Sometimes one little recipe can go a long way. One day it may be a cake, divine and sumptuous with lashings of cream or plain yoghurt. Another day it may be layered into the most decadent of trifles (more on this to come). Or sometimes it can be slipped into the most adorable of cup cake cases to make the perfect mid afternoon treat. This recipe is all of those and many more. It’s also in this iteration gluten-free and perhaps even sugar-free. It’s a syrup cake. It is divine. And once you’ve whipped up a batch you’ll never forget it. It’s Christmas in a cake. But without the raisins.
Born out of one of my most loved cook books, an ancient Annabel Langbein, I’ve tweaked it a little to suit my own diet (I’m technically supposed to be gluten-free you see, oops).
To make one cake, or a handful or two of muffins you will need:
- 3/4 cup of gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup of semolina
- 1 cup of ground almonds
- 125 g of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of maple syrup (Or 1 cup of castor sugar)
- The finely grated rind of one orange
- 1 tsp of vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp of rum or brandy
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 60 mls (or use your noggin about wetness/dryness) of orange juice
- blanched almonds to decorate
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees before beginning by creaming the butter and maple. It’s an odd thing to try as it doesn’t quite look as it should but combine the two, stir them well, get that sheen of white happening in your butter. Then beat in the eggs, one by one. Add the rest of the ingredients, switching between lots of dry and wet. Stir until combined. Dish the batter into either cake tin or muffin trays then bake until the tops are lightly golden and a skewer will come out clean. This should take 30-35 minutes but will be closer to 20 if you’re baking muffins.
If you’re baking a cake then you should probably have an accompanying syrup. For my muffins I cheated, squeezing orange juice and dropping a teaspoon of last weeks sugar syrup onto each muffin. For a cake it probably pays to be more sophisticated. A cake needs a syrup of its own.
This syrup requires:
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of orange juice
- 1/2 cup of sugar/ maple syrup
- Finely grated rind of 1/2 an orange, no pith
- 1/2 cinnamon quill
- 3 whole cloves.
Combine all of the above whilst the cake is cooking and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. A simmer mat is your best friend in this situation. Strain off the solids and when the cake emerges from its warm oven, bathe it evenly in syrup.
Keep in the fridge. Warm in the microwave to serve. Divine.
And curious are we about that trifle? stick around and I’ll indulge you this weekend on what is the most ultimate of trifles.