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Aqua Faba-ulous Recipe Hack!

Glutenfree DairyFree EggFree Vegan RecipeHack


This week, I was lucky enough to be invited along to meet the lovely ladies of the West Lothian Baking Club in their new premises at Uphall Community Education Centre.

The premise of the baking club is simple (and delicious!) enough – every six weeks, the members meet up and bring along their bakes to fit that meeting’s theme.  The cakes are then discussed, sampled and washed down with copious amounts of tea, before some general catching up and chat ensues.  At this meeting, I was able to let everyone know  what goes on at NeedCake HQ and discuss the trials of allergy-friendly and vegan baking. The evening ended with some wonderful foodie chat and several great restaurant recommendations.  I was made to feel so welcome, it was wonderful – what better way to ease yourself into the week?

This week, the theme was ‘a magazine bake’, and the results did not disappoint.  From chocolate cheesecake brownies, ‘diet’ versions of Bakewell tart and fruit-packed granola bars, to Cruffins and Duffins, cherry cake and a rather moreish Bake-Off inspired chocolate cake, these ladies baked their socks off.

And so to my offering.  I’ve yet to come across the Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly, Vegan Weekly Magazine (although no doubt some such exists!), so I decided to carry out a NeedCake Recipe Hack using a standard recipe from Good Food Magazine’s April edition as inspiration.

Their G&T Meringue Tart held many challenges for the allergy friendly baker.  Firstly, the pastry base – would my gluten free flour blend be up to the challenge, or would I be left with a crumbly mess?  Secondly, there was a dairy-free, egg-free curd flavoured with pink grapefruit and GIN that I needed to create.  Then to top it all off (quite literally) was an egg-free meringue, the likes of which I have never attempted before.  What could possibly go wrong?!

Well as it turns out, things went like a dream! For the pastry base, I used a tried and tested recipe that I turn to when making traybakes, as it’s robust enough to create a stable base.  This was topped with the grapefruit curd, which I made by tweaking our regular lemon curd recipe to allow for the grapefruit juice and,  most importantly, the gin.  I used Bloom Gin, but I think any would work well in this case.  However, when it came to the meringue, I was clueless.  Thankfully, Google is your friend in cases like this.

A quick search reliably informed me that the egg white component of traditional meringues could be replaced by a wonderous, mysterious liquid called Aqua Faba.  Ooh, exotic sounding right? Um, no actually, it’s just the water used to store tinned legumes like chickpeas and butter beans.  To say I was skeptical was an understatement.

I was soon proved wrong when I began whisking the liquid up – it behaves exactly like egg whites and was soon white and foamy!  A gradual addition of icing sugar and a sprinkling of Cream of Tartar and what do you know? Stiff, fluffy peaks of meringuey goodness!

At this point, I was still a little unsure as to how they would taste, so piped off a few meringue kisses to test – they were delicious!  I’m pretty excited now to see how meringues could be incorporated into NeedCake’s offerings.

Vegan Meringue Egg Free Meringue

My vegan meringue was piped on top of the glorious grapefruit curd then lightly blow-torched to give the exterior a slightly chewy texture.  The whole lot was boxed up for me to take along and let everyone try an allergy friendly, vegan take on a standard recipe – and luckily for me, they liked it!

I must admit, I had great fun adapting this recipe to fit the needs of our regular customer base.  In fact, it was so enjoyable that I just have to share it with you!  If you fancy having a go at this delicious dessert, please click this link – Pink Grapefruit G&T Pie – to see the recipe.  I’d love to see your results, so please remember to tag your social media posts with #needcakerecipehacks or #everyoneneedsgoodcake, or comment below to let me know how you get on.

I’d also love to hear your ideas for other recipes that I can make NeedCake friendly.  Whether you need a recipe free from gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts or soy, please drop us a line and I’ll see what I can do!

Processed with VSCO with au5 preset

The original recipe for the G&T meringue tart can be found here.

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NeedCake Hit The Road

GlutenFree Vegan Allergy Friendly Shop Local Bathgate West Lothian


It’s been an exciting few weeks here at NeedCake HQ.  Firstly, the arrival of our beautiful banner meant the good people of Bathgate could finally find us without the need for maps, SatNav and tracker dogs.  I think you’ll agree that it fairly catches the eye Apronsand brightens up Drumcross Road!

We’ve also treated ourselves to some fantastically personalised aprons, courtesy of the wonderful women at Fun With Fabrics at Kidzeco.  How great do these look?

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, NeedCake were delighted to finally be able to join the ranks of some of the best small producers in the local area and take up our place in the Bathgate Food Assembly.

Food assemblyThe Food Assembly aims to bring together people to buy fresh food directly from local farmers and foodmakers.  If you haven’t already checked them out, take a look at their website or keep an eye on their Facebook page and come along to the next Meet The Producer night.

Speaking of which, we were lucky enough to hold our own event at the Food Assembly a couple of weeks ago.  We took along samples of some of our delicious cakes, including NeedCake Gluten Free Vegan Friedly Allergy Friendly Shop Local West Lothian Bathgateour new sumptuous Red Velvet cupcakes and limited edition Sticky Gingerbread.  It was great to meet some of the Assembly regulars, plus catch up with some familiar faces.

Bathgate Food Assembly are hosting an Artisan Farmer’s Market in Whitburn on November 18th, starting at 9am and featuring some of the best local producers.  It would be wonderful to see you there – we’ll be showcasing our Christmas range, alongside some of our regular favourites.

NeedCake will also be popping up at some local Christmas Fayres, including Simpson Primary’s in Wester Inch and Balbardie Primary’s – some along, say hi and get some lovely goodies and gifts.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and Instagram feed for details of future events.

Before we go, we’d love to know what you think of our new look website.  Please feel free to leave a comment here, or on our Facebook page.

Until next time, cake lovers, take care.

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Only 92 Sleeps…

Yip, that’s right folks, it’s only 92 sleeps till Christmas.  Ninety-two sounds like quite a lot, though, doesn’t it?  Ninety-two more bath times.  Ninety-two more bedtime stories.  Ninety-two more arguments about choosing the wrong pyjamas/cuddly toy/bedtime drink receptacle before the mince pie and carrot are sat by the fireplace.

There’s something almost wrong in beginning to turn one’s attention to thoughts of mince pies, Christmas presents and chipolatas when the leaves are still green and the days are only beginning to shorten.

However, when it comes to planning things in advance, I have discovered there is no such thing as too soon.  That’s why I find myself pouring over the internet and Pinterest to gather ideas for our Christmas range while my children are still playing outside in T-Shirts.

So where does one start?  The most obvious place would be cupcakes, and so far I’ve managed to find these little gems:


healthy Christmas Tree Cupcakes

I love these perfectly piped christmas trees and think they would look great decorated with our Vegan-Friendly star sprinkles.  Then there’s these minty little numbers:

Eggless Cupcakes with Candy Canes and Dairy Free Frosting! This vegan dessert is  perfect for the holidays! ChristmasDessert Recipe

Wouldn’t these be great with a hot chocolate after a wintry walk?  For the traditionalists, I’ve found these dinky little puddings – perhaps they could work with a fruit cake mix too?

Image result for christmas vegan cupcakes
From IevaBakes on

And it really wouldn’t be Christmas without a nod to the most famous reindeer of all:



Then there’s the celebration cakes.  I’m currently on the hunt for a suitable allergy and vegan friendly fruit cake recipe that can be decorated as a traditional Christmas cake.  I’m thinking lashings of dried fruit and possibly a wee nip of brandy!  Contenders so far include:


Image result for vegan nut free christmas cake

I love the high fruit content of this one, which would be the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea and an old Christmas film.  Or there’s this little beauty, which just looks so moist and juicy:

Vegan Richa: Spiced Fruit and Nut Cake Recipe

As with all NeedCake recipes, all my discoveries will need tweaking and testing to ensure I can make them nutless and free from gluten – and that means eating a whole lot of cake between now and December!

Then there’s gift ideas.  NeedCake will be venturing out and about to some local markets and fayres in the lead up to the big day and we’d like to ensure we’ve catered for everyone, so I want to provide an option for people planning to post gifts or those who need something with a longer use-by date.

I’m thinking along these lines:


Image result for christmas cake jars

The beauty of these recipe jars is that the person making them will be able to recreate NeedCake recipes in the comfort of their own home. They’ll have the choice of which milk they use, plus eggs can be added instead of the replacer we use here.

Then there’s the ever popular sharing pots.  Hopefully I can infuse a Christmassy vibe with rich flavours of chocolate, mint, red velvet and cinnamon to bring comfort and warmth to those cold winter days – albeit not in the same pot!

Image result for christmas cake jars

So I’ve got lots to be getting on with during those ninety-two short days!  It would be great to take on board some of your ideas too – what would you like to see available this Christmas?  We’d love to be able to fill a gap in your Christmas preparations, whether it’s something for your own Christmas table or a gift for someone who is usually difficult to buy for.  Get in touch with your ideas, we’d love to know what you think.

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It’s Just A Plain Biscuit…

Gluten Free Baking Allergy Friendly

Iain discovered he had a bad reaction to gluten several years ago now when he was doing the supportive husband bit to his post-partum wife and joined me in trying the Harcombe Diet.  The plan involves stripping your diet back to the basics – clean, unprocessed food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  You slowly introduce other food groups back into your diet and keep an eye on how your body reacts.  Each time Iain introduced gluten-containing products, like bread or pasta, he found a resurgence in symptoms he had always attributed to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  So the link was made between feeling awful and eating anything containing gluten.

At first, it was pretty difficult to get our heads around things he could and couldn’t eat.  Things made with wheat seemed easy enough to avoid – bread, pasta, cake (sob!), but we were about to learn there is gluten in almost everything!

Barley contains gluten, so things containing malt vinegar, maltesers (double sob!) and several corn-based cereals were out because they also contain barley.  Potato-based frozen products can pose a problem too, because they are often dusted in flour to stop them sticking together.  Sausages and burgers sometimes use flour to bind the meat, while many salad dressings and sauces contain Soy Sauce, another gluten-containing ingredient that we didn’t know about.

Eating out used to be a veritable nightmare, with poor descriptions in menus or waiting staff without the knowledge of ingredients in the meals they were serving.  Slowly things are improving, many restaurants now have either a separate ‘Allergy Menu’ or label things as ‘GF’ on the main menus. It isn’t uncommon to see a couple of GF sandwich options at takeaways.  We are also getting better at knowing where we can eat easily and where is best to be avoided, but this has been a case of trial and error.

The most difficult scenarios we face generally involve well-meaning family and friends who struggle to grasp the concept of what gluten actually is.  I have an elderly aunt who offers Iain a biscuits every time we visit without fail.  Our conversation goes something like this:

Auntie:  Would you like a biscuit with your tea?

Iain: Is it a gluten free one?

Auntie: No, but it’s just a wee plain one.

Iain: No, sorry, I can’t eat that.

Auntie: Aw, even though it’s not got any chocolate on it?

Iain:  It’s not the chocolate I can’t eat, it’s the biscuit.  It’s made with flour.  I can’t eat the flour.

Auntie: Ah, I see.  How about a slice of cake?  It’s a fruit loaf.

Iain:  Is it gluten free?

Auntie: Well, no, but there is a lot of fruit in it.

Iain:  It’s made with the same flour as the biscuit, I can’t eat that either.

Auntie: Oh, okay.  Well how about I just make you a nice slice of toast?


Gluten Free Allergy Friendly

And so the cycle continues every time we visit.  So what have you found the most difficult about eating with an allergy in mind?  Are your friends and family easier to educate than my elderly aunt?  What about when you eat out?  It would be great to learn some tricks and tips that you have picked up over time.


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Hello And Welcome To The NeedCake Blog


I thought I’d better take a minute to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about NeedCake. I’m Helen, married mum of three gorgeous girls and owner/head baker at NeedCake. I am also the owner of the massive face towering above you – I promise I’m not that big in real life.

I’ve always enjoyed baking and have many fond memories of helping my Granny Wilson as a young child. Or, to be more specific, of eating bits of raw dough and helping with the all important task of licking the bowl. My granny made a mean dumpling and could knock out a pretty decent batch of scones.
Over the years, baking became something I would do to relax, unwind or just fill some time. I also always enjoyed watching people’s reactions as they tasted what I made. It’s a lovely feeling to know you are bringing enjoyment to other people.

As my children grew, I loved to bake their birthday cakes – although as they grow older and have more strong opinions of how their cakes should look, I do find myself questioning my skill level and cursing YouTube videos simultaneously!

When my husband discovered he had an intolerance to gluten, the challenge was set to bake cakes that not only looked good but actually tasted nice as well. We also noticed the challenge in trying to find a nice treat to go with your coffee when out and about that wasn’t a chocolate brownie or a polenta cake. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a squishy, oozy brownie or a crumbly orange polenta cake, but if that’s the only choices you have time and again, you can start to get a little fed up.

As the years have passed and knowledge of allergies and intolerances become more widespread, there has definitely been an increase in the variety available to someone following a gluten free diet. If you live in a thriving metropolis like Edinburgh or Glasgow, you are tripping over bakeries catering for allergy friendly recipes. However, when you live in the sticks like we do, there isn’t quite so much availability on your doorstep.

I had been toying with the idea of starting to sell cakes to give me something to do with my time as the children grew and didn’t rely on me so much. With a husband that worked offshore and having been a stay-at-home-mum since the birth of my eldest daughter some seven years ago, this felt like the ideal opportunity to utilise my skills and perhaps earn some money in the process. Ideally, I saw the business grow and develop slowly and gradually over the course of three to four years, allowing me plenty of time to procrastinate, um and ah and generally footer about, as I am prone to do.

Isn’t it funny how life has a habit of shaking up your plans? 2017 saw the bottom fall out of our world to a certain extent My husband was involved in a serious cycling accident that saw him unable to work for an extended period of time. The icing on the cake (excuse the terrible pun, I am a lover of them) was him being made redundant during this period of sick leave. So we were left with no income and no knowing how or when my husband would be in a position to return to employment.

Nothing helps you stop procrastinating like a bit of a crisis. NeedCake went from a pipe dream to an actual thing that could actually actually happen! Remembering how difficult we often found it to get our hands on some allergy friendly goodies to go with our coffee, I started adapting recipes to cater for as many allergies and intolerances as I could. I also reckoned that if I was going to all the bother of cutting dairy products and eggs from my recipes, I might as well go the whole hog and avoid animal products all together (I just realised there is another terrible pun there, sorry, sometimes I just can’t help myself).

And so NeedCake as it exists today was born. All of our products are always gluten free and always vegan. They do not contain milk, butter, eggs or honey. Even our sprinkles are vegan. My main aim is to make delicious cakes that just happen to be allergy friendly and vegan. Who knows, in a few years I could be updating this blog from the NeedCake cafe. There might even be a polenta cake on the menu.