I exaggerate not that during the Easter school holidays I baked this cake four times – three of those times was within one week, two of those times was at either end of one day. Each time it lasted less than 24 hours.
It is an all-round winner and we have dubbed it ‘picnic cake’ because it travels well and everyone – EVERYONE, adult or child – likes it. Because of the way I’ve adapted it, it’s not too sweet – and you can de-gluten it I’m pretty sure, as it already has ground almonds in its base. If you’re a gluten-free eater, by all means play around with the flour element. I avoid gluten, but am not intolerant to spelt, as mentioned in my hack of Gwyneth Paltrow’s muffins.
The way I have adapted this cake is to remove the 200g of sugar in the original recipe, because this is another ingredient I try to avoid. I’ve used honey instead – and less of it. It makes the cake moist and a little stodgy in totally the right way. It could be why, after a lovely puffed up top when it comes out the oven, it deflates and sinks a bit. I don’t think it’s bad for it – it’s dense and sticky – but you be the judge.
Also I should add, instead of scraping teeny black seeds from vanilla pods (can’t be bothered) I’ve invested instead in some vanilla bean paste. You use a teaspoon in place of a vanilla pod and I think that’s just great. It’s not cheap, but lord have you seen the price of vanilla pods?
As Anna Jones, who is my new food crush, says in her recipe in ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘, this gets its delicious coconutty flavour from coconut milk (the drinking kind, not the tinned variety – and she favours Koko, as do I, as it’s long life); desiccated coconut (Waitrose have stopped selling this, but Landsdown Health in Lewes does it, and it’s from Infinity Foods, so you know where to go Brighton people); and coconut oil – which you of course have to melt to add it at the last minute. It’s totally glorious.
Oh and dairy- and egg-free peeps (always thinking of my friend S breastfeeding her poor itchy baby), you can replace the two eggs with chia seeds. Google will tell you how and what to do with them ratio-wise. Landsdown/Inifinity for those as well.
I have to say that ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘ is my favourite ever cook book. We are almost entirely veggie now because of it – unintentionally so – because it’s just so good. The second book comes out this summer and I cannot wait!
1 good-sized loaf
2 organic or free-range eggs (or use chia seeds in place of)
200ml coconut milk or milk of your choice (the drinking, cartoned kind – such as Koko – rather than the tinned cooking variety)
seeds of 1 vanilla pod (or if you’re lazy like me, a teaspoon of vanilla paste
150g light spelt or coconut flour
200g light brown or coconut sugar (or if you want to do honey like me, 150g of a good quality one)
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g desiccated coconut
50g ground almonds
50g coconut oil or butter, melted and cooled
1) Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C/fan 160 degrees C/gas 5 and butter a 450g (22 x 8cm) loaf tin. Take a sheet of baking paper just as long as the tin and lay it along the base of the tin and over the sides – the ends of the tin will remain unlined but this is OK, you just want the paper there to help pull the bread out. [I am too lazy for this, I just scruffily line the whole tin with a piece of baking paper far too big for it and let it all stand up round the sides].
2) Whisk together the eggs/chia seeds, milk and vanilla seeds in a jug. [I just do this in a bowl!].
3) Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, desiccated coconut and ground almonds into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually stir in the egg mixture, then the melted coconut oil or butter, and mix until smooth. [I don’t bother with the well and gradual stirring, I just pour it in and stir it all together until it’s basically lump-free].
4) Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes [I always need to do an additional 5 minutes to get it golden], until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
5) Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn on to a rack and leave to cool.
6) [Wrap in foil and transport to the beach. Don’t forget to take a knife!].
Disclosure: This recipe is the intellectual property of Anna Jones, author of ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘. It has been adapted in line with my experience of cooking the recipe and to take into account certain things I like to not eat! There are a couple of affiliate links in this post, placed after I wrote it. No compensation, financial the otherwise, was offered or exchanged for the writing of this post. I’m sharing it because it’s a healthy cake that always goes down well in my house.
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