Norfolk producer Weddell & Turner have your luxury gluten and dairy-free festive treats sorted
- Credit: Archant
From mince pies and gingerbread houses, to chocolates - one Norfolk-based business is bringing the gourmet to gluten and dairy-free treats.
While there are a few exceptions to the rule, lots of commercially available free-from treats are quite honestly foul.
Too crumbly. Too dry. Oversweetened. Some are even bulked out with too much buckwheat flour, giving an almost medicinal taste. Yuck.
Fear not though free-from eaters, because did you know there's an artisanal gluten and dairy-free producer in Norfolk that wants to bring a bit of sparkle to your Christmas?
Weddell & Turner, owned by Helen Adshead, started as a bespoke free-from hamper service fuelled by the entrepreneur's (who has a dairy allergy and gluten-triggered IBS)desire to give fellow allergy and intolerance sufferers access to luxurious, delicious treats that taste just as good as the 'real thing'.
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'Supermarkets are getting better,' Helen says, 'but actually the quality is still at the acceptable or passable stage. Nothing's indulgent and when I started, that's what I was looking for.'
Deciding she wanted to bring production in-house, last year Helen employed pastry chef Daniel Thornton who has managed to bring the yum factor to a range of free-from cakes, biscuits and chocolates, which have been a massive hit over the last year.
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Gingerbread was, says Helen, the first product they 'cracked' and Daniel's been a busy Christmas 'elf' making hundreds of gingerbread men, and gingerbread house kits (all dairy and gluten-free) for customers over the past few weeks.
'We use a mixture of flours for our gingerbread and make three flavours – we call them light, dark and middle,' says Helen. 'So gingerbread men have the light dough which is a mix of rice, potato and tapioca flour. But the dark dough for the house kits is much stronger and robust. We've had great fun with them. The Gluten Free Food Store in Diss was one of our earliest stockists. This year they've got a window display we designed for them all in gingerbread - we built their shop out of gingerbread!'
The gingerbread houses come in one size, to sit on a 10ins board, with everything you need, including icing, a piping bag and two candy canes, as well as instructions and links to a Youtube video showing how to put it all together. All you need is a steady hand and some imaginative decorative skills.
The trick to success, Helen says, is to: 'Make the royal icing with only egg whites and icing sugar. And you have to be patient. Daniel says the 'p' in patisserie is for patience!'
As well as gingerbread (available at The Gluten Free Food Store, The Farmer's Kitchen at Alburgh and The Scrummy Pig at Wroxham Barns) allergy sufferers rejoice, because Daniel's making mince pies too.
'These are the Holy Grail in gluten and dairy-free. If you're just gluten-free they use butter, but going dairy-free too adds more challenge. We wanted to develop a really luxurious shortcrust pastry for mince pies, which we've successfully done, so we have this great range now. In a blind taste test against regular mince pies no one picked them out as tasting different and they scored really highly too.
'In the past few months we've also brought our chocolates in-house with our own filled chocolates and hot chocolate stirrers. Part of the reason is because we can be 100% here there's no cross contamination. We can give confidence to people. A lot of chocolates say they 'may' contain gluten or dairy but we can be certain.'
The new chocolates are currently available in festive flavours such as orange cream, salted almond and ginger cream. 'They are lovely,' Helen beams.
If you want to treat someone in your life who lives with allergies you can find free-from hampers on the Weddell & Turner website.