When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2003, I turned the page on baking. I was done. Creating a palatable loaf of gluten-free bread, a cake or a non-crumbling cookie took on the tone of a science experiment – with a HAZMAT clean up. 12 years later, I have my choice of all-purpose gluten-free flours that I can turn into gluten-free biscuits, scones, pancakes and waffles but this innovation came too late for me. I’ve closed the door on the ‘baking chapter’ of my life, substituting strong coffee, red wine and great conversation with good friends for time in the kitchen. That was until I met Sherry! In June, Sherry attended The Celiac Scene‘s Gluten-Free Tasting at Planet Organic as well as the Gluten-Free Living Class at Tuscany Thrifty Foods in Victoria, BC. Not a celiac herself, Sherry was determined to support her friend Maureen as she transitioned to gluten free,
“I know she loves ice cream and whipping cream. She is going to try making coconut whip cream as she really does like coconut. I had her and another friend for a barbecue and used “All But Gluten” hamburger buns from Walmart in Uptown Mall, Victoria and the sirloin hamburgers from Costco in Langford. She really liked the burger and bun so hopefully that will help. For dessert I got some Coconut Bliss Ice cream and she really liked it. I also bought some Italian Soda flavours from Fantastico Coffee in Quadra Street Village, where we’ve been enjoying drinks after our walks and showed her how to make them. She loves the coconut & lime ones. She also likes Elevate Me bars, especially the cocoa/coconut ones, that my naturopath got me hooked on so we got them for her out at Costco. And we went to The Fish Store at Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where they have a dedicated fryer for celiacs and a dedicated grill. It was delicious! Hopefully, she will gradually find more things that she really likes.”
In the theme of attracting more flies to gluten-free honey, Sherry’s most effective ‘conversion’ weapon is a cake made from just 5 ingredients. For a seasoned, skeptical celiac like me, Sherry opened the door to creating a confections that do not depend upon a combination of obscure gluten-free flours I do not have, xanthan gum and prayer. I now have a cake recipe I can use on short notice with minimal ingredients and serve with pride to non-believers. So in a salute to friendship, re-learning how to bake and abandoning processed grains altogether, I present to you,
Sherry’s Orange Almond Cake
• 1 large orange which has been boiled, cooled and blended in a food processor*
• 3 eggs beaten until thick
• 2 cups of ground almonds (not too fine)**
• 1 cup castor sugar (Sherry uses organic whole raw cane sugar, slightly less than a cup to reduce sweetness)
• 1 teaspoon of baking powder
•In a large bowl, beat the eggs until thick and add the sugar gradually.
•Mix the ground almonds and baking powder in another bowl and add the orange mixture. Whisk it all together to combine.
•Fold into the sugar and egg mix.
•Pour the batter into the cake tin*** and bake 45 to 60 minutes.
•Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
•Dust with icing sugar or decorate with butter cream icing.
*Boil the orange, barely covered in water in a covered saucepan until the skin is soft. Once cooled, cut it open, remove any pips and chop into rough segments, including the rind and blend in a food processor. I do it the night before and put it in the fridge so it is cool
**I use a coffee grinder to grind them.
***Recipe calls for a 9” pan but I use a bundt pan.
Sherry’s final encouragement. “I use whole unbalanced almonds, skin and all and grind them up in a coffee grinder as it adds a bit extra fibre. I also cut back a bit on the sugar when making it for the family. For some reason the cake is more moist than the original recipe my friend used and gave to me. My friend, Pam, got it from another friend who got it out of a British magazine.”
And so the learning goes on!