Review of Morrisons Free From Celebration Tray Bake

When I heard via social media that Morrisons had added tray bakes to their free from range I admit to being a little excited. They were not only gluten free but milk free and perfect for dairy free me. So I sent my dad out hunting to grab me one with the plan being that I could share it with my mum and nephew who are both gluten free. My dad popped into Morrisons and they were sold out so were obviously popular. My dad finally managed to get me the chocolate celebration tray bake to try. I couldn’t wait to give it a try and had it all to myself as my mum and nephew had managed to find several gluten free cakes on holiday to enjoy.


Onto the packaging. Well it’s in the same style of all of the other free from ranges in Morrisons with the green style packaging. What I liked about this packaging was that it had a clear film to the top which meant that you could see the tempting treat inside. Onto the ingredients it is clearly labelled as being both gluten free and milk free to the front of the packaging. On the ingredients list egg and soya are clearly in bold as allergens. There is a no may contain warning.

On opening the pack I was greeted by a nice sweet but artificial chocolatey aroma which was pleasant and stronger than I had anticipated. This did not change on my famous close up sniff test. The tray bake consisted of 2 clear layers the chocolate sponge underneath and a top chocolate butter icing style with hundreds and thousands sprinkled on the top. On biting into the cake the it had three textures which complimented each other nicely. On my initial bite I got the smoothness from the chocolate butter style icing intermingled with an intermittent crunch from the hundreds and thousands. This was proceeded by the chocolate flavoured sponge which was light and airy and slightly bouncy in texture. A pleasant surprise if I’m honest. However, the sponge was slightly crumbly which did result in some of the sponge separating from the rest of the cake when the it was cut. The combinations of textures worked really well and the hundreds and thousands added that little extra to the cakes texture. Onto the cakes flavour well the main chocolatey element came from the top layer. The actual sponge was a little bland in flavour if eaten in isolation but worked perfectly with the topping. I personally think that if the sponge had been more chocaoltely the cake would have been too rich. I loved the hundreds and thousands on the top. They were sweet but added a little extra to this tray bake.

So would I recommend this  free from chocolate tray bake? Yes I would I’m not surprised that they are popular. I enjoyed everything about this cake from its aroma through to its flavour and texture. I will definitely be buying this again. So if you follow a dairy free, and or gluten free diet why not give this tray bake a try.

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The Free From Food Festival 2016

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The Free From Festival London is the UK’s first gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free food festival. It is based at the Festival Hall in Brick Lane. There is a large array of dairy free, gluten free, paleo and vegan foods to try, with odd tea company thrown if for luck. Last year I was very lucky to attend the festival in my official capacity as a food and tea blogger. I had an amazing day out and had the opportunity to try a range of fantastic foods. As soon as I became aware that free From Events were holding another event this year I blocked the date out in my diary and told my mum to do the same. So when the Free From Festival contacted me and asked if I would like to have 2 press tickets to the event again I let out a little Yelp of excitement. Oh and of course I graciously accepted. So here is a snap shot of our day at the food festival.
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We had to wait in a queue to get in. I didn’t mind this obviously meant that the festival had proved to be very popular. What it did mean was that we had hunt down our food fast before it had all went. Before doing this we headed straight to the bar to get our goody bags and a cup of tea. We grabbed our tea and went straight towards Les Deux Aimes who specialise in sweet and savoury pancakes. We headed here first as they had sold out of many of their ingredients last year. They had two hot plates one for gluten free and one for dairy free pancakes. My mum had a gluten free pancake last year and loved it. So she was jolly well going to have another one. After a bit of pondering, she opted for the banana and Nutella again. The pancake looked delicious and had a very generous filling of both the Nutella and bananas. My mum soon polished of her pancake and said it was well worth the wait and made the perfect accompaniment to her cup of tea. They can be found at: http://www.lesdeuxaimes.co.uk
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I headed of to straight to Giancarlo’s stand, The Vegan Sweet Tooth. I visited his stall last year and fell in love with his cakes. All of course are vegan but not are gluten free. My regret last year was that I didn’t try any of his savoury treats. The stall proved to be very popular gain. I choose my pizza focacciata and opted for a vanilla mini animal muffin for later because they looked very cute. I ate my focacciata outside before exploring the rest of the festival. Oh my goodness I was not disappointed the dough was light and springy in texture. The topping was delicious the herbs complimented the tomato sauce perfectly. It was well worth the wait. Giancarlo can be found at: http://www.giancarloroncato.co.uk
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One stand that I also couldn’t wait to visit was Fravocado. They make their ice cream from coconut milk and avocado. It is free from dairy, gluten and refined sugar and suitable for vegans. I sampled all three of their flavours but my favourite had to be the raspberry and basil. The flavours just complemented each other perfectly, as for the texture it was nice and creamy and perfect in consistency. Fravocado can be found at: http://www.fravocado.co.uk
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Another stand I came across was Fodify. It is a company that was set up by two dietitians Hannah and Janet to cater for the needs of individuals who follow the Fodmap diet. They sell specialist packages of herbs, spices and jars of sauces that are Fodmap friendly. Let me tell the herbs and spices smelt amazing. Fodify can be found at: http://www.fodify.co.uk
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My mum was interested in Rana’s artisan bread. Rana is a coeliac who set up the company last year in a quest to have artisan bread. The company has six different bread mixes which you can simply add water to and bake, you can extras if desired. I sampled all breads at the show, my favourite was the Italian my mums was the sour dough. I would not have been able to tell that they were gluten free in a blind testing environment. I had hoped to buy the Italian but they were sold out so I got the sour dough and instead. Rana’s artisan bread can be found at: http://www.ranasbakery.com
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I then popped over to see Matt and his girlfriend at Eat Safe. She is soya intolerant and has found this to be highly restrictive when eating out. So Matt helped devise the Eat Safe app as part of his masters degree. It is in its early stages and will initially cover eating out in London but hopes to extend this in the future. More details can be found at: http://www.eatsafeapp.co.uk
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The next stop was Nutkin. This is a vegan cheese company set up by Kate all cheeses are dairy and gluten free. There are currently five cheeses available which use fermented macadamia and cashew nuts as their base. I really enjoyed all of the cheeses that I tried and was unable to choose a favourite. They were creamy, soft light in texture and full of flavour. I have to say it was one of the nicest cheeses that I have tried. Nutkin can be found at: http://www.wearenutkin.com
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Finally, no trip to the Free From Food Festival would be complete without some form of chocolate. This year I stumbled across nookie, which is a family run business who make raw chocolate bars. They are dairy, gluten and refined sugar free. I sampled all of their bars but my favourite had to be just their plain chocolate samples. It was light, airy and delicate in flavour, whilst being smooth in texture. Sadly, they do not normally sell this and it was just done for the show nookie http://www.nookiebar.com/
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In summary I had another fantastic day at the Free From Food Festival and would recommend it to everyone. So thank you Free From Events for my press tickets I really appreciate it.

Review of Kalm Kitchen Cafe Guildford and Being Dairy Free

I stumbled across this cafe on Twitter. They published a picture of a delicious dairy and gluten free chocolate cake via Instagram. I commented on the cake and this resulted in a conversation taking place between myself and the cafe over Twitter. They kindly agreed to get in a dairy free cake in for me to try that Saturday. After a little retail therapy we toke the side street in which the cafe was placed. We hoped to have a light lunch followed by tea and cake. We met two friendly men on our way who told us that the cafe was full and people were waiting for a seat. We took a look for ourselves and even the seating outside was being used despite the damp weather. The lunches being enjoyed inside looked both healthy and delicious. I was disappointed not to be able to enjoy this. We decided to go elsewhere for lunch and come back later for afternoon tea and cake.
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When we returned to the cafe it was still full. We managed to get a seat upstairs when someone left. We were still full from our lunch so opted just for a cup of tea. I opted for mint tea. The cafe uses Tiger Spring teas. The tea came in a white teapot inside there was a strainer well stocked with mint leaves. The smell on opening the lid of the teapot was something special. It was a strong refreshing mint that slightly cleared my nasal passages. I couldn’t wait to give it a try. On sipping the tea it was very strong. I was unable to distinguish the exact mint if I’m honest. It left a nice soothing feeling to my throat that continued down into my stomach. I’ve yet to try a mint tea that also soothes my throat. It was certainly strong yet had a refreshing element to it at the same time. I enjoy a strong mint tea but this has to be the strongest I’ve had. Some may struggle with it. I would suggest asking for extra hot water to dilute it. That said it is obviously a good quality tea. I would definitely go back just to try more of their teas.
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What about my chocolate cake ? Well on finishing our tea I asked downstairs. To my utter surprise a full freshly made cake labelled dairy and gluten free was waiting especially for me. The cafe had bought in especially I couldn’t believe it. I asked to take it home. It was a chocolate nut torte. I also bought a lemon drizzle cake my other half. What impressed me about this cafe that they had kept this cake separate not only that staff ensured that a clean dedicated knife was used for it. They also washed and dried their hands prior to dealing my cake to reduce the risk of cross contamination as well. So a big thumbs up there. My cake was divine it was rich and indulgent. It was moist yet slightly crunchy oh and very chocolatey. If I’m honest I found it a little to rich and had to have it over two days. As for my other halves cake he loved his lemon cake describing it as light and airy with a subtle but not overpowering lemon flavour. It didn’t last long.
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I will certainly be going back for lunch and cake if it’s later in the day. So a big thank you to Kalm kitchen Cafe for accommodating my dietary needs and my lovely chocolate cake. I can’t wait to return.

Review of Delicious Alchemy Gluten & Dairy Free Christmas Fruit Cake Mix

I hate to say it, but Christmas is fast approaching. A few years ago it was very difficult to find safe dairy free treats for me to enjoy over the festive period. The rapid expansion of the free from market has changed this in a positive way. I can now be spoilt for choice with a variety of Christmas cakes to try. You can’t of course beat homemade. Leading a busy life I sadly have little time for baking at home. When I saw that Delicious Alchemy were making a special edition free from Christmas cake mix I have to admit to being a tad excited. I was lucky to receive a sample pack to try and review on my blog.
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So now for my review. I love the simple design of the packaging, with a small Christmas tree to the top. The only allergen advice to the back of the pack is a may contain traces of peanuts. So perfect for dairy free me. Oh it is also labelled as being suitable for vegetarians.
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There are also clear simple instructions on how to make and bake the cake. Perfect for me and my little helper chef, my nephew Jon. We followed the instructions in each stage. We used Pure dairy free spread and choose the option of using 75mls of brandy.
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It was quick and easy to blend the spread, brandy and eggs and added the packet mix. The ingredients mixed both quickly and easily. The aroma from the cake mix was definitely festive and the brandy just added that a little extra indulgence.
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We then transferred the mixture to baking tin and waited the 1 hour 45 minutes. Jon couldn’t wait to see the baked cake and give it a try.
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The cake cooked well and was eveningly baked. It was nice and moist, and had a lovely aroma from the dried fruit.
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You may notice we had it plain our family doesn’t like marzipan and aren’t keen on icing. I couldn’t wait to dive in, so had a piece of cake slightly warm and then later cold. On biting the cake two textures were noted, this being slightly crunchy and dry to the top and moist inside. I enjoyed the high fruit content of the cake and was able to taste the various fruits that made up the cake. I felt that this contributed to it being moist inside. I felt that the cake was a tad rich for me and that I only needed a small slice. For an extra piece of indulgence this cake would work well either with the added addition of either ice cream, custard or cream to the side.

I would definitely recommend you give this Christmas cake mix a try if you follow a dairy and or gluten free diet. It’s a quick and simple way to enjoy a homemade cake for Christmas. If my nephew and I can bake it anyone can. So thank you Delicious Alchemy for producing a fab Christmas cake that I can easily make and enjoy.

Disclaimer: Delicious Alchemy sent me a free sample of this product to review. All the opinions are my own.

Review of co-op free from mini pecan tarts

After a busy morning at work I had developed a bit of a thirst. I fancied a cool refreshing drink to have on  the go. So I popped into a co-op local. I quickly found a drink but out the corner of my eye I saw the free from section calling me. It was fairly big and saying go on have a look you know you want to even if you don’t need any sweet or savoury treats. I gave into temptation and had a crafty look. I was suitably impressed and saw these mini pecan tarts. I loved the simple vibrant packaging which was clearly labelled as being dairy, gluten and wheat free. As usual I checked the ingredients list and the allergens listed were egg, walnuts and pecans. I could have them and they had a good sell by date which meant I didn’t have to have them straight away. I gave into temptation and took some home to try.
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I opened the packaging and loved the fact that the 6 mini tarts were split into 3 individually sealed packs containing 2 tarts. A simple but great idea because there is nothing worse than a cake or biscuit that gets slightly stale. On initially seeing the tarts I was slightly put of. The outside pastry was very pale in colour and slightly unappetising. This didn’t deter me from giving them a try as the filling looked rich and indulgent. I was expecting a combination of textures and flavours from this mini tart. I know I’m hard to please.
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I carefully took the tart  out of its foil packaging as it looked and was indeed very delicate. On further inspection the outside pastry looked slightly crunchy and look as it may crumble with a nice dry non soggy bottom. You can tell I watch the Great British Bake Off 😊. On biting into the tart the first thing I noticed was how light and crumbly the pastry was, it had a nice neutral flavour that did not impact on any other of the elements to the tart. This led nicely into the centre of the tart which was lovely and moist and gooey in texture. This was combined with a nice crunch from the pecan but on top. As for the taste it was rich and indulgent the only way I can describe it is by comparing to a Mississippi mud pie which a subtle hint of pecan added. Now I loved Sainsbury’s free from pecan pies, but I am afraid these have are now my favourites. They are spot on from the cute little style through to the combination of both the flavours and textures. I couldn’t believe how good they were and they certainly didn’t make it to their best before date. The co-op have proved that you can make a really nice sweet treat that is both dairy and gluten free. So thank you co -op from producing a fantastic free from sweet treat that I really enjoy. My only criticism is why isn’t more freely available so more people can give them a try.