Have you noticed an alarming increase in the number of people you know who suffer from food allergies or intolerances?
If you think back ten years ago, catering for someone with special dietary requirements was pretty rare. Sure there were vegetarians and people who had religious dietary requirements and of course people who just didn’t like some things (like me and bananas). Apart from that, in my world it was rare to come across people allergic to food.
These days, it seems, food allergies and intolerances are almost becoming the norm. According to Wikipedia, 3-4% of the US population are effected by food allergies and anywhere from 2-20% are impacted by food intolerances. There are signs of this trend emerging – given that innocent peanut butter sandwiches are being banned from school lunchboxes .
In my day job, it’s pretty hard to avoid the impact of increasing awareness of food allergens has on the business. One of our factories is classified as ‘nut free’. Sales of our rice cookies – made without wheat – are on the rise. Intensive cleaning procedures are in place at the end of each production run for biscuits containing known ‘allergens’.
But the thing that has really brought it home to me is my dear old Dad.
When I was little, I fondly remember being able to rely on Dad to ‘get rid of’ anything we didn’t want to eat. When there were icky black jelly beans around, or you chose unwisely from the chocolate box – Dad was always there to polish off the offending item.
But a few years ago, when he was in the midst of depression and being treated for a number of problems, one doctor sent Dad for an allergy test. The results came back with a positive reaction to four little ingredients – wheat, dairy, eggs and peas.
At the time I remember thinking it was going to be tough. Savoury food has been surprisingly OK. Think fish or meat and salads or veg. We’ve even found some gluten free pasta that isn’t too bad. Sweet treats and dessert, on the other hand have been incredibly tough.
Sometimes, when I’ve been cooking for a crowd at the farm I serve a separate dessert for Dad. I usually feel a little guilty. No one ever gets as excited about Dad’s ‘special’ dessert as they do about the decadent treat the rest of us are enjoying.
This weekend, I’m happy to say, I tackled the challenge of a Dad compliant dessert. Something wheat-free, egg-free and dairy-free that would also taste delicious. Lets just thank heavens dark chocolate doesn’t contain dairy. Oh and that my sister discovered a lactose free yoghurt.
wheat, dairy, egg & pea-free supermoist chocolate cake
serves 8 – 12
Apart from being suitable for my Dad, the biggest bonus of this recipe is how good it tastes. Decadently moist and rich, it is a serious dessert cake – fit for the fanciest of dinner parties. Although it would be very remiss of me if I forgot to mention how easy it is to make. With only 6 ingredients and a two step food processor mixing method – it’s only fractionally more challenging than mixing up a cake out of a packet.
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