Cardboard, Sawdust and Styrofoam

I have had a couple of months of feeling I was some experimental subject being fed gluten-free wheat-substitute baked goods. My mother baked a special cake, some shortbread and some almond bread biscotti at  Christmas, and I felt horribly ungrateful for not finding them delicious. The cake seemed to be made with a fine sawdust, and the biscuits were far too sugary for my taste. I hadn’t really missed eating cakes and such, as I had largely given them up when my son was young and I was keeping refined sugar out of his diet because teething was so painful that he refused to allow a toothbrush in his mouth. (So far, no fillings, the damp face washer rubbed gently over the teeth and the lack of refined sugar was sufficient to protect them, even though he chewed on dried apricots every day.) 

Then there was the toast I ate at a cafe, and I was expected to consider it some gourmet delight, even though I have never liked gluten-free bread (my parents-in-law liked a gluten-free cafe for its egg-rich menu – I hated the cement-filled stomach followed by sudden extreme hunger).The recently tried gluten-free bread resembled slices of a multigrain supermarket loaf of bread, something usually disdained in this house, and tasted the way I expect cardboard would taste. 

After all of that, I had a sudden craving for a pleasant cake to eat. So I baked an orange and poppyseed cake, as these often have a good amount of almond meal in them. I could not be bothered looking up a recipe, and took the attitude that it is usually 60 g of butter per egg, and that the dry ingredients are usually added to create a ‘slop’. So I decided to make it up as I went along, as someone must have done originally in the past. 

The cake keeps its shape better if allowed to cool in the tin. The first time it collapsed when released.  



60 g butter, melted 

1 egg

juice of half an orange (very juicy, 20 – 30 mL)

3 tbsp (1/4 cup) marmalade (lemon & lime, because that is what I have)

1 cup almond meal

1/4 cup poppyseeds

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

Mix all ingredients together.

Pour into 10 cm square tin.

Bake at 160 C fan, 40 minutes.

*double ingredients to bake in loaf tin, same amount of time, as it will be the same distance to reach the centre of the cake from the outside.

*spice measurements can be adjusted to taste, or omitted, and if the batter seems a bit stiff more juice could be added (marmalades vary in how liquid or solid they are). 

*our tablespoon measure is 20 mL, and 3 tbsp is close enough to 1/4 cup, where a cup is 250 mL.


Note: There are two gluten-free substitute foods I consume regularly. There are the popcorn biscuits that are acceptable with nut butters spread on them. I would not bother with them if I could still eat real bread, but I would rather eat styrofoam than cardboard or sawdust. The other substitute, the most successful I have tried, is the weet-bix made with sorghum instead of wheat. They taste more the way I remember weet-bix tasting when I was a child than weet-bix really taste (my son did not like them when he tried them about six years ago, so I ate all that remained in the box). 

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