Sunday, 19 August 2018

Food Blog One

In May, at our art trail,  I was selling cakes for charity. Half of the takings went towards The Trussell Trust foodbanks and the rest to a charity in Sierra Leone which supports girls’ secondary schooling. It costs £120 a year to educate a girl beyond eleven years of age but there is no state provision.

I sold my traditional, all-singing, all wheat and sugar carrot cake and my aunts’ signature cakes - lemon drizzle and pineapple cake.

Around that time a friend of ours wanted to go out for a gluten-free meal and our newest vegan restaurant, where three of Richard’s paintings are on display, was the answer. We had already sampled vegan foods and always felt full afterwards. Robbie’s pomegranate salads are a marvel.

Back at our art trail several women asked for gluten-free cake, a neighbour's daughter needs gluten-free foods and our gluten-free friend bought a painting from Richard but I had nothing ‘healthy’ to offer. A few days later I was looking at reduced sugar recipes. Hence my interest in the following lemon drizzle cake:

It is moist - which I like - but is made with Truvia sweetener and coconut flour. Back in May I had never heard of coconut flour let alone baked with it. Our nearest (much-expanded) Holland and Barrett and our local, long-established health food store came up with the goods.

I was dubious - without the elasticity from gluten how could the batter rise? I really didn’t know enough. Not having studied food technology, home economics or simply cooking at school for more than a term I wondered whether five eggs and baking soda would work. Would it help the texture? If I’d been on a hotline to Mary Berry she could have told me to start worrying or, alternatively, to stop my anxieties and just get whisking. 

At 212 cals a slice I thought it was heavy-ish but had to try the new bake.


Gluten-free lemon drizzle cake - ingredients

2 pound loaf tin

100g butter
75g Truvia - sweetener
100g full fat cream cheese
90g ground almonds
40g coconut flour
1 tsp baking power
3 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
5 eggs

Once you’ve located truvia and coconut flour - you may be years ahead of me and have supplies on your shelves as I write - everything else is an easy shop. But as a newbie to gluten-free and sugar-free baking for me this was the first step. 
Prep was easy. I set the oven to 170ºc and beat the butter, cream cheese and sweetener before adding the lemon zest.

 I was suspect when the recipe said to leave the freshly-squeezed lemon juice to one side to pour on the cake during ( during?) baking. But I progressed, added the rest of the ingredients to the batter, mixed it all very well in the food processor and poured it all into a lined loaf tin.

After 35 minutes the cake was turning golden and, as suggested, I removed it and poured some of the lemon juice on to the cake and quickly popped it back to continue baking. Yes. I was bothered. Surely the poor confection would collapse? You never open the oven door on a still-baking cake, do you? 

Five minutes later I re-anointed the cake with lemon juice and returned it to the oven. After a third drizzling with lemon juice the top had browned and I removed it from the oven for the last time. I was most surprised, and pleased, when my skewer came out clean. It appeared the experiment had been successful. The cake had baked. 

Finally I followed the last instruction carefully: 
‘...Leave the lemon drizzle cake to cool completely. When using almond or coconut flour it needs to cool thoroughly or it can be very, very crumbly.’

It was a long wait before I felt I could slice the cake and see that it wasn’t a soggy, unrisen mess. I had convinced myself it would be fit for the garden birds alone.

But no. After about 75 minutes left on the rack the cake had cooled. Tentatively I sliced it and - hey presto - it did what a lemon drizzle cake should do. It even tasted moist. 

My only reservation is the use of coconut. It’s extremely sweet and, when, rather than if, I bake using this recipe again, I’ll adjust the amount of coconut downwards. 

It was a doddle to make and bake. The texture was even and the lemon was very evident. The name ‘lemon and coconut cake’ would have been a better description, however.

But for anyone who needs gluten-free and wants to restrict their sugar intake, yet enjoy a slice, this was not a bad start. It was beyond edible and I shared it with neighbours and friends. I didn’t get chance to freeze it as it went - without any resistance - and everyone liked it. 

In our new world where plastic and sugar are ubiquitous and the enemy this is a good starter cake for the non-chefs among us.

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