Glazed Almond Fruit Cake

(Vegan; no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, soy, eggs or citrus)

This is superbly moist, sweet and – for the disciplined – it keeps well. The cake is best made the day before eating to let the many layers of flavour frolic and mingle. However no satellite images will monitor your compliance. Remember that there is some advance preparation; the dried fruit needs to soak overnight for thorough infusion with the sweet juice.

As an ENTHUSIAST body type (see The Shape Diet to work out your body type and the foods that work for and against you) life would not be as sweet for me without occasional desserts. See my book for how to enjoy your cake, plus your health and figure too.

750 ml (3 cups) pineapple juice, such as Charlie’s
½ cup chopped apricots
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup currants
½ cup raisins
2 Tbsp grated peeled gingerroot
½ cup ground almonds
60 ml (¼ cup) mild or nutty cold pressed oil*
1 tsp natural vanilla extract*
1 tsp natural almond extract
1½ cups + 2 Tbsp rice flour*
2½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking soda

¼ cup flaked almonds
3 Tbsp fruit-only apricot jam, such as St Dalfour’s*
2 Tbsp water

In a medium saucepan place the juice, dried fruit and ginger. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Pour into a large bowl. Cover and let sit overnight or longer.

Oil a thick-sided ceramic 23 cm (9″) baking dish, or line a baking tin with baking paper. Into the fruit mixture beat the ground almonds, oil, vanilla and almond essences. Stir in the flour, baking powder, spice and baking soda. Pour into the baking pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake over a low heat at 150°C (300°F) for 1 hour plus 25-30 minutes until the centre tests firm to the touch. If necessary, loosely cover the top of the cake with baking paper to prevent over-browning. Remove to a wire rack.

Bring the jam and water to a boil just until reasonably smooth. Brush onto cake while both are still hot. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing. This Topping is a variation on the classic French and Viennese way of creating a shiny, long lasting glaze. Try it on tarts, pies, slices and biscuits.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Cake pan: for all cakes use a white, ceramic round dish (such as Haven Ceramic Bakeware; inexpensive and available from Farmers and cookware shops). Its thick sides help prevent over-browning, and drying during storage. No need to turn the cake out. Allow to cool in the dish on a rack. Then store and serve from the attractive container. Helps avoid baking in metal – or worse – plastic. Easy to clean too.

 Jam/Marmalade: buy jam and marmalade made from fruit with fruit juice only as a sweetener, and no artificial additives. The St Dalfour brand is available in supermarkets.

• Oil: mild, cold pressed oil suitable for baking and cooking is Ceres brand Organic Roasting and Frying Oil (from health stores). It is also second to extra virgin olive oil for affordability. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my article on the TIPS page: The Fats of Life.

• Rice flour: for baking use finely ground (can be called ‘zentrofan’) whole rice. Results will not be the same with coarse, gritty flour; or Asian rice flour (from starch only; looks sticky like cornflour*). Use brown rice flour (finely milled; not gritty). Or mix ½ brown rice flour (for increased nutrients); ½ white rice flour (for increased lightness) as preferred. For sauces 2-3 Tbsp thickens 1 cup liquid.

• Vanilla: use real vanilla, often termed extract (as opposed to faux essence, often labelled ‘vanillin’) and one without artificial additives. Good brands available locally and overseas are: Heilala Vanilla and Equagold. These are in most supermarkets and health stores.

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