When I had to cut gluten out of my diet for good, the sheer panic of missing out on cake at social gatherings, namely birthdays, was overwhelming. Still to this day, I’ve grown to accept that there won’t be an option for me when we set off to a party and while this is upsetting, I’ve learnt to deal with it. However, when it comes round to my own birthday, I know I want to be able to indulge. And thanks to being recently introduced to The Mad Batter – or as her friends and family know her, Stacey Manning – my bespoke gluten free dreams can come true next time I celebrate!
The Mad Batter’s Instagram page is filled with pictures of cakes that look so professional that upon first glance, you might think they are manufactured by some sort of machine. The truth however, is that they are all lovingly handmade by Stacey – a self-taught baker, who is gluten free herself. Her cake journey began in the summer of 2016 when, in between jobs, Stacey took to watching cake making video tutorials on Facebook. “It was then that the obsession grew,” Stacey told me, adding that her love of cake making dates all the way back to time in her grandmother’s kitchen growing up. Stacey began learning from the videos and was soon sending out samples to offices where friends worked. She accepted a different job in October, but her taste for cakemaking did not go away and so come January, The Mad Batter was born.
“As a gluten free person, it’s important to me that everyone – intolerant to certain foods or not – is able to enjoy something as amazing as everyone else,” Stacey said, adding that her goal has always been to create a gluten free cake “that tastes like it isn’t gluten free.” As an avid cake taster, I know exactly the taste Stacey is referring to and I suspect those of you reading this will know too. What is guaranteed is that you won’t know the difference when you taste Stacey’s cakes, because I certainly did not when I received two beautiful cake jars in the post.
I was lucky enough to try The Mad Batter’s Victoria Sponge – a white vanilla sponge held together by lashings of fresh buttercream and strawberry jam – and Chocolate Fudge Cake. I somewhat begrudgingly shared these jars with my non gluten free partner but was amazed to see his reaction when he took the first bite. Not only did the cake taste non gluten free to me, but to him too. The cake was moist and delicate – a rarity especially in store bought cakes which tend to be drier than the regular variety. The cake did not crumble too easily either, which is another sign of a good gluten free bake. I for one, have long suffered through cake so crumbly that it virtually falls apart before you are even able to bring it to your mouth. The buttercream in both jars was glorious and was not lacking in freshness despite being shipped in a jar. If anything, the jar as a vestibule keeps the cake and its extras more fresh than a simple box or tin. I was not surprised to learn that these jars, available in a wide range of flavours, are some of The Mad Batter’s top sellers and can be shipped all over the UK.
“I tried a lot of things from supermarkets before I began baking when things were a bit more limited and found that the choice wasn’t always great,” Stacey told me, adding that the new gluten free efforts of Mr. Kipling and other brands have been a welcome addition to the market. For those wanting personalisation however, The Mad Batter seems to have hit the nail on the head in terms of what the gluten free market in the UK is still lacking. Stacey will listen to each clients needs and work carefully to create just what is wanted, whether the order be vegan, dairy free or gluten free. This could be an elabroate unicorn cake, a simple and delicate sponge or a batch of freshly baked rainbow cookies – all of which are baked according to Stacey’s own tried and tested recipes in her Hertfordshire kitchen. The Mad Batter has already been approached by a local restaurant to provide its desserts and is flourishing fast, which will come as no surprise to those of you who have already had the pleasure of sampling. So start planning your next birthday or celebration and be sure to drop a line to The Mad Batter on Facebook when you do – you will not be sorry!
Need a cake? Drop Stacey a line on: Staceyemanning@gmail.com for cake-related enquiries or visit The Mad Batter’s Instagram page for more information.
Photo Credits: Stacey Manning