Where I grew up in Southern Ontario, the highways have some of the most beautiful landscapes laying just beyond the shoulders of the road. In the escarpment, there’s sections of the road that were built by blasting away at rock, so you’re enclosed on either side by solid walls of stone as you drive. Elsewhere there are cattails, frog ponds, sloping fields of dandelions, entire forests that block off the highway from the houses and farms that grow beyond. The soil is so fertile that it’s hard to keep things from growing, even if the plants should be dissuaded by the mountains of traffic that take commuters into the city each morning. But easily one of my favourite road-side views are the sumac trees; their branches always seem to be leaning towards the road as if reaching, heavy with bright red cones.
You might be familiar with sumac as an ingredient in za’atar, or from the beverage you can make from it called sumac-ade (I’ve only had this once, on a school field trip in elementary school. It was good). Sumac is tangy in a citrusy/lemony way, but deep red in colour. This cake pairs it with orange zest and marmalade, to play up the citrus factor, and almond and spelt flours, to complement it with a round, whole, nutty taste. It’s unexpected, and pretty fun, I think. Double Canadian points for using maple syrup to sweeten.
Although I used light spelt flour for this cake, I’m fairly confident it would work with an all-purpose gluten-free blend as well, if you’re so inclined. I’m also pretty sure that the grapeseed oil could be subbed for melted coconut oil or any neutral tasting oil that you prefer working with. While I made 3 x 6″ cake rounds, you could also use 3 x 8″ pans to have a wider but shorter cake, but you may need to adjust the baking time.
- 3 cups light spelt flour
- 2 cups almond flour
- 3 tsps sumac
- zest of 1 orange (about 2-3 tsps)
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 2 1/2 tsps baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
- 1 1/2 tbsps lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
- 2 cups coconut cream*
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp organic powdered sugar or 2 tsp maple syrup
- Marmalade, optional
- Grease three 6" cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients, including zest and sumac.
- In another large bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine.
- Divide cake batter into your prepared tins and bake at 350F for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cakes cool slightly in their tins before inverting onto a cooling rack.
- Place the coconut cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment. Whisk on medium for a minute or two to break up clumps. Add in vanilla and sweetener and whisk on medium until fully incorporated.
- To assemble, layer about 2 tbsp of marmalade in between cake layers (or use coconut cream). Frost all over with coconut cream.
- For the coconut cream, stick two cans of coconut milk in the fridge until the cream separates. Scoop this out to use here, should be approximately two cups.