Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

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.

 

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

 

 

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

Pine Nut Flour and Pumpkin Seed Flour

Friday, November 15th, 2013

I was very excited to receive a bag of pine nut meal and pumpkin seed meal from www.goldenoils.co.uk I was asked to try some simple recipes with both and I’m glad I did!

newhomepageimagetaketwoAt first I thought they would be quite oily but Elena from the company explained that the oil is pressed from the kernels and the meal is what’s leftover – clever! Both are milled as fine as flour.

As well as used in recipes as a flour replacement, both can be sprinkled raw onto breakfast cereals or whatever you like for an extra boost of protein and minerals and they are low in fat.

Both flours still have their original flavour. I could taste the pumpkin seed meal in the recipes, the pine nut flavour mellowed but gave a great texture – quite like wheat flour.

shortbread

With the pine nut meal I made a gluten and dairy free shortbread biscuit and lemon drizzle cake.

With the pumpkin seed meal I made gluten and dairy free chilli muffins, banana and maple syrup muffins, shortbread biscuits some quick blinis.

I thought if the shortbread worked then I would know that pastry would work too. I used the suggested one third meal to gluten free flour which worked well and think is right for the pumpkin seed meal as this has quite a strong flavour and is quite dry so in pastry and cakes they would need more liquid.

I would try half pine nut meal and half gluten free flour for shortbread and pastry next time as the pine nut meal seems to give moisture as ground almonds would but without the oiliness and strong flavour.

I tried half and half pine nut flour in the lemon drizzle cake which worked really well. The cake had a great texture and a neutral flavour.

pine nut lemon drizzle

 

Pine Nut and Lemon Drizzle Cake
Serves 8 – 10

100g gluten free plain flour
100g pine nut meal
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
200g caster sugar
200g dairy free margarine (I use Vitalite)
4 med eggs
2 lemons, zest and juice
100g caster sugar

Grease and line a 20cm/8 inch cake tin.

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

Combine the gluten free flour, pine nut meal 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.

Fold in the flours and the grated lemon zest with a large spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until firm to touch and a knife inserted comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin.

Squeeze the lemons and weigh the juice. Weigh an equal amount of caster sugar and place both into a small saucepan. Heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved.

Using a pastry brush, brush all of the syrup over the cake and leave to cool.

As the top is sticky, place a piece of silicon paper on top and turn out onto a plate then turn the right way up onto your serving plate. If you have a loose bottomed cake tin, you could lift out the cake and slide it off the base.

You can finish the cake by making a glaze of icing sugar and water and spread over the top of the cake.

Gluten and dairy free Pine Nut Shortbread

80g gluten free plain flour
40g pine nut meal
80g dairy free margarine
40g caster sugar

Place a sheet of baking parchment onto a baking tray.

Preheat oven to 180°c/350°f/gas mark 4.

Combine the flours and rub in the dairy free margarine.

Mix in the sugar and bring together to form a dough.

Dust the worktop with gluten free flour. Roll out the dough ¼ inch thick. Stamp out shapes using a biscuit cutter.

Place onto the baking tray spacing apart. Bake for about 12 minutes depending on size.

Pumpkin Seed Chilli Muffins
Makes 12

150g pumpkin seed meal
150g gluten free plain flour
15g gluten free baking powder
pinch salt
150g dairy free margarine
1 egg
360ml dairy free milk
2 – 3 chillies

Preheat oven to 190°c/gas mark 5.

Sieve together the pumpkin seed flour, gluten free flour and baking powder 4 times to equally distribute the ingredients.

Melt the dairy free margarine in a microwave and stir into the flours with the egg and dairy free milk. The mixture should be a thick batter. If it is too thick, add a drop more dairy free milk. The pumpkin seed meal soaks up lots of liquid.

Finely chop the chillies and stir into the batter.

Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tray and divide the mixture between them.

Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes. At their best for a day or two. The muffins are best served warm.

Banana and Maple Muffins
makes 12

160g gluten free plain flour
90g pumpkin seed meal
2½ teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100g dairy free margarine
40g maple syrup
90g dairy free milk
2 eggs
2 small bananas
30g sultanas

Preheat oven to 200°c/gas mark 6.

Sieve together the pumpkin seed flour, gluten free flour and baking powder 4 times to equally distribute the baking powder.

Melt the dairy free margarine in a microwave and stir into the flours with the maple syrup, egg and dairy free milk.

Mash the bananas and stir into the batter with the sultanas. The mixture should be a thick batter. If it is too thick, add a drop more dairy free milk. The pumpkin seed meal soaks up lots of liquid.

Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tray and divide the mixture between them.

Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes. The muffins are at their best for a day or two.

Quick yeast free pumpkin seed meal blinis – this recipe is adapted from a buckwheat blini recipe by Sophie Dahl

The pumpkin seed meal worked really well in this recipe. The blinis have a very savoury flavour with a slight bitterness which would work well with a variety of toppings.

85g/3oz pumpkin seed meal
1 tsp baking powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
240ml/9fl oz dairy free milk
2 free-range egg whites, preferably organic
pinch salt

For the blinis, mix together the pumpkin seed meal, baking powder, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper and the dairy free milk to make a smooth batter. You may need a little more liquid.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.

Gradually fold the whisked egg whites into the batter mixture using a metal spoon.

Melt a little dairy free margarine in a frying pan over a medium high heat, and spoon large tablespoons of the batter into the pan to make medium sized pancakes, about 10cm/4in in diameter.

Fry the blinis, in batches, for 2-3 minutes until small bubbles appear on the surface and the underside looks cooked. Turn the blinis over and cook on the other side for a further 1-2 minutes, or until golden-brown. Keep warm.

Repeat until all of the mixture is used up.

 

 

 

 

 

Baker Days Gluten Free Cakes By Post

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

I received a lovely surprise through my letterbox last week.

baker daysIt was a gluten free celebration cake packaged in this lovely tin. It was 5 inches wide and enough to feed 3 – 4 people.

It tasted nice, the cake contains ground almonds which keeps the cake moist.

It’s great that commercial companies are now catering for gluten free diets. You can also order a dairy free cake too.

baker daysOn their website www.bakerdays.com you can choose from hundreds of designs which are then printed onto sugarpaste. Gluten free cakes are only available as this size, prices start from £16.99.

 http://www.bakerdays.com/pages/gluten-and-wheat-free-cakes

inside a bakerdays cake

 

 

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.

Dairy Free White Chocolate Easter Egg

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Exciting news! Found – a dairy free white chocolate Easter egg in Sainsburys.

Is this the first commercial dairy free white chocolate egg?

Choices, made by Celtic Chocolates. The price was £2.25 for 65g of chocolate. I was excited to find this after being really impressed with their dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate. Personally I found it tasted very sweet and I prefer the melt in the mouth feeling of Humdingers white buttons, but this is great for all the people who usually miss out having their own Easter egg because they can’t or don’t want to eat dairy and the packaging is lovely.

Does this mean dairy free white chocolate will be returning to our supermarket shelves? Let’s hope so. I don’t know about anybody else but I’ve had real trouble getting hold of any lately. They all replaced Humdinger dairy free buttons for their own brand buttons made by Celtic Chocolates.

If you are missing your Humdinger dairy free buttons, you will find them at the brilliant www.veganstore.co.uk where maybe soon there will also be a return of my favourite – Holy Cow dairy free white buttons.

Vanilla Rice Dream

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

A short review!

I received a carton of Vanilla Rice Dream to try last week. I have used rice milk before but it’s always nice to receive something for free!

I do find rice milk too thin in consistency for cooking but the Vanilla Rice Dream is refreshing as a drink. I keep a few small cartons of the milkshakes to take on picnics.

My mother in law makes a lovely cup of coffee using half a cup of hot Vanilla Rice Dream and half a cup of hot water.

The Rice Dream website gives lots of information about their products and general advice about allergies and intolerances. It also contains lots of dairy free recipes. http://www.ricedream.co.uk/