Place the ramekins in a large baking dish and place that dish in the oven. Pour the boiling water into the baking dish so that it surrounds the ramekins up to 3/4 height – this water bath technique allows the cheesecakes to bake slowly and evenly while providing steam to prevent them from drying out, thus eliminating those unsightly cracks from the surfaces that can form as they cool.

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Bake for 20 minutes at 150 C/300 F and then turn the oven off. Open the oven door for 60 seconds before closing it again and set the timer for 15 minutes more. Remove the baking tray with ramekins from the oven and then take each ramekin out of the water bath.

Let the potted cheesecakes cool for 30 minutes before refrigerating in an airtight container for 2-3 hours to finish the setting process. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days, max. If you do not store them in an airtight container, your fridge may dry out the surface and a skin will develop. You can also freeze these cheesecakes, if your ramekins/pots are freezer safe – again, in an airtight container is best to prevent frost damage.

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream to cut the richness if necessary… and enjoy!

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Baked Ricotta Cheesecake, with Variations – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake - Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Does everyone from Australia remember the Cheesecake Shop? Apparently it’s still around. My parents always used to buy cakes from them – they made way more than just cheesecakes and everything was delicious. As you can see, my sweet tooth developed early and it’s tough to keep it in check!

My favourite cheesecake was easily their ricotta cheesecake stuffed with sultanas. I’m not sure whether it was the ricotta or the sultanas that drew me to this cake – or the combination of both. Sadly, the Mordialloc shop stopped making ricotta cheesecake at some point in my early teens and I was devastated… but I eventually put aside my grief and moved on to my custard tart obsession.

A couple of months ago, my friend Chath made a batch of miniature cheesecakes and they got me thinking about the ricotta cheesecakes I’d loved so much growing up. Of course, since I would be hard put to find a gluten free/fructose friendly ricotta cheesecake in the supermarket – not to mention the fact that I like baking – I decided I would make my own.

I got my inspiration from a few sources; Chath’s cheesecakes linked above (they are delicious), this classic baked cheesecake from Donna Hay and Alton Brown’s method of water-bath baking cheesecakes from his show, Good Eats. A couple of trials and errors later, I give you my ricotta cheesecake with variations. It is lightly sweetened and combines the best of both the ricotta and cream cheeses for a rich cheesecake that is the perfect balance of fluffy and creamy.

Notes:

  1. Ricotta and cream cheese are not low in lactose, so this recipe isn’t suitable for those who malabsorb lactose.
  2. The eggs I used were 50 g each.
  3. Pure maple syrup does not have additives in it that may increase the level of FODMAPs present, thus should be safe.
  4. Fresh lemon juice is generally better tolerated than lemon juice concentrate. If you use the concentrate, only use 20 ml.
  5. Pure vanilla extract is low FODMAP.

Ricotta Cheesecake

Makes 1 x 9″ cake or 2 x 6″ cakes. You may not need all the base mixture for the single 9″ cake.

Crust

  • 110 g almond flour/meal (or nut of choice)
  • 135 g gluten free plain flour
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 20 g dextrose or castor sugar
  • 120 g butter, chilled and chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. cold water

Filling

  • 275 g ricotta cheese
  • 115 g cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dextrose or castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 30 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Variations

  • Layer the blind baked crust with stewed fruits and dust the top with icing sugar after it has baked.
  • Sprinkle fresh or frozen berries on the blind baked crust and dust the top with icing sugar after it has baked.
  • Stir a tolerable amount of dried fruit through the filling before pouring it into the crust then bake it and dust the top with icing sugar afterward.
  • Bake the mixture plain and pour passion fruit pulp or a mixed berry sauce over the top.
  • Bake the mixture plain and dust the top with icing sugar after it has baked.

Pre-heat your oven to 150 C/300 F.

Grease and line either one 9″ cake tin (normal or spring form) or two 6″ tins completely. Using baking paper, line the sides first and then press the circle for the base in gently, sealing up the gaps.

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In a food processor or by hand, thoroughly combine the ingredients for the crust. It should be a smooth, malleable mixture and not dry and crumbly. Press it evenly over the lined cake tin base and up the sides as high as possible, as it will slide down a little when baking. Cover the crust mix with baking paper and pie weights (to help even and quick cooking) and blind bake for 15 minutes or until it becomes lightly golden. Let the crust come back to room temperature.

Pre blind baking

Pre blind baking

Post blind baking

Post blind baking – the cracks are my fault, I forgot to set the oven timer and it cooked for 5 minutes too long

By hand or in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, blend the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, eggs, maple syrup, dextrose, lemon zest and vanilla extract together. A stand mixer will give a smoother end product and makes life a lot easier.

Meanwhile, mix the potato starch and lemon juice together to create a smooth paste. This step is important, because if you mix the potato starch into the mixture as a powder it may cause your baked cheesecakes to become gritty, which is not a texture we want to associate with this dessert.

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This is where the variations come in – choose your variation and then fill the cooled crust to about 5 mm shy of the top with the cheese batter, covering any fruits you decided to add in. In the photos below, I filled the crusts to 5 mm below the cracks caused by me overcooking them.

Variation - baked plain

Variation – baked plain

Variation - baked with fruit on the crust

Variation – baked with fruit on the crust

Place the cake tin in a large baking dish and place that dish in the oven. Pour the boiling water into the baking dish so that it surrounds the cake tin up to 3/4 height – this water bath technique allows the cheesecakes to bake slowly and evenly while providing steam to prevent them from drying out, thus eliminating those unsightly cracks from the surfaces that can form as they cool. If you have used a spring form tin, this will not work as the water will leak in. Instead of a water bath, place an oven safe bowl full of boiling water on the shelf under the baking cheesecake to help steam it. 

Baking:

  • 6″ cake – 45 minutes at 150 C/300 F and then turn the oven off. Open the oven door for 60 seconds before closing it again and set the timer for 45 minutes more, after which you can remove the baking tray with cake tins from the oven and then take the tins out of the water bath.
  • 9″ cake – 60 minutes at 150 C/300 F and then turn the oven off. Open the oven door for 60 seconds before closing it again and set the timer for 60 minutes more, after which you can remove the baking tray with cake tins from the oven and then take the tins out of the water bath.

Let the baked cheesecake cool completely before refrigerating it in an airtight container for at least 4 hours to finish the setting process. Do NOT remove it from the tin before it has cooled completely, or this will happen:

Cheesecake. Nailed it.

Store in the fridge for 3-4 days, max. If you do not store it in an airtight container, your fridge may dry out the surface and a skin will develop.

Serve your variation of choice with extra fresh fruit, vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream to cut the richness if necessary.

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