Families are funny things. The intricate layers of our relationships with those who know us the best always are! Living over here in Western Australia away from my extended family is tough. I know loads of people don't care much for family, or simply move on with their lives without stopping to look back. But I'm not one of them. It's my observation that there is one person in every family who's job it is to document and communicate, and it seems that I'm that one. The one who takes photos when no one else does, who says things when no one else will. It's never been a conscious thing, it's just who I am. My family, although far from perfect, mean more to me than most of them will ever know. Stories from our past and present rattle around in my head, reminding me of both the good and the bad moments. The invisible bonds and ties we share.
This past weekend I flew home to NZ for two days to farewell my Nana. To some it may have seemed crazy to travel such a long way, but to me I knew in my heart it was something I needed to do. And as much as I went home to say my farewells to someone very dear to me, I also went home to spend precious moments with those my Nana has left behind. I stayed up half the night chatting to my mum as I lay on the mattress below her bed. I helped cook dinner for my sister and her family, I drove to the city with my Dad to visit my Grandparents, talked the ears off my two brothers, hugged my little sister, walked the beach with one of my closest friends and her beautiful little man... I reminisced with family about the strong woman we all loved. I laughed. I cried. I said goodbye.
The day before my Nan passed, I celebrated my 34th birthday. With cake. (She would have approved wholeheartidly!). Those of you who have been around here awhile will be all too familiar with my love affair of paring fruits and herbs. The strawberry season starts ridiculously early here in Perth and we've already been buying huge boxes
of seconds from the markets for the past month or so. I freeze them all immediately, for use in smoothies and cakes such as these. I know my Northern Hemisphere friends will probably struggle to get their hands on strawberries at the moment, but the cool thing about this recipe is that it's really just a recipe for a beautiful simple gluten-free butter cake. It can be baked plain, or topped with whatever seasonal fruits you have at hand. A few years back I did a summer version
using fresh peaches and local mulberries I'd picked in spring.
P.s I shared a few pics from home over on Steller
gluten-free strawberry + thyme cake
This is a beautiful simple gluten-free butter cake recipe which you can top with whichever seasonal fruits you like. I always blitz my unrefined raw sugar in a blender or processor until powdered to assist in the creaming process. What we know as potato flour here in Australia/NZ is actually called potato starch in the rest of the world, so international friends, please note that potato starch is what you need here. GMO-free cornstarch could also be used in it's place.
125g soft butter
1 cup (200g) unrefined raw sugar, blitzed until fine*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme + extra to sprinkle
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (75g) almond meal (ground almonds)
3/4 cup (105g) fine brown rice flour
1/3 cup (55g) potato flour (starch)**see headnotes
1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
2 tablespoons rice, almond milk or coconut milk
1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen, sliced in half of large
Preheat oven to 170C/340F. Grease and line a 23cm/9 inch cake tin with baking paper.
Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest + thyme until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add almond meal, then sift over the flours and baking powder. Add milk and fold through until just incorporated. Transfer to the tin, scatter over berries and some fresh thyme sprigs and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean when cooked. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool. Best eaten on the day of baking, however it can be stored airtight for 2-3 days.
Adapted from this recipe in the archives.