Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

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.

The best dairy free chocolate for baking and cake decorating.

Friday, August 5th, 2011

It is becoming a lot easier to find dairy free dark, milk and white chocolate in the shops. Supermarkets will now stock at least one dairy free Easter egg and you can even buy a dairy free milk chocolate advent calendar made by Moo Free Chocolates.

But do they taste nice and can they be used successfully in cakes and for decorating in the same way as usual chocolate?

Some chocolate may be labelled as Vegan but state ‘May contain traces of dairy’ as dairy products may be produced in the same factory or production line. They maybe safe for a person on a dairy free diet to eat but that is for that person to decide. As a caterer you need to be sure that the product you are using is safe for for the customer. For a one off commision you could ask the customer what they usually eat and are happy with or if you plan to make a lot of dairy free cakes, find a brand you are happy with.

Dark/Plain Chocolate

Not all dark chocolate is dairy free. Many brands are labelled with ‘May contain dairy’ and some brands add dairy so it is cheaper to produce. So as ever always check the label.

For baking I think it is best to use a chocolate with about 55 – 60% cocoa solids. A chocolate with a high cocoa content can make a cake quite dry or a ganache too firm.

If you only need a small amount, Kinnertons produce a luxury dark chocolate bar which is suitable for dairy free, gluten free, egg free and nut free diets. It contains 55% cocoa solids and can be found in most supermarkets as an 85g bar.

If you need a large amount of dairy free dark chocolate, Plamil produce a range of dairy free chocolate which is also gluten free and nut free and it is available in 1kg bags and 6kg bags from their website

 They produce a chocolate with 60% cocoa solids which is perfect in baking and for making dairy free chocolate ganache. I also recommend their dairy free chocolate chips which is available in 200g tubs from whole food stores or in bulk from

Dairy Free ‘Milk’ Chocolate

Plamil produce a nice dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate. it can be found as a 100g bar in whole food shops or in bulk from their website.

Organica produce a 100g bar which can also be found in whole food shops. This has a nice flavour but is labelled as vegan and may contain traces of dairy and nuts.

My favourite dairy free milk chocolate is Humdinger dairy free milk chocolate buttons available from most supermarkets. I think this tastes and melts in the mouth the closest to dairy milk chocolate. You can use it to make chocolate cigerellos and moulded chocolates.  The only trouble is it is only available in 25 gram bags. This chocolate does contain soya.

Dairy Free ‘White’ Chocolate

Some dairy free white chocolate is quite different to usual white chocolate and doesn’t work in the same way in recipes.

Plamil produce a dairy free white chocolate which can be bought in bulk from their website. It can vary in colour from a creamy colour to light brown.

Organica produce a 100g bar which is available from whole food shops. It is off white in colour with flecks of vanilla in it.

If you want a dairy free white chocolate that tastes similar to dairy white chocolate then the best to use is Humdinger dairy free white chocolate buttons available from most supermarkets. Again it is only available in 25g bags and contains soya. This is the only white chocolate which will work well for dairy free chocolate ganache.

Egg free meringue!

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Egg free meringueI was asked if I had ever cooked with ‘No egg’ egg replacer, I hadn’t as I prefer to use everyday ingredients in my cooking.  I thought I would give it a go.

I went to the Orgran website and was amazed to see a recipe for egg free meringue. I couldn’t quite believe it so I had to give it a try.

I was a little sceptical but as you can see I made a meringue!

The outside is light and fluffy. The inside is quite chewy, it reminded me of those foamy penny sweets.

I topped the meringue with dairy free ice cream and autumn raspberries as this was all I had. The meringue softened with the ice cream and became easier to eat. Brilliant if you can’t eat eggs or choose not to.

'No egg' spongeI also made the ‘Victorian sponge cake’ using gluten free flour.

This turned out quite edible especially if filled with jam and cream. The sponge has a close texture.

I have to say I prefer my recipe for egg free sponge cake.

The new Lactofree adverts made me chuckle!

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I recently saw an advert for Lactofree milk on tv which made me laugh.

I had been wondering if people with a lactose intolerance could actually drink this.  I’ll buy some on my next shopping trip and let you know what I think.


Which Dairy Free Margarine Is The Best?

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Margarine testing.

I decided to test different widely available dairy free margarines to see which, in my opinion, is the best.

I tested for:

  • Best on toast
  • Best in a sponge cake
  • Best for pastry and
  • Best for butter cream

The contenders:

Pure soya margarine – not very good for baking.

Pure Sunflower margarine – nice for most baking.

Pure organic margarine – not very good for baking.

Stork pastry margarine – good for pastry but not for sponge cake or butter cream, it is too waxy.

Sainsbury’s Free From margarine – good flavour for general baking.

Tomor Kosher margarine – I didn’t like this at all. It is very waxy.

Supermarket block baking margarine – The baking margarine does state not suitable for milk allergy sufferers due to manufacturing process. Good for pastry but not for sponge cake or butter cream.

Vitalite margarine – best margarine for baking and spreading.

Suma soya margarine – not very good for baking.

White vegetable fat – ok for pastry, not much flavour obviously. This can be used to give a ‘royal iced’ look to an egg free cake including piping and scrolls. More about this later.

On toast

We thought Pure soya and Sainsbury’s Free From were really nice but the best was Vitalite. This could be because it tasted saltier than the others, it has a nice buttery flavour.

Sponge cake

We thought Pure organic had a nice flavour. It was hard to decide which we preferred out of Pure sunflower and Vitalite. They both had a good flavour and texture.


We found Sainsbury’s Free From and supermarket baking margarine both had a good flavour.

The best was Stork pastry block margarine and Vitalite.

Dairy free butter cream

Mixing in twice as much icing sugar to margarine. You just need to mix the sugar in gently or the mixture will split.

The best margarine for this was the Sainsbury’s Free From and Vitalite. The Vitalite didn’t seem to split as much as the others.

And the winner is…

we recommend - Vitalite.

So in my opinion, if you are to have one dairy free margarine in your fridge it should be Vitalite Dairy Free spread.

Dairy Free / Vegan Chocolate

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Did you know you can buy dairy free white and milk chocolate?

 Vegan white and milk chocolate contains rice milk as a milk replacement which works really well.

My favourite vegan white chocolate is made by Organica. You can buy it as a 100g bar.

Quite a sweet chocolate with a strong vanilla flavour, it can be used exactly the same as conventional chocolate in baking. For example, melting and moulding into chocolate moulds, making chocolate fondant for covering cakes, making sugar cake decorations and making dairy free truffles (see my recipes).Organica also produce a milk and plain chocolate bar made with rice milk which can be used in baking.

Their website is

Plamil Dairy Free Chocolate Chips.If you can’t eat dairy and have missed ‘proper’ chocolate chips in your cookies then get excited as you can now buy Plamil dairy free chocolate drops which are also gluten free and nut free.

I was so pleased to find this product. Before I was chopping up dairy free chocolate to add to cakes and biscuits which took ages and ended up with chocolate crumbs everywhere.

They are made of real chocolate and taste really good.

Their website is

Whipped Soya Cream

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Organic CremoVita.I really liked this dairy and gluten free whipping cream. It is widely available. I found it in Infinity Foods.

Grano Vita. Organic Cremo Vita. (

Instructions state to store in the fridge for 5 hours before whipping. After 5 hours I found it didn’t need whipping as it was already thick. I was able to pipe the cream using a star shaped piping nozzle. It had still kept its shape by the next day stored in the fridge and stored at room temperature – although at room temperature it doesn’t taste as nice.

It has a nice sweet flavour a bit like a Mr Whippy ice cream and I tried freezing it to see if I could eat it as a quick ice cream. Take out of the freezer half an hour before serving to soften slightly. It does split if frozen and defrosted.

Alternatively you could make a ‘mock’ cream by beating together 200g white vegetable fat with 400g icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract. Once beaten add water, a drop at a time and keep beating until it is soft and easy to pipe.

On a recent trip to Sainsbury’s…

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

I picked up –

Doves Farm Hazelnut Cookies

Wheat, gluten and dairy free.

They had a nice flavour just a bit gritty.

Free To Enjoy Mini breadsticks.

Wheat, gluten and dairy free.

They have a good texture and nice flavour at first. If you leave them in your mouth too long they become almost gummy and hard to swallow. Leaves a bit of an aftertaste which you wouldn’t notice if eating with a dip.

Sainsbury’s Free From Shortcake fingers.

Dairy and gluten free.

I could really taste the potato flour in these biscuits. They have a strong vanilla flavour. I didn’t really like them because I don’t like the taste of potato flour.

Mrs Crimbles fresh white gluten free bread.

Had a lovely moist flavour. It didn’t leave that dry feeling in your mouth like some others do. It was really nice toasted, reminded me a little of toasted crumpets.

Sainsbury’s Free From Rich Tea biscuits.

Gluten and dairy free.

Crunchier than usual Rich Tea biscuits. They have a nice flavour. Not at all gritty, quite sweet. It doesn’t leave a funny taste in your mouth like some.