About seven years ago I read an inspiring article in a magazine about a young lady called Emma who had started a little baking business delivering wonderful baked gluten-free goodies to the cafes and delis of Oxford and then upsticked and moved herself and her business to an old dairy farm in the beautiful county of Dorset where her baking company grew and prospered but remained very much a business with the personal touch. That business was called Honeybuns.Liking what I read, I tuned into the website and was instantly hooked and transported into my idea of a rural idyll.The website blog.kept me up to date with the comings and goings about life on the farm and in the bakery. I loved to read about their passion for the environment and always striving to keep waste to a minimum by adhering to a policy of recycling and composting as much as they possibly can. Then there is the antics of the small menagerie of much-loved animals to keep tracks on too. Many a times I have wished that I lived closer to get to visit the little cafe called The Bee Shack and enjoy tea and a yummy Honeybuns goodie, or enjoy one of the events held there throughout the year. I used to frequently comment on blog posts and was more than a little chuffed when I introduced myself to Emma at a food festival and she remembered who I was! Of course, it goes without saying that I’m an avid follower on Twitter and Facebook too!
I don’t know if you have ever tried any of Honeybuns cakes or cookies. If you haven’t, then you should as they are very yummy indeed. My favourites have to be the tangy lemony Snowy Hills and scrumptious Congo Bars, an indulgent combination of caramel, nuts, coconut and chocolate on a nutty shortbread base. Great names for cakes don’t you think !
Last month whilst Mr R had left me in Exeter’s branch of Waterstones to hot foot it to M&S to buy liquorice allsorts, I passed the time perusing the cookery section when a book caught my eye. It was a copy of the Honeybuns Gluten-free Baking Book. After a quick skim through it, I whisked it swiftly to the till and was keen as mustard to get home and try out the recipes for myself.
I don’t have a problem with gluten, but I am rather partial to cake made with polenta or ground almonds to replace wheat flour. And as I bake for my WI, it’s a good idea to have a couple of gluten free recipes up my sleeve so that nobody misses out on cake at a meeting. WI ladies who don’t get cake can get quite grumpy and that’s not a good thing! Apart from my polenta/ground almond cakes, I have to admit though to not knowing too much about gluten-free baking.Fortunately the book is packed with useful information and has a great guide to naturally gluten and dairy free ingredients. Most of the ingredients are readily available at supermarkets or health food shops, but just in case you have any difficulty tracking down any of them, there is a directory of online shops you can refer to.
There’s nothing complicated about any of the recipes. The lay out works,instructions are easy to follow and each recipe comes with a beautifully photographed image of the end result. Infact, the book is full of the most gorgeous pictures, all stylishly presented. A beautiful mix of vintage and rural charm that reminds me of village fetes, picnics and cosy tea rooms.
How excited I was to see my two favourite cakes featured in the book… Snowy Hills and Congo bars.Hooray…at last I could try to make some for myself. But would they be as good as the bakery makes? I started with a batch of Snowy Hills, a ginger flavoured polenta based shortbread, topped with a layer of lemon curd and a zesty frangipane sponge.
They took a little time to make due to having to make the shortbread base first and then let it cool. But the frangipane topping is quick to put together and then doesn’t take long to bake. The verdict? An absolute winner and just as good as the ones you can buy, with one big plus, the batch is generous so you can get to eat more than one slice at a time!
The Congo bars took less time to make and were equally as yummy. Mine was a little messy to eat, but that’s only because I was a bit too generous piling on the dulce de leche. I took the results to work and within minutes the cake tin was empty and lots of teachers returned to their classes with smudges of caramel on their chins!
I rarely bake savoury muffins, but decided to give the Cornbread and Red Pepper Muffins a go. Yet again easy to make and the results again proved to be a great success. Lovely punchy flavours, a great texture and very light. These would be just perfect on a picnic.
I can’t wait to try out some more of the recipes. I’m thinking of whisking up a batch of Heathcliff brownies or Mooosh bars next. If you are looking for a recipe book full of fabulously tasty gluten-free recipes then I would thoroughly recommend this lovely book. Do visit the website too. Go on, you know you want to!
Please excuse the quality of some of the photos. They really don’t do this fab book any favours. I was trying to be clever by using Mr R’s fancy camera. I really should have stuck to my iPad camera as trying to work out what an F stop was, got me in a right old flumux!