November 10, 2016


You may be forgiven for thinking that no baking has been going on in our house for the last two months but this is certainly not the case!  I can’t really explain why I’ve let the blog lapse as baking is very much a part of my life and indeed very good therapy in what is turning out to be my own personal “annus horribilis”. 

Anyway, I feel the blog is rested for long enough and it’s time to catch up.  I hate it when blogs just end, as if the writer died or just evaporated.  I like to know if someone has decided to give up.  No such thing here!

gluten free house leaving cake

Friends of ours who lived over near Richelieu for several years have recently sold up, packed up and moved back to the UK.

gluten free house leaving cake2

It was family ties that took our friends back to the UK and we’re very sorry to see them go.  A leaving party was arranged once the vans were all packed and the legal formalities complete.  I offered to provide the cake, which needed to be gluten free.

I used an adaptation of a recipe that I’ve used several times before, which is basically a Victoria sponge recipe from Hannah Miles’ book , “the gluten free baker”. This time I baked it in a ring tin, which makes a cake which goes a long way in a crowd and cuts easily into small, manageable slices.  Most people don’t want a huge slab of cake after they’ve filled up on other party food, but everyone is usually pleased to have a little slice to go with the speeches and toasts.  This one worked well as the crumb was not too crumbly and the slices were easy to pass around and hold in the hand.

gluten free house leaving cake3

Finding something to decorate it with proved too much of a challenge in France. I couldn’t find any appropriate cake decorations as such and house warming cards do not seem to exist here, so I used one I had in stock*, cut it up and glued the pictures onto wooden sticks to decorate the cake, after icing it with simple icing and dotting a few halves of glacé cherries and bits of chopped almond on the top.  The candle holder in the middle was a 1€ bargain from a vide grenier this summer and fits perfectly in the hole in the middle of the cake. 

With the appropriate decoration this large gluten free cake lends itself to any and every party or occasion.


185g softened butter

185g caster sugar

4 eggs

200g ground almonds

125g gluten free self raising flour

150ml crème fraîche

1 tsp almond essence


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan/gas mk 4.  Grease and flour a large ring or Bundt tin.

Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat or whisk until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat well with each addition.

Add the other cake ingredients and fold in gently until evenly combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until the cake is firm and golden and passes the skewer test.  Remove from the oven, turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Make an icing using about 150g icing sugar, blended with lemon juice to the consistency of double cream.  Pour over the cake and allow to run down the sides.  Decorate as desired.

Serves 12-15 slices.

*Birthday cards and other greeting cards are incredibly expensive in France so I usually stock up on a random selection of all types of card in the UK and bring them with me.


  1. Really sorry to hear about your recent aggravation. I'm hoping that next year will be a whole lot better for you. That's a great looking cake and very useful for gluten free friends and relatives (I have some of both). I've never quite understood why greetings cards are so expensive in France. The last time I was in the south west of France I came across an English couple selling British greetings cards at the local market next to another couple selling British paint.

    1. Phil, don't start me on French paint...........
      Paint, teabags and treacle are some of the things our ex-pat friends often ask us to bring back from a trip to the UK. All are available in France, but at a price.
      Amongst other thing that are bafflingly expensive compared to the UK are cut flowers and many vegetables. We bring bags of parsnips back and freeze them.

  2. It seems to me that amongst our group of anglophone friends almost everybody has had an annus horribilis in the last few years. I snapped out of mine in about June this year, but before that for about two years I was barely coping with life in general.

    To a large extent you just have to live through it, let it wash over you, wait for it to end and remember it isn't your partner's fault so you shouldn't take it out on them. I always find it helps to remember that there is always someone worse off than myself and I should be thankful for what I have.

    1. Susan, our annual horribilis has taken a nasty turn as you know and I have never found that knowing that other people are having a worse time of things helps very much.
      Counting our blessings does however help with incentive to get back on an even keel.