Monthly Archives: April 2015

Humpit Leeds – thumbs up for the hummus, but not for charging extra for gluten free

I’ve been wanting to try the Humpit in the Corn Exchange for ages, having heard the rave reviews from work colleagues and on Facebook.

On Thursday, I finally got to give it a go, as I had to be in the city centre for a meeting, so I was able to stop in to get lunch on my way back to work.

I’d checked beforehand via the Humpit’s Facebook page that they could cater for gluten free, and was impressed when told that everything was GF except the pita bread, but they could provide an alternative. However, when I got there, I was informed that I’d have to pay 25p extra for gluten free bread, which turned out to be one of the Warburtons’ Newburn Bakehouse wraps.

I know it’s only 25p, but I’m afraid there’s a principle at stake here.

I think I’d have objected less if I’d known upfront that there was an extra charge, but I didn’t see it on the board, and it wasn’t mentioned when I initially enquired about gluten free via Facebook, so to be told about it at the till when I’d already placed my order and was about to pay was not good customer service.

I don’t want to unfairly single out the Humpit, as I know they are not the only ones who put on a gluten free surcharge, but  I’m sick of paying the “coeliac premium”. I know that gluten free foods are more expensive – I live this every day, but I don’t have a choice! I know there are some people who eat gluten free out of choice, or because they think it will help them lose weight or something, but really, those people are few and far between, and frankly have more money than sense. Who the heck would want to pay three times the price for a loaf of bread if you didn’t have to! Most customers asking for gluten free foods are the real deal, and we don’t earn extra wages to cover the extra cost of our food.

If you’re going to put a surcharge on for gluten free foods, then I want to know about it upfront, and then I have a choice about whether I eat at your establishment or not. To be fair to the Humpit staff, when I challenged the extra charge, they did take it off and offered an apology, but I’d like to see them either being upfront about the prices, or removing the surcharge altogether.

I’m sympathetic to small businesses, as I run one myself (albeit just me sat at a computer) but I don’t charge extra for proofreading or editing services to someone with dyslexia, for example. I know it will take me more time, and therefore eat into my profit margin a bit, but it’s not that person’s fault they have that condition, so I accept that there will be some jobs that are more profitable than others. You don’t get to demand from me that you pay less because you are not dyslexic, either.

Either you cater for coeliacs or you don’t, and if you do cater for us (which I wholeheartedly encourage, by the way!) then you work the extra cost into your whole pricing structure. Or you find ways not to have to use those more expensive gluten free products – the Humpit special, which I had, could easily have been done with some extra salad rather than the gluten free wrap. The Warburtons wraps are something I don’t buy myself unless they are on offer, either, because I do think they are overpriced, so I’m sure a cheaper product could be found. Plain gluten free pittas are available, freeze well, and are around £1 cheaper per pack in the supermarkets.

Pricing problems aside, the food from the Humpit is fantastic – the hummus has a ton of flavour, a real garlicky hit, and was lovely served with the warm chickpeas and spices and drizzle of oil. It’s hard to find vegan and vegetarian food that’s also gluten free, so I’ll give them full marks for also making their falafels gluten free, as that’s a dish that’s often off-limits to coeliacs.

I’d definitely recommend the Humpit for tasty and reasonably priced vegan food that will fill you up til tea time, but I’m disappointed that it didn’t turn out to be as coeliac-friendly as it first seemed.

Gluten Free Bakers Series part 1 – Bakes Just 4 U

Coeliac disease has not in the slightest bit curbed my love of cake – both baking it myself and sampling the culinary delights of others.

Gluten free baking can be a bit hit and miss though. I applaud the efforts of a lot of establishments that are trying to offer something for coeliacs, but there are a lot of well-intentioned mistakes. I was in a bakery the other day where they offered me a yummy looking chocolate and almond torte, but then proceeded to use the same cake slice to get it out as they’d just used to handle a gluten-containing cake. Epic fail.

With a gluten free only bakery though, no such worry. I’ve selected three to sample and to review on the blog over the next couple of months, so wherever you are in the UK, you should never be far from a decent gluten free cake!

I heard about Bakes Just 4 U on the Coeliacs in the UK Facebook group. A member posted a picture of a gluten free French fancy, and I just HAD to have one. I used to have a bit of a weakness for Mr Kipling fondant fancies, back in the days BC (Before Coeliac). Yes, I know they are mostly sugar with a bit of flavouring and colouring for good measure, but they really are good. So I was curious to see what these were like.

I chose the strawberry ones, and here they are in all their glory.

BJ4U Fondant 1

Of course, this neat little pile in the box didn’t last long…..and it wasn’t long before I cut into the mini battenberg slabs as well. Another childhood favourite that coeliac disease has robbed me of, so when I saw battenburg on the list, that was straight in my shopping cart. I also chose these items as I wouldn’t usually bake them myself, due to the fiddly processes involved, which are time consuming, and difficult when you only have a small kitchen.

fondant and battenburg cut

The French fancies were nice for a novelty. I liked that they didn’t quite look perfect, because it gave them a hand-made quality that you would never get with Mr Kipling! The sponge was fantastic – moist, with a good kick of vanilla, but the icing was not particularly pleasant. I don’t know if it was the flavouring in the fondant, but there was an almost alcoholic aftertaste to it. The buttercream filling was nice, but I could have done with a little more of it to balance the sponge and the icing. I am aware from watching Bake Off however just how difficult these little beauties are, so overall, I think these were a good job, considering they are gluten free.

The battenburg, however is a triumph of gluten free culinary art. Fantastic sponge texture and taste, marzipan not too thick, and enough jam filling for it to be satisfyingly moist. This I would definitely buy (and happily eat) again. It would be fantastic for a gluten free afternoon tea. Even my non-coeliac partner agreed this was a fine slab of cake, and that he would not have known that it was gluten free if he hadn’t been told.

Battenburg

The cakes were good value, at £6 for 6 of the mini slabs and £4.50 for a pack of 6 fondant fancies. You do have to pay for postage on top, unless you are lucky enough to live in Nottingham and be able to get them from there, but if you are willing to pay the premium to get some cake landing on your doorstep, it’s a pretty welcome surprise to find it there when you come home from work.

I would definitely order again from this bakery, and there is plenty more to try!