Many years ago my family owned and ran a little coffee shop. It was situated in a leafy suburb of Melbourne amongst a variety of other shops that, together, created a friendly little village; it was a nice break from today’s massive shopping centres/malls. The focus of the menu was homemade food such as bread baked onsite, generously-sized scones served with King Island double cream, and of course good coffee. My mum made some delicious cakes including a flourless chocolate and Lumberjack, but I think my favourite was the Country Apple Cake.
The Country Apple Cake was similar to many recipes for German Apple Cake and Coffee Cake that I have seen. The cake batter was rich and moist with sour cream and layered with thinly sliced tart apple. There was a streusel topping with flaked almonds and a gentle spicing of cinnamon. It was a delicious cake eaten both warm and cold, especially served with a dollop of that King Island cream. I can almost smell it now…
I guess it doesn’t need to be said that it’s been a while since I have made or eaten any kind of apple cake. Their high fructose and sorbitol content certainly rules out apples from a low FODMAP diet. But just the other day I came across a hand-written recipe for our Country Apple Cake that has got me recreating a low FODMAP version.
There is no other fruit that can ever truly replace apples, but I have gone with a combination of rhubarb and strawberries. The rhubarb provides that sharp edge of the tart apples, and the strawberries add just enough fruitiness.
For the cake batter I have used a combination of gluten free flours, including almond meal which helps keep it moist. Instead of sour cream there is lactose free plain yoghurt; if lactose is not a problem for you then you could stick with sour cream or try buttermilk.
I wanted to show you the way I line the base of a springform tin. I don’t bother with drawing circles or cutting anything out. I simply lay a sheet of baking paper over the base of the tin then secure the side on, leaving the excess paper hanging out. I grease the side of the tin by rubbing a little cold butter over it. When it comes time to transferring the cake to a serving plate, I simply pull the paper over the edge and then under the base of the tin, allowing the cake to slide onto the plate.
Just like the Country Apple cake, I layered the cake batter and fruit before topping them off with the streusel topping and flaked almonds. Now, I’m not about to pretend that this is a quick-mix cake. This is more the sort of cake you bake when you have time to potter in the kitchen and then something to occupy yourself at home while your cake slowly bakes in the oven. But, as with so many good things in life, your patience will be rewarded.
Perhaps you will have time this Easter to enjoy some slow cooking in your kitchen.
We will be whisking away with this cake down the beach for some R&R. I hope your Easter is filled with much love and laughter with family and friends, just a little chocolate, and an abundance of Easter peace.
1 (220g) cup raw castor sugar
1 ¼ cups (200g) brown rice flour
⅔ cup (85g) almond meal
⅓ cup (45g) tapioca starch (or corn flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
300g plain yoghurt, lactose free if required
350g rhubarb, washed and trimmed
250g strawberries, washed and hulled
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ (20g) cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup (45g) brown sugar
½ cup (50g) flaked almonds
Grease and line a 24cm springform cake tin. Preheat oven to 135°C/275°F.
Make the flour mix: Combine the rice flour, almond meal and tapioca starch. Blend well with a whisk so that there are no lumps of almond meal. Remove ¼ cup of the mix for the streusel topping. Add the baking powder to the remaining flour mix and stir well.
Make the streusel topping: Place the ¼ cup flour mix, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, coconut, brown sugar and 50g of the butter in a bowl. Rub everything together with your fingers until evenly combined; it will be like a firm paste. Press into a small disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to become firm.
Prepare the fruit: Slice rhubarb into ½ – 1cm pieces. Slice strawberries into ½ cm pieces. Combine the rhubarb and strawberries with ¼ cup of the castor sugar and the remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon; stir well and set aside.
Make cake batter: Use an electric mixer or beater to cream the remaining 200g of butter with the last ¾ cup sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until combined; don’t worry if the mix looks a bit curdled at this stage. Fold in half the flour mix and half the yoghurt with a spatula. Repeat with remaining flour mix and yoghurt to make a smooth batter.
Assembly: Spread ⅓ of the cake batter over the base of the prepared cake tin. Scatter half the fruit on top. Spread another ⅓ of the cake batter over the fruit, and top with the remaining fruit, leaving any juices that have come out of the fruit behind in the bowl. Spread the remaining cake batter on top. Grate the chilled streusel topping coarsely and scatter over the cake. Finally, sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Place on a baking sheet for easy handling.
Bake the cake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cover with foil if the top appears to be browning too much. Cool in tin for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the side of the tin before removing.
Serve warm or cold with yoghurt, cream or ice-cream.