The nation is now in the throes of The Great British Bake Off (TGBBO). Will Flora win or will it be Ian? I am gripped. Not so much because of the baking, although the breads were spectacular this week. Its the emotional roller coasted I have to confess to liking. I am full of admiration for the way the contestants handle the highs and lows of their journey in the tent. So this week I thought I would think about one of my own.
I am not a regular cake eater because at the end of the day most cakes are basically made from sugar, fat and refined flour which is not particularly nutritious. So if I am going to make a cake I like to enrich it with some nutritious ingredients including, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I also like to use interesting flour.
Last year I hunted around for a basic, gluten free cake recipe that could be adapted to the seasons. I came up with this one. It is very easy to make and if you haven’t quite got all the ingredients in your store cupboard you adapt the cake to the ingredients you have available.
The essential ingredients for the cake are 125g soft margarine and caster sugar; 1 large egg, 100g gluten free flour, 50g ground almonds and a little milk or yogurt. Plant milk will do. This forms the basic cake mixture.
To this you can then add the flavours you like. I love blueberry, vanilla, lemon and maple syrup which work beautifully together. Additional ingredients like poppy or sunflower seeds can also be added and then you have a spectacular cake. And it contains some nutritional ingredients too.
In fact it is the bilberry season here in Yorkshire and a few foraged bilberries and cobnuts would be lovely in this cake. I could then called it a ‘Foragers cake’.
There are a few ingredients to note in this recipe if you have a sensitive gut. Large quantities of almonds and hazel nuts can trigger symptoms in some people due to their fructan content but the quantities contained in a slice are low. So, as always, the advice is to eat small servings of a new food.
I have found any combination of flour works in this recipe – so use what you have. And if you like to use gluten free flour use what you have.
The cake is quite soft because there is no gluten to give structure to the cake but it does slice well. It looks wonderful inside as the blueberries explode during cooking releasing their purple juices.
You could use other fruit such as raspberries or strawberries instead of blueberries. Figs which are in season at the moment look wonderful on this cake. But just be aware they do have excess fructose which may be a problem to some people with a sensitive gut.
The other things I love to do with cakes is to match them with edible flowers from the garden. Borage is in flower at the moment and looks great strewn over cakes.
So a slice or two of this delicately flavoured cake is lovely to enjoy over the weekend. So give it s try if you have time.
Blueberry and hazelnut cake with lemon and poppy seeds
Makes 8 – 10 slices
- 125g soft unsalted butter/sunflower margarine, at room temperature
- 125g caster sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten and at room temperature
- 50g buckwheat flour
- 50g rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 4 tbsp Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp poppy seeds
- grated zest of a lemon
- 150g blueberries
- 50g crushed hazel nuts
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Butter and line a 20 – 22cm cake tin with silicone baking paper (you can use two smaller tins if you would like to make two cakes).
Beat the butter/sunflower margarine and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the egg – beating it into the mixture until well incorporated.
Sieve the flour and the baking powder together and fold these into the butter, sugar and egg mixture together with the ground almonds. Add the vanilla essence, to the Greek yogurt and gradually fold this into the cake mixture together with the poppy seeds and lemon zest. Finally stir in about a third of the blueberries to the cake mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin/s and arrange the blueberries and crushed hazel nuts around the top of the cake. Bake the cake/s in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the tin and allow it to cool on a rack. Serve slices of cake with a dribble of maple syrup and some more blueberries if you like.