Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Fruit and Nut Surprise Picnic Cake ( Gluten and Dairy Free )

I love autumn picnics; wrapping up warm and enjoying the changing scenery and food. To set the scene, here's a beautiful picture taken just a few miles from my home, of the River Wye, dividing England and Wales, providing a wonderful picnic backdrop.

That means cake time too, so this month * I am  providing picnic cake recipes; making the most of some seasonal ingredients and one for chocolate lovers too. The  ideal picnic cake, moist and sweet should be easy to pick up and easy to carry. Let's make it easy to bake too so if you are ready to enjoy the autumn sunshine, we will start with a Fruit and Nut Surprise Picnic Cake.

You may ask what is the surprise? Well it seems that when I am designing recipes 'over here', aka the UK... there are certain food combinations that don't seem to be so acceptable to the general public. Whereas in the US, I would be quite happy to title this as a 'Berry and Peanut Butter Picnic Cake', here the humble peanut is not so highly regarded in cake form. In fact, you would be hard pressed to get the average person to try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, let alone base a cake on this combination. However, a little move upwards and here we have 'Fruit'; juicy blackberries and blueberries and 'Nut Cake'; peanut butter in the batter. Before you know it, retitled, they have tasted it and actually like it........

I have made several versions of this cake and the one I am really happy with has both the blackberry and blueberry in it and uses organic pure peanut butter with a slight crunch. The original recipe assumed that the blackberries would give out far more juice and I used semolina instead of gluten free flour as a topping and in the batter. That didn't work at all and I have posted a picture in the outtakes, it came out far too dry. I also used a commercial peanut butter that had extra sugar etc added but that didn't work out so flavoursome.   

If you love peanuts you can also add a good crushed tablespoonful with the demerara sugar on top. It's not sticky and not too sweet, just juicy and nutty at the same time, delicious!

Cooling off on the window sill is a Fruit and Nut Surprise Picnic Cake which can be made gluten and dairy free.

* I won't be providing a picture of my new cooker, fridge freezer and dishwasher but last month's lack of posts was primarily due to my main kitchen equipment all dying at once. Very expensive! After some trepidation of using a new oven because they all have slightly different cooking and browning abilities, I am back to baking. My last oven ran very hot and I find that I am still adjusting to the new oven and despite checking it with a thermometer, I would always urge you to adjust the recipes to your oven's preferences!


4oz (110g) Non dairy cooking fat or margarine
4oz (110g) Demerara (Raw) sugar
4oz (110g) Organic crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp milk
2 Large eggs
4oz (110g) Self raising flour / Gluten free self raising flour

4oz (110g) Blueberries
4oz (110g) Blackberries


½ tbsp  Warmed maple syrup or honey
1 tbsp Demerara sugar
Optional add 1 tbsp crushed salted peanuts


Preheat oven 160c/140c Fan/300F/Gas Mark 2.
Grease and line cake tin. This recipe was made in a 8 inch/ 20 cm by 10 inch/ 25cm oblong tin.
Cream the sugar, fat and peanut butter together. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and add milk. Place two thirds of the mixture in the tin and sprinkle most of the blueberries over. Cover lightly with the rest of the batter. Place the blackberries around the edge and the rest of the blueberries in the centre.

Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Brush top with a little warm maple or honey around the fruit and sprinkle with extra sugar and if desired, crushed peanuts.

Allow to cool before cutting.

Leaving to cool on window sill may mean that not a lot of cake gets to the picnic!


  1. Pauline, so good to see you back and bravo with all your kitchen appliances! Isn't it funny how everything seems to go at once? I have 3 machines right now which are on the verge, and can just feel it coming SOON, so I can understand the frustration!
    Love your picnic cake series, especially with that inviting view. Interesting comment about the peanuts and peanut butter. It's like that in the UK and you can imagine it's just the same in France! Your cake looks so tasty - love the blackberries in there and the cooling in the window must make your neighbours SO happy.

  2. Thank you Jill, that's what I love about Food buzz; some of the cultural divides in food still present a challenge and looking at their recipes I am often tempted, as here, to try new ideas. I still can't manage to really love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but have got some great nut butter recipes from our friendly bloggers.

  3. What gorgeous photos - the river looks like a mirror it's so still!
    I'm a huge fan of peanut butter in cakes and biscuits - just not keen on it as itself i.e. on toast or in a sandwich.
    Can empathise with your kitchen - my fridge freezer is on it's last knockings and we're hoping it holds out until the new one arrives on Wednesday! We're so dependent on all this stuff, aren't we?