Fig, orange and cardamom cake

A dense, spiced and finger-lickingly sticky cake from the Free From Bakehouse

We’ve almost got to the stage where asking if gluten free goods can be as tasty as those that aren’t is a bit like asking if a woman can be prime minister: it’s really a stupid question. And just as some women would—whisper it—do a better job than their male counterparts, such is the case with gluten free cakes.

Indeed, the Free From Bakehouse daily produces a range of cakes so delectable, even those without an intolerance are left drooling. But enough of the politics: let’s talk about this Friday’s dense, spiced and finger-lickingly sticky fig, orange and cardamom cake.

Let’s talk about texture, which in this cake is simultaneously gooey and granular, thanks to the colourful array of grains used instead of gluten-containing wheat. “We use a blend of tapioca, rice, buckwheat and quinoa flour, which we bake with little fig pieces inside.”

Rich, wintry profile
It is, says stallholder Nikki, one of her favourites of the season, its rich, wintry profile of fruit and spices played out within the space of a single mouthful. “The flavours come out in layers: orange zest, fig, then the cardamom”—the aromatic back notes of which hit just as you start to swallow, with delicately exotic effect.

“Cardamom has a strong flavour so it needs to be balanced out,” she continues—which is no mean feat, but one that the sweet, piquant orange zest does perfectly. This, together with the free range eggs and rich, figgy syrup, must be the secret to the cake’s luscious moistness. We had it with a pot of tea: anything else would merely detract from its goodness.