Gluten free apple and almond cake – and the original Bramley apple

While we were in Nottingham the other week I took the opportunity to visit the little town of Southwell. While it has some nice shops, which of course I had to check out, it also has a lovely Minster church. As a child I went there for specific school or Girl Guide events, but I don’t really remember ever looking at it, so I went to see what I’d missed. A Minster is an honorific title given to some churches (the word minster derives from the Old English word mynster, from the Latin monasterium) and there has been a church on the site in Southwell since ~627.

There are some interesting features to spot – the carved mice around the alter and the carved stone lintel featuring St George and the Dragon, but I think the highlight was the Chapter House which had some amazing carvings, including quite a few of the Green Man. It’s worth a visit, if you’re in the area, and there is a cafe there in case you are in need of sustenance!

Southwell is also the home of the original Bramley Apple tree. The first ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ (it’s proper name) was grown from pips planted in her garden by a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford, in 1809. The tree in the garden was later included in the purchase of the cottage by a local butcher, Matthew Bramley in 1846, who insisted that apples from the tree and its cuttings should bear his name. Sadly the tree is now dying, although Nottingham Trent University plan to try to preserve it for as long as possible.

In 2009, to mark the bicentenary of the creation of the Bramley Apple, a stained glass Bramley Window was installed in the Minster (below left). I took the picture of a sculpture (below right) when we visited Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire. I can’t find who created it, but it made me smile…..


I don’t know if the cooking apple tree in our garden is a descendent of this original tree, but it’s apples are delicious. Below is a recipe for a lovely, moist, gluten-free and dairy-free apple and almond cake….


Gluten-free and dairy-free apple and almond cake (pdf Gluten-free and dairy free apple and almond cake)

3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped

juice of 1 lemon

50g caster sugar

3 free-range eggs

250g/11óoz ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

50g/2oz flaked almonds


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Lightly grease and line the base of a 20cm springform tin.
  2. Place the apples into a pan with half the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook on a low heat for about 7-9 minutes or until the apples are soft. Mash to a lumpy texture with a fork. Leave to cool.
  3. Put the cooled apple, eggs, ground almonds, almond essence, caster sugar and approximately one tablespoon of the remaining lemon juice into a food processor and blend together. Pour into the prepared cake tin and sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes, and if the cake is getting too brown cover the top with parchment paper or foil.
  5. Leave to cool slightly before you remove the cake from the tin. Lovely served warm or cold

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