Cornflour and potato flour make a very light and white cake mixturebut they tend to produce a very dry sponge cake. Rice flour produces a greycake, but still with a tendency to dryness. These flours cannot support fruiton their own in a fruit cake and the fruit tends to sink as the cake is cooked.
Apple and banana will add moisture to sponge cakes, but both givethe cake a strong flavour. They give a fruit cake the strength to supportthe fruit.
Sweet chestnut flour and ground almonds both give a sponge cakea much better texture and can support the fruit in a fruit cake. Sorghumflour will also make excellent fruit cakes.
Carob flour has a strong flavour but burns easily when cooked andshould not be used for any recipe cooked at a high temperature.
gluten-free flour mixes can be excellent - but avoid those containingbuckwheat flour. This has too strong a flavour for cakes and buns. I haveused a mixture of Dove's Farm gluten-free bread flour and their ordinary
gluten-free flour for fruit cakes.
Chestnut pureé has an excellent mild flavour and can beused in both sponge cakes and fruit cakes.
To make a chestnut pureé, obtain fresh sweet chestnuts,in most supermarkets at Christmas. Blanch them by cutting in half and thenboiling for three minutes, after which the skins are easily removed. Theycan be converted to a pureé in a food processor and stored in thefreezer until needed. Chestnut pureé is also available in tins inmost supermarkets. Use the unsweetened pureé for making cakes.
Tofu can also be used in the same way to keep cakes moist.
Rich, flour-less sponges, are ideal for special occasion cakes.These often sink in the middle when cooking, but if this is a problem, trycooking the sponge in a ring shaped tin.
The flours in the following recipes produce grey or darker colouredsponge cakes but a tiny pinch of saffron will give a cake a rich yellow colour.
Cooking times can vary a lot depending on variation in size ofthe eggs and on the position of the cake in the oven. Check to see if a cakeis cooked by inserting a skewer or a thin bladed knife through the middleto the base of the cake. The cake is not cooked until the skewer comes outclean, not sticky. If the top of the cake is cooking too quickly, cover thebaking tin with a metal or foil lid for the remainder of the cooking period.
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