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