I have a lovely friend, J, who has just had her second baby (5 weeks ago) and I invited her and her little family to lunch on Sunday to have, as she put it, an adult afternoon. We (being the bad parents we are) put our two little ones in-front of the TV while we all had a leisurely lunch with proper courses and very little toddler interference.
I’ve just found (and made) a new flourless cake to add to my repertoire for J who doesn’t eat wheat or dairy. I have two fabulous cakes that I tend to make for special occasion desserts that fit the bill but it’s always exciting to find a new one. She’s not vegan, or even a vegetarian so there are lots of options for savoury food even thought it requires an extra level of thoughtfulness. This means, fortunately, that eggs in a cake aren’t a problem.
Like this new cake, my other go-to flourless cakes use no or minimal butter which I feel comfortable exchanging for a non-dairy alternative. If a cake calls for a lot of butter I leave that alone for this purpose as I think the flavour (and to some extent the behaviour) of butter is different to those spreads. I prefer to make food that doesn’t call for substitutions, instead finding dishes that have their own integrity by not including those ingredients in the first place. This isn’t always easy or possible given time constraints and ingredient availability but I do find that Asian cuisines are great for dairy free/wheat free foods in general. While there are lots of great fruity, coconut milk and/or rice based desserts out there, cakes are a bit trickier.
Jill Dupleix’s oranges and lemons cake in New Food (adapted from a recipe by Claudia Rodin) in which you include whole oranges and lemons; and Eve’s chocolate cake in Damien Pignolet’s French (which is the wickedest cake I ever did eat – the frosting is just uncooked cake mix) are my faves in the wheat free/dairy free line. Often both of these cakes get made to take to the same event and it always surprises me that the oranges and lemons cake is just as popular as the chocolate (personally I love citrus based desserts but I also acknowledge a high level of chocolate dessert worship out there).
I found this Flourless apple, almond, raisin and ginger cake online at Gourmet Traveller and its one I hadn’t come across before. Its a pretty stunning looking cake and not much trouble to make but it is quite expensive with a lot of almond meal, whole almonds and maple syrup – definitely dinner party fare. You could easily make it without the sliced apple/chopped nut topping (to save time and fussing although even this bit is easy) and I think it would taste just as good – it just wouldn’t look as pretty.
It’s very moist from the apples with a noticeable ginger flavour and the maple syrup gives the edges a caramelised/toffee like crispness, and for this reason it’s probably best made on the day it will be served although I’m sure such a moist cake would keep well.
I adjusted the sugar content considerably as I just couldn’t believe the amount of sugar listed was not going to be cloyingly sweet. It calls for 220g raw caster sugar which is a fair bit anyway but it also has 145ml maple syrup plus the apples are cooked in butter (or non-dairy spread) and sugar and then you are supposed to sprinkle sugar on top! I was reluctant to cut the maple syrup as I thought it might have affected the moistness too much but I cut the sugar to 80g. I think you could even cut it further depending on your sweet tooth.
It was a really lovely, moist and applely (is that a word?) cake with a lovely texture from the whole almonds (in their skin) that had been whizzed up with the almond meal and the under-note of ginger. This will be going on my list of cool cakes to make for wheat free/dairy free friends (and others).