Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Pie no 4 is - Genius gluten-free mince pies

There has been a lot of buzz about the launch of Genius mince pies.  As the bread is now widespread and loved by many non-gluten eaters, there has been a lot of anticipation about their mince pies, so I was very much looking forward to seeing what they were like.

They looked quite different from the other ones I had tried, very round and flat looking and not like a typical mince pie, I quite liked the look of them but Jools didn’t, preferring a more traditional looking mince pie.  But how did they taste?  The pastry was delicious, soft, a bit crumbly (but in a good way) and a really nice texture and taste.  The fruit was plump and lovely and we basically loved these the best.

Overall score 5/5 – Too good to share

Winner of the great gluten-free mince pie taste test – Genius mince pies, get down to Tesco and bag some!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Pie no 3 is – Lovemore free from mince pies – bought from Waitrose

I love shopping in Waitrose, it’s more of a special occasion shop for me but I always love the quality of food I get.  Their own brand free from range however has always disappointed me as I haven’t felt the quality is very good, Waitrose are always good at buying in good brands though and I discovered lazy days initially in Waitrose, which I love. 

I didn’t find any own brand mince pies in Waitrose but they did have Lovemore which I tried.

The look didn’t impress me, it was very ‘made in a factory’ looking, they actually reminded me a lot of Mr Kipling’s apple pies!  They were a nice golden colour, My first bite revealed a thick layer of pastry, there was a strange aftertaste from the fruit and overall I didn’t like these at all, Jools refused to have more than one bite as he said they were so horrible!  How disappointing, I would definitely not recommend these, they are by far the worst I have tried. 

Overall score 1/5 – only good enough for Santa 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Pie no 2 is – OK Foods free from mince pies – bought from Morrison’s

I have never tried mince pies bought from Morrison’s before so I was looking forward to trying them out.  

The Morrison’s pie looks a lot like the Sainsbury’s one, also plain top which is fluted, I think the colour is maybe a bit too pale, It looked a bit grey when I went to eat it!  

It had quite a short pastry but was really crumbly; it pretty much fell apart when I tried to cut one in half.  The fruit was ok and the overall taste was ok but definitely not up to the standards of some of the others I have tried.

Overall score is 3/5 – pleasant

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Pie no 1 is - Sainsbury’s free from mince pies

I shop at Sainsbury’s so I have had a fair few of these mince pies already this month.

These mince pies look pretty good, they are plain with a fluted top and are quite golden in colour.  

The pasty is good, quite short with a nice texture; the fruit is plump and tasty.  The only downside on these is they taste a bit too sugary for my liking but overall it’s a good mince pie and Jools is happy to eat these even though he isn’t gluten-free.

Overall score 4/5  - tasty

The great Gluten Free Mince pie taste test

Welcome to the great mince pie taste test!  Let me start by saying that I LOVE mince pies, they have to be slightly warm with brandy cream and I am in heaven.  Every year I get bought copious amounts of mince pies by my lovely friends and family who expect me to eat a whole box at a time as they have bought them in (specially)! As a result I am often mince pied out before now!  This year I banned everyone from doing this and promised I would try them all out so I can focus my purchasing on the best ones out there, Jools and I have tried all the ones I have been able to get hold of and we have tried to give them a fair score out of 5. I am therefore going to write a short post about each one every day and hopefully at the end we will have crowned a winner!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Fondant cupcake class with Faircake

I love cooking and baking and being allergic to gluten I definitely seem to bake more,  as there are still so many things you cant always buy!  My mission this year was to learn how to work with fondant icing in order to bake and decorate a cake for my sons 1st birthday in January.  I found out about the company whilst on another course with the GF Baker earlier this year.  I met a keen cook who had started making cupcakes for friends weddings, she showed me some pictures on her iphone and I was blown away by how professional they looked, she said she had done a few classes with a company called Faircake so I immediately booked on a course for December choosing the fondant decorating course.  They were incredibly accommodating when I phoned to ask if I could bake GF cakes on the day and said they would provide the flour and baking powder, now there are obviously other people baking too so there is a small risk of contamination.  When I arrived in a really nice workshop space in Greenwich, I was pleased to meet Shikhita (founder of Faircake) and the 3 other attendees, I was really glad it was such a small class and obviously that meant less flour flying around so I felt happy.  We started off baking our cupcakes, the workstations were clean and had all the equipment you needed, once they were ready to go in the oven we started on the fondant icing.  

This was really fun, we coloured the icing different colours as well as some stripy details, we then also coloured the florist paste, which would be the basis of our decorations.  Shikhita was incredibly chatty throughout and added to the fun of the day. Lunch isn’t provided but you get a break to eat, I prefer this as it means the cost isn’t included and you can just bring your own stuff.  Once cooled we learnt how to cover the cupcakes in the fondant and then got to work on the intricate decorations that would go on top.  This was definitely the fun bit, Shikhita showed us how to make various animals from simple cutters, there was every shape and size cutter you could imagine so after we had done a few, we then started to let our creativity run riot and make up our own designs.  Overall I had a fantastic day, and I can’t quite believe I have made these cupcakes, as they look so professional!  (Nor can a lot of people who have seen them)! I spent a fortune buying equipment so I can give it a go at home and would highly recommend a Faircake class, you never know if enough of us ask they might even put on a Gluten-free one in the future.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Sainsburys - New product alert - Choc chip brioche rolls

Whilst grocery shopping last week I spotted some new chocolate chip brioche rolls in the freefrom range in Sainsburys, and promptly bought them to try.  I didn't have very high hopes, as I haven't enjoyed the croissants or the pan au chocolate I have tried in this range, both being quite dense and a bit tasteless, however I was very pleasantly surprised with these brioche, they were really nice, good light texture, sweet flavour and lots and lots of chocolate chips yum!

They are quite small so you really need to eat both! They were very nice and I will be buying them again for an indulgent breakfast.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Red velvet cupcake @ Lola's

So I finally got to try a Lola’s cupcake, this has been my most anticipated cupcake review, as PR about the company seems to be everywhere right now!  I also follow them on twitter and am regularly inundated with re-tweets of customers saying how wonderful the cakes are.  I had tried to get hold of one in Selfridges and Topshop a few weeks ago but alas they had sold out of gluten free ones (there is 1 gluten free cake flavour per day and when they’re gone they’re gone)! I finally did pick one up in the Topshop concession, the flavour was red velvet. 

Let me start this review by saying it looked beautiful!  It is the most beautiful cupcake I have seen to date, the frosting looks expertly piped, the case is a metallic gold, and the sprinkles are red and a silver glitter and it just looks amazing.  But how does it taste I hear you bellow?  

The sponge is melt-in-your mouth gorgeous, it is a tad crumblier than other sponges but it tastes delicious, it’s a great flavour and a gorgeous deep red colour.  The cream cheese frosting, as well as looking wonderful, tasted heavenly, Jools kept saying ‘are you sure this is gluten free’? Well it doesn’t get any better than that does it?  I have a loyalty card, and I intend to use it, please do more gluten free cakes Lola’s!

Red Velvet Cupcake - 10/10 The best cupcake eva!

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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Freefrom Festival – Sugargrain mince-pie cupcake

I had been so excited about the Freefrom festival, and had to wait until the last day to get down to the Southbank!  There were a good selection of stalls in the square and I was pleased to see a few brands that were on my wish list that sell gluten free cakes to try!

The first of which was Sugargrain, they are sold in Selfridges and at Borough Market and had a really good selection of gluten free cakes at the festival.  The mince-pie cup cake caught my eye; I love a bit of seasonal flavouring this time of year.

The cupcake itself didn’t look anything special, the icing was just spread on the top and it was in a plain casing, not deterred I bought one to take home later.   When I got home with a cup of tea I tucked in.  The frosting was traditional icing with brandy butter flavouring, it was delicious and the brandy butter flavour really came through strongly.  The sponge was nice, if I was being really picky I would say a teeny bit on the dry side but it was a good texture and taste, I didn’t get any of the mince-pie flavour but there were raisins in the sponge which was nice and complimented the icing.

Overall the icing did overpower the cake but as it was so nice I didn’t mind! Jools also liked it and it made us feel all Christmassy!  I should also mention the price, most of the cupcakes I buy are £2.50 which is quite pricey, these were only £1.70 which was really good value for money, I will definitely be buying a Sugargrain gluten free cake again.

Mince-pie cupcake - 8/10 yummy with jingle bells on top!

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Costa - new product alert - Xmas cake

I went into a Costa today and ordered a nice flat white to get on the train with, and what do I see right there on the counter but a gluten free christmas cake!

I didn't actually buy it as I have eaten a bit too much cake this week! But I thought I would let you all know it exists!  If you do try it, let me know what its like.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Freefrom food festival

I am getting sooo excited about the first Free From food festival next weekend - have you heard about it?

Its on the Southbank in London and will be on from Friday 25th November to Sunday 27th, it opens at 11am.

There will be lots of food specialists and artisan producers selling all things that are gluten and wheat free as well as food demonstrations throughout the day.

 As its so close to Christmas, I am excited to see what delights I can buy for both myself and my friends and family, and of course try out as many cakes as possible to then review on this blog later.

Really hope you can all go along, but if you cant, then check back here next week and I will try and review as many great finds as possible, really hoping to discover an amazing brand I haven't come across before!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Low calorie gluten free cakes from Petit Pois

I went into Selfridges today on a mission to buy some Petit Pois cupcakes I had read about.  They weren’t that easy to find!  I asked a few people and eventually I found them on top of  the counter in the patisserie section opposite the macaroons.  They come in a box of two, I went for the chocolate and vanilla flavours.  I was intrigued to try them, as I had read an article describing how the butter had been replaced with vegetables in the sponge, making them half the fat of a normal cupcake and naturally gluten free!

I got myself to a local cafe,  served the cakes up and got an uncertain look from Jools!  They look like a normal iced cupcake apart from the pea on top that gives the veggie theme away.  We started with the vanilla flavour, when cut in-half you can see strands of green going through the sponge, (this one has courgette in it), the sponge is pretty tasty, good consistency and texture, but its not as sweet as normal cupcake sponges.  The icing was standard but nice.  Next we tried the chocolate cake, we both felt you could taste the vegetable more in this one (beetroot), the sponge looks a red/brown colour, it wasn’t unpleasant but Jools really didn’t like this one.  

Overall I think its impressive that the sponge tastes so nice with the addition of vegetables, but personally, I do prefer a sweeter cupcake with butter cream frosting, and I don’t really agree with some of the reviews that its as good as the calorie laden variety, I wont be in a hurry to try them again.  If you are on a diet or watching the calories however, these are a good option.

You buy the two together so we have scored them that way too

Chocolate & Vanilla cupcakes - 6.5/10 vegtastic!

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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut loaf @ Starbucks

I ducked into a Starbucks today to avoid the rain and decided to get a coffee and a cake.  I have always been very grateful to Starbucks as they have always catered early on for people who are gluten-intolerant; they were certainly one of the first to stock a gluten-free brownie and then a sandwich!  Alas, although I applaud them for this, I don’t actually rate their coffee or their cakes!  This was one of the larger Starbucks so as well as its gf brownie they also had a Chocolate Hazelnut loaf that was gluten free.  I settled down with my vanilla latte and cake and started to tuck in.

The positives are that it does taste very chocolaty, in fact that is the only positive about it.  It was too dry, had an unpleasant aftertaste and wasn’t very flavourful.  It just didn’t taste very nice!

It’s a real shame the cake wasn’t better, as having 2 gf cakes to choose from in a mainstream coffee bar really is great, but honestly, they need to up the standard as whilst choice is good, they have to taste nice too

Jules wasn’t impressed at all and gave the cake a low score; we have compromised on what is quite generous.

My advice, if there is nothing else on offer the brownie is ok (will do a brownie in coffee shops review soon)

Chocolate Hazelnut loaf 5/10 disappointing

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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Mrs Crimbles Cranberry macaroons

I dont know about you, but every time I go to someones house for a cup of tea and they have tried to 'cater' for me, 9/10 I get a Mrs Crimbles coconut macaroon.  they are nice enough but because of this reason I wouldnt really buy them for myself.  A similar thing happened this weekend but to my delight the macaroons were a new flavour, Cranberry.

They taste good, they are softer than the classic chocolate coconut ones and make a nice change.  My friend said she picked them up in Sainsbury's.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Cupcake heaven @ bake-a-boo

I made a trip across London today to check out a cake shop I have heard lots of good things about.  Bake-a-boo in West Hampstead is a cute little cake shop which specialises in afternoon tea.  We turned up earlyish as I had heard it can get very busy.  The cake shop itself is really sweet, smaller than I had imagined, with around 5 tables and a mix of young girls having cake as well as women with children having tea.  We took our place at the back of the shop on a long table and ordered tea, coffee and asked about the selection of cakes.  There were 3 options that were gluten free, raspberry, blueberry and an orange and almond.   

Both Jools and I went for the raspberry; our drinks arrived in lovely floral mismatched cups and saucers, along with our cakes.  The raspberry cupcake looked good, smooth frosting, which was simply done, and with a raspberry popped on top, it was on the small side and the sponge also had raspberries inside.  It was a good texture and very flavourful, the icing was really nice and tasted of fresh raspberries rather than colouring.  Overall I enjoyed the shop atmosphere and the cakes, but I am not sure I would recommend travelling a long way to go and visit just for the cake. Jools felt the same.

Gluten-free raspberry cupcake – 7.5/10  delish!

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Friday, 7 October 2011

Cat that got the cream @ whole foods

 Shopping in Clapham Junction yesterday and had a sudden cake craving, I believe in giving in to these urges, so had a think about the shops around me, I decided I would head to whole foods and see what they had.  To my delight they had some ‘Cat and the Cream’ cupcakes in the deli section, they often have one Gluten-free option and one vegan, and that was the case today.  So I bought the gluten-free orange raspberry almond one to take home.

I tucked in after dinner and forgot how big these cakes are! There is also a lot of icing so I had to dismantle the cake a bit to fit it in my mouth.  The sponge was a really nice texture and there are some raspberries in the sponge too, which helps it to stay moist and also gives a sweet flavour.  The icing is cream cheese icing, its very nice but there is too much of it for my taste, I couldn’t really taste the orange in the cake so it must be a subtle flavouring.  I left Jools some to try and whilst he liked it, he is much more a fan of traditional icing, so the score probably reflects that.  Definitely check them out next time you are near a whole foods, they also bake to order.

Gluten-free orange raspberry almond cupcake – 7/10 nice

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Mini cakes rock at Wag Free Bakery and Cafe

Brixton village market has become a kind of heaven for us of late, the brightest beacon of them all is the WAG free bakery, café and deli.  I heard about it just as it was opening at the end of last year, and as I live south of the river and a mere 10 min bus ride from Brixton, it couldn’t of been more exciting to have a dedicated gluten and wheat free bakery near by.  It took a few months to find their feet but over the summer this year their food has just got better and better and they now even supply a few other great restaurants in the village such as Honest burgers with some gluten free buns.  Onto the cakes, they change their cakes regularly but there are a few that are firm favourites and you can pick up most times you visit,  I especially like the Wagon wheels (Jools’ favourite), and the mini Victoria sponges and mini black forest gateau’s.    

Yesterday I bought 2 mini black forest gateau as our weekend treat, it was as scrummy as always, nice light sponge, whole cherries, and luscious cream oozing out of the middle.  Such a perfect portion too, and they look so cute!  I would recommend that anyone make the trip to Brixton to check out Wag free, pick up some cakes and savour the buzzy atmosphere, enjoy

Mini Black forest Gateaux – 8/10 yum!

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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Raspberry and Almond cake from Franklins Farm Shop

Off to visit a friend in East Dulwich today and so decided I would visit a very special deli on Lordship lane in search of a lovely gluten-free cake.  Franklins calls itself a Farm Shop and is situated at the top end of Lordship lane, away from the station.  It stocks fantastic organic produce and always has a gluten-free cake available.  Today I noticed it has also started selling some bread and cakes from the WAG free deli in Brixton.  Stock comes in on a Friday, so they had already sold out today.

The cake I had travelled to buy was available, a lovely Raspberry and Almond sponge cake, I bought 3 slices, one for now and one each for Jools and I later.  The sponge is really good quality, Jools remarked that he wouldnt be able to tell it was a GF cake (high praise indeed)!, not too dry, not too crumbly, and with a light texture, it has a lovely butter-cream and jam filling.  It was scrummy! My only crticism is that its very expensive per slice, £3, but I would say its worth it! Jules marked it 8.5 out of 10 and I agree.

Franklins Raspberry and Almond sponge cake - 8.5 out of 10

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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Gluten-free friendly in Sidmouth, Devon

My cake search went coastal last weekend when we went for a weekend break to Sidmouth in Devon.  We were to stay at the Salty Monk Hotel, a gluten-free friendly hotel renowned for their restaurant, I had been planning to visit for a long time, so I was very excited.

It didnt dissapoint, the 3 course meal was fantastic, the service pitch perfect and having so much choice for puddings was great,  focusing on puddings, I went for the apple sponge with custard which was really good. When we checked-out the next day we were given a bag of gluten-free biscuits which were really tasty and a nice touch, highly recommend!

The next day we strolled down to the sea front where I thought I would carry on my cake search.  I came across a cafe called Brophy's, its quite an unassuming cafe in the town centre but they had a few gf cake options, a Carrot and Cardamon cake and also a Millionaires shortbread, I bought both for the car journey home to share with Jools! The carrot cake had a good flavour but was a little bit on the greasy side for my taste, the shortbread didnt really work and suffered from the dreaded 'too hard' biscuit base that a lot of GF cakes suffer from.  We thouroughly enjoyed our weekend on the coast let me know if you have found any further places for GF cakes as we will definitely be back.

Brophy's - Carrot and Cardamon cake - 6.5/10

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Salty Monk

6 High Street, Sidmouth, Devon
No website

Monday, 22 August 2011

Red Velvet cake at the Hummingbird Bakery

When I read an article last month that the Hummingbird bakery had introduced a 'made without' range I was very excited indeed!  I had often endured friends turning up to dinner parties with a box full of these beautiful looking cakes and cursed my gluten intolerance! I promptly found the nearest Hummingbird bakery which happened to be near where my husband works, and sent him off with orders to bring me back a cake for a special friday night treat.

He did as he was bid and came home with a beautiful little box, there was one option for 'made without' on the day and it happened to be a red velvet cupcake.  The cupcake was absolutely delicious!  It was a perfect size, not a big muffin like some cakes I have had, the appearance was nice and simple and the colour was a deep maroon red, the cake itself was moist, had a good texture and was tasty, the cream cheese icing really complimented the cake and was really creamy and had a lovely aftertaste.  This was a pretty perfect cake and Jools agreed.  I will definitely be sending him back for more

For the red velvet cake from the made without range - a very good 9/10

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hummingbird bakery

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cakes by the pool

I love lido's in the summer and Brockwell Lido Cafe is a great place to hang out when the sun shines.  I was there today with some mummy friends, the food is good but there is only one Gluten-free option for cakes, its an orange, lemon, polenta cake, so I ordered that with a cappucino.  The cake was ok, it was a bit drier than my favourite polenta cakes, you can taste a hint of Orange which is nice but its not sweet enough, nothing on the top and honestly it could do with some icing sugar or something.  Overall, good to have an option but its a very average polenta cake.  If you find yourself here on a sunny day then have fun and order the elderflower sorbet instead!

Marks for the Orange, Lemon and Polenta cake 5/10, could do better

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Brockwell Lido Cafe

Monday, 15 August 2011

The perfect place to stop in the West end, Muffinskis

I was off to meet a friend in Covent Garden, and I had already planned my detour to Muffinskis on the way! Muffinskis is right in the heart of covent garden just off of the main market square and they have the most delicious gluten-free muffins!  My favourite is raspberry and white chocolate, the lovely ladies behind the counter asked if I wanted it warmed a little, yes please!  I then sat down with a cup of tea and tucked in.  It was delicious, great texture, lots of fruit and the sweetness of the chocolate, really great.  I bought a second one to take home for desert, Jools insisted on half, he agreed they are superior muffins. Overall the place to go if you are shopping in CG.

Muffinskis get a very good 8/10 for their raspberry and white chocolate muffin

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Muffinskis - Covent Garden

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Unusual flavoured cupcakes and a cup of tea at Soulcialize

I discovered a cute little tea and cake shop in Crystal palace that does Gluten-free and Vegan cup cakes.  Its on Westow Hill and has lots of space with Cath Kidston style table cloths.  It attracts yummy mummys from the area during the afternoons and is child friendly.  The cup cakes are often very unusually flavoured and they dont always advertise the fact that they are Gluten-free as they dont have a seperate kitchen so there is risk of cross-contamination.  I have had a few cakes from the shop and my only criticism is that the decoration is quite amateur and that the unusual flavours dont always work, today I plumped for the mint choc cupcake, it was a choc cake with mint flavoured icing, this pairing really worked and it was a yummy cake, Jools loves mint choc chip ice-cream so was also impressed.  This cafe is pretty new to the area and I hope it does well, so go along and sample some cakes!

The mint choc cupcake has been my favourite yet so I am giving it 7.5/10

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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Retro cupcakes from Ms Cupcake

I wandered down to the West Norwood feast today, its a street market that started up this year on the first Sunday of every month. The star of the show for me however is that Ms Cupcake comes further south from her home in Brixton to have a stall at the market. Their cupcakes are all Vegan and they do a few flavours that are also Gluten-free, they are beautifully presented and have unusual flavours such as green tea and banoffee pie. I am also impressed with the care they take over things like their branding and packaging, really cute little boxes and a very distinctive look and colour palette. Today they had one gluten-free flavour which was vanilla, I carried it home in its cute little box and tucked in with a cup of tea, it was very good as usual, although the icing to cake ratio was too much (I always lop off the top of the icing). Jools had bought a triple chocolate (non GF) cupcake and was tucking into that, he sampled a quarter of mine as always and confirmed it was very good but slightly denser than his.

So my marks for Ms Cupcake's gluten-free vanilla cupcake is 7.5/10

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Ms Cupcake

Friday, 5 August 2011

Cafe by the park

The Gardens is a relatively new cafe that opened at the beginning of the year opposite Peckham rye park. Its a lovely cafe with lots of glass and has a boutique feel about it, lots of space and a room out the back that is baby/child friendly with toys etc. Because of this its full of yummy mummys from the Dulwhich/Peckham areas during the day, having coffee and cake. Today I sampled its Polenta and pear cake which was a combination I havent had before, as lovely as the space is I am not sure the same compliments can be bestowed upon its GF cake! On the plus side it was very moist but too sickly sweet for my tastes, Jools agreed.

The Gardens cafe therefore gets 6/10 for its Pear and Polenta cake

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no website at time of writing

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Best supermarket cake award goes to...... M&S hands down!

Supermarkets have been stocking gluten-free products, (often referred to as free-from) for a while now, which is fantastic as it makes our life a hell of a lot easier. However the cakes and biscuits on offer can still be a bit hit and miss. I have tried all the supermarket cakes, and at the time of writing this post M&S is the outright winner. Their GF victoria sponges, available in chocolate and lemon are FANTASTIC!! They really are great tasting with lovely buttercream and are also fantastic value for money, so if you are having friends round, having a mummy coffee morning or need a quick birthday cake for someone who is gluten intolerant, this is the cake to buy. I bet they wont even guess its gluten free

M&S Chocolate and Cherry sponge cake 8/10

Yummy Polenta cakes at Beamish and McGlue

So Beamish & Mcglue is my local go to cake shop as its on my high street, but that doesnt mean the cakes are not yummy! they always have at least one for sale which you can buy by the slice, often its a Polenta cake and an almond bliss cake. The Polenta cake is really good. I know us Coeliacs often get the choice of a Polenta cake but this one is very good quality, the Almond bliss is passable but not my favourite. They occasionally have a 2 tier chocolate cake which is really good. Its a small deli in West Norwood south east london, which also stocks some gluten free biscuits and lots of nice organic meat, tea and veg.

My score for B&M is 8/10 for their Polenta cake, a good score

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