I've recently begun eating gluten free and dairy free. Sorrow of my sorrows! I'd give it up and go back to normal, except for the fact that this change in diet seems to be really improving my health.
Despite the apparent setback, I'm determined to still revel in my great love for baking. Now baking just requires a little more creativity and faith. [Because there's a true skeptic in me, wondering how anything without gluten or dairy could even taste good!]
But I stumbled upon a really excellent cake recipe, which I made yesterday and thought I'd share with you. This cake is seriously good! It's not just a "pretty good for being gluten free" cake. It's like an "actually good in the grand scheme of cakes" cake.
Similar to a lemon drizzle, this recipe is made with the oh-so-scrumptious and dreamy fruit of the season: the blood orange. Blood oranges are beloved for their vibrant blood red color, as well as for their sweetness. Distinct from a normal orange, blood oranges have a more subtle tang.
I've tweaked a recipe that originally had dairy, in order to make this dairy free too. So instead of butter and milk, I've used coconut oil and soy milk, which was a great success! I'm sure almond milk or another alternative milk and even olive oil or vegetable oil would have worked just as well.
Gluten free cakes may often be subject to critique for being overly crumbly. Without gluten to bind it together, cakes with alternative flours tend to fall apart quite easily. I found the ground almonds [a.k.a. almond flour] and cornmeal here held together quite nicely. Soaking the cornmeal in the hot milk mixture helps it to soften and not be as coarse as most cornmeal cakes, and I think it may have even helped bind together the cake's crumb.
GLUTEN FREE/DAIRY FREE BLOOD ORANGE SYRUP CAKE
adapted from Food Network's Anna Olson's recipe
for the cake
1 cup/250 ml soy milk
1/2 cup/115 grams coconut oil
1 cup/150 grams cornmeal
1 cup/225 grams granulated sugar
2 tsp blood orange zest [about two blood oranges]
1 cup/170 grams ground almonds
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
for the syrup
1/2 cup/approximately 125 ml blood orange juices [about two blood oranges]
1/2 cup/110 grams granulated sugar
*measurements in grams/mls may not be entirely accurately. best to go with US cup measurements if you have measuring cups.
Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C/gas mark 4 and grease a 9-inch cake tin. [I added a thin layer of cornmeal on top of the oil to help ensure the cake came out easily after baking.]
Heat the milk and coconut oil until the oil is melted and the mixture is warm. Give it a good whisk and pour this over the cornmeal in a medium bowl, whisking as you pour. Mix in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in the zest.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add this dry mixture to your wet ingredients and whisk together.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. [Mine took just over 50 minutes to bake.]
While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup by mixing the blood orange juice with the sugar in a saucepan on the stove. Bring to a full boil so the sugar fully dissolves.
Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and gently prick holes in the top. While the cake is still cooling, spoon or pour over the simple syrup and let it soak in. Allow the cake to fully cool before serving.
I'd suggest giving the cake a light dusting of powdered/icing sugar. I thought about serving each slice with some stewed segments of blood orange, but ran out of time. If you're not bothered about dairy, I'm sure it'd be fabulous served with a dollop of whipped cream too! Enjoy!