DECHOX – Give up chocolate for March

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Could you give up chocolate for a whole month?

The British Heart Foundation are challenging you to do just that.

For more details visit their website http://dechox.bhf.org.uk/

Squires Kitchen Flexi-Ice

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

I was really excited to discover this product and wanted to share it with you. I love finding new cake decorating techniques that are available for allergen free cakes too. 

Flexi-ice cake

Vintage lace has been very popular on wedding cakes this year. Such delicate decoration at one time would have needed a great deal of skill to achieve. This is really easy to use and looks very professional.

Squires Kitchen Flexi-Ice does not contain any allergens in the ingredients list. The allergy advice does state ‘May contain nuts’. Please be aware that other brands do contain wheat flour. Always check the label but I know you do!

You can pipe with this icing but it does take a bit of practise for finer work.

Flexi-ice cupcakes

I have taken the following text from the product description which explains how to use it.

Flexi-Ice is a flexible, multi-purpose icing with a delicate natural vanilla flavour. Ideal for creating fine, edible lace in sugar, this versatile mix can also be piped, stencilled, coloured and used to make edible confetti.
Developed by the experts at Squires Kitchen and thoroughly tested by professional cake makers, Flexi-Ice is easy to both make and apply. Simply add 150ml of cooled, boiled water for every 100g of the mix and beat until smooth – you can leave the icing white or colour it any shade with Squires Kitchen’s wide range of liquid, paste and dust food colours.

Spread onto mould
Once mixed, Flexi-Ice is perfect for piping and stencilling on cakes, cupcakes and cookies. For a lace effect, spread the paste over a lace mould with a smoother or scraper.

Peel away from mould Either leave to air-dry or place in a cool oven or dehumidifier for just 20–30 minutes and the paste should easily peel away from the mat. Flexi-Ice remains pliable for at least a day and, if it starts to firm up, just pass the icing through the steam of a kettle to restore its flexibility.

FoldOnce made, the unique texture of Flexi-Ice makes it so easy to decorate with – simply cut the paste with scissors or a pizza wheel and fold it into shape. Create on-trend lace decorations, such as sumptuous frills, beautiful bows and delicate flowers for celebration cakes, favours, desserts and more.

Pack shot

New Squires Kitchen Instant Mix Flexi-Ice is available from www.squires-shop.com and from good cake decorating suppliers nationwide. RRP £8.99 for 500g.

Ingredients

Sugar, Glucose powder, Potato starch, Thickeners: Sodium Alginate, Gum Tragacanth, Xanthan gum, Colour: E171, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate; Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid; Natural Vanilla Flavouring

Udi’s Gluten Free Review

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

A little while ago now a very popular brand of gluten free products in the US – Udi’s Gluten Free, launched their gluten free products in the UK.

Udi’s very kindly sent me a big box of goodies to review.

SAM_3933I was very impressed with all the products they sent to me. I was very excited to try the bagels and they didn’t disappoint.

I tried the Cinnamon and Raisin bagels toasted with butter. They toasted well and tasted lovely and moist. The plain bagels were great toasted and filled for lunch. I couldn’t taste any difference from a usual bagel. Udi’s bagels contain egg. Their list of ingredients can be found here.

I wasn’t too sure about the Strawberry Breakfast Bars but after 20 years making cakes, jam is not my favourite thing.

I took the Cinnamon and sugar Bagel Chips (contains egg) and the Aged Cheddar Ancient Grain Crisps (contains milk) to school with me to share with the children after school. All who tried them were very impressed. One three year old tried taking the box of bagel chips away with her several times!

I found the granola a bit hard at first but a day or two after initially opening the bag I found they softened a little. They were quite sweet, I prefer my granola not so sweet.

 

Cruising With A Food Allergy

Monday, May 19th, 2014

 

If you found Ella’s guide useful about getting travel insurance with a nut allergy. http://www.money.co.uk/article/1010225-travel-insurance-if-you-have-a-nut-allergy.htm

Ella has written an article about Cruising with a food allergy. You can find it here.

 

Baking with Almond Flour

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

I have been interested in almond flour since reading American gluten free recipe sites so when I was given a bag by Sukrin I couldn’t wait to try it.

splash-mandelmel

 

After reading about it here I realised this isn’t the same almond flour as used on the recipe sites.

This almond flour has had 80% of the fat removed. On their website Sukrin state that the flour is high in protein and minerals including magnesium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese and zinc.

Still inspired by the American sites I decided to make a carrot cake using just almond flour and not adding any other flour. Sukrin advise using half and half with another flour.

SAM_3532

 

As you can see it had quite a close texture. It wasn’t stodgy though and the flavour of almond was quite strong. The cake lasted 2 – 3 days.

If you are looking to add protein and less fat to your diet then substituting some of your usual flour with this may help.

I use ground almonds in my cakes as the fat adds moistness and helps it to last more than a couple of days which this flour doesn’t do so I won’t be using this flour again in my gluten free baking.

Nakd Snack Bar Review

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

I had seen Nakd bars in the shops but hadn’t tried them yet as it isn’t the sort of thing I would usually buy so when I was asked if I would like to try Nakd products I suddenly thought – yes actually I think I would! I felt very spoiled when this was delivered!

SAM_3608

Fruit tea, a china cup, a tube of gorgeous lavender hand cream and a packet of Nakd Cocoa Delight.

If your choice of snack is sugary sweet then this may not be for you. I like dried fruit but prefer them in foods rather than on their own so these bites were ideal.

Made from dates, cashew nuts, raisins, cocoa powder and rice flour. I honestly think these are the perfect guilt free in between meals snack and I will be trying their other flavours.

SAM_3612

 

 

Holiday Insurance for Allergy Sufferers

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Do you think about your allergies when buying your holiday insurance?

I was approached by a lovely lady named Ella who is doing some research into some of the issues facing allergy sufferers. She has included some of her research into the following article about holiday insurance for www.money.co.uk

europe

This article is particularly for nut allergy sufferers. They plan on covering some other common allergies throughout the year, as whilst the general advice is similar there can be some differences.

Ella says:-

Many people with allergies are putting themselves at risk of substantial medical bills while travelling. This is because many health insurance policies either don’t adequately cover allergies or because there are certain rules which have to be met for that cover to apply. In the case of nut allergies, for example, the number of EpiPens the traveller must carry is often specified. Some insurers will even exclude emergency (often the most expensive) treatment. For nut allergy sufferers looking for some advice this article will bring you up to speed.

www.money.co.uk/article/1010225-travel-insurance-if-you-have-a-nut-allergy.htm

Sugar Free Marzipan and Sugar Free Cake.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Have you heard about Sukrin all-natural sweetener? When you read the information about it, it does sound too good to be true! I have searched the internet for opinions on this product. The information I have found all sounds positive.

And it is great for baking!

sukrin-testpaket

It is available granulated, ground down like icing sugar and also as a demerara sugar substitute. So it seems all the sugar needed bases are covered with these three products. The only sugar based confectionery you can’t make with it is caramel!

Sukrin admit their products are a little pricey at the moment but they are working hard to reduce this. More information about all the Sukrin products can be found here.

I used the granulated sweetener to make simple vanilla cupcakes so I could taste the sweetness easily or any aftertaste. I used it exactly as I would caster sugar in a sponge recipe.

SAM_3530

I made some cupcakes with sukrin and wheat flour and some with gluten free flour. Both types of cakes rose as they would using sugar. They were not as sweet as those made with sugar but sweet enough and if you are going to use it all the time your taste buds adjust to the level of sweetness quite quickly.

As you can see Sukrin Melis worked well for dusting the top of cakes and for glace icing. The icing does leave a peppermint kind of cooling sensation on your tongue for a few seconds afterwards. The company recommend if you are going to make buttercream to use half and half with icing sugar to balance the taste and consistency.

SAM_3525

 

There are many recipes on the Sukrin website. The cake recipes on the website use a fat free sponge which if you are diabetic or follow a low fat diet you would obviously prefer but this type of sponge is not so good for celebration cakes as it is too light and wouldn’t last as long as a victoria sponge.

I was very interested in the sugar free, low fat marzipan recipe as this would be good for celebration cakes. It could even be coloured and used instead of fondant / roll out icing to decorate your celebration cake. I found it can be moulded as usual marzipan. If you are covering a cake with this marzipan and it splits a little on the edges you can rub it to join it back together.

If made with Sukrin almond flour, this marzipan will also be low in fat as 80% of the fat is removed!

I made this marzipan using pasteurised egg white powder to be safe especially as it doesn’t contain sugar or fat. I also tried it using Orgran No Egg and it was just as good. I would recommend this marzipan is eaten within a week so I would bear this in mind if using to cover a fruit cake.

julemarsipan

Gluten Free Parsnip and Apple Cake

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

I have seen lots of parsnip cake recipes lately and fancied trying it. 

SAM_3570

I wondered if it would work in the same way as carrot in a cake as parsnip is a bit drier. I adapted my carrot cake recipe to try this and it worked well.

It would be nice with cinnamon but my husband is allergic to it so we don’t have it in the house.

Next time I’m thinking of using dark muscovado sugar, dried ginger and chopped stem ginger instead of demerara sugar, mixed spice and apple. No new year diet here!

SAM_3568

 

This recipe makes quite a deep cake so takes a little while to cook. I would suggest wrapping  your cake tin with a thick layer of baking parchment or bake even strips to protect the side of the cake.

Parsnip and apple cake – serves 8 – 12

Ingredients
for the Cake
125g gluten free plain flour
60g maize flour or cornflour
65g ground almonds
3 tsp gluten free baking powder
4 tsp mixed spice or cinnamon
pinch salt
350g parsnip, grated
85g eating apple, chopped into small pieces
215ml sunflower oil
4 large eggs
250g demerara sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract

for the Topping
50g butter, at room temperature
60g icing sugar
200g cream cheese
vanilla extract
mixed spice or cinnamon

Dairy free topping - if you are just covering the top, only use half this amount.

150g dairy free margarine
600g icing sugar
vanilla extract
mixed spice or cinnamon

Method
Preheat oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas mark 4.
Grease and line an 8inch round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Combine the flour, maize flour, ground almonds, baking powder, mixed spice and salt in a bowl.
Sieve together four times to make sure the baking powder is evenly distributed.
Measure the sunflower oil, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until paler in colour then stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the parsnip and chopped apple.
Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Now turn this onto the cooling wire so the cake cools the right way up or it could break in half.

For the topping

soften the butter for 10 seconds in a microwave or leave at room temperature before beating together with the icing sugar. This is easier if you use a food mixer with a beater attachment or use a hand held mixer. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract and mixed spice or cinnamon to taste.
Spread onto the top and sides of the cake with a pallet knife.

Dairy free topping

Mix the icing sugar into the dairy free margarine. Do not overbeat the mixture as it will split. Stir in a few drops of water until it reaches the required consistency. Stir in vanilla extract and mixed spice or cinnamon to taste.
You may think this is a lot of icing sugar. If you use less icing sugar to margarine, the mixture will split. Add a little extra flavouring to this buttercream.
Spread onto the top and sides of the cake with a pallet knife.

Sukrin Bread and Cake Mix

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

I was given a lovely big box of goodies from www.sukrin.com/en/ to try. It contained granulated, brown and icing sugar alternative. Sesame flour, almond flour, Fibrefine which is a high fibre corn flour. A bread mix and cake mix!

Where do I start?

I thought I’d start with the easy option – the bread and cake mix.

SAM_3445

 

This is a low carbohydrate bread mix is wheat, milk, yeast, soy and sugar free. It does contain egg. Apparently it is very popular amoung sports people and I can see why.

The mix comes with it’s own baking tin. All you need to do is stir in the water and any extra flavourings you like. Spoon into the tin, level the top and bake.

SAM_3454

I kept my bread plain so I could taste it as it was. It had a lovely flavour and was full of seeds. It was quite moist but soft. The pack says to store in the fridge. It still tasted good 4 days later.

SAM_3470

SAM_3491The cake mix makes an 8 inch cake and is gluten and sugar free. Again I kept it quite plain so I could taste the flavour as it was.

SAM_3418

 

This cake mix is mixed together with 3 eggs, 75ml vegetable oil and 150ml water and any flavourings you like. The company have produced a booklet of recipes which can be made with the cake mix.

SAM_3426

 

The mix I used has sesame flour as the first ingredient. I don’t know if the recipe has changed as the ingredient list on the website lists almond flour as the first ingredient. I mention this as I did find the cake had a strong flavour which I didn’t really like.

It had a great texture and lasted a few days. I think this cake mix might suit strong flavours being added to it.

SAM_3495