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JOANNA'S GLUTEN-FREE RICE PUDDING CAKE

Don't be fooled by the name, this is a cake, not a pudding. And it's a jolly good one - heavy but nice and moist and full of flavour. The dried apricots, cinnamon and nutmeg all help ensure that it's packed with flavour.

Ingredients:

   3 cups cooked rice
   4 eggs, beaten
   1/2 cup demerara sugar (OR brown sugar)
   2 medium bananas, mashed
   2 apples, finely chopped
   500g (1 pound) cottage cheese
   2 cups mixed dried fruit
   1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
   1/2 cup mixed nuts OR almonds, roughly chopped
   grated rind of one mandarin OR orange
   1 teaspoon nutmeg
   1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method:
Combine everything and mix well. Place mixture in a greased tin. Joanna uses a fancy fluted ring (one with a hole in the middle). Bake at 220 C (400 F) for about half an hour until firm and cooked through. When a skewer comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Allow to cool in the tin.

Note: Demerara sugar is raw brown sugar, originally from Demerara in Guyana. Although Australia grows endless acres of sugar cane, demerara sugar is considered so good that Australia imports it. Some people like it in their coffee. Demerara adds a sort of toffee-ish taste to the cake. If you don't have demerara, don't worry - the cake will still be delicious.

Channel Island folk: If you live in the Channel Islands, beware! A cook there says she has made several attempts at this recipe and they've all been disasters! She has somehow managed to make it both sloppy and too dry. The cake Joanna makes is a very heavy, moist cake, firm enough to cut into large slices. Don't expect a light, fluffy sponge-style cake.

Joanna makes it with an Australian, partly pre-cooked, long-grain rice, Sungold, which is similar to an American rice, called Uncle Ben's. The rice should be well drained after cooking in water, and Joanna usually leaves it in the fridge for at least a few hours before baking the cake.

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Allan Gardyne, Golden Beach, Queensland, Australia.
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