As a coeliac, nipping to a café for a bit of lunch is something I don’t get to do very often. Most cosy caffs don’t cater for food allergies, and it’s often hard to even find out if the hot chocolate is gluten-free.

This means having to be extremely organised and making a lunch before we go anywhere. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to feel spontaneous.

That said, you can imagine what an oasis in the desert is Helen’s Kitchen at Bury Market. Opened just over four years ago as a pie and mash establishment, it has slowly morphed into gluten-free heaven. Helen discovered she had coeliacs just after starting the business and began stocking a small range of gluten-free pies. This proved so successful she expanded the range and now stocks everything from Battenberg to sweet and savoury pies.

Helen's Kitchen, Bury Market

My partner Chris, who is wheat intolerant, pines for a good pie. So it was difficult to prise him away from the chiller counter stuffed with No Gluten Baker pies. He chose beef and onion and it was served with a generous dollop of delicious beef gravy. It must have been good because, before I had the chance to photograph the plate, he’d cleared it. I treated myself to a slice of lemon drizzle cake which was to die for. A further range of cakes were also on offer from coconut lime to red velvet, the latter of which which smelt like Tia Maria and made my mouth water.  Gluten-free pies at Helen's Kitchen, Bury Market

Helen and her Mum (on washing-up duty) were so welcoming that it was easy to forget you were in a busy, bustling market environment and not in someone’s front room. Helen’s knowledge of gluten-free foods is excellent and she filled me in on a few products I didn’t know about. She also stocks an impressive range of gluten-free foodstuffs. We snapped up the remaining ‘Tiger bloomer’ loaf – which isn’t likely to last long – and some beef suet. I have searched for gluten-free suet for longer than I can remember so I’m thrilled to find this. At last I can make dumplings.

We will definitely be visiting again, not just for the homely atmosphere and the luxury of eating in a café that truly understands gluten-free food, but because Chris is already dreaming of his next pie and gravy.

Happy munching.

By Claire Fleetneedle