Up until a few weeks ago, I would have thought a cake made with neither butter nor eggs probably wasn’t worth eating. After all they’re fairly major ingredients in most cake recipes. But, since I started making more vegan meals, I’ve been looking at recipes for dairy and egg free cakes. At first this was mainly out of curiosity, to see what could possibly replace the richness of butter and produce the airy, spongy texture of a cake with eggs. Many of the recipes seem to involve large amounts of vegan margarine in place of butter, and xanthan gum to give a good texture. But flicking through the pages of one of my favourite cookbooks at the moment – Levant by Anissa Helou, the recipe for Yellow Cake looked promising. The cake can be made with either olive oil or butter and involves no eggs at all. With no need for any substitution of ingredients, this was the recipe I’d been searching for. It’s traditionally flavoured with turmeric, and tastes very good this way. But after trying it in the original form, I wanted to see how other flavours would work with the basic mix.
A favourite cake ingredient here, with the children at least, is glace cherries. Now, before anyone tuts and shakes their head at the idea of using such a highly processed, sticky and sugary ingredient… have a read of Urvashi’s post which beautifully describes the production and history of glace cherries. Then, if you’re inspired to research some more, French glace cherries even have their own website – I especially liked the history section, it’s good to know the story behind the foods that we eat.
So yes, I added sweet, sticky glace cherries to the mix, but then cut down on the amount of sugar and added some lime zest to keep it from getting too sweet and sticky. Baked as a loaf and doused with lime syrup while it’s still warm, this cake is a good accompaniment to a strong cup of coffee. According to the original recipe, it keeps for up to a week in an airtight container. Unfortunately, I can’t vouch of this as we’ve yet to have one last more than a couple of days…
The lime in this cake means that it should qualify for this month’s One Ingredient Challenge. The challenge is jointly hosted by Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Nazima from Franglais Kitchen. And if, like me, you love using lime to add flavour to your cooking, have a look at Laura’s blog for this month’s ideas.
I’m also going to sneak this cake into February’s Family Foodies. Louisa is hosting this month on behalf of herself and Vanesther, and has chosen the theme of love. Now, glace cherries might not be to everyone’s taste, but I use them in this cake because my kids really like the sweet taste – you could say this is to keep them happy and try to ensure a quiet life, but I like to think it’s because I love them!
Cherry & lime cake
250g plain flour
125g fine semolina
1 tsp baking powder
75ml extra virgin olive oil
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
100g glace cherries, halved
200g plus 3 tbsp golden caster sugar
20g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 180oC, 350F, gas 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the semolina and baking powder and stir to mix. Pour in the olive oil, stirring again to distribute the oil through the flour.
Stir in the lime zest, cherries and 200g of sugar. Then add the water and combine all the ingredients to form a fairly stiff batter.
Spoon the cake mix into the prepared loaf tin and top it with the flaked almonds. Bake for about 1 hour in a preheated oven – use a skewer to test the cake… when it comes out clean the cake is ready.
Towards the end of the cooking time, heat the lime juice and remaining 3 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Keep this lime syrup to one side until the cake is out of the oven.
As soon as the cake is cooked and out of the oven, use a skewer to poke holes all over the top of it. Spoon the still warm lime syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer it (still in the parchment) to a wire rack to finish cooling.