In honor of reaching 5000 followers on Instagram I’ve decided to do a giveaway for one of my cakes! The winner will be chosen at random and will win one 6″ round cake. You get to choose the flavor! Cake must be picked up in Los Angeles and be redeemed by August 23, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Lately I’ve been craving cookies at all times of the day. Not wanting to make something just “eh” or nutritionally void, I came up with these! They’re filled with all types of nuts and seeds and are almost gluten free. I sweetened them with sucanat which gives it a darker color and richer flavor. No, they’re not a typical doughy, chewy cookie but it definitely satisfies my craving.

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In other news, thank you to everyone that RSVPed to the first LA Cake Club meeting! Every spot filled up in less than an hour, so next time I’ll be sure to let you know well in advance when the eventbrite page will be up. I’m excited to see how it all turns out and meet new people! But the big question is… what cake am I going to bring?! Any suggestions?

Seed-y Cookies
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 T flax seeds
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 T hemp hearts
  • 1 T millet
  • 2 T chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 2 T almond meal/flour
  • 3 T chocolate chips
  • ⅓ c spelt flour
  • ½ c rolled oats
  • ¼ c coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ c sucanat
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flax + 3 T water)
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Make flax egg by combining ground flax and water. Set aside and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together dry ingredients (everything minus the flax egg, sucanat, and coconut oil).
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together flax egg, oil, and sucanat. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.
  5. Place heaping tablespoons of dough onto a lined baking sheet. You can keep them rough and craggly or smooth them out. Keep in mind the cookies do not spread that much.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned around the edges. Cookies will be slightly soft and fragile, so let cool completely before enjoying. Makes 8 cookies.

 

 

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Did any of you grow up eating those orange flavored chocolates shaped like an orange that you had to whack on a counter top so they’d split into segments? They were definitely a childhood favorite, yet somewhere along the way I must have forgotten about them. Luckily for me, this cake tastes just like it! Every bite brings me back to attempting the perfect whack to get the chocolate to fall apart just so.

This cake version of the candy bar is much better for you. Made with almond flour instead of wheat flour, it’s gluten free and grain free, sweetened with brown rice syrup and a whole orange, with no butter or dairy in sight. The longest part of the process is boiling the orange. Yes, you boil a whole orange in water until it’s soft enough to cut through. For my smallish/medium sized orange, that took about 35 minutes.

The results are a rich, chocolately, soft yet slightly dense cake. The almond flour makes the cake surprisingly filling that I don’t need more than one slice to feel satisfied. One more serving and it puts me over the edge (ask me how I know). It is seriously so good that I am always so tempted to go in for another piece. I don’t believe in labeling desserts “guilt free” because those types of feelings shouldn’t be associated with food, but I don’t feel the slightest bit bad for indulging in something made with such wholesome ingredients.

I garnished my cake with a pouring of chocolate ganache and maldon flaked salt, but a dusting of cocoa powder would also be beautiful and delicious!

Chocolate Orange Cake - Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tbsp oil (such as coconut, walnut, avocado, sunflower)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Boil orange in water until soft, about 35-45 minutes, depending on size. Remove from water and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325° F and grease 6" round cake pan.
  3. Using a blender or food processor, puree entire boiled orange until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and continue to blend until smooth. Batter will be thick.
  4. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Let cool in pan, then remove and garnish with cocoa powder or ganache.

 

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Uh oh, do I feel a new hobby coming on? I always thought tempering chocolate was a task too difficult for me to take on, especially without fancy equipment. Maybe it’s just after years of practicing patience in baking and a better understanding of sugar that I am able to tackle chocolate.

Armed with my digital thermometer this was my process:

  • Melt couverture chocolate in a bain marie up to 120° F
  • Seed it with some tempered chocolate around 85°
  • Bring temperature down to 80°
  • Bring it back up to 89-90°
  • All while stirring like crazy to make sure those beta crystals were thoroughly distributed.

Will you believe that it worked?! I certainly didn’t. I tested the chocolate for fingerprints, melting, blooming, and many other suspects of untempered chocolate a million times, but they never showed up.

Then, after seeing my candied meyer lemon cake last week, my friend Natalie came over to candy some more citrus from her backyard trees. We candied grapefruit, orange, blood orange, and lemon. Of course, I had to try dipping these in chocolate as well. I might create a tutorial on how to candy citrus if there is interest (let me know by leaving a comment!). It’s simple and straightforward with satisfying results. Perhaps a great homemade Valentine’s gift!

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A few days ago I came across a group in Australia called the Canberra Cake Club. I was immediately intrigued by the name (obviously) and had to find out more. Turns out it’s exactly what it sounds like: a club where members bring cake to share and enjoy! Of course, the next logical step was to ask Twitter what they thought, and now a Los Angeles Cake Club is in the works.

The club will meet every month or so (perhaps every other month) and everyone is asked to bring a small cake or dessert, a container to take home others’ creations, and a positive attitude :) Follow along on twitter for more updates: LACakeClub. Once I get things going (soon, I promise!) An events page will be set up so you can RSVP and receive the location.

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For this week’s cake I decided not to make something gluten free/sugar free/dairy free. Many people get turned off by these words so I thought I’d try making something a little more approachable. With citrus season in full swing I decided to make a wholesome meyer lemon cake. Whole wheat flour and cornmeal were used to give the cake some heft and texture, but rest assured there is still enough butter and sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. I topped off the cake with candied lemon slices which could not be easier to make. Simply slice your lemons and simmer them in simple syrup (1:1 ratio) for about 30 min to 1 hour. To make the cake more visually appealing I dusted it with the slightest bit of powdered sugar.

On a more somber note, this cake is dedicated to an acquaintance of mine that I met a couple years ago. We had only met a few times but instantly bonded over kale, sauerkraut, kombucha, and SQIRL. Unfortunately I just learned that she recently passed away from cervical cancer. While we were not close, anyone that has met her can attest for her upbeat attitude and inspiring outlook on life. She was a beam of light and happiness, and I hope this cake does her justice. This one is for you, Lauren!

Whole Wheat Candied Lemon Cake
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ½ c whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ c cornmeal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 6" cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (flour, cornmeal, baking powder).
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and lemon juice and zest until light and fluffy. Add a third of the flour mixture and mix together until just combined. Beat in 1 egg until thickened, then continue alternating with flour and egg one more time, ending with flour.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Let cool then garnish with candied lemon and a dusting of powdered sugar.

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I am excited to announce that I will soon be offering cake classes! The idea has been mulling in my head for the past year now, but it is only now that I’ve mustered up the courage to host them.

My first class will teach you cake baking and decorating basics. First, we will go over how to make a classic butter cake–properly measuring and preparing ingredients, how the cake batter is supposed to look like at each step, and how to know when your cake is finished baking. Next, everyone will get to assemble and decorate their own 6″ layered cake. This includes learning how to torte layers, crumb coating, decorating with buttercream, and adding final embellishments like flowers. You’ll learn helpful tips and tricks to make your cakes look and taste like they are straight from your favorite bakery. All materials and supplies will be provided and everyone will go home with their very own 6″ cake!

I am still finalizing the venue (if you know of somewhere in the Los Angeles area with access to a fridge, let me know!) but if you’d like to get the latest updates please sign up for my mailing list. I promise I won’t spam you :)

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For the last few days I’ve been recipe testing a healthy cookie–no butter, no added sugars, lots of fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients. Oh, and grain free and vegan. It hasn’t been going well. It later dawned on me that what makes a cookie a cookie is the starch, fat, and sugar. Taking them out simply produced something more cake/biscuit like which is not what I was going for (although still rather tasty given its components).

Though I haven’t given up just yet, it made me wonder why I was trying to make something with so many restrictions. I’m not vegan, I don’t have a gluten intolerance, and I don’t follow a “paleo” diet. Part of it is because I enjoy a good challenge, but mostly it’s because I believe the best diet is a varied diet. It’s easy to get stuck eating the same vegetables or even the same meals day after day. Go on instagram and see how many #mealprepmonday photos are filled with chicken breast, tilapia, brown rice, broccoli, and sweet potato. Eating “clean” (don’t get me started on that term either, but that’s another story for another day) is definitely healthier than fast food, but there are so many varieties of grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts that offer more than just sustenance. Varying the types of foods you eat offers you a wide range of nutrients you might otherwise not be getting, and sometimes restrictions encourage you to seek out new ingredients rather than relying on old favorites.

Since the cookie recipe has yet to be perfected, I thought I’d share something more up my alley: a cake, of course! Last night I came across a dessert called an apple sharlotka, a Russian/Polish cake that has a large proportion of sliced apples to actual cake batter. The structure is mostly from eggs so I thought it would be a good candidate for gluten free flours. Along the way I came across something similar from Leite’s Culinaria, the drunken apple cake. Still a large proportion of apples but this time with butter creating a richer cake. I made a combination of the two and ended up with a gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free apple cake. No, not as indulgent as the others but delicious nonetheless!

A combination of almond flour and oat flour was used for this recipe, mostly because it’s what I had on hand. I originally planned to use a bit of brown rice flour but that was nowhere to be found. For sweetness I used a combination of brown rice syrup and maple syrup, but I am sure honey would be fine as well. I should really call this an almond maple apple cake instead. The maple really shines so make sure you use a good quality syrup. As soon as the cake came out of the oven I brushed it with a tablespoon of maple syrup then garnished with chopped almonds. The almonds aren’t necessary but it dresses up an otherwise plain cake and adds some nice texture. Next time I might try adding a few tablespoons of rum like drunken apple cake to deepen the flavor.

I’m pretty happy with how it came out. The fat from the almonds, fiber from the apples, plus a hit of sweetness from the maple syrup keep my sweet tooth in check with the tiniest of slices. An unfussy cake fit for a weeknight dessert, I’d say.

Sliced Apple Cake - GF, DF, SF
 
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gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • ½ c almond flour
  • ½ c oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ c oil
  • ¼ c + 2 tbsp (6 tbsp) honey or maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a 6" round pan, 3" tall.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt).
  3. Using a hand or stand mixer, whisk together in a separate bowl the oil, honey/maple syrup, and eggs until aerated and slightly frothy, about 5 minutes. Add dry ingredients and fold until combined. Batter should be slightly thick.
  4. Portion one third of the batter into the prepared pan, then lay half of the apple slices in a concentric circle. Add a third more batter, and repeat with the remaining apples. Finish off with the last of the batter.
  5. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes inside pan, then invert on stand and let cool until room temperature.
  6. Slice with a sharp knife and serve with coconut cream, a drizzle of honey, or a dusting of powdered sugar.

 

 

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Yesterday I attempted to make a gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free pumpkin cake, but both attempts turned out to be flops. This sort of baking is remarkably different than the traditional types made with white flour, white sugar, eggs, and butter. It’s even a little intimidating. Should the batter be this thick or runny? What will give the cake structure? How little added sugar can I get away with? While I can bake pretty much any of my standard cakes with my eyes closed, more wholesome recipes require me to take note of every little detail.

So to gain a little confidence back after being defeated yesterday, I thought to follow a recipe from one of my favorite new books, Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau. As soon as I received the book, I read it from cover to cover. Every page is filled with so many helpful tips for baking with different grains, sugars, and fats. I chose to make the Coconut and Palm Sugar Cake. Made with coconut palm sugar, coconut flour, and shredded coconut, coconut cream and coconut oil, it’s definitely got a lot of coconut going on. There’s also a bit of lime zest added into the mix and spelt flour for structure. It would almost be vegan except for the eggs, which are a necessary component that cannot be replaced with flax or chia. For now, dairy free and refined sugar free is fine by me.

As I brought the cake out of the oven the kitchen was instantly filled with a warm coconut scent. Instead of using the accompanying cream cheese frosting recipe, I topped it off with coconut whipped cream, then drizzled it with a lime and coconut sugar syrup. There is a nice moist, though slightly dense crumb which I am guessing is from the coconut flour. I am not the biggest coconut lover (except for fresh young coconuts) but the lime was a perfect partner. Next time I will leave out the shredded coconut as it’s not my favorite texture.

I won’t be sharing the recipe here since it’s not my own, but I do strongly encourage you to check out Jude’s books if you’re interested in more wholesome baking. The recipes include wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, and egg free options. There’s really something for everyone!

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Happy New Year! It’s been a little quiet around these parts but I’m determined to change that this year. I’ve decided to change my focus to creating more wholesome, healthier desserts. More on that soon, but in the mean time here is a ginger molasses bundt cake I tested out yesterday. I brought it to a New Year’s gathering yesterday and I’m so happy to report that everyone loved it. These are family members that love cakes loaded with sugar and white flour, so I took it as quite a compliment!

I was inspired to make this cake after baking sticky date pudding for Christmas. It was a total sugar bomb, made with over 2 cups of brown sugar, but totally rich and delicious for a special occasion. The recipe called for blending the dates with water, sugar and butter which I’d ever done before. I was curious (and a little worried) to see if the cake was going to come out gummy. Lo and behold it was light and fluffy! I knew I had to try the same technique with gluten free flours.

A few important notes:

I used a 3 cup bundt pan for this recipe. It’s not a common size, so I tried it in a 6″ cake pan as well. It had to bake slightly longer but still came out fine, so be sure to keep an eye on it.

Here are two ways I decorated the cake, one with chocolate ganache and one with simple powdered sugar on top. The ganache looks much more decadent while the powdered sugar is more simple and casual. Both are equally tasty.

I have tested this recipe with both butter and oil and there was no difference in the final product.

A flax egg may be used, making this recipe vegan, but your results may vary. I tried this as well and it was a little too moist and borderline gummy.

Ginger Molasses Bundt Cake - gluten free, sugar free, dairy free
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup or 105g dates
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup or 50g oil (or butter)
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp brown rice syrup (or honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup or 60g oat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ - 1 tsp ginger (depending on how much ginger you like)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together oat flour, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dates, water and baking soda and let sit for 5 minutes. Place the date mixture in the bowl of a food processor or blender with the oil/butter, molasses, and brown rice syrup and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the egg, then the flour mixture and process until just combined. Pour into a lightly greased 3 cup bundt pan or 6" cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Notes
Add more spices if you like a more prominent flavor. My preference is ½ tsp ginger. You may use dried or fresh for more kick.

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Take the nontraditional route and have a set of bundt cakes for your wedding reception. Simple, unfussy, and can easily accommodate several different flavors to please all your guests.

Beautiful photos by Twah Dougherty.

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