Sunrises, Birthdays and Cake

Saturday, 7 September 2013

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with birthdays galore.  First my husbands, then mine and numerous friends too.  When I told my husband that I wanted us to get up at 5:45 am on my birthday, get in our car and drive the ten minutes up to the North Downs, then take a walk which would lead us to the top of the downs where we could view the sunrise at 6:19 am... I wasn’t even sure I was really up for it.  After all, my birthday fell midweek.  I had taken the day off work, surely a lie in was called for.  As I was sleepily pulling on my jeans I still wasn’t convinced this was the smartest plan I’d ever had but my husband was awake, dressed and ready to go.  I couldn’t back out now.  Turns out, it will remain one of the happiest birthday memories yet.  Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.  The sun rises every morning but how much notice do we actually take?  I know I’m normally shoveling down my breakfast before work at that time with little thought of what is going on outside my window.  As the sun rose slowly in the east, (thank you Iphone compass) and moved across the downs we watched the ground under our feet slowly turn to gold.  It was just beautiful.

My husband’s birthday falls a few days before mine and I always do my best to make him a cake.  I’m not massively in to over sweet cakes full of cream and icing so he always gets a slightly healthier cake.  Don’t feel too sorry for him.  A lovely lady he works with always makes him a Victoria sponge so he doesn’t do too badly.  This time I adapted Phil Vickery’s Plum and Almond Cake.  Instead of the plums I used peaches and blackberries, which I think makes it a sort of summer meets autumn cake.  The sponge is made using a mixture of polenta and brown rice flour giving it a light and springy texture with moisture from the bursts of fruit and crunch from the almonds scattered on top.  Not a bad birthday cake in my opinion.

Recipe adapted from Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Baking by Phil Vickery
3 medium eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125g sugar (I used demerara)
100g brown rice flour
80g polenta
20g corn flour
1 tablespoon gluten free baking powder
125g unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons semi skimmed milk (I used rice milk)
350-400g fruit (I used a mixture of chopped up peaches and blackberries)
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar for sprinkling
125g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Line a 20cm loose based cake tin with baking parchment.  I only had a 23cm tin so my cake is a little more shallow.
In a bowl combine the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar.  Mix thoroughly until light.  Use an electric whisk if you have one.  I wish I did!
Sieve the flours, polenta and baking powder in to a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Fold the flours in to the egg mixture stirring lightly so you don’t lose all the air in the batter.  Stir in the melted butter and milk.  Do not over beat.
Put a layer of the batter in the base of the cake tin.  Scatter some peaches and blackberries over, then spoon in the rest of the cake batter.  Scatter the remaining peaches and blackberries across the top.  Sprinkle the almonds and the demerara sugar over the top.
Bake the cake for about 45 minutes until the fruit has begun to caramelise and a skewer inserted in to the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven.  Allow to cool in the tin slightly then gently remove the cake from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

His age, not mine ;)


  1. Yay! Happy birthday! My person and I also have our birthdays just days apart. Birthday week for the win!

    1. Thanks Eileen! Birthday weeks are the best. :)

  2. Happy birthday! I've always wanted to try polenta in a cake, I've heard it's really good and your cake looks so moist and delicious :-)

    1. Thanks Aimee, polenta is great in cakes, you should definitely give it a go!

  3. That looks so perfect caz! Soft, crumbly but moist at the same time; seriously, why will one miss the gluten in this cake?! I've been so far removed from baking these days, aside from flapjacks I don't do anything because I just can't be bothered! but guess what, my birthday is coming soon, and I;m thinking of baking my own cake (yes it's not crazy; and then I can even make it gluten-free and seasonal like what you've done with yours). This is one strong contender if I can get over my laziness!

    1. Baking is a lot of effort but now that the weather has become all grey it's the perfect excuse to put the oven on! Happy Birthday for soon, hooray for September birthdays :)

  4. Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOU LOVELY LADY! May good things come to you the rest of the year :)