One month on…

Wow!  It has been a busy month here at Allergy Towers.  I have been jumping through hoops, like an overexcited collie in an agility competition.  I am really pleased to say that I passed my Level 2 in Food Hygiene and Handling.  We also passed our Food Standards Agency inspection, and got the top grade (5, very good).

20180622_105948We have been testing lots of vegan, gluten free cakes, including a gin cake with tonic icing that I felt the need to test extensively.  Our testing panel have been generous with their time and taste buds, and supportive.  Yesterday, we delivered our first batch to Cornflower Wholefoods, Brightlingsea, Essex, UK.  I don’t know how well the cakes will sell, but we are going to give it our best shot.

The next stage will be about fulfilling our whole purpose.  We’ll be looking at developing relationships with local organisations so we can offer work-related learning to autistic young people.

It’s all really exciting, bit scary, but I am looking forward to seeing what happens over the next few months…

 

 

Eat me! Jam buns.

Over the Christmas holidays, the Allergy Brothers really enjoyed watching the CBeebies pantomime, Alice in Wonderland (For our overseas readers, CBeebies is a TV channel aimed at pre-schoolers; pantomime, however, is much harder to explain!  It’s a theatrical show based on a traditional tale with songs, lots of audience participation, and cross dressing.  This is considered to be perfectly acceptable family entertainment.).  Alice in Wonderland has sparked an interest in jam tarts!  Unfortunately, the boys can’t eat the free from jam tarts at the supermarkets so I improvised a jam bun.  Luckily, this met with their approval.

Ingredients (makes 8 large buns):

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Flour for dusting, sprinkling etc. (I used corn flour)

125g ground almonds

100g tapioca flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp egg replacer

100g spread + a bit for greasing

100g sugar

2 tbsp milk (we used almond milk)

50g jam

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6.  Grease a baking tray with some spread then sprinkle with some flour.  Give the tray a good shake to cover it all with the flour and discard any excess flour.
  2. Mix together the ground almonds, tapioca flour, baking powder and egg replacer.  Add in the spread.  Rub in the spread into the dry ingredients until it looks like breadcrumbs.20160106_131529
  3. Stir in the sugar and the almond milk.  At this point, you might lose the faith because the mixture looks sloppy and weird.  Press on regardless.
  4. Use your hands to roughly shape ping pong ball sized pieces of dough.  This will be messy.  You are aiming for a flattened sphere shape.  Use the back of a spoon to make an indentation for the jam.  Fill the dent with jam.  Make sure there is space around each bun as they will spread.20160106_131425
  5. Bake the buns for about 10 minutes until they have risen and turned golden brown.  Leave them to cool on the baking tray for a while until they have hardened up enough to move to a wire rack.  Be very careful as jam can easily burn you when it is hot.  Definitely, don’t eat these hot from the oven!20160106_131218

 

Home Free “Mini Double Chocolate Chip Cookies”.

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A sneaky snack when working from home!

Ingredients – Gluten free whole oat flour, Natural cane sugar, High oleic safflower oil, Chocolate chips (evaporated cane juice, chocolate liquor, non-dairy cocoa butter), Demerara sugar, Non-alkalized cocoa powder, Organic tapioca starch, Apple juice concentrate, Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), Organic vanilla extract, Salt, Baking powder, Xanthan gum, Sunflower or Canola lecithin, Rosemary extract.

This is one of those products that makes me sad.  This is a fantastic product.  When you consider how many allergens are avoided (no dairy, no soya, no wheat, no gluten, no egg, no tree nuts, no peanuts, etc, etc), it’s really amazing that they have made a product that works.  So why does it make me sad?  Because, the Allergy Brothers still can’t eat it!  Sometimes, it just makes me sad when I realise how far we are from “normal” eating.

Anyway, less moaning and more reviewing!  This is a really good product.  As I have already mentioned, many common allergens have been avoided.  In addition, the product is convenient.  It comes in an individual serving, which would be perfect for a packed lunch.  Also, it has a long shelf life so you could stock up.  Finally, the taste.  Well, as always with free from products, the texture is different to what you expect.  In this case, the cookies are more chewy than crumbly.  The taste is also pretty chocolatey, but lacks the richness of a regular cookie.  Basically, if you have never tried a regular cookie then you will be very happy with this product.  If you have tried regular cookies, then you might have to eat a few packets to learn to love these cookies.  It really depends if you have as much dedication as me!

Free From Rocky Road by Lazy Day Foods

Ingredients – Margarine (palm oil, rape seed oil, water, salt, emulsifier (mono- and diglycerides), natural vegetable flavouring), chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla), gluten-free flour (rice, tapioca, corn), sultanas, golden syrup, sweetened cherries (cherry, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, strawberry juice concentrate, citric acid, potassium sorbate), sugar, marshmallows (glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, water, dextrose, carrageenan, maize starch, hydrolized soy protein, natural vanilla, natural colour (titanium dioxide, beetred), palm oil, soya lecithin.

Allergy Dad and I had enjoyed all the previous offerings from Lazy Days Foods so we were quite disappointed with these. They managed to be both bland and overly sweet simultaneously. One of them ended up languishing in the cupboard in the tupperware of shame as nobody fancied eating it. This very rarely happens at Allergy Towers so is a sure measure of bad cake.

The Den, Vegan Cafe – Colchester

Vegan food can be really helpful if you have a dairy or egg allergy. As a great bonus, this vegan food was delicious too. I had a flat white coffee and a smokey chickpea salad. Both were delicious. The salad was so generous and filling that I didn’t get to try the low gluten cupcake I was intending to eat. I will just have to return for cake and coffee another time!

I found the owners to be very allergy aware. Items without gluten in the recipe are marked on the menu as low gluten rather than no gluten because they are concerned about cross contamination in their small kitchen. I thought that was honest and showed an understanding of how small quantities of gluten can potentially affect people. They were also happy to spend some time reading ingredients lists with me and I think we found something the Allergy Brothers could eat and drink at The Den!

Lazy Day Foods Free From Millionaire’s Shortbread

Ingredients – flour (rice, tapioca, corn, soya), dairy-free margarine (palm oil, rape seed oil, water, salt, emulsifier (mono- & diglycerides), natural vegetable colours (curcumin, annatto), natural flavouring), sugar, chocolate (cocoa solids, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla), golden syrup, palm oil, emulsifier (soya lecithin).

I am having a very rock and roll Sunday evening (see photo) and these have been a very pleasant accompaniment. If I am going to be picky then the biscuit base is too crumbly. These shortbread are not good for surreptitious snacking as you will leave tell-tale crumbs. Also, I thought there was too much biscuit base and too little caramel. Despite these gripes, I would still buy these again.