Tag Archives: gluten-free

When Nature can’t help itself

15 Mar

No discussion, the beginning of this week was slightly stressful. I spent most of Monday in various NHS waiting rooms (the GP’s surgery, the eye clinic’s outpatient’s in the old hospital, the emergency dept in the new hospital, the CT scan ‘preparation’ area in the new hospital and then finally Sub Wait G1 in the new hospital). But to cut to the chase, everyone is fine, and my Mum’s assertion that “I’m good at falling” remains true.

It may have been stressful, and frustrating and mostly boring (waiting, waiting, forever waiting) but our NHS is remarkable. I hope it can cope with the oncoming onslaught of Covid-19; I fear it has not been well funded for far too many years and the staff are already over-worked and under-resourced. And the staff we met were all kind, caring and competent (apart from one, who was brusque.. but she was efficient and gave us what seemed to be useful information, so I’m not complaining).

The chorus of birdsong was almost deafening the following morning as I walked across to Mum’s house, under low grey clouds, with a slight smirr of rain in the air. Two male blackbirds were singing competitively from the rowan tree. I guess it’s that time of year. Spring is springing, despite the wettest February in memory. Everything still looked grey, or that end-of-winter depressing brown. But if you looked close, there were the tiniest splashes of colour everywhere.

And then that afternoon our pond seemed to be boiling, the water bubbling up as the frogs got on with their Springtime froggie thing. And of course we now have great globules of frog spawn which will mostly end up as additional protein for the hens I guess.

Our Springtime frog spawn

So, there’s Nature doing its thing, and as sure as night follows day, here am I doing mine, back in the kitchen making treats to cheer our days. And what is more cheering than a wee slice of the most lemoniest of lemony cakes? I adore that zing of sharpness from lemons, and the soft moistness of this sponge complements it perfectly. I guess it would probably keep well, in an airtight tin, but how will I ever know? It’s lovely with a cup of tea or strong espresso, but would work equally well with a scoop of vanilla or dark chocolate icecream, or a big spoonful of creme fraiche on the side for an easy dessert.

The recipe is from my favourite of favourite cookbooks, Darina Allen’s The Forgotten Skills of Cooking.

Lemon polenta cake (gluten free)

  • 225g / 8oz butter, softened
  • 225g / 8oz caster sugar
  • 225g / 8oz ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 110g / 4oz polenta
  • 1 tsp baking powder (make sure it’s gluten free if you want your cake to be GF)
  • a pinch of salt

Grease a 23cm / 9″ spring form tin, and line it with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160C / 325F / GM3.

  1. Cream the butter till pale and soft, using electric beaters.
  2. Add the caster sugar and beat again until light and creamy.
  3. Stir in the ground almonds and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the eggs, one by one, beating thoroughly after each egg.
  5. Fold in the remaining ingredients: lemon zest and juice, polenta, baking powder and salt.
  6. Transfer the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 50 minutes (but check after 45 to see if it’s ready).
  7. It’s ready when it’s a deep golden colour on top and your skewer comes out clean as a whistle.
  8. Cool on a wire rack
  9. When cool, dredge with sifted icing sugar, to cover any slightly well-fired bits.

I’d show you a picture of this delight, but it was all eaten before I remembered to take a pic. There’ll be another on another day, so if you come back you’ll see what it looks like. Or just make your own, and then taste how good it looks.

My other Spring makes include Wild Garlic Pesto (obviously) and I’m really in the mood for making some chicken liver pate, so I’m delighted that Past-Shewolffe has provided me with a recipe. Or go browse here and see if anything takes your fancy.

Do let me know if there’s anything you want me to make. I’m thinking I might share a few recipes using some of the stockpile in your store cupboard.

Lemony almondy cake

17 Jul

Saffron spiced lemony almondy cake

As I write this, the cake is just out of the oven.  It smells delicious.  I lie.  They smell delicious, for I made a loaf cake and a round sponge.  If only because I didn’t have the perfect baking tin.

I’d been looking for a recipe for a flourless lemony cake for a week or so, and had found various versions of a cake made with eggs, ground almonds, sugar and lemon zest.  In the end I settled on a recipe in one of my absolute favourite magazines and set to adaptation (if only because I had slightly different ingredients in the kitchen).

The original recipe is http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/almond-cake-in-spiced-citrus-syrup

Lemony almondy cake

Lemony almondy cake waiting for the saffron syrup

Grease and line a deep round 23cm springform tin.  Or a shallower one and a 1lb loaf tin.

Oven Gas Mark 4.  I had it on 5 by mistake to start with, and the top of the cake on the top shelf is slightly darker brown than I would have liked.

6 eggs, separated

200g caster sugar plus 1 TBsp

200g ground almonds

2 lemons

  1. Add the TBsp of sugar to the bowl with the egg whites and whisk till it forms stiff peaks
  2. In another bowl, whisk the yolks and the remaining sugar together till it is pale pale creamy and quite thick in texture
  3. Stir the lemon zest and ground almonds into the yolky mixture
  4. Add about 1/4 of the egg white to the almondy mixture to loosen it slightly. Mix it in.
  5. Now fold the almondy mixture and the rest of whisked egg whites together.
  6. Pour into the baking tins and bake for about 40mins, or till a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
When cool, you can poke holes in it and drizzle with lemony sugar syrup, or with this spiced sugar syrup.
Spiced lemon syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
2 heaped TBsps caster sugar
half a cinnamon stick
some saffron threads
the black sticky seeds from 3-4 cardamom pods
  1. Heat all the ingredients in a small pan
  2. Stir until the sugar dissolves
  3. Boil for around 5-10 minutes, or until good and syrupy

Saffron scented lemony almondy cake

So, there you have it.  A VERY easy, and very moistly delicious lemony almondy cake.  Gluten free.  Not exactly suitable for those on a low carb diet, as it is full of sugar, even before you drizzle it with the syrup.  Ah well, I know someone who will love to eat it at tea-time.
Edited to say this is a fabulous cake – light and delicate.  The syrup definitely enhances it, so don’t skimp on that stage.
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