Cake! (GF)

So DD turned ten a few weeks ago. Her requests were minimal. She wanted a simple cake. A Victoria sponge tea-cake, or something close to it. Now, ordinarily, this would have been an easy request to fulfil. We abound in sponges and Madeira cakes here in the UK. But a good gluten free one to suit my coeliac (yet gourmand) self? No, sirree. Challenge presented. Challenge accepted. 

I set to experimenting. I tried a variety of flours. Then sugars. Then fats. I came close. Close enough to accept that maybe, just maybe, it was impossible to get a good gluten-free sponge/Madeira look-alike, taste-alike. So, armed with my best scribblings, I set to baking DD’s cake the night before her birthday. Our tradition is to eat cake for breakfast, like the decadent gourmands we are (just stick me in Versailles and call me Marie Antoinette).

Setting out my ingredients, I was still mulling over my options. I looked up and Husband caught sight of my face.

“Oh, no! You’ve got that look. The I-have-an-idea look. Don’t do it! Stick to the plan. You love a plan,” he pleaded. He has a sweet tooth and he was looking forward to birthday cake! He didn’t want my tinkering messing up his chances of cake for breakfast.

But I went with my inspiration and boy, oh boy, wasn’t this the ‘Best Birthday Cake Ever!‘, according to DD? She ate half of it in one sitting! I only told her, and the neighbour upstairs, that it was gluten-free after they had polished off their shares. They couldn’t believe it. So here’s the recipe for my gluten-free Madeira cake. When I reference cups, I use a Nutella (200g) jar.

I dare you to bake this and surprise your taste buds.



  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 cup / 125g butter, cubed (packed loosely)
  • 1 cup / 225g granulated sugar, plus a little extra
  • 1 cup / 150g self-raising gluten free flour (I used Dove’s Farm blend)
  • 2/3 cup / 75g ground almonds


  • Cream cheese
  • Strawberry jam
  • Icing sugar / powder sugar


  • Pre-heat your oven to 180C / 360F
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Add in a little flour, then one egg, then more flour, then another egg until you have mixed all the flour and eggs. Don’t over beat!
  • Add in the ground almonds
  • I used 6″ / 15cm baking trays, about 1″ high and filled 3 of them two-thirds of the way full.
  • Gently smooth the batter with the spatula, as you are going to layer them and need them as flat as possible.
  • Bake the cakes for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be golden brown when ready, and a toothpick test should come out clean.
  • Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool down before you do the filling.


I placed one layer top down on a plate, and spread my mix of cream cheese mixed with a bit of icing sugar (DD can’t stand buttercream frosting) over the base. On the other face down cake, I spread strawberry jam, and then I carefully placed that layer on top of the cream cheese layer. And there you have it, folks – the classic Victoria sandwich. Dust lightly with icing sugar and you’re ready to serve!

Past (successful) gluten-free experiments have included Nutty Date Cake, Oatmeal Snickerdoodle Muffins and Chocolate Torte.

I need a vitamin boost!

We’re back from our hols! It was so good to discover a new part of France, and really feel like we had found our ‘place’ (we’ve been tossing around the idea of a French holiday and/or retirement home for years). It had the hills and trees to keep Husband happy. It had the beach for me & DD. It had really interesting (covetable) architecture.


Future holiday chateau?

The Basque country in France has the best blend of Spanish/Basque (my favourite) and French (husband’s favourite) – even on the road signs!

Bilingual sign in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Wikipedia)

Bilingual sign in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Wikipedia)

The weather was glorious, sometimes a little too hot, even in the shade, but that’s what the sprinkler park was created for, right?


DD got to practice her French at the epicerie every day, endearing her greatly to the shopkeeper. We discovered some amazing cuisine – and even a gluten-free cake!


There will be a recipe for gateau Basque later this week!

We got to start a new sea-glass collection, walking and chatting, jumping in and out of waves. I got hooked on adult colouring. We got to unwind and disconnect and just hang. 

Sadly, my body misunderstood the memo, and I’m now battling the start of a cold…time for a Vit C mocktail boost, a catch-up of all my recorded TV shows and a scroll through the WordPress Reader. Hallelujah for the bank holiday weekend and no work tomorrow.

Anniversary Milestone #tbt

So yeah, like…eleven years ago, I met this cute, but obnoxious guy at a barbecue. He sort of grew on me. We moved in together, and got engaged and bought a house in quick succession. Then ten years ago, there was an epic party (the second of three!), and I wore a pretty dress, and a tiara, and everyone gave me presents! It might have been marginally more epic if Husband had worn the tiara and dress, but that’s a whole different post. There was lots of this, too….


Ten years later, we’ve moved in & out of three homes (and lived to tell the tale), done some travelling and have created and sustained one amazing child … we both have less hair and the bank balance is not where we thought it would be, but my circle is complete. We’ve survived the bad years, the truly awful years and been grateful for the good times (of which there have been many, mostly because we have the same atrocious sense of humour and can laugh at anything).

The sun is shining today and I’m going in search of some carrot cake, just like we had at the third party. A big thank you to our friends who celebrated with us ten years ago, and to all the friends who have supported us along the way. I’m renewing the option on this stubborn cutie for another ten years. If you want to know what he thinks, read this post 😀

Caffeine-free Coffee Share #3

I spent yesterday juicing, grating & freezing the glut of veggies in my fridge. So today, I am drinking one of these:#cucumber #gingerbeer #ginger #mocktail #detox

Anthropologie EU posted a more elegant recipe for a veggie cocktail of delicious proportions. However, if you’re craving the caffeine, pop into the kitchen, grab yourself a mug and a delicious slice of this gluten-free chocolate goodness, and let me tell you about some thoughts running through my head this week.

Did you know that fashion & textiles account for 10% of the world’s global carbon impact and occupy more than  5% of landfill waste? The industry also uses 3 trillion gallons of freshwater, accounting for 20% of freshwater pollution. Read more about this via Marci Zaroff’s post on Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen. I’m seeing this as an opportunity to do some more vintage/charity shopping and maybe even take a sewing class to improve my basic skills. My 9yo has already volunteered herself as a mannequin.

After the whole beach body uproar in the UK, and the booking of our summer holiday, I’ve been wondering where I fall on the beach body scale. Honestly, I’m not fussed about my weight; as long as anything on display isn’t wobbling TOO much, I’m good to go. Anastasia Amour’s blog is a great source of positive inspiration. Read her post You are not a work in progress.

I’ve been debating a blog refresh recently. I’ve been checking out other blogs and Finnoula at My Kitchen Notebook gave me some serious blog envy. I want to LIVE in her blog, it’s so pretty. I get the same feeling looking at her blog as I do when walking into the Anthropologie store on King’s Road. Blisssssssssss.

Also still being debated by the Petal & Mortar board: Bloglovin’, Hiive, Instagram, Crowdfire….and darn it, a Facebook page. What are your thoughts on these platforms?

So, what are you up to? What have I missed thanks to the scatty WP reader? Catch me up!

Grain Free Chocolate Torte (also GF, DF, SyF, SF, PF)

#GF #DF #glutenfree #dairyfree #celiac #coeliac #grainfreeSome days, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat cake for breakfast.

Seriously, look at the ingredients list and tell me why not? I know there are a bazillion GF and grain-free chocolate cake recipes out there, but this time, I didn’t want the sugar rush or the prep time. I wanted a quick, grown-up, I-can-eat-it-for-breakfast-Nutella-cake. So I used the Nutty Date Cake 2.0 as a base recipe to get creative, and here is the fruit of my labour. Perhaps I could try and conjure up an after-school babysitter, too?


  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1 cup ground/finely chopped dried apricots or dates
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Equal Exchange Fairtrade & Organic Cocoa)
  • 1 tsp GF baking powder OR 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon milk (dairy or non)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
  • 2 medium eggs (equally sized)


Preheat oven to 180C/375F.

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another.

Mix wet ingredients into dry.

Pour batter into prepared cake tin or muffin liners (I baked mine in two layers to make a sandwich).

Bake for 20-25 minutes, check with a skewer/clean knife.

Frost or not, to your taste. I used creme fraiche and icing sugar for my ‘frosting’.

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Domesticated MomsterFree From Farmhouse

Mother Mands tried the recipe successfully…

Nutty Date Cake, version 2

Quick blurb to get my new followers (Hi!) up to speed: I’ve been tagged with two auto-immune conditions in the last 18 months. I kicked the first one into remission with steroids and an adapted diet. High on my own success, I started sneaking in trigger foods, which resulted in my feeling sicker and sicker, to the point where I was exhausted all the time. Tests confirm I have almost no Vitamin D in my body, as well as coeliac disease. Shopping in supermarkets and eating out have acquired a whole new level of insanity (socially phobic, I am). Who knew treats like chocolate mice and French fries in most restaurants have wheat in them (whaaaaa?). Another discovery? To make gluten-free foods palatable, a lot of them are loaded with sugar. Which makes me think I can live without them. I’m not trading one illness for another, thank you very much. So it’s back to basics, and the experimentation in the kitchen.#glutenfree #dairyfree #GF #DF #almond

Last week, I made a delicious (I say so myself) Nutty Date Cake, and this week, I adapted the recipe a little more. I wanted a fluffier result, so that I could slather it in purple fig jam.  I used what I had in the cupboard…

  • 1/2 cup dates and walnuts, ground pretty fine
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Heat oven to 180C/360F.

Mix all the dry ingredients, add the oil, then the egg (I just used a fork and did it by hand).

The batter/dough should all come together beautifully in a ball. Put in a small loaf tin, gently press down with the fork, and bake for 20-25 minutes. It came out with a lovely moist, cakey texture.

I think I may use this as my base recipe mix when I try adapting my Carrot Cake recipe. If you have any gluten-free/coeliac-friendly recipes you use, or have seen but haven’t tried, leave me a link and I will happily experiment for you.

Domesticated Momster

Nutty Date Cake

The original recipe Moelleux noisettes de Lola was given to me by the Breton Bestie. She made it for a gathering which included my GF husband. As usual, I have put my unique adaptations on the recipe, because I’m trying to reduce the amount of sugar we eat.

#almond #glutenfree #dairyfree #GF #coeliac #celiac

Prep time: 10 mins / Cook time: 25 mins / Serves 6

Ingredients I used today:

– 200g ground almonds & walnuts (or hazelnuts)
– 60g ground dates – more sweetness, less sugar
– 60g melted butter (or coconut oil)
– 1 tbsp xylitol (or brown sugar or coconut sugar)
– 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C / 360F.

Mix the eggs, butter/oil & sugar. Blend in the dates and nut mix. The batter should resemble cupcake batter. If it’s too runny, add more ground almonds.

Pour into a non-stick cake pan and bake for anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took 25 minutes for a skewer to come out clean. Cool before serving.

Domesticated Momster

Happy Birthday, Dad!

#carrot #cake #spelt #walnut

Some carrots were harmed in the making of this cake…click on the photo for more…

Today, my amazing dad is 65. His adoring granddaughter said, “Don’t be ridiculous. He couldn’t be a day over 53.” It’s a mutual admiration society; they are as thick as thieves when they are under the same roof, and anything “my John” says at any point in time is gospel.

This year also marks the first time he’s finally admitted to possibly putting his career of over four decades to rest, and this is possibly the last birthday he will spend away from friends & family. I have no idea what his plans are, but I hope he finds peace and fulfilment as he enters the next phase of his life. No doubt it will be an adventure!

❤ you, Dad!

Plage du Sillon, St-Malo

Following the sea wall along the golden Plage du Sillon takes you from the Paramé quarter to Intra-Muros (the old city fortress). The beach is bounded by the Digue (dyke), which was built between 1883 and 1913, and along the Digue stand the most beautiful villas, mostly built at the end of the 19th century. All these photographs were taken on my morning walk, when I was hoping to run across the sea rescue teams in training. All those buff, bronzed bodies….swoon….


Anyone who dares quibble that portals are really doors won’t get the recipe for koign aman, or butter cake!

The Plage du Sillon is 3km long, very family-friendly, safe for swimming and also popular with kite surfers, sand yachters and wind surfers. Both the Digue & the Plage make wonderful running tracks. Who wouldn’t want to huff & puff at this view? Just remember, if you come over all faint in the heat, those lovely sea rescue people are at hand all summer long 😉


Plage du Sillon, overcast… still gorgeous!

The Tale of a Carrot Cake (A-Z)

#carrot #cake #spelt #creamcheeseHusband & I had a small wedding in London, with a South African honeymoon & family visit planned for a few months later. Ma-in-law volunteered to throw me (I mean, us!) a second reception in South Africa, and I could wear my pretty dress again, and people would give me (I mean, us!) gifts. Duh, I said Yes. And then sensibly left all the planning to her. The only non-negotiable at this party? NO fruit cake. Ma-in-law was fine with this, and we all agreed on carrot cake.

Only the baker’s dog ate all our fondant roses the day before, and it was too late and humid to make any more, so we used real roses, which turned out to be quite beautiful. The other funny twist? Our carrot cake came covered in thick, thick fondant to fool people into that ‘fruit cake’ feeling, instead of sensible cream cheese frosting. Sugar rush & our younger cousins in charge of the music = good times! 

Here’s my (non-fondant) carrot cake recipe:


  • 225g demerara sugar
  • 180ml vegetable oil (I use coconut or mild & light olive)
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 225g plain white or 200g spelt flour (nuttier taste)
  • 150g carrots, coarsely grated
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 100g walnuts, chopped (or bashed in a bag)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225g cream cheese
  • 85g icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F
2. Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together. Once smooth, add the flour in batches, folding the flour into the batter before adding more.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients in the order they are listed, down to the bicarbonate of soda.
4. Line a cake tin or loaf tin with baking paper/loaf liner. I have a standard 20 cm (8in) loaf tin but you can use a round tin or cupcake cases, too. You might need to reduce baking time if you use cupcake cases.
5. Pour the batter carefully into the tin and give it a couple of taps on the worktop – this will wake the bicarb & baking powder ensure the sponge is springy.
6. Bake for an hour or till the top is golden brown (check with a toothpick or clean knife: if it comes out clean, it’s ready). Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and allow to cool before icing.
7. Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth. Roughly spread over the cake. Make coffee. Enjoy!

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Domesticated Momster