during this unprecedented time come 'shelf foraging' with our head chef enrico gusella and TRy out some of his favourite recipes

With a current shortage of regular white flour on the supermarket shelves, our head chef Enrico Gusella suggests using Buckwheat flour and shares his delicious Buckwheat & Apple Cake recipe with us for inspiration.

Despite its somewhat misleading name, buckwheat is actually one of the darlings of the gluten-free world. While it has a similar appearance and texture to grain, buckwheat is a type of seed and therefore does not contain any traces of gluten or wheat. It is typically sold ground (into buckwheat flour) or whole (as either roasted or unroasted groats) and can be used to make porridge, bulk up salads or as the base for gluten-free noodles, cakes and biscuits.

Buckwheat is actually a relative of the rhubarb plant, but produces seeds that are packed with complex carbohydrates which means it is often treated like a grain. Originally from the Yunnan region of China, it was first cultivated as far back as 6000 BC and used for all sorts of things – noodles, pancakes, groats (a sort of savoury porridge), pasta – and because it’s not a wheat variety, it’s completely gluten-free (though it’s only suitable for coeliacs and those avoiding gluten if certified gluten-free due to the risk of cross-contamination with wheat). Like other ancient grains, it was a popular crop throughout Europe (and was even introduced to the US) until modern bread wheat came along and took over the vast majority of production. While it still remained a specialist ingredient in places like France (where it is made into pancakes called galettes) and Japan (where it is made into noodles called soba), it was the health movements in the 1970s that started an increase in buckwheat production.

Loaves made with buckwheat flour are less common than pancakes and noodles, but they’re a popular choice for those intolerant or allergic to gluten. The crumb is dense and dark and the flavour has a slight bitter tang to it, which is why you’ll often find it mixed with other flours such as spelt or rice and creamy ingredients such as yoghurt or bananas.

Buckwheat and apple cake

Serves : 10 

Preparation & Cooking Time : 1 hour & 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 200gr butter, softened
  • 150gr caster sugar
  • 80gr soft brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 200gr buckwheat flour
  • 200gr ground hazelnut
  • 20gr baking powder
  • 2 red apple, grated with skin on
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 50ml moscato wine ( any sweet wine will do in case you don’t have any moscato leftover)

For the filling

  • 200gr Blackberry Jam (bought in or made by “Nonna” if you are as lucky as I am)

Preparation method

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and liberally butter and line a 7 inch (18cm) round loose-bottomed cake tin with butter and baking paper.

- In a food mixer, blitz togheter the buckwheat flour with ground hazelnut, orange zest and the baking powder, set aside in a bowl.

- Using an electric mixer set on medium, or a rotary beater, beat together 6 eggs white and 100gr of caster sugar until they are stiff. Scrape the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Continue to beat the eggs until the peak stands straight up when the beaters are lifted from the mixture.

- Cream the butter, 50gr of caster sugar together with the soft brown sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs yolk one at the time, beating well between each addition.

- With a large spoon, combine the contenent of the 3 bowls, adding the grated apples and moscato wine.

- Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minute, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean

- Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out on to a wire rack; allow to cool completely before slicing in half horizontally, spread your blackberry jam over the bottom of one of the slices and sandwich the second slice on the top. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving if you fancy.

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