Christmas can be quite unforgiving for those with a wheat intolerance, or Coeliacs. But given the array of fruit, nuts and spices on offer this time of year, it's actually the ideal occasion to bake gluten-free cakes - they can be wonderfully rich and moist, and usually keep better than their wheaten siblings. I'm not coeliac myself, but a few enquiries about gluten free baking got me thinking it was high time I experimented with some alternatives to wheat flour.
So I thought I'd concoct this festive recipe using ground almonds and a very fine corn "flour" which resembles corn starch. You could also use gluten-free flour if you have it, or potato starch, but I happened to have the first two ingredients in the larder.
The result? A light, yet moist yuletide cake, replete with all the good things in life - brown sugar, fragrant Christmas spices and a hint of whisky. Fabulous eaten on its own, or with a dollop of greek yogurt. Excellent, of course, with a steaming cup of tea or coffee...
Good tidings everyone!
- 180g ground almonds
- 120g corn Flour
- 180g brown sugar
- 1 pot (125g) greek yogurt
- 100g melted butter
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 small shot espresso or 2 tablespoons strong coffee
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp clove
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp whisky or brandy (not essential, but this really deepens the flavour)
- pinch saltmmm...whisky!
Preheat oven to 190C. Lightly grease a 22cm diameter cake tin, or a heart-shaped tin like you see in the photos (am spending Christmas with my parents, this is all I could find...)
You'll need a couple of mixing bowls: in the largest, sift all your dry ingredients: almonds, corn flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and salt
In the medium one, place your egg whites
In a small one lightly break up the egg yolks, and add the yogurt
Start whisking the egg whites and bring them to stiff peak - see photo below. Add a teaspoon of sugar and whisk again to stiff peak
In the dry ingredients bowl, make a well and add the melted butter, coffee, whisky and egg/yogurt mix. Stir through so everything is evenly incorporated
Then take a spoonful of the beaten egg whites and add to the mixture to loosen it. Once you've done this, fold in the remaining egg whites, carefully circulating your spoon (like a figure 8 I was once told) until the egg white is mixed in and the mixture resembles a mousse consistency. This adds a bit of levity to your cake, so try not to over-fold at this point. If a few egg white splodges here and there pop up then panic not...
Finally pour this into your prepared cake tin and place on the central shelf of your oven. Turn down the heat to 180C after the first 10 minutes and continue to bake for 35-40 minutes. The photo here is of the mixture before it went in the oven:
and voila! here's the finished result:
* NB Ground almonds can be quite expensive, what I did with this cake was simply grind whole almonds in one of those Braun handblenders that has a chopping/magimix function. Works a treat! Also allows you to grind the almonds to a coarse consistency, rather than a fine, floury one...