Food is one of the great pleasures in life, but having a healthy digestive system is equally important. People who suffer from allergies, autoimmune disorders and other illnesses have to keep an eagle eye on ingredients and preparation. I've suffered with bad acid reflux, heartburn and a whole heap of other nasties for over 10 years now. Through trial and error, I've effectively eliminated wheat from my diet as well as red wine. Thanks to a recent gastroscopy, I now know that I have a hiatus hernia, and that I'm not a coeliac.
In a weird way, it's disappointing not to have a clear label for what is wrong with me. When you have a medical diagnosis, you can point to that, and not feel embarrassed about special attention. All I can say is that wheat doesn't agree with me - and you just get the feeling that people don't take it as seriously. I've made some great progress in my attitude to wheat. I no longer crave it, and I even sometimes feel repulsed by it. It's as if my body knows that the wheat is going to cause some hurt.
As someone who loves to bake, the removal of wheat is a challenge. For a while, I just stopped baking altogether. But the recent Great Irish Bake Off challenge woke me back up, and particularly the episode where the contestants had to bake a torte with non-wheat flour. Almond flour is a classic alternative to wheat flour, and on a recent visit to the Tannery Cookery School, chef Paul Flynn shared a recipe for Sicilian Almond Cake. It's delicious, sticky, moist and a multitude of other good things. The original recipe calls for stale white breadcrumbs, which I just omitted while baking. Enjoy!
|Orange and Almond Cake|
Orange and Almond Cake
50g stale white breadcrumbs
200g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1 1/2 level teaspoons baking powder
200mls sunflower oil
Zest of one lemon, finely grated
Zest of one lime, finely grated
Start by lining the base of an 8" baking tin with a round of greaseproof paper. Grease and flour (I used the ground almonds) the sides of the tin.
Mix the breadcrumbs (I left these out) with the sugar, almonds and baking powder. Whisk the oil with the eggs, pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the orange and lemon zest.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place into a cold oven. Turn the oven to 180C and bake for 45 - 60 mins until the cake is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. (Apparently, placing the cake into a preheated oven would cause a soufflé effect, along with subsequent deflation).
Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate.
|Letting the syrup soak in|
The addition of a zingy, spiced syrup makes this cake incredibly moist and sticky.
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lime
1 cinnamon stick
Put all the ingredients into a stainless steel saucepan. Bring gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely, then simmer for three minutes. While the cake is still warm, pierce it with a skewer, and spoon the hot syrup over the cake. Leave to cool. Spoon the excess syrup over the cake every now and then until it is all soaked up.
Serve with softly whipped cream or some Greek yogurt.
|A slice of deliciousness|