persian love cake

One of my oldest and dearest friends does a lot of gluten free cooking for her family, some of whom are coeliacs and real foodies. Many years ago, when I first started baking like a woman possessed, she shared her gluten free Orange & Almond Cake Recipe with me. You know it, the popular one made from boiled pureed oranges and almond meal. No doubt you’ve seen it in many cafes in one version or another. Winter mandarins can be used too.  Once discovered, this wonderful world of flour-less baking is easily embraced. This superb gluten free recipe requires no lengthy boiling of fruit, no involved prep time, no fancy icing and only takes 30 minutes in the oven. Super quick sophistication. Love the Love Cake.

Ingredients - 3 cups Almond Meal ❤ 1 cup Raw Sugar ❤ 1 cup Brown Sugar ❤ 120 grams unsalted Butter, at room temperature ❤ 2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten ❤ 250 grams Greek style yoghurt ❤ 1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg ❤ 45 grams pistachios, coarsely chopped ❤ teaspoon sea salt

Method + Tips

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F). Grease and line bottom and sides of a 26cm-diameter round spring form cake tin with baking paper. Sometimes I make it in a 24cm square springform as pictured.

Chop pistachio nuts coarsely. Buy the already peeled ones if you want to save time.

Place almond meal, both sugars, butter and a teaspoon of sea salt into a mixing bowl.  Combine all ingredients by rubbing with your fingertips until the mixture becomes coarse crumbs.

Take half this mixture and press it firmly and neatly into the base of the prepared cake tin. Add yoghurt, beaten eggs and nutmeg to the remaining crumble mixture. Beat ingredients together using a wooden spoon to combine well until creamy and smooth.  Pour over the base and smooth top if necessary. Scatter the chopped pistachios evenly around the edge of the cake. 

Bake until golden (30-35 minutes).  Leave in the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

When serving, slice thinly with a hot knife. Add a dollop of greek yoghurt on the side.  Keeps really well for up to one week in an airtight container. It's sweet and luscious - so you only need thin slices and a special friend/s to share it with. Happy Birthday Brit!

Travel Tale

Month to month, year on year, Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine presents its ‘Fare Exchange’ column.  An opportunity for us home cooks to beg Australia's leading chefs for their best ever recipes.  These recipes complied into one extraordinary cookbook make for inspirational reading.

This Persian Love Cake appeared in Gourmet Traveller’s ‘Fare Exchange Cookbook’  2008. It came courtesy of Gerard Yaxley, the former head chef of Qom’s at Peregian, south of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. Qom’s Persian cuisine was inspired by Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran - with authentic spice mixes, nuts and distilled waters such as rose and orange blossom featuring highly. 

In more recent times Pitchfork Restaurant has taken over Qom’s location at Peregian Beach and the Sunshine Coast has taken over as a prime destination for foodies. The coastal stretch from Noosa and Peregian to Mooloolaba and Caloundra covers it all - from five-course degustation, Australia’s top Thai Cooking School and more than a handful of exceptional restaurants and edgy eateries. Furthermore, you'll also be spoiled for charming choices when driving into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

If you haven’t taken the quick detour off the highway into Peregian Beach for sometime - go for it!  Specialty small businesses and local council have created a revitalised Peregian Village with a vibe that’s creative, stylish and home grown. Wahoo Seafood Cafe serves fresh Queensland seafood (dine-in or takeaway) to hungry locals and tourists. I love the sea breeze and village outlook from under their sprawling Pandanus trees. 

After lunch you can easily spend a few hours browsing Peregian’s beatiful boutiques. My favourites being; the independent bookstore, Evolve for its exquisite childrens range and Otilly & Lewis for its fabulous French fabric collections and design ideas. Oh.. look at the time already! Almost time to eat again. A couple of sweet delicacies and coffee from the petite French Patisserie known as Le Bon Delice. Lovely.  

I adore staying at The Spotted Chook in the Hinterland. It's a french inspired Country Inn with spectacular views over the rolling countryside of Montville.

Flame Hill Vineyard  is a superb spot for a long lazy lunch and wine tastings.  In town we normally dine at Wild Rocket @ Misty’s or The Long Apron for inspiring seasonal produce. When in Maleny don’t miss Colin James Fine Foods for their fromagerie, artisan wares and house-made gelato.

Eumundi Markets are still held every Wednesday and Saturday - well worth visiting if you manage to time the days right.  There are a large number of diverse stalls offering everything from fine linens to outstanding sourdough. 

If you’ve got the time and $'s, try not to miss lunch or dinner at The Spirit House Thai (Yandina), Cocoa Chocolat (Eumundi), the Sunday Noosa Farmers Market at the AFL Club and Belmondo’s Fresh Food Market everyday in Noosaville. Any favourites I've missed? Please let us know in comments so we can all share the best of the Sunny Coast.