My Mother-in-law turned 70 years young a few weeks ago and her daughter, my sister-in-law asked me to make her party birthday cake. I will admit I was slightly apprehensive as I haven’t much experience with baking for special diets except for my 6 year old Lil Diva who is Diabetic Type 1. I did bake and decorate gluten-free Christmas cakes a few years ago for Joan and her sister and I found the Tritamyl gluten-free flour a nightmare to work with, but found it safe enough in a rich Christmas cake. I really was nerve-wracked decorating it aswell as this was a very public party, and I really wanted it to be special for Joan who was a widow and re-married in Vegas at age 69 last summer to her long-term partner. So the plan involved two cakes. One small one for any coeliac other than Joan and her sister and one large cake for the masses. She wanted a very traditional buttercream sponge cake, thankfully, as a baker I am not. Nor a cake decorator.
And as they came from all ends of the Earth including Cork & England, (the US contingency are still recovering from Vegas) I would love to say I wowed the crowds with my cakes, but I never got to taste them as my Mother-in-Law kept me dancing all night after she blew out the candles and performed her paparazzi smiles. Off she went down south the next day for a few days Spa holiday to recuperate whilst I felt I needed a Zimmerframe the following week.
Which brings me to Tana Ramsay. Hands up I did under-estimate her and never took her seriously, the wife of a celebrity chef, but after reading the introduction and background information (ordinary farming country childhood) to her book and scanning the recipes I was pleasantly surprised. This was a free publication with a well-known magazine being re-sold in a charity shop with an enormous selection of second-hand books. To put it simply I have made three or four of her no-nonsense honest family food recipes and they have all turned out good and of course she may have a ghost writer, but she definitely has her own softly spoken sophisticated style with food. And as they say, the backbone of every good man was or is a good woman…
This Gluten Free cake is testament.
Adapted from ‘Good, Honest Food Made Easy’ by Tana Ramsay
You Will Need –
5 eggs (medium)
250g / 9oz caster sugar
100g / 4 oz polenta
100g / 4oz ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
To Decorate –
Your favourite buttercream recipe
To Do –
Pre-heat oven to 170C /325F
Grease and line with baking parchment or brown paper a spring form cheesecake tin.
Wash the clementines and put in a saucepan covering with water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour.
Blitz in a food processor for a minute keeping some texture, but not a puree.
Pick out the pips, or strain through a sieve, there shouldnt be many.
With an electric beater whisk the eggs, sugar polenta, almonds and baking powder.
Add the blitzed clementines.
Pour into the tin and bake for approximately 1 hour. Test by inserting a clean skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is ready, if not bake for another 15 minutes.
This cake will sink slightly in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out and decorating with buttercream or just eat as is.