Last month heralded The Gluten Free Scallywag's 4th birthday and I thought I'd celebrate with a little bit of cake , but first let's talk for a moment about being gluten free. Being diagnosed Coeliac was hard. I cried outside the hospital when I realised that I'd never drink beer again, enjoy hotdogs or eat liquorice. After the tears subsided my man took me home to the house I shared with my friend and her family. I shared the news and to be honest we were all a little bit sad. I remember sitting in my (tiny) bedroom by myself for a few moments ; I needed the silence . I had eaten gluten for 22years, that's 22 birthday cakes, about 44 hot cross buns (because funnily enough, I always felt sick after 2!), dozens of hot dogs and more than a few chocolate coated liquorice logs. Although, for a 22yo Australian, the beer consumption, was probably quite low. I never really drank alot as a teenager and even then it wasn't much beer, although, I did like a good wheaty beer (think Redback, for Aussie folk) with a good burger or fish n chips on the beach.
At some stage on that small bed, with little gold star stickers still on the wall from my friends little sisters teenage days I told myself that it was ok. Why? Well, diagnoses meant we knew what was wrong. We now knew why I was so pale and would fall asleep at my desk at work. Or why some weeks, I'd just stay in bed the whole time. I remember a friend of mine came and visited on one of those never-out-of-bed weeks. He said 'babe, you look like shit'. He and I were good friends and we generally tell each other like it is (and still do). This was 6months before getting the test. It was the last time I was in bed for a week. It's the last time he told me I looked like shit. Last month he said something else to me that I've only heard once, he told me I looked beautiful. It was my wedding day. I gave him the biggest hug after that. 10years of friendship and he'd seen me pretty low, but he'd also seen that just because I can no longer drink half his pint of beer, I still enjoy everything life has to offer. Just not the croissants. (Really, c'mon you've read this blog, I don't need the extra butter anyway!)
To me, being diagnosed was the best thing, because since that day (ok, well a month after, when I actually went gluten free - read about that reasoning here) I made the conscious effort to be healthy. To eat right, to treat my body right. I only have one body and I want it to last. So, I focus on what I can eat, not what I can't. That's what I decided on the bed that day and what I still believe in today.
So, to those Coeliacs, people with gluten free allergies and intolerances or others who look at me with pity, please don't. Life could be much worse and hell, what can be better for our bodies than NOT being able to eat convenient deep fried foods & takeaway! Ha!
I found the recipe for this cake a while ago and have been wanting to try it out for a special occasion. Unfortunately, I've no idea of it's original source, if you know it please let me know! It's a delightful cake. A soft, almond crumb that's not too sweet, with a slightly chewy crust. I like to eat my piece from the edge in so that I can finish on that delicious honey almond softness.
I topped the cake with tawny (or port as you may call it) apples and cinnamon. Piled the apples high on the cake and then drizzled another good dose of tawny on top of that. Heaven!
Honey Almond Cake with Boozy Apples
Slightly adapted from somewhere
1/2cup (125ml) good quality honey
175g (about 1 3/4cup) almond meal
Preheat oven to 170degrees Celsius and grease the sides and line the bottom of a 20cm spring-form cake tin.
Whisk together the yolks, honey and cinnamon until slightly fluffy and well combined. Stir the almond meal in with a wooden spoon (don't use your whisk, as the mixture will get stuck to it!)
In a separate bowl or stand mixer whisk the egg whites til foamy and soft peaks have formed. Fold into the almond mixture and pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for approximately 25 to 28minutes. If the cake is browning too quickly, turn the temperature down and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Allow to cool in the pan.
For the apples:
3 pink ladies, peeled, cored & cut into 2cm cubes
1/4cup (60ml) tawny
Place the apples, tawny, sultanas, cinnamon and a tablespoon of water in a medium saucepan with lid on and cook over low-medium heat for approximately 8-10minutes until softened. Stir often so that the apples don't stick.
Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry fry pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Chop roughly, or a little finer if you don't want them too chunky. Add to the apples.
Remove cake from tin and pile the apples on top and another dash of tawny or perhaps two tablespoons honey warmed til runny. Serve warm with cream (sorry lactose free peeps, I did really well up to this point didn't I? )
Best eaten on the day it's made. If not, warm slightly in the microwave and pour over a little more tawny or a little warm honey drizzled over the whole thing.