Michelle Darmody: Wheat free - but you would not know it

When baking for someone who has an allergy or who does not eat certain ingredients I often think it is better to find a recipe that is intended to be made without that ingredient.

Michelle Darmody: Wheat free - but you would not know it

When baking for someone who has an allergy or who does not eat certain ingredients I often think it is better to find a recipe that is intended to be made without that ingredient.

Whether it be without wheat, eggs or dairy I like to discover recipes from around the world that were created without these ingredients in the first place. Using substitute ingredients is of course very possible, there are plenty of plant based butter-like spreads or wheat-free flours that work very well.

There are instances of cakes that use ground almonds in place of flour and eggs as a raising agent. This combination makes for a lovely dense, yet crumbly cake and there are many variations.

Cakes like this are served in countries such as Sicily and Tunisia, parts of the world where almonds are more plentiful and hens often roam in gardens and on farms. The soft, bouncy chocolate traybake is an example of such a cake.

There are almonds as the base and I have added hazelnuts for texture and flavour.

By whisking the egg whites into stiff peaks, and then very gently folding them in you add air and a lovely lightness to the finished result. If you can not get unwaxed oranges for the Orange Cake it would be advisable to wash the oranges and rub them with a clean tea towel to remove any wax. You will be boiling the orange and using it whole, skin and all, so having the coating of wax on it is not ideal.

Boiled Orange Cake with a Sticky Orange Top

For the cake batter:

- 2 medium oranges, preferably unwaxed

- 210g golden caster sugar

- 1tbsp honey

- Half tsp of ground cinnamon

- Half tsp of ground cardamom

- Six eggs, separated

- 300g ground almonds

For the sticky orange layer:

- 2 small soft unwaxed oranges, sliced and pips removed

- 6tbs of warm water

- 120g of golden caster sugar

- 4.5tbs of melted butter

- Half tsp of sea salt

Put the oranges for the cake in a small pan and cover with water, do not worry if they bob to the top. Cover the pan with a lid and bring the water to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about an hour until they are completely soft. Drain and allow to cool until you can handle them. Slice them open and remove the pips.

Blitz the oranges into a puree. Heat the oven to 180C and butter a 9in round loose-base or springform tin. Beat together the egg yolks, sugar, honey and spices until the mixture starts to become pale. Fold in the almonds and then the puree until everything is combined. Set aside.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the batter. To make the sticky orange layer place the water and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Allow to gently bubble until it turns a rich golden colour. Stir in the butter and salt. Pour the caramel into the waiting cake tin and lay the sliced oranges on top. Scoop the cake batter on top of the oranges and smooth the top. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Once the tin is cool enough to handle run a knife around the sides of the tin. Gently invert the cake onto a large plate. The sticky orange layer might still be hot so care is needed. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Wheat-free Chocolate Hazelnut Traybake

For the cake:

- 400g of dark chocolate, broken into small even pieces

- 25g of cocoa powder

- 250g of soft butter

- 220g of golden caster sugar

- 140g of ground almonds

- 50g of hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

- 6 large eggs, separated

For the topping

- 100ml of cream

- 100g of dark chocolate, broken into small even pieces

- 10g of butter

- a handful of chopped hazelnuts, optional

Heat the oven to 180C and line an 8in by 11in baking tray with parchment.

Melt the chocolate, cocoa, butter and sugar together in a heavy based saucepan, over a low heat. Once they are melted and dissolved together remove from the heat and stir in the ground almonds. Allow to cool for a minute and stir in the egg yolks, one at a time.

Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. Stir a spoonful of the egg white into the chocolate first then fold the rest in gently. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tray and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is set and the centre has just about stopped wobbling. Allow to cool in the tin.

To make the chocolate icing heat the cream until shivering and stir in the chocolate chips until melted, stir in the butter.

Allow to cool slightly

Slice up the traybake and drizzle with the icing, sprinkle with some more hazelnuts if you are using them.

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