Aah Cake!

Well folks I guess you've been waiting for me to announce the winner of my flour giveaway. The winner is Esther of the Lilac Kitchen and I shall be packaging it all up with a celebratory feeling as I know it goes to a good home. As much as I enjoyed collecting and learning about those flours, they don't feed me and I feel so much better without them. Bon voyage mes belles farines! Everyone else who commented and put their names up for the draw, thanks for joining in and saying a little something, flour supply links are on my side bar under 'mind and body'.

And so to my emergence from the chrysalis of my resistance to the lack of grains in my life, to dry my gorgeous wings in the sun whilst contemplating my next journey with food. There have been so many discoveries, noodles made from courgette, thinly sliced cold meat wrapped around a fistful of leaves and dipped in some thick creamy mayonnaise, soups and slow, slow stews, salads and as much fruit as I want! But of course I have been itching to bake and tinker with the ingredients left to me, ripe bananas, dates, honey, nuts, coconut, squash, courgette, carrots, eggs, butter, cocoa butter...... What's not to love?

What I wanted to bake more than anything was some cakes. Something toothsome and mouthfilling; a sweet and comforting morsel to munch, a soft cakey bite to counterpoint the mountains of crudites I crunched my way through these last few weeks. So I got in the kitchen and tinkered and each batch was lighter and more cake like than the last. I have a few grain free cake variations to share with you so far, but the first is my most recent and possibly most delicious. Just don't tell Nick it's made with dates ok?

These cakes are surprisingly light, but they also have a satisfying density to them. The crumb is moist and tender with a very slightly chewy crust - much prized by Finley - and they have a deep rounded caramel vanilla flavour that can only be described a moreish. The creamed coconut is not essential I guess, but it adds to the rounded flavour and prevents the cakes being too buttery. Try them, because you would never guess they were grain free. I call them Oasis cakes because they emerged from the oven like a wonderful mirage of fluff and comfort in the cakeless desert of my new super healthy diet.

Oasis Date Cakes (makes 12 little buns)

4oz loose dried dates (unsweetened)
100ml water
1/2 tsp agar flakes (or gelatin)
2oz soft butter
20z creamed coconut (block coconut)
50z ground almonds
2 large free range eggs
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract (or pure alcohol vanilla extract)

Preheat the oven to 180C and fill a bun tray with fairy cake cases. Put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create a nice steamy atmosphere.

Chop the dates roughly, put in a little saucepan with the water and agar flakes and cook gently over a medium heat until soft - but not so long that they dry out. It should take about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a blender beat together butter and creamed coconut (if you're doing it by hand just grate the creamed coconut). Separate the eggs and beat yolks into the butter mixture.

Sprinkle cream of tartar over your egg whites and whisk until stiff peaks form.

Back to the butter mix. Beat in the cooled date puree and then just pulse in bicarb, vanilla and ground almonds until smooth - but don't over beat. Spoon this mixture carefully into the egg whites and fold gently until combined.

Spoon evenly into cake cases and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack and scoff one as soon as they are cool enough, then sit down and eat one meditatively with a cup of something life giving, whilst drinking in the joy of being here in this moment, pain free and unlimited, overjoyed to have baked something so delicious.

x x x