On the day that one of my friends was hosting a Sunday brunch I got up at six a.m. hoping that the early start would provide ample time to scour the web for inspiration and ideas for a recipe, bake and be out the door by 10 a.m. It had been a busy five days leading to the girlfriend-gathering this past weekend with back-to-back obligations and appointments from the moment my husband and I stepped off the plane early last week from a last-minute trip to Mexico. The eleventh hour was the only slot on my calendar that remained unclaimed.
My friend had been planning this get-together for months and it was not a potluck. In fact, she insisted that everyone bring nothing but themselves. But I can’t help it. I always feel better showing up at the door with a little something from my kitchen.
The only consideration I’ve had to make since my friend’s Celiac diagnosis last year was that my offering would have to be gluten-free. I’ve shared a few dessert recipes here that happen to be gluten free (since they contain no flour) but finding a party-worthy recipe that was intentionally gluten free proved a little more challenging at the last minute. As I sipped my morning tea and clicked through pages of recipes, I was dismayed that the time ticked quickly away without producing a recipe fit for this gathering. Not that I didn’t come across any promising ones…I found several I wanted to try. The problem was time and missing ingredients from my pantry.
I finally ended up going with one of my tried-and-true recipes–not a Celiac-friendly recipe originally but thanks to some forethought to pick up a bag of gluten-free flour during the week, I was able to bake a gluten-free Blueberry-Almond Olive Oil Cake that I’m pleased (and relieved) to say was met with praise.
Fueled by the positive feedback from my weekend efforts, the next day I baked another cake to see if I could go two-for-two on this self-imposed gluten-free challenge.
But don’t let me fool you–challenge is almost too strong a word here. There was nothing difficult here at all–a grade schooler can easily make this cake. The original recipe is a one-bowl genie of a cake for its simplicity and flexibility. I’ve used all-purpose flour, whole wheat and my favorite, spelt flour, all with great results. It is just as delicious made vegan using non-dairy milk and flax meal to replace the eggs and works with most seasonal fruit. The only frontier I had not crossed was gluten-free flour.
And after two successful tries I present this lovely Lemon-Almond Olive Oil Cake. Lemons and almonds have a way with each other but the silent star is Bob’s Red Mill 1-to1 Baking Flour. Maybe gluten free flour mixes are old news to you but I was surprised by the wonderful results. The difference in the cake’s texture was hardly noticeable and frankly, I was expecting a flat, dense cake but both times the cake rose beautifully. The gluten-free flour performing so well it’s the flavor combination you choose that will shine. This is the kind of cake you can whip up in a few minutes and have ready in less than an hour. Perfect for when unexpected company drops by or when you simply need a solid base recipe that would be flexible for certain dietary restrictions. I never expected I’d need one of the latter but I’m happy to have one in my baking repertoire now. I can’t wait for summer to come around for a cherry or peach version of this cake. What flavor combination would you put together?
Gluten-free cake, check.
- 2 cups gluten free flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour)
- ½ cup almond meal
- 1 cup granulated or superfine sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten lightly with a fork
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus
- enough milk to make ¾ cup liquid (use half-n-half for a slightly richer cake)
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top
- Sliced almonds for sprinkling on top
- Preheat your oven to 350℉. Spray a cast iron skillet or 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray (or brush with butter).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, olive oil, lemon juice and milk. Stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared skillet or baking pan and sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar and almond slices. Bake for 35-40 minutes (rotating halfway through baking time) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake at the thirty minute mark and adjust the time accordingly. I bake in a convection oven and mine is usually done within 35 minutes. This cake will keep for a few days.