Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Gluten and dairy free chocolate cake.

As Cake Porn moves over to it's new home here on Blogger, I thought it was only fitting to bake a tasty cake to celebrate! The result is this yummy new bake, with this tasty recipe for gluten & dairy free chocolate cake!

An utterly scrumptious bake that's delightfully simple but incredibly more-ish! You really wouldn't know that it's gluten and dairy free when you start tucking into it! This yummy bake will certainly hit the sweet spot, and it's just perfect if your lactose & gluten intolerant, making for one delicious bake that really won't last long at all..

200g gluten free self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
25g grated dark chocolate
225g stork
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
2-3 tsp dairy free milk

For the buttercream
125g stork
250g icing sugar
10g cocoa powder
Pre heat your oven to 190c/180c fan/gas mark 5, and grease & line two round 7" baking tins.

In a large bowl sift in the gluten free self raising flour - for this one I tried M & S's gluten free flour for a change, the end result was certainly yummy. Add the cocoa powder and blend the two together, then grate in some dark chocolate – this will add an extra chocolatey taste to your bake, and with it being a dairy free bake most dark chocolates will be perfect for this. Set aside.

In a separate 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.

Start adding spoonfuls of the flour mixture into this and blend to mix in until it's all fully combined. Add in the milk to loosen the mixture - use any dairy free milk of your choice, but I do recommend using almond milk for an extra yummy taste to your bake! Mix to combine,

Divide the mixture between the two tins, and lower the temperature down a notch – i.e from 180c to 170c for a fan oven - then bake for 25-30 minutes till a skewer comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to set in the tins for 15 minutes, before removing them from the tins to cool on a wire rack.

Once your cakes have cooled, start mixing your tasty buttercream. Sift in a third of the icing sugar with the stork and whisk to combine – as with the cake bases, any dairy free margarine will be perfect for this should you prefer not to use stork.

Then sift in another third of the icing sugar and whisk again to blend, finish off by sifting in the remaining icing sugar with the cocoa powder and whisk to blend, then whisk for 2-3 minutes for a lovely light buttercream.

Now you'll start assembling your tasty cake, place one of the cakes on a plate or cake board, this will be your base. Take 3 tbsp's of the buttercream and spoon it on top, then spread evenly on top of the cake half with a palette knife. Place the second cake half on top.

Spoon 1 tbsp of the buttercream on top of this, and spread evenly on top with a palette knife, this will act as a base for your pretty piped topping.

Spoon the remaining buttercream into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice, and start piping on top of the cake. To create my pattern I piped small dots on top in a round, going round a row at a time to create the effect. Simply pipe the dots next to each other in a round for a full row, then start piping another row inside this until your done.

You can choose to leave it as is and let the pretty piping stand out alone, or sprinkle some grated chocolate on top – decorate it however you like!

The end result is a lovely chocolatey bake, using the mixture of cocoa powder and grated dark chocolate really brings out the flavour of the cake. By using just a small amount of cocoa powder in the buttercream it won't be too over powering, but it will still taste lovely and light. It's the perfect bake if your missing your chocolate on a gluten and dairy free diet! This cake will last well kept for a few days in an airtight container, although you should expect it to be finished off fairly quickly, it's that scrumptious!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The awfully long coeliac disease diagnosis; or how I learnt the art of patience.

It seems such a long time ago since that referral letter arrived back in October, as I sit patiently waiting for that appointment letter to finally arrive. I've learnt so much about my issues with gluten along the way, through accompanying stomach pains and days filled with brain fog, now I just want to know once and for all what exactly has been going wrong with my gut for all these years..

Looking back it shouldn't have come as a surprise at all that gluten was the bane of my life, the cause of so many problems and many meals out with friends often ending with me befriending the nearest toilet. I just used to put it down to bad luck, a rogue case of food poisoning that everyone else miraculously managed to avoid, but now as I look back at all those warning signs flagging up I can't help but wonder how long gluten has been raising hell as it were in my gut.

You see I've always had problems with food, far too many cases of 'food poisoning' to count that I just thought I was always unlucky, but when it becomes a running joke with friends that you haven't been ill this time after having a meal out it starts to get ridiculous. That wasn't the only warning sign though, for years I've been plagued with health problems, that I always pinned down to stress or my ongoing problems with anemia. Back then, even when my relatives had long been diagnosed with coeliac disease I just didn't pin my own health problems down as being similar - how could I when the symptoms vary so much between diagnosed coeliac disease patients.

I know that I'm still speculating whilst I'm awaiting my diagnosis, but joining the dots between those underlying issues starts to bring everything together. From the on again, off again patchy hair loss that I just put down to anemia, or the chronic chilblains that have been the bane of my life for the last five years, not to mention the bouts of sickness, ibs, and skin rashes that have plagued me on and off again for years. I always just put it down to bad luck, the result of my low immune system, but now as I look back at the downturn in my health in particular over the past three years since leaving my last full time job as a result of it, the dots all start to join up...

Knowing what I do know now it doesn't surprise me at all, especially after noticing the difference in my health since removing gluten from my diet, and even more so when I discovered that gluten and lactose intolerance go hand in hand – the latter of which has been causing me all sorts of problems since a two week long bout of food poisoning nearly two years ago now.

As I face the countdown towards my appointment letter finally arriving in the post I have so many questions to ask the consultant. Finally getting to see someone who wants to take my issues seriously and help me get to the bottom of them is going to be such a huge relief, those weeks can't count down quickly enough. As I type this I now have nine weeks to go, that's at least according to the referral letter that I received back in October - I'm still a little reluctant to believe that it's going to come around that soon.

All the more so, I'm looking forward to six to eight weeks back on gluten even less, knowing how ill it's going to make me, how much of a struggle it's going to be day to day. But the end results I know will be worth it, even when I'm really not looking forward to my biopsy - it doesn't help when photos of stomach biopsy's online seem to look like a surgery prep scene from the Human Centipede.. somebody remind me to insist on being kept awake during the biopsy..

Being able to see those final results, whether it is coeliac disease or not will at least answer some questions for me, starting me along the way on my journey to discovering what's really wrong with my gut. In the meantime I'm going to make the most of these weeks off gluten, looking forward to that doughnut binge before my biopsy, then immediately regretting it when I spent the next several hours lovingly befriending a sick bucket... but at least I'm getting a step closer to finally starting my journey. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Baking dairy free with ease!

Swapping dairy out of your diet needn't be the end of the world when it comes to your baking, a few simple substitutes here and there, and you'll soon be baking yourself some incredibly scrumptious treats that are just as easy as ever to make – all you'll have to worry about is trying not to eat all of that tasty bake in one go!

Thankfully, dairy free substitutes are easier to find than ever before, you only need to pop to your local supermarket to pick up a carton of soya milk or a tub of some dairy free margarine - making baking some dairy free treats a breeze. You can even use those dairy free ingredients to swap your favourite recipes around, meaning that you can have your cake and eat it (or several slices more...).

Butter substitutes:
If you've had enough of butter in your bakes it's easier than you'd think to call it quits and swap that block of butter for something that's dairy free in your favourite recipes. My regular go to these days for a dairy free version of my bakes is a trusty tub of Stork – now this admittedly isn't for everyone, some prefer to use something a little different for their bakes such as Trex, but if you do choose to use Stork a simple 1:1 ratio swap over in your recipes will work perfectly. It's a little thinner than butter for buttercream's however, but for a sponge cake it can't be beat.

Dairy free margarine's such as Vitalite & Pure are also perfect for baking, a simple 1:1 ratio swap works a treat, resulting in a yummy dairy free bake.

If you prefer something a little different for your bakes, try using solidified coconut oil instead of butter in your recipes. It works best in it's solidified form, especially for sponge cakes and bakes. A simple 1:1 ratio swap will be a perfect fit for your bake.

Finally, oil can also work a treat for a dairy free substitute for butter, compared to margarine or coconut oil you'll need to use less oil when substituting it for butter in your bakes. Use 3/4 of the quantity needed – for example 200ml instead of 225g of butter. However, if the recipe calls for melted butter, a straight 1:1 ratio swap will work a treat.

Swapping out milk for dairy free:
Whether it's a little amount for a sponge cake, or a generous helping for a bundt cake, milk can easily be swapped around with something that's deliciously dairy free for your favourite recipes.

Soy and almond milk are by far the easiest to use, with both readily available at most supermarkets as part of your weekly shop. My personal favourite is to use almond milk, it adds a lovely flavour to your bakes. Both almond and soy milks are a straight 1:1 ratio swap, making baking a breeze!

However, there are now plenty of dairy free milks to choose from, should you prefer to use rice, coconut, or oat milk instead. These are again a pretty straightforward swap - use like for like measurements for your bakes with whichever dairy free milk you choose to use.

Using dairy free chocolate in your bakes:
If anything, chocolate is the one ingredient that I missed the most from my bakes since going lactose free, you'd think that a simple swap over for dark chocolate would work a treat, but finding dairy free dark chocolate baking essentials can be far harder than you'd think!

Thankfully, through trial and error – and countless hours spent sulking in the baking aisle at my local supermarkets, have unveiled a few wonderful finds to help make your dairy free baking even easier.

An initial swap to dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate does work a treat, but you need to ensure that your block of dark chocolate is completely free of dairy – be wary of whey powder added in to blocks of chocolate (yes, even the dark chocolate stuff!) or chocolate chips. Fellow British bakers may want to head to Lidl for their dark chocolate bars, made with a milk free recipe - they do however contain a 'produced in a factory that handles milk' warning but so far I've never been ill after using a bar, or two – milk allergy sufferers however may want to avoid using this. Morrisons are also worth a visit for their dark chocolate chips which much like Lidl's dark chocolate are made without milk, but again do include a 'May contain milk' warning.

Other dark chocolate and dairy free chocolates worth trying for baking include Beyond Dark's chocolate drops, Plamil's dairy free chocolate bars, and Moo Free's dairy free Baking drops – all readily available from the likes of Holland & Barrett and other health food stores.

It's also worth noting that Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda all offer a range of dairy free chocolate buttons that are great for baking too. Taste wise they aren't quite as rich as a dark chocolate version, but Asda & Tesco's chocolate orange buttons are perfect for baking!

With dairy free & dark chocolate bars, buttons and chips these are a straight swap over, just use the exact same quantity as normal!

Other dairy free substitutes for baking:
Whether it's a dairy free red velvet cake, or a tasty key lime pie, you can find some easy dairy free substitutes for your favourite recipes!

Buttermilk for instance can easily be swapped over in your bakes, sour your favourite milk substitute to make a batch of dairy free buttermilk by adding 1 tsp of lemon juice to your chosen dairy free milk and leave it to rest for 5 minutes before using in your recipe. A simple 1:1 ratio swap over in your bakes works a treat - so you can still bake a batch of dairy free red velvet cupcakes!

Condensed milk can be swapped over by making a dairy free version, this can easily be made using soy milk following this handy recipe from Go Dairy Free, or blend tofu if you prefer, using this recipe instead. Making for an easy swap over for condensed milk in your favourite bakes.

Making dairy free bakes can be far easier than you'd initially think, with most of these listed substitutes being a simple like for like quantity swap. Why not try baking with dairy free margarine, or some yummy almond milk and see what tasty dairy free versions of your favourite recipes you can bake!

References: Go Dairy Free - Substitute Condensed Milk.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Gluten free honey cupcakes.

Oh yum.. these gluten free honey cupcakes are delightfully simple but incredibly delicious, making for one scrumptious batch of free from treats. If you love your honey as much as I do, then you'll really want to bake up a batch (or several..) of these for a tasty afternoon tea treat, or for anytime of the day really, who needs an excuse for some tasty cake!

These really are incredibly easy to make, just a few simple ingredients make for a yummy batch of cupcakes with the tasty flavour of the honey really coming through. They're surprisingly light for a gluten free bake too, resulting in a deliciously more-ish bake.

Ingredients (makes a dozen cupcakes).
  150g dairy free margarine
  100g caster sugar
  4 tbsp honey
  3 eggs
  150g gluten free self raising flour

For the frosting
  50g dairy free margarine
  100g icing sugar
  1 tbsp honey

Pre heat your oven to 170c/150c fan/gas mark 3 and line a cupcake tray with cases.

Cream together the dairy free margarine and caster sugar till pale and fluffy - using the margarine instead of butter helps to make this bake dairy free, which is great for fellow lactose intolerant bakers! Add in the honey and whisk together, then add in the eggs one at a time and beat.

Sift in the self raising flour, and mix till blended in – like my other gluten free bakes I used Sainsbury's gluten free flour for this, it hasn't failed me yet!

Spoon the mixture into the tins, filling each case around 2/3 full, then bake for 15 minutes till risen and golden.

Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once your cupcakes have cooled a little, start mixing your frosting. Unlike most cupcakes these have a small amount of frosting on top so as to not overpower the tasty sweetness of the cupcake base (and believe me, they are scrumptious) - but you can double the quantities for more frosting should you prefer.

Whisk the margarine with half of the icing sugar till fully incorporated, then sift in the remaining icing sugar and mix. Add the honey and whisk for 2 minutes, the end result will be a lovely light and tasty frosting.

You can choose to spoon the frosting on top of each cupcake, or pipe in it on top to finish, whichever you prefer!

The final result is a lovely batch of deliciously sweet cupcakes, they should last well for a few days kept in an airtight container.. that is if you don't eat them all in one go..

Recipe adapted from "Cupcakes" by Sue McMahon.