Monday, 2 March 2015

Vanilla-Blueberry Cake with Meringue Cream - gluten free (& a Delicious Alchemy cake review)


I have never ever used a packet cake mix in my life until now! That's it..... confession over!

But I was recently contacted by Delicious Alchemy, a UK-based company, which specialises in gluten free breakfast products and cake and bread mixes, asking if I would be willing to test and review some of their products.

Delicious Alchemy was founded by Emma Killilea after being diagnosed Coeliac and discovering just how few gluten free alternatives were available out there. With a determination to make delicious gluten free options more widely available, the company has gone from strength to strength and now has a string of awards under its belt.


Both myself and my daughter (who is always especially excited at the prospect of Postie bringing a box of treats) eagerly awaited delivery of our parcel of goodies and when it arrived we were not disappointed. A selection of products - from porridge to cake and bread mixes came in a sturdy eye-catching box.

Packaging is actually really important to the products that I buy. It should convey the quality of what is held within, but at the same time not waste resources, which means eye-catching simplicity is key. I like the branding here. It is clear, minimal and straight forward, yet the packaging felt secure and quite tactile (not thin and crinkly) which (for me) conveyed a good image.


I plan to work gradually through my goodies to do the experience full justice and to try and test the products at least a little beyond the basic instructions. After all, a bake mix, whether it comes from a packet or not, should be seen as a blank canvass for culinary creativity!

This weekend I decided to put the Vanilla Sponge Mix to work. As I had a load of blueberries in the fridge which were heading for their last few days, I decided to throw some of them into the mix and work on a bit of a berry theme. I also had some raspberry meringues which I made ages ago lurking in a tin and half a jar of Mixed Berry & Apple Jam which was still taking up fridge space, so thought I would use up these up as well.


Not sure what to expect from my first packet cake, I enthusiastically cut open the top and tipped the mix into a large bowl with the eggs and butter as per instructions. I think I must have disappeared for a few moments behind a cloud of sweet vanilla-tinged fog...... The powder-mix was unexpectedly fine...... Lesson 1 - next time tip gently!

The instructions for sponge-making were clear and straight forward, although I would have liked them to be in slightly larger font as I am getting increasingly unable to 'read the small print'. Nonetheless, they were easy to follow and worked exactly as they said they should.

Apart from adding some blueberries, I also substituted the stated water for some fruit syrup as I hoped this would add an additional fruity hit to the mix. It certainly didn't negatively affect the balance of the sponge, which was a good result, although it is hard to tell whether it added any additional flavour.


The crushed meringue has been folded into softly whipped cream and layered in the cake with some of the leftover jam, before topping with the remaining meringue-cream and blueberries. I probably over-crushed the meringue, which has given the cream a slightly grainy effect, but it still tastes fantastic...... adding a slight, sweet crunch to the cake which contrasts nicely with the soft fruity tang of the blueberries and the sponginess of the bake. I will just leave the meringue pieces slightly chunkier on another occasion.

And the Delicious Alchemy Vanilla sponge? We were more than pleasantly surprised! It held and distributed the blueberries perfectly. It was light and vanillary.  Although it was perhaps a little sweeter than sponges I make from scratch, it had a good texture and was unexpectedly moist. All in all, it was a great success and was clearly enjoyed (judging by the soft noises of satisfaction which accompanied its eating)!


I am entering this cake into the following challenges this month, to share not only my positive experience of my first packet sponge, but also its heavenly, fruity presentation.


No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. The additions to this cake were completely inspired by leftovers - jam, meringue and blueberries


AlphaBakes with Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker (and Caroline Makes). This month's letter is 'S', so I am entering this as a Sponge Sandwich.


Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.


So what will I try next from my box of goodies?

Vanilla-Blueberry Cake with Meringue Cream

Ingredients

Sponge
1 packet Delicious Alchemy vanilla sponge mix
3 large eggs
180g unsalted butter - softened
20 ml fruit syrup (I used Teisseire Raspberry Syrup)
100g blueberries

Filling 
4 tablespoons good quality berry jam (I used home made from this recipe)
300 ml double cream
3 individual meringue nests (mine were home-made raspberry flavoured)

Extra blueberries (approx 100g) to decorate
sprinkles as you choose

Method (makes 1x 8 inch (20 cm) sandwich cake)

  1. Base-line 2 non-stick round 8 inch (20 cm) baking tins with baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Make the sponge batter as per the instructions on the packet (although I substituted the water for fruit syrup).
  3. Fold 100g blueberries (whole) into the batter and then divide the batter between the two cake tins, smoothing the surface.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and the top springs back to the touch.
  5. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Whilst cooling, whip the cream to soft peaks and then crush and fold in the meringue. Set aside.
  7. When the cakes are cold, gently heat the jam in a small bowl to make it more runny and spread across the inner surface of one of the sponge cakes into an even layer. 
  8. Spoon about half the cream onto the jam surface and spread evenly.
  9. Place the second sponge on top of the filling. If you have any remaining jam in the bowl, smear this across the surface. Top with the remaining meringue cream.
  10. Decorate with the rest of the blueberries and sprinkles as you wish.
With thanks to the Delicious Alchemy team for sending me the samples to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all views expressed here are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

16 comments:

  1. I think anything with all that gorgeous cream on would taste fantastic but it's good to know nonetheless. Packet cakes are very sweet aren't they? Great review x

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    1. Thanks Dom! It was notably sweeter, but definitely has its place!

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  2. Wow the cake looks stunning. Love the flavour combination. A sort of gourmet berry eton mess cake style :)

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    1. Thanks Katie. Amazing what you can achieve with a packet!!!

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  3. Welcome to the world of package mix cakes - I am very wary of them as most of the time they don't make cake making that much easier. However my mum - who bakes lots of cakes from scratch - is very fond of using packet mixes for gluten free cakes (in fact she loved one so much that my grandmother caught on and used it whenever she wanted cakes). And I think GF cake mixes are great because they seem to get the flour mix right, which can be hard with GF (though I'd be interested to know if you find it quite easy given that you do it all the time. Anyway, I think that GF cake mixes are especially good for those who want to bake for people with GF intolerance but are not used to baking GF. And your cake looks spectacuar - love the sound of the meringue in the cream as well as all the berries and jam

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    1. Thanks Johanna. GF cake mixes are definitely very different to try and balance, and I generally use lots of ground almonds in home bakes to add moisture...... which are highly unlikely to ever find their way into a packet mix. But having tried a packet, I would agree that they must be quite a boon, especially for people who only need to bake one occasionally. I think the trick is to use it as a base for jazzing up. The fruit was perfect for balancing the sweetness!

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  4. I recently tried a gluten free cake mix and was surprised at how moist and delicious the cake was. It was also sugar free so it wasn't overly sweet but I have found normal cake mixes to be on the sweet side. I love how you've flavoured yours with all the berries, jam and meringue. Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

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  5. I think cake mixes have got better in recent years. I did try some but long time ago in Italy and the standard was lower back then.
    Now when you read the ingredients they seem much healthier although as you say they can be sweeter then cakes made from scratch. Your cake looks super delicious! It has made my mouth water when I have seen it!

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    1. Ha! Thanks Alida! If the pics made your mouth water, I consider it a job well done!

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    1. I know! It was quite a discovery. Thank goodness I remembered the left-over meringues!

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  7. What a beautiful cake--it looks so tempting with the fresh fruit. The fruit syrup was a clever idea! I'm so curious about that, did the flavour come out well?
    And that meringue cream sounds like it would have such a lovely contrast of textures!! Yum!

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    1. Thank you so much! I think the fruit syrup added a little something and I would definitely use it in other bakes in larger quantity to enhance more. I imaging something like elderflower cordial would also add a lovely flavour and freshness to a bake.

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  8. A stunning recipe, as always! Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing with the no waste food challenge :)

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