Listen To Your Gut: A Cake Baking Lesson

I have been busy working on my recipe book, due out sometime in 2012, and on my upcoming workshop series for women.  Maybe that’s why I feel a bit burned out on recipes.  It’s less like writing and more like editing with recipes.   And yes, I know, there’s a lot of editing to do in order to convert my blog into a downloadable, printable, orderable through real paper cookbook.  Perhaps there will be pictures; it’s not really a cookbook without some close ups of roasted veggies and slices of cake.  My favorite food pictures are from my grandmothers 1950’s cookbooks like Good Housekeeping…

Peach Spam Loaf, anyone?

Looks like birthday cake, tastes like sandwich loaf, whatever that is.

A few weeks ago we celebrated my brother’s 29thbirthday.  Brian has been working hard to get Fire Cider in stores all over the Berkshires and since we can’t pay him, or ourselves for that matter, I wanted to make him a really awesome cake.  Certainly cake cannot make up for thousands owed in back pay and expenses, or could it?! That Sunday I started baking the cake around 11 am.  Last year, you may remember the turkey cake he off-handedly, kinda jokingly, slightly sarcastically asked for….

Elise pretends to take the turkey cake out of the oven...

It really was awesome.

What we really did was bake several layer cakes, stick the pieces together with peanut butter frosting into the shape of a turkey, covered the whole thing in meringue and then Dana torched it to a golden brown.

Dana and Elise and I were quite pleased with ourselves.

This year I was going to make sticks of dynamite since my brother had requested a black bomb like the kind in old cartoons.  I thought about that and then decided that was a lot of fondant and who wants to eat fondant?  How about dynamite bundles like they threw around in the loony toons cartoons?

At least the batter looked pretty....

Things started out well but by 4 pm the cake was still rolled in a towel looking a bit overdone and too thick, much too thick.  And then the first frosting recipe failed.  And by failed I mean all the oil separated out and I thought I had ruined 5 ounces of our best chocolate.   Almost, but not quite.

Next, I made fluffy white frosting, added the chocolate that was neatly separated from the other ingredients and then attempted to make three rolls of red velvet sponge cake filled with raspberry and chocolate frosting look like…..

As severed arm?  Intestines, like a cross section?  Do you remember the woman who cut off her breasts and served them on a platter?  No but yes, now I will, forever, thank you Katharine!   I resisted as long as I could but I had to laugh; there was nothing else I could do.  I had spent all day, and it had been a lovely day until I realized I was working on what was now clearly, without a doubt, the least appetizing cake I had ever seen.  Yes, well, I could also cry about it a little bit too.  And sigh and breathe heavily.  So I did, I laughed while I cried and Dana and Katharine nearly fell over each other laughing at my hilarious cake disaster.

Here’s the thing.  It had been a lovely day, literally, sunny and in the sixties, ridiculous weather for 3 days after thanksgiving.  I even went for a run while the cake cooled. And then, at some point, things were no longer going smoothly.  For one thing I had at least once, if not twice, completely ignored my intuition.  And then when things were really going poorly I wanted to blame Dana for it.  Hmmm, that sounds like a bad plan.  Ignore one’s own intuition.  Suffer the consequences and while suffering, try and put it on someone else.  Ok, so the first lesson here, one which I have learned countless times already, but perhaps this will help me remember…


Had I listened, I would have made the cake differently and chosen my own frosting recipe.  And the second lesson is to remember that blame will not get anyone, anywhere.  Accept what is and act thoughtfully.  Truly, we make all of our own decisions and we are where we are in our lives because of the choices we make or avoid making.  And my gut told me to slice the cake into something that more resembled food and less like a dismembered leg.  And as I did I started to feel better and was able to let go of my frustration.  Instead of hanging on tightly to wanting things to go my way, I looked at what was and worked with it.  Much better.  Everyone has an inner voice that has much wisdom for us if only we can be open to hearing it.

I arranged the whirled red cake slices on a big platter and we served each piece with raspberry red wine reduction and whipped cream.  So it worked out in the end that happy birthday was sung at least three times and the last time, for sure, we all certainly meant it!

No Bake Chocolate Cake

Photo from 101 Cookbooks

Another amazing recipe from 101 Cookbooks: a chocolate cake that is Candida diet friendly (after minimal adjustments) and doesn’t require that you turn your oven on, which is great since we are in the middle of a heat wave.  I really don’t feel much like eating but somehow the heat has not affected my appetite for dessert.  And this is definitely dessert, sugar-free and low carb it is but as you can see from the list of ingredients this cake is super rich, a little bit goes a long way.


butter, to grease pan
8 ounces  70% dark chocolate, well chopped
8 ounces  heavy cream (you can try substituting coconut milk for a vegan version)
1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)
2 teaspoons finely ground espresso (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
cocoa powder, to serve

The sweetness in this recipe comes from the dark chocolate you use.  Choose a dark chocolate that has the least amount of sugar added or mix a dark chocolate bar with some unsweetened chocolate and add some stevia to make up the difference.


Lightly butter a 6-inch springform pan or equivalent – 101 Cookbooks recommends little loaf pans which are less common, but many small pans will work here. Line with parchment paper (very important if you ever want to get this cake out of the pan!) and set aside.

Barely melt the chocolate in a double boiler over gentle heat.

In a separate medium pan heat the cream over gentle heat. Stir in the allspice and the espresso, if using. When the cream is very warm / hot to the touch, remove from heat and stir in the salt.

Pour the chocolate into the cream, and very slowly and steadily stir until everything comes together smoothly. Make sure the components aren’t at all separate. Pour into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled throughout, a few hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from the pan, let set at room temperature for ten minutes or so, dust with a bit of cocoa powder, and slice. Alternately, you can slice and serve from the pan.

Serves 12.

Prep time: 10 min

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Yoshi checking out the Coconut Cake with Lemon Coconut Frosting

Dana found some coconut flour for me at Deals and Steals in Northampton a few days ago and I decided it was time to try making a cake.  Yes cake, similar to yellow cake, this coconut flour cake is moist and deliciously cakey, and you can eat it too!  No gluten, no dairy, no added sugar, it’s perfect for those with allergies, Candida and gluten intolerance.  The package of coconut flour had some helpful tips for baking and their website is also pretty informative. I found several similar recipes for cakes made with coconut flour from Nourished Kitchen and Nourishing Days and decided to go with a half recipe, with minor changes, from Nourished Kitchen and the frosting recipe from the second site.  I made the mistake of making the frosting while excitedly waiting for the cake to bake.  Sigh.  The frosting is easy but when it gets to the correct consistency it needs to go directly on a COMPLETELY cooled cake.  So start making the frosting after the cake has cooled. It still tasted just fine but it could have been a little more picture perfect and I think the frosting would have stuck to the cake better. Guess I’ll have to make another one, this time with lime and dark chocolate ganache!  I’ll post some variations soon.

Coconut Flour Cake: Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs or 5 HUGE eggs ( local, organic, free range, for chicken’s sake)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Stevia to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 cup coconut flour, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • a pinch unrefined sea salt
  • coconut oil, for greasing the pan

Coconut Flour Cake: Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Beat the eggs, one cup coconut milk and stevia together with vanilla, coconut and lemon extracts until smooth, creamy and uniform in both color and texture.  I didn’t have coconut extract so I used a bit more lemon and vanilla.  Use what you have, improvise what you don’t!
  3. Add the coconut flour, baking soda and unrefined sea salt into the mixture of eggs, stevia and extracts, and continue to beat until a smooth batter forms.  Taste and adjust for sweetness.
  4. Grease and flour an eight-inch cake tin.  I used a spring form pan and kept the cake on the bottom piece as a serving ‘dish’.
  5. Pour, or spoon, the cake batter into the greased and floured tin, shaking to even out the batter and smoothing it with the back of a spoon or with a rubber spatula.
  6. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 35- 40 minutes, or until the cake separates from the sides of the tin and a toothpick inserted into the cake’s center comes out clean.
  7. Place the cake on a cooling rack. After the cake has cooled a bit, but is still warm, poke holes all over the top with a fork. Juice half a lemon right over the whole cake, making sure to evenly distribute the juice.
  8. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting with the coconut frosting below.  This is important, the frosting will slide around instead of stick to the cake if the cake is still warm.  How do I know?  I ran out of time and hastily frosted an almost cooled cake.  It still tasted good but definitely lost some points on aesthetics.
  1. Cooling the cake, its still on the bottom of the spring form pan. I assaulted the top with a fork and squeezed a lemon over the cake for extra flavor. The holes from the fork will be covered by the frosting.

YIELD: one eight-inch cake.  Original recipe from Nourished Kitchen is doubled and makes 2 eight inch rounds, perfect for special occasion layer cakes!  Here’s the original recipe.

TIME: about five to ten minutes (active time), forty minutes (baking time), forty minutes to one hour (cooling time)

Nutrition Info (I did the calculation myself  using the nutrition info on the packages)  One 8 in cake, 16 slices, without frosting: Calories 95  Fat 5.6  Fiber 2.5  Carbohydrates 2  Protein 4

With Frosting: Calories 154  Fat 12 Fiber 2.5 Carbohydrates 2 Protein 4

Remember, the fat from coconut oil is good for you and helps combat Candida, and that’s just the beginning!

Coconut Lemon Frosting
Recipe notes: Be sure to melt your coconut oil in a glass bowl. I do this by putting the bowl over a small pan of simmering water or putting it in the hot oven for a few minutes.


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted in a glass bowl
  • 9 drops of liquid stevia (alternatively, you could use a couple of teaspoons of raw honey or powdered stevia)
  • 1 packed teaspoon lemon zest (use an organic lemon other wise you’ll be zesting chemicals, gross)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


  1. Mix all ingredients into the warm coconut oil. You are now going to place the bowl into the freezer in order to cool it down. It is very important to check on it every couple of minutes to catch it before it gets too cold. You want to take it out of the freezer right when it starts to get cloudy.

    Mixing the ingredients in the warm coconut oil. After it has been in the freezer for 3 minutes start checking it frequently.

  2. At this point the cold bowl (and your cool kitchen) will continue to turn the liquid oil into a solid. Continue to whisk the frosting as it gets cloudier and cloudier and eventually turns into a whipped butter consistency. The idea is to get a bit of air into it. Once it is to a whipped (very soft) butter consistency plop it onto your cooled cake. Frost it very quickly before the coconut oil hardens. It will seem like a pretty thin layer of frosting, but it is just enough.   Original recipe with an alternate coconut cake recipe here.

    Whipping the frosting as soon as the oil starts to get cloudy (cool). Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl while you whip the frosting together!

    And….there you are, having your cake and eating it too!

    No more cake-less birthdays!

Flourless Carrot Cake

I was sent this recipe from my fellow foodie friend in NYC and instantly feel in love!  Yes, it’s true, a cake without flour and Stevia in place of the sugar (there wasn’t much in the original recipe to begin with) so you can bake a cake and eat it too!  I reworked the nutritional information (while eating my second piece and wondering just how many carbohydrates I was eating) but you can find the original recipe by Martha Rose Shulman here on the NY Times Fitness and Nutrition page.

It’s a good idea to grate the carrots using the fine grater edge so the carrots cook throughly.

Cake for the Candida Diet, Whoohooo!!


1 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) unsalted toasted almonds or almond meal, toasted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

4 large eggs

Stevia to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups finely grated carrots (about 10 ounces)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle.  Line a 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment.

2. The almonds go in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend until the almonds are finely ground. Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest, Stevia to desired taste and pulse together.  NOTE: I used almond meal and lightly toasted it, same thing!  If you want fine bits of coconut you can add it to the food processor with the almonds.

3. Beat the eggs until thick in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with an electric beater.  This takes a while, about 10 minutes and it will not get super thick, at least mine didn’t.  Continue to beat until the mixture is thick and forms a ribbon when lifted from the bowl with a spatula.  This is the desired consistency, I didn’t quite get here and it still came out well. Beat in the vanilla. Add the almond mixture and the carrots and coconut in three alternating additions, and slowly beat or fold in each time.  Taste for sweetness, add more Stevia if necessary while folding in the almonds, carrots and coconut.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place in the oven, and bake for 20-35 minutes (you’ll just have to peek in the oven and see how it’s doing) until firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and carefully remove the spring form ring.  Or you can lift it out in the paper like I did.  Allow the cake to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic.

Yield: Serves 12.

Advance preparation: This cake is a good keeper if wrapped well. Refrigerate for up to five days.

Nutrition information per slice, makes 12 slices.

Calories: 162    Carbohydrates: 3       Fiber: 3      Protein: 6       Fat: 13