Great British Gluten Free Bake Off Episode 2
Not *yet* an actual TV series, the Great British Gluten Free Bake Off is a series sampling the very best, and the rest, offered by gluten free bakeries in the UK. Each Bake off event follows the same recipe . . .
Step 1: Recruit 4-6 eager taste-testers from the London Gluten Free Meetup Club.
Step 2: Acquire a big range of bakes from two different gluten-free bakeries
Step 3: Taste-testers sample, score and comment upon all the bakes without knowing which bakery they are from
Step 4: Scores are totalled and debated and the findings shared for the benefit of the Great British Gluten Free eating public
Episode 1 featured London bakeries and cafes Beyond Bread and Artisan Gluten Free Bakery and the ‘winning’ bake was a humble, but oh-so-perfect, Blueberry Muffin from Beyond Bread. This marvelous muffin just edged out an Apricot Danish from Artisan Gluten Free Bakery.
Gluten Free and Vegan!
NomNom Free From
NomNom Bakery is a bake-to-order service offering collection from a North London address or delivery in the London Area. Cakes, Muffins, Cupcakes and Brownies fill out the range and the owner has a pictures gallery called Cake Porn. Not suitable for viewing whilst hungry.
We sampled an entire NomNom Value Box featuring a range of beautiful muffins, cupcakes, cake slices plus a brownie and . . . . another brownie in the shape of a donut. Everything was presented extremely well, stimulating the appetite well before the first indulgent bite.
5 Stars & Best of Bake Off Winner!
Our single favourite from both bakeries was the NomNom Almond Apricot Muffin. A humble muffin! Underlying almond nuttiness complimented by *just right* sweetness and a lusciously moist mouthfeel with pleasing variety in texture and flavor from pieces of apricot.
A humble muffin also was the 5 Star Winner from Bake Off Episode 1, defeating strong competition. Other muffins best pay attention, they have a LOT to aspire to.
Pumpkin Spice Muffin was also well liked, with an extremely moist and dense consistency that was almost pudding like. Just needed a sprinkle more of the pumpkin spices.
Of the three slices tried it was the moist Almond & Plum slice that pleased the most. This was another, like the Almond Apricot Muffin, that offered subtle sweetness and a very moist bite. Quite literally moist enough to eat in full without any accompanying beverage.
Thanks to a dreamy aroma and convincing, characteristic rose essence flavor notes the Chocolate Rose cupcake was the champion among three cupcakes, drawing huge love from half of the judges.
In theory we gave it 3 stars *but* If we had scraped off the Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcake topping and fruit and eaten that as a pudding we would probably have given it 5 stars. The consistency was almost like buttercream, rich and thick and smooth and mm mmmmmm. So it stands here. If you share it with anyone, take the top half for yourself. Unless you really *love* them!
Coconut Chocolate Muffin provoked one judge to ask who can resist a bounty bar muffin? The aroma was captivating and the strongest flavor came from the coconut, inviting mindful savoring. Bravo for not making it over sweet.
NomNom offer many varieties of brownie, and we tried the Mint Brownie. The 3 star average masks huge division between our judges, with some (including me) rating it 5 stars and others 1 star. It was the Mint, love it or don’t, it was bold and bright and cool on the tongue. This was a brownie of the dense, chocolatey, gooey type rather than a drier, cake type brownie. Sign me up to try the others NomNom offer!
The Lemon & Blueberry slice was another that provoked judges to form ranks. Possibly those that got a nice spoonful of the topping and those that didn’t! Absolutely gorgeous said one! Very strong natural lemon aroma and flavour, refreshing! Definitely a favorite for those with appetite for a great combination of sweetness balanced with lemony acidity.
The Vanilla Cupcake offered just enough vanilla flavour to prompt a 10 minute conversation about different types of vanilla. Ultimately we wanted a bit more vanilla flavor to accompany the otherwise wonderfully creamy topping. Seriously, the topping!
We wanted to love the Coffee & Walnut Slice. Wonderful walnut aroma and amazingly soft and light on the tongue. The creamy topping had a great coffee flavor that was missing from the cake underneath. Could be a simple fix, could be great!
A straight Chocolate Muffin fared least well of our muffins. Hints of bitterness suggested high cocoa or dark chocolate and this was a rare bake that might benefit from some additional sweetness to offset that strong flavor.
A Chocolate *Doughnut* received the least love of any product. The problem was in the name. This was a brownie with sprinkles on top and sparked a discussion about the superbly authentic gluten free doughnuts available from the likes of Borough 22, Rubys of London and Feel Free. Doughnuts that might just need to be taste tested . . . .
Cookies & Scream
Cookies & Scream is a cookie bar and bakery based in Camden Lock Market, London. Everything they make and sell is fully gluten-free and vegan. Cookies are accompanied by Brownies and Sweet Pies and if you are ‘eating in’ at the bar, milkshakes. Sales are from their bar only, no ordering or delivery, but for any gluten-free vegan, or big, amazing cookie-lover, this is a destination! Their signature dish is surely their ‘Special Cool Cookie’. Secretly, every Oreo wants to be a Cookies & Scream Special Cool Cookie when it grows up.
5 Stars & Gluten Free Bake Off Runner Up!
Chocolate Fudge Blondie is a absolute Cookies & Scream classic. Big, bold and simple but offering oodles of sensory pleasure. The topping was crispy and crunchy and was the gateway to an explosion of chocolate and vanilla and sweet fudginess. Not something you need to work had to appreciate. Indulgent.
The Chocolate Orange Brownie proved that messing around with a simple classic can *sometimes* produce awesomeness. Popular with all judges, the treat began with a tantalising orange zesty aroma. Almost too good to eat. Haha, no. Sure, this is a cake type brownie but very moist and generously endowed with big chunks of chocolate that delivered rich bursts of flavor and texture contrast. Acquire.
Were I the only scorer the Peanut Butter and Chocolate ‘Chico’ Pie would have been another 5 star bake. Goey and rich and ludicrously indulgent with a crispy and crunchy top. Nothing subtle, just strong basic flavour. Lots to like. Probably 1000 calories per serve.
Top cookie was the Double Chocolate Cookie. This cookie resisted the initial bite but then surrendered into melt-in-the-mouth chocolate and sweetness. It just missed 5 stars thanks to being a bit over-sweet with a slightly salty aftertaste. Maybe it needs to be upgraded to Triple Chocolate. Sometimes Double isn’t enough, and Single was made obsolete sometime in the 1990s I think.
The ambitiously named ‘Gosh’ Brownie was a ‘cake-type’ brownie but like the Chocolate Orange Brownie, cleverly enhanced with very generous chunks of chocolate throughout. Think of it as a wonderful combination of cake and chocolate.
My fellow judges failed to appreciate the wonder of the ‘Chiquita’ Cookie. A peanut butter and jam cookie? Oh come on! An assault of fruity jamminess followed by the earthy peanut butteriness. It did require its own plate as the jam soaks through the cookie and glues it to whatever it sits on. Eat with a spoon and be happy.
Chocolate Chip Cookie was a very crumbly, chewy, doughy cookie. Just a little too sweet and not chocolatey enough to compete for the top cookie credentials.
The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookie divided judges. Okay, by that I mean they were all wrong and I was right. There are two types of people in the world. Those who adore the earthy, musty peanut butter flavor (me) and those who are crazy (the others). Fine. So I was the only one that *really* liked this. To be fair, throw some chocolate chips into a bowl of natural peanut butter and you could enjoy something similar. Yeah, similarly awesome, exactly.
Remember, you can join one of the next Great British Gluten Free Bake Offs, just follow on Facebook, Twitter or join the London Gluten Free Meetup Club to be sure to know when they are running. New bakery suggestions welcome, as are your own favourites from Nom Nom Free From and Cookies and Scream. Bon appetit!