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7 April 2015

A belated Happy Easter! I hope you were all able to enjoy the sunny long weekend. The weather is divine and it really does feel like Spring has finally sprung.

Easter often gets overlooked as a holiday in the UK, with children preoccupied by the chocolate, and adults (myself included) enjoying the double bank holiday. Fear not, I'm not about to launch into an attack on modern values - that would be very hypocritical from the girl eating a white chocolate egg as she types.

Rather, it seems a shame that the familial, season celebrations that this holiday used to encompass seem to have been forgotten. Easter marks the end of winter, new life and a certain circularity which isn't captured by other traditional celebrations. If nothing else, Easter should be an opportunity to rest up, take stock and spend time with the people you love.

Now, enough of the sentimentality. This recipe is perfect for those of us who, just maybe, overdid it a little of the sweet stuff this weekend. A health tonic it is not, but this cake is gluten and dairy free, and can be whipped up in less than an hour. Peaches, while not strictly in season just yet, are one of my favourite foods and work perfectly with the sweet, gooey centre of the cake. Any baked fruit would do - plumbs, pears and apricots all work beautifully too.
100ml olive oil
75g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
75g polenta 
1 tsp baking powder (use gluten free if needed)
2 eggs
1 lemon, zested
2-3 peaches

Begin with the peaches. Preheat your oven to 180C, then slice the peaches into 8 pieces each. Arrange in a dish that is lightly greased with oil, and drizzle with honey and a sprinkling of salt. Bake until soft - this will be around 30 minutes, depending on how ripe your fruit is.

For the cake, line a 7" tin with baking parchment, and lightly oil the sides. Mix together the oil and sugar until the mixture is foamy and pale. Beat in the eggs.

Separately, combine the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder and lemon zest. Add this to the oil mixture, and beat until well-mixed and pale. Pour into your prepared tin, and bake for 25-30 minutes at the same temperature as the peaches. The cake is done when it has the slightest of wobbles in the middle when shaken, and has a pale crust on the top.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for ten minutes, before carefully transferring to a wire rake. Serve the cake warm or cold piled high with peaches, and with some crème fraiche (or dairy-free alternative) if desired. 

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