Health and well being Archives - Dale Darley

Category Archives for Health and well being

The perfect gluten free chocolate cake for writers

My first introduction to gluten free chocolate cake was when Adrienne came to live in the village. She was (and still is) a cake aficionado. There were many times I was able to sample her experiments. An experiment consisted of finding a recipe and then trialling different flours and ingredients to create the perfect cake. It was Adrienne that inspired me to start baking again and to buy a new oven. There was no way I was ever going to bake a cake in the old thing that I had.

The chocolate cake that I first tried was from Nigella Lawson, it was her famous Chocolate Olive Oil cake. It was delicious, but for me, I needed to change some of the ingredients and create a version that suited my palette.

Baking a cake is like writing a book. You first have the outline (your recipe) which you tweak, you make the first one to see how it will turn out (first draft), edit to perfection, publish and eat…

I’m one of those cooks who looks at a pile of ingredients, Googles a few recipes for inspiration and then concocts something. This is because there are many things that I don’t like to eat and a number of things that my body doesn’t like. Additionally, I am what you call an intuitive cook because I will add and tweak as I go along according to what I feel needs to be added.

Making the perfect gluten free chocolate cake has to be quick. When I am writing I take lots of short breaks to clear my head and when the call for cake comes I want it within the hour. It is the speed and simplicity for getting this cake to me which makes it ideal. When we are in the writing zone, taking out too much time for tedious things is a no-no. But cake is a necessity and not the shop purchased full of crap kind. To keep a writer’s head clear you need good ingredients. And I know just the place to get them from ( and before you rush off to indulge wait there is a gift at the end.

In a similar fashion, when I am deep into reading a good book, a cup of white tea (that’s white tea, not black tea with milk) and a slice (or three) of good cake makes the whole experience much more delightful.

I’ve played with the original recipe and as can imagine considered at other similar recipes for inspiration until I have a version that I like. In truth, this one is not far from the original and so I can make no claim for originality.

Other versions I have tried include switching the raw chocolate to carob, this makes a sweeter version (you may want to add less carob than chocolate). You can also try adding different flavours with food grade essential oils, but note that you make want to swap the virgin olive oil for one that is not so powerful.

Gluten free chocolate slab cake


  • 1/2 cup (approx 60 g) raw chocolate powder
  • Enough boiling water to make a smooth paste (you will need to play with this – add a bit at a time)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 g) ground almonds (if you can’t eat nuts then try a mix of rice flour and buckwheat flour – play until you get a mix you like – I use 1/2 and 1/2)
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (100g) of fruit sugar such as Sweet Freedom or a mix of honey and maple syrup or coconut palm sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil (I use the extra virgin that has been pressed locally – choose one you like and not any old cheap stuff)
  • 3 large eggs (I haven’t tried this with soaked linseeds for a vegan version)
  • To decorate – ground chocolate nibs


  1. Sift the raw chocolate into a bowl and mix in the boiling water until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Stir in the vanilla bean extract, then set aside to cool. Make sure it does not set…
  3. In another bowl, combine the ground almonds with the baking soda and salt.
  4. Put the Sweet Freedom, olive oil and eggs in the jug of a hand blender (or other hand kitchen electronic whisking device) and whisk until you have a pale lemony coloured slightly thickened mix. It needs to be a tall jug otherwise you will have a mess everywhere.
  5. Pour in the chocolate mixture and keep whisking until it is all blended
  6. Add the wet chocolatey mix to the dry ingredients and mix until it resembles a batter
  7. Grease a shallow square or round baking tin – I use the silicon moulds.
  8. Pour your chocolate batter into the baking tin and put into the centre of the oven.
  9. Here’s where you will have to experiment. My oven has 5 settings and I cook this on number 3 (no idea what that is) for about 20 minutes. You can tell when it is ready by placing a knife into it. It should come out clean. Be careful as this could burn if you do not keep an eye on it.
  10. Apparently, you are supposed to let it cool. Don’t, dive in and scoff.

This cake is also pretty scrummy with fruit, Greek yoghurt and ice cream (yes all at the same time). You can add melted chocolate to the top or keep it simple with ground chocolate nibs.

What about a chocolate drink?

Since you asked so nicely. Make this first and use the almonds in the cake…

For the almond milk

Prepare the night before

  • Soak a handful of crude almonds in water overnight
  • In the morning throw away the water
  • Pop the almonds into a NutriBullet or similar device, add fresh water  – whizz for a minute
  • Sieve the milk through a nut bag

The Chocolate drink

  • Heat the milk
  • Add to a prepared cup containing delicious raw chocolate
  • Stir and add in other lovely things like cinnamon

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Gluten free banana bread

This gluten free banana bread is super easy to make and can be amended to suit your diet. So if you are vegan, swap the eggs for soaked chia or psyllium husks.

Today when I made this banana bread, I used up lots of left over flours. So I used a mix of rice, quinoa and soya flour.

Ingredients list

  • 300g/2 cups rice flour (or combination of flours – try your own mix) or use almond or coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp raw honey/maple syrup / sweet freedom (can replace with Stevia or Xylitol for Candida free) or you can soak a handful of dates and blend them
  • 1 packet baking powder
  • 125g olive oil / coconut oil / butter
  • 2 – 3 eggs*
  • 2 – 3 large ripe bananas – mashed (use Sweet potato for candida free)


1 egg = 1 tablespoon of flax meal or chia + 3 tablespoons water
1 egg = 3 tablespoons nut butter
1 egg = 1 teaspoon psyllium seed husk + 1/4 cup water (let it stand for 5 minutes; use = binding and moisture)

Other optional ingredients

I will often add . Another yummy ingredient is papaya or try adding raw chocolate and raw grated beetroot.

Directions for your gluten free banana bread

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 (my gas oven mark 3)
  2. Place flours and baking powder in a bowl and mix well
  3. Rub in butter or oil, until it is like fine breadcrumbs
  4. Add honey/maple/sweet freedom syrup
  5. Mix in beaten eggs (or substitute – see above)
  6. Add in banana little by little until you get dropping consistency
  7. Put into a greased bread tin
  8. Cook for approx. 40 minutes or until your knife comes out clean

Using a food processor

  1. Add all of the wet ingredients to the food processor and blend for a few minutes
  2. Add all of the dry ingredients and blend until well mixed

Other options to made your gluten free banana bread yummy

  • Cinnamon
  • Raw chocolate
  • Raw chocolate and beetroot
  • Lemon and poppy seeds
  • Chopped up dates (do not use if you want to be candida free)
  • Goji berries (do not use if you don’t eat nightshades)
  • Nuts (obviously do not use if you have a nut allergy)
  • Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg

Basically, add in other stuff that you fancy.