Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
Without much Fanfare and certainly no advertising (yet), Marks & Spencers have launched a wider range of ready-to-eat GLUTEN FREE products as part of their “Made without Wheat” range. It’s quite exciting to have even more choice as a Coeliac as that often is the challenge, although the world is slowly changing. M&S have always been pretty good to Coeliacs with their extensive literature on their website, listings of stores with GF Products (excluding the new products as yet although see my listing below which they emailed out) and even selective ordering of GF products at Christmas.
On my blog, I’ve reviewed M&S “Made without Wheat” products including Sweet Treats: (Victoria Sandwich, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Mince Pies, Hot Fudge Pudding and Triple Chocolate Cookies) Savoury Items (Quiche Lorraine, Chicken & Mushroom CrispBakes) and M&S Bread products (Soft White Baps, Sliced White Boule, Soft Brown Baps and Fruit Loaf).
The new range now includes:
Sweet Treats: Strawberry Trifle, Apple Pie, Vanilla Cheesecake (all reviewed below) as well as Rhubarb Crumble, Syrup Sponge Puddings and Chocolate Sponge Puddings.
Savoury Items: Spaghetti Carbonara, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Macaroni Cheese, Beef Lasagne, Chicken Arrabiata and Steak Pie and Chicken Pie.
Of course, many items of food are naturally GLUTEN FREE and don’t really require an additional label but their extended range now includes everyday items which are ready-to-eat and perhaps supports an occasional treat and /or a special meal! Personally, I’m not sure it makes sense to buy a ready-made pasta dish when even I can make that with the fairly good GLUTEN FREE pasta’s that are on the market (and indeed, M&S do their own “Made without Wheat” pasta sheets which I used to make a great lasagne, nor the Crumbles (as with fresh produce from my Allotment, it’s really quite easy to make your own Crumble) but I couldn’t resist the Sweet Treats:
EXTREMELY FRUITY STRAWBERRY TRIFLE: So it’s been many years since I’ve had a GLUTEN FREE Trifle. I did try and make one at Christmas but it was a spectacular failure (with the sponge pieces floating in unset-jelly.I may have put the sponge in too early into the hot jelly as it had crumbled and then dissolved making a greyish /yellow mush in the bowl!).
It looks like a regular Trifle and is the same size as the regular one in M&S. The Strawberry jelly in the bottom is sloppy, not too firm but with fruity whole strawberries. Then a firm layer of sponge which covers the whole of the cake (some trifles have only sponge pieces but this extends across the plastic bowl). It is thin, quite light and definitely airy. This is then topped with a layer of custard which is very sweet and creamy. It has a natural yellow colour and is not like School Dinner’s Trifles that moves in one piece but is soft and gooey but firm enough to remain in the Trifle formation! And finally, this is topped by lightly whipped cream which is also quite sweet and delicious.
Already, I have seen some criticism of this as a Trifle, with some comments on Facebook groups suggesting that it should be a Raspberry based fruit trifle but I love the sweetness of the strawberries and the whole taste of the GLUTEN FREE Trifle. My challenge was not to finish it all off in one go!
NEW YORK VANILLA CHEESECAKE: I rarely have Cheesecake although have a weakness for the Godiva GLUTEN FREE Cheesecake served in the USA’s Cheesecake Factory and so did pick up the M&S “Made without Wheat” version. It is quite small as a cake goes but once I had eaten it, I appreciated that it is quite rich and creamy, so perhaps it is the “right” size.
Between two of us, we had half each and had I tried a little piece of it, I probably won’t have shared it. The base is like a traditional cheesecake except GLUTEN FREE digestive biscuits make up the buttery base. This is thick like it should be and has a delicate sugariness to it. The topping is really creamy and has a good flavour of Madagascan Vanilla. As it is baked there is a firmness to the cheesecake but it is still rather light and not at all heavy (like some traditional NY Cheesecakes). I think it might have been better if they had added a fruit compote on the top, if only to improve the look and the taste but a great product that’s all GLUTEN FREE.
And finally, I tried the SHORTCRUST APPLE PIE:
Again, this is a full sized pie: similar to regular M&S Sweet Pies so is too much for one-person, or indeed, a couple, but makes a useful Dinner Party dessert. Through the window I could see it was already cracked, and I did review other boxed ones and found that they all had “broken” roofs on the pie: perhaps that is the look M&S are going for: as it does have that “home-made” finish about it, rather than a perfect pie top.
After heating it up in the Over, this pie gained a lovely golden colour and no new cracks appeared on the top. The Shortcrust pastry was even and thick and easy to cut, although it did break more in the middle than on the edges. It has been crimped well with a lovely fruity filling which isn’t too sweet. Peeled apples are in a light sweet sauce but the impressive bit of the pie is the shortcrust pastry which is crunchy on the edge and firm, but easy on the teeth and not too heavy.
So Well Done M&S for yet another GLUTEN FREE delight: another Sweet treat that I will return to. I picked these products from the M&S Flagship store: Marble Arch!
They have kindly emailed me a listing of the current stockists of the new range but it is important to note that these are the larger stores and the availability is probably a little unpredictable at the moment…
Brent Cross & Chiswick & Canary Wharf & Cardinal Place & Chelsea Kings Road & Colney & Covent Garden & Croydon & Crawley & Ealing Broadway & Eltham & Enfield & Fenchurch Street & Finsbury & Islington & Marble Arch & Muswell Hill & New Change & Pantheon & Richmond Kew & White City
IRELAND & Northern IRELAND:
And finally, across our “Green and Pleasant Land”: ENGLAND:
If you are a member of Coeliac UK, they produce a comprehensive directory which covers over 16,000 food and drink items (including GLUTEN FREE Chocolate Bars). This is available in a paper-based Manual and online FREE to members of Coeliac UK. They have also published an Easter listing (although it is not as visually EGG-citing as this posting and excludes many of the included Chocolatiers and High Street stores covered in my posts).
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This information was correct as of March 2016.
But as I am learning, ingredients do change and therefore you should always read the label and check for yourself whether it is GLUTEN FREE or not!