When Health Nuts Need Cake

july 2012 dev 3 004
I am sorry, but I did not get a photo of the cake. For an accompanying ice cream recipe, see below.

A truly scrumptious cake (and ice cream) that can be made gluten-free, low-gluten, vegan, and for just about any season or occasion. Oh yeah, and its relatively healthy.

Have you heard of Babycakes? Its a cookbook, sharing its title with the bakery’s name where the book is from. The bakery is in New York City and boasts lots of famous customers, largely because it offers what other dessert bakeries do not: gluten-free, low-gluten, and vegan options, not to mention that its sugar of choice is agave nectar. Well, I have done my fair share of checking out alternate-sugar and whole-grain dessert cookbooks (like literally, from the library), and I have yet to top Babycakes.

The problem? There aren’t that many recipes. And yes, it does cost more to make a brown rice flour and coconut oil cupcake than a Duncan Hines one, but for those special occasions when even a health nut needs a cake, well, this WILL NOT disappoint. And I don’t care who you are, you’ll enjoy this (unless you hate chocolate or strawberries or maybe coconut).

In honor of my aunt loaning the cookbook to me for a season, here is the cake I made for a special dinner the other night. You could use this for just about any celebration, including a birthday, as long as strawberries were in season. Not is season? Try crushed organic candy canes. Or strawberry compote made from frozen strawberries. (Note that I replaced frosting with fresh strawberries, so this is a you-won’t-miss-the-frosting cake.)

And a word of advice. Baking cakes is in the details, like whisking the flour or lining with parchment paper. If you are careful to pay attention to directions and use fresh ingredients, cake baking becomes truly fun.


This recipe is my own concoction, starting with the inspiration of Babycakes‘ cakes.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a round baking pan. Cut parchment paper to fit bottom of the pan, set it in there, and grease that as well. (I use virgin coconut oil for this.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sprouted wheat flour (or whole wheat, whole spelt, or brown rice flour with 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum), 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup natural potato or corn starch, 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, cream 1/2 cup coconut oil with 2/3 cup agave nectar or 1/2 cup cane sugar. Work in 1/3 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce and 1 tablespoon vanilla.
  4. Stir sugar mixture into the dry mixture with 1/3 cup hot water (add an extra 1/4 if you did NOT use agave), just until combined.
  5. Pour mixture into pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
  6. Remove cake from oven and sprinkle with flake coconut to taste and then white chocolate chips or chunks, just until there is a thin layer. Stick back in the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, checking for done-ness with a clean toothpick.
  7. Let cake cool 20 minutes, then flip onto cake server.
  8. Meanwhile, make a simple syrup by warming 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water until sugar is completely dissolved.
  9. Poke several holes in the cake with a slender chopstick and then drizzle with simple syrup until cake is moistened, but not saturated. Perhaps 1/4-1/2 cup will do. (Save the rest in the fridge for iced tea, minute lemonade, or another cake.)
  10. When ready to serve, slice several cups fresh strawberries and heap on top. Yum!


This is a bonus recipe for you, in case you do happen to be having a birthday party. It requires an ice cream maker, although just sticking it in a freezer-safe, lidded bowl and stirring every half-hour would do, too.

  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups whole milk, 2 cups cream, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
  2. Mash fresh strawberries until you have 2 cups of rough mash with some good chunks. Add berries to milk mixture.
  3. Pour the mixture into the freezer bowl of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

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