“ Brand: Marks & Spencer / Type: Cakes „
A few years ago when I first became ill with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME as most people know it, along with the symptoms came a whole host of digestive issues. Though I tested negative for the serious complication associated with eating gluten, coeliac disease, I became aware that certain foods made me feel worse, one of these was wheat, and gluten in particular was irritating, and of course this is found in many grains not only wheat. Since my diagnosis over fourteen years ago I have followed a diet which restricts gluten, so I am careful to try to find alternatives without necessarily eliminating it completely, as coeliacs of course must do to avoid the complications of the condition. Fourteen years ago gluten free products were not readily available outside of a prescription or in the occasional health food store. Today, however, not only are we seeing products in supermarkets, but the products themselves have improved so much, many of them are now so delicious that you would not even know they were gluten free. Aside from this their popularity has also seen an associated drop in price making them affordable to many, and giving those who wish to the chance to restrict gluten in the diet. So it was with delight that I noticed a new range of gluten free cakes in my local Marks and Spencer store recently. The range is entitled "Made Without Wheat" and the first product I tried was The Lemon Sponge Cake which at £2.29 for a family sized cake I thought represented very good value. The box was beautifully designed too with a green card sleeve and a cut through window to allow easy viewing of the cake beneath. The cake is a light sponge which has a layer of butter cream between the two halves, and is also topped with butter cream and decorated with lemon rind. The flour they have used is rice flour in place of traditional wheat you would normally use. It is vegetarian but not suitable for those with nut or dairy intolerances. What I love about this cake is that the entire family can enjoy it. It used to be that my gluten free products were ignored by family members, so much so that I used to freeze them and just remove slices as required. Now we can all enjoy the same meals which is lovely. This cake is moist and not at all dry and the lemon flavour is beautiful. It is really fresh and citrusy and the overall cake is light and summery. I found that it kept particularly well in an airtight tin, but it isn't suitable for freezing. Another positive point about this cake is that the ingredients are all natural, and so there are no artificial colours, flavourings, or preservatives contained within it. It slices beautifully and is a creamy pale golden daffodil yellow. I think it would be really lovely and inexpensive to serve on Mothers Day, so I hope it is around next spring, as I think my mum would really appreciate this. Calorie wise of course this is not a healthy food, and does represent an occasional treat in our house. 1/6 of the cake will provide 305 calories and 17.1 grams of fat. It is so lovely,however, that I think you could easily buy this in for guests who would have no idea that it was part of a gluten free range. Alongside this cake sit a collection of others, which really make it worth a trip to the store to check them out. Another favourite is the Orange and Polenta Loaf Cake, and there is also an Almond Frangipane Tray Bake, which is equally delicious. I haven't tried the Chocolate and Cherry Sponge Cake, but this looks really tempting, and there are various others to try including a new range of mince pies in time for the festive season. Polenta flour which is used in the orange cake is, of course, used in many Italian cakes, which are often gluten free due to tradition more than design. I think this cake represents excellent value for money and is well worth trying whether you are coeliac, trying to moderate your intake of wheat or gluten, or just fancy a treat.