Proper Gluten Free Chocolate & Coffee Cake

My friend dave has been a little inspiration to us. A qualified doctor who was both frustrated and tired of the NHS has taken a major sabbatical. He moved out of his home (into our top floor), sold his furniture and decided to take stock on life. He indulged his coffee obsession by painstakingly learning how to perfect a flat white at a local coffee house. He watched movies about coffee. He started to make friends with serious barrista's. He read books on coffee and created recipes with coffee. 

This is his cake. 

For now, he's left us and gone to explore another culture. I admire his bravery and the space he gives his mind to wonder, I should like to do the same. 

Flourless Chocolate & Coffee Cake

200g Almonds
200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
175g butter 
70g caster sugar
4 eggs, separated 
25ml very strong espresso 

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.

Blitz the almonds in a food processor until just finely ground – don’t over-pulse as they will start to become sticky.
Melt the dark chocolate and butter together with the espresso in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until thick and pale – about 5 minutes with a handheld electric whisk.
Fold the chocolate mixture in to the egg and sugar mixture and then fold in the ground nuts.
In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites in to stiff peaks and then fold this in to the cake mixture.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. If you prefer a gooey chocolate pudding then remove 5 minutes beforehand for a slightly undercooked feel.


Rooftop Cafe, London Bridge

There is something satisfying about simply finding the Rooftop Cafe. You enter through a rather unlikely forecourt, make your way up winding stairs and follow skinny corridors until the entrance arrives.  The former caretaker's office now houses an open kitchen, two separate dining area's and a phenomenal view. The interior is all plywood, citrus colours and benches with a terrace that houses herbs and vegetables in warmer months; it's fun. 

The menu changes daily with just four starters, five mains and four puddings. Like the interior, it's similarly stripped back. The breakfasts are generous and unfussy, the coffee is good and the bill isn't terrifying. 

For me, it's ideal. It's practically on the forecourt of London Bridge Station and so an easy one for a Brighton/London meet up, just over an hour from door to forecourt so there's no excuse not to. Even with a baby in tow. 



Sticky Date & Banana Cake (Sugar Free & Dairy Free)

I’ve been set a challenge, a challenging challenge, but I will tell you about that in one moment. Before I do, did you know that now one in four of us are actively trying to avoid gluten and/or dairy? A few years ago the ‘dairy free’ aisle was the domain only of those diagnosed medically as lactose intolerant, but now many are indulging in the perceived health benefits. 

A friend who is lactose intolerant asked me to develop a cake that was dairy-free and sugar-free but wasn’t dry, wasn’t tasteless and didn’t ‘lack luster’. The task has been completed and I think the result is totally yummy. The loaf cake uses date syrup for the sugar hit (though you can replace with agave syrup), almond milk instead of eggs and all bran for a low gluten count. The method couldn’t be easier, the texture is squidgy and the taste, almost treacle like. Try it and let me know what you think.

(Sugar free, gluten free and dairy free)

Makes 1 loaf cake

150g All Bran
2 ripe banana’s (200g), mashed
300ml almond milk
200ml date syrup (or agave)
200g dried dates, roughly chopped
100g gluten free flour

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin and set aside.
2/ This is the easy bit. Empty all the ingredients, except the flour, into a medium sized mixing bowl. Gently combine and allow to sit for 20 minutes.
3/ Stir through the flour and empty the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Serve in slices.