Can gluten-free be as good as the 'real thing'?

I am not generally impressed by the range of gluten-free products which are available at supermarkets - they often contain a long list of questionable ingredients and can sometimes taste a bit like cardboard...

Having followed a gluten-free diet myself, I am aware of the challenges and difficulties that can be faced by people on GF diets, especially when eating out.  Althought things are slowly improving with major chains starting to catch on, it can still be hard to find tasty baked goods.

If you are following a gluten-free diet, it is worth taking the time to make your own treats and baked goods so that you don't feel deprived when the rest of the family is tucking in!

Chances are they will be all too happy to share your GF goodies...

I am constantly on the look out for tasty and delicious recipes that taste at least as good as (or better than!) the real thing - and then 'road-test' them on willing 'guinea-pigs' who do not follow a gluten free diet - if they pass the test with flying colours, then they enter my hall of fame for GF recipes.

I believe that healty eating should always follow the 80:20 rule - and should include a few 'healthy' treats now and then - often recipes that are traditionally more unhealthy can be 'tweaked' and still taste as good as the original.

The one below is an absolute winner - I grew up in Dorset, home of the famous 'Dorset Apple Cake' which was a real favourite...as an apple cake conoisseiur, I can confirm that it most definitely passes the test....

Apples are a good source of soluble fibre in the form of pectin which can help to stabilise blood sugar levels.  They also contain antioxidants, phytochemicals and minerals such as potassium.

Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that serves to protect cells against damaging free radicals and support immune function.  They contain several key minerals for bone health, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Note: We found it was even better the day after baking if wrapped and kept in an airtight container.  Don't worry if you can't acheive the cinnamon 'swirl' - it will still taste great even if it mixes into the cake....

Gluten-free Apple Spice Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

21/2 cups (275g) ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (55g)  coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey, liquified (or to taste)
3 large organic, free-range eggs, room temperature
1/2 pound apples (500g approx) peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped - About 2-3 apples
1 dessertspoon lemon juice

For the cinnamon swirl:

1 dessertspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 dessertspoon coconut oil, melted
1-2 dessertspoons honey or maple syrup

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 / Gas mark 4.
2. Place a round piece of parchment paper at the bottom of a round cake pan, then lightly oil all sides with a little coconut oil.
3. Mix together the apples and lemon juice. Set aside.
4. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium sized bowl.
5. Mix the coconut oil, eggs, honey, and vanilla in another small bowl, then incorporate the wet into the dry ingredients.
6. Fold in the apple mixture, then spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Use a spatula to spread it into an even layer. The batter will be fairly thick.
7. Mix the cinnamon swirl ingredients in a small bowl, then drizzle around the cake. Use a toothpick or a skewer to drag the mixture around and make swirly patterns in the batter.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean (it may take longer depending on your oven).
9. Cool on a wire rack, then use a knife to loosen the sides from the pan. Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the parchment paper.
10. Flip the cake so it’s right-side-up, and continue cooling either on the rack or by placing in the fridge.
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for 1-2 days....(if it lasts that long...)

Recipe courtesy of: www.AgainstAllGrain.com