Gluten-free orange cake

It’s cake time!

Or cake day.

Actually two days ago was cake day. Although two days ago I baked the cake, one day ago I ate the cake and today I’m also eating the cake because there were three slices left.

You’ll find out why later.

For now, I’ll take up the next several minutes (or more than several? how long does it take to read one of these?) of your time telling you about a cake you won’t get to eat. That seems fair, right?

I knew I wanted to bake a cake this week, but I wasn’t sure which cake to bake. I could’ve done chocolate cherry cakes (or cupcakes), but that would require quite a few purchases and quite a bit of time. There’s also a licorice blackcurrant situation that gives me pause, even though I love licorice. But for this bake, the only ingredients I needed to buy were one navel orange and some flaked almonds.

So I opted for the bake of least resistance.

First step: zesting the orange.

I think I over-zested. The rind was getting pretty thin in quite a few spots which only made me wonder how much of a mess the juicing would be.

Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: zesting citrus fruit makes my house smell amazing.

Also juicing an orange is never a tidy process. But mm-mm that smell!

With the orange thoroughly dismantled, I could get started on the cake batter, starting with the cake butter.

The butter of course needs to be softened, but despite sitting out on my counter for an hour, it was not soft enough so it did require a few dozen seconds in the microwave.

Paul and Mary told me to beat the butter and zest with a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric mixer. I didn’t feel like giving my arm a workout so I chose the latter option.

Creamy enough? I think so.

With that ready, I could gradually beat in the sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time.

Oh the sugar.

Mary and Paul wanted me to use 225 grams of golden caster sugar. There were two things that I disobeyed in that instruction. The first of course is that I did not use golden caster sugar, I used plain white granulated sugar. The second is that I used far less sugar. Well, not far less. I used about 200 grams instead. I felt weird using that much sugar in one cake. Also no one needs that much sugar in one cake. Cakes are just fine with less sugar, Mary and Paul!

But with the sugar gradually added, I could decide when it was light and fluffy enough.

And then I could get the four room-ish temperature eggs ready.

This photo is simply proof that I used four eggs.

As I learned in math throughout my formative years, showing your work is crucial.

First I’m told to beat the eggs, “beaten to mix” as opposed to “beaten to scrambled.”

Then, similar to the sugar, I’m to add the eggs a tablespoon at a time, mixing constantly.

I’ve discussed with you before why this is difficult. The viscosity of the eggs makes adding a bit at a time real difficult, but I finally had a brainwave! (They come around about once a year.)

Measuring cup!

It’s so much easier to control the egg boogies!

With all of the egg added, it’s time to move to the next steps.

Before that, though, appreciate this beauty:

Now, onto the gluten-free aspect.

This recipe calls for almond flour and when I was at the store I knew I had almond flour at home but I didn’t know how much almond flour I had at home. I normally don’t like the idea of cameras and robots around the house, but if I had one that could tell me what was in my cupboards and fridge when I was at the grocery store, I’d be okay with that. Unfortunately, the risk of the robots turning against me and possibly poisoning that food is just too great.

I watch movies, guys. I know the facts.

So as I was standing in the baking needs aisle, I made a call: buy a small bag of ground almonds just in case.

Turns out that intuition was spot on.

With that gluten-free option measured out, I could get to ruining a gluten-free bake with gluten.

Mary and Paul make it clear that you need to use gluten-free baking powder.

Did you know baking powder had gluten? I learned this recently and was shocked. Where could the gluten possibly come from? And real talk: what is gluten?

But I digress.

Introducing non-gluten-free baking powder:

I’m not sure what makes it magic.

Maybe it’s the gluten.

With that added, I could measure in the polenta.

What is polenta? It’s British-speak for cornmeal.

Which kind of means that I’m making cornbread. Sweet cornbread. Cornbread dessert.

We’ll see how this turns out!

Mary and Paul want me to sift it and I always wonder about sifting. Usually when I sift flour, all of the flour goes through the sifter. But when you sift almond flour and cornmeal, not everything goes through the sifter. And as much as that makes sense, it feels wasteful.

Next step is to measure a tablespoon of the orange juice…

…and add everything to the batter bowl.

And start folding.

And fold.

And fold.

And fold.

This folding actually didn’t take too long, which is good. It seemed too good to be true, to be honest, so I kept folding for longer than was probably necessary.

With the cornbread batter ready to go, I prepped the cake tin.

Then I scooped the batter into the cake tin and evened it out.

I’m learning from these photos that I like to bake on the edge. Literally. All of my bowls and tins hang off the edge of my counter. I wonder if I would do that in a normal-sized kitchen.

Time to bake!

The recipe says to bake for 50 minutes, but I started it out at 45, and then took too long to take a photo and as I snapped it, 45 turned to 44.

Near the end of the baking time, after eating a bowl of ramen, I read the recipe a little closer and realized I was supposed to have made the orange syrup to pour onto the warm cake, so I quickly got-a-boiling.

Three tablespoons of sugar and five tablespoons of the orange juice, which turned out to be the exact amount left from the orange.

Brought to a boil and then simmered until it turns into a light syrup.

It didn’t seem that syrupy, but the timer went off and I had to check the cake.

I mean I did put it in the oven for five minutes less than the recipe called for. I hoped I had more time to syrup-it-up, but sadly it was perfectly done.

Before adding the syrup, I had to poke holes in the cake with a wooden cocktail stick.

I did not have a wooden cocktail stick (not even sure what that is), but I did have a toothpick. I mean I have more than one toothpick, but I just used one.

And tried to poke holes in concentric circles, and then just went crazy.

And then spooned the “syrup” onto the cake as evenly as possible.

And then I topped it with flaked almonds that I now realize weren’t toasted, even though they should have been. Oops.

Then I covered it with a tea towel and went to bed.

*the next day*

Instead of un-springing the springclip tin and moving the cake to a container, I just covered the tin with tin foil and took it to work as is.

Then I un-sprung the springclip tin at work to a crowd of excited people.

I say crowd. It was like seven people.

Then I sliced it up and enjoyed a very tasty piece of cake.

The texture was very cornbready, but it actually worked! It was really moist (sorry for those who hate that word but there’s only one way to describe a cake of that nature) and definitely not too sweet. And it wasn’t just me who liked it! Others said it was the perfect amount of orange flavour and they too were pleasantly surprised that a sweet cornbread could be a thing.

All but four pieces were eaten so I left them out hoping people would partake.

Near the end of the day, I took a second slice and that left three.

I even tried asking people to eat more cake because I didn’t want to take it home, but here’s the problem: someone else brought in treats that day.

On the same floor, there were two boxes of doughnuts.

So people were sugared out.

And I had to take home three slices of cake.

I could throw out the remaining two (as I mentioned, I just had one for breakfast), but that seems so wasteful. And it’s really good cake.

If I spread out cake-eating throughout the day, it’s better right? That’s what I’ll tell myself.

Thank you for putting up with me until the end of this post.

Have a lovely day! Filled with cake!

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