While most of my posts celebrate seasonality, just occasionally something comes up that has nothing to do with my obsession that “fresh is best” and this is one such occasion. In fact for more than one reason this will probably give those that know me reasonably well, cause for a good old chuckle. Firstly because, I seem to have garnered a reputation over the years of being somewhat obstinate about accommodating dietary requests, even to one year being presented a “I don’t do dietaries” t-shirt by one of my team (thank you Cassaly) But to be honest I feel a little hard done by, I have always tried to ensure that the people I cook for have plenty of delicious options. For example many of what may have been considered my “Signature” dishes during my restaurants days were Vegan or Vegetarian, we just never made a lot of noise about that.
In fact I am pretty sure we were well out in front 10 years ago when we started asking guests on booking, if they had any food allergies and intolerances so that we could make sure they had a special dining “experience”. But take my word for it, in recent years the pendulum has swung, and now it is more common for someone to have special requirements than not. In fact trying to balance a menu to allow for the inevitable has become a nightmare, take designing deserts that are gluten, dairy, nut and egg free …. yet we chefs have stuck with trying to make it work for everyone.
But sometimes in the press of a busy service, when someone presented with extreme or downright odd dietaries I may have channeled Gordon Ramsay because:
A) Some notice would have been nice.
B) There’s only so much that can be done when your docket board is full.
C) Your Mise en Place is well, in place and that’s what you have to work with.
D) The entire team is fully engaged doing the business for all of the other paying guests and cant drop the ball to create that sulphur, fructose and nightshade free, low fibre, low sodium dish of ancient grains and kale because that’s all you can eat…..
Ok, so maybe I don’t do dietaries!
But why is this relevant? Well today’s recipe is for a Gluten Free Mango, Lime and Coconut Cake, not only is it dietary friendly (if you can eat eggs and nuts that is) but its neither seasonal nor local, but as I hinted above sometimes you have to be able to crank something out from simply what is in the cupboard. You see a good friend was joining us this evening, someone that genuinely can’t tolerate gluten, and we needed a simple dessert to share, and to be honest she has probably had her fill of figs at our place over the last month.
To cut a long story short for many years I have been preparing a gluten free cake based on Claudia Roden’s famous boiled orange and almond cake, sometimes I substitute a specific quantity of fruit puree for the oranges, but today this recipe was nowhere to be found. However determined to make it work, we set about chopping another recipe apart and well, the result was this delectable little cake, beautiful with our local Jersey cream and dare I say it, ripe figs.
But the genius was we had everything in our pantry and with 15 minutes prep it was in the oven. Seriously it will be my new go too, definitely not as syrupy as my previous recipe, and if I didn’t know it was gluten free, there is no way I would ever be able to pick it.
Gluten Free, Mango, Coconut and Lime Cake
270g Tinned mango cheeks* (drained weight)
1 lime- zest of pinch citric acid
165g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste/extract
100g almond meal
45g desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Blend mango with lime zest and citric acid to a smooth puree Whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla paste until very thick and foamy (like shaving foam) , then fold in mango puree Combine remaining dry ingredients and mix well then fold into mango and egg foam Fill into a greased spring form pan (20cm/8inch) lined with non stick baking paper for easy removal Bake at 170c for 35 minutes or until lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin, dust with icing sugar and serve with Jersey cream. Note: *other well drained tinned fruits like apricots and peaches should work well as would frozen or fresh mango cheeks.