Especially Delicious are the luxury gluten free cake experts. This is our blog where Sarah posts all things cakey and all things gluten free. We'd love to get your feedback so please leave comments.

My story

In today's post I'm sharing with you my personal gluten free journey.

It all started in my early teens (around 17 years ago) when I became unwell and no-one could really work out why (tiredness and re-current infections were my main symptoms). After many upheavels such as moving to a closer school and giving up swimming (my passion at school) blood tests revealed I had very abnormal liver function. Once all the major hepatitis's had been ruled out, the medics were at a loss to what was really wrong with me. I lived with feeling unwell for quite a few years and then in my late teens a new patient of my mothers (she's a G.P) had similar symptoms to me and had become much better on a gluten free diet. She then went on to find some research that had been done on the correlation of  liver function and coeliac disease (we're talking about 13 years ago now so any research on coeliac disease wasn't widely known). 

So, I gave going gluten free a go and no surprises I improved immediately, my energy levels soared just within two weeks! My mum pushed for me to have the relevant tests as the other doctors dealing with me didn't really believe I could have coeliac disease because I wasn't anaemic or stick thin (in fact because I had to give up the sports I loved I had become overweight). The biopsy for coeliac disease came back as inconclusive but as I had got so much better on the gluten free diet I was going to stick to it whether anyone else told me to or not. As you can probably imagine I was sick to the back teeth of tests and hospitals by then! In hi-incite I probably didn't gorge enough on wheaty products on my gluten challenge and now doctors who are much more knowledgeable about the condition feel that it's pretty certain that I do have coeliac disease. Also my liver function tests went back to normal within 6 months of being gluten free! 

It wasn't until after a few years of living gluten free that I started to experiment with gluten free baking. I think I was so relieved to feel better that I thought not being able to bake 'normal' products was just something I had to live with. I had always loved baking and along with my gorgeous doggy it was something that kept me sane while I was at home all the time during my teens. It was while I was traveling in australia about 7 years that I discovered gluten free cakes in cafes that tasted nice- this was amazing to me and to cut a long story short I started Especially Delicious when I came home and the company went into specialising in free from celebration cakes in 2008. 

I feel very blessed that after all those years of feeling yuk I have been able to build a great business to help others who have to live on restricted diets be able to enjoy great cake. 


The Poor Relations

Poor relations, George-Goodwin-Kilburne, 1875

Below is a post written by my Mum, Dr Jane Rees, who is a G.P. If you are a long standing Especially Delicious follower you will know she has written a few articles on the medical side of being gluten free before.

Today's post is a personal account of being gluten intolerant and a very special competition at the end.

In 2008 she developed severe indigestion, after doing food elimination tests she discovered that gluten was the problem. Her blood test for coeliac disease came back negative and she has no other coeliac type symptoms, so the diagnosis of being gluten intolerant was made.

It’s Coeliac Awareness Week. So what does that mean to those of us who are wheat and/or gluten intolerant but not coeliac? At times I feel as if we are poor relations to the coeliacs. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want coeliac disease and, as a GP, I am only too aware of the harm the condition can do, especially to people who don’t stick to a gluten free diet. However, in restaurants and cafes asking ‘have you got anything gluten free?’ when you are ‘only’ gluten intolerant can make you feel a bit of a nuisance without the justification of a proper medical diagnosis.

There are two good things that could come out of Coeliac Awareness week. First would be a greater understanding of how problems with the metabolism of wheat and gluten can have an impact on many trivial symptoms people put up with for years. This should lead to more people with coeliac disease getting diagnosed earlier as well as more understanding of people with food intolerances. We are not all attention seeking nutcases!

 Secondly, I would like a greater awareness of the need for good gluten free food from the catering industry. Last week at a medical conference in Yorkshire I felt like the only person out of the 400 delegates who was on a gluten free diet. One day I had to wait half an hour while they cooked me something, even though I had pre-warned them of my requirements. I then got a stuffed pepper while everyone else tucked into yummy-looking cottage pie. It was nice enough but I still felt like shouting ‘I’m gluten free not vegan’ when the food came. Why do so many chefs link all speciality diets together?

I was talking about this to Sarah the other day and we came up with a great idea- a competition for a chef working in an ‘ordinary’ kitchen to win a place on Sarah’s gluten free baking course!

So, are you a chef who’s interested in learning new skills and pleasing the fastest growing sector of the food market? If you would like to enter please send Sarah an email with a paragraph on why you want to learn about good gluten free cooking. Email Sarah on

Good Luck

A perfect sponge every time

In celebration of launching our new gluten free baking courses ( and it being Coeliac Awarness Week I'm going to share with you how we achieve our delicious vanilla sponge cake. You can get the recipe from the recipe page.

The first secret is melted butter. Make sure it is completely melted too, it seems to make a difference to the end result if there are just a few blobs that haven't melted completely.

Second is using an electric whisk for at least two minutes. This is best achieved in a food mixer, such as my best friend the kenwood chef, but you can use a hand held electrical whisk.

Another tip is bake in a low temp oven for a longer period. Our big sponges can take up to three hours to bake! You should test your oven to see what works best for you as every oven temp differs. In mine 160c is the best temp for sponges. I have had ovens in the past as low as 140c.

Last secret is to place a piece of greased greaseproof paper on top of the cake. This helps to stop the cake from drying out and the result is yummy moist sponge cake.

Now for a shameless plug ;-)
If you come on one of our courses you will learn many more tips like these. Gluten free baking will never be a struggle again. Book your place today

Happy baking

The plaice to go......

Well what a treat I had last night- gluten free fish and chips in a proper fish and chip shop!

 This is not a picture of the actual ones we had last night
as I was so excited forgot to take a picture but they looked
very similar to these.

I heard a couple of months ago that a fish and chip shop in Sutton, Surrey had started doing gluten free nights on the first Monday of each month and last night I had the chance to go.

My husband and I were both like kids in the car on the way there as it was as much of a treat for him as we could go out and eat 'regular' food without having to worry! And we were not disappointed when we arrived. We were made welcome from the start and served gluten free bread and butter while we waited for our fish and chips. It was great to feel like a 'normal' person eating out again. I'd forgotten how much on edge I am when eating out! 

Then the plaice de resistance (sorry couldn't resist) arrived! The batter was nice and crispy and the fish cooked to perfection. And then there were the chips- oh there is nothing like chip shop chips! I make battered fish at home quite regularly but can never reproduce chip shop chips.

All in all a fab night and as much like the real thing as I've come across. I've had rick stiens gf fish and chips which were nice but not proper crispy batter and was quite disappointed with the fish and chips in the Mermaid in Leicester Square.

Well done Finnigans in Sutton and looking forward to becoming a regular customer.


Yummy day

Last Saturday was the first Especially Delicious baking course and what a wonderful day it was! 

Seven ladies and one gentleman who were gluten free themselves or cooking for someone who is came to the cookery school in Battersea to learn new ways of baking gluten free foods. 

The morning menu was bread rolls, sausage rolls, smoked salmon tarts and garlic bread which we enjoyed for lunch along with some tasty salads. Then in the afternoon my fabulous assistant, Rosie, and I demonstrated how to make cupcakes, cookies and doughnuts. 

Everyone said they had a great day and learnt lots that they take away do at home. Here's a lovely testimonial from one of the ladies on the course

I attended the one day gluten free baking course organised by Sarah Jones of
Especially Delicious. It was truly inspirational as I learnt how to cook
gluten and dairy free pastry not only for bread but also flaky and short
crust pastry as well as pizza dough! We cooked delicious items for lunch
including sausage rolls and in the afternoon were shown how to produce
doughnuts, sugar cookies and a classic vanilla sponge. Sarah was very
patient and answered all our questions. Thank you Sarah for a fantastic day.
I shall enjoy producing these recipes at home. This course is well
recommended - we covered so much in one day.

Our next course is on  7th May. You can book your place here today


Pancakes are for life not just Shrove Tuesday

I was meant to post this yesterday but plans went a bit awry and I didn't manage it. So I was thinking last night about what to do and thought- hey I have pancakes all year round and this recipe is too good not to share!

Pancake day has always been a big deal for me. When I was growing up my mum made delicious pancakes for us to enjoy on Shrove Tuesday and she often gives up something treasured for Lent, so, there was always a celebration tone to pancake day when I was little.

Now a days I've just happened to marry a man who makes the best gluten free pancakes ever! I can't quite remember how our Sunday morning pancake tradition started but it's now a firm fixture in our life and this is his recipe. It makes around 6 to 8 thin pancakes, less if you like them a bit thicker as is Mr Especially Delicious's preference.

145g Doves Farm Plain Gluten Free Flour
Good pinch of salt
1 Large Egg
255mls Milk
75mls Water
Knob of Melted butter (unsalted English butter is best)

Sift flour and salt into large bowl
Combine milk and water
Make well in centre and add egg
Add half of milk and water mixture and mix with fork until combined (don't worry if it's a bit lumpy at this stage). Then add remaining milk and water and combine with fork again. Then grab a balloon whisk and whisk until smooth and no lumps left.
Pour batter into large jug (find this is best way of pouring)
Get a large frying pan really hot, add a knob of butter and swirl around until melted.
Slowly pour batter into pan to the thickness you like (you can use ladel if that feels more familiar)
When the pancake has set on top flip over (or use a fish slice to turn) and cook on the other side for 30 seconds or so.
And voila you have a yummy gluten free pancake.
Repeat this process with remaining batter until you have stuffed yourself silly! Top pancakes with your favourite flavours. I'm a lemon and sugar kinda girl and Mr Especially Delicious loves golden syrup and bananas!
There is no need to rest the batter, it's in fact better when you make the pancakes straight away. If the batter does sit for a while make sure to give it a good whisk before making.


Your Dream Wedding Cake......

Deciding on your wedding cake can be a very enjoyable part of organising a wedding but sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming with all the different options out there.

Good cake makers and designers should be able to come up with design suggestions based on information about your day but we are more likely to come up with your perfect design quicker when you have an idea of what you like and don’t like.
Here is our quick guide to help you to have your dream wedding cake.
1.      Deciding the number tiers you would like
This is usually done by the number of guests you are having. As a quick guide 2 tiers serve around 60 portions, 3 tiers- 100 portions, 4 tiers 150 portions. There is the option to have ‘dummy’ tiers too if you would like more tiers than the number of guests to serve. These are made out of Styrofoam to look cake and are decorated in exactly the same way as regular cakes.
2.     What style of wedding cake would you like?
There are four main styles of wedding cakes- stacked, pillared, stand and cupcakes, which are illustrated below. They sky is the limit with design options though, so if you have something quirky in mind I’m sure you will have no problem in finding a suitable cake maker.
             Stacked                                                                     Pillared

         Stand                                                                          Cupcakes

3.      What type of decorations to go for
This is where you can let your imagination go wild! Popular options are to incorporate flowers, colours and themes running throughout the day but you can have pretty much anything you like on a cake. Sugar and fresh flowers to match your bouquet and wedding flowers can be a lovely pretty option or you can go for something very striking with bright colours and decorations such as stripes and motifs. Your wedding cake designer will help you with this if unsure what to go for.
4.      Choosing flavours
Traditionally all wedding cakes were fruit cakes but nowadays many people prefer the lighter sponge flavours. You can have a different flavour for each tier and most cake decorators offer a wide range of flavours you can choose from.
5.      The cost
People often wonder why wedding cakes cost hundreds of pounds. The simple answer is time and expertise. Wedding cakes are so much more than flour, butter, sugar and eggs!
Making a wedding cake that will fulfil all your expectations is a time-consuming process. Wedding cakes take several days to design, bake, construct and decorate because we need to ensure that you get a high quality product right down to the smallest details.
When you take all these factors into consideration you can understand that you are paying for an expertly crafted piece of edible art that you will remember for a life time.
We love nothing more than creating dream wedding cakes, here at Especially Delicious. Call me on 020 8944 0373 to arrange a wedding consultation appointment. This is where we meet up for a coffee in a convenient location and you tell me all about your wedding cake dreams and I'll come up with design suggestions. You'll also get a wedding cake taster pack to take away with you. 

Much love,