Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Food allergies and birthday parties - easy allergy-friendly cupcakes

egg free cupcakes for birthday parties
Artistic talent not really necessary

Does your heart sink when your child with food allergies bounds out of school waving a party invitation? Me too.

Not because I'm a tight-fisted killjoy and I don't want to fork out for yet another present (although that too) but because parties are a bit of a trauma when food allergies are involved.

I have spent miserable hours positioned behind my daughter watching her say no to chocolate fingers and elaborately iced cupcakes. I'm a dab hand at frisking party bags for allergens and I can catch a falling milkshake from twenty paces (slight exaggeration). So all in all, parties with food allergies are pretty crap.

But, whining won't get us anywhere will it?

So I'm about to show you how to rustle up some allergy-friendly cupcakes for when your child is next invited to a party. 

And the aim here is to make the cupcakes look so damned amazing that all the kids with easy lives and no allergies say "Wow! Can I have one?" (Answer: "No, piss off and eat a chocolate finger.")

You will need:

1 allergy friendly chocolate cake recipe: 

gluten free chocolate cake
This recipe never gets old

1 tub of Betty Crocker filthily naughty, how-many-additives-can-there-be, delicious icing:

dairy free icing
It's OK to eat this straight from the tub. (With your fingers.)

And an array of pretty, allergy-friendly cake decorations (and maybe a bag of marshmallows):

It's OK to eat all six

Here's what you do:
  1. Realise a bit late that there's a party in a few hours and you have to provide 'safe' food for your child
  2. Quickly print off my chocolate cake recipe, or my chocolate and zucchini recipe
  3. Follow the instructions, but put the mixture into cake cases, not one big tin. Bake
  4. Leave to cool, during which time you can run around the house looking for scissors, sellotape, a clean party outfit and the birthday card that you have put in a 'safe place'
  5. Apply Betty Crocker icing to the cupcakes liberally and with gay abandon
  6. Then go wild: for the spiky cake, use the back of a knife to pat the icing so that it forms little peaks, for sprinkley cakes, apply - err - sprinkles and for my favourite marshmallow cakes, cut the marshmallows up and stick on the cake until it looks impossibly sickly and decadent
  7. Feel pleased that your child has kick ass cake
  8. Go to the party
  9. Come back from party
  10. Pour a stiff drink 

There, not so difficult was it? :-) 

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 17 June 2013

Review: The Just Mustard Choc a Bloc Cake Mould

Just Mustard choc a bloc cake mould
If only Cadbury made Dairy Milk with massive chunks like this...
A friend of mine works for a large multinational that makes confectionery, coffee and George Clooney. 

He once told me - the friend, not George - that the chocolate you eat as a child defines your view of how chocolate should taste. And that any chocolate you subsequently taste will always be compared to your personal chocolate benchmark.

Aside: (I love the idea of a personal chocolate benchmark. It sounds delicious, like a bench made from chocolate. Oh. How cool would it be to have a chocolate bench?)

My childhood chocolate was Cadbury's Dairy Milk and I loved it with a passion. I think I loved it all the more because Mum wouldn't really let us have chocolate, so when Christmas rolled around it not only meant presents, it meant Dairy Milk. Ahh, good times...

I'm about to make a bit of a leap here, so keep up.

So, when the lovely Jude from Just Mustard contacted me to ask if I wanted to review the 'choc a bloc' cake mould, I said yes.

Full disclosure: I said yes mainly because the mould instantly reminded me of a huge bar of Dairy Milk and I was lost in a chocolate reverie. In my weakened state I would have agreed to anything. (Sorry Jude!)

So here's what happened...

On receiving the mould, my first, uncharitable thought was that the cake would definitely stick in the mould.  
But I was wrong.

I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe and it slid out of the mould beautifully. Only thing is, the 'yum' that is printed on the mould didn't show on the cake. I think this could be because using GF flour in a cake (without eggs) often leaves a residue of crumbs in a mould; it just doesn't come out as cleanly as a cake made with eggs.

The kids loved the look of the brick of chocolate and it was all going well until I tried to ice it.

'A smooth ganache would be good' I said to myself. 

The ganache had other ideas. 

I'd fancied that it might adhere beautifully and smoothly to the cake so that it looked JUST like a bar of Dairy Milk. But it didn't. It just kind of looked messy.

So I baked another cake and put all my faith in BettyCrocker. Even worse. I could NOT get the icing to adhere and it was all an unsatisfactory mess.

But to be clear, that has nothing to do with the cake mould which worked brilliantly. It just didn't transform my cake into a giant bar of Dairy Milk, and I really can't blame Jude, Just Mustard or the choc a bloc mould for that.

Although not specifically for allergies, this mould is fun to look at and my daughter loved it. She hears 'no you can't have that' way too often, so she was thrilled to be eating cake shaped like a giant bar of chocolate. So for that alone, it's worth having this novelty cake mould!
And when I was nosing around the Just Mustard Facebook page, I saw that another blogger had used the mould to make Rocky Road. 

Which is a much better idea and why didn't I think of that?!

The 'choc a bloc' mould is £8 and is available from the JustMustard website.

Looks amazing. Just wish it were easier to ice!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Venice Bakery UK launches gluten free & vegan pizza bases

Gluten free pizza Venice Bakery UK
Gorgeous gluten free, vegan pizza base, an oxymoron? Not at Venice Bakery UK
 Pizza and allergies equal a bit of a no-no.

There's the cheese, the wheat and gluten, the milk in the dough and sometimes even egg. Pizza is sort of like an anaphylaxis time bomb, just waiting to blow.

Trouble is, it's pretty yummy.

On Fridays, our house is given over to 'Friday night pizza'. (Exhausted mums will know this is code for: 'It's Friday night I'm not even going to pretend to cook a meal".)

My daughter is 'only' allergic to milk and eggs and not gluten or wheat. Dairy free pizza bases are quite easy to find and topped with vegan sausages and vegan cheese, they satisfy my girlie's need for junk food.

BUT, I've often heard people begging for  GF pizza that is crispy and tasty and just like, well, real pizza. So when Venice Bakery UK asked if I wanted to try their pizza bases that are free from gluten, wheat, dairy, egg and soya, I was happy to give them a whirl. 

Can I be honest? I wasn't expecting much. Sure, they'd be tasty enough, but not REALLY like pizza.

Well. How wrong can a food allergy blogger be?

These bases are amazing. I stared angrily at the dough as I broke it because it acted like a pizza base heavy with gluten. 'How do they do that?' I frothed to myself, 'why can't I do that?' (Answer: I'm too lazy to try.)

First time around I didn't read the instruction (RTFM!) and put the pizza base on a baking tray. The edges of the base were crisp and gorgeous, although the middle was a little soft. But when the next pizza was placed directly onto the oven shelf, well look I don't say 'perfection' lightly, but how would you tell this was a pizza made without gluten? Methinks you wouldn't.

I particularly love the fact that the base is thin, rather than thick and stodgy. My gluten free sister-in-law agreed. "Best tasting gluten free pizza I've had. Really, really nice."

Venice Bakery UK also sent me a gluten free flatbread and I fully intended to make a curry to go with it, but I'm just so lazy. So when there was no bread for breakfast. I offered my daughter a flatbread spread with dairy free margarine, sprinkled with chocolate powder. (I am totally a class act in the kitchen.)

My daughter's reaction? "It's like toast, but better!" Which sounds like a damn fine strapline, no?

I really recommend these pizzas. For weeny kids, the pack of 3 pizzas is a great buy at £3.39 and the larger 12" ones - perfect for a Friday night pig out - are a respectable £3.79. The pizza bases and flatbreads are available from the Venice Bakery UK website:

Venice Bakery UK are launching the pizzas at the Allergy +free from show this weekend (June 7-9), they'll be at stand 136, so flock there in your millions and get your hands on some mighty fine gluten free, vegan pizza bases!

For more information visit:

Venice Bakery UK gf pizza bases
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