Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake {gluten-free}

Before we wind up the season I wanted to re-post this Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake. It’s a simple teatime cake which I first wrote about in 2014 and I definitely wanted to revisit it during this plum season as I remembered it being a beauty.

Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake

This time round I have made the cake gluten-free just by substituting the plain flour with gluten-free flour and adding a little more ground almonds. The cake has not suffered at all during the transition, just as fruity, moist and delicious. I deleted the original post as the photos were not my favourites but I saved the following words for posterity’s sake. To be honest, I could have written this yesterday as just this weekend I was changing my kitchen around yet again.

I have just reorganised my kitchen, not that my husband knows about it. It will be a lovely surprise when he comes home this evening to discover everything is not where it should be. He is a creature of habit so I’m sure there will be lots of heavy sighs as he reaches for a bowl and discovers a kilner jar of sultanas in its place or wants to make a cup of coffee and has to fight past the peanut butter and cocoa powder. I don’t drink coffee you see, so it now goes at the back, I’m thoughtful like that. When the clocks change his life is turned upside down, I can only imagine what the new state of affairs in the kitchen will do to him so I might make myself a bit scarce later on.

Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake

The kitchen turnabout had to come as unfortunately for my crockery, the amount of dried fruit, nuts, different gluten-free flours and the plethora of different types of paprika I harbour has actually pushed them out of the cupboards and relegated them to a lowly position of the shelf underneath our butcher’s block. I cook and bake several times a day so you would think that the food volume in my cupboards would be decreasing, not going up. I blame my self-indulgence. I like to have choice with my dinner, whether it’s to cook my curry with coconut oil, olive oil, walnut oil or ghee or whether I feel like serving it with basmati or jasmine or long grain rice, so I must have all of them on offer. This would be acceptable if I wasn’t living in a matchbox railway cottage wedged into North London, and so unfortunately now the plates are having to suffer.

Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake

The available space in the kitchen hasn’t been helped that it has been swamped these past few weeks with every manner of fresh fruit that summer has brought. My freezer is also fit to burst as I can’t keep up with all the foraging I’m doing around Parkland Walk and Stroud Green, and what I can’t find in the hedgerows the farmers’ market has been tempting me with at the weekends. To cope with the influx I have been making several variations of this cake these past few weeks. I don’t need any excuse to make a cake but every time a new fruit has come into season lately then it has seemed only fitting to herald their arrival by building sheet cakes around them. Cherries, blackberries and now plums have been pampered with this sugary treatment.

It’s a lovely way to make the most of the fresh produce, a wonderful treat which is right at home with a cup of tea for company. The batter includes not only sour cream for its moistness but brown butter, which the French call beurre noisette, literally meaning hazelnut butter. It’s just butter though, taken slightly past the melting point so that the flavour intensifies into a lovely toasty nuttiness. You must keep your eye on it however as it’s a very fine line between brown butter and burnt butter and two very different flavours.

Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake

The juicy plums are halved and popped on top of the batter and then sprinkled with almonds and a dazzle of runny honey. During the bake the fruit will sink into little pockets of jam at the base of this cake but not so much as they compromise the structure. It’s still easy to slice and even easier to eat, or at least it would be if I could remember where I put the plates.

Print Recipe
Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake {gluten-free}
Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake is simple everyday gluten-free tea cake, nutty and moist with delicious pockets of sweet plums.
Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
16 squares
Ingredients
  • 175 g ground almonds
  • 175 g gluten-free plain flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g soft light brown sugar
  • 150 ml sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175 g unsalted butter
  • 8 plums halved and stones removed
  • 30 g flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoons honey I used lavender honey
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
16 squares
Ingredients
  • 175 g ground almonds
  • 175 g gluten-free plain flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g soft light brown sugar
  • 150 ml sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175 g unsalted butter
  • 8 plums halved and stones removed
  • 30 g flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoons honey I used lavender honey
Plum Brown Butter Almond Cake
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line and grease a 10” square baking tin.
  2. Whisk together the ground almonds, gluten-free flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and the sugars until fully mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract then place to one side.
  4. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat over a medium flame. The butter will melt. Listen carefully and the butter will start hissing and cracking and forming little brown bits at the bottom of the pan. You want to wait until the noises start to subside, the butter smells toasty and is turning a darker colour. Remove from the heat as soon as it’s ready so it doesn’t begin to burn.
  5. Pour the brown butter in a slow and steady stream into the sour cream and egg mixture, whisking in all the while so that it doesn’t start to cook the eggs.
  6. Once all the butter is incorporated, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix in together.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake tin, then arrange the plums on top, cut side up. Drizzle over the honey and scatter the almond flakes over evenly.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the top is lovely and golden.

Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour

Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour

Welcome to the third instalment of my series on Gluten-Free Flours. This one is all about Sweet Rice Flour which also goes by its alternative name ‘glutinous rice flour’. It contains no gluten but its nickname gives you an indication of the kind of role this flour will play in your cake. This is my favourite gluten-free flour and the one I use most often.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

We’re now full steam ahead on our series on Gluten-Free Flours. So far we have discussed how to get started in gluten-free baking, how we can best use the ready-made gluten-free flour blends and then how to move away from them to create light and fluffy gluten-free cakes. We’ve also talked in depth about nut flours, how to grind our own and how to use them to covert a cake recipe to be gluten-free. In this third chapter in our series we are going to be casting our net a little wider and looking at a flour that isn’t well-known at all in western baking and I doubt you will already have in your larder. However if you are gluten-free or want to bake for friends and family that are gluten-free then this is a flour you are definitely going to want to get to know.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

Today we’re investigating sweet rice flour. Until I started gluten-free baking I’m not sure I had ever heard of this flour, it’s certainly not the easiest to get a hold of, but now I find it completely indispensible in both my baking and my gluten-free cooking.

Sweet Rice Flour vs. White Rice Flour

The first thing to note is that this very fine and powdery flour is a totally different ingredient to regular ‘white rice flour’ which you can happily buy at most large supermarkets these days in the gluten-free aisle. The two products unfortunately are not interchangeable as they play completely different roles in our baking.

Sticky vs Long Grain Rice

In fact I would almost say that white rice flour and sweet rice flour are complete opposites. Whereas you might choose to use white rice flour to give lightness and crunch in a recipe, it is commonly used in shortbread for that very purpose. Sweet rice flour, which is ground from short grain glutinous ‘sticky’ rice is just that, soft and sticky. In fact short grain glutinous rice is the same rice that sushi is made from, so you get the picture, it likes to bind together.

Mochi Ice Cream

Sweet rice flour can usually be found in Asian baking. The most familiar of the Asian sweets, mochi, is made from sweet rice flour and if you have ever tasted delicious treats like mochi ice cream then you are in for a good idea of the taste and effect sweet rice flour can have in our gluten-free cakes.

The best reason for using sweet rice flour in baking is its binding properties. When we remove gluten from our cakes we are removing the essential component needed for gluing our cake together. During the bake gluten swells, forming an intricate network of gluten strands which provide cakes with their elasticity. This is what gives delicious sponge cakes their bounciness and prevents dry crumbly cakes.

Sweet rice flour has a high starch content which enables the proteins in the flour to glue together. If you have tasted mochi you will know that it has a discernable chewiness. If we harness this chewiness in the right way then we can use the sweet rice flour to mimic the elasticity of the gluten and make our gluten-free cakes incredibly soft and moist.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

So sweet rice flour will give our baking excellent binding, moistness and a distinctive sweet taste. What could go wrong?

Basically for all the reasons that sweet rice flour is an excellent alternative flour are also the reasons that you really don’t want to go overboard in its usage. The moisture that sweet rice flour gives our bakes needs to be kept in check lest your cake loses its sponginess and just becomes really wet and chewy. I spent ages over this Pumpkin Bread trying to get the right texture, I started off with far too much sweet rice flour and kept pulling back until the flour did its job without overwhelming the cake. The texture of this cake is now perfect and its addictiveness is all thanks to the genius of sweet rice flour.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.

The wonderfully distinctive sweet taste of sweet rice flour which is delicious in moderation can suddenly overwhelm a cake if used in excess and if you’re not judicious in its usage you’ll soon find all your cakes taste the same whether they are pumpkin, vanilla or banana.

How much sweet rice flour should you use?

I soon learnt that to gain all the benefits of sweet rice flour you can’t rely on this flour alone in your cakes and you need to blend it with other gluten-free flours to achieve perfect gluten-free cakes. Sweet rice flour is usually the main flour I use in any of my gluten-free flour blends but I try not to use more than about 40% in the overall blend for light and fluffy results that don’t taste overwhelmingly of sweet rice flour.

In the forthcoming weeks we’ll be discussing which flours to blend with the sweet rice flour for the different kinds of cakes we want to make.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

Aside from being the main flour in my homemade gluten-free flour blend, the recipe for which I will be sharing in a future post, sweet rice flour is the most hard-working flour in my kitchen. I remember writing in this blog about 18 months ago that the one thing gluten-free flours can’t fix are my gravies. There appeared to be no substitute for regular wheat flour in my roux. I am here to confide that I was completely wrong. I now make a delicious gravy with my Sunday roast beef simply by substituting regular flour for sweet rice flour. Sweet rice flour has a quality that stops liquids for separating so is a wonderful thickener for gravies and sauces without being gritty or grainy or having an overwhelming taste. Also try it in your white sauces or anything you use a roux for including béchamel and gumbo. This flour has really revolutionised my gluten-free cooking.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

The one final note on sweet rice flour is that if you add acidity to sweet rice flour it exacerbates the thickening qualities of the flour. So be wary of adding too much lemon juice, buttermilk or other acids if you are using a large quantity of sweet rice flour in your recipe.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

Where to buy sweet rice flour?

It’s possible to buy sweet rice flour from good Asian supermarkets so do pick up a bag the next time you are in Chinatown. However, I buy my sweet rice flour from Amazon. It’s excellent quality and good value.

Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand but it’s terribly expensive to buy in the UK and I stick to Flck Glutinous Rice Flour 454Gm and buy in bulk which is really economical, via Amazon you can buy about 5kg for £15. Lots of these brands of sweet rice flour (including this one) might not be processed in a gluten-free environment so if you are baking for someone who is highly sensitive or coeliac then do check the labels.

The image above is an affiliate link so if you decide to buy your sweet rice flour using the link then I will get a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you. It just goes a little way to paying for my blog expenses.

Next time in Gluten-Free Flours: The Blog Series I will be looking at the more well known white rice flour which is a lot easier to come by in our supermarkets and also a very versatile gluten-free flour.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

This is the Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread which takes about 10 minutes to get into the oven and delivers the most deliciously moist and flavourful cake.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

This isn’t called the Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread for nothing. It’s a cinch. I also have to admit it’s a complete bonus recipe as I really didn’t intend on this being the next post but it was just so darn tasty I couldn’t not publish it.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

This recipe was intended for me only, just to prove to myself how easy it is to convert a simple loaf cake into a gluten-free version just using half ground almonds and half plain gluten-free flour instead of the wheat flour. After all I said as much in my last post in the Gluten-Free Flours series about nut flours. I typed in banana bread and went right to the top of the Google chain and proceeded to adapt the banana bread that had the most positive reviews and the least ingredients.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Luckily I had the requisite amount of bananas in which were the correct amount of being past their best in the fruit bowl and turned out a banana bread within 40 minutes of planning to bake one. It was fine, but a little bit flat looking. I do like my loaf cakes to tower so it wasn’t a perfect looking banana bread but I left it on the dining table to let it cool before tasting.

It was the last I saw of the banana bread.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Well, I exaggerate a little, Billy Buddy graciously left me a neat little corner that he couldn’t quite manage. Totally my fault for leaving the chair not tucked into the table so he had perfect leverage for leaping and the poor thing looked sick as a parrots so I could hardly be grumpy at him. I ate the little crumb he left me and immediately hot footed it to Sainsburys to buy more bananas. This was a banana bread worth doing properly and serving up to Luke without being dog chewed.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

This time I adapted the recipe slightly and basically doubled the ingredients so the cake would be a more gracious height, changed the sugar to brown sugar for extra flavour and amended the amount of bananas as my original banana bread sank a little, probably due to the enormity of the bananas I was using.

This new and improved banana bread takes the same amount of time to weigh out and mix up, about 10 minutes, but a little longer in the oven due the larger loaf. It’s astoundingly good though. The ground almonds help add moisture without tasting too nutty and also take the edge off the plain gluten-free flour which alone would have made the banana bread quite dry and lifeless.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

This kind of banana bread is a baking staple. You need one of these in your back pocket for breakfasts, slathered in butter, afternoon tea with a lovely cuppa and something to offer an unexpected guest. I’m so pleased I did this little test as now I have my go-to banana bread and the one against which every banana bread from now will be measured against.

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Print Recipe
Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread
This is the Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread which takes about 10 minutes to get into the oven and delivers the most deliciously moist and flavourful cake.
Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 70 minutes
Servings
10-12 people
Ingredients
  • 4 large bananas about 500g without skins
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 150 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 g melted butter
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 200 g gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 70 minutes
Servings
10-12 people
Ingredients
  • 4 large bananas about 500g without skins
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 150 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 g melted butter
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 200 g gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line a grease a 9 inch loaf tin.
  2. Mash the bananas then pour them into a large bowl or food mixer along with the sugar, eggs and melted butter. Mix the ingredients well.
  3. In another bowl combine the ground almonds, gluten-free flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt then add them into the wet ingredients and mix together.
  4. Pour the banana batter in the loaf tin and bake for 70-80 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the loaf tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes

The Definitive Guide To Gluten-Free Flours

Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}

This Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is beautifully moist, rich with extra chocolate and hazelnuts and completely grain-free.

Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}

I was so proud on how kind I’ve been to my body lately by totally removing gluten from my life which I had been completely failing to do since Cole was born nearly a year ago (eek!), so I thought it was cause to celebrate with a totally delicious, decadently rich Chocolate Hazelnut Cake which is both gluten and grain-free. However, it is sugar-full so let’s not pretend I’m being some sort of a martyr here.

Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}

I’m trying to develop more gluten-free recipes for my cake stall at the moment as since that is where my heart lies it seems only natural to explore that baking arena.

There are only a handful of gluten-free bakes on this site as up until now I couldn’t really see the point. I don’t eat foods containing gluten on a daily basis but if I’m treating myself and am prepared to reap the consequences then I usually wouldn’t mind helping myself to a cheeky slice of wheat led banana bread or shortbread or maybe a scone or a bit of cheesecake. Ooh, how about a huge great slice of victoria sponge with jam and fresh cream and…evidently I could go on.

Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}

At the moment though I really want to see what cutting out gluten for the long term can do for me and how far I can take it. I’m feeling the best I’ve done since giving birth, my back problems, foot problems and general tiredness are at bay for now, I have even been attempting to get back into running and so living a gluten-free life will hopefully contribute to my well-being.

This Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is amazing and is a perfect weekend treat if you’re following a gluten-free existence or not. It is pretty much just chocolate and ground hazelnuts with just a touch of espresso to lift all that chocolate and nuts so it is luxurious and satisfying. If you don’t mind separating the eggs and whisking the whites to fold in at the end then it is a very simple batter to put together as well.

However I do like to soak the sponge, whilst warm, with a chocolate syrup. It isn’t wholly necessary but does add another layer of chocolatiness and added succulence to the crumb. A third layer of chocolatiness is then spooned on top in the form of a glossy and decadent chocolate glaze. If you can resist not helping yourself to the majority chocolate glaze with a large dessert spoon before it’s put on the cake then more power to you.

Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}

The final piece to the puzzle is the salted hazelnut praline scattered over the top of the cake. I can’t resist the crunch a good salty praline gives to the main event and can often be found throwing it hither and thither over most of my cakes at the stall. My cakes don’t tend to cater too well for nut allergists I’m afraid.

This cake doesn’t really need to be tagged with the Gluten-Free moniker as it should stand on its own without being solely classified in the ‘special diets’ category but for the sake of hoping as many people enjoy it as possible then I am proud to call it my celebratory Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. It’s pretty darn anygood.

Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}

Oh, and for the sake of trying stuff out I can also confirm that if you take a slice, warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave then drizzle some single cream over the top then that’s also an acceptable way to serve it.

Print Recipe
Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}
This Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is beautifully moist, rich with extra chocolate and hazelnuts and completely grain-free.
Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
12-14 people
Ingredients
For the cake
  • 200 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175 g golden caster sugar
  • 250 g ground hazelnuts
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 50 ml whole milk
For the chocolate soaking syrup
  • 50 g water
  • 45 g soft light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the hazelnut praline:
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 50 g roasted and skinned hazelnuts
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 150 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
12-14 people
Ingredients
For the cake
  • 200 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175 g golden caster sugar
  • 250 g ground hazelnuts
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 50 ml whole milk
For the chocolate soaking syrup
  • 50 g water
  • 45 g soft light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the hazelnut praline:
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 50 g roasted and skinned hazelnuts
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 150 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {gluten-free}
Instructions
The Cake
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line and grease a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or a bain marie then leave to cool slightly whilst you get on with the rest.
  3. Whisk up the egg whites in a food mixer or by hand until they hold a stiff peak and set aside.
  4. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and thick.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg and sugar mixture and beat in to combine thoroughly.
  6. Add the ground hazelnuts, cocoa powder, baking powder and espresso powder and mix well. Stir in the whole milk to slacken the mixture.
  7. With a metal spoon add a third of the egg whites into the batter gently folding it in until just combined then fold in the remaining whites.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 10 minutes then turn the oven up to 160°C and continue baking for around 35-40 minutes until firm to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and leave in the tin whilst you prepare the chocolate soaking syrup.
The Chocolate Soaking Syrup
  1. For the chocolate soaking syrup heat up the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has melted and it has reached a gentle boil. Whisk in the cocoa to dissolve then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  2. Poke holes in the surface of the cake with a cocktail stick, pour the syrup evenly over and let the cake cool in the cake tin before removing.
The Hazelnut Praline
  1. To make the hazelnut praline heat the caster sugar in a medium sized saucepan, without stirring, until it has all melted and is turning a golden brown. Add the sea salt then very quickly pour in the hazelnuts, turning into the melted sugar, then pour out onto baking parchment.
  2. Leave the praline for about 5 minutes until just cool enough to handle then pull the nuts apart so that the caramelised sugar is pulled into strands. Then roughly chop some of the hazelnuts. Leave to cool whilst you prepare the chocolate glaze.
The Chocolate Glaze
  1. To make the glaze mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat until it has all melted together and smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat then pour over the cake, allowing some of the glaze to drip down the sides.
  3. Sprinkle the whole nut praline and the chopped nuts onto the top of the cake. Leave for the glaze to set then serve.

If you would like more information on baking with nut flours then do visit my blog post all about… baking with nut flours, part of my Gluten-Free Flours series.

Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours