This is how I usually start my day – After washing off the sleep from my face, I kick off my morning with about a 25-30min short workout before treating myself to a delicious breakfast of Greek Yoghurt with fresh fruits, nuts and some granola along with a side of my fizzy vitamin C drink. Thereafter, I do a quick browse through Foodgawker, some local food blogs and catch up with the news and gossip online. If my workload for the day is on the heavier side, I might keep the tabs open and visit them later in the day while I have cakes baking in the oven and more waiting their turn.
So this morning, I was reading through a blog post on 16 Restaurants and Cafes in Singapore that offer gluten-free options. It’s interesting how gluten-free foods have started to penetrate the food scene so strongly, and even I have quite a few recipes here that are gluten-free. That being said, I felt a little annoyed when the writer wrote of one of restaurant where “you can do away with those nasty carbohydrates and gluten by having zucchini noodles instead”.
Carbohydrates are NOT nasty! Neither is gluten.
- Carbohydrates are our body’s MAIN source of energy. They keep our moods up, keep our tummies full, and are beneficial to our heart health. Sure! Not all carbs are equal but they are certainly not nasty.
- Gluten may act as a prebiotic that feeds ‘good’ bacteria in our bodies. Also, the consumption of whole grains, wheat included, is shown to have benefits to our overall long-term health by lowering the potential for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 Diabetes.
Of course, if you have Coeliac’s Disease or a wheat allergy, then ought to steer clear of gluten. My point really is that, gluten and carbs are not the health demons the media makes them out to be. I’m not saying to go all out and gorge on pretzels and pizzas and muffins. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t restrict yourself to a gluten-free diet unless you have health issues relating to gluten.
There are no ‘bad’ foods, only ‘bad’ diets. Have more veggies, more fresh fruit, more heart-healthy fats in your meals, but feel free to indulge every once in a while in a piece of cake that’s full fat, high(ish) in sugar, and rich in gluten. Because life is too short to not enjoy the chewiness of a real bagel; to bite into a dense, fudgy brownies; to dive into a plate of sausages doused in gravy, mopped up with a slice or two or three of rye sourdough bread, and washed down with a cold pint of beer (yup! they all contain gluten!).
Now, with my rant over, let me present to you my not-gluten-free, not-carb-free, not-sugar-free, not-fat-free Apple, Orange & Sultana Italian Breakfast Cake – at least I’ve got fresh fruits in there no?
I actually made this bundt first with apples, an orange, pears and fresh cranberries. I was a little too generous with the ingredients that I pretty much created fruits with cake rather than cake with fruits. Upon removing the tin, the cake crumbled apart along with my heart.
I was annoyed with myself for knowing that I’d prepared too much fruit, and yet stubbornly went on to put them all into the cake anyway. That’s me – stubborn! I couldn’t get the irritation with myself out of my head and proceeded on the next day to make a sequel to the first almost-cake. Thankfully, this sequel proved to be a huge hit with a few fruit substitutions since I’d used some up in the previous one.
Apple, Orange and Sultana Italian Breakfast Cake (Makes 1 Bundt)
200g Mascarpone Cheese, at room temperature
200g Milk+Juice of 1 Orange
70g Butter, melted and cooled
300g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and chopped. Lightly coat with flour
1 Orange, Zested (and juiced for the milk+OJ combination above)
- Preheat oven to 175 deg C and prepare bundt tin.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Whisk in mascarpone cheese.
- Once blended, mix in milk and orange juice
*Squeeze the juice of one orange out and measure. Then top up with milk to get 200g
- Incorporate flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into the mixture until just combined.
- Fold in chopped apples, orange zest and sultanas.
- Pour batter into prepared bundt tin and bake for 45-50min until golden brown and springy to the touch.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30min before removing from tin.
I was so happy with this cake – tart green apples, sweet zesty orange, and tiny bursts of sultanas wrapped within a cake containing mascarpone cheese, full-cream milk, pure unsalted butter, and plain white flour. Oh the horror! But remember, plain flour is not all bad. It definitely contains good nutrition, only when compared to other types of flours like whole grain, spelt, rye, semolina, tapioca… it may pale in comparison.
Cakes and pastries are supposed to be occasional luxuries so you might as well go all out and enjoy every single crumb of fork-licking (or finger-licking if you’re like me) goodness. Whether made with gluten, without gluten, paleo, high in carbs, or high in protein, make sure it’s something you thoroughly take pleasure in. Don’t fall into this idea of foods being ‘good’ or ‘evil’. While there are foods that are more nutritious, and foods that are less nutritious relative to something else, they are ALL vital to the workings of our bodies. So when life gives you fresh fruit, butter, eggs and flour, BAKE!