Wednesday 13 March 2013

More Coming Soon!

We're having to take a break from the blog for a while but will be back in the future with more recipes and reviews, watch this space!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Gluten Free Moist Carrot Cake

This is a relatively new recipe I came up with in 2012, we all love carrot cake but Abigail of course had never tried it. She loved the smell and asked me to try and make a gluten free version so after a bit of messing around with the 'normal' recipe someone gave me years ago I came up with this, it turned out far better than I expected and we only make this version now for all of us!

Preparation time -  ~20-25 minutes
Cooking time - ~80 minutes (less for a fan assisted oven)
Makes / Serves - 10-12
Child friendly - 2/5
Difficulty rating - 2/5


185 g gluten-free self-raising flour alternative
200 g golden caster sugar
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
140 ml vegetable oil
320 g finely grated carrots (this is the weight after they have been grated)
3 tablespoons of juice from 1 large orange*

Zesty Icing:

250 g cream cheese
50 g butter or good quality spreadable.
300 g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of juice and zest of 1 large orange*

*Note, you only need 1 large orange which is shared between the cake & icing.

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 C / 300 F / Gas Mark 2 and prepare a loaf or cake tin by lining with baking paper (not necessary if using a silicone loaf or cake mould).
  2. Use a grater to carefully to remove the zest from the orange and squeeze the juice into a small glass for use later.
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum, nutmeg and cinnamon then mix well with a spoon.
  4. Add the eggs, vegetable oil & orange juice and beat the mixture together either by hand or using an electric hand whisk (an electric whisk is definitely recommended!).
  5. Add the grated carrots and mix well with a spoon.
  6. Transfer the mixture into the loaf or cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 80 minutes (1 hour and 20 minutes) or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
  8. In a good size bowl combine the butter and cream cheese.
  9.  Add the vanilla extract & orange juice and mix well by hand.
  10. Gradually add the icing sugar, mixing until smooth.
  11. Add the orange zest and mix well.
  12. Spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake (a palette knife works best).
  1. It's entirely optional but personally I like to add 100g of pecans to this recipe (added last), holding a few back for decorating, you could even use walnuts instead! 
  2. For a slightly more traditional taste you could add 1/2 teaspoon of 'mixed spice'.
  3. If you're not a fan of orange you could leave this out of both the cake and icing, however this will give you a slightly drier sponge and you may need to add a few drops of water to the icing to get a suitable consistency.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Review - No Wheat Chocolate And Orange Bars

One of the things we tend to take for granted is the good old fashioned chocolate biscuit, a favourite being the wafer (e.g. Blue Riband) so when we spotted these in Tesco a couple of years ago for just less than £1 for 5 we had to try them!

First off let's look at how the price measures up;

Nestle Blue Riband 8 Pack - £1.55 (0.19p each)

Tesco Value Chocolate Wafers 5 Pack - £0.55 (0.11p each)

No Wheat Chocolate And Orange - £0.85 (0.17p each)

So as you can see from the figures above although they are more expensive than the  Tesco Value wafer they are actually priced at less than the branded Blue Riband wafers, making them very good value indeed.

Taste and texture wise they are easily as good as the Blue Riband wafers, the only catch is the orange flavouring, whilst my daughter sees that as an added bonus it might put some people off as orange flavoured chocolate isn't for everyone. 

It's hard to see how this product could be improved, though it would be nice to see a plain chocolate version as well, for most people this is the perfect replacement!

No Wheat Chocolate And Orange Bars (5 Pack) 10/10

Tuesday 26 February 2013

We are still here!

I thought I'd just write a quick post to explain the lack of posts over the last week;

Things have been pretty hectic here with two ill children, half term week etc so I haven't had much free time, I'll be making up for it soon with excellent new recipes in the works along with more still to come from the old site and numerous reviews.

Watch this space :) 

On a different note I was amazed to see that we came very close to 2000 unique views last month which is incredible considering the new site has only been up for a few weeks and I haven't done any promotion work yet!

What's more whilst about 80% of those views were by people here in the UK we also have regular visitors from a few other European countries, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even China! 

Thanks for visiting and please do leave comments and share photos of recipes you have tried!

Sunday 17 February 2013

Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

Time for another old recipe originally from 2007, like many of our recipes this one was inspired by my nan's old 1940's 'Good Housekeeping Guide' although the recipe had to be adapted quite a lot to get the texture right.

Preparation time -  ~15 minutes
Cooking time - ~45 minutes (less for a fan assisted oven)
Makes / Serves - 8-10 average sized scones
Child friendly - 3/5
Difficulty rating - 1/5


225 g gluten-free self-raising flour alternative
225 g caster sugar
225 g butter (or good quality spreadable)
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
lemon zest - from two lemons


100 g caster sugar
lemon juice - from two lemons

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4 and prepare a loaf tin by lining with baking paper (not necessary if using a silicone loaf mould).
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar and xanthan gum, mix well.
  3. Add the butter and eggs, mix until smooth either by hand or using an electric hand mixer.
  4. Add the lemon zest and mix well by hand.
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Leave in the tin to cool slightly whilst preparing the drizzle.
  7. In a bowl or small jug combine the lemon juice and caster sugar, mixing well.
  8. Using a skewer or fork prick the cake all over and then pour the drizzle over the top.
  9. Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely, the lemon juice will soak in and once cooled the sugar should leave a nice crisp topping.
  10. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and serve!
  1. Remember - the cake should still be warm when the drizzle is poured over!
  2. If you fancy something a little different this recipe also works with oranges, just replace the 2 lemons with 2 average sized oranges and only use around half of the juice! When making an orange drizzle cake the flavour benefits from also adding 20 - 25 g of ground almonds in step 2.

Friday 15 February 2013

Review - Tesco Free From Pasta

For this review I'll be looking the three variants of Tesco Free From pasta shown below, penne, fusilli and spaghetti. All three are available from most Tesco stores and come in 500 g packs, which is the usual weight for dried pasta.

Firstly lets consider the pricing, at the time of writing all three packs cost £1.40 each which when put in perspective is actually very reasonable, here are some prices of 'normal' pasta for comparison:

Tesco fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g (standard range):   £0.85

Napolina fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g:   £1.30

Other branded fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g:   £1.30 - £2.09

Other branded fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g:   £1.30 - £2.09

So as you can see from the figures above although they are significantly more expensive than the standard Tesco pasta varieties they are priced very much at the lower end of standard branded pasta, which I think makes the pricing very reasonable.

Now lets move on to the products themselves. 

All three varieties are made with a blend of rice flour and maize flour, which is a common blend for gluten free pasta, though one notable difference is that the colour of this pasta is fairly 'normal' rather than having more of an orange colour like many other gluten free brands.

Cooking times are slightly shorter than 'normal' pasta but only very slightly, meaning that if your cooking a family meal you can cook both 'normal' and gluten-free pasta at the same time and not have to worry about different cooking times.

We found that both the penne and fusilli were very good quality and once a sauce is added they are almost indistinguishable from 'normal' pasta taste wise, they do have a slightly different texture but the difference is small enough that it doesn't take long to forget about it completely, in fact many people may not even notice. You do need to be careful not to over cook them by more than a couple of minutes though as they go extremely soft and start to fall apart. The fusilli also lends itself very well to pasta bakes where it is oven cooked from raw, it cooks evenly and takes up the flavours of the sauce as well as 'normal' pasta. One final point worth mentioning is that a little salt in the water is essential to stop the pasta sticking together whilst boiling!

The spaghetti is a little different, whilst it is also very good taste and texture wise we have found it all but impossible to cook it without it clumping together to some extent. Like the other two varieties a little salt is essential, otherwise you will end up with it all sticking together, but unlike the other two great care needs to be taken to prevent clumping even with salt added. We haven't been able to stop it clumping completely but we find that breaking the spaghetti in half and stirring the pan every 20 seconds or so during cooking minimizes it, not an ideal solution but from what we have experienced it is a common problem with gluten free spaghetti in general.

Our conclusion...

All three pastas are good value for money. The penne and fusilli are perfectly good alternatives for people on a gluten-free diet and can be used for anything you would use their 'normal' versions for. The spaghetti on the other hand is comparatively difficult to work with and whilst it tastes good you will have a difficult time preventing it from clumping together whilst cooking, a problem that seems to plague every gluten-free spaghetti we have tried.

Tesco Free From Penne 500 g              9/10
Tesco Free From Fusilli 500 g             9/10
Tesco Free From Spaghetti 500 g       7/10