I was recently presented with the active starter mix for a Herman the German Friendship Cake.  I suffer gluten and dairy intolerances and had to consider this without demonstrating an unfriendly attitude and wondered what would be the outcome if I continued the process without adding gluten and dairy.

On days four and nine I substituted Dove’s plain gluten free flour mix and soya milk (I used the light/unsweetened variety).  The mixture did not die on me so I prepared to continue.  However, I was disinclined to pass on live mix since I was not sure that the substitution would work, but I was reluctant to give up.  I decided to produce four cakes and pass baked cakes on instead.

On day ten I used Dove’s plain gluten free flour mix with a gluten free baking powder.  The remaining cake ingredients did not breach gluten and dairy free requirements but I did have to omit the melted butter and sugar topping.

I am attaching photograph of the baked cakes.  All cakes took much longer than the recommended baking time.  The smallest cake took about 65 minutes and the largest (square) was close to 100 minutes.  I gave away three cakes but had an opportunity of sampling two out of the four baked cakes – the proof of the pudding being in the eating!

The cakes were well risen, light, moist and enjoyable.  The only problem encountered was when cutting – the centre was inclined towards crumbling.  Generally speaking, I would say that the substitution of gluten and dairy free products was a success.  Crumbling often occurs when substituting gluten free flour.  This can be improved (if not overcome) by the use of Xantham Gum;  unfortunately I forgot to add this vital ingredient to mine!  I recommend 2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum to every 500 grams of gluten free flour (this is a trial and error component – as most people familiar with gluten free baking will appreciate).

Finally, there are many levels of intolerance (allergies, Celiac Disease etc.) and sufferers will understand their own level.  On a personal basis I considered that gluten and dairy from the original starter was diluted sufficiently for me by the volume of additional ingredients – others must base their decision upon their own known level of intolerance.

by Doreen Essex