GBBO Week 5: Caramel Apple Cake (Dairy + Refined Sugar FREE)

When I want an opinion on something I’ve made, I don’t ask my parents. Throughout four years of food tech GCSE and A-Level I learnt pretty quickly that they can’t be relied on for their honesty. Everything is “gorgeous”, “yummy”, “wonderful”- which isn’t really that helpful. No, when I want an opinion I ask my little brother, because he will tell me straight. And for this cake in particular I wanted an honest opinion, it being a “free from” creation. Free from refined added sugar, and dairy products. I wasn’t expecting a great review from the boy who I found sat on the working top eating lucky charms this morning. But here it is: ‘I thinks it’s nice. It’s better than regular cake.’. Let’s just clarify: that is high praise indeed from my surly seventeen year old sibling, and it meant I had the go ahead to share my recipe with all of you…
At first I though I would just make a refined sugar free cake. I like to watch my sugar intake, and although this cake does contain quite a bit of natural sugar, it is primarily coming from dates, apples, and honey. Considering I didn’t set out to make a healthy cake, it is much healthier than it could have been. Anyway, I definitely didn’t want to do gluten free: I feel like it’s overrated. There is a portion of the population who are coeliac, and I know that for these people eating gluten can cause extremely painful and sometimes embarrassing symptoms. But it seems to have become a health fad, when many of us can cope just fine with eating gluten. Gluten isn’t “man-made”, it’s naturally found in foods and gives baked products their structure. In many gluten free products manufacturers actually have to up the fat content to give the same structure you would find in a moist and delicious cake. So “gluten-free” shouldn’t be banded around as a term synonymous with being healthy. A gluten free pizza base doesn’t automatically make that pizza healthy and good for you- although if you are coeliac, or have been tested for and had it confirmed that you have an intolerance, then it is definitely the best option. If you think you are intolerant to gluten, for god’s sake just get tested before jumping on the band wagon.
But why dairy free? Well, in my first year of uni I met a girl who, for a while, I couldn’t figure out why she never ate out with us at the favourite local tearoom. I knew she was allergic to dairy, but I didn’t actually realise just how serious this allergy was. She had to use separate cooking equipment to everyone else in the flat, and check the labels even of drinks like lemonades. I learnt a lot about how serious an actual food allergy can be, especially through her blog: . And so, this recipe gave me a chance to play around with something I haven’t attempted before: dairy-free baking. Hannah, this one’s for you…
Ingredients (Serves 8-10)
  • 8oz self raising, wholemeal flour
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp ginger
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 large ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup runny honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2tsp vanilla essence, or the seeds of 1/2 a vanilla pod
  • 1/4 +1/8 cup dairy free milk (I used coconut rice milk from Alpro)
  • 8 pitted dates, finely chopped
  • 2 large apples, cored but peel left on
  • 1tbsp pure maple syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 200*c, or 190*c if you have a fan oven, and prep a 7 inch loose bottomed cake tin. Line the base of the tin with greaseproof paper, and grease the sides of the tin with a little sunflower or olive or coconut (if you’re fancy like that) oil. A dairy free cooking spray also works well (I used a sunflower oil based spray).
  2. Into a large bowl sieve together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. In a smaller bowl mash the avocado, and mash it well; you don’t want any lumps left. This replaces the butter and so we want it smooth and buttery. Stir this into the flour mixture until it looks like very fine and powdery breadcrumbs.
  4. To this add the honey, the egg, and the milk, then stir until well incorporated; the mixture should be similar to a scone batter. When you hold it up on the spoon it shouldn’t drop, but stick there.
  5. Chop one of the apples into chunks, and add to the batter. Throw the dates in there too, and then fold them in.
  6. Dollop the mixture into the tin and smooth it out until level. Now slice the remaining apple into thin slices and use it to decorate the top of the cake. Take the maple syrup and a pastry brush; carefully brush the maple syrup over the apple, and then the remaining surface of the cake. Sprinkle on a little more cinnamon.
  7. Place into the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If you leave the cake in the oven past 30 minutes then cover it with foil to prevent it colouring too much (this is what I did for the last ten minutes).
  8. Serve hot or cold with a dollop of dairy free ice cream…
So there we go! I hope that you enjoy this amazingly moist and gooey caramel apple cake. And that I may just have convinced you that dairy free baking can be pretty damn delicious.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s