Saturday, 29 January 2011

Crafting and Cake

I bought this new mould from Ebay, not sure what inspired it but I think it was needing to perk myself up with a small but fun purchase. Knowing I had a crafting weekend coming up with two classes at Sugar and Spice that seemed like the best time to give the new mould an airing. The company who produce them, the originally named Silicone Moulds very helpfully provide recipes to fit so I gave their Spiced Apple Cake a go and I was really pleased with the result:

I swapped out the flour for Dove's Farm GF and it worked a treat, the cake was spicy without being over powering, and lovely and moist. Three people asked for the recipe, so I'm guessing they liked it! The mould performed excellently, and I'm now lusting after these two

I've also done some papercrafting, feeling creative again, and I'm really pleased about that too. Lots of annual leave coming up in which to do said crafting following the change in rules at work about carrying over holiday.

Happy crafting everyone. x

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Review - My Gluten Free Christmas

I'm normally the only Christmas Fairy in the Village, the one carrying the flag for the festive season and all things jolly. But not this year. With work problems and uncertainty on my mind and some confusion with a close friend it was a very quiet Yuletide for me this year. Next year I will do better.

Anyway, I thought as an aide memoire to myself and perhaps of interest to others, I thought I'd sum up my experience of gluten free products this Christmas.

Once again my thanks go out to Marks and Spencers for making much of their Christmas stuff gluten free, including cocktail sausages, ALL their stuffings and also this year going that further step and using GF stuffing in things like their turkey crowns. Rock on. They also had Christmas cake and mince pies available, and have significantly extended their range of everyday GF products to include brownies, toffee pecan squares, rolls and bread.

Whilst this is all fabulous, the products themselves aren't exactly great. I don't mean the stuffings etc which aren't specifically aimed at use Coeliacs and wheat intolerants. I mean the specific niche products. The rolls are horribly crumbly and dry, the toffee pecan square use polenta as the base and it's gritty. The brownies are nice enough, but as most GF peeps will tell you it's very easy to make a wheat free brownie, hard to get wrong and usually our only offered option in cafes etc. The pastry on the mince pies is tough and not very tasty, there's not much filling and it feels like you get a couple of raisins/sultanas and very little else. It's a real shame because their stance on GF products is one to be applauded and encouraged. I hope they continue on and improve the recipes. My biggest disappointment - their slow cooked pork belly squares in the party range had wheat in them. My favourite item - the Gammon Stuffed Turkey Crown with a bacon lattice. Wow. Fabulous. Moist, easy to carve, and a joy to look at.

Tesco's had the usual Christmas cake, mince pies and christmas puddings in their range and from what I could see, not much else. They did have packs of two individual puddings, which is very handy. They did finally have some of their party range as wheat free recipes, which is great. Party food in supermarkets is historically heavy on the wheat so I feel like I miss out. I had some chinese chicken skewers and stuffed potato skins which were ok. I do have to seriously recommend their new, fresh bread and baps. They are amazing, moist, don't need toasting, don't crumble to bits when you cut into them. Consistent supply appears to be a bit of an issue.

Sainsburys had similar stock to Tesco's in the Christmas range but the quality of their mince pies is fantastic. A complete revelation and highly yummy. I knew in the back of my mind that Sainsbury's baked GF goods are the best around, somehow I just didn't manage to get there and thought M&S would have to be at least as good. Next time I'll know better.

So, there you go. My small window onto the Supermarket offerings for us gluten free'rs this year - Sainsburys for pastry, Tescos for bread and some party foods and M&S for meat products.

I'd love to hear if you've got any opinions on GF products you've tried over the festive season.