Gluten free cakes should be about indulgence rather than sacrifice. Since I started meeting people with gluten free diets I have been on a quest for delicious gluten free cakes. There is always the reliable flourless chocolate cake. But I am always interested to find alternatives. I have heard GF friends say that flourless chocolate cake seems the only one they can eat on most menus. Lots of gluten free blogs have great recipes which look interesting but the combinations of flours intimidates me. Recently I found what might be one of the best ever gluten free cakes which uses the flours that I have available in my pantry.
The discovery was waiting for me in the midst of the household clutter for some time. Then recently I was tidying up my coffee table and found an Australian Table magazine from December 2007. I loved the look of the GF Apricot and Cranberry Cake recipe. Then I put it aside as I so often do. Fortunately I decided to pass on the magazine to my mum and mentioned the recipe. She immediately tried it and I fell in love at first bite.
Ever since she made the cake at Easter I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. But I decided to wait until Kim and Jo visited because Kim is on a gluten free diet and I knew she would appreciate it. I am happy to report she swooned as much as I did.
The secret of the cake is the fruit. The apricots and cranberries are plump with orange juice and cointreau (or your alcohol of choice). In addition, the cake is full of fragrant spices. I worried that the gluten free flour I was using was not a good one but it didn’t matter. A good spicy fruity cake can’t be ruined that easily. My sister thought it a bit like traditional fruit cake, albeit nicer. I disagree. It is far far better. The cake is lighter and the boozy apricots and cranberries have a rich tart flavour that beats the sweetness of sultanas and raisins hands down!
I only made very minor changes to the recipe but one key difference was that I turned it out of the tin to cool on a wire rack rather than in the tin – which is very important if like me you love to sample the cake warm from the oven. Beware that when very fresh from the oven it is quite crumbly. However, it tasted excellent warm or room temperature. And although the cake has nuts in it, I dare say it would taste as good if it were nut-free. This recipe is a keeper!
However I am happy it has both fruit and nuts because that is the theme of this month’s Sugar High Friday event ,which is hosted by Mansi in June and was originally started by Jennifer. Unfortunately I missed May’s Sugar High Friday GF month but you can see the round up of Gluten Free Treats at Climbin’ the Walls.
GF Apricot and Cranberry Cake
(Adapted from Australian Table Magazine, December 2007)
1 cup (130g) dried cranberries
1 cup (150g) dried apricots, chopped
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
¼ cup of cointreau or other alcohol
100g butter at room temperature
½ cup (110g) brown sugar
¼ cup gluten free plain flour
¼ cup maize cornflour
⅓ cup white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup (30g) walnuts, chopped
icing sugar, to dust
In a small saucepan, combine cranberries, apricots, orange juice and zest, and cointreau over low heat. Simmer about 10 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside 20 minutes to cool.
Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, walnuts and fruit mixture. Gently fold in together until just combined. Spoon into prepared tin and smooth top with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes and turn onto a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar. (The recipe suggests cutting out a star shape from paper and putting in the middle of the cake before sprinkling the icing sugar to get a star pattern but I wasn’t reading the small print and didn’t notice this!). Serve in wedges.
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