Friday, 5 August 2016

Savoury Cake with Spiced Onions & Chickpeas

Savoury Cake with Spiced Onions & Chickpeas

Have I told you about Band of Bakers? If not, it's probably about time I did. It's my fourth baby (my first was a cat and the middle two are human). Founded by Gemma and I in 2012 out of a mutual love of cooking, baking, eating, talking and, well to be perfectly honest, drinking.

Band of Bakers is a bake club. A bit like a book club, but with a lot less reading and a lot more baking. And some sleepless nights. Sugar fuelled and stuffed to the gunnels it is virtually impossible to nod off until the early hours after an event. 

The itinerant Band of Bakers roves around our gorgeous little corner of SE London, hosted by generous local business owners The PalmerstonThe Crooked Well and Brickhouse Bakery every couple of months. Each event is themed so you rarely taste the same bake twice. Except at our retro event when there were no less than THREE black forest gateaux. But, you know, cherries and kirsch.

For the last innovation-themed event before our summer break I baked this savoury cake. It's kind of a riff on a cornbread, but with warm spices and gorgeously fragrant curry leaves. I had a bag of yellow pea flour lurking in my cupboard, which is produced by Hodmedods, a Suffolk-based independent business sourcing and supplying British-grown pulses, grains and flours. A naturally gluten free flour, milled in Essex from British-grown split peas, it is high in protein and a great alternative to gram flour. The idea was for bakers to create a bake using ingredients or techniques they had never used before. So this was my contribution - a simple, delicious savoury cake. Great served with dal and raita or as a pre-dinner nibble with drinks. Leftovers make for a good picnic or lunchbox filler.

Savoury Cake with Spiced Onions & Chickpeas (gluten free)


For the cake:

150g course gluten free polenta 
75g fine ground yellow pea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala 
250g whole milk yogurt
2 medium eggs
50g butter

For the topping:

2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
large pinch gluten free asafoetida 
2 large onions, sliced 
10-12 fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp soft brown sugar
1-2 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed


In a large bowl, mix together the polenta, yellow pea flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, turmeric and garam masala. In a separate bowl, beat the yogurt and eggs together then stir into the dry ingredients and mix to form a smooth batter. Put to one side whilst you make the topping.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C.

Put a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the black mustard seeds and asafoetida. Wait for the mustard seeds to begin to pop (about a minute) then add the onions and fry for around 10 minutes, until they have softened and golden. Add the fresh curry leaves, ground turmeric, chilli powder, salt, black pepper and brown sugar and stir to coat the onions. Finally, add the tamarind paste and chickpeas and stir to combine.

Put the butter in a 20cm x 30cm rectangular roasting tin and put it into the oven until the butter has melted and the tin is piping hot. Pour the batter into the tin and quickly put the onion and chickpea mixture over the top (I find that the easiest way to do this is with your fingers). 

Put the roasting tin back into the oven and cook for about 10 mins, until golden brown.

Serve hot or cold.