Starting From Scratch

I am a dessert person. I love dessert.  There is no doubt that I got my love of desserts entirely from my mom. My dad is not a “dessert person”, at all. Apparently, when it came to dessert at a restaurant, they did the “she gets the dessert, he tastes a couple of bites” routine. And I don’t mean “he actually eats half”, I actually mean a couple of bites. If I let my husband share my dessert, I generally cut it in half first because a) I don’t share well, and b) he also loves dessert (although slightly less than me).

Since it was my dad’s birthday a few days ago, I wanted to make him a cake that was, well, healthy. Something he would actually eat. I wanted to make a super fancy raw cake, but didn’t have the time to do all the prep (i.e. learn how to make 8 cups of almond milk from scratch). I resorted to making a “regular” cake. I figured an apple cake. Between applesauce and apple bits, if I searched for a healthy vegan apple cake, there would be something, right? Wrong. Apparently “healthy” includes at least 1/2 cup of oil, usually more like 1 full cup. After nearly an hour of searching, I gave up. I did some research. I built my own recipe from scratch. Nearly 1/3 of the recipe volume was applesauce.

And it tastes and looks delicious!

20140322_223944

Except for one itsy bitsy problem…it’s super dry and crumbly. Half of me wants to just try upping the applesauce, as it was a pretty thick batter. The other half of me is fairly sure I will have to increase the coconut oil from 2 tbsp to 3 or 4 tbsp. The tragedy! Unfortunately, until this fiasco is resolved, I will be keeping this recipe to myself. I don’t think there’s a huge demand for healthy, crumbly apple cakes.

I suppose the problem could be covered up solved by slathering it in icing…but where’s the fun in that?

What’s your favourite “healthy” dessert recipe?

Advertisements

Natural Vegan Rainbow Cake

My sister turned 19 this past week. Much to my relief, she didn’t immediately go out and get drunk (19 is the legal age in BC). I like to think she had a good birthday anyway.

I realized a few days beforehand that a rainbow cake was the perfect type of cake to make for her. If you knew her, this would make sense to you. If you don’t…well, she’s a very special 19 year old. One thing I’ve discovered in the past year, though, is that what they make the food dye out of is nasty business. Not only what it’s made from, but how they test it…pass, thanks. It’s not to say I never buy premade food with food dye in it, because that wouldn’t be true. But I do try and avoid it when possible. Besides, it’s much more exciting to try and colour things naturally.

After a lot of research, I decided to double a 9″ white cake recipe and split the resulting batter into 5 parts.

  1. Pink / Red – Raspberries
  2. Orange – Carrot juice
  3. “Yellow” – Mango (It wasn’t very yellow at all)
  4. Green – Matcha powder
  5. Purple / Blue – Blueberries

For the raspberries, blueberries and mango, I put 3/4 of a cup (approximately) worth of frozen fruit into a mug and threw it into the microwave until everything was thawed and mushy. Then, I squished the fruit into a fine-mesh strainer with a spoon, draining all the juice out into the batter.

Because I was putting extra liquid into the batter, I cut out 1/4 cup of milk for each layer. Then add in 1/4 cup of milk to any layer that isn’t getting extra juice put into it (i.e. the Matcha layer).

It was SO much fun, watching the batter turn colours and then seeing how everything turned out in the end!

20140302_203936

The best part was that the berry layers actually tasted like blueberry and raspberry!

The worst part was, my measurement skills sucked, so the layers are 3 different sizes. I don’t even know how I did it, I was using a scale.

Also, the icing job went very poorly, since there just wasn’t quite enough. I shaved down the cakes since somehow, despite being baked in the same pans, they were different sizes. Regardless, I think I covered it up nicely.

20140302_160451

All I can say is, thank goodness for large coconut shavings. And cake shavings, I guess?

The icing was very very sweet, so in the end, it was a good thing there was only a thin layer on everything. It was delcious though, and you can find it over on instructables. The cake recipe turned out amazingly, even with my tinkering (we ran out of butter so I subbed in some applesauce, and I also used nearly 1/2 c less sugar). It is the Vanilla Cupcakes recipe from The Joy Of Vegan Baking, which is a cookbook I highly recommend. The recipes aren’t “healthy versions”, but they are accurate vegan replicas of the classics, which is really useful to have on hand. And I must confess, the colouring ideas weren’t my own (except for the mango…which didn’t work…), I found a lot of helpful information on Growing A Green Family.

Verdict? I highly recommend making this cake; it’s fun to make and to eat!

 

Fan Friday #3

It’s Friday again (thank goodness)! This week, I’d like to put the spotlight on something that I can’t believe I didn’t discover sooner.

Fan Friday Presents…Microwave Baking!

I love the microwave. It quickly and efficiently reheats leftovers, steams veggies, helps make quick chocolate sauce, and now, it bakes, too. It is a recent trend, and I did try it a few weeks ago, but the recipe turned out a bit sub par. So when I made the Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cake from the one and only Chocolate Covered Katie (Seriously, check out her recipes. Now!), I was blown away by how easy and delicious it was.

C'mon, doesn't that look amazing?

C’mon, doesn’t that look amazing?

The recipe pictured is German Chocolate Cake For One — which, while it had an amazing texture, was extremely lacking on sweetness. This is our fault because we subbed out the oil for applesauce and then reduced the sugar by 1/2 tbsp. Fortunately the chocolate chips on top and some ice cream made up for the lack of sweetness.

Well, what are you waiting for? All you need is 10 minutes and a microwave! And then there’s no pesky leftovers to deal with (or tempt you).

Have you tried any microwave baking? What’s your favourite recipe?

Carrot Cake Variation

Carrot cake. Delicious not just because of the generous portions of cream cheese icing (it really can’t be called carrot cake with any other type of icing)–but also due to the high oil content. Unlike most cakes that use butter, carrot cake just says “screw it, I’m not going to pretend” and uses oil. I read somewhere that it was because oil was much easier to come by during wartime, when the recipe was created. It also helps keep everything moist much better than butter.

However, I tend to balk at putting in 1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil. Instead, I turn to my good friend applesauce. I found this recipe over at allrecipes.com years ago, read tons of the comments, and added the best modifications to it. Then I changed it some more. What’s left is a slightly less unhealthy, but still very delicious cake.

image

Carrot Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Beat together in large bowl:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix in smaller bowl:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine dry and wet ingredients, then add:

  • 1 8 oz can crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 3 c grated carrots
  • 1 c unsweetened coconut (optional)

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely (unless you’re using a glass baking dish, in which case you can leave it in there).

Icing

Beat until creamy in a medium bowl:

  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 c icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c unsweetened coconut (optional)

Wait to ice the cake until it has cooled completely!

Even halving the oil, the cake was still very moist, thanks to the pineapple and applesauce. In order to compensate for all that extra acid introduced by these oil alternatives, I cut down the baking powder–the previous time I made it, there was a slightly odd taste to it, like it hadn’t all reacted. This seemed to do it because there was no funny taste this time.

Only using 1 1/2 cups of sugar did make a noticeable difference in sweetness. This was definitely compensated for by the icing, but if one was using a less sweet icing (or heaven forbid, none!), it might be worth adding a bit more.

The end result was sampled by at least a dozen different people and everyone loved it. Hope other people love it too 🙂

Sarah