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.
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.
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.
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!