Vanilla Raspberry Gluten-free Coffee Cake

Two ingredients landed in my kitchen this week: Arnel’s all-purpose flour and a huge carton of organic raspberries (which were on sale in Pavillions. As many of you know, I’m not averse to an afternoon treat with my green tea, however, I never food that makes me feel bad (too much sugar, gluten and/or white flour), so I thought I’d have a go at making a gluten-free coffee cake that is either perfect with your mid-morning latte or afternoon treat – and way more healthy than one of those whacking scones, pastries of muffins that you’ll find at the coffee shop. The cake came out perfectly: light and slightly moist – also not too sweet. A huge thumb’s up for Arnel’s Flour. I’m going to try her buckwheat bread mix next and will keep you posted…

BTW – if you want a bigger/higher cake, you can double the ingredients and still fit it in a regular size loaf tin.

1/2 cup Earth Balance Margarine (I used the coconut one, which I love), softened

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup Arnel’s all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla essence

1 cup fresh raspberries


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer, cream the margarine and the syrup. Slowly add the egg, while mixing. Remove bowl from stand and mix in the dry ingredients. Finally, carefully fold in the raspberries.

Spoon into a greased loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


As many of you know I’m a tea addict and aside from drinking it, I love to cook with it, particularly in cakes in cookies. This is a wonderfully rich tea cake, that you and your family will go nuts over. I made a couple of loaves because it not only freezes well, but is also delicious if you toast it when it’s a little stale – toasted and slathered with lashings of butter!

It’s also the perfect time of year to get stock up your freezer with Holiday goodies for when your guests arrive.

Mum and I made a couple of loaves when she was visiting this week and everyone who came over to visit was offered a slice and wound up having three. Mom left back for England  last night and to cheer myself up, I’m about to toast a slice and eat it with a cup of my favorite chai tea from Lupicia Teas.

 Tea Bread

Pre-heat oven to 340 F.

2 black tea bags

1/3/4 cups boiling water

4 cups mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, cranberries, un-sulphured apricots- chopped)

2 1/4  cups whole wheat flour

1tsp baking powder

A pinch salt

1 1/2 cups soft brown sugar

1tbsp melted butter

1 egg lightly beaten

Place dried fruit in a large bowl.

Steep the tea bags in 1 3/4 cups of boiling water for ten minutes. Pour the steeped tea over the fruit and leave to soak for one hour.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the fruit/tea mixture and combine well. Mix in the egg and butter, making sure everything is really well combined.

Grease and line a loaf tin and spoon in the batter, smoothing it down.

Place in the oven and bake for 1 and 1/4 hours. Test to see if a toothpick comes out clean – if not, put back for another 5-10 minutes.

Allow to cool on a wire rack and serve when cool.

It will keep for up to 2 weeks in a tin or airtight container. After about a week, I like to slice and toast it, slathered in butter





Here in Los Angeles, I’m seeing fresh figs everywhere – tis the season.

I usually prepare figs in a number of savory dishes – usually appetizers and salads, but I wanted to do something sweet and interesting. I’ve also gotten a bit obsessed with baking recently – probably as I’m writing a book, and baking is not only a great procrastinating activity, but it’s also very soothing & therapeutic after a hard day at the computer.

I used an Italian Olive Oil and Lemon Cake as the base of this recipe and adapted it to include juicy junks of fresh fig. I’ve always loved an olive oil cake because I love the slightly unusual fruity and familiar taste of an oil that I use almost everyday – also because I LOVE to not use butter whenever possible – not because I think it’s unhealthy, but more because I don’t want my thighs expanding with my suddenly rather sedentary lifestyle (the writing prohibits my usual 90 minute yoga classes and hikes up the canyon.) This is a dairy-free cake, but made with a 5 eggs. The egg whites are what makes the sponge beautifully light.

Fresh Fig & Lemon Cake

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

1 unbleached flour

5 egg yolks

4 egg whites

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh figs, chopped

Confectioners sugar for dusting.

Preheat oven to 350°F and adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with oil, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper and oil it.

Grate the lemon zest and  mix with flour.

In an electric mixer and large bowl, beat yolks and 1/2 cup sugar at high speed until thick and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium and add 3/4 cup olive oil and the lemon juice, beating until combined. Fold it into flour mixture with a metal spoon until well combined.

Whisk the egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt on high speed until foamy. Continue whisking and slowly add 1/4 cup sugar until egg whites hold soft peaks.

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Gently is the operative word because “folding” is all about getting air into the batter. If you just mix it in, all the air bubbles in the egg whites are crushed, so be very gentle here! Very gently fold in the figs.

Pour the batter into the pan and release air bubbles by gently tapping pan against work surface. Evenly sprinkle 1tbsp tablespoon of sugar over the top of the batter. Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick comes out clean, about 30 – 35 minutes. When done, a toothpick should come out clean and the top will be gently browned.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan and allow the cake to cool to room temperature before turning the pan upside down onto a wire rack.

This cake is as perfect as a cake gets for me: not too sweet (I hate cloying sweet,) and yet each mouthful will include a piece of sweet baked fig. The figs tend to sink to the bottom resulting in a kind of upside-down cake effect, although you won’t serve it upside down. I served it both for dessert and as an afternoon treat. My daughter was horrified at the idea of an “olive oil” cake, but when she tried it ….yuuuuuuuuuumie!

I recommending serving it as a dessert with a generous dollop of Creme Fraiche. If you are serving it as a little treat to go with your coffee or tea, make sure you use a fork, as it’s not a particularly firm cake.