Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coconut Cake for The 4th of July

I have been thinking of a way to make this cake ever since Easter. This is my healthier rendition of the cake my mom made for me at Easter time. Of course, this one is going to be red, white, and blue, not a bunny :)

I'm currently in the process of changing over all of my aluminum or coated baking pans to ceramic or glass ones. Therefore, what could have been a flag-shaped cake decorated like the Stars and Stripes became a round cake with a Fourth theme. Decorate it any way you like with blueberries and strawberries!

This is my submission for:This cake is grain free (if you don't use corn starch as a sub), dairy free, and refined sugar-free. Actually,the cake itself is only fruit sweetened, but there are some added sweeteners in the glaze and frosting. Also, be sure to check back at The Spunky Coconut for a roundup of many Fourth of July dish ideas!

Coconut Cake

Makes 1 8" or 9" round or 8" square cakeIngredients
Dry for the Cake:
  • 1 cup sprouted quinoa flour (available in whole sprouted form at Whole Foods, or you can sprout your own) more info on sprouted flours, click here
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp arrowroot powder (can sub tapioca or corn starch)
  • 1 tsp baking soda - aluminum free
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder - aluminum free
Wet for the Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups [11 oz] applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup [6 oz] coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup [2 oz] coconut oil, melted but not too hot so it doesn't curdle the eggs
  • 1/2 can [6-7 oz] of coconut milk, that has been blended together
  • 1 Tbsp sweetener (I used coconut nectar, but you can use palm sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.)
Frosting and Toppings**:
  • 1 cup [6 oz] hard coconut cream from a can of coconut milk (the part that rises to the top after the can has been refrigerated)- you will need 1 1/2 cans of coconut milk total for the whole recipe, and for best results getting a good cream at the top, use Thai Kitchen or Chaokoh brand
  • 1/4 cup powdered coconut sugar**
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • unsweetened, unsulfured shredded coconut
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
**Don't you just love the internet. I use it for inspiration almost daily. Normally, when my mom made it, this recipe was made with Coolwhip, and I wanted a similar texture. And very conveniently, Gluten Free Gigi just posted this recipe for a dairy-free whipped topping! I wanted to do it without regular powdered sugar so I got the idea for powdered coconut sugar from this recipe by Amy Green @ Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. I just adapted some things and voila: a dairy-free Coolwhipesque topping for my cake :)
For the powdered sugar: place 1 cup of coconut/ palm sugar (also works with date sugar- made with finely ground dehydrated dates- both can be found at Whole Foods) in a high powered blender or coffee grinder with 1 Tbsp of corn starch (or, Tapioca starch to be grain free). Store the rest in a sealed container in refrigerator.

For the Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and prepare an 8" or 9" round pan or 8" square pan with parchment paper and grease with coconut oil.
  • For the sprouted quinoa flour, grind sprouted quinoa seeds in a coffee grinder or high powered blender. Then measure after you make it into flour.
  • Sift the sprouted quinoa flour together with the rest of the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry, and blend with spatula until combined.
  • Pour batter into cake pan and bake at 325 until toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
For the Glaze:
  • When the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then poke holes about 1" apart all over the cake with a straw.
  • Blend the canned coconut milk together and measure out about 1 cup. Stir in the sweetener.
  • Pour that mixture over the holes (you may only use 1/2 cup at first) and let the cake sit. Then repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  • Let the cake cool for a good 30 minutes until no longer warm to the touch.
  • Now you are ready to ice the cake and decorate.
Frosting and Toppings:
  • Blend the hard coconut cream (from top of can of coconut milk after it has been refrigerated), vanilla, palm or date powdered sugar**, and melted coconut oil together with a hand mixer or in a blender or food processor.
  • Refrigerate 15-30 minutes to let it firm up. Then top the cake with it.
  • Sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes on top and then decorate with blueberries and strawberries.
  • For a flag you can place blueberries (cut in half, round side up) in the top left corner and the spaces between them look sort of like diamond "stars". Then make the red stripes by closely putting strawberry slices together, leaving a good space for the white stripes.
  • This cake is very moist, so store in refrigerator until ready to eat.
This recipe has also been linked up to:

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cherry Surprise Ice Cream

I heart ice cream...or anything ice cream-related. I think this may perhaps be the 5th or so ice cream post I have done since starting this blog in February! Ice cream is my number one favorite food, if you can call it that, hands down. But I don't let my lack of dairy get me down, and I try to keep coming up with new flavors. Our Cuisinart ice cream and fro-yo maker gets its workout at our house.

This ice cream is a bit different; it has something sneaky in it ;) A beet. If you are skeptical about taste, let me assure you that the sneaky antioxidant filled veg that is hidden in this ice cream is well hidden! I wish that I had kid testers around sometimes for my recipes. Then I would know if my tricks really work. If you feed this to your kids and they like it, be sure to let me know!

Cherry Surprise Ice Cream

Serves 2-4
  • 2 cups ripe cherries, measured after being de-stemmed and pitted
  • 1 small beet, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp black cherry preserves or jam (I use 100 % fruit sweetened St. Dalfour brand)
  • Optional: 2 dates (soaked if dry), or you can use honey to sweeten- We think the ice cream is sweet enough with just the cherries and preserves, but feel free to sweeten it up according to your sweet tooth. Honey is a nice complement to beets and cream!
  • Optional (for extra richness): 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Puree all ingredients in a high powered blender (this recipe works best in a Vitamix or Blendtec) so the beet gets finely pureed.
  • For extra richness (optional) add in 2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil to the mixture once everything else is pureed.
  • Freeze according to your ice cream makers instructions. Mine is usually ready in about 20 minutes with no extra freezer time needed.
  • Serve immediately.
This post has been linked up to: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday @ Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Sprouting Goodness

First, yes, if you are one of the people who stops by the actual blog, I have been changing my banner quite a bit. This picture was taken in our backyard where our landlord builds log cabins. I am trying, although very slowly, to change it so it's more "me". We will see if I'm successful, but until then I think I'll leave this one up.

Buckwheat groats, Brown Rice, Oats, and Quinoa that I sprouted at home
I promised some sprouting info in my grains post a while back. If you are not familiar with the wonderfulness that is sprouting, this post is for you. I have dabbled in sprouting in the past. But can now say, I am an avid sprouter, a sprouting advocate (spradvocate ?) if you will. I have been a sprouting, dehydrating, soaking, cooking fool the last couple months, and I'm ready to share with you what I have learned.

Basic concept: Sprouting begins the process of germination for a plant. Therefore, when a seed, nut, legume, or grain is soaked, it thinks that it is about to need to reproduce itself. So it begins to break down it's natural protections and begins a metabolic process that makes it more readily nutritious to us. Sprouting and germinating are fairly the same, where the "sprout" means that the seed/ nut/ legume/ grain has successfully germinated. So if you get a little tail when you're done, you have successfully germinated :) For the purposes of this post, I will just refer to a grain, nut, legume as a "seed".Can you see the little tails?

First, here are some things that take place in the sprouting process, where a seed begins to ready itself to grow. These are processes that both help a plant grow from a seed to something bigger, but also help us out if we eat them in the sprouted/ germinated state:
  • Complex carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars, which are more easily used by our bodies. Complex carbs are also used to make more proteins.
  • Triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol, which are more easily assimilated by our bodies.
  • Storage proteins (proteins that seeds/ nuts/ grains/ legumes have that are more difficult to digest) are broken down into amino acids, some of which are changed into essential amino acids, which our bodies need and cannot make on their own.
  • The seed of a plant also begins to make vitamins, especially the B complex
The sprouting process not only does all of these things, but it does something else that is significant. Phytates, or phytic acid, help protect all seeds in the natural world. For example, a wheat berry has an outer phytate covering that protects the seed throughout the digestive tract of an animal (or human) who eats it. If you think about it, it's pretty intelligent design because the seed has the potential to make it through the digestive tract unharmed and land in a pile of fertilizer. Perfect formula for a new wheat plant! However, you can see the implications for us. We cannot readily digest these seeds and grains because our bodies don't naturally break down phytic acid.

Luckily, phytic acid is also the storage site, or unit, for minerals in seeds. Therefore, when these seeds begin to grow themselves, AKA: the sprouting/ germinating process, they break down their own phytic acid in order to access their stores of minerals. Great for them (although, they may be eaten before they grow big :), and more importantly, great for us! Not only does the sprouting process break down the phytic barrier, which makes them hard to digest, but it gives us access to more readily available minerals, for example zinc, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Fun fact: a study done of nutrition facts of bread made from both buckwheat and sprouted buckwheat found that the sprouted bread contained 2 times as much calcium, and 1 1/2 times as much magnesium. This was due to the fact that the minerals were not bound up by the phytates.

The benefits of sprouting don't end here; but even if they did, one would have good reason to start experimenting with sprouting! There are many more things that sprouting does for the end product, for example makes more fiber. Sprouted flours (made from milled sprouted grains or seeds) taste sweeter as well- so not as much sugar is needed when baking with them.

I hope that you will try some sprouting at home. Check out this chart for an idea on how long to soak and then sprout your seeds. But there are many sites out there where I found my how to's. The internet has a wealth of info; eHow is a great starter site.

Where to Find Sprouted Seeds, Nuts, Legumes or Grains:

  • "Nutritional Improvement of Cereals by Fermentation" from Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (1989), by: J. K. Chavan and S. S. Kadam
  • "Nutritive Value and Chemical Composition of Pseudo-cereals as Gluten-free Ingredients" from International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition (2009), by: L. Alvarez-Juvete, E. K. Arendt, and E. Gallagher
  • The Maker's Diet (2004) by Jordan Rubin

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chocolate Mocha Zucchini Birthday Cake

Yesterday, I mentioned that Iris from The Daily Dietribe had issued a Gluten-free Birthday Cake Challenge. This chocolate zucchini cake makes for a sweet moist treat that is not only gluten-free, but dairy-free and refined sugar-free as well. This recipe uses the chocolate version of my Swiss Buttercream. Be sure to check back at The Daily Dietribe for many other fun birthday cake recipes.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Yields two 8" or 9" round cake layers (for a 2-layer cake)Ingredients for the Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • 2.5 oz (1 cup) cocoa powder
  • 5 oz (1 cup) millet flour
  • 1.5 tsp aluminum free baking soda (I use Bob's)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp chia seed meal (you can grind up chia seeds in a coffee grinder)
  • 2 eggs (should be 3.5 oz, de-shelled
  • 5 oz (1/2 cup) unsweetened apple sauce
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) honey
  • 8 oz finely grated zucchini (2 cups firmly packed, after grating)
  • 2 oz (4 Tbsp) coconut oil, melted (or can sub part or all Earth Balance spread)
  • Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 8" or 9" cake pans with parchment paper, and grease with coconut oil.
  • Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Whisk together all wet ingredients and add them to the dry.
  • Spread even amounts of batter into each cake pan. Tip: if you bang the cake pan on the counter a couple times, and then spin it around fast right before you place the cake pans in the oven, you get a pretty even, level cake layer. And it's a good way to get out some aggression :)

  • Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mocha Mousse Filling

Yields one cup of mousse (enough to fill and 8" or 9" cake)


  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 dates
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coffee extract (can sub 1 Tbsp of strong brewed coffee or espresso)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Add all ingredients together, except the melted coconut oil, into a food processor or high powered blender and puree.
  • Then add in the melted coconut oil and blend until incorporated.
  • Store in the refrigerator until ready to fill cake.

Assemble and Decorate how you like for the Special Occasion

  • I used one piping bag with an Ateco 23 (small star shape) tip. I place one layer down and pipe a ring of icing around the outer circle with the piping bag.
  • Then I spread the mousse filling into the circle, smoothed it level with an off-set spatula, and topped it with the other layer top side down (so the flat side is on top).
  • My cakes turned out even enough I didn't level them- but if your oven bakes uneavenly you may have to slice the cake layers level before assembling (more for you to snack on while you decorate :)
  • Then I iced the cake and gave it a border.
  • This one is also topped with raw cacao nibs for a bit of a crunch.
Happy Birthday Cake Making,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Swiss Buttercream (dairy-free, refined sugar free)

A short while ago, I was making these:Pounds upon pounds of rich buttercream was made, with much care, in my kitchen. Some was eaten, for quality control of course :), some was slathered on some wedding cake, and eventually some of it found it's way to my hips :) I do miss me some rich creamy buttercream. I have never been an icing girl, well that is until culinary school. My goal for my own frostings was simply that they tasted like ice cream :) I attempted to improve upon a swiss buttercream recipe I learned in school to make it taste like ice cream. And I succeeded. However, I suceeded with butter and white, refined sugar: two things I no longer eat.

So my journey began to make a dairy-free, refined sugar-free version of Swiss Buttercream. Hopefully, this recipe is just the first of many more like it. I would love to bring you recipes of light whipped healthier goodness!

I have been working some ideas for a new buttercream for a while; however, Iris of The Daily Dietribe recently issued a gluten-free birthday cake challenge. I love a good challenge. And for me making this dairy-free, refined sugar-free frosting was a ton of fun, but also quite challenging! I ran into several snafoos- so be sure to read the tips below. Don't let this recipe intimidate, it is actually quite simple if you follow it exactly.

First, here are some things about Buttercreams:
  • Most use the term "buttercream" to mean a variety of frostings- from shorening and powdered confectioners sugar to meringe and butter based frostings.

  • For the meringue-based frostings, there are three basic types, in order of stability:

    o French, which is egg yolks (not cooked) whipped with a fine sugar into a meringue and then with a sugar syrup that has been heated to at least 235 degrees is slowly added to the full meringue, then butter or shortening is added in. This buttercream is the least stable, and melts at the lowest temps so it is not ideal for wedding cakes and decorating. (this French section has been edited after a reader pointed out and oversight on my part)

    o Swiss (this recipe), which is egg whites and sugar cooked over a water bath and then whipped, butter or shortening is added in once cooled.

    o Italian, which is pasteurized egg whites and a small amount of sugar whipped to stiff peaks. Then a sugar syrup that has reached at least 235 degrees is slowly added. Then the shortening or butter is added in once the meringue cools. This is the most stable of all buttercream frostings and is ideal for a hot-day wedding!

  • If you get any kind of cake that is pre-decorated with frosting from a store (except Whole Foods- I checked), you will be most likely getting shortening with some form of hydrogenation as an ingredient. This means that the melting point of that fat in your store-bought frosting is most likely 100+ degrees F. I'll let that sink in while I remind you that your body's temperature stays at a cool 98.6 degree F. Eww. Not only is it harder on your body to break down something that it cannot even melt, but it coats your tongue and taste-buds so that you can't taste the goodness of what you are eating!
Now, on to the frosting de l'heur, which has no hydrogenated anything in it :)

Swiss Buttercream (with Chocolate Variation)

Dairy-free and Refined Sugar-free
Yields enough to frost 1 double layer 8" or 9"cake

Ingredients and Materials
  • 3 oz. egg whites (about three egg's whites)
  • 3 oz of grade B maple syrup (4.5 Tbsp)
  • 3 oz sifted coconut sugar (sifted before measuring to get out larger granules, about 1/4 cup)
  • 8 oz Spectrum Organics Palm Shortening, room temperature (1 cup)
  • (For Chocolate Buttercream) add 1-2 Tbsp melted bittersweet chocolate
  • small pot filled 1" full of water
  • Digital food thermometer or candy thermometer
  • Stand mixer (if you can only use a hand mixer, your arm may get pretty tired- but go for it if you like :)
  • Heat the pot full of water over high heat on stove top until simmering and then cut down to low- this will be the base of your water bath.
  • In the bowl that goes with your stand mixer (as long as it is stainless steel or glass-most are- if not, use a heat-safe bowl), whisk together the egg whites, maple syrup, and sifted coconut sugar.
  • Heat over your water bath, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160F (be careful to not go higher) and the sugar is all dissolved. (yes, you might have to stick your fingers in the gooey egg white and sugar mixture for best results :)
  • Place on stand mixer and slowly turn speed to high and whip until stiff peaks are formed like this:
  • Keep whipping on medium speed until the mixture is fully cooled.
  • Then piece in the shortening by 1 Tbsp at a time while it is whipping on medium speed. The mixture will somewhat curdle and deflate a bit at this point- don't be afraid- keep mixing in the shortening.
  • Once all shortening is incorporated, turn mixer back up to high and mix until you get an aerated fluffy mixture.
  • Optional: you can add 1-2 Tbsp of melted, but cooled- not too hot, bittersweet chocolate at this point to make it a chocolate frosting.
  • Below is a sneak peek for tomorrow's Birthday Cake Challenge Post :)
  • Make sure your shortening is right at room temperature- this will help it emulsify better with the meringue.
  • If you get any fat at all in your whites- it won't whip. If you don't think you did, but just to be sure, you can add a small amount of cream of tartar to the whites/sugar mixture just before whipping into the meringue.
  • Also make sure the coconut sugar completely dissolves when cooking over the water bath. If not, your buttercream will have an undesirable grainy texture.
  • This icing does have an interesting maple flavor. If that's not your thing you can try with all coconut sugar; however, I have had mixed results with this. Also more viscous liquid sweeteners like honey and brown rice syrup do not work well because they weigh down the whites preventing a full meringue.
  • After you add in the shortening and begin to whip it back up, it takes a while 10-15 minutes. If you feel like it has been too long (which depending on the humidity and temp of your kitchen this can happen), walk away and get a relaxing drink and then come back and check on it :) I sometimes stand over the mixture nervously thinking- maybe this time will be the time it won't whip up. Trust me- it does come to life :) If you feel like it has been way, way too long- try adding another Tbsp or two of shortening.
This post has been linked up to:
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rustic Banana Cinnamon Rolls

I love how when something doesn't quite look perfect, you can label it "rustic" and it takes on a whole new identity. Like, "Oh, rustic. That must mean these are an old country family recipe" or "these must have been made from scratch with love". At least, that was what I was going for :) These rolls aren't the prettiest, but they taste good, were definitely made with love, and we do somewhat live on a farm-like estate. Therefore, they seem to have met the "rustic" criteria and get the label Rustic Banana Cinnamon Rolls!

Banana? Yep, that's right. I love the gooey banana that caramelizes in the roll as it bakes. And, because you use ripe bananas and dates, you don't have to worry about sugar or extra sweetener. Yes, these are healthier cinnamon rolls :)

Rustic Banana Cinnamon Rolls

Yields 9 rolls

For the Rolls:
  • 4.5 oz [or 3/4 cup] blanched almond flour, sifted (not meal, you can buy or grind blanched almonds in a coffee grinder or high powered blender)
  • 2 oz [or 3/4 cup] coconut flour, sifted
  • 3/8 oz [or about 3 Tbsp] arrowroot powder (can sub tapioca flour or corn starch)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seed meal (chia seeds ground in a coffee grinder or high powered blender)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 8 oz water [or 1 cup]
  • 1/5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
For the banana cinnamon filling:
  • 7 oz extrememly ripe bananas [about 1 1/2 large bananas]
  • 3 dates
  • 1/2 oz almond butter [about 1 tbsp]
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • Whisk together dry ingredients (first 6) in a medium bowl.
  • Blend together the water, apple cider vinegar, and apple sauce.
  • Add wet to dry and stir until combined.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour so it will be easier to work with (I usually make the dough the night before hand so it's ready in the morning if I'm making these for breakfast)
  • Once the dough has chilled, get out some extra coconut flour for dusting a large work surface, and roll out the dough out (flouring the rolling pin and work surface generously) to a square foot- 12" x 12".
  • Then make the filling by pureeing the bananas, dates, almond butter, and cinnamon together (if you don't have a good blender or food processor- coarse chop the dates with a chefs knife and add to pureed banana mixed with almond butter and cinnamon).
  • Spread filling out onto the rolled out dough, leaving about 1/2"-1" space on the right side of the dough
  • Then (this is different from other recipes that tell you to roll a log and then cut- that doesn't work too well with this dough), cut the dough into 1"-1.5" strips (making sure they are all even, you don't have to be exact these are "rustic" after all :). I usually cut into 9 even pieces.
  • Roll each slice from left to right, using a bench scraper if needed- but should not be if you flowered the surface well. Pan in a 8" x 8" glass baking dish.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes. They don't rise a whole lot, just let them get golden brown.
  • Top with favorite icing or use the cream cheese icing below:
For Cream "cheese" icing, blend the following together in a high powered blender:
  • 2 oz [1/2 cup if using small pieces] cashews, soaked at least 2 hrs. then drained and rinsed
  • 3 dates
  • 1 oz [2 Tbsp] water
  • 1 oz lemon juice [about the juice of 1 lemon, or 2 tbsp]
This post has been linked up to:

And Also: Sweets for a Saturday @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies
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