Celebration cakes take time: time to decide which flavours to use, time to source the ingredients, time to make and bake, and are totally worth the effort when the person you’ve made it for says thank you with a smile, it tasted delicious.
Last night, just before nine o’clock, I decided my daughter and son-in-law had to have a celebration cake for their tenth wedding anniversary. I drove to the nearest town, fifteen minutes away, where the supermarkets stay open until late every night of the week as it’s a popular tourist town. I’d made a list and enjoyed finding each item, and deleting it off my phone list in notes as I wandered the aisles. Initially I’d thought to use peaches scented with orange flower water to make the cake, but the peaches were too green, not at all enticing. Further along the stand lay a heap of apricots, yellow with a rosy blush and smelling ripe and delicious. I had to buy them, thinking a delicate dash of rosewater and almond meal would be quite special. Baking is working by chance with what’s available. You make temporary plans, yet in the end it’s the best produce found that determines the outcome.
This cake is vegan, sugar free, dairy free and with a gluten free option. It’s texture is light due to several ingredients. While the baking powder and apple cider vinegar raises the flour, and the ground chia seeds bind the mixture, it’s the stiffly whipped aquafaba (from chickpea water) that lightens and aerates the texture. The use of aquafaba creates a vegan cake unlike others. The typical dense vegan cake is no more when using aquafaba. I use chilled coconut cream that's been left in the fridge overnight, whipped with stevia and vanilla bean pulp for icing. Who would have thought that it's more delicious than icing frosting!
· The health benefits of apricots include its ability to treat indigestion, constipation, earaches, fever, skin diseases, cancers, and anemia. Apricots also help improve heart health, and treat strained muscles and wounds. It is also believed that apricots are good for skin care, which is why it makes an important addition to various cosmetics. Furthermore, apricots have the ability to reduce cholesterol levels, prevent the deterioration of vision, aid in weight loss, treat respiratory conditions, boost bone strength, and maintain electrolyte balance in the body.
· Natural, unsalted almonds are a tasty and nutritious snack with plenty of health benefits. Loaded with minerals, they are also among the healthiest of tree nuts. Just a handful of nutrient-rich almonds a day helps promote heart health and prevent weight gain, and it may even help fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Also, almonds are a significant source of protein and fibre, while being naturally low in sugar. Of all tree nuts, almonds rank highest in protein, fibre, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin content by weight. There are 160 calories in 23 almonds. While many of these calories come from fat, it is primarily the healthy unsaturated fats and not the unhealthy saturated kind.
APRICOT, ROSE & ALMOND CAKE
Makes 23 cm (11½ inch) cake
V, SF, DF, GF
1½ cups spelt flour
OR gluten free option – 1½ cups brown rice flour
1 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut sugar
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
¾ cup rice malt syrup
1 cup apricots
1½ teaspoons rose water
2 tablespoons chia seeds, milled in blender
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup unsalted chickpea water
Preheat the oven to 180’C (350’F/Gas Mark 4). Line the bottom of the springform pan with baking paper, and lightly oil and flour the sides with coconut oil. Beat the chickpea water in a very clean bowl at high speed for 5 minutes and set aside. Place all the ingredients, except apple cider vinegar and chickpea water, into a food processor, and process until the mixture is combined. Pour in the apple cider vinegar and pulse several times to mix. Gently fold in the aquafaba (beaten chickpea water) while the batter is in the food processor bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes, until the skewer comes out clean. Set aside on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin and allowing to completely cool. Spread coconut cream icing over the top of the cake with a spatula. Garnish with slices of apricots around the rim of the cake or with flowers for a special occasion.
COCONUT CREAM ICING
What a wonder it is that coconut cream whips and tastes even better than icing!
2 x 400 ml (13 fl oz.) coconut cream, refrigerated overnight
1-2 tablespoons stevia
1 vanilla bean, pulp
Spoon the solid coconut cream into a bowl, add stevia and vanilla bean pulp and whip with an electric mixer on high. Whip until the mixture is completely thickened. The coconut icing is best used immediately; if placed onto a cake and left for a few hours, the brown of the cake will seep into the whipped coconut cream.