Chocolate Orange Cake  (gluten and dairy-free)

Wednesday 29th April

I feel queasy the moment I walk in the door from drama. I’m supposed to be making cauliflower curry for dinner, but suddenly I can’t think of anything worse. I look in the freezer for the least offensive thing to cook the kids, and bung it in the oven whilst simultaneously running a bath. 

The waves of nausea are so strong that I need to be as far away from any kind of food or eating as possible. I speak to the kids in a now-listen-to-me-I’m-really-ill-and-you-must-behave voice. I tell them to eat their fishfingers without any fighting; I will be in the bath with the door open listening to every word, and Tom will be home in a minute. 

Daisy is good in these situations. She takes the role of Second-In-Command very seriously, but on this occasion there is a loud screech from her as I’m lowering myself into the bath. I must be ill because I don’t have the strength to shout at them to stop fighting (always my immediate assumption).

There’s a thundering of feet on the stairs and Daisy appears in the bathroom doorway sobbing loudly: she’s bitten her lip. Ollie arrives a few seconds behind her. He’s also bitten his lip. What is going on down there? 

I close my eyes and talk through gritted teeth (it’s taking all my concentration not to be sick), 

“Please. Go. Down. Stairs. And. Eat. Your. Dinner.”

“But I need the toilet!” insists Daisy.

“And I do too!” joins in Ollie. 

My eyes spring open.

“You are both only doing a wee. Anything else and I’ll be very cross.”

Tom comes home to find me hunched over in the bath; breathing in through my nose, out through my mouth. It is a scene reminiscent of early labour. All that is missing is Tom in his dressing gown, sitting on the loo seat frantically writing a birth plan as I shout out random phrases in no succinct order, between my contractions. 

Back to this evening, and labour must be on my mind because my opening statement to Tom is that I’m in as much pain as giving birth. I would now like to retract that statement. I think I must be delirious. I am in a lot of pain, but not that much. 

By the time I make it out of the bathroom, (which I have become far too familiar with), I seem to have missed bed-time. I hobble down the stairs like an invalid and ease myself on to the sofa to watch an episode of Bosch (LAPD detective series, highlight of my day). 

No sooner have I put my feet up on Tom’s lap and the opening credits have started to play, than I have to leap up again,

“Got to get to the bathroom,” I mutter.

I never make it downstairs again that night. 

At about midnight I come around to find myself in the bottom bunk, covered in a Thomas the Tank Engine duvet. Ollie is no doubt sprawled out in our king-size bed. Not for the first time, I wonder why we are a family that cannot stick to our designated beds. 

The all-consuming nausea is replaced with the sweats. Quite a relief really. I can hear the coffee grinder whirring downstairs. I text Tom:

Hi!!!! How are you???

I get no reply, which is quite annoying because I hear his phone beep, no doubt on the table next to him. I try again.

I’m awake up here!

Finally he takes the hint and comes padding up the stairs. I should think he’s glad of the excuse – he’s trying to complete his work-mileage for the last seven months. He flops down on the floor amongst Ollie’s toys.

“So I’ve been thinking!” I say, “And I’ve come up with a great idea! The kids are going to be really disappointed that they can’t vote on 7th May, so I think we should set up an alternative children’s polling station in our garden! I’m going to make a polling booth out of cardboard boxes, and the kids will wear rosettes to represent their chosen parties. And we’ll make Vote Me biscuits!”

Tom let’s me go on in this vain for several minutes. He doesn’t really have a choice: I won’t let him get a word in edgeways. Finally, when I pause to draw breath he says,

“You know you’ve got the same bright, ringing voice the children have when they’ve got a temperature?”

I think this is code for ‘you’re delirious and wittering on’.

Tuesday 5th May


Fast-forward a week and I’m only just beginning to feel normal again. It has been six days of no cooking, no writing, and most surprisingly, very little eating. 

All the more reason then, to enjoy this wonderful cake at my neighbour’s house this morning. It is so moist, and spongy and decadent, that you would never in a million years believe that it is flour-less. A welcome back to the world of food doesn’t get much better than this. Thank you, Cat! 

If you would like to have a go yourself, it is a Nigella recipe and involves boiling a whole orange for an hour. Definitely worth it! Here’s to a lot more eating this week……

4 thoughts on “Chocolate Orange Cake  (gluten and dairy-free)”

  1. I am sorry you have been so ill Sarah but glad you are back and looking forward to reading your hilarious blogs again. I can´t wait to try the cake it looks amazing! It will have to be next week though as this week we are on a sugar and gluten free week! x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yum. Wonder if I can get Mat to make me this for my birthday? Looks amazing. I’m already planning on requesting your coconut pancakes for breakfast. Would it be greedy to ask for a cake too?? I feel I’ll deserve it by then if I manage to stick to this super healthy diet for the whole 3 weeks (unlikely)! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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