Two Plum, Almond & Ricotta Cakes – one Gluten free, one regular

Here’s a lovely cake or, to be more correct, “lovely cakes”. Yes, the recipe below is for two, one gluten free and one “regular”. Both are equally good; equally firm, moist and fruity; equally easy to bake.

I found extra interest in the logistics of making these cakes simultaneously, while maintaining what I’ll call “gluten-free integrity”. It was a good challenge. Give it a go and see if you agree.

Throughout this recipe I’ll refer to the gluten free cake as GF, which is rather obvious. I was going to call the other cake the “normal” one, but some people may not like that term, so I’ll borrow a word used in US and call it the “regular” cake. I hope that’s OK.

Serves: 10 – 12 slices per cake

Level: The cakes are easy, but the logistics need some thought

Time: Around two hours, but be prepared to be flexible

Equipment: Two 20cm/8” loose bottomed round cake tins with reasonably high sides

Extra items: Having two wooden spoons, two spatulas etcetera will be helpful. Use one for GF work, the other for non-GF. The alternative is lots of speedy washing up.


  • 400g/14oz Ricotta cheese
  • 225g/8oz butter, melted
  • 6 eggs
  • 350g/12oz golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract and/or 1 tsp almond extract
  • 150g/5.5oz  GF self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum powder
  • 150g/5.5oz  “regular” self-raising flour
  • 120g/4.5oz polenta
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 300g/10oz ground almonds
  • 4 Tbsn milk
  • A 340g/12oz jar of plum jam or apricot
  • About 16 – 18 plum halves, from a jar
  • Flaked almonds – maybe around 50g, or just have the bag handy and see how it goes.
  • About 45g/1.5oz  demerara sugar
  • More jam to glaze


1. Pre-heat oven to 180C / Fan 160C / 350F / Gas 4. Butter the tins and line the bases with parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, beat the Ricotta, butter, eggs and sugar together. (It may look curdled, but don’t worry, it will be fine later. Resist the urge to put in any “regular” flour.) Mix in the vanilla extract and/or almond extract.

3. Separate the mixture equally into two large bowls.

4A. Into one of the bowls, sift 150g GF flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum powder, 60g polenta and ½ tsp baking powder.  Stir in 150g ground almonds and 2 Tbsp milk. (This is now the GF bowl, mark it or label it in some way. I used a small piece of paper attached to the bowl with a clothes peg.)

4B. Using the other bowl, repeat 4A, but with “regular” self-raising flour and no xanthan gum powder.

5. Spoon half of each mixture into separate baking tins then blob and spread half of the jam over each one. Sprinkle lightly with flaked almonds. Cover with the remaining mixtures and level them. (As above, you will need a way of identifying each tin/mixture.)

6. Arrange the plums on the top of each mixture, add the almonds and then sprinkle over the demerara sugar. (You could arrange the plums differently as a way of identifying the GF and “regular” cake.)

7. Tap the tins on the work surface a couple of times to settle the mixtures then bake for around 60 – 65 minutes, until risen and golden.*

8. Leave the cakes in their tins for 5 – 10 minutes then remove to cool fully on a wire rack.

9. To glaze the cakes, warm some glaze or jam in the micro-wave with a tbsp. water (or use the syrup from the plum jars). Sieve if necessary then brush over the cakes. It’s up to you whether or not to do the sides, but if the cakes become a bit crumbly round the sides coming out of the tins, a nice glaze could hide it.

*I found that the GF cake baked nearly 10 minutes ahead of the “regular” one, but this might have been because of where it was placed in the oven. Also, take care when using the skewer method of checking for “doneness”, the jam mid-layer can be misleading.

Tips to maintain “gluten-free integrity”:

  • Have two of each utensil.
  • and/or work on the GF cake first at each stage then transfer to the “regular” one.
  • Label the bowls and tins to differentiate.
  • Decorate each cake differently.
  • Very important – remember which is which (Or write it down.)