Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – The Final

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Technical Challenge – The Final. Gluten and dairy free fondant fancies.

I’ve really enjoyed my own technical challenge. I hope I have proved that most dishes can be adapted to suit a gluten and dairy free diet which are just as tasty.

I had a bit of an issue with this challenge. I have never used powdered fondant sugar before. I have always used block fondant available from bakery wholesalers.

I thought I would use the powdered fondant sugar this time as it is available from supermarkets and the allergy information easier to find.

I definitely prefer block fondant so if you can get it I recommend using it. I found the powdered fondant icing sugar takes ages to set and the sugar feels grainy in your mouth.

I read in Peggy Porschen’s fondant fancy recipe that block fondant is available from I have contacted the company and this fondant is free from all allergens.

I used four 500g boxes of fondant icing sugar to cover 25 fondant fancies! The instructions state to add 6 tablespoons of water to 500g sugar. I added 5 tablespoons water. I had to coat the sponges twice to get a thick enough coating. I’m wondering if I had added even less water and warmed  the sugar up instead then one coat would have been thick enough. If anybody has success with this sugar I would love to get some tips.

The Recipe


For the sponge

125g Doves Farm plain gluten free flour
65g fine maize flour or cornflour
60g ground almonds
1 heaped teaspoon gluten free baking powder
250g dairy free margarine – I use Vitalite
250g caster sugar
gluten and dairy free flavouring
5 free-range eggs

For the dairy free ‘buttercream’

150g dairy free margarine
600g icing sugar
vanilla extract

200g gluten and dairy free marzipan

For the icing and decoration

1 – 2 kg white fondant icing sugar, depending on your success! Or 1kg gluten and dairy free block fondant icing
gluten and dairy free flavouring
gluten and dairy free liquid or paste food colouring
100g gluten and dairy free dark chocolate – I use Plamil 60% dark chocolate


Grease and line a 20cm / 8 inch square cake tin. Run a knife along each side of the tin to give a sharp edge. Make sure your baking parchment sticks to the sides of the cake tin or your sponge will not have straight sides.

Preheat oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas mark 5.

Combine the gluten free flour, maize flour, ground almonds and gluten free baking powder. Sieve together four times to fully distribute all of the ingredients.

Cream together the caster sugar and dairy free margarine until light and fluffy. It is best to do this using a food mixer with a beater attachment or use a hand held electric mixer.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork.

Beat the egg into the creamed mixture a bit at a time making sure to beat in each addition properly before adding the next. If the mixture starts to split, mix in a spoonful of the flour.

Add the flavouring.

Fold in the gluten free flour with a large spoon.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until firm to touch and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate then turn onto the cooling wire so the cake cools the right way up or it could break in half.

For the dairy free butter cream

Mix the icing sugar and flavouring 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.

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.

Place 100g/3½oz of the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Keep the rest in a bowl for the cake sides.

When the sponge is cold. Level the top of the sponge. You want the sponge 4cm high. Turn the cake over so the bottom is now the top. Spread a thin coat of dairy free buttercream over the top of the sponge.

Roll the marzipan out very thinly, cover the top of the cake.

Cut the cake into 25 equal squares (each 4cm/1½in square). You may need to cut off the edges if they have rounded and pulled away from the sides of the tin – all the edges must be straight and neat.

Cover four sides of each square with dairy free buttercream (not the marzipan top or the base). Using the buttercream in the piping bag, pipe a blob in the centre of each square on top of the marzipan. Place in the freezer for 2 hours.

How I used the powdered fondant sugar – I mixed one 500g pack at a time with 5 tablespoons water until smooth and add food colouring and flavouring. I spooned the fondant over each sponge until completely covered then placed onto a cooling wire to let the excess drip off. Continue with the rest of the squares. Leave to set. My coating was too thin so I coated each square a second time.

I would prefer to use block fondant. To use this, place 1kg fondant into a large bowl that can fit in a microwave. Cover the fondant with water then drain off. Place on a low heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in the colouring and flavouring if using. If the fondant is still quite stiff, add a drop more water and place in the microwave for 15 seconds, stir and repeat until the fondant is easy to stir. Hold the sponge underneath and scoop through the fondant. Leave to set on a cooling wire.

Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Once melted, place the chocolate in piping bag and set aside.

Using the piping bag of melted chocolate, drizzle the chocolate over each fancy in a zig-zag pattern.

Leave to set and then place on a cake stand to serve.

The Great British Bake Off – gluten and dairy free technical challenge – week 1

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

I mentioned on my Facebook page how good it would be to enter The Great British Bake Off and to make everything gluten and dairy free. Somebody tweeted asking if I would be able to complete the technical challenge. So I thought I would give it a go, I like a challenge!

I was away in the middle of Dartmoor last week with no television or internet so had to wait until now to start.

Technical Challenge – week 1. Gluten and Dairy Free Rum Baba

I’ve never understood the appeal of a rum baba. You make a gorgeously rich dough bun then completely ruin it in my opinion by soaking it in rum syrup which you then serve with too much cream thus ending your meal with indigestion.

A far better idea would be to take your bun and top it with fondant and maybe add dried fruit to the dough to make a luxurious Swiss bun / iced finger – my favourite. How a Swiss bun should be, not just a bread roll with fondant on the top – bakeries you know who you are!

Some people may be horrified of the thought of fondant on top of such a bun, but if you are a Swiss bun fan as I am then this is the ultimate.

I found this challenge quite easy to adapt. I also made a rum baba containing wheat and dairy using Paul Hollywood’s recipe to compare.

Rum Baba has quite a close texture which my gluten and dairy free version matched and the flavour was similar. Once the babas were soaked in the rum syrup I don’t think you could tell the difference.

You can buy dairy free whippable cream but I couldn’t find any locally so I filled my rum baba with whipped coconut cream which I added a drop of vanilla extract and icing sugar to flavour.

The recipe

Serves 4

100g Doves Farm gluten free plain flour
50g cornflour
50g ground almonds
1tsp xanthan gum
½tsp salt
50g caster sugar
4tsp (2 x 7g sachets) dried yeast
½ egg, beaten
80g dairy free margarine, melted
100ml warm water

For the syrup
250g caster sugar
3 – 4 tbsp

1 carton coconut cream, chilled

Grease the rum baba moulds with vegetable oil and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Mix together the gluten free flour, cornflour, ground almonds, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and yeast.

Melt the dairy free margarine and pour into the flour with the beaten egg and water, beat until smooth.

Fill a large piping bag fitted with an inch wide round nozzle with the dough. Pipe the mixture into the rum baba moulds. Leave in a warm place to prove for 30 – 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas mark 6.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Gently take the buns out of the mould. Tap the bottom of a bun, if it sounds hollow it is cooked.

Leave on a wire rack to cool. The buns can be frozen at this stage if needed for a later date.

Before serving, make the syrup. Place the sugar in a saucepan with the rum and 250ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Brush the syrup all over the buns allowing it to completely soak in.

If filling with coconut cream, place the chilled coconut cream in a large bowl with a drop of vanilla extract and enough icing sugar to sweeten. Whisk until light and fluffy.

Coming out of the oven…. my version is on the right.

Paul Hollywood’s recipe is on the left and my version on the right.

A very promising and tasty start (if I do say so myself) – wish me luck with challenge 2.

Lactofree chocolate cake

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Arla, the company who produce Lactofree dairy products very kindly sent me some vouchers to try their products for free.

If you have digestive discomfort after consuming foods made with cows’ milk, you could be lactose intolerant. But you don’t need to miss out on the foods you love as Lactofree has a range of real dairy products, just without the lactose.

While many people think they’re intolerant to dairy, the uncomfortable symptoms that occur after eating dairy are often caused by lactose, the natural sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, which can begin from birth or develop at any age. Visit the Lactofree website for more information.

I decided to make my chocolate brownie recipe using Lactofree Spreadable instead of butter or margarine. I topped it with chocolate ganache made using equal quantities of Lactofree Cream and dairy free plain chocolate.

The recipes turned out well. They tasted just the same as if I’d used my usual butter and cream.

The cream also whips well and I used it to make sour cream by adding a little lemon juice.

Thanks to Lactofree, people who are lactose intolerant can now enjoy a full range of dairy products again.

Silver Spoon Designer Icing – review

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I had been wondering if Silver Spoon Designer Icing was any good to use as an alternative for royal icing when decorating an egg free or vegan cake.

My sister in law bought a tube to decorate some cupcakes so we both gave it a try.

The icing comes in a 120g tube with three piping nozzles – small round writing nozzle, star and ribbon. It is available in white, pink, blue, chocolate flavour, red, green, yellow and black. The red is not suitable for vegetarians. It is labelled as ‘May contain wheat and gluten’.

The writing nozzle was quite easy to squeeze from the tube but I couldn’t pipe a neat message with it because of the bulkiness of the tube. Once piped, the icing did spread a little too.

The ribbon and star nozzles were quite hard to pipe with. I had to really squeeze the tube with both hands which made them ache very quickly. As the tube emptied, the harder it was to pipe.

I think this product is convenient to use when decorating cakes with children but I wouldn’t use it to decorate a cake for a customer.

A better idea would be to pipe with watered down sugarpaste –

 Mix 20g coloured sugarpaste with 1ml cold water.
Use a small palette knife to paddle the sugarpaste on a plate to remove any lumps.
Make a paper piping bag. You can fit a piping nozzle in the bottom, fill the piping bag with the watered down sugarpaste, fold over the top of the bag and use to pipe.
This can be used for fine piping such as wording or patterned piping such as shells or scrolls. It is slightly stretchy so practise before piping onto a cake or biscuit.

Sugar Free Muffin Recipe

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Yummy by Jane ClarkeMy nearly 3 year old is getting very fussy about what he will eat. He used to love food and would eat anything I put in front of him.

I used to be quite strict with snacks only giving him cakes and biscuits sweetened with fruit, then sugar started creeping into his diet. I wonder if this is part of the reason he has become so fussy?

So I am trying to cut out sugary snacks and get back to the treats which I used to make.

Here is a fruit muffin recipe from a book called ‘Yummy’ by Jane Clarke.

Makes 18 small muffins

  • 30g very soft butter or dairy free margarine ( I use Vitalite)
  • 4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup for under 1 year olds
  • 3 eggs
  • 40ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon Good oil (optional)
  • 50ml milk or your choice of dairy free milk
  • 480g plain flour (gluten free – 240g gluten free plain flour, 120g cornflour, 120g ground almonds – sieved together 4 times with the baking powder)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (or gluten free baking powder)
  • large handful of crunched cornflakes (gluten free cornflakes)
  • 2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
  • 1 apple, grated
  • zest half lemon
  • 100g blueberries
  • 100g raspberries
  • 2 ripe bananas, squashed

Preheat the oven to 180°c/Gas Mark 4.

In a large bowl mix together the butter and honey. Add the eggs and beat until smooth, then add the oils.

Put all the remaining ingredients apart from the fruit in another bowl in the order in which they are listed, mixing a little in between additions.

Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet, combining all the time but lightly as possible. The less you beat the flour, the fluffier your muffins will be! Finally add the fruit and stir through.

Spoon the mixture into paper cups in a muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

I find I need to add a little more liquid until it is a thick batter. The muffins freeze well and defrost really quickly.

You could change the berries for other fruits. I keep bags of frozen fruit in the freezer for this which are also handy for fruit smoothies.

The muffins have gone down surprisingly well.

Yummy by Jane Clarke is available through Amazon – click here to find out more

Cake decorating for dairy free, gluten free or vegan cakes

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

It’s finally here. After months of late nights and a 7lb 14oz baby boy!

Iced Gem Cakes and BakesYour guide to making dairy free, egg free, wheat free, gluten free and vegan celebration cakes.

Over 200 pages of all you need to know.

So if you’re a professional cake maker who’s fed up with turning down orders, or if you want to make beautiful creations in your own kitchen, this book will show you that catering for special diets really is a piece of cake!

The book includes:-

  • Cake recipes for all of these diets and combinations of the diets too.
  • Vegan flower paste and modelling paste recipes.
  • Diet information, cross contamination, tips for preparing special diet cakes and instructions to make 12 fabulous cakes and cookies.

Techniques include:-

  • Royal icing style piping without the egg.
  • Vegan / dairy free white chocolate roses
  • Vegan / dairy free chocolate gananche 
  • Dairy and gluten free Croquembouche

For a full list of contents, see here

I hope you like it!

Free Recipe – Dairy & Gluten free Victoria Sponge. The perfect base for a Wedding / Birthday cake.

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Dairy & Gluten Free Victoria Sponge Recipe.Here is one of the recipes from my new book – coming very soon.  It’s a great base for any Dairy & Gluten Free Birthday or Wedding Cake.

Many cake makers are reluctant to make cakes for special diets as they don’t know enough about ingredients or what people can or can’t eat.

In my new book I will be offering advice about diets, cross contamination, wheat and gluten freedairy freeegg free and vegan cake recipes and tips / techniques for decorating celebration cakes.

Click here for the Gluten and Dairy Free Victoria Sponge Recipe

Vegan / egg and dairy free vanilla sponge cake recipe

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

I am often asked if I have a recipe for vegan / egg and dairy free sponge cake so here it is.

I am currently writing a guide about making and decorating cakes for people with special diets. This will include recipes for vegan cakes, wheat and gluten free cakes and wheat and gluten free vegan cakes. It will hopefully be available from my website early next year.


6 inch round cake

340g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder

100ml coconut oil, melted
15ml white vinegar
340ml soya milk or 280ml water
few drops of vanilla extract

Line 2 x 6 inch cake tins with baking parchment. Preheat oven to 180°c / gas mark 4.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Measure together the wet ingredients then stir into the dry ingredients. It should be the consistency of a smooth thick batter.

Divide between the cake tins and bake for about 30 minutes until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a plate then onto a cooling wire so it cools the right way up ( The sponge could break in half if you leave it to cool upside down).

Once cool fill with jam and dairy free buttercream. Dust the top with icing sugar.

Using soya milk gives the sponge more flavour but is quite a dense cake. For a lighter sponge use water instead.

Dairy Free Butter cream

125g dairy free margarine ( I prefer Vitalite)
500g icing sugar
few drops vanilla extract

Mix the icing sugar and vanilla 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.

You may think this is a lot of icing sugar. If you use double the amount of icing sugar to margarine, the mixture will split. Add a little extra flavouring to this buttercream. (You don’t need as much ‘buttercream’ as usual as it is quite sweet).

Looking for more vegan recipes? Why not try making Vegan chocolates / dairy free Easter eggs

Food allergy advice for cake decorators

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

This post has been updated. Please visit

Gluten and dairy free wedding cake

Vegan white chocolate rose wedding cake

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Vegan white chocolate rose wedding cake

This is a vegan white chocolate wedding cake I made a few weeks ago. This is a popular design with my vegan customers.

Two tiers were filled with vegan vanilla sponge layered with strawberry jam and dairy free ‘buttercream’, the third tier was vegan chocolate cake filled with dairy free chocolate ganache and the last tier was gluten and dairy free chocolate cake layered with strawberry jam and dairy free chocolate ganache.

The cake contained over 5 kilos of dairy free chocolate.

Instructions of how to make this cake can be found in my new book – Iced Gem Bakes and Cakes