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Gluten Free Chestnut & Vanilla Cake by Victoria Glass

By Victoria Glass •


Did you know it's National Coeliac Awareness Week and also this weekend the Allergy and Free From Show is on at London Olympia?  Both events show an ever growing demand for gluten free food in the UK.  Victoria Glass - new guest blogger to Great British Chefs is here to show that "gluten dodging" doesn't have to lead to heavy or dull food and shares her recipe for a delicious gluten free Chestnut & Vanilla Cake:

Blog post and photography by Victoria Glass - @victoria_glass

It’s National Coeliac Awareness Week and I’m here to prove that gluten-dodging doesn’t need to be boring. Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people in the UK, with women two to three times more likely to suffer*.

This ever-growing demand for GF foods has led to a revolution in supermarket aisles. No longer confined to half a shelf in a dark, poky corner, I found Genius bread lumped in with the wheat at my local Co-op. Free-from foods are spilling into the mainstream. They’re easier to find and the quality is getting better all the time. This is all excellent news, of course, but it doesn’t always come cheap. A 600g gluten free loaf comes in at just under £3, while you can get an 800g wheat loaf for under a quid. Although diagnosed coeliacs are entitled to GF food on prescription, it’s only free if you already qualify for free prescriptions. With a suspected 500,000 undiagnosed coeliacs in the UK alone, perhaps it’s time to curb our reliance on gluten as a staple.

“Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or an intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease. In coeliac disease, eating gluten causes the lining of the small intestine to become damaged. Other parts of the body may be affected.”  www.coeliac.org.uk

I live with a gluten dodger and, as a result, I’ve had to change my baking habits. It’s second nature to most to reach for the plain flour when making pancakes, but lately, I’d rather have a savoury socca any day of the week. They’re incredibly quick and simple to make. For two pancakes, sift 100g of gram flour (chickpea flour), and stir in cold water until the batter is the consistency of single cream, season, fry in a hot oiled pan and tuck in. This cheap southern French street food is also delicious with the addition of almost any herb or spice. Another more recent addition to my new gluten light lifestyle is chestnut flour.

I am currently in the midst of a true and meaningful love affair with this nutty purveyor of all things delicious. Available in specialist shops and online from Shipton Mill, it makes a delicious alternative to wheat flour in gnocchi, and creates stunningly light, moist and moreish cakes. A gluten-free lifestyle might sound like a drag, but thinking outside the Weetos box makes for many exciting new discoveries. My recipe for chestnut and vanilla cake is delicious served with poached pears and will make you wonder, “why aren’t more of us voluntarily leaving the wheat in the cupboard?

Chestnut and Vanilla cake

Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan)/320°F/Gas mark 3 and grease and line two 6” sandwich tins.

For the cake

100g runny honey

4 large eggs, separated

40g unsalted butter, melted

75g chestnut flour

25g ground almonds or hazelnuts

A pinch of salt

A splash of vanilla extract

For the filling

125g full fat Mascarpone

250g Sweet Chestnut Puree (I used Clement Faugier “Creme de Marrons”)

250ml double cream, softly whipped

A splash of vanilla extract

Icing sugar, sifted and added to taste

Method

For the cake

·      Whisk the honey and egg yolks together to the ribbon stage – pale, thick and creamy. This will take a good few minutes with an electric whisk, so be patient.

·      Mix in the melted butter, before folding in the ground almonds/hazelnuts and chestnut flour.

·      In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form.

·      Use a large metal spoon to fold in the egg whites – be careful not to knock out the air in the batter.

·      Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

·      Once baked, pop the cakes, still in their tins, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely. Slice each cake horizontally in half.

For the filling

·      Simply mix together all the ingredients with a fork. Don’t be tempted to get your electric whisk out here or your Mascarpone will become unusably runny.

·      Layer your cake up with generous spreadings of the chestnut Mascarpone

·      You can add a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds or a dusting of cocoa for an extra touch of glamour, if you fancy.

* All information on coeliac disease taken from the NHS website and Coeliac UK.

Blog post, photography & recipe by  Victoria Glass who has her first book Boutique Wedding Cakes coming out Autumn 2012

Is there anyone in your family who follows a gluten free diet?  What are some of their favourite dishes? What are your favourite wheat free dishes? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.

Comments

centaurie
I have this cake in the oven right now! Smells wonderful, and so easy to make.... 5 more mins!
8 December 2013
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Victoria Glass

Victoria is a London based food writer. She founded Victoria's Cake Boutique in 2008 & her first two books, Boutique Wedding Cakes and Deliciously Vintage are out now. Her celebrity clients include Miranda Hart, Dave Gorman and Zach Braff. She's cooked her way through the alphabet from artichokes to za'atar zebra on her blog, Alphabet Soup. She is currently writing her fourth book and her third is out in September. She has just been appointed the food writer in residence at The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre.

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