I have been cooking meals for people with special diets since leaving catering college at 18, first as a chef in a private hospital, then in a home for children with severe learning difficulties. Catering for a range of special diets, I became determined to offer the same choices to everyone so began researching and experimenting with different ingredients. I went on to work in a bakery, became a head pastry chef and in 2006 I started my own business, Iced Gem Cakes, making celebration cakes.
Shocked by the poor quality of gluten and dairy free cakes available in shops, I asked people with special diets what they missed eating. The answer was always the same – puddings, cakes and sausage rolls. I set to work creating a range of gluten free and vegan cakes and soon started supplying local shops.
I've spent years conducting taste tests with family, friends and groups for people with special diets, and it was at a meeting of my local coeliac group I met the respected food writer Marguerite Patten. She tasted my cake, liked it and asked if I had ever thought of writing a cook book. So the idea for this website was born.
Understandably, many people think they have to give up their favourite foods when they discover they have a food intolerance or allergy. They are put off by bland, processed special diet cakes in supermarkets and long for good, homemade food. This needn’t be the case, and here you’ll find a wealth of family favourites that taste just as good – if not better – than conventional recipes.
I am always proud to be able to offer a coeliac bride a wedding cake or a child with a food allergy a birthday cake they could eat themselves. I have requests for special diet celebration cakes from people all over the country who couldn’t find anyone closer to make their cake. This is why I decided to write my book so that hopefully more cake decorators will make these cakes or home bakers can have a go themselves.