With our various food activities on the farm it is common place to find people asking about how to cater to those with food allergies and requests for distinct dietary needs. Some are easy to cater for, such as vegetarian, nut and seafood allergies whilst others require a little thought and planning, such lactose and gluten intolerances.
Here is a wonderfully simple Italian cake which is gluten free, can be made in a wide variety of flavours and can be tarted up or down to suit the occasion, be it as afternoon tea-cake or a dinner party dessert.
Rather than using special gluten free flour it takes advantage of a common ingredient used in many an Italian food dish – namely almond meal.
On this occasion it uses fresh blackberries but honestly any fruit could be used raspberries, strawberries, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots and even pears or apples. Sometimes I roast the fruit with a little sugar, so as to remove some of the excess water but this is dependent on my mood, the fruit used and time i have to hand.
Makes 8 to 10 serves
250 grams butter (softened)
250 grams caster sugar
250 grams almond meal
6 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
Zest of an orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 – 300 grams fruit of choice
40 grams slivered almonds
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy (approximately 2 or 3 minutes).
2. Add egg yolks, zest and vanilla, mix well.
3. Slowly add almond meal a little at a time, mixing into the batter until all is combined.
4. Then line the base of a 24 or 25 cm spring form cake tin with a disc of baking paper and grease paper and sides of tin little butter and a dusting of extra almond meal or corn flour/super fine polenta (all are gluten free).
5. Set oven 170° C and then commence to prepare the egg whites. The whites need to be whipped until they are light and fluffy forming soft peaks which will take approximately 5 minutes.
6. Once whites are ready, slowly and gradually add them a little at a time into the batter mixture folding them in gently so you retain as much air as possible.
7. Pour a third of the mixture into the cake tin and spread if necessary across the entire base with a spatula to form a thin layer. Scatter fruit across the surface of the batter and add a further third of the mixture.
8. Again scatter fruit over the batter layer before covering with the remaining cake mixture and add a final scattering of fruit. Add the slivered almonds and bake for approximately 1 hour.
9. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out dry and clean.
10. Allow to cool before removing the spring form cake tine.
11. Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream, ice-cream and/or a scattering of extra fruit.
Because of the water content in many fruits, it is important to use a wide cake tin. Although a smaller cake tin can be used to create a higher edged cake it will take longer to cook and you will need to cover the top of the cake with some baking paper part way through the cooking process to prevent the top from browning too much.