> 4 small (13cm) heart shaped cakes | 60 mins wo-to-go
I created this cake during the week for our Valentine's Day 'family love' picnic at the bottom of the garden. I wanted something that was moist, dense and chocolatey, not too sweet and definitely not a guilt trip for me (on Feb CLEANse) or the kids. The result? Delicious and thumbs up all round and the little heart shaped cakes looked so romantic.
The cake is easy to make, swaps refined sugar with maple syrup & dates and uses nutrient dense flours of spelt, buckwheat and almond. Of course you can swap in what flours / meals you have on hand (& adjust the moisture level) or remove the nuts if they are a problem.
I will add a chocolate frosting recipe after the weekend, I want to experiment with avocado & raw cacao, it will take some time as I need to monitor its shelf life (you know how sensitive avocado is) and portability. For the picture it is dusted with cacao powder, the heart pattern is created by placing cookie cutters on top. Scatter berries to create a wow factor & boost your antioxidant intake!
8 medjool dates - pitted, chopped, cooked in water for 10 minutes til soft and squashy.
1 cup w/m spelt flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup chia bran
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup raw cacao (cocoa has not undergone the 'Dutching' or alkalising process)
1 1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn baking soda (you can omit but I use to darken and redden the chocolate colour not for 'lift')
150g soft (room temp) butter (or 125ml healthy oil - but reduce the added water from below)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1-2 tblspns water (see step #7 below)
TIPS & TRICKS
Ensure oven shelf is in middle. Turn oven onto 180C.
Prepare tin - add a few dabs of butter to the tin walls / base and line with baking paper. I used 3 small heart-shaped tins 130mm across the widest point.
Prepare the date puree: pit, chop, cook/high simmer dates in water for 10 minutes til soft and squashy. Use a potato masher as they are cooking to speed up the process. The mix should be 'paste like' as the water will evaporate during cooking.
Into a bowl add all 7 dry ingredients. Mix thru with a balloon whisk in a repeating figure 8 motion to ensure they are evenly dispersed.
Add eggs, butter/oil & maple syrup/honey + 1 tblspn water.
Using a hand held beater - mix on high til ingredients are well combined.
- If the mix seems too dry add some more water and if too sloppy, don't worry, adjust next time you make*. The cake is forgiving because it is moist and dense not light and fluffy.
Fill tins** and bake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
* Consistency & taste of your batter
- It's really important to learn a little 'Baking Science' and to trust yourself when baking. Cake baking testing is fun! Over 20 years ago, I use to develop cakes for Sara Lee so I got some pretty hands on experience....my Sticky Date pudding is still on the market! Here is a taste, I might write a proper post!
- Different flours have different moisture absorption rates & create varying textures due to the level of gluten (protein/strength) they contain. The higher the protein level (eg Spelt is 12-14% v's cake flour at 7-9%), the more moisture it will take up and the firmer finished texture of the cake. Low or zero gluten 'flours' and meals (eg buckwheat, coconut, almond) simply create a 'crumb' that you can easily bite thru. Adding eggs provides the protein to bind these non gluten flours and to give structure so the cake does not fall apart. Because spelt flour is so strong, these other 'flours' help 'soften' the finished texture. Unrefined flours give a more dense crumb because of particle size and the ph level is higher and er.....we'll cover that later! And let's not forget taste - buckwheat for example is rich in polyphenols, which give it a bitter taste and can become overwhelming at levels higher than 20%.
Sugar tenderises a cake - the more sugar the more tender/soft it is as it 'runs away' with the molecules that form gluten and stops this protein from performing its structure role. On top of this - granulated sugar acts different to liquid sugar. Too much 'liquid' in a cake cause the 'cake structure' to collapse so you have a moisture line near the base. And of course there is sweetness / taste + caramelisation effect.
Butter v's oil. Fat coats the proteins in flour and prevents them from bonding with water and forming gluten. In muffins for example you want them soft not chewy in a bread like way so you use oil. Oil coats flour’s proteins better than butter does, which explains why oil-based cakes are moister than butter-based cakes. But I love the taste of butter so I 'work' the recipe!
** This cake does not rise much so make sure you fill the tin to the level you want the finished cake to be at.
- They loved it. My little girl decorated one of the hearts with icing + hundreds and thousands. I was relieved that I had finally found some unprocessed icing sugar (ie made from evaporated organic cane juice) + natural hundreds and thousands in pink & yellow. Yes, it's still sugar but it is step in the right direction, especially when it is topping a cake lower in sugar than a 'regular' one and the ingredients are nutrient dense.
Little heart-shaped tins. I used a spring form and paper moulds + leftover into cup cakes.
'Follow your heart' was the mantra for our secret family love picnic at the bottom of our garden
HubStar found us in the cave with arms filled with flowers for all of us.
Ciara insisted on decorating the cake 'on location'
Fortunately I had located unrefined icing sugar (from evaporated organic cane juice) and natural 100 & 1000's.