When we met on 10th March for our planned ‘free from’ event, we had little idea that less than 10 days later we’d be on lockdown with empty shelves in the shops and our normal baking ingredients suddenly hard to come by. Some of the recipes our bakers used that day might be very helpful to those trying to get creative in the kitchen without a key ingredient like flour, eggs or butter so I’ve included some recipe links in this event write up for you.
I must admit I was a little nervous of this theme! I was worried that in the hands of inexperienced bakers, bakes without flour, sugar, eggs and/or dairy, and in some cases using ingredients the bakers wouldn’t be familiar with, might be a disaster. I was proved entirely wrong, and we enjoyed some amazingly tasty bakes. The recently escalating plant-based eating movement undoubtedly helped. Good vegan recipes are far more readily available online than they were even five years ago, along with the wider availability of the ingredients used to substitute dairy and eggs and capable of doing the same job in baking terms. We also had the added bonus of a new baker joining us – Kirsty, who eats gluten and egg free, and is an excellent baker but doesn’t normally join us because of course she wouldn’t be able to share in many of our creations. Her Vegan Brownies (she treated us to both Mint Chocolate and Oreo flavours) were among THE BEST brownies I have ever tasted. For those following a vegan diet or trying to cook dairy and egg free Kirsty highly recommends the vegan recipes on the website Nora Cooks.
The majority of our bakers did opt for some form of cake for this event, but we had two bakers who gave us savoury choices – Jayne’s Vegan Sausage Rolls with a filling made of mushrooms and flavoured with various herbs and spices, and Jan’s gluten free Tomato Loaf. The latter was more like a loaf cake in texture than a bread, but it certainly was very tasty. Another loaf, but sweet this time, was provided by Bob with his Vegan Tea Loaf. I’m not sure exactly which recipe he used this one looks interesting and has the added bonus of using chapatti flour which might be more readily available than standard flour at the moment.
Chocolate was a popular choice, featuring not only in Kirsty’s scrumptious brownies but also in a vegan Chocolate and Coconut Cake, vegan Dark Chocolate Cookies, vegan Chocolate Cake with Berries and a vegan Coffee and Chocolate Cake – rich and smooth, just like a very good cup of coffee!
Coconut featured again in Alison’s sugar free Carrot and Coconut cake (the sugar being replaced by agave). Ginger was another top choice for flavouring, with Heather’s dairy and egg free Caribbean Ginger Cake and Vicky’s gluten free Pear and Ginger Cake.
Faye baked us a classic Victoria Sponge, to a dairy free recipe and Chelsea chose a cake which was naturally gluten free: Nigella’s Apple & Almond Cake which uses ground almonds to replace the flour entirely. It’s also dairy free as it uses oil rather than butter – but not the cake to opt for if you’re short of eggs. It uses eight!
Sadly of course we are currently unable to meet to share our bakes due to social distancing regulations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but our events are merely postponed and we will be back together again baking and sharing our creations as soon as we can. We’re encouraging our bakers, and others in Winchester who might be using this time to bake more often than they usually would, to share their creations with us on social media.
For the sake of posterity, the full list of bakes for our March 2020 ‘free from’ event was:
Mandy – Vegan Chocolate and Coconut Cake
Jan H – Gluten free Tomato Loaf
Bob – Vegan Tea Loaf
Laura – Vegan Dark Chocolate Cookies
Cat – Vegan Chocolate Cake with Berries
Alison – Sugar free Carrot and Coconut Cake
Chelsea – Gluten and dairy free Apple and Almond Cake
Heather – Dairy and egg free Caribbean Ginger Cake
Vicky – Gluten Free Pear and Ginger Cake
Faye – Dairy free Victoria Sponge
Jayne – Vegan Sausage Rolls
Kirsty – Vegan Mint Chocolate/Oreo Brownies
John – Vegan Coffee and Chocolate Cake