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.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Being diagnosed for coeliac disease : Finally getting there!

After what feels like an awfully long wait, a letter finally arrived to start my coeliac disease diagnosis. It's been a long nine months whilst I've waited to book in my initial appointment with the consultant, but it's finally, nearly here, just another month to wait out and I can finally overwhelm the consultant with a torrent of questions regarding my issues with gluten (and lactose to boot..).

I know I'm not alone, others online appear to have been juggling constant gp appointments with a tiresome, long wait to even be taken seriously regarding their issues. I just wasn't expecting it to take quite so long to fit in a quick 10 minute appointment with the consultant.

Since that fateful letter dropped through the letterbox nine months ago I've already undergone a long grueling wait, choosing to take gluten out of my diet when it began to look as if no appointment was in sight at all. Could you blame me? After hearing that it could be at least 40 weeks back in early October to even hear back from the hospital to book my appointment I began to loose hope.

For me, it's not just been these past nine months though, it's been years of countless health problems that seemed to be never-ending, accumulating in my horrendous bout of sickness just over two years ago - who knows if that was the trigger or not for my schrodingers coeliac disease. Whilst it left me with a newfound lactose intolerance, it also brought several other problems along with it, including severe weight loss. Dropping down to barely above 7st, coupled in with my digestive problems it just became an utter annoyance, especially when my weight refused to go back up at all.

This barely rang alarm bells with my gp, they expressed a little concern about my weight, but seemed to suggest that it was normal after two weeks of 'ahem' exorcism style vomiting.. although when a year had passed and I still noticed no improvements, something eventually had to give. That's what initially led me to visit my gp and ask about coeliac disease, although admittedly if I hadn't stressed that family members had been diagnosed as coeliac it would have just been dismissed as ibs once again.. a general all purpose diagnosis that I've had for years..

It's a familiar story with many that have struggled to be diagnosed for coeliac disease, reading up on others problems with chronic ibs, anemia, weight loss and other issues, has been somewhat of a relief whilst I started my long wait. That alongside the general shrugged advice from my gp to remove gluten from my diet if it's making me ill, led to me trying an elimination diet late last year, and sure enough as my already rambled posts on my diagnosis journey have shown, it revealed that gluten, alongside lactose were certainly the cause of my digestive issues at least.

Since removing gluten from my diet last year I've noticed an improvement in my health, not just quietening the dreaded sounds from my gut, but I've also gained weight since sticking to a gluten and lactose free diet (finally back up to 8st for the first time in two years!!) as a result of my thankfully increased appetite - I can't tell you how much the mere thought of eating my lunch turned my stomach before I even considered that gluten was the cause of my problems, often struggling to finish meals - now I'm short of almost inhaling everything...

That, alongside a major improvement to my skin problems, I no longer look like I'm horrendously tired, or about to start munching on friends brains.. I've even started to get some patchy hair regrowth back (hurrah!). Although there has admittedly been a day or two where I've been accidentally glutened - living with wheat eaters can be perilous at times. But in spite of the odd day where I feel like I'm about to give birth to a chest burster, I've certainly noticed an improvement in my health overall since sticking to a strict gluten free diet. 

As such, I can't tell you how relieved I am to finally be near the start of my actual medical diagnosis, but I'm dreading those 6-8 weeks of reintroducing gluten to my diet before the biopsy just as much though, especially fasting for 24 hours beforehand, that's going to be a barrel full of fun..

For now, I'm taking it one step at a time, from the appointment with the consultant and beyond. Although I must admit as relieved as I am to finally be near to seeing them so I can ask about my many digestive issues over the years and the associated problems to boot, I'm also not looking forward to them giving me a right telling off for cutting gluten out whilst I waited to see them.. But who can blame me with such a long wait for my appointment!

August can't roll round soon enough, I may be clearing out my calendar for a good two months afterwards before my biopsy, but it's good to know that I should hopefully have an official diagnosis before the end of the year – fingers crossed!  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Gluten free lemon curd cupcakes.

Oh my! These do make for a rather scrumptious treat! A deliciously gluten (and dairy) free batch of yummy cupcakes with a tasty surprise inside, thanks to some lovely lemon curd. Much easier to make than you'd think and perfect for a yummy summer treat!

After tirelessly searching for a dairy free lemon curd (you wouldn't think there would be so much butter in lemon curd!) being able to find a yummy jar of the lemon-y goodness meant that I just had to try it with a bake. The end result was these scrumptious lemon curd cupcakes, a simple batch of vanilla cupcakes with a hidden lemon filling, topped off with a lovely lemon buttercream to finish – yum!

Ingredients (make 12 cupcakes)
150g stork
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g gluten free self raising flour
2 tbsp soya milk

For the filling and buttercream
1/3 jar of lemon curd
80g stork
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Pre heat your oven to 180/160c fan/gas mark 4 and line a cupcake tray with cases.
Cream together the stork with the caster sugar till pale and fluffy – if you'd prefer to use dairy free margarine this will work perfectly. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix.


Add the vanilla extract and mix well to blend. Then sift in the gluten free self raising flour, adding it a little bit at a time, and stir till fully incorporated – for these I used M & S's gluten free self raising flour, it's one of the best free from blends I've used so far! 
 
Finish off by adding the soya milk to loosen the mixture a little, stir to combine - you can use any dairy free milk that you like for this.

Spoon your cupcake mix into the cases, filling each around 2/3 full. Then bake for 15 minutes till risen and golden.

Place the cupcakes onto a wire rack and set aside to cool down for a couple of hours.
  

Once your cupcakes have cooled it's time to start constructing your tasty bakes! You'll be coring out the centre of each cupcake to fill it with the tasty lemon curd – for this it's best to use a cupcake corer. These can be snapped up at Dunelm mill fairly cheaply, alongside the likes of Lakeland for a more technical cupcake corer. 

If you'd prefer to go without, you can use a knife to carefully cut out the centre of the cupcake. Much like you would with a fairy cake, carefully cut out the centre of the cupcake – you'll want to go a little deeper than you would for a fairy/butterfly cake, but cutting a smaller section out – i.e not as wide as the effect you'd usually create for a fairy cake - (see my photo using a cupcake corer above as an example). Set it aside – then follow the instructions below*.

If your using a cupcake corer, simply place the corer into the middle of the cupcake and gently push down, about mid-way through the cupcake. Gently twist and remove the cupcake centre, then set aside. *You'll be filling the cored centre of the cupcake with the yummy lemon curd.

Using a teaspoon place a small amount of lemon curd inside the cored centre, adding extra if needed till it's filled – For these I used Sainsbury's value lemon curd, it's a dairy free recipe so it's perfect for this bake, and the value tag doesn't mean a lack of flavour either, it's a rather scrumptious tangy curd!

Then take your cored cupcake centre and place it gently on top to cover. Repeat this action with each cupcake till your done.

Set your filled cupcakes aside and start mixing your buttercream. The lemony flavour pairs perfectly with the lemon curd filling, making for one rather yummy bake!

Whisk the stork with half of the icing sugar till fully combined – much like with the cupcakes, if you'd prefer to use dairy free margarine instead this will work perfectly. Then sift in the remaining icing sugar and whisk.

Add the lemon juice to the buttercream mixture and whisk for 2-3 minutes to combine, this will also help to create a lovely light and creamy buttercream!

Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag with a nozzle – I used a medium sized round nozzle to create the effect on my cupcakes. Pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake, covering the top in a circle of tasty buttercream. Then pipe a second smaller swirl in the centre to create the finished effect. 

You can choose to leave the cupcakes as is, or add some lovely sprinkles to finish – I used Dr Oetker's Neon sugar which you can find in most supermarkets, to add a pop of yellow to each cupcake. 

The end result is a rather scrumptious batch of tasty cupcakes, you wouldn't know that they were gluten and dairy free! These should last well when kept in an airtight container for a few days, but you may want to eat them all as soon as you've made them!

Cupcake base recipe adapted from: Doves Farm.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Gluten and dairy free carrot cupcakes.

A tasty classic treat turned into a scrumptious free from bake, these gluten and dairy free carrot cupcakes are just as tasty as ever – in fact they're so yummy that you really wouldn't know they were gluten free - they're deliciously moist and utterly scrumptious!

Ingredients (make 12 cupcakes)
115g light soft brown sugar
120g stork
2 eggs
115g gluten free self raising flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp mixed spice
180g grated carrot
50g chopped walnuts

For the frosting
60g stork
140g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre heat your oven to 180c/170c fan/gas mark 4 and place your cupcake cases in a tray.

Cream together the stork and sugar till combined to a lovely creamy consistency – you can also use dairy free margarine for this bake should you prefer. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix.

Sift in the flour, xanthan gum and mixed spice, adding the flour a little at a time to mix together till fully combined.

Then add in the grated carrot and chopped walnuts, and fold in to mix. The result will be a lovely mixture that smells utterly scrumptious!

Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling each around 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes till risen and golden. Then place your cupcakes on a wire rack to cool down.

Once your cupcakes have cooled, start mixing the frosting to top your tasty bakes. Whisk together the stork with half of the icing sugar till fully combined, then sift in the remaining icing sugar and whisk well. Add in the vanilla extract and whisk for 2-3 minutes for a lovely light frosting.

Whilst most carrot cupcake recipes do use cream cheese frosting, this dairy free version is just as delicious – making for a yummy batch of cupcakes!

Spoon your frosting into a piping bag with a round open nozzle, pipe a small swirl on top of each cupcake, then top with a second swirl to build up the layer of frosting to finish off your bakes perfectly.

The end result is certainly delicious, these will last well for several days when kept in an airtight container – they're still just a moist & yummy a couple of days afterwards!

Recipe adapted from “Gluten free baking” Michael McCamley.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Gluten free banana bread.

A tasty staple bake that's always handy to use up some over ripe bananas, this gluten and dairy free version is just as yummy, and incredibly quick to make, so you can leave your oven to do the rest of the work for you!

It's a recipe that's always handy to have around, so finding this gluten free banana bread recipe was great - it's one of my favourite bakes to knock up for a quick and easy cake. I've made a few tweaks to the original recipe (as referenced in at the end of the page), that work perfectly for me and should hopefully come in handy for fellow gluten/lactose intolerant bakers too.

Ingredients
100g dairy free margarine
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
170g gluten free plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 over ripe bananas

Pre heat your oven to 180c/170c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a loaf tin ready for your bake.

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

Sift in the gluten free flour, adding half the quantity to start, then add in the remaining flour with the baking powder and mix well. For this bake I used Dove's Farm plain flour, but I also recommend Sainsbury's own label gluten free plain flour too - both have been perfect for my free from bakes to date!

Then add in the over ripe bananas, you'll want to mash these beforehand so they're ready to add in to your cake mix. Fold to mix the bananas in with your cake mixture.

Spoon the tasty cake batter into your loaf tin and spread evenly to level it out. Then bake for 45-50 minutes, till a cake skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the oven to set for an hour before removing it from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool down.

The end result is just as tasty as you remember, in fact I found that this was easier and quicker to cook than my old gluten filled banana bread recipe! It should last well for a few days when kept in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from “The best gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free recipes” Grace Cheetham.