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.

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!

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.