Ria’s Teashop Secrets: The Great Outdoors

Picnics can be ordered and collected from Ria's Rosy Lea tearoom

Picnics can be ordered and collected from Ria's Rosy Lea tearoom

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Ria Chambers from Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom in Wellingborough on special events in August.

The summer holidays are now well and truly under way, and weather permitting we are all enjoying days out in the sunshine.

Picnics can be ordered and collected from Ria's Rosy Lea tearoom

Picnics can be ordered and collected from Ria's Rosy Lea tearoom

With this in mind our theme for August is the Great Outdoors, and we’re offering picnics which can be ordered and collected to take on your day trips.

At this time of year we are often more health conscious.

Being out and about you may be taking part in a sport if you’ve been inspired by the Commonwealth Games.

Or you could be adjusting your diet to lose some weight pre or post-holiday.

In doing this many people are increasingly choosing a ‘free-from’ diet as a lifestyle option, and not only when advised for health reasons.

If you are one of those here are my tips for baking ‘free-from’.

Dairy free This I found the easiest as it’s a diet I have to follow personally, and it means almost everything in the tearoom is also dairy free.

Generally it’s just a straight swap, so all milk and butter is replaced with soya milk and margarine (soya milk is better than rice milk when baking as it has a thicker consistency. This has the added benefit of making cakes more moist than using butter).

The downfalls though are soya ‘buttercream’ which will seperate quickly in room temperature, and soya milk is still not as thick as whole milk so does not hold as well in some recipes such as a creme patissiere.

Gluten free The first gluten-freee cakes I made were polenta based, which need to have ground almonds added to ensure the texture is not too coarse.

Polenta can also be quite dry so soaking the cooked cake in a syrup helps it become moist.

As many gluten-free customers say they are fed up with only having a lemon cake option, I pushed myself to experiment more.

I’ve found in most cases a straight swap to a gluten-free flour in recipes suffices as long as there is something to bind the ingredients.

Many a cake fell apart in the early days until I realised adding dried fruit, bananas, poppy seeds or marmalade helps the cake hold its form.

Diabetic Eliminating sugar completely in cakes is difficult as all forms of sugar will cause a peak in the blood whether it’s natural, refined, or unrefined.

Choosing sugar that results in less dramatic peaks and is slowly released into the bloodstream is a start.

Anything classed as low GI (Glycaemic Index) is best for this, so whenever I make a diabetic cake where possible I use wholemeal flour and agave nectar as a sugar substitute as both are low in GI.