Quitting Cakes, Finding Hope

Everyone in the house has been taking turns to fall sick and it’s wearing me out. Another week has gone by and I am still sitting on my pile of what-I-want-to-write

So my husband, who almost never falls ill, came down with a nasty infection. He barely ate a crumb and could hardly get off the bed and had lost quite a bit of weight over the last week.

He is finally getting better now and we have learned a great deal about not taking our health for granted which brings me to this post, on how I got started on a gluten free diet.

I realised that despite looking younger than my actual age, my body just wasn’t like before. I got tired easily and my digestive system was sluggish. It was no longer good enough to live to eat or exercise to eat, which had been my philosophy for a long time. I had to start paying more attention to what I feed my body because I am what I eat. I decided to go on a gluten free diet because I read how it could help to improve the digestive system.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and many grains related to wheats. Going on a gluten free diet means that I had to clean out almost all the baking ingredients in my kitchen because most of them contain wheat. For someone who loves her desserts, it can be rather depressing. It is like cutting the cigarettes from a smoker. Instead of quitting nicotine, I quit gluten. I almost quit going to cafeterias. What’s the point of going to one when you can only look at pretty cakes and not eat them?

That was 5 months ago, before we came over to the States. I have been living without my desserts since then and I have to admit that life is kind of dull without the sweetness and surprise of cakes and desserts. I realised how difficult it is to change a eating habit that has became part of our life style.

Then recently, at a local organic supermarket, I discovered a whole range of gluten free baking products. They have special mix for pizza crust, pie crust, muffis, etc. Basically I can have all the desserts I want like I have never quit gluten at all ! And I found gluten free all purpose baking flour which can be used to substitute regular all purpose flour. (I still prefer my ingredient in its simplest form to premix)

I found hope. I could have my cake and eat it after all.

Gluten Free Pancakes (scroll down for recipe)

So for the past week, I have been baking with a vengeance, but using my kids as an excuse. Because they needed healthy snacks to bring to school. My cookie jar was never empty and I was always baking something for breakfast, snack or tea.

Gluten Free Rolled Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (scroll down for recipe)

I started experimenting, substituting regular flour with gluten free flour. Always cutting the sugar by half and substituting castor sugar with unrefined raw sugar.  Some people say that baking is an exact science but I feel like I am breaking all the rules.  It’s almost like an insult to the bakers, with little respect for their precise measurements.

Gluten Free Strawberry Buttermilk Cake (scroll down for recipe)

But the results so far has been good enough for the bunch of hungry boys in the house.  Even Malcolm has started eating blueberries because I had them packed in our breakfast bars

Gluten Free Blueberry Rolled Oat Breakfast Bars (scroll down for recipe)


If you are keen, here are some of the gluten free recipes I have tried so far.
Have fun experimenting !

Recipe for Gluten Free Pancakes
1 cup Gluten Free all-purpose baking flour
½ teaspoon Rumford Aluminium Free baking powder
2 tablespoons of raw cane sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly
180 ml of milk
olive oil for cooking

1. Mix flour and sugar
2. Mix in egg and milk, to make a smooth batter
3. Lightly coat pan with olive oil
4. Scoop 1 ladle of pancake mixture into the pan
5. Wait for bubbles to appear on the surface of the pancake before flipping over
6. Serve with fresh strawberries and maple syrup


Recipe for Gluten Free Rolled Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from browneyedbaker)
1¼ cups Gluten Free all-purpose baking flour
½ teaspoon Rumford Aluminium Free baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
slightly less than ½ cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup semi sweet dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix until well combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
4. Roll dough into balls – about 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie – and place on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers. Bake until cookies turn slightly golden about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature


Recipe for Gluten Free Strawberry Buttermilk Cake (adapted from Domestic Goddess Wannabe)
1 cup Gluten Free all-purpose baking flour
1/2 teaspoon Rumford Aluminium Free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
A dozen of fresh strawberries or more
icing sugar, to sprinkle on cake (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Butter, flour and parchment a 9-inch round cake pan. (I used a glass baking dish)
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy then beat in egg
5. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
6. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Place strawberries evenly over top
7. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes or until cake is golden and a cake tester/toothpick inserted into center comes out clean
8. Cake can be served warm, but if you plan to top it with icing sugar, allow it to cool thoroughly


Recipe for Blueberry Rolled Oat Breakfast Bars (adapted from cookiemadness)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup Gluten Free all-purpose baking flour
1/3 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick of unsalted butter, melted

1 2/3 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt. Add melted butter and stir with fork until evenly moistened (mixture will be very crumbly). Reserve 1/2 cup crumb mixture for topping; Press remaining mixture firmly over bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake 12 minutes to set crust.
3. Prepare Filling: In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon juice. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until mixture begins to thicken slight and clear (about 7 minutes). Remove from heat and pour over baked crust. Crumble reserved crumb mixture over top, then sprinkle nuts over crumb mixture.
4. Bake 30 minutes until top is browned and filling is bubbly.
5. Let cool completely in pan set on a wire rack. When cool, chill for an hour before cutting. Store in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature.

Makes 16 squares




  1. Sandra says:

    Well Done for going & staying gluten-free! We went gluten-free for 6 months 2 years ago & quite liked it but found it expensive (most of the products had to bought at a special reform house, costing a lot more). We did it to find out if our boy was reacting to gluten – he wasn’t so we decided we will go back to gluten but a fair bit less. So i understand & applaud you for sticking with it! 🙂

    • haifang says:

      hey thanks Sandra, actually it is fairly simple to go gluten free if we just stick to eating food in their natural form, eg fruits, vege, fish, meat and omit bread, noodles and cakes. It only get expensive when we have to buy gluten free ingredients. I am thinking of skipping bread, cakes and noodles altogether. Anyway they are just carbo 🙂

    • haifang says:

      hey Diana, gluten free ingredients are also more expensive here compared to your regular ingredients. And thanks again for sharing all your mouth watering pictures and wonderful recipes.

    • malmal says:

      Hi Cindy, I did consider Paleo…but I am such a rice bucket, I can’t do without my carbo ! And I am still contemplating between the china diet or my ancestors’ diet 🙁

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