Is there lecitem in your toffee apple?

toffee-applesHave you ever heard of lecitem?

I hadn’t, until coeliac daughter told me about it recently.

She’d bought a toffee apple (her first ever) as a reward for herself after an interview, but discovered it was not gluten free, since it contained lecitem.

Not gluten free? Surely it’s just an apple, with sugar, syrup, water, and maybe a tiny bit of (gluten free!) vinegar?

Lecitem, it turns out, is a type of bread improver, and contains malt and wheat gluten. When used for bread, it makes it more ‘machineable’ – silkier and smoother – especially if you’re using a high speed or spiral mixer. Perhaps, when added to the toffee, it makes it run through the machines better?

In any case, it was a surprise to me, and a disappointment to her. The things they decide to put gluten in!

So I made her toffee apples. I’m such a mean mother: I’d never done that before.

I used this recipe, based on the one from BBC Good Food:

Six crunchy eating apples
200g sugar
½ tsp cider vinegar
2 tbsps golden syrup

  • Blanch the apples by covering them in boiling water briefly to remove the waxy coating. Dry them, twist off the stalks, and push a wooden skewer or lolly stick into the stalk end of the apple. This will be your handle.
  • Put the sugar and 50ml of water into a pan, and heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the vinegar and syrup.
  • Prepare a sheet of baking parchment for cooling the apples on.
  • Boil until the mix reaches the ‘hard crack’ stage (or 140C). Testing with a sugar thermometer is easy, but if you don’t have one, drop a small amount of the toffee mix into a bowl of cold water. It should go hard immediately, and be easy to break when you take it out of the water. If you can still mould it into different shapes, go on boiling the toffee.
  • Then dip and rotate each apple in the hot toffee until it is covered, let the excess drip off, and then put it on the baking parchment to harden.

Make sure the toffee is cool before you eat it!

FreeFrom Nut Roast

Sainsbury’s have kindly shared this recipe for a gluten free nut roast with me – and given me permission to share it with you!

You may remember that I went to a FreeFrom Christmas dinner at Sainsbury’s HQ recently; this was one of the vegetarian options, and is the invention of Mary from the Sainsbury’s Try Team.

It’s fabulous: moist and tasty. When you read the list of ingredients, you’ll see why… I was amazed to discover that there is no bread at all in this nut roast.

Enjoy! (I plan to).

FreeFrom Nut Roast

Rediscover nut roast with this moist, light, tasty recipe, made without breadcrumbs. Nut roast is the classic vegetarian alternative to the roast dinner, but it doesn’t end there. It’s an excellent dish for entertaining and special occasions, with the added benefit that leftovers are delicious served cold or in sandwiches.

Serves: 4

Make and cook time: 30 minutes preparation plus 1 hour cooking time

85g nuts (eg Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Marcona almonds), chopped to the size of a pea
255g finely ground nuts (eg Sainsbury’s ground almonds)
300g root vegetables, coarsely grated (eg parsnip, celeriac and carrot)
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 x 15ml spoonfuls vegetable oil
2 medium size eggs, beaten
½ x 5ml spoonful white pepper
1 x 5ml spoonful dried thyme
1 x 5ml spoonful salt

You will need: an 850ml capacity loaf tin, lined with non stick baking parchment

1. Preheat oven to 170’C/ Gas 3
2. Gently cook grated vegetables and onion with the oil, in a non stick pan until tender (10-15 mins).
3. Mix cooked vegetables together with all other ingredients. Press mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
4. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Test by inserting a skewer into the nut roast, which should come out clean. Leave the nut roast to stand in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Turn onto serving plate. Slice carefully using a sharp serrated carving knife.

Recipe by Mary Scott Morgan (Try Team)

When we ate this, it wasn’t presented in a loaf tin shape, but in more of a jelly-mould shape. Obviously there were more of us to feed, but my point is that you don’t need to be constrained to the loaf tin. Just bear in mind that cooking time might vary.

Photo credit: copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Fig and Ginger Goats Cheese Tart

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a jar of McQuade’s Celtic Fig and Ginger chutney from Blake Makes. If you’ve not been over to visit there yet, you should visit at least once. It isn’t a gluten free blog, but it is definitely a foodie one.

Fig and Ginger ChutneyThe task was to suggest how you might use this chutney in a recipe. I was rather surprised to see in the comments that some people were unfamiliar with chutney, but there were many excellent and mouthwatering suggestions. This was mine:


I think goats cheese too.

I’m thinking pastry shell (gluten free, naturally), layer of fig and ginger chutney across bottom, goats cheese either sliced or shredded and sprinkled, depending on whether it is a hard or soft cheese, and then cooked in the oven to crisp the pastry and melt the cheese.

Or (perhaps and, if I’m being particularly greedy), fig and ginger icecream, served with (gluten free!) ginger biscuits or flapjack. Depending on the size of the chunks in the chutney, might need to blend the chutney a bit first …

And Lo: a jar of chutney arrived on my doorstep at the end of April.

For various reasons, it took me a while to complete my mission, and actually to cook something with this chutney, but I’ve done it. I used Lifestyle ready-made gluten free pastry rather than making some from scratch, because it was there in the freezer, and needed eating, and also – if I’m honest – because I’m run off my feet with work, and didn’t have time to make my own pastry. But I think a few shortcuts are OK occasionally.

Then I spread the chutney liberally across the bottom of my pastry shell. Not too liberally – I wanted to reserve some to taste separately! – and sprinkled goat’s cheese across the top before cooking it.

It was absolutely delicious. The chutney was also delicious with cheese and crackers. So good, that there’s none left to try the icecream out, but I do think this would work, because of the sweet and sour virtue of good chutney. My husband – a connoisseur of good chutneys – was heard to say (through a mouthful) that it was class. He may have said that it was even better than my own damson chutney, or my cranberry and shallot chutney, but I’m pretending I didn’t hear that.

It is truly a great chutney. Perhaps not, as their publicity says, reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands (figs just don’t grow that far north), but really good. Guys, why aren’t you selling it here? No, really – why not?

(I notice, incidentally, that the recipe at the top of the McQuade’s site is also a goat’s cheese and pastry one, so clearly great taste-buds work alike.)

The perfect recipe for gluten free waffles?

Sorry: this isn’t it, but I know one of you out there has it …

wafflesOnce again, I spent 20 minutes scouring the kitchen to find the tiny scrap of paper that came with our waffle-maker 10 years ago, because coeliac daughter decided she fancied waffles this morning.

It happens every time – this piece of paper enjoys playing hide-and-seek. So I’m documenting the recipe here, for my own benefit, really (you have no idea how many times I’ve had to print off the recipe for chocolate brownie from my own site).

My preferred ready-made gluten free flour mix here in the UK is the Wellfoods version. No doubt you’ll have your own preferred blend – perhaps even specially for waffles – and I’d be really interested to know what blend you use for waffles. The problem I have is that although the waffles puff up nicely while hot, they deflate sadly once they start to cool. I’m sure the ones my mother used to make when I was small (using non-gluten-free flour and a proper heat-on-the-hob American waffle iron, imported by her from the days when we lived in America) didn’t do this.

What am I doing wrong?

I wonder if its the electric waffle iron, not the flour mix or the recipe?


6 oz plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps sugar
2 eggs (separated)
8 fl.oz milk
3 oz melted butter


Combine the dry ingredients.

Mix the egg yolks and milk, then add the melted butter. Beat well, and then add to the dry ingredients. Beat again.

Whisk the egg whites, and fold into the other ingredients.

Add dollops to the wafflemaker and cook until golden brown.

Eat with proper maple syrup (is there any other way?)

Yes, this makes a lot of washing-up. Definitely a weekend-only treat.

Fabulous gluten free seville orange cake

Just over a year ago, I gave you my recipe for seville orange marmalade. Well, guess what? Seville oranges are back in season again …

baking - measuring spoonsYes, I made marmalade again, but I had a few oranges left over that I just couldn’t fit into my preserving pan, and weren’t quite enough to make a new batch of marmalade, so I needed something to use them up.

This is a great cake. Very adult, in that seville oranges are really bitter, so none of my children like it, so don’t offer it at a children’s birthday tea!

Seville Orange Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

150g gluten free white breadcrumbs
200g ground almonds
300g caster sugar (which might be called superfine sugar, in the US?)
3 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
8 eggs
400ml sunflower oil
4 Seville oranges

Extra ingredients for the topping:

100g caster sugar
handful of cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4.

Mix together the breadcrumbs, ground almonds, sugar and baking powder. Add the eggs and oil, and mix gently.

Grate the zest from the lemon and oranges and add to the mixture.

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm cake tin, and bake for between 40 minutes and an hour – until the cake is firm.

Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the lemon and oranges and put the juice, sugar, cloves and cinnamon into a pan. Boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.

When the cake is cooked and cooled, pierce it several times with a skewer. Spoon the syrup over the cake, letting it soak in.

Serve by itself (delicious when warm) or with creme fraiche or greek yoghurt.