‘My yummy peanut butter cheesecake is filled with love, laughter and celebration’
When her son, Ben, was diagnosed as coeliac, Masterchef winner Jane Devonshire, 52, from Alton, Hampshire, became determined to make the perfect birthday dessert that everyone could enjoy.
Sometimes, when you get a recipe right, you just know. My peanut butter cheesecake is one of those recipes. Every time I make it, I smile – and so does my youngest son, Ben, because the inspiration was all down to him. A few years ago, I wanted to make him something special for his birthday.
But for our family, there was an even more poignant reason behind the cheesecake’s creation.
When Ben was two years old, he was diagnosed as coeliac, and I had to adapt my cooking to ensure that our meals were gluten free. Food has always been one of our greatest pleasures as a family, something we always shared together in good times and bad. And yet, suddenly, it wasn’t quite so simple.
Children’s parties were a minefield, pizza-making and fast food were a no-no, and food soon became a quite alienating thing for Ben. However, at home, I was determined that he wouldn’t feel isolated – and I began to cook gluten-free for the whole family. I wanted us to eat the same thing all together; for mealtimes to remain inclusive, enjoyable and stress free.
I persevered despite some real disasters (memories of my less-thansuccessful Yorkshire pancakes are a constant source of amusement!) and some moans and groans from the eldest three. However, the triumphs made the challenge worthwhile. The peanut butter cheesecake I made for Ben’s 11th birthday was one of these happy milestones. With peanut butter, chocolate, cream and biscuits, it was packed full of everything Ben loved to eat. When it was served, the smile on his face said it all. He was so proud that his cake was a bit different, something new and something that all his friends loved as much as he did. In fact, it went down so well with the guests that no one even thought to mention or ask about gluten free.
The recipe is a firm tradition. Ben is now 16 and, every year, I still make the cheesecake for his birthday. We serve it with the best of memories; with love, laughter and celebration. What could be sweeter than that?
Hassle Free, Gluten Free by Jane Devonshire (Absolute Press) is out 20 September
Creative baker Jane creates dishes the whole family can indulge in
Jane’s gluten-free cheesecake is a family favourite