Gluten Free Jaffa Fudge Cake

This is by no means an original recipe- I first made something very much like it using the Family Circle Kids Cookbook in the 1990s- it even earned me Fudgie as a nickname for a while. There are many versions of it about (I am tickled by it being sometimes called the Chocolate Depression Cake) but I feel I have now made it my own.

This is an incredibly easy cake to make not only as a child but while in sole charge of one. If your child, for example, only slept in half hour bursts during the day but you were expecting company you could easily whip up one of these gems to impress their socks off. And, it’s vegan and made without fancy or expensive ingredients. There is everything to love 🙂

Jaffa Fudge Cake
1.5 cups gluten free flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/8 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 orange, zest and juice

Sift all dry ingredients (including orange zest) together and mix. Put orange juice into a measuring cup and make up to 1 cup with water. Add this and all other wet ingredients and mix til smooth. The Family Circle recommended adding a dusting of flour to the greased baking dish and it has never failed me yet. Bake at 180 degrees C for 30 mins. It doesn’t really need icing as it’s quite rich anyway, but if that’s your thing, go for it.

Enjoy!

Peanut butter milkshake

Yes, I thought it was weird too. One of my students was talking about a great pizza place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they like to hang out between classes (when they are not on a semester abroad, obviously!). She said her favourite was a peanut butter milkshake. “Ew” I said, to which she replied “Don’t knock it til you try it”. Well, I have and I’m converted. I found it on the menu at the Driving Creek Railway cafe in Coromandel town and thought I really ought to. As I said, converted. It is one of the cafe’s ice cream based smoothies, the ice cream takes away from what could potentially be an overwhelmingly nutty drink. I did a bit of experimenting at home to come up with what I think is a passable version for between visits: combine 1 banana, 1 generous desert spoon of crunchy peanut butter (I love and used Pic’s organic here), 2 small scoops of vanilla ice cream and top up to 800 mills with milk and whizzed til combined. Yes, it sounds crazy but trust me on this.

Oh and because this is a blog about gluten free eating, I am happy to report that the gluten free jaffa friand was also a winner and I look forward to trying something from their gluten free menu next time. It seemed they were happy to cater to any and all dietary requirements. That’s one reason more to love the Coromandel 🙂

Chocolate overload

I loved being pregnant. It was just an awesome experience. One positive outcome (apart from giving birth to someone who is probably the cutest baby on the planet) is that I appear to be able to eat chocolate again. The closest thing I had to a proper craving was to really really want peanut slab at about 16 weeks- I bought one knowing full well that heartburn was inevitable. Only it wasn’t. Yay for me! I have been enjoying small amounts ever since, obviously being careful not too over do it in case I break what is currently fixed. There was one such incident at La Red Berry, in Pukekohe. Their hot chocolate is warm milk with chocolate pieces melted in and I foolishly also went for one of their two gluten free slices, the chocolate brownie. Both great on their own but together a chocolate overload! I had to lie down. Perhaps you need to be made of stronger stuff than I am? Hmmm, not sure although I am happy to report that each item ordered independently has agreed with me much better 🙂

A tale of two….

I was thinking last night and this morning about the radio program on gluten free foods that was on yesterday, and naturally onwards to my own experiences. Although he didn’t cite a source, Simon Morton quoted that 1 in 10 New Zealanders (“us”, so I am presuming New Zealanders) avoid gluten in their diets. That is a huge number! Not 1/10th of the people I know avoid it, that is for sure. (Despite my best efforts some of the people I know are still not sure what it means or entails – the receptionist at my old work once thoughtfully bought a vegetarian lasagna for me to share with the vegetarians at a function catered by spit roast. I’m not too sure what she thought I couldn’t eat although this was a remarkable improvement on the idea that all starch was gluten).

Of all the people in the world who you think might have an idea of what gluten is, or at least an interest in making food taste good regardless of which proteins it has present, you might think that chefs would top the bill? I have had two very opposite reactions to gluten free food by chefs who are themselves gluten free recently which I would like to relate to you. The first was in Sandspit- there is only one cafe there so you’ll know the one I mean. Having walked across the spit from the camping ground (while pregnant, I might add), I had rather built up an appetite so I asked the guy behind the counter if their friands were gluten free. I thought this a reasonable question as friands are the constant of gluten free cabinent food at a lot of cafes I can name. Well no, and I got a chuckle with that reply, they are not gluten free because there just simply isn’t enough gluten free custom at the cafe. This was the first I had heard that the intolerance worked that way around! And as a small insult, the counter guy admitted he was mostly in charge there as the chef, and was sympathetic because he too was gluten free and it is hard to eat out, right? Yes, right.

The second experience as far and away more positive. We had a family wedding to go to in Wellington so we packed up the offspring and off we went. The reception was catered by Nosh catering. Knowing that at least 2 members of his immediate family were gluten free the groom, or possibly the bride-to-be, had mentioned this to the caterers. When I asked which dishes I could eat the answer was all of them. The chef (I am pretty sure) is also gluten free and so every dish except the bread rolls (and the cake which a friend of the couples’ had made) were safe. And all the dishes were really, really good. I went back for seconds and was contemplating thirds when I realised if I didn’t go there then I would legitimately have room for seconds of the desert. The baby sleeping through the party, and not having to miss out on something yummy looking- it was a great night out!

But seriously, why two such opposite reactions to the same experience and problem? And how do we get more food professionals to begin to think more like the Nosh crew?  Big questions….

The (radio) beginners guide to gluten free foods

It was great to hear on the radio today a guide to gluten free on This Way Up. I love Radio New Zealand and at the moment am listening to rather a lot of it, not having mastered being able to do much else while breastfeeding. I have always loved this show anyway, and today I thought Simon Morton did a really good and fair introduction to what gluten free entails and a starting guide for anyone recently diagnosed with coeliac disease.

While enjoying our changed life, we haven’t been getting out much with our offspring, although we did manage to get out in Wellington to Cafe de Parc at Khandallah Park during a recent trip to see the family. While I was happy that there were things there I could eat, I now have a new criteria for what I am looking for in a cafe- Cafe de Parc had no change table! Child friendly…ish.

Cafe Sola, Thames

My sincere apologies for not posting earlier but this post has been building up for a while. We’ve been doing our regular shopping in Thames and at the Thames Saturday Market for over a year now and almost every week without fail stop in here. This post has most recently been prompted by the travel section of the NZ Herald a few months back which ran a local travel feature about Thames and wrote off Cafe Sola as the cafe for if you’re feeling like vegetarian !!! That’s right, 3 !’s. True, it is a meat free establishment, but I know someone who hadn’t realised that until the Herald pointed it out. So, where to start? At the beginning of course!

The beginning for me and cafes is the cabinet food- if I have to stand in line to wait to ask whether they can safely feed me I quickly lose the will to spend my money and especially if you go on a weekend, you will have to wait in a (short line) at Sola. They always have at least one cake, and several delectable items available- friands, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies (highly recommended), chocolate brownie, Turkish delight, and an Aztec biscuit (fruity and nutty) were this weekends offerings. All are helpfully marked with a colour coded sticker system which is explained on the wall behind the counter (it’s big, you can’t miss it). They also have savory and sweet gluten free muffins- they store them frozen so they aren’t on display except on a blackboard. I have never tried this, but I am certain in a blind test you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the gluten and non-gluten varieties. They are light and fluffy and sometimes it is a real struggle between the sweet, savory or getting both.

And what about the main event?  Some of the items are handily displayed in another part of the cabinet but are also on the chalkboard menu. I think I have tried everything- risotto cakes, paninis, enchiladas, nachoes and have had several of their other items with gluten free toast in place of place of their regular toast choice. Most recently I found myself ordering the creamy mushrooms on toast- this was a surprise to me because I don’t like mushrooms. I suspect that there is malt vinegar is involved in the sauce so coeliacs check first, but I surprised myself by really liking them and have ordered them a couple of times since (fortunately my gluten intolerance only extends so far).

I’ve already confessed on this blog to not being a coffee drinker. I can happily report that the coffee drinkers and snobs amongst us are impressed with Sola, and that the other beverage options are many and varied.

So, at the risk of gushing about this place the atmosphere is always great and I love the staff. They are always fantastic and friendly. You really get the impression that these guys enjoy their jobs. It’s not just about appreciating the custom either- saying that would be taking away from what looks like a passion to do a job well.

The Benson Rd Deli, Remuera

It’s time to do all the things that I anticipate being less convenient with a small person in tow, and yesterday while in between errands I found myself at the Benson Road Deli, in Remuera. Of course, you can tell I am new to the place- the guy at the next table was describing his location on the phone as being as “B R D”. Who I am to argue?

I was impressed with the 3 lovely looking gluten free cake options – strawberry friands, orange syrup cake and a chocolate cheesecake slice. I went for the latter, and a Vitamin C boost smoothie – both of which were great. The tartness of the raspberries in the smoothie really helped combat the sweetness in the slice. The atmosphere was pleasant, and it was a sunny day to watch the people and traffic on Benson Rd, which despite being in deep suburbia was rather busy.

I decided to grab some lunch to take away while I was there, and sadly I was once again faced with a single choice at the deli counter – who invented frittata anyway? I wish that places, especially where the cake options are so good, would branch out a bit in the savory department 😦