Carolyn's free and easy cakes

CAROLYN Ferri is enjoying sweet success after setting up her own business, and it's all thanks to her granny's favourite recipes.

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Carolynn Ferri
Carolynn Ferri

By adapting the ingredients to make everything from trays of caramel shortbread and chocolate brownies to sponge cakes, she has created a range of sweet treats anyone can indulge in, including those on gluten-free and wheat- free diets.

Now her Amo Torta brand of freshly made cakes are available for sale in coffee shops and tearooms around the city, including Snuggle Muffin on George Street, Roots, Fruits & Flowers on Argyle Street, and the Hidden Lane tearoom in Finnieston. Customers can also order celebration and birthday cakes from her website.

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an honours degree in fashion marketing, Carolyn worked for Mulberry before branching out on her own.

It was only when her uncle was diagnosed with cancer, and her aunt started looking into alternative medicines and discovered that many people who have problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or cancer should omit gluten from their diet, that the idea of Amo Torta hit Carolyn.

"They both started following a gluten-free diet and because we'd always done lots of baking for them, my mum and I were wondering what to do," explains Carolyn.

"We just started trying gluten-free and it worked really well. I thought, there must be a market for this. Why not give it a go?"

She has now been working with the Coeliac Society to get members' opinions on gaps in the market and what they like to eat but can't.

"They said, we always feel like an after-thought, everything always tastes a bit strange or we're offered something out of a packet.

"Parents of young children said, we can't get birthday cakes."

She adds: "When I started making my cakes and dished them out everyone said, you can't tell the difference. I think that's because everything is hand-made."

As well as gluten-free cakes, Carolyn now offers low-sugar alternatives for diabetics and is working on egg-free, dairy-free and vegan cakes.

Some of the recipes she uses are at much as 60 years old, in books with pages falling out. They get a contemporary twist to solve the gluten-free problem. In taste tests, most people can't tell the difference.

"One of the girls I used to work with, her boyfriend's dad is coeliac, and she said, at birthday parties everyone else would have cake and he would get ice cream.

"I thought, these people are customers too and why should they be alienated?"

Amo Torta means 'I love cake' in Italian, and the name harks back to Carolyn's family roots. Her father was Italian, her grandparents on his side owned sweet shops and ice-cream shops and her paternal grandmother made tablet and macaroons to sell.

She grew up in the kitchen with her maternal grandmother and it is her recipes Carolyn still uses.

"I loved baking when I was a child," she remembers. "I would bake with my gran all the time and I still use her recipes. She was definitely my inspiration."

As well as her plans to expand into a bigger kitchen and hopefully open a shop, Carolyn plans to start making wedding cakes.



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