Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Chocolate cobweb cupcakes – Vegan and Gluten Free.

A spooktacular treat for Halloween, what could be sweeter than a chocolatey cupcake laced with a yummy cobweb on top! A deliciously sweet treat, that's also vegan and gluten free.

Deliciously squishy and rich, these cupcakes are like bite sized chocolate puddings, with the chocolate icing adding a sweet finishing touch. Not just for Halloween of course, use the base as a tasty vegan and gluten free cupcake recipe anytime you fancy!

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes).
175g gluten free self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
40g cocoa powder
225g caster sugar
275ml hot water
60g dairy free margarine, melted
2 tsp lemon juice

For the icing
100g icing sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder

Pre heat your oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4, and line a cupcake tray with cases – embrace the season and use spooktacular cases for these bakes!

In a large bowl, sift together the Gluten free self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and caster sugar, and mix to combine.
 
Add the hot water to the bowl , followed by the melted dairy free margarine, and mix to combine.

Finally, add the lemon juice to finish, then stir till the mixture is smooth and lump free.


Divide the mixture between the cases, and bake for 15 minutes till risen.

Place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool down for an hour, then start mixing the icing for your cobweb topping!

You'll need two separate bowls, one for the cocoa topping, then a second for the white cobweb icing. In the first bowl, sift in 70g of icing sugar, with the cocoa powder, then add 2 tsp's of water to loosen the mixture. This should form into a lovely chocolatey water icing - you'll want it to be a little runny, but not too much.

Place a small amount of the cocoa icing on top of each cupcake, and spread into a disc on top. Leave to partially set for 10 minutes.

Then you'll want to mix the water icing in the second bowl to form the cobweb, sift in the remaining icing sugar, and add 2 tsp's of water to mix. Spoon the icing into a piping bag, and carefully snip a small section off the end of the bag, this will allow you to pipe your cobweb.

Pipe a clockwise swirl on top of each cupcake, then using a cocktail stick, drag lines through the swirl to form a cobweb shape.

Your spooky sweet bakes are complete! A yummy little treat that's perfect for Halloween!

These will last well when kept in an airtight container for a couple of days, but are best eaten on the day they're baked.

Cupcake base recipe adapted from Wallflower Kitchen.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Gluten free apple and cinnamon traybake.

Autumn must be here, as the lure of tasty apple filled bakes starts drawing you in.. This yummy traybake is the perfect seasonal treat, topped with a scrumptious layer of cinnamon flavoured apple pieces, set in a fluffy, sweet cake base, that's very more-ish.

After finding a bumper crop on the apple tree this year, it's been a good excuse to try out a new gluten free recipe (you may expect to find a couple more here soon, as I look for more tasty ways to use them in my bakes!). As the weather's started to really turn, a yummy comforting bake has definitely been needed, this tasty bake has a lovely warming note with it's generous sprinkling of cinnamon, resulting in an utterly delicious seasonal treat.

Ingredients
225g dairy free margarine
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
220g gluten free plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
180g diced apple

Pre heat your oven to 170c/160c fan/gas mark 3, and line a 20 x 20cm square tin. 

Cream together the dairy free margarine and sugar till pale and fluffy, then add in the eggs one a time and whisk. Stir in the vanilla extract, then mix.

Sift in the gluten free plain flour a little at a time, mixing it as you go along. With the final sift of plain flour, add in the baking powder, xanthan gum, and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Mix well to blend.

Spoon the mixture into the tin, then you'll start mixing the apple topping to finish your traybake off.

Take your diced apple – these can be either big, or small sized pieces, however you prefer them. Then sprinkle the brown sugar, mixed spice, and 1 tsp of cinnamon on top. Stir to mix. This will create a lovely warming flavour for your bake!

Place the apple topping on top of your cake mixture in the tin - the mixture will rise around these, resulting in a scrumptious treat. 

Bake your scrumptious apple traybake for 50 minutes - 1 hour till risen and golden - In my fan oven these took 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, and leave in the tin to cool for at least 30 minutes, before slicing into squares, and placing on a wire rack to cool down.


These will last well when kept in an airtight container for a few days. They take best when just freshly baked and sliced, when still warm – but they're still just as yummy afterwards!

Recipe tweaked and adapted from: Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The very long coeliac diagnosis journey : One year on.

As I type this it's been a little over a year since my gp went over my blood test results with me, it seems like such a long time ago now, even more so when I consider that I still am yet to see the consultant to start my diagnosis...

For those of you that have been following my journey since it began last year, you'll already be all to aware of the problems that I've faced along the way. Lengthy waiting lists, and a perilous elimination diet, followed by far too many cases of glutening along the way.. and yet, I still have to undergo the biopsy..

You see back in August, I should have been seeing the consultant to finally start my diagnosis journey, little did I know that just a few mere hours before I was due to travel out to the hospital for the appointment, a cancellation letter would come tumbling through my letterbox.. An irksome setback, especially considering that my appointment was cancelled at such short notice.. even more annoying was the 'reminder' text that I received the night before.

Another set back on my long diagnosis journey - after an hour of cursing and muttering under my breath, I rang to re-schedule my appointment. I'd have another month to wait for my appointment in September, still at least it was only a month to wait.. or so I thought.. 

You see, I should have been visiting the consultant today, but that appointment got cancelled once again, yes, not once, but twice, my luck really isn't working for me lately. At least this time they were thoughtful enough to ring me. With a couple of weeks to go before my second attempt at an appointment, my third attempt was booked in, for October...Bloody hell..

By the time that appointment rolls around I'll have been waiting for 13 months to see the consultant, and exactly a year since I first started my elimination diet to see if gluten really was at the root of my stomach problems. It's a long time to wait when your finding it difficult to cope with constant health problems, stomach issues, and ill health that seems hell bent on plaguing your day to day plans. 

As I face a further month long wait before I get to see the consultant, I'm finding myself at a cross roads. I already know that gluten is causing my health problems, and I've already adjusted to life without wheat. Sure I have had a few near breakdowns in supermarket car parks when I couldn't find any gluten and dairy free options (the woes of being both gluten and lactose intolerant), and I've been glutened on far too many occasions to count – including one ironic case very recently at a local gluten friendly outlet, after being accidentally served a wheat-y lunch (urgh..).

I've become used to my gluten free diet, and I've certainly noticed the changes to my health as a result, I've already discussed the changes in my past posts on my coeliac diagnosis journey, and I continue to see these results today – I'm still amazed that my patchy hair loss has completely stopped, no more embarrassing trips to the salon!

During this past year I've come to accept that I'm gluten and lactose intolerant, and after going through years of stress trying to get my gp to agree with me, I'm not entirely sure that I want to go through that again - let alone the six to eight weeks of constant illness, brain fog, vomiting, and frequent panicked dashes to the loo whilst I go back on gluten for my biopsy. 


I know that an official diagnosis is the best practice, but when I'm anxiously waiting for my appointment to finally happen, I'm starting to loose my patience with the whole process. I've reached the stage where I'm quite happy to tell people that I'm gluten and lactose intolerant. My elimination diet, and those unfortunate accidental glutening's have already shown me that my body severely disagrees with both gluten and lactose – trust me, my last case where I spent a week and a half in a horrendous haze, clutching a hot water bottle for dear life, and be-friending my toilet - thanks to a mis-made order at a cafe - I really don't want to put myself through that again!

For the time being, I'm more than comfortable with the fact that I'm gluten and lactose intolerant. Maybe the day when I finally get to see the consultant really will happen, but for now, I'm counting down the days till mid October. Who knows, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Gluten free damson cake.

A deliciously sweet treat that makes the most of this seasonal fruit, with a generous helping of tasty damsons in the bake! An incredibly easy, and scrumptious cake that's also gluten and dairy free.

With a soft, fluffy, almost muffin-like texture to this bake, the damsons give it a lovely purple swirl inside when sliced. 

Topped off with a generous sprinkling of sugar on top to finish. It would also work a treat with plums in place of the damsons if you can't find any, or any tasty berries if you prefer – basically, it's a rather good sponge base for a tasty gluten free fruity bake!

Ingredients
170g dairy free margarine
170g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
170g gluten free self raising flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
300g damsons (de-stoned)
2 tbsp dairy free milk
Sprinkling of granulated sugar to top

Prior to baking, you'll want to de-stone and chop the damsons. Cut them however you like, into halves, or quarters – if they're really ripe a few may just squish into a deliciously pulpy mush, these will add a lovely dark pop of colour to the bake inside!

Pre heat your oven to 180c/170c fan/gas mark 4, grease and line a round 8” cake tin.

Cream together the dairy free margarine with the sugar till pale and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time and mix. Stir in the vanilla extract to blend.

Sift in the gluten free self raising flour a little at a time and mix, adding the xanthan gum with the final sifting of flour, then mix to blend. I used's Asda's Gluten free self raising flour blend for this, but any will do the job nicely – I've not found a huge amount of difference between this blend, Sainsbury's, and Dove Farm's Gluten free self raising flour, so any blend that you use should be perfect!

Add the dairy free milk to loosen the mixture a little – I used almond milk with mine, but feel free to use your preferred favourite – whatever you already have open, as it's only a small amount you'll be using.

Finally, stir in the chopped damsons to mix – the mixture will start to get lovely purple tinges as you mix them in!


Spoon into your tin and bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour. In my fan oven it took 50 minutes, but a conventional oven should be a little longer. Bake until it's golden in colour on top and a skewer comes out clean. 

Remove the cake from the oven, then sprinkle a generous helping of sugar on top to finish.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a couple of hours, then place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

It's scrumptious when still warm – around half an hour or so after removing it from the tin. But just as yummy when it's cooled down! This should last well when kept in a tin for a few days.

Recipe adapted and tweaked from Gluten free cuppa tea.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Gluten free cherry bakewell cupcakes.

These cupcakes are rather exceedingly good.. inspired by the classic cherry bakewell, this batch of scrumptious cupcakes takes the flavours of the almond treat and wraps them up in a moist, fluffy, cupcake case.

Hands down, these are by far the best gluten free cupcakes I've baked yet, adding ground almonds into the mix gives them a fluffy, moist texture, even making for a long lasting bake – the cupcakes that did survive lasted for a few days in their container, and they still tasted just as scrumptious as the day they were baked! Definitely worth a try! They're also dairy free, so a great bake if your lactose & gluten intolerant too.
Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)
175g stork
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
125g gluten free self raising flour
50g ground almonds
a few drops of cherry flavouring


To decorate
200g icing sugar
5 tsp lemon juice
chopped glace cherries

Pre heat the oven to 180/160c fan/gas mark 4 and line a cupcake tray with cases.

In a large bowl cream together the stork and sugar till pale and fluffy – any dairy free margarine will also be perfect if you'd prefer not to use stork for your bake. Add in the eggs one at a time, and mix. Then add the cherry flavouring and stir – this will add a scrumptious taste to your cupcakes, recreating the cherry bakewell flavour. I used's Beau's concentrated flavouring for mine, just adding a couple of drops – a little goes a long way!

Sift in the gluten free self raising flour a little at a time and mix, then add in the ground almonds and blend – this mix will add a fluffier texture to your cupcakes, as well as re-creating the classic cherry bakewell taste. For my cupcakes I used Doves Farm self raising flour blend, mixed in with ground almonds that I'd picked up from Home Bargains – they're much cheaper than most supermarkets/health stores and still just as good! (Not cake related, but they're also worth visiting for their Gluten free pasta, it's sooo much cheaper than anywhere else, and ridiculously delicious).

Once mixed, spoon the cupcake batter into the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes till risen.
 
Remove the tray from the oven and leave your cupcakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool down.


Once cooled, start mixing your icing. These cupcakes are topped off with a classic water icing – much like your traditional cherry bakewell, making for a lovely finish.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then add a couple of teaspoons of the lemon juice to bring the mixture together, keep adding a teaspoon at a time to mix to the right consistency - it should feel slightly stiff as you mix, and as you take the spoon out of the bowl it should drizzle off slowly, if it looks too runny simply sift in more icing sugar and mix.
  

Once mixed, take a palette knife and place a generous helping of your icing on top of each cupcake and smooth the icing on top to finish. Top off with a glace cherry half – your cherry bakewell cupcakes are complete!

Certainly a yummy take on the classic treat, and by far one of the best batches of gluten free cupcakes I've made so far. They're perfect for any time of the day – heck, just bake a batch because you fancy some cupcakes, you don't need any excuse!

Recipe inspired by: Good Food

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Cheat your way to the perfect cupcake with these cheeky decorating tips!

We've all been there, after you've piped frosting on top of two dozen cupcakes your about ready to give up, but then your faced with a plethora of pretty edible decorations to finish them off, that's when the swearing really kicks in... Let's face it, for us amateur bakers we don't often have the time (or patience) to create baking perfection with every batch of tasty cakes, that's where a few of my favourite cheeky time saving cupcake decorating tips and tricks come in handy.

When your elbow deep in a giant bowl of buttercream, surrounded by a dozen piles of edible toppings from sprinkles, to glitter, and those all important flavourings & colourings, you start to wonder when it's going to end.. almost inevitably cursing your loved ones and friends who you stupidly agreed to bake a few dozen cupcakes for – you really do appreciate your beloved local bakers all the more after taking on a mammoth baking task yourself! Thankfully though, you can save some time in the kitchen with these rather cheeky decorating cheats!

The tasty topping.
Not all decorating cheats come in handy, especially when your used to making your own, the taste of shop bought spray frosting just doesn't cut it - not to mention the swearathon than will emerge from the kitchen after an hour wasted trying to get that damned stuff out of the packet in the first place.. it's just not worth it. But, a trusty packet of pre-flavoured icing sugar is a thing of wonder, sure it may only save a small amount of time dependent on your chosen flavour, but it's one of those decorating cheats that's as good as it sounds.

Take a handy packet of Sugar & Crumbs flavoured icing sugar, simply add your butter/dairy free margarine and whisk - it couldn't be easier! Each packet comes un-coloured, so you can opt to add additional food colouring should you wish. Simply top your bakes with your buttercream as you prefer and you've done part of the decorating work already. They're also gluten, dairy & nut free, and suitable for vegans so a tasty time saver that everyone can use.

If you prefer to mix your flavouring in then you can't go wrong with a good quality food flavouring – it'll save time and tears with your bakes! Concentrated flavourings like Beau's are perfect for a good strong buttercream, a little really does go a long way, and you can add some scrumptious flavours to your bakes with ease – simply add to your buttercream and mix as usual.

Pretty edible details.
We all love a pretty finish on our cupcakes, but why spend hours agonizing over sugar paste when you could cheat and add some pre-made toppings! I won't scold you at all for this, it's a great time saver with your bakes, especially when you have a few dozen to make!

Sugar rose and edible flowers are a lovely way to decorate your bakes with ease, PME do a lovely range of sugar flowers and other pretty edibles for your bakes – from festive trees, to hearts, and pretty butterflies, now all you need to do is open the packet and place them on top of your cakes for a lovely decorative bake!

Of course, for an instantly pretty bake you really can't beat a generous handful of sprinkles to top your cakes. Whether you want to go for a batch of pastel toned unicorn cupcakes, or a rainbow of colourful tones you'll really be spoilt for choice for some lovely sprinkles for your bakes.

Whilst you can easily pick up a handy tub of colourful sprinkles at your nearest supermarket, you may just want to treat yourself to some scrumptious sprinkles by Cake Angel. These make your ordinary sprinkles look tame. Handy jars of mini fruity sugar cubes, Rhubarb and custard flavoured nibs, and mixed tubs filled with mini jazzies and rainbow confetti - they will most certainly add a scrumptious twist to your bakes! (F.Y.I some of their sprinkles do contain milk, egg, or wheat, so do check the label beforehand).

Upgrade your sprinkles with some of these colourful mixes from Iced Jems, From galactic mixes, to pretty shells and yes, even unicorns, an incredibly easy way to make your cupcakes look amazing with a generous handful of these pretty sprinkles! (F.Y.I some of their sprinkles do contain wheat so do check the ingredients beforehand).

Another glamorous way to dress up your cupcakes with ease is to sprinkle some edible confetti on top – yes, edible confetti! Rainbow dust make a pretty selection of their confetti's in hearts, sequins, and stars for an easy way to make your cupcakes look glam! They're also gluten, lactose & nut free.

It doesn't have to be all sprinkles though, other tasty ways to make your cupcakes look pretty can be incredibly simple and effortless. Baking a tasty batch of fruit-y cupcakes? Tart them up by placing some fruit on top! Sweets are another yummy way to decorate your cupcakes with ease, a simple chunk of chocolate to complement the flavour of your bake works a treat, or why not go the whole hog and top them with a ton of sweets! All you need to do is buy the tasty sweets and place them on top as you like, a deliciously effortless way to easily decorate your bakes – plus you've got some extra tasty treats too, and you could always eat some of the sweets as you decorate, we've all done it!

Hopefully, one or two of these tips will save you some time and stress in the kitchen, besides, why spent hour making the perfect batch of cupcakes for that party, when you could be pre-testing those cocktails.. it's just as important a task, honest!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Gluten free plum crumble cake.

A gorgeously gluten free treat with this yummy recipe for plum crumble cake, a deliciously sweet bake with a tasty layer of plums, topped off with a delightfully tasty crumble topping. It's the perfect afternoon tea treat, making for an incredibly more-ish cake.

It's one of those bakes that's perfect for any fruit really, but plums really do add a deliciously sweet taste to this cake. It should be just as scrumptious baked with a generous handful of damsons in the autumn! The crumble topping adds a lovely bit of texture to the bake, finished off with a sprinkling of flaked almonds for a bake that's certainly a tasty free from treat.

Ingredients
175g dairy free margarine
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
175g gluten free self raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 plums, sliced into quarters

For the crumble topping
150g gluten free plain flour
115g dairy free margarine
50g caster sugar
handful of flaked almonds

To start grease and line a round 20cm cake tin ready for your bake and set aside. Pre heat your oven to 180c/170c fan/gas mark 4.

You'll want to make the lovely crumble topping first – this can be rather messy so you'll want to get it all mixed up first ready to sprinkle on top of the bake later.

Place the gluten free plain flour, dairy free margarine and sugar into a bowl and start to rub it together to form the crumble. At this stage it'll be somewhat messy – it may be a bit of a clumpy, messy mixture, but persist, as it'll start to form together nicely!
 
If it's a little too sticky, wash the mixture off your hands and sprinkle a little more of the gluten free plain flour over the mixture and rub together again. It may not resemble your usual traditional crumble, it should form into small mounds of mixture, which should break away easily to sprinkle on top later. Set aside.


Now you'll start working on that tasty cake mixture! In a separate bowl, cream together the dairy free margarine with the caster sugar, then add in the eggs one at a time and mix. Stir in the vanilla essence.

Sift in the gluten free self raising flour and cinnamon, this will add a little bit of a lift to the taste of the cake! Fold into combine the mixture. 

Spoon your tasty cake mix into the tin, then you'll be topping it with your plum segments. Place each quarter on top of the cake in a round till finished. 


Now you'll be finishing the cake mix off with the crumble mixture that you made earlier, sprinkle this on top of the cake, fully covering it, but don't worry if there's any gaps. Then sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds on top of this to finish. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or till risen and golden. In my fan oven this took a little quicker, baking in just 40 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven, then leave your cake to cool in the tin for a couple of hours.

Once cooled a little, remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool down. Cut into tasty slices to serve, it's lovely just as is, or serve it with some soya cream for a yummy tea time treat!

Recipe adapted from “Gluten free baking” Michael McCamley.