Free-from baking: How to do it
If you thought flour, butter, eggs and white sugar were vital elements of a successful bake – think again! Here are 11 simple swaps to replace either gluten, dairy or sugar in your cakey creations...
You don't necessarily have to give up your favourite cakes if you're on a free-from diet. While not all recipes will deliver perfect results if you change the ingredients, we've put together a selection of our tried-and-tested bakes that showcase how working without gluten, dairy or refined sugar can be a breeze...
Who’d have thought it – mashed potato is a foolproof flour replacement! Top this gluten-free lemon drizzle cake with strawberries, raspberries or other fresh fruit and use the base recipe again and again.
Go nuts on all kinds of cake recipes, using chestnut flour instead of wheat flour. Try dry chestnut flour in traditional sponge recipes (no need for xanthum gum), such as in this lemon crème fraîche chestnut cake, or go for a firm-set fridge cake using chestnut purée with our chestnut truffle cake.
Using ground almonds is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to remove gluten from a classic cake. Bake a slice of no-gluten heaven with this seriously rich chocolate cake.
Make a virtue of missing ‘rise’ that gluten gives to bread by opting for these delicious flatbreads - it doesn’t get simpler than these two-step toasted cumin flatbreads.
Crack open a can of chickpeas to make a light and fluffy meringue... yes, really! Food Editor Cassie recently discovered that whisking up 120ml of the water (aquafaba) from a tin of chickpeas creates perfectly crisp and sweet snowy peaks. Whisk the water until it holds soft peaks then add 100g white caster sugar a little at a time, while whisking continuously. Then bake as you normally would for meringues. See our vegan meringue recipe.
Custard made with soya is a brilliant way to add rich creaminess to bakes without the dairy. Try it yourself with our vegan rhubarb & custard bake.
For the ultimate free-from fudge effect, you can’t beat avocado. We’ve seen avocado incarnations popping up everywhere in 2015, but you can’t beat this classic chocolate avocado cake from Jane Hornby.
Possibly the easiest way to remove lactose – simply swap cow’s milk with a hemp, almond, rice or oat milk alternative. Although they’re not technically baked, these dairy-free pancakes are too good to forget.
Free-from... refined sugar
Davina McCall is a big advocate of maple syrup – unlike many unnatural sweeteners it has its own rich and fragrant flavour, which works really well in bakes, such as these guilt-free sticky toffee puds.
Make the most of the natural (and cheap) sugars found in fruits and vegetables. This sugar-free banana cake is irresistible with or without the optional agave syrup. With their thick texture, natural sweetness, great value and abundance, bananas are key to many other free-from bakes. Our date, banana & rum loaf is gluten-free, with no added refined sugar, while if you're after a dairy-free delight, these vegan banana & peanut butter cupcakes are sure to hit the spot.
What are your favourite free-from ingredients? Let us know in the comments below...