I think cake is in my DNA. I grew up with a mother who was (and still is ) cake queen and who was taught this craft by my grandmother, who baked love and song into every cake, pirog and pirozhok. (Russian pies and mini-pies). Their baking repertoire was rich and extensive and there always seemed to be a fitting occasion to warrant a performance.

 

They baked everything from scratch and we would have our favourites and requests; the ‘Napoleon’, rich yet delicate and very time-consuming Russian mille-feuilles, the ‘Parizh‘, a nutty coffee meringue cake, the chocolate roulade ‘Roulette‘ ( I remember watching, salivating as the cacao, sugar and butter blended and were rolled into the doughy brioche pastry. This was and is still my favourite). There were also the ‘Kulichi‘, the Easter cakes ( if you can imagine a brioche-y panettone but really beautifully dense) which were so temperamental and an all-day baking affair. I remember tip-toeing around the kitchen, closing doors ever so carefully behind me, speaking in very hushed tones, afraid to disturb the rising dough and proofing yeast. No way was I going to spoil the family Easter dessert and I gave the process ( and mama and baba) their due respect and space. And when it was a really special occasion we would feast. The table would groan under the weight of the savoury dishes and then we would start again with a smorgasbord of cakes. On the following morning we would breakfast on cakes. Seriously. A long, leisurely breakfast of hot tea and cakes.

 

So, I love cake and my kids love cake. And once upon a time I used to think that a perfectly healthy after-school snack was cake, a slice, doughnut or if I was feeling particularly virtuous, a muffin. If  I had a bit of extra time on my hands I’d up the ante and make hot cakes and pancakes with honeycomb butter (hey, I realized not long ago that the honeycomb butter IS gluten-free and definitely a future option).  At some stage I started to get informed about farming practices in both conventional and organic farming and I patted myself on the back on the ‘informed’ choices I was starting to make, buying organic processed white flour and organic processed sugar. It made all the difference, or so I tried to convince myself.

 

I still wasn’t making any connections between the various symptoms of family members ( like sugar highs and lows, bloating, restlessness, mood swings, the list goes on) and the ingredients I was using. My kids do occasionally reminisce about the ‘good old days’ when wheat flour and processed sugar were pantry staples in our household. Not too often though. They can now make the connection now between the food they eat and the way they feel.

 

Which however, doesn’t solve the problem of our cake gene. What to do? Experiment. If you too grew up with a cake gene watch out for my Gluten-free Macadamia, Coconut and Lemon tea cake, which I adapted from a Bill Granger recipe to be GAPS and Paleo- friendly, with only healthy, nutritious ingredients used. Still not an everyday food but one you'll be able to enjoy guilt-free and satisfy that sweet tooth but most importantly one that will transport you back to that joy of baking and memories of a sweet childhood.

Published by Tania N