Imagine your favourite ‘I deserve this’ treat, something that you promise yourself to get you through a hard day/workout/sitting through another Sex and the City sequel with your girlfriend. Waffles. And ice cream sundae. A really big, moist, dense slab of chocolate cake with butter cream icing. A burger on a fluffy white bun, with a rich aioli, a side of crunchy, salty chips. A really cold beer.
Now imagine not only not being able to have it, but it making you violently sick, maybe even killing you, if you try to risk eating is anyway.
Welcome to food allergies. And I mean real allergies, not just telling waitresses that I’m allergic to cucumber, even though I just really hate the stuff and don’t want it in my meals.
Growing up, my brother had allergies. Dairy, wheat, sugar. Red apples but not green. Food colourings. Sugar in various forms. Tap water. This, as you could imagine, made life very tricky for my mother. If you thing it’s hard living with food allergies now, imagine doing so 20 years ago! There wasn’t anywhere near the amount of variety there is now. Luckily for my house, J grew out of his allergies with time. Most people are not so lucky.
When gluten-free became the theme for June’s Clandestine Cake Club (we are on page 210 of Scoop magazine! Thanks Renee!), my heart sank. Baking gluten-free isn’t real baking, I thought. Where is the fun in that?
Knowing very little about baking gluten-free, I asked an expert friend (and highly proficient baker) for help choosing a recipe. She sent me one that she’d had great success with. My heart sank a little further. It was not only gluten-free, but almost dairy-free, vegan and raw. What kind of cake is that? Here’s where I need to explain a little bit. The cake is baked, so it’s not raw in a traditional sense, but raw in that it contains nothing processed. No flour, no butter or milk, no eggs or sugar. Nothing that you would traditionally associate with cake at all, actually.
Regardless, I set about making this cake.
Here’s the thing. It was delicious. I’m serious, I wouldn’t lie to you about cake! Really good. Sweet, satisfying and chocolatey. Not only that, but it was thoroughly demolished by the others.
And the 12 other cakes at cake club? All different. All amazing. All cakes that I’d happily order in a café, and wouldn’t know that they weren’t butter laden confections.
Consider me schooled.
Chocolate & Blackberry Cake
From: Green Kitchen Stories
1 1/2 cup walnuts
15 fresh dates
5 tbsp cacao powder (unsweetened)
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
4 tbsp apple sauce (unsweetened)
1 cup blackberries (any berries will do)
150g dark chocolate (dairy free or regular)
1 tbsp agave syrup (honey is fine also)
1 cup blackberries (for decoration)
a pinch of salt
1) Preheat the oven to 175*c. Blitz walnuts in a food processor until they look like crunchy flour. Add the dates, and process until they are evenly combined with the walnuts.
Add cacao, oil, apple sauce and cinnamon and mix to combine. Carefully combine the blackberries so they don’t break up completely.
2) Press the mixture into a 20cm cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
3) For the icing, melt the chocolate over a pot of simmering water. Mix the melted chocolate into the avocado, agave syrup and salt until a smooth consistency is reached. Pour over the cooled cake, and top with extra blackberries.
Trust me. I know you’re sitting there thinking bleah. I get it. In the interest of full disclosure, I thought it too. But it’s so much better than I expected. I’m not saying swear off the fun stuff (if I ever do say that, shoot me. I’m clearly possessed), but maybe just don’t discount the good stuff.
If you’re interested in perhaps trying to experiment with this kind of food in a way that is real, tasty and completely do-able, check out Carolanne’s Kitchen (the co-instigator of Clandestine Cake Club and our gluten-free inspiration), The Happiness Cocktail by Yaz Trollope and Banana Rawpublic by my gorgeous friend Courtney. If the glow that these women have is any sign of what this kind of eating does to you, well, it can only be a good thing.