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A plain crumb, egg-free and dairy-free cake is one of the hardest cakes to do. This is a variation on my most trusted of cakes, which I turn to in this situation, the Dairy-free and Egg-free Vanilla and Coconut Cupcakes (see page 186). It keeps exceptionally well. You could also use the Creamy Chocolate and Coconut Fudge Frosting (see page 253) or Creamy Cocoa Butter and Vanilla Frosting (see page 254) and layer the cake.

50 g (1 oz/ cup) flaked almonds

1 teaspoon golden caster (superfine) sugar

195 g (6 oz/1 cups) unbleached white spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

50 g (1 oz/ cup) almond meal (ground almonds)

185 ml (6 fl oz/ cup) maple syrup

125 ml (4 fl oz/ cup) coconut milk

80 ml (2 fl oz/? cup) macadamia or almond oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

165 g (2 oz/ cup) raspberry jam (to make it yourself, see page 271)

1 quantity vanilla bean almond cream infused with rose geranium leaves

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Line the base of a 20 cm (8 inch) springform sandwich cake tin with baking paper.

Mix the flaked almonds and caster sugar together and set aside.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl, add the almond meal and whisk through.

Place the maple syrup, coconut milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla paste and extract in another bowl and mix together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Turn into the tin and sprinkle with the flaked almond mixture, taking care to make some end up right on the edges (and even down the side a little) of the batter.

Bake for 4050 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. This cake is best well cooked, so the maple syrup has a chance to crisp on the skin of the cake where it is exposed to the heat of the oven.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack until completely cooled before releasing the springform side (it will still have the tin base in place and be sitting on the wire rack). Place a baking tray lightly on top of the cooled cake and invert the cake and wire rack onto the tray. Quickly remove the wire rack, then the tin base and baking paper from the cake. Lightly place another baking tray on the cake and invert again so the cake is right side up.

Cut the cake in half horizontally. This cake will not have the same sturdiness as those made with egg, so rather than lifting the top half of the cake off and setting it aside, it is best to slide a flat baking tray, tart tin base or something thin and sturdy between the layers to support the top layer. Using the same technique or two large palette knives, move the base of the cake, cut side up, to a serving platter.

Spread the jam evenly over the cake base, leaving a 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) border. Gently spread the almond cream over the top, again taking care to leave a small border. Pick up the top of the cake (on its tray) and carefully slide it onto the almond cream.

This cake is best served straight away or within 2 hours as the filling can soften the cake, making the crumb more fragile. Without the almond cream and jam, the cake will keep in an airtight container for 46 days.

Nut free (but not dairy free)

Replace the almond meal with 45 g (1 oz/ cup) desiccated coconut, 80 g (2 oz) melted butter, and omit the sugared flaked almond topping. You can also use 80 g coconut oil, melted and cooled the cake will be lovely while still fresh, but the crumb will toughen and constrict a little when it has sat for some time or been in the fridge.

Adding egg

This firms up the crumb and makes the cake more sturdy for building (but you dont need to add this to the cupcake version on page 186 as they are sturdy enough already). Add 1 egg and reduce the coconut milk to 60 ml (2 fl oz/ cup)

Recipe and image from Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau, published by Murdoch Books, May 2013 rrp $45.00. Available from all good bookstores and online.

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