Wheat free, gluten free, egg free, nut free, soya free (optional: dairy free)
I RECENTLY posted about our fab stay at Higher Lank Farm, where the lovely Lucy became the first person outside our immediate family to cook for Sidney. Among the treats were her fruity fairy cakes – little sponge revelations where spoonfuls of stewed apple or apricot replaced egg.
I wish I’d had this recipe months ago. It’s so easy – barely more than half an hour from start to finish – and even the non-allergics love them.
When Lucy appeared with a pile of mini apple ones during our welcome ‘high tea’, Sidney wolfed down five. They keep brilliantly in the freezer, defrosting in just half an hour if you need them in a hurry. They’re delicious plain, or iced with a glacé cherry topping, or decorated with a thick layer of lemon buttercream and sprinkles.
Even better, Sid was able to help Mum make a batch of them last week and immensely proud of his efforts he was, too: it’s heart-warming to see him baking. I so want him to take delight in food and not (always) view it with fear.
The only tweak I’ve made here is to omit Lucy’s inclusion of xantham gum. For some reason my early efforts resulted in horribly chewing gum-textured cakes (whereas hers were fluffy and light) and there seems to be no downside to leaving it out. In any case, xantham is already in the Dove’s Farm flour blend.
4oz caster sugar (I use Billington’s unrefined)
4oz Dove’s Farm gluten free white self raising flour
4oz unsalted butter or Pure Dairy Free Sunflower Spread
1tspn baking powder (try Barkat)
2 heaped tablespooons of either stewed apple or stewed apricot
The juice of one lemon if using the apricot recipe
Peel and chop the fruit and stew without water, constantly stirring, until softened to a pulp. Mash well.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Ideally, use a food processor to really whizz it up – not enough mixing can lead to a ‘granular’ sugary texture.
Add in the sieved flour and baking powder, and two heaped tablespoons of the fruit. Add the lemon juice for the apricot cakes. A tiny touch of milk for the apple cakes can also help, but isn’t vital.
Whizz the lot in a food processor until smooth. Using an ice cream scoop or a dessert spoon plop the mixture into little fairy cake cases in a baking tray (these ingredients will get you around 12 cakes) and cook in a non fan oven on 180.
Bake until golden brown, which depending on your oven can take anything from 15 to 25 minutes. Don’t ask me why, but if I ever try to double this recipe and batch bake more the cakes sink – yet when I stick to the amounts here and bake 12 at a time, they come out perfectly. I read somewhere once that doubling up gluten free baking recipes isn’t straightforward so maybe there’s something in it.
For plain icing I mix Tate & Lyle or Whitworths superfine with water (most other brands contain an ‘egg trace’ warning) while I followed this lemon buttercream recipe to dress the apricot cakes and added Dr Oetker sugar strands, which are wheat, nut and egg free.