If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you’ll know that a couple of years ago I cut out gluten from my diet in an attempt to get more energy that I felt wheat was taking away from me. Two years on, with only very few transgressions, I still avoid anything with those ingredients. Which leaves me, as a cake lover, somewhat deprived in the sweet treat department.
When The Almond Board of California asked me to write a post about the benefit of almonds, I jumped at the chance to share a couple of gluten free recipes for cake that are full of almonds which I use as a flour replacement. I love baking and most weekends will knock up a cake – I’ve got recipes for orange, chocolate and almond cake and an apple, blackberry and almond cake to share because these are the two I bake most often. I usually serve these with Greek yoghurt on the side to take the sweetness down a tiny bit.
I got the Orange & Almond Cake recipe from Allrecipes.com and I’ve successfully added in chocolate drops to this which definitely ups the ante. You need:
2 Oranges (washed and chopped into bits with skin on)
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5 Eggs (separated)
200g Caster Sugar
225g Ground Almonds
Flaked Almonds to decorate.
It’s the easiest cake ever. Just simmer the chopped oranges with a tablespoon of water for about 20 minutes til the skin is soft then blitz in a food processor (I use my Nutribullet). Separate the eggs and whisk up the whites, and add in half the caster sugar. Whisk up the egg yolks with the rest of the caster sugar until it goes pale and thick (a couple of minutes) then whisk in the blitzed oranges and the chocolate drops. Properly stir in 3 spoons of the whites to the mix and then fold the rest of the whites in and throw on some chopped almonds. Put in the oven (180c/350F/Gas4) for about 45-50 minutes and if the top is going brown cover it with foil. Leave it cool a bit – this cake can double as a pudding if you serve it warm with Greek Yoghurt or Marscapone.
The second recipe is Apple & Almond Cake from Nigella. There are so many eggs in this I can hardly bear to look but it makes a huge cake and you can freeze it. I add in blackberries as well. We have an apple tree in our garden so usually make up a batch of stewed apple, but if you don’t have any handy, you need 3 apples, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 3 teaspoons of caster sugar. You literally just soften the apple over the stove, then blitz it up roughly, and that’s it for the apple puree. For the cake you need:
A swipe of vegetable oil to grease the tin
8 Large Eggs
325g Ground Almonds
275g Caster Sugar
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
50g Flaked Almonds.
Cakes don’t get much easier than this. Once your apple puree is cool, add it to a food processor with the eggs, ground almonds, caster sugar and the tablespoon of lemon juice. Then blitz, add blackberries if you’re using them and sprinkle on the flaked almonds and put it in the tin, into the oven. Nigella suggests it needs 45 minutes, but if your oven is ‘quick’, check it after 35. This is also delicious straight from the oven with Greek Yoghurt or Marscapone (or, er, cream).
However, while I’ve been busy avoiding gluten, I didn’t realise that relying on almonds was having benefits. I didn’t even think about it, to be honest. So, I’ve been educated while compiling this post and am happy to pass on some almond tips! For a start, they’re high in Vitamin E which is also an antioxidant; it’s not for nothing that almond oil appears in many of our favourite beauty products because skin loves an antioxidant. They’re also a natural source of protein, the building block for skin and hair, and almonds are also a natural source of zinc, essential for maintaining healthy skin and protecting our entire bodies from oxidative stress. I know, right.. I should be hugging an almond by now, because I really had no clue about this.
I do snack on nuts now and again – in fact, a nutritionist friend told me to use a couple of teaspoons of ground almonds in porridge in the morning (or lunch, as it often is!) so that you feel fuller for longer and I can definitely say that works. Blueberries (for flavour) and a couple of teaspoons of ground almonds makes that porridge work harder before you are hungry again. But, now that almonds are more top of mind for healthier benefits than grinding into a cake, I’m going to try and do it more. But, I’m not stopping the cakes! They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so 21 handfuls of almonds and I should be a convert – but that’s easily done. I’m so pleased this isn’t a post about olives – I know I’d struggle there! Yuk. Or Chia seeds – they’re my lifetime’s food disappointment. But, it just kind of makes sense to swap out a bag of crisps or biscuits to something that’s better for you anyway (and sustainably sourced), and if it’s something that supports your body, hair and skin, then all the better.
Did I say I’m not giving up the cakes? There are lots of recipes (sweet and savoury) over at Almonds.co.uk.
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