Last weekend in Bath I took my delightful mother to a new coffee shop which apparently had been the talk of the little town for months. Bath is full of independent shops, cafes and eateries, and thankfully, to this day there is still only one Pret a Manger to its name. Don’t get me wrong, with its green juices, boiled eggs, kale chips and raw nuts, Pret is quickly becoming my favourite fast food coffee chain, but, there is nothing quite like a family-run cafe with irreplicable (is that a word?) character.
Bath’s finest cafes are cosy, welcoming, beautiful and unique, but of course, they’ve never heard of almond milk or dairy-free baked goods. Their produce is local and fresh and the food is always amazing, but until Mr Twitchett and his Roundhill Roastery came to fruition, the coffee was instant and the milk choices, satisfactory. It’s easy to find milk sourced from the local farmers, which is of course delicious in so many ways, however, if you are detoxing, giving up dairy or completely intolerant to it, your only option is going to be soy. Again, nothing wrong with that, but once you’ve tasted nut milk and are aware of such creamy, flavoursome concoctions of nutrients, there will always be a pang for it. Cue, Society Cafe.
As I ordered our almond milk cappuccinos at the counter of Society Cafe in Kingsmead Square, a slice of Lemon, Polenta and Pistachio cake with exquisite beauty caught our eyes. I ordered it without giving it a thought and we sat in awe after our first mouthfuls, painfully vowing that we would wait to continue once our coffees had arrived. It was amazing, and straight away I wanted to create a grain-free, dairy-free and sugar-free version, using coconut milk and raw organic honey instead of butter and sugar. So thats what I done did.
+ I used amaranth instead of polenta as it is similar in physical features and I thought it would taste almost the same, and create a similar texture. I kept mine raw and I liked that the texture was quite bitty and crunchy, but boiling it first will soften it, making the cake smoother. Amaranth is a seed, similar to quinoa (you could probably use quinoa instead of amaranth, raw or gently boiled, if you don’t have amaranth). Amaranth is a complete protein, is full of vitamins and nutrients and is exceptionally high in fibre.
(Guide to Bath coming soon).
Makes one large cake. Halve measurements if you want to make several small cakes or really tiny ones, in ramekins.
200g Soft Coconut Oil
150g Organic Raw Honey or Raw Agave
200g Ground Almonds
250g Amaranth, raw or boiled in water for no longer than 5 minutes, to soften
1 Teaspoon Organic Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Psyillium Husk Powder
3 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
The Zest of 2 Unwaxed Lemons
Handful of Whole Raspberries or Blueberries, optional
The Juice of Two Lemons
2 Tablespoons Raw Organic Honey or Raw Agave
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Beat the coconut oil and honey together in a medium bowl, using an electric whisk. In a separate bowl, mix the ground almonds, amaranth (raw or briefly boiled), baking powder and psyillium husk together. Beat 1/3 of the dry mixture into the coconut oil and honey, then beat in one egg. When combined, add another 1/3 of the dry mixture and another egg and beat until combined. Now add the final 1/3 of the dry mixture and the final egg, along with the vanilla extract, and whisk until fully combined. Stir in the lemon zest and pour the mixture into a tin or ovenproof dish, greased lightly with coconut oil.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, juice the lemons and pour the juice into a small bowl, with the honey or agave. Mix together until combined.
Remove the cake/s from the oven and let cool before removing the cake from the tin and placing it gently onto a plate. Stab gently at the surface of the cake with a fork and pour the lemon and honey mixture over the cake. Watch it soak into the cake, then leave in the fridge until ready to serve (it becomes even more dense, chewy and moist in the fridge thanks to the coconut oil), or serve right away. I enjoyed it with Buckwheat Yoghurt (recipe on the Qnola website soon), but cashew cream or coconut yoghurt will suffice. And the frosting below isn’t mandatory, but it is certainly advised.
OPTIONAL WHITE CHOCOLATE & AVOCADO FROSTING:
100g Cacao Butter
2 Ripe Avocados
1 Tablespoon Raw Organic Honey or Raw Agave
1/2 Cup Cashews
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest (or juice, for a stronger lemon flavour)
+ You can also used creamed coconut instead of the Cashews and Raw Honey or Agave.
Place the cacao butter and cashew nuts into a food processor or blender and blend for 2-3 minutes, until smooth. Now add the avocado, scraping at the flesh to gradually release it from the skin so as not to overwhelm the blender with large chunks. Add the sweetener and lemon zest and blend for another 1-2 minutes, until everything is combined and the mixture is smooth and a whipped consistency. Spread onto your cooled cake/s. This icing is prefect for any cake, and works especially well on cacao cake, banana bread and blueberry muffins.
+ If you don’t like lemon flavoured things, this cake works just as well without the lemon, and this frosting is delicious on the plain vanilla and berry sponge. Alternatively, you can use fresh orange juice instead.