Monday, 19 February 2018

Devonshire Apple Cake - #EF #DF #SF #WF #GF

Unbelievably, my twins turned twelve yesterday. TWELVE!!! Scarcely seems possible. And yet, in so many ways they are proving extremely mature and sensible beyond their years. 

Well, sometimes

Their birthdays are always a little bittersweet. Usually when the children reach a milestone, or celebrate a birthday we think back on their early years, and I invariably fish out an older photo (or two) to post on social media. How cute they were! Except with the twins. They were so, so unwell for weeks - months - that their early photos bring pain and sadness, and not a little anger. 

Despite a strong family history of reflux, despite suffering myself, my father also, despite knowing EXACTLY WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT when I took them to the GP at 3 weeks old, *nothing* was done for SIX MONTHS. Nothing. Just weekly weights, the odd blood test, the usual fobbing off - and the ward social worker visiting me to see "how she could help me" and "what I could change" to help feed them more/help them gain weight. Because of course, it had to be my fault - how could I be so naive to try and continue breastfeeding twins?!

But it stands to reason if you regurgitate every feed until it's time for the next one, you are not going to gain much weight. And if you are in awful discomfort from burning acid reflux which is so bad you develop a hoarse cry and torticolis, go rigid and display symptoms of Sandifer's that you may very well not want to feed. Because it HURTS. 

Eventually, we had to go private, and the twins were given medication. We had tried an elemental feed but it was so thin that until the inflammation had been reduced, and their reflux slightly improved it wasn't going to stay down. So I embarked on a strict maternal exclusion diet and breastfed them, on new medications until such time as they were well enough to take the formula as a top up - and guess what. They started gaining weight. 

It's really not rocket science.

And yet this is what happens all over the NHS. Twenty years after I dealt with this with my eldest son the NHS STILL blames parents - mothers - first, and thinks outside the box second. And using private healthcare brands you a diagnosis-seeking,  desperate-for-intervention type of parent. Not a good image at a time when 20% of ALL under 5s are referred to Social Services and MBP or FII referrals are sky high. But I would do it again in a heartbeat, and no baby should be left to suffer months on end like they did.

Anyway... this birthday was all about CAKE! Both twins wanted a unique cake, to fit with their current favourite flavours. K loves apples and apple muffins. My Mum has always made a Cranks Apple Cake, from her recipe book dating back almost 40 years. Wheat and Gluten free is easy, as is dairy free, but egg free - and she had no egg replacer - is more of a challenge. The result was so successful that I thought I must share - particularly since some of my readers have children who cannot tolerate egg replacer!

It's best setting this out in stages, so there are two sections each for Ingredients and Method - make sure you have all you need, not just the first section!


  • Line an 8" tin with non stick paper (a springform tin or one with a release base works best)
  • 8oz SR white gluten free flour (we use Dove's Farm, don't use a heavy flour for this cake)
  • 4oz safe margarine (not all are good for baking, we use the Stork foil wrapped block)
  • 4oz Demerara sugar (and a couple of tablespoons for the topping)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons each of cinnamon and mixed spice
  • 2oz ground almonds
  • 2oz finely chopped dates (which have been previously softened in boiling water)
  • Soak the dates for half an hour in boiling water, then chop
  • Combine the dry ingredients  
  • Rub the marge into the flour
  • Add dates

Ingredients 2

  • 2 1/1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1tbsp safe baking powder
  • 1/2 pint almond milk, or alternative
  • 3-4 cooking apples (Bramleys) peeled, cored and roughly chopped)
  • a little more gluten free flour
Method part 2
  • As soon as you have chopped the apples toss them in flour - this prevents them going brown and helps stop them sinking whilst the cake is cooking.
  • Put a couple of tablespoons of apple to one side, for the top of the cake, add the rest to the mixture with flour, dates and spices.
  • Mix together the cornflour, baking powder and almond milk, first making a paste then whisking the rest of the milk in.
  • Slowly add the milk/cornflour/baking powder to the rest of the ingredients and transfer to the cake tin.
  • Sprinkle the remaining chopped apple on the top, followed by the Demerara Sugar.
  • Bake for one hour at 190C, 175C fan
Allow to cool, do not attempt to take out of the tin beforehand!

Can be further decorated should you wish to do so!! My daughter is panda mad and made some fondant pandas to decorate her cake!

It will keep a couple of days in the fridge (if it lasts that long!) Or you can freeze in wedges.

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