Category Archives: Baking

Filming Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake for Waitrose


When I was thinking about which recipes I wanted to feature for the Waitrose TV films, chocolate cake was the first thing that sprang to mind. Yep, I love chocolate and it’s my idea of heaven on a plate. But also a chocolate cake is a wonderful addition to a whole load of different occasions, whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, a thank-you, or something to do on a weekend afternoon with your kids. This is a gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate cake that has a rich, moist sponge that holds together really well when you cut into it – and a seriously rich, indulgent ganache icing, topped with delicious berries.


One of the most important things to do when baking gluten-free cakes, is to get as much air into the mixture – and keep it in there – as possible. When you cream the margarine and sugar together, it’s important to beat them together until really light and fluffy. I use a stand mixer, but you can use whatever you like, whether it’s a hand-held mixer or even do it by hand. I leave the stand mixer beating for anything up to 10 minutes until it’s the right consistency. Because there’s no gluten in the mixture, it’s important to get a really light mixture at this stage, to get the cake to rise really well.

Then, when you fold in the chocolate and then the gluten-free flour mixture, it’s important to fold gently, so that you don’t lose air. And work fast once you’ve creamed the margarine and sugar, and added the eggs.

Talking of eggs, I generally use them in baking but you don’t have to. Sometimes people think that eggs are a dairy product and that anyone on a dairy-free diet needs to avoid them. But they’re not, which is lucky for those who can eat them, because they work brilliantly as a raising agent and to bind the cake together – and this is really useful when there’s no gluten to bind it. But if you need to avoid eggs, you can use an egg-replacer product instead. Or you could even use more raising agents to get the rise and either fruit purees (such as apple or pear) or dairy-free yogurt or even chia seeds to bind the mixture together.

And if you need to avoid nuts, you can make this cake nut free very easily. Don’t use any product that contains nuts, such as margarine, cream or in the gluten-free flour mixture. This recipe doesn’t use ground almonds or any other nuts so, as long as you don’t use a nut product, you’ll turn out a chocolate cake that’s not only gluten-free and dairy-free, but also nut-free!


To watch the film on Waitrose TV, click on this link. And I hope your Bank Holiday weekend becomes filled with delicious chocolate cake!

Filming Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Chicken & Tarragon Pie for Waitrose TV


The Chicken & Tarragon Pie was the first recipe we shot during the day’s filming for Waitrose TV. It was the first time I’d done anything like this, and it was completely fascinating how the whole filming process rolled out.


Once I’d had my hair and make-up done (very nicely!), I went through the order of filming with the home economist. The recipe was divided into 3 blocks of filming – for making the gluten-free pastry, making the white wine sauce and the filling, and for rolling out the pastry and putting it on top of the pie – and we went through the running order together. I’d expected lots of takes during the filming but, in fact, once we started the filming, we only did one take on each. But what we did do, though, was to do additional filming of close-ups on my hands as I was doing various parts of the recipe. And later on, I did an additional voice-over of the recipe methods.


Gluten-free pastry is MUCH easier than people think. The only thing to focus on is that you need more liquid than wheatflour pastry. This invariably makes your pastry sticky. But instead of using loads of flour when you’re rolling the pastry out so that it’s not sticking, the best thing to do is to work with the dough in its sticky state. Sometimes I roll pastry out on a breadboard so that I can then use the board to turn the pastry onto the tin or dish. But the best trick I’ve found is to use baking parchment when you roll. This enables you to roll out the dough without it sticking to your rolling pin – and then you can use the parchment to turn the pastry onto your dish. Generally I start rolling it out on one piece of parchment and then, when it’s getting too sticky, I add another piece of parchment on top to finish the rolling.

When you’re making a dairy-free sauce, it’s really easy to get something that tastes utterly delicious. The world of dairy-free milks and creams has completely opened out in the last couple of years and there are now lovely products on the market. I love the different fresh nut milks – especially the coconut milk – now available. And also the fresh soya creams that you find in the chiller cabinets in supermarkets. I tend to use either a milk or cream and then add some stock, too. And in this case, I’ve added white wine, too, to make a dairy-free white wine sauce.


I wanted to make a really simple pie recipe for this. So I’ve used just onion, garlic, chicken and tarragon – but this combination creates a pie with wonderful flavours. The tarragon imparts an aniseed/licorice flavour with undertones of vanilla and pepper – all of which go wonderfully well with chicken. And when the filling is baked as a pie, it makes a wholesome yet light and fresh-tasting meal.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Crème Caramel

Creme caramel 2

When I was young, I loved Crème Caramel. I adored the taste and texture of the slightly burnt caramel against the soft, vanilla custard. Sometimes when we went to visit my granny, we’d go out for lunch. She had a favourite restaurant that we invariably went to – and they often had this on the desserts trolley. (They also had steak for 75p extra – which my father always let us have when he was able to join us.) Happy times!

When I found out that I was allergic/intolerant to dairy products, this was just one of many, many recipes I couldn’t eat. I stored it away in my mind. I hadn’t thought to try making a dairy-free version until recently, when I saw Bonne Maman Crème Caramels in a shop, and thought I’d give it a go. It was surprisingly easy – and brought lovely memories of lunch with my granny flooding back…

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes     Cooking time 1 hour 10 minutes


dairy-free margarine, for greasing
150g/5½oz/⅔ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
350ml/21fl oz/scant 2½ cups dairy-free milk
3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

    1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2 and grease four 250ml/9fl oz/1-cup ramekins with dairy-free margarine.

    2. Put 125g/4½oz/heaped ½ cup of the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and add 3 tablespoons of water. Shake the pan gently to incorporate the water into the sugar. Heat over a medium-high heat for 6–8 minutes, without stirring, until the sugar has turned a deep golden brown and caramelised. Make sure you don’t leave the sugar for too long as it will turn dark brown and burn. Pour the caramel mixture equally into the ramekins.

    3. Meanwhile, pour the dairy-free milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and pour the dairy-free milk through a sieve into a bowl.

    4. Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and egg yolk, the vanilla extract and the remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl, until pale and thick. Add the strained milk and beat thoroughly.

    5. Divide the mixture into the ramekins and put them in a large baking dish or roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water in to the dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30–35 minutes until firm to the touch and starting to turn golden.

    6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Cover with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Serve cold.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Pomegranate & Pistachio Cake

Pomegranate cake

Pomegranate cake piece

Yesterday, I woke up at 4am, pushed the curtains to one side, and took a quick look outside. It was one of those magical mornings, with whisps of morning mist, and all the signs that it was going to be a sunny day. I went back to sleep, thinking ‘I’ll make a picnic for lunch’. And, yep, the sun shone, the birds sang – and, at last, it was time for summery food!

This cake is an absolute joy to eat. It’s beautifully moist but holds together well. And it’s full of flavours from the pomegranates, almonds and pistachios. I made it with a very simple dairy-free yogurt and honey topping (but, of course, you can do a different frosting if you want a more conventional sugary one!)

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Makes 1 cake     Preparation time 25 minutes     Cooking time 40 minutes


  • 150g/5½oz dairy-free margarine, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 pomegranates
  • 175g/6oz/scant 1 cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 60g/2¼oz/scant ¼ cup rice flour
  • 20g/¾oz/scant ⅓ cup gram flour
  • 20g/¾oz/scant ⅓ cup maize flour
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • 50g/1¾oz/½ cup ground almonds
  • 100g/3½oz/⅔ cup unsalted, shelled pistachios


  • 100g/3½oz dairy-free yogurt
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease a deep 20cm/8in springform cake tins with dairy-free margarine. Halve the pomegranates and, holding each half over a large mixing bowl, bash the outer skin with a wooden spoon until all of the seeds fall into the bowl. You’ll need to bash the skin a few times before the seeds begin to fall out, but they will. And you might need to pick a few pieces of pith out of the bowl. Put a quarter of the pomegranate seeds into another dish and leave to one side, covered in cling film, to decorate the cake.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the dairy-free margarine and sugar together in another large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flours, gluten-free baking powder and xanthan gum into the mixture, add the ground almonds, and fold in. Add the pistachios and three-quarters of the pomegranate seeds and mix in gently. Make sure the mixture is well mixed but take care not to overmix it. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and level the surfaces with the back of a spoon.
  3. Bake for about 40 minutes until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and leave to cool completely.
  4. Mix together the yogurt and honey in a bowl until smooth. Spread the topping over the cake, cover with the remaining pomegranate seeds and serve. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2–3 days.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Seedy Bread


Recently my publishers took some new photographs for the cover of the paperback version of Simply Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free. One of the recipes we tried was a bread recipe. I took the White Bread recipe that’s in the book and, in order to make it more visually punchy, added seeds to the recipe. This also adds crunchiness and an extra level of taste.

Adding seeds to bread is a brilliant way of introducing them into your daily diet. And, in doing so, you’re getting additional essential fatty acids, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, vitamin E, calcium and magnesium – helping you to enhance your immune system, combat energy and boost your brain power, amongst other things.

This bread really is delicious. It will keep well for a few days, and you can also freeze it. (I often cut it into slices, freeze it, and toast it straight from the freezer.) It didn’t make it to the cover shot, but it was lovely to eat at lunchtime on the shoot, anyway!

gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soya-free, nut-free, citrus-free

Makes 1 loaf (about 16 slices)     Preparation time 15 minutes     Cooking time 60 minutes


  • 120g/4¼oz/⅔ cup potato flour (NB potato flour not potato starch)
  • 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup gram flour
  • 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup maize flour
  • 150g/5½oz/heaped ¾ cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt, crushed
  • 1 tsp fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tbsp dried active yeast
  • 75g/2½oz mixed seeds – pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and linseeds, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and lightly grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin with a little oil.
  2. Sift the flours, salt, sugar, gluten-free baking powder, xanthan gum, psyllium husks and yeast into a large mixing bowl and, using a metal whisk, mix thoroughly. Add the olive oil and mix in gently. Pour in 400ml/14fl oz/scant 1⅔ cups warm water and mix thoroughly with the whisk for at least a minute, to aerate the dough. Whisk until the dough holds some shape, but is still soft enough to fall from the whisk, adding 1 or 2 extra tablespoons of warm water if it feels too stiff. Add the mixed seeds and mix in gently. Alternatively, sift the flours, salt, sugar, gluten-free baking powder, xanthan gum, psyllium husks and yeast into the bowl of a food processor with the dough blade attached and blend to mix together. Add the olive oil and blend again, then add 400ml/14fl oz/scant 1⅔ cups warm water and process for 3–4 minutes to aerate the dough. It will be sticky. Remove the bowl of the food processor from the machine and mix the seeds into the dough mixture gently with a metal whisk.
  3. Spoon the dough into the tin. Dip a metal tablespoon in cold water and smooth the surface of the dough with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle some seeds over the top to cover.
  4. Bake for 55–60 minutes until the bread is golden brown. Turn out of the tin and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it is done. If not, return the bread to the tin and bake for another 5 minutes, then test again to see whether it is done. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.