Tag Archives: Xanthan gum

Something sweet for the weekend

If there was one thing we were all in need of last weekend, it was a sweet treat and I really wanted to bake something that I hadn’t made before. M was keen for me to make an entry for Delicious Alchemy’s own version of the Great British Bake-off, the Gluten-Free Magic Bake-off, so I needed something that would feed both children as well as hitting the brief he gave me of “something spectacular Mummy“. Hiding in the kitchen cupboard was a packet of Delicious Alchemy’s Gluten and Dairy-free Vanilla sponge cake mix, an item I’d bought on something of a whim to go with the 5 bags of their Rice flake porridge that would keep da_bake_off_logo_2016M going for the next few weeks. I pondered on whether I could use the mix to bake similar cupcakes to those I would be making for M and settled on the classic flavour combination of pear and ginger that has served me so well in the past. I haven’t made pear and ginger cupcakes before, but combining my recipe for pear and apple cupcakes with that for pear and ginger cookies, I was certain that I was onto a winner.

I started with a batch of M’s cupcakes and carefully tasted the batter mix to make sure that the ginger wasn’t too overpowering, something I’ve been guilty of in the past. Satisfied that the flavour combination was exactly what I wanted, it was time to move on to G’s cupcakes and I couldn’t wait to try out the sponge mix. Such mixes are a convenience I don’t use very often, usually because they don’t meet our complicated allergy needs, but given our last 2 Decembers with M disappearing into hospital and missing G’s birthdays, I figured that anything that could make the whole cake-baking experience a little easier for whoever ends up making her a cake can only be a good thing. I was really impressed with the sponge mix and how easy it was to use. I followed the packet instructions precisely, including using an egg  –salted-caramel-1 I can’t remember the last time I used an egg in my baking – and then added my own twist of pear and ginger. A quick taste reassured me that the flavour was good and then, with M’s cakes already out and cooling on the rack, popped G’s batch in to bake. The results looked and smelled delicious and soon joined M’s to cool, whilst I moved on to think about the icing.

Now this was where I wanted to venture into something completely new. I perfected coconut oil icing for M about this time last year, so it was time to take that knowledge and use it to create a different flavour. I turned to my ever faithful companion on these allergy-friendly recipe hunts, Google and discovered this great recipe combining ginger cupcakes with a salted caramel icing. I’ll be honest, salted caramel is not really my thing, but a couple of months ago, M had asked if I could make M-friendly caramel for him and I decided that there was no time like the present to take on that challenge. Rolling my sleeves up, I followed the recipe carefully, tweaking and swapping out ingredients as necessary to meet our allergy needs. I started with making the caramel and was delighted with the result. It does have a slightly unusual flavour because of the rice cream used to make it, but it wasn’t bad for a first attempt and I was certain that M and G would both love it. Once the caramel had cooled, I mixed it in with the coconut oil icing and then piped it onto the top of my cupcakes. A sprinkle of crystallised ginger added the final touches and I ended up with some beautiful cupcakes to serve. G and M both loved the look of them, but to my surprise the icing proved to be just a little too sweet for my sugar-fiend, M. Nevertheless, they’ve been a hit in our household this week and it’s great to have found a way to make tasty dairy-free caramel.

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Summer Bakes

tumblr_static_wendy2The first 3 weeks of the summer holidays were filled with clubs and camps and activities and I needed to create some M-friendly bakes that could be packed into a lunch-box or, in the case of
Over The Wall, included as a bedtime snack to share during the evening cabin chat session with the rest of his team. With M’s tally of safe foods still stuck at 5, I wanted to bake something new, something we hadn’t tried before, and where better to start than a quick search using my trusty internet search engine. There are not many recipes out there that incorporate those safe ingredients only, so I looked for some vegan and gluten-free suggestions and decided to do the rest of the tweaking myself where necessary.

The first recipe I found was for Pear blondies, a vanilla version of the ever-popular chocolate brownie without, rather obviously, the chocolate and I was intrigued to see if this could be made for M. Using apple purée as my egg replacer, I stirred my mix and then kept my fingers crossed as the small cakes went into the oven. The smell as they baked was amazing and, as always, a certain young gentleman appeared alongside me as I pulled the final product out, ready to cool. The quantity was enough to make a dozen bitesize blondies, which were perfect as a snack during his busy days. Both children enjoyed the blondies, with IMG_0762[1]M particularly keen on the small chunks of pear that had become melt-in-the-mouth and golden as they baked in the sponge mix.

My second new baking venture were Pear and Ginger cookies, which seemed to me to be a perfect combination of sweet and spice, something I was sure M would love. This was another easy recipe to whip up, made from the staples stored in my kitchen cupboards. The dough made an impressive 18 cookies and within minutes of them hitting my cooling rack, my hopeful duo found something important to do in the kitchen in the hope they might be successful in picking up a stray biscuit as they passed. However, whilst they were tempted to taste one straight from the oven, the lure of the lemon icing to be drizzled when the cookies were finally cooled was enough to gain me around 20 minutes extra before my store started to be depleted. These were an amazingly good bake as the rice flour didn’t make the cookies taste granular at all and the ginger was subtle enough to give a little extra heat without overpowering the sweetness of the pear. The children were both big fans of this bake too and I was intrigued to see which one M would settle on as his final choice for taking to OTW camp. In the end, much as he loved both of these new treats, he decided the pear and ginger cookies would be his cabin chat snack of choice and the empty pot returning from camp was all the proof I needed that they had been a success.

Meeting a knead

With so much of my time and energy focused on NEAW16 throughout May as well as coping with the aftermath of M’s broken leg, I unusually spent very little time in the kitchen for most of the month, other than to whip up the regular offerings for each meal. Having taken a much-needed short break to recover, it has been time to revisit some of the recipes I’ve spotted and saved over the last few weeks to see if they could be adapted to suit M’s current dietary needs. One of the foods he really misses having is bread and barely a month goes by without him requesting a sandwich made of “real bread”Kneading-dough-007 and not just rice cakes. A couple of years ago I took a Doves Farm recipe and adapted it to suit our then requirements, and it worked. It wasn’t brilliant, but M loved it despite its foibles because it met his needs. Over the last 18 months, I’ve mastered bread-like equivalents such as pancakes and flatbreads, but hadn’t ventured back into the world of bread-making…until now.

The biggest challenge for my current bread-making attempt was the yeast. We haven’t trialled yeast with M as yet and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t imagine we’ll be doing so for quite some time as the nutritional benefit to be gained by adding it to his diet right now is negligible. We will, without a doubt, get there some day, probably round about the time M wants to start drinking beer – though obviously my baby will never be old enough for that milestone to pass! – but it doesn’t feel like a priority for the time being. Instead, I switched on my trusty laptop and started looking for yeast alternatives or, even better, recipes for yeast-free bread and found this fantastic one by FussyFoodie.co.uk, which I was able to tweak further for M. I am, as ever, extremely grateful to those other allergy-aware cooks IMG_0458[1]out there, who take their time to share their recipes via blogs and other websites as their hard work helps make my efforts a little easier as I strive to create appetising dishes for M.

I baked my final recipe twice to try out both my bread-maker and my free form bread-making skills, as well as adding different flavours to see how the end results compared. The machine mixed loaf looked great, but I found that the ingredients hadn’t really been combined enough in the pan and ended up having to remove a good centimetre or so of rice flour from the bottom of the loaf before it could be enjoyed. The centre of the loaf also failed to cook thoroughly, though toasting slices of the bread before serving did go some way to resolving that particular crisis. Both M and G were suitably impressed by my efforts, which encouraged me to give it a go a second time. This time round I hand-mixed the dough, added some herbs for a different flavour and formed small bread rolls instead of a single loaf. IMG_0491[1]These worked much better in my opinion and M certainly enjoyed the crusty outside, reminiscent of a “real” bread roll, almost as much as the warm centre that had been spread with some coconut oil to replace the butter. I will definitely be baking this bread recipe again and may even try to co-ordinate my cooking so that M can enjoy his chicken burgers in a bap!

A Quick Pudding Dilemma

On Saturday afternoon I spent some time reading back through my National Eosinophil Awareness Week blog posts from previous years, looking for a little inspiration for those I’ll be writing to mark this year’s week, which is fast approaching. I expected to spend a good 20 minutes reminiscing and little else, 0c0dc8797599764caae7d88291139822but instead found myself being led in an entirely different direction as the very first post I re-read inspired me in a completely unexpected way.

I’m always on the lookout for new menu ideas for M and whilst we really don’t need any more sweet options, the lure of a quick and easy pudding was too good to resist. I had a look at the original recipe I had posted, but wondered if there was a more M-friendly one already out there, which would only require the very slightest tweaking on my part. To my delight I found an almost perfect vegan recipe, where all I needed to do was change the flour and oil to suit M’s restricted dietary needs. I was particularly excited about the fact it could be cooked in the microwave as so often puddings for M take a lot longer to prepare and cook, something which requires a level of planning ahead which doesn’t always happen in our household.

IMG_0446[1]Recipe adapted, ingredients checked and with 5 minutes on the clock, I whipped up the sponge batter, set the timer on the microwave and waited with bated breath for that final ping which would tell me if it had been a success or not. As always, the children’s reactions are the best indication of whether I’ll be cooking a dish again and this one has definitely earned a place in my repertoire. It’s an easy pudding to make with only a handful of ingredients and can be cooked in 4 minutes with the help of a trusty microwave. M and G both gave it a massive thumbs up and enjoyed finishing it off for Sunday tea. Even better, I’m sure it can be easily adapted to use my M-friendly lemon curd instead of the golden syrup, or any safe jams to change the flavours, which really does make it a success in my book too.

The Sunday Roast

It seems to be one of those dishes that is quintessentially British and yet its exact origins are not exactly clear. First published in recipe books dating back to the early 1700s, over the last 300-odd years it has become a key component of the Sunday roast, especially when that roast joint is beef.  roast-beef-hero-006b0a8d-916f-4b1e-bffe-b6f00c34b96d-0-472x310Beef is actually the next on our hit-list of foods to trial with M, but when this recipe for vegan Yorkshire puddings caught my eye, posted somewhere that I can’t quite remember, I knew that, inclusion of beef or not, adapting this to a M-friendly version was high on my list of priorities.

Despite numerous food challenges over the last few months, we haven’t been able to find a new safe food for M to enjoy since last August, when pear became lucky number 5. The monotony of only being able to eat the same 5 foods day in, day out has understandably taken its toll on his spirit and it has become something of a life’s mission for me to create new and varied ways of preparing those foods to help him enjoy them as much as possible. That aim has resulted in the absolute flurry of new recipes that has hit my blog over the last few weeks and which will continue to do so, until no stone is left unturned from a culinary point of view.

IMG_0263[1]The recipe was surprisingly easy to adapt and delightfully successful in its bake. M and G had no idea what I was preparing to accompany our Easter lunch and despite some optimistic guesses of chocolate pancakes from M, neither child got close with their hunches. As ever, I was slightly nervous until they took the first bite, but I really didn’t need to worry. My batch of 12 quickly dwindled down to 3 – well Mike and I had 2 each too, just to taste test you understand – and M declared them a hit. He took great pleasure in stuffing each pudding with some of his seasoned rice, which actually led to Monday night’s dinner of the remaining 3 puddings stuffed with rice, chicken and a home-made and M-friendly dressing. The greatest pleasure for me was being able to turn yet another popular dish into a M-friendly equivalent and know that his EGID and food allergies have been driven into the background once again.

When inspiration strikes

With the busy-ness of March almost behind me and M trialling cocoa, and therefore dairy-free chocolate, over Easter, you’d have thought that it was definitely time for me to take a step back and relax a little over the long weekend. However, as I’ve found so many times in the past, when inspiration strikes, I just have to respond as quickly as possible or lose the opportunity to act. Call it providence if you will, but the stars most certainly appeared to align on Thursday with the perfect timing of Easter, a different food challenge and a tempting photo on Facebook. It all started when a lovely friend from my Thursday choir shared a photo of the delicious-looking hot cross buns and Easter biscuits she had baked on Thursday. 20140418_154823I made some MEWS-free Easter biscuits a couple of years ago, but I’ve never attempted baking hot cross buns before, so you might wonder, given the complexity of M’s current restricted diet, why I would even begin to contemplate trying to now.

Whether it was the realisation that last week’s food challenge of grapes meant I could possibly create a bake that bore more than a passing resemblance to the “real” product itself, or the addictive sense of achievement that I get when I see the pleasure on M and G’s faces from the taste of something they haven’t enjoyed for a long time, I don’t know, but either way, hot cross buns made in a M-friendly fashion seemed to be a sensible use of my time on Good Friday afternoon – or at least, they did when I was lying awake thinking about it in the early hours of Friday morning itself.

Thanks to the amazing Nathalie of the Intolerant Gourmand blog, I had a fantastic starting point for my hot cross buns recipe. Nathalie’s recipe already replaces some of the main allergens, but M’s list of safe foods meant that I needed to make some more all important tweaks to produce a recipe that would be fine for him to eat. The hardest adaptation for me was replacing the yeast as obviously that’s what gives the bun it’s bread-like texture. IMG_0256[1]After some frantic, yet focused internet research, I found that it was theoretically possible to replace the yeast with a mixture of baking powder and lemon juice and so decided to give it a go.

The dough was surprisingly easy to make and came together really well. I carefully added the cross to the top of the finished buns, popped them into the oven and then spent the next 20 minutes distracting M from what was baking. The end result was not quite as springy as a typical bread dough, rather being a little more like scones, but despite that, the flavours were all Easter and really reminiscent of that popular seasonal treat. I can’t remember the last time that M was able to enjoy a hot cross bun, which probably explains the time it took for him to realise exactly what I had baked – it took me pointing out the cross on top for him to work it out! However, both children enjoyed them and I have to confess to be quietly satisfied with the final bake when I tasted one for myself. Sadly, grapes have not proved to be a resounding success for M, but I’m glad that, when inspiration struck, I took the opportunity to bake him something a little different to eat before reaching that conclusion.

“Little pockets of heaven”

That was G’s description of the amazing Borough 22 doughnuts that I brought back for her from my stint as a judge at the Free From Food Awards 2016 at the beginning of February. I had been impressed with the quality of these delicious allergy-friendly treats when I’d tasted them during the Tea-time treats category of the awards and was delighted to find that my somewhat fussy 12 year-old was showing a similar enthusiasm as soon as the first bite entered her mouth. She’s not usually given to waxing lyrical about anything, so these words constituted high praise indeed and the only disappointment was the look on M’s face which he just couldn’t hide, even whilst masterfully trying to celebrate his sister’s excitement with her. It was at that point a tiny seed of inspiration started to sprout and I soon had a cunning plan up my sleeve which I was determined to pull off if at all possible.

My hope was based on the comprehensive ingredients list found on Borough 22’s website and these promising words “We use the following ingredients which, where possible, can be substituted if you have an intolerance to them or are vegan/ vegetarian/ lifestyle conscious…if there are any that don’t agree with you then please let us know. Because we bake to order in small batches we will try our very best to substitute it for something that you can have!” Hardly pausing for breath and most definitely with every part of my body tightly crossly, I penned a quick email to ask if there was any possibility of a doughnut recipe that would cater for M’s particular and restrictive food requirements, stressing that I completely understood that this might be a challenge too far. I included my review from the #FFFA16, told them just how thrilled G had been to taste their doughnuts and then sat back to nervously wait a response. The return email, when it came, led to a lengthy phone-call, a flurry of e-mails and the development of what is rapidly growing into a great new friendship.

IMG_3397Ryan Panchoo, owner of Borough 22, is a truly inspirational man, who had a vision and didn’t just make it a reality for himself and his family, but chose to share it with the greater food allergy community too. It all started with the observations of his food-allergic wife and children that restaurant desserts were usually fruit or sorbet and lacking in quality and imagination, and the dream to create one dessert for everyone; something that tasted great, was of a great quality and that initially was both gluten- and dairy-free. He started with chocolate brownies, created a recipe that received the thumbs-up from family and friends alike and could then quite easily have stopped there. However, in a move that I feel really reflects his determined nature, Ryan decided to experiment with doughnuts and despite never having baked one before in his life, researched and tweaked recipes until his multiple allergen-friendly and delicious treat was perfected.

Ryan tells me that his ambition was never to sell his brownies or doughnuts, instead he simply wanted to be able to enjoy safe sweet treats at home with his family; but his friends had a different idea and in October 2014, Borough 22 was launched. It really is in the tradition of the very best “rags-to-riches” fairy stories to learn that he has never invested millions in some snazzy marketing campaign, instead depending on personal recommendations and his use of social media to spread the word. 12694884_571032356387193_4099041063554217609_oHis colourful and eye-catching Instagram photographs led to a situation that he willingly admits was surreal, when he found himself sitting in a meeting with a buyer for Selfridges, discussing exactly what he needed to do to sell in their prestigious food hall and, even more impressively, how they could help him achieve it.

Nearly 18 months on, Borough 22 is a flourishing business, who sells its wares in several outlets in South East London (The Plumstead Pantry & Good Food Catford) as well as through mail-order via their website. The business with Selfridges is currently on hold as Ryan searches for a suitable manufacturing partner to help him meet demand as he still works full-time as a Project Manager for a property investment company. Once that trickiest of partnerships is settled, the plan is to return to Selfridges and hopefully develop the business even further. 12717848_563378083819287_7037755747881912271_nI’m delighted to be able to share that Borough 22 was also shortlisted in both the “Teatime!” and “Start ups and Small Producers” categories of the #FFFA16, although everyone, Ryan included, will have to wait until the awards ceremony in late April to find out just how well they did. To shortlist once is impressive, twice simply astonishing, but I’m honestly not surprised as this is a product we are more than happy to endorse and recommend to everyone, food allergies or not.

Even better news for the 7Y2D household’s youngest member at least, Ryan agreed to try his best to adapt his recipe and accommodate M’s complicated food allergies. I decided not to mention our plans to M or G until I knew whether it was a possibility or not and even on the day I took delivery, kept quiet until the doughnuts were safely in my hands. However, as those who know me will attest, my excitement on that Friday was impossible to hide and I spent the day counting down the hours until I could pick my pair up from their respective schools and share the news. I captured every precious moment of the “big reveal” not just for posterity’s sake, or for my blog, but most importantly to share with Ryan himself:

I’m not sure that you really need my words to tell you about M’s response as these photos pretty much capture it all. I will tell you that M was left speechless and in tears when he realised these doughnuts were for him. I will confess that as he squeezed me tight and desperately sought to compose himself, I had to swallow down the huge lump in my own throat and wipe away a few stray, but happy tears. I will gladly share M’s own endorsement that Ryan can “…succeed at whatever he bakes Mum, because these doughnuts are almost better than birthdays..!

Ryan, you may be a full-time project manager by day, but in my little allergy-sufferer’s eyes, you’re a true superhero by night.

The Croissants Adventures: Part Deux

One of my biggest challenges for last week was set by M’s teacher, when she let me know on the Tuesday that they would be engaging in a spot of French role-play and would be tasting hot chocolate, croissants and other traditional French breakfast foods during the lesson. She was anxious that M shouldn’t feel left out and asked whether there was any chance I could send in something “…M-friendly and close to a pastry…” for the activity. The thing is that there really isn’t anything readily available that is even vaguely similar to a French pastry that is based on M’s handful of safe foods and so I knew this was going to be a baking challenge I needed to tackle and quickly. break05My starting point was actually a conversation with M as there was no need to stress about how to create a French-inspired masterpiece for him, if he’d simply be satisfied with a rice krispie treat instead. We started on the matter of the hot chocolate and despite his desperate bids to start his cocoa trial weeks before Easter, rather than when planned, he quickly changed his tune – well who’d want to miss out on an Easter Egg if it’s up for offer?! – and settled on rice milk flavoured with banana nesquik for his drink. However, he was less open to be swayed on the matter of the croissants and I promised to at least investigate if there was anything I could do before the Friday deadline dawned. Fortunately, 2 years ago the school had hosted a MFL (Modern Foreign Languages) Day and whilst G’s needs were met by the purchase of some delicious Genius pain au chocolat, even then there was nothing I could buy that would suit M’s trickier requirements. I had researched and adapted a great vegan recipe for croissants and baked a batch that kept him happy, even if they were not quite up to my more exacting standards. I knew I had added that recipe to my blog and quickly had a skim-through the list of ingredients to see if a new and improved M-friendly version was even possible.

For once, luck seemed to be on M’s side and, after a quick internet search for possible alternatives to the yeast I’d needed before, I was able to tell my excited child that I was willing to at very least give it a go. With plenty of warnings that there were no guarantees regarding taste or texture, I tentatively started the long and drawn-out process of making the pastry dough. I swapped coconut oil for the Trex and a bicarbonate of soda and xanthum gum mix for the yeast. The dough was prepped on the Tuesday night and I popped it into the fridge for a couple of days until I needed it: that was a big mistake. IMG_0207[1]The coconut oil solidifies at cold temperatures and by the time I was ready to make and bake the croissants on Thursday evening, my pastry was now filled with marble-sized lumps of coconut oil that I just had to remove. Whether this made much of a difference to my final product, I really don’t know, but given that a lot of the flavour in a French pastry comes from the fat added to it, I don’t think I did myself any favours.

I rolled and folded, and folded and rolled for a good 25 minutes on Thursday evening, until my dough was smooth and no longer a sticky mess that couldn’t be worked and I carefully cut triangles and rolled each one into the croissant shape, complete with slight curve. With the excess dough, I formed 2 pastry cases and attempted a couple of apple turnovers as an unexpected treat. Once all my pastries were ready, IMG_0209[1]I popped them into the oven, set the timer and attempted to forget all about them until the bell rang. The turnovers ended up being a little overdone and I wasn’t entirely convinced by the croissants either, though both children devoured them eagerly and with far more gusto than I was expecting!

This morning I was asked by a friend if I was planning to make a third attempt and I didn’t know what exact answer to give. The time and patience needed to make this pastry was tough to fit in alongside the everyday hustle and bustle of our household, but I reaped huge rewards. M and G were delighted with this different treat and I know that with a little more tweaking and a lot more practice, I might end up with a M-friendly pastry that would open up a lot more possibilities for meals for him. Not just croissants or apple turnovers, but chicken pot pies spring to mind too. So my honest answer probably should be:

Just watch this space!

“Run, run as fast as you can…”

“…you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!”

To be perfectly honest, the last couple of months have been challenging ones. When we made the decision last year to move M to the elemental diet, we did so hoping that it would be the answer we were looking for and that he would finally find some relief from the years of chronic pain and constant bowel problems he’d barely been surviving. The great news is that his symptoms improved dramatically and for the first time in a long-time, M felt healthier and happier than ever before. However, despite the best hopes of GOSH that his NG-tube would only be needed for 2 or 3 months, Mike and I held the opinion that it would more realistically be in place for at least a year, if not longer, and we are rapidly moving closer to that 12-month mark. Of course, what none of us had anticipated was the struggle we would have in reintroducing foods back into M’s diet and over recent weeks, he has found the constant disappointment of failed food trials and the frustration of not being able to eat the same as everyone else almost unbearable to live with. With the agreement of our amazingly supportive dietician, we decided to take an extended break from the challenges, allowing M some much-needed time to come to terms with the realities of life right now.

shutterstock_190648280Having had that much-needed rest, M started to lose that haunted look that had been plaguing him for a few weeks and we finally seemed to have turned the corner and be back on track. We agreed on a new short list of foods to challenge in the run up to Christmas and had finally restarted where we had left off, more or less. However, last weekend, with another 3 unsuccessful attempts at reintroductions to chalk up to experience, tensions started to build and emotions threatened to overwhelm the tenuous calm that had just begun to settle. The final straw broke when G asked Mike and me to taste and review her cupcakes for her Food and Textiles homework. With hot, angry tears cascading down his cheeks, M crawled on to my lap to fitfully confide that it “just wasn’t fair” that everyone else could eat cakes when he couldn’t. Gently stroking his back, I offered to whip up a batch of one of the few sweet treat recipes I’ve managed to adapt for him in the last 12 months: Rice krispie treats? Cupcakes? Scones? Sugar cookies? Nothing seemed to quite hit the necessary mark, so I put my thinking cap on, did a little research and came up with the perfect pre-Christmas treat – Gingerbread!

Thanks to a few sneaky “mini” challenges, we have been able to add some extra flavourings to M’s diet and the most recent success was the addition of ginger to the humble pear crumble, so gingerbread seemed to be the logical next step. I started pulling the ingredients from the cupboards and, 20151121_162110as I weighed and measured out everything I needed, M’s interest was piqued and he pulled up the step-stool to stand by my side and help out. He rolled up his sleeves, washed and then floured his hands and, having selected an interesting array of cookie cutters, brandished my trusty rolling-pin to roll out the gingerbread dough on my pastry board. He chose to use the Christmas cutters as well as the odd one or two Mr Men ones, which have survived from my childhood and spent hours planning out to most effectively cut the shapes from the dough in front of him. We ended up with an impressive batch and I am heartily assured by my trustworthy taste-testers that they more than fit the brief and hit the mark!

Not quite Mickey-shaped…!

20140818_143459Around about the same time that I started fondly reminiscing about last year’s holiday to Florida, my FB timeline decided to prompt my recollections with this photo of what turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the vast array of fantastic M- and G-friendly food in Disney. These Mickey waffles were a huge part of what made our trip so successful and are one of M’s favourite memories about his first visit to “the most magical place on earth“. In fact, they were so popular that they have gained the unenviable status of one of the top 10 foods M is desperate to enjoy once he has a few more foods back in his diet. With so many of the key ingredients for your traditional waffle firmly in the “unsafe” camp, I turned my mind to what the basic ingredients of a successful waffle were and whether I could replace them and produce a waffle that might satisfy M’s longing.

I found a great recipe for egg-free waffles and, confident that I could make a replacement that would at very least look good, even if the taste wasn’t quite all it should be, I insisted on a detour during a family day out to buy my very first waffle-maker. I had previously done some research on the various options out there and once we were in-store, 20150809_184330M helped me pick which one he thought would do the best job – a combined waffle-maker, sandwich-toaster and grill! Shopping done and the day’s activities completed, we headed home and I claimed the kitchen as a child-free zone until my experimenting was done.

The first recipe I adapted produced some amazing waffles and I just wish I had a photo that captured the pure delight on M’s face when he first caught sight of his plate full of M-friendly waffles. Needless to say, he was rendered speechless – something that rarely happens as those of you who know us well will know – and he flung his arms around me, squeezing tight as he whispered “Thank you Mummy, you’re the very best Mummy in the world“. Both children declared them an instant hit and the speed at which those first 4 waffles disappeared from their plates would confirm that to be the case. Mike and I shared a fifth one between us and agreed that as delicious as they were, the rice flour had created a granular taste to the waffles, a problem that I have experienced before when baking with this tricky ingredient. 20150809_185211I have found that making a wetter mix has been key in producing a less granular cake, but couldn’t quite see how to make this work with the thicker waffle batter and the limiting factor of only a handful of safe ingredients.

Not quite 100% satisfied with my first attempt and responding to the following day’s request for “..more waffles please!.” from M and G, this time I searched for a recipe for apple waffles and adapted it to suit our allergy needs. I used some apple purée to not only flavour the waffles, but also to replace the egg and add more liquid to the batter without diluting it too much. This batch cooked as well as the first and proved to be an equal success with my discerning duo. Mike also acted as a taste-tester and reported that the granular texture was considerably reduced with the addition of the apple, though it hasn’t disappeared completely. Whilst I will continue to strive for even better rice flour waffles, for now I’m more than happy to have found a way to replicate those Mickey waffles, even if they’re not quite Mickey-shaped!