Lumberjack Cake

(No gluten, dairy or cane sugar; with options for soy)

Possibly of Canadian origin, this may be named for its heartiness. It keeps, slices and transports well in lunch boxes. Dense and moist, almost like a pudding, there is the pleasing differentiation of a crisp caramelised topping. Contrasting textures give sensual satisfaction, while foods that are crunchy are slower to break down and thus assist with blood sugar regulation.

Baking made with rice flour has the added benefit of lasting longer and staying moister compared to wheat flour (wholemeal or white). If you are changing standard wheat flour recipes into wheat or gluten-free be sure to increase the liquid and leavener (such as baking powder). This makes the batter wetter and lighter for better rising. More commonly used flour – particularly wheat – contains gluten. This is a protein that enables a lighter, looser (thus fluffier) yet stable structure as it rises. For these reasons modern wheat has been cross-bred to achieve the highest possible gluten content.

This is much more than our pre-industrial ancestors had to digest. They also ate from a wide variety of whole grains far different to our monoculture diet. Add in agricultural chemicals, excessive processing and artificial additives and no wonder a growing number of people find gluten, wheat and their daily bread difficult to tolerate. See my website TIPS article: GLUTEN. The Shape Diet, and Recipes For A Long & Delicious Life have 100s of gluten and dairy-free recipes (see HEALTH STORE page).

2 large cooking apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and cubed
1 cup dates, chopped
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
¾ cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1 large free range egg
½ cup mild cold pressed oil (such as high-oleic sunflower)*
½ cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract*
1¼ cups rice flour*
1½ tsp gluten-free baking powder

Caramel Coconut Topping:
75 ml (6 Tbsp) Milk Option*
60 ml (1/4 cup) mild cold pressed oil*
¼ cup apricot jam*
1 tsp pure vanilla extract*
¾ cup long shred coconut

In a medium-large saucepan combine the apples, dates, apricots and baking soda. Stir in the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let sit until cold (this helps with texture, uniform sweetness and rising).

Push the fruit mixture to one side of the pan. In the space (or use a separate bowl) place the egg, oil, honey and vanilla. Beat these until well combined. Stir into fruit mixture. Add the flour, baking powder and stir well. Pour into an oiled, deep 23 cm (9”) cake pan. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 40 minutes until well risen.

While baking, prepare Topping. In a bowl or the same saucepan (hey, I’m a dishwasher as well as a chef) combine the Milk Option, oil, jam and vanilla. Stir in the coconut.

Remove cake from oven and cover evenly with Topping. Bake a further 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. If the topping starts to over-brown, cover loosely with foil. Cool on a wire rack.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Fats: For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my article on the TIPS page: The Fats of Life.

• Vanilla: Use real vanilla (as opposed to faux essence, often labelled as ‘vanillin’) and one without artificial additives. Good brands available locally and overseas are: Heilala Vanilla and Equagold.

• Rice flour: The best rice flour for baking is from very finely ground (sometimes called ‘zentrofan’) whole rice. The results will not be the same with Asian rice flour which is made from the starch only and looks sticky like cornflour (US: cornstarch). Use very finely milled brown rice flour (there should be no grittiness). Or mix ½ brown rice flour (for increased nutrients) and ½ white rice flour (for increased lightness).

• Milk Options: organic cow or goat; soy, oat or nut milk; or rice milk – mix with 2 tsp coconut cream for more body.

• Jam: Buy jam made from fruit with fruit juice only as a sweetener, and no artificial additives. The St Dalfour’s brand is readily available in supermarkets.

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