Gluten free, dairy free breakfasts. Option 12 – The Full English Reply

As it is Saturday, and we have time on our hands for a leisurely family breakfast, I decided to treat us all to a full English. When you think about it this is one of the easiest meals to make safe for a gluten and dairy intolerant person. For anyone who is not allergic to tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs you are halfway there already. Not everyone likes them for breakfast, but for some baked beans are a big part of the deal, so the Coeliacs out there probably just need to double check the ingredients in the sauce, before adding these too, as not all brands will be safe.

Most bacon should be safe, and there are some great gluten free, dairy free sausages readily available now. I have blogged about my findings in this area many times before. 1/ The Black Farmer 2/ More on Sausages 3/The Gluten Free Dairy Sausage

My husband and I love the Debbie & Andrews Harrogate 97% pork shoulder sausages.

They are more widely available, at the moment, than our other big favourite, The Black Farmer. Tesco have amazingly stopped stocking his sausages, but I sincerely hope they will bring them back, as Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, who is The Black Farmer, works so hard to promote good, ethical, safe meat products and should be applauded for his efforts.



A Free From Food Hero – The Black Farmer 1

As I have mentioned many times in my blog, I believe that one of the reasons we have so many food intolerances is because of accidental overconsumption of wheat thanks to the manufacturers and supermarkets adding cheap and unnecessary fillers to foods for so many years. Sausages are a perfect example of this. Many have such a low meat content and so many worrying additives that it is amazing, in my opinion, that they are deemed fit for human consumption. At the least they should carry a health warning.

Even before we had the problems with Zac, we always shopped carefully and always made a point of buying sausages with the highest meat content possible. We don’t eat them that often, once a week I guess, so I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a premium product. I would rather have no sausages than a poor quality one.

In recent times, we have noticed two new brands creeping into the ‘premium’ sausage section in the chillers. Debbie and Andrews and the Black Farmer. We have tried both and can’t recommend them highly enough – to anyone, not just intolerants. The meat content is over 90% and as you would expect they are naturally gluten and dairy free because junk cereal and milk protein have no place in a premium meat product. More…

Update on ice cream cones – very disappointed with Sainsbury’s 2

If you have been following my recent blog posts, you will know that I have been searching for the Barkat gluten free, dairy free ice cream cones. I approached the Barkat stand at the Allergy Show several weeks ago and they assured me they would be back on the shelves in Sainsbury’s very soon. More…

Ice cream cones – I know it is raining, but I still want them! 4

As the weather is so poor at home, we decided to head to the seaside for the rest of half term. My parents live in Christchurch, Dorset and seem to get better weather than us. We don’t have to bring too much of Zac’s special food with us, as there is a large Sainsbury’s close by and a Waitrose. Both usually stock a good range of free from foods and Mum is great at catering for Zac. But she had run out of his special dairy free, wheat free, gluten free ice cream cones and so had I.

The last time I managed to find any was at the Allergy Show last month. I was thrilled when I stumbled upon the Barkat stall and even more happy to find that they were selling them. Annoyingly, I didn’t have much cash on me so could only buy one box. And the nice weather last month caused us to run out – very quickly.

I have been to our local Sainsbury’s several times since and had no luck. So the first thing we did when we arrived in Christchurch was to run out and see if we could find them. Sadly, they had none on the shelves, and there wasn’t even a ‘space’ for them, so it doesn’t look like they have been selling them lately.

I expected not to find the ice cream cones on the supermarket shelves in winter, but I had expected them to have made a comeback by now. The dairy free ice cream is in the freezers all year round so it doesn’t make much sense. Also, I have only ever seen one brand – Barkat and I have only ever found them in Sainsbury’s.

I don’t understand why they are not in more supermarkets or why they are not on the shelves yet. I know the weather is poor but kids love ice cream all year round. If I had found them I would have bought several boxes and I am sure others would too. They are expensive and so the supermarkets are really missing a trick here.

It is easy enough to find the well known Askey’s ice cream cones and wafers all year round, so why not the free from versions? Also, I have looked carefully at the Askey’s cones and they have a worryingly long list of not very natural ingredients, and in my opinion don’t even taste that good. The Barkat cones that we love are in the style of a Belgian waffle cone and taste really good. It is not often that a ‘free from’ product is a better flavour or texture than a ‘normal’ one but these are great.

So today, I decided to have a look and see where else I can find them. Here are the sites. Please take a look and try them. Perhaps if enough of us try them and buy them we can help them convince more supermarkets to stock them. Definitely a product for all the family and not just the food intolerants among us.

Fairy Cakes failure – thank goodness for packet mixes 2

They say pride comes before a fall and I have discovered that is definitely true, in the world of ‘free from’ baking. After the success of the flapjacks earlier in the week, I decided the time had come to try and create some dairy free, gluten free fairy cakes for the school jubilee party.

Even though I am not very good at making cakes, my confidence was up as a result of my recent triumphs. The rock cakes, brownies and flapjacks were all so easy and I have to admit I did enjoy making them. The kids loved them and they had already vanished, so I decided to branch out and try something more complicated and suitable for a jubilee tea party. Fatal error. The first in a series of mistakes.

My biggest mistake was deciding to try and do two things at once. I had decided to make some fairy cakes and a Victoria sponge. Perhaps I got the recipes mixed up or missed something out because I didn’t have enough batter to fill the two cake tins for the sponge. And when I started on the mix for the fairy cakes, I measured out my sugar and then the flour and then combined the two! I wasn’t concentrating. I was supposed to add the butter first and cream them together. So I had to dump the sugary flour mix and start again.

That was when I realised I didn’t have enough caster sugar for another attempt. So I decided to improvise by topping up with a bit of ‘ordinary sugar’ and some light brown sugar. I was also low on Pure ‘sunflower’ spread and used some coconut oil instead. I am not really sure what happened but when I added the eggs and eventually the flour and milk it all started to look rather curdled and nasty.

I suppose you just cannot substitute the butter and the flour and the sugar and expect a good result. Too many changes at once. I am not sure what went wrong but the mix was very thin and watery and starting to separate a bit.

So I decided to pour it all into one of the sandwich tins as it looked like it would not hold inside the flimsy fairy cake cases. I thought I could then stick the two cooked sponges together and they could be my Victoria sandwich.

I decided I could make the fairy cakes later on, once I had run to the supermarket for more ingredients. I hoped that the cakes would not look too bad when they came out of the oven and I would be able to pretty them up with a bit of icing, some sprinkles and chocolate drops. I had even decided to swap out the jam for some dairy free chocolate spread. This would be my take on the Victoria sponge – mine would be filled with chocolate and topped with chocolate and forever after known as the Elizabeth sponge.

The plan was a good one at least. But the reality was not so good. The cakes looked good and smelled good. They came out of the sandwich tins very easily. I decided to make ‘mini’ sponges, by using cookie cutters to get the perfect little discs. Impressed by my spontaneous creativity, I pushed down with the cookie cutter on the first sponge, I could feel the sponge bounce back – but not in a good way! As I pressed down into the other sponge I didn’t even manage to cut through. Oh dear.

I had created a sponge but the sort of sponge you could clean your car with. You know it will absorb water, you could also squeeze it out and it would probably bounce back to its original shape. The inside was rather yellow too. So I have decided to blame the eggs. I was supposed to use medium sized, but had used ‘extra large’. That was all I had left in my fridge! Anyway, I took a bite of one of the sponges and it had a nice flavour but it was chewy and after a few seconds I realised it was actually pretty inedible!!! So I spat it out and threw it all away. Annoying, a waste of time and money but I was now left with a bigger problem. I still needed to make something for Zac to take to the jubilee party.

I decided to have one last stock take of my cupboards and see if I had enough ingredients left to knock up a handful of rock cakes at least, and that is when I discovered my saviour. Hiding behind a packet of not yet tried bread flour, was a Hale & Hearty branded, dairy free, gluten free chocolate chip cookie packet mix.

 I was saved. All I had to do was put the mix in a bowl add my last scrape of Pure spread and add an egg. It all created a lovely cookie dough in no time at all and a few minutes later I had ten perfect little cookies baking in the oven. 15 minutes later the warm little cookies were cooling down and one was missing! Well I thought I should make sure they were ok and they were perfect.

So what did I learn today? Many things really. Definitely don’t try and run before you can walk. I am a novice baker and the world of ‘free from’ baking is actually a bit more complicated than normal baking, so I should have known better. I should also remember to always check the cupboards and fridge before I start, to make sure I have enough ingredients to make the thing, and have plenty in reserve for when I make mistakes and need to start again!

And the most important lesson of all is that it is ok to use packet mixes and sometimes taking a few short cuts isn’t so bad. If it weren’t for the clever people at Hale & Hearty, Zac would have had nothing to take to the jubilee party today. And that is the point, when you have an intolerant child you will do anything for them to be able to feel ‘normal’ at kids parties – even if that means spending all day making a mess and not much else in the kitchen!

So what if all the other kids are eating fabulous artisan standard cupcakes made from scratch by an extremely talented Mummy. My little boy thinks my cakes and cookies are the best in the world and he doesn’t know how they were made or where they came from, all he knows is that I gave them to him and they were made ‘specially’ for him.

Chocolate buttons – my favourite baking ingredient Reply

My chocolate brownies were a success and I have to give a lot of credit to a key ingredient. Chocolate buttons, dairy free of course.

I have always loved chocolate buttons – the Cadbury’s version. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but when I need a chocolate fix, nothing hits the spot like a packet of chocolate buttons, straight from the fridge. They have to be cold enough to ‘snap’.

When we worked out Zac was intolerant to dairy, we were so pleased to find alternative chocolate buttons. They are not a major part of his diet, obviously we are very careful about the balance of his diet, but I still believe little ones need the odd treat and I think ‘chocolate’ is better than sweets. I have also found myself snacking on them from time to time and think they are just as good as the real thing.

The first ones we discovered were the ‘Dairy Free’ brand, which appeared in most supermarkets. They disappeared from the shelves recently but apparently are coming back soon. I hope.

Asda have an own brand of chocolate button and they also have a chocolate orange variety. Zac really loves the chocolate orange ones, so we usually have several packs in the house. Good job too. When I started baking the brownies, I realised that I didn’t have enough of my dairy free dark chocolate slab, so started rummaging around the cupboards to see what I could find. That is when I had a happy accident. I found two packets of the Asda chocolate orange buttons, so decided to throw them in too.

When you are using non-dairy chocolate you are obviously in the realms of seriously strong dark chocolate so do need a fake milk chocolate to take the edge off the bitterness. These chocolate buttons worked a treat and gave the brownies a really lovely faint orange flavour, which everyone who has tasted them, has noticed and loved.

The other reason I love working with chocolate buttons is that they melt easily. Melting my chocolate and butter was another challenge. Just recently my beloved range cooker was condemned by the gas man who came to fix our broken boiler. Not a good month for us. Anyway, he disconnected the hob from the gas, as it was unsafe! Thankfully, it is a dual fuel cooker, so I can use my ovens.

I had originally promised to make the children my special ‘fake’ pancakes, then remembered that would be impossible – unless there is such a thing as an oven baked pancake?! So that is how I came to cut a deal and agreed to make brownies instead. My brain was clearly having an off day, because I had forgotten you also need a ‘flame’ to melt the chocolate and non-dairy butter together.

The oven was already on and that is when it occurred to me, I could just put the bowl of chocolate and ‘butter’ in the oven for a few minutes. It worked. The little buttons melted down so quickly and infused the rich dark chocolate with a gentle orange aroma and flavour. This was the first thing my sister noticed when she had a taste of the brownies this evening. She declared them delicious and had another one. So I have to call this batch of brownies a big success. I hadn’t planned to make them, I hadn’t planned for them to be chocolate orange brownies, but thanks to my love of chocolate buttons, and Zac’s intolerance, a new recipe was born, along with an alternative method for melting chocolate.