Tag Archives: cupcakes

The Ladybird Bakery – Gluten Free Goodies

18 May

Update: Ladybird have now moved into larger premises at Franfurt Gate.  Click here to see pics

I recently heard about a new gluten free company based in Plymouth called The Ladybird Bakery.  Thanks to Julie Petvin at Talking Good Food for the tip off.  Naturally excited to hear about a new Plymouth based gluten free company, I introduced myself via their Facebook page and we exchanged emails so I could find out a little more about them.  The good news was that Ladybird were due to appear at the Sutton Harbour Local Produce Market a couple of days later, so Abby and I braved the elements to go down and have a chat and pick up some gluten free goodies.

Sarah left, and Donna right of Ladybird Bakery

Sarah left, and Donna right of Ladybird Bakery

The pouring rain meant customers were in short supply whilst we were there, but it gave us a chance to have a long chat with the Ladybird team Sarah and Donna.  Donna are Sarah are mother and daughter and were both really lovely.  Sarah is gluten intolerant as is her son, though understandably neither want to go through the pain of eating gluten for six weeks to be tested for coeliac disease.  Donna is a baker of 23 years and has previously received requests from customers for gluten free cakes, and after discovering her grandson was gluten intolerant decided to set up a gluten free company with Sarah.  Their household is now totally gluten free as a result.

SamplesDonna and Sarah had a few tasters out at the market, those who know me will not be surprised to know that a headed straight for the lemon drizzle cake first!  The cake was extremely moist and loaded with lemon flavour, it may be said that I’m a bit of a lemon drizzle cake connoisseur and in my opinion that was a very good one.  The other taster was a chocolate truffle made from dates which was also delicious.  It was good to see that there were plenty of savoury and dairy free choices on offer at their stall.

steak pie + quicheAfter hearing about Gluten Free by the Sea, the girls kindly offered me some samples to take away which I was only too happy to accept.  My samples included some lemon drizzle cake, a fantastic chocolate cupcake and some cookies.  The cookies had a great crunch and were really tasty.  Savoury wise there was a cheese and tomato pizza, quiche, steak pie and sausage roll.  The pizza was tasty but didn’t crisp up, though after talking to Donna it seems I should have removed the foil tray, doh!  The sausage roll was also tasty and the quiche was nice and cheesy.  The steak pie was nice though the pastry was a tiny bit dry and the filling could have used some more seasoning.  I’ve fed this back as they were very keen for constructive feedback as they look to improve their new products.

Ladybird Bakery are currently looking into the feasibility of their own shop to sell their products, and are asking anyone who has tried their food to complete the questionnaire here as part of their business plan.  Completed questionnaires can be returned to theladybirdbakery2014@gmail.com.  In the meantime you will find them at local markets around Plymouth and Torquay, keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming event dates.  You can also contact Donna or Sarah on 07870 605913 or the email address above for further ordering information.  I wish them both the very best of luck with their new venture, and I look forward to catching up with them again soon.business card

UPDATE 17/01/2015: Donna and Sarah have now opened a permanent stall in Plymouth Pannier Market.  Click here for full details.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea



Gluten Free Cupcakes from Cupcake Universe

12 Jan

I was recently contacted by a new Plymouth company called Cupcake Universe, who informed me they were now baking gluten free cupcakes.  A quick look at the company website revealed that Cupcake Universe also produced gluten containing cupcakes, so as always my coeliac scepticism kicked in and my first question was to ask about cross contamination.  Thankfully though, I received a detailed reply that gave me reassurance:

We take our gluten-free side very seriously. We purchase all our Doves Farm gluten-free flour from a supermarket chain, as we know they keep it separate from the other flours. We also only use the Dr Oetker gluten-free baking powder.
We do transport everything to our kitchen in separate bags and the gluten-free products are kept is separate storage cupboards, as are all our gluten-free baking utensils.
When we make our gluten-free cupcakes we start by sterilizing the kitchen and then bring in the products, the cupcakes are made and removed from the kitchen before we start on any of the other cupcakes we offer.
Unfortunately we don’t have the space to run two separate kitchens, so we take every care to eliminate contamination on our side, but of course have no control over what happens in the production chain before it arrives with us.

Paula Frost from Cupcake Universe was generous enough to offer me a box of cupcakes to sample.  I must admit I am very partial to a gluten free cupcake so I was only too happy to take them up on this offer.  It was nice to meet Paula for a quick chat when she delivered the cakes.  You can get free delivery in PL1, PL2, PL3, PL4, PL5, PL6 and some of PL7 if you order six or more cupcakes, which are available from only £6.50 via the cupcake section of their website.

2013-12-10 15.36.36

The selection included one red velvet, one cranberry and various combinations of chocolate and vanilla.  The sponge itself wasn’t super light, but I personally like that in a cupcake as I think it’s nice to have a bit of contrast when there is so much frosting.  I really liked all the flavours, though perhaps unsurprisingly, the red velvet with cream cheese frosting was my favourite.  Delicious.  The cakes were nicely presented in a presentation box as below.

2013-12-10 15.35.32

Paula and husband Justin have been in the hospitality industry for many years. Justin recently retired from being an executive chef in London and together they opened Cupcake Universe. Their focus is on “freshly made cupcakes with superior customer service, which is why we offer our free Plymouth delivery.  As you know we don’t use a courier company, offering a personalised service.”

Following the launch of the company Justin and Paula were constantly asked if they could provide a gluten free option.  Paula said “We know that there is a demand in the market, so we started experimenting; this is when the gluten-free side of our business came to light. With the years Justin spent as a chef, he is very knowledgeable on gluten-free and the importance of eliminating cross contamination.”

Further good news is that Cupcake Universe are about to launch some savoury gluten free products within their range.  “We are also in the process of perfecting our pies which will be available shortly. We were going to launch them last month, but want to perfect the gluten-free pastry before doing so. We are hoping that these will be available in the coming weeks.”

Cupcake Universe are scheduled to be at the St Budeaux Valentines Fair on 1st February, and are also often at the Sunday morning market at Plymouth Argyle when weather permits.  Keep an eye on their Facebook and Twitter pages for full information on where they will be.  For full contact details please visit the Cupcake Universe website.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Simply Moorish

26 Apr

As readers of Gluten Free by the Sea will know I am extremely keen to spread the word about (good) small local gluten free producers.  I was recently lucky enough to be given some gluten free muffin and cupcake samples from Simply Moorish, and I’m pleased to be able to add another such company to the list.  Simply Moorish is run by Helen Jones and is based in Ivybridge on the outskirts of Dartmoor, hence the clever company name.


Simply Moorish produce a range of foods including soups in addition to the sweet treats, and also produce bespoke cakes and wedding cakes as well as products to cater for weddings and functions.  Helen is happy to cater for any dietary requirement, and uses fair trade and local ingredients where possible.  She does produce “normal” cakes so I was keen to establish what cross contamination controls were in place before recommending the products to my readers.  I received this great information from Helen:

  • I ensure that I do not work within the same area of the kitchen as I do when using gluten products. If I do have to make use of additional cooking space I ensure that this space has been thoroughly cleaned down before so.
  • I use an independent selection of kitchen utensils when baking with gluten free products.
  • I store my gluten free base products, adequately labelled, in a store cupboard all of their own so as to avoid cross contamination.
  • When I purchase my flours and additional ingredients I aim to bag them separately when shopping.
  • I only use Doves gluten and wheat free flour for baking and I am confident that this product has consciously been produced.
  • Transporting products. When selling via wholesale I make sure that my products are packaged in sealed cake pods to avoid contamination from other items within the same chillers.
  • When selling items open, I use the same lined wicker based trays to display my products.

These controls are enough to satisfy me, but obviously coeliacs should make up their own mind based on this information.  I have had these products several times no with no ill affect.  Secondly, I always like to know what inspired a producer to start specialising in gluten free food so I asked Helen the question.  I enjoyed her response and I am sure you will too.  Helen said:

“I embraced gluten free baking when I was asked a couple of years ago when I was trading at an outdoor event if my products were suitable for coeliacs. At this time I was solely making cupcakes. The person asking was the mother of a child. His eyes were transfixed on the sweets, sprinkles and glitter on my cakes and you could tell he so wanted one! This got me thinking, why should he be deprived of such an indulgent treat. I weighed up the demand and undertook some tasters and took some gluten free products to my next outdoor event. The comments and feedback were great. Even to this day, people will walk past my stall at market and comment amongst themselves, with a surprising tonne, ‘ooh, gluten free!’ and turn swiftly to get a better look and make a purchase.”

SimplyMoorishMuffinsAs for the products themselves I really enjoyed them.  My sample box included a lemon and poppyseed muffin, blueberry muffin, cranberry muffin, coffee date and walnut cake, a vanilla cupcake and carrot cake.  Everything had great texture and flavour and was very well presented.  My personal favourites were the muffins.  I’d not come across any locally made gluten free muffins before, and the shop bought ones can often taste over processed.  I’ve been back and bought the muffins as well as some delicious and fantastically decorated chocolate cupcakes a few times now.  I can highly recommend these cakes and it’s good to see another local producer coming up with great gluten free products.

You can buy Simply Moorish products at Ivybridge Community Market, which runs at the community hub in Glanville’s Mill.  The market itself was co-founded by Helen with Jo Jopling, and runs the first three Saturday’s of every month.  Gluten free muffins and cupcakes have also recently become available from our friends at Plymouth Greengrocer.  Helen is also on the lookout for more wholesalers for her Simply Moorish products.

For more information on Simply Moorish see their website, Facebook or Twitter.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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