When I was a child my mother taught me how to make sponge cake – the margarine, flour version filled with cream and loaded with chocolate and fresh fruit. Not healthy by any means but was always the cake we always picked when it came to our birthday celebrations. Roll on 30 or so odd years, i’m now a health conscious mother who has taken on a challenge of making a ‘good for you cake’. I’ve a good excuse seeing as Monday is my birthday and this is my birthday weekend and the perfect excuse to make and eat cake!
I don’t think i’ve ever worked harder on a recipe since I started this project. For the first cake, I swapped out all of the ingredients in my mothers cake with my own combinations – flour for buckwheat and coconut, butter for coconut butter, sugar for maple syrup but the result was a little blah and very dry (even with the cream cheese filling).
The second attempt I used a little less coconut flour, a little more buckwheat, sweet potato and coconut butter. The cake was good but lacked in the soft moist sponge texture I was after.
My final attempt (yes I made 3 cakes) replaced the maple syrup for apple sauce. My heart actually skipped a beat when this cake came out of the oven. The apple made the cake moist and light and even healthier than the previous versions. O.k, so I know it is not normal to get this excited about cake but it is so delicious considering the entire cake is made from only healthy ingredients, fruits and veggies! Almost a meal in a cake and a healthy meal at that.
For the cake I used a mix of buckwheat and coconut flour. Buckwheat is a gluten free flour which tastes really delicious. It is high in protein, contains essential amino acids and is rich in iron. It is also filled with many minerals including iron which is important for little weaning babies. Coconut flour not only is high in fibre it is also packed with protein and adds just a very slight hint of flavour to the cake without overpowering it. The sweetness in the cake comes from apple sauce and sweet potato. Apple sauce provides lots of vitamin c and fibre and adds amazing moisture to the cake.
As many of you will know I am a big fan of sweet potatoes (see sweet potato muffins) and I think with good reason. Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C as well as fibre and potassium. Seriously though, the more I learn about them the more I want to use them in everything I cook. To bake them, I just give a whole potato a little scrub under some water, pierce with a knife and then throw into the oven for about an hour. The potato should be nice and soft when its cooked. Cut in half and it simply slides out of the skin with minimal effort. I then put it into a blender and pulse until it is creamy and completely lump free and ready to be made into cake!
Finally, the cake mixture uses cacao. You can buy cacao from your local health food shop and a bag will last you ages! Cacao is an amazing ingredient. It is said to have more antioxidants than any other food on the planet (thats what it says on the back of the pack i’m currently reading). It is also high in fibre, protein, vitamin c, iron and calcium and when combined with something sweet it like magic becomes a delicious healthy chocolate.
The filling of this cake is super simple. I used banana to sweeten the cream cheese along with orange zest and juice. It makes a delicious spreadable filling that works so well with the cake.
Last but not least, the chocolate ganache topping (my favourite part). Thankfully nobody took photos of myself and Oscar trying the sauce. There were lots of ooouuuuu’s and ahhhhh’s and lip licking. When the coconut milk and maple syrup is boiled and then simmered it starts to turn into an almost toffee like concoction. Once the cacao is added the sauce magically thickens and then it’s just a matter of having the patience to not eat and let it cool to pour on top of your cake.
Don’t think of this cake as being full of veggies and fruit, think sponge cake, yummy scrummy chocolate sponge cake with a hint of jaffa cake in every bite and with around 202 calories in every slice it is a winner for the grown ups as well as the little ones.
With that, i’ll leave you with the recipe and hope that you and your families enjoy it as much as we did.