Since the countdown to Christmas is now in full swing, I thought that a recipe for shortbread is now in order. This is one of my go-to things to bake when I am invited at someone’s home. Reasons being: I definitely don’t need to spend a fortune for gifts, I can make it easily up to two days before the event (it will keep wonderfully well if stored properly), it can be easily transported anywhere without becoming a mess when travelling, and the recipe can be varied according to any flavour you want. I have once tried it with lavender and lemon zest. It was the nicest thing I have ever had. It’s a win-win situation all round.
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.)