One of my favourite food bloggers and creative people around is Heidi Swanson, the brains behind 101 Cookbooks and founder of Quitokeeto. I have been following Heidi for a long time and I just love the minimalist look of both the blog and her photos. They are both examples of the saying that simple is best, which I totally am a fan of. As it happens, she together with a handful of other excellent bloggers, gave me that much needed nudge to start my own blog. I don’t know them but I still consider them to be my mentors. They truly show us how it’s done.
So let me set one thing straight: I’m definitely not on some kind of health kick, as in eating clean and all that hoo-ha. However lately I’m on this…how shall I put it?…try-many-new-things…thingamabob. I’m sorry, but my vocab skills are out the door today. Please bear with me just a tad longer. This little gem of a recipe is worth the wait.
Hold on, hold on, I hear you say. I know! Today I am giving you something which doesn’t normally appear much here at C&T HQ. When people ask me for alternative ingredients, or diet related recipes I usually give them links to some of my favourite blogs. I don’t do that out of laziness. Most of the time I go out of my way to look for good nutritious recipes that don’t take loads of time and faff to make. This doesn’t apply to food allergies or any other health issue. I do take issue with those who look down on others because they don’t eat “clean”. What? Are the rest eating dirty? And this is not one of those recipes, so there’s a sigh of relief! I can hear it from here.
But that is another story, or rather another blog post. Having said that I am waiting for some books on the subject to arrive through the post very soon, which I hope to be reviewing in the next few weeks. If they decide to get here, that is. I’ve been waiting for over a month now.
Writing about some of my favourite cake recipes at the end of every April has become a sort of tradition here on C&T. It’s my birthday later on in the week so it’s kind of themed, at least for me! It started a few month after the birth of this blog, when people started asking me about the cake or cakes (because yes, there were times when I made more than one) I usually make for the day. I try to vary as much as possible, but I can happily say that more often than not there’s always a copious amount of chocolate involved.
Another cake recipe is on the way. One of two this week, hopefully! If I say once again that Signe Johansen’s Baking is one of my must-haves I’d be annoying you. But it is a gem. I’m still reading it through because I am taking my time with it. And one day I know I’ll be trying most of the yeast recipes. I’m still scared though!
In the meantime I think I made pretty much all of Signe’s banana bread/cakes and this is the one I like best. I made it a while ago and had it lined up for a few months. It goes well with a cup of tea if that’s your thing, or hot chocolate, which is mine. If you’re in the mood for something a little adventurous then make a good cup of coffee with a cardamom seed or two. Which brings us nicely to this recipe.
Excluding Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake from Nigellissima (recipe coming soon) I never tried making a gluten-free cake before this one. When I wrote something about this on my Facebook wall, I received quite a number of private messages (and public comments) asking me for gluten-free recipes. To be honest, I never imagined how much interest this was going to generate. I find that more often than not, many recipes claiming to be gluten-free, sugar-free or anything-free, are in fact gimmicky, as in shady, in their use of ingredients. During the past week I have spent hours searching for good ones and I only bookmarked a few.
I wasn’t going to post this one so soon, but I would never leave my readers and friends without this beautiful cake. A few hours after I baked it I gave a couple of slices to my neighbour, without having a taste myself. I cannot explain why but whilst mixing and making a mess in the kitchen I knew instinctively that this lime and coconut cake was going to work. I don’t know about you, but there are only a handful of established cooks I trust. The River Cottage gang is seriously making the list these days, and this particular recipe has become one of my go-tos. It’s effectively a lime version of the classic lemon drizzle cake, with rice flour. For the drizzle please make sure to use icing sugar instead of regular sugar though. You will get a smoother syrup this way.
- 125g rice flour
- 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
- 175g soft unsalted butter
- Zest of 3 small limes
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon lime oil (optional)
- 50g dessicated coconut
For the drizzle:
- 75g icing sugar
- Juice of 3 limes
Grease and line a loaf tin (approx. volume 1 litre), making sure to leave extra parchment paper at the sides. It will be easier to lift the cake from the tin later. Preheat the oven to 175C/Gas mark 4.
Sift the rice flour, baking powder and xanthan gum (if you choose to use this) in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and lime zest, add the sugar and continue beating until you have a light and creamy mixture.
Add the eggs, one by one, adding 1 heaped tablespoon of the sifted rice flour mixture after each egg, and whisk this completely into the butter mixture before adding the second and third egg. Add the lime oil, if using.
Gently fold the remaining flour, preferably using a metal spoon. Fold in the coconut.
Tip the cake batter into the prepared tin, smooth the top, and bake for around 40 minutes, until it turns a nice golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. With the same skewer punch small holes into the surface of the cake, without reaching the bottom. Keep the cake in the tin.
Make the drizzle by heating the icing sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan. When fully dissolved, slowly pour half the liquid onto the cake, somewhat evenly. Cool the cake for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in the tin, and pour the remainder of the syrup. Leave the cake to cool completely, before taking it out onto a serving plate. Smoothness and syrupiness galore!
It will keep for around 5 days in an airtight container. but it will retain the moistness for a couple more days in the fridge. So don’t throw it away!
(Recipe adapted from River Cottage Handbook No. 8: Cakes, by Pam Corbin, Bloomsbury, 2011.)
When I purchased Nigellissima, this was the first recipe I wanted to try. I have previously come across other recipes with vegetable oil instead of butter as one of the basic elements of cake, but never olive oil. It could be that my reading isn’t extensive enough. Having said that this is somewhat of an unusual recipe. It really does work well though, and it has become very popular in this house. My lovely neighbour also told me it was “delicious” and I trust her judgement. Nigella’s recipe is great for those who are allergic to gluten, but you can also choose to replace the ground almonds with plain flour (the measurements of which she gives both in the book, and see the link below). I made it with almonds, as I always have a stash in my pantry, especially in the colder months when I make crumbles by the dozen. The almonds give extra moisture and oiliness to the cake, and by the end you should have something in between a sponge and a cake. If you want something easy but different this is the recipe you should go for, and it takes no time to prepare just before your guests arrive for lunch. Perhaps today for Halloween. All you need now is an espresso. A real one. Black and black.
Additional note (11.12. 2013): I have made this cake again and have posted new updated photos. Click here for the full recipe.