Sunday 28 June 2015

Don’t miss the Allergy & Free From Show London Olympia & GF Food Fair for the diary

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (3rd-5th July) is the Allergy & Free From show in London. A fantastic 3 day event that is the gluten free highlight of my year! I always look forward to it. There is something so unique and special about being able to attend a food show – and a massive one at that – walking into the room, seeing rows upon rows of delicious food, inhaling the aromas of freshly baking pizzas and simmering pots of curries and knowing you can EAT IT ALL!!! It’s a truly wonderful feeling and one that unless you’ve ever had to follow a restricted diet, I don’t think you can truly appreciate what a rare and extraordinary experience this is.

I always get ridiculously over excited and eat far too many samples, but have the most wonderful day. I always used to love going to food shows, but when I was diagnosed coeliac I had to stop attending as being faced with so much gourmet food I could no longer eat made me depressed. Not the case with the Allergy and Free From Show!!

You get to see and sample all the best gluten free foods available on the market, learn about new products, any newly launched companies and buy foods from small independent producers who aren’t readily available in the shops. It’s a gluten free delight!  My advice is take a big rucksack with you and be prepared for crowds. Last year they had 29,652 visitors over the 3 days… yes 29,000.
(Other allergies also catered for too and I should mention that there is the occasional stall that is dairy free/egg free but not gluten free. However, I should think 98% of the food on offer is gluten free)

It’s held in London Olympia – the big event theatre and it’s absolutely packed with stalls as far as the eye can see. You want to know the best part – they give most of the ticket away for free! Click here to get some yourself and learn more about the event.
Who’s excited?! – Me, me me!

GF Food Fair
One of my friends from Bedford also wanted me to let you know about the Home Counties Gluten Free Food Fair that is happening on Saturday 5th of September in Biggleswade. Mark it in your diary. It’s obviously on a smaller scale than the Olympia one, but some of the top brands attend along with some local businesses. A great event if you are in the area and all gluten free!

Monday 15 June 2015

Chocolate Chip, Fig & Vanilla Yoghurt Loaf Cake

I love loaf cakes. There is something so enjoyable about their humble appearance, only to slice into them and reveal hidden chocolate chips, fruits, nuts, spices or speckles of banana.

These days I’ve noticed I often enjoy them more than cupcakes piled high with sweet icings. They are the kind of cake that fulfills that morning or afternoon treat-time craving without the guilt or immediate sugar rush/crash. Plus you get to cut as little or much as you like – there is no set amount as what equates to ‘a slice’

I often have a pot of yogurt in the fridge, but it’s usually the plain and unsweetened variety. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Last week when I was shopping I spied a large pot of sweetened vanilla yoghurt reduced to only 20p – that was too big a bargain to pass up and I snaffled it quickly. I ate a little with fruit, but as I’m used to natural unsweetened yogurt and it was just a little too sweet for me. Rather than let it go to waste I decided to bake with it and it made the perfect addition to this yogurt cake!

To compensate for the sugar already in the yogurt I simply reduced the sugar in the recipe. The sugar in question is granulated sugar rather than my usual caster sugar. I find this gives a lovely slightly crisp golden top to loaf cakes, more so than the finer caster sugar, but either would work. The yoghurt was also already flavoured with speckles of natural vanilla seeds and this lent a wonderfully sweet perfumed vanilla fragrance to the cake. The yoghurt and oil base kept it soft and tender too, while adding a bit of natural yoghurty tang. Delicious.

I had a squishy bag of dried figs to use up and I love adding dark chocolate chips to anything and so into the cake they went. This turned out to be a great combination, adding melty spots of bitter dark chocolate and chewy sweet figs against the backdrop of perfumed vanilla cake. The seeds in the fig added a slight crunch too, which was a nice addition every few bites.

I love cake with add-ins, it makes each bite that little bit different. It’s a super easy and quick cake to make too, all you need is a bowl and a spatula. No electric whisks, no creaming butter and sugar, you simply add wet to dry, stir and bake. You can use any additions you have on hand too – spices, nuts, fruits, chuck them all in and I’m sure you’ll still end up with a delicious cake.

This is the kind of cake to enjoy with a cup of tea, sat on the sofa and eaten with your fingers. No forks allowed!

Chocolate Chip, Fig & Vanilla Yoghurt Loaf Cake
90g buckwheat flour
50g brown rice flour
1½ tsp baking powder
70g dark chocolate chips
5 large soft dried figs
100g granulated sugar*
170g vanilla yoghurt*
80g sunflower oil
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla

* if you want to use plain, unsweetened yoghurt, add 140g sugar

Line the base of a cake loaf tin (approx 10x20cm) with a strip of greaseproof paper. Heat oven to 180C.
Cut the figs into small chunks with a pair of scissors. Combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, choc chips and figs together in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, lightly mix together the yoghurt, oil, eggs and vanilla.
Pour the wet mix over the dry mix and fold together by hand using a spatula. A few small lumps are ok and it may look slightly split, this is fine.
Spread into the loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely.
Eat within 2 days or slice and freeze for later. Then allow slices to defrost for 30 minutes at room temperature before enjoying.
Makes 1 x loaf cake