This is a gluten-free version of a recipe which I first developed as a young adult in my mum's kitchen. Sadly, it has been forgotten or overlooked more recently, as I would have last made it more than 5 years ago! I can't believe it has taken me this long to look at the recipe again, because by it's design, it screams 'make me gluten-free'. Personally, I have been almost completely gluten-free by choice for about 2 years now, for reasons I won't get into too much detail about here. Mostly, it's because I feel better for it, but also because there is enough science linking gluten, and other properties of modern grains (wheat in particular) to negative health effects including autoimmune disease. Owing to the high incidence of autoimmune conditions in my family, and the symptoms I noticed after eliminating gluten from my diet for several weeks and then re-introducing it in a controlled way or 'challenging' my body, I have made the choice, like many others, to be gluten-free.
One of the star ingredients in this cake from a functional (and also nutritional) perspective is golden flaxseeds. These little babies are not only packed with healthy omega-3 fats, but owing to their gelling property contributed by their soluble dietary fibre component, are a very useful ingredient in gluten-free baking. Gluten-free cakes, if not formulated properly, can be dry and crumbly and may not rise as well. In conventional baking, the gluten in wheat flour functions to trap carbon dioxide produced by rising agents (baking powder and bicarb soda) which help the cake to rise. In this recipe, the soluble fibre in flaxseeds (or chia seeds will work too) take over this role and do quite a good job of it. This is the reason why it was so easy to swap out the wholemeal spelt flour in my original recipe for freshly ground almonds and a little tapioca flour. That's all I did. No need to add an egg either, which is usually a good tip to help with binding. The flaxseeds handle this role too!
What I really love about this recipe is that it is effectively a wholefood cake! There are no added fats and oils or sweeteners of any kind! The healthy fats are contributed by the flaxseeds, coconut and yoghurt, and of course the sweetness is contributed by the all the dates (yes there's quite a few). This cake is not overly sweet though and perfect for the level of sweetness my family is accustomed to, but if you feel the need, you can jack up the level slightly by adding a little stevia liquid or powder. Dates, especially fresh medjool dates, are one of my favourite ingredients for making raw, wholefood sweet treats. They are so versatile and packed full of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and health-promoting phytonutrients. You'll find some of my raw treat recipes featuring dates over at my Thermomix blog Mixing it Up HK. Just remember, that as the word 'treat' should imply, moderation is key!
The original recipe suited baking in a small ring pan, so I decided to increase the recipe by 50 percent so it could be baked in my bundt pan. If you adore the flavour of dates and coconut you'll adore the combination with vanilla in this cake. It's lovely and moist and is also gorgeous served warm as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream or coconut yoghurt (or cream) in keeping with the dairy-free theme. It would be dreamy with a drizzle of vegan caramel sauce too! I would love to hear what you think of it!
what you'll need:
370g dried dates
280ml filtered water
100g raw almonds
130g golden flaxseeds
1/4 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
300g coconut yoghurt (or natural yoghurt), vanilla flavoured works well
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla bean powder)
130g dessicated coconut
60g tapioca flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarb soda
how to make it:
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C and grease your bundt pan. Finely dice or chop the dates with kitchen scissors and place in a medium glass bowl or jug. Pour over the boiling water and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, grind the almonds and flaxseeds into a fine meal using a coffee grinder in stages or a powerful food processor. Add yoghurt, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder, bicarb soda and date mixture to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Fold through the ground almonds and flaxseeds, tapioca flour and dessicated coconut. The mixture will be thick and viscous. Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan and allow to rest for a few minutes. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Slice and serve as is or as per the more indulgent suggestions above!
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees C and grease your bundt pan.
- Place a medium glass or ceramic bowl on top of the Thermomix, zero the scales and weigh in the whole dates and boiling water. Set aside for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, grind the almonds and flaxseeds into a fine meal on speed 9 for 10-15 seconds. Don't over grind or the natural oils will begin to release and you'll start to make nut butter! Decant and set aside in a separate bowl to the date mixture.
- Add the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla, salt, baking powder, bicarb soda and date mixture to the TM bowl and combine on speed 7 for 10 seconds.
- Add the ground almonds and flaxseeds, tapioca flour and dessicated coconut to the TM bowl. Combine well on speed 6 with the aid of the spatula if needed. The mixture will be very thick and viscous. Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan and allow to rest for a few minutes.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Slice and serve as is or as per the more indulgent suggestions above!