Appropriately autumnal baking

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There is something so soothing about early morning baking. I don’t necessarily choose to bake at 6:30a, but when a workout and work have to happen before I can deliver & eat dessert, baking by necessity becomes an early morning activity. That being said, though, it’s a very meditative way to spend a morning, especially when it’s still dark outside.

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Of course, then of course there’s that moment when you go to put socks on and somehow find some crystallized ginger stuck to your foot… um… no comment.

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It also gives me a great sense of productivity to know I’ve created something before I even leave the house that day – and then add a workout and a highly productive work day and by 6p I feel extraordinary accomplished.

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And THEN I get to eat cake! Ha. Win win, all around. Besides, coming back into my apartment after work, I’m greeted with a waft of OMG THIS CAKE SMELLS AMAZING – always a good sign.

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This cake was well loved by both of us – it is definitely going on the to-make-again list – and I have high standards for that list! The cornmeal/polenta give it great texture – it’s a cross somewhere between cake and cornbread, in the best way possible. It’s amazing with ice cream for dessert, and equally so alongside eggs and kale for breakfast – see exhibit A below.

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Besides that, just in case you needed proof as to how loved this cake was, see exhibit B:

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No crumbs. One (large) slice left – that is after a stint of very productive yard work & leaf raking – that cake had NO chance.

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I can’t believe it’s already November. What happened to October?! Happy autumn!

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Apple Ginger Polenta Cake

Gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free. Lightly sweet, sort of like a cross between cake and cornbread – perfect for dessert (served with ice cream!) and breakfast alongside eggs and leafy green things. Yield: 1 8″ cake, serves… um… 2! Ha.

1 c almond meal
2/3 c yellow corn meal (I used medium grind)
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c rice flour
Heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1/6 c maple sugar
1/6 maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
2 Granny Smith apples
1/3 c crystallized ginger chunks, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350, and line an 8″ cake pan with parchment paper, or do like I did and use strips of parchment paper for easy removal. Be sure to grease the pan first though to prevent any stockage.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the maple sugar and maple syrup until soft and fluffy. Add in olive oil and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, rice flour, and baking powder. Stir dry into wet. Cut one and a half apples into cubes and thinly slice remaining half. Add the apple cubes and chopped ginger and stir until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and smooth it out a bit.

Arrange a few apple slices on top of the cake, sprinkle with a bit of maple (or coconut) sugar. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Check the cake after 35 minutes; mine was perfect at 40. If the top of the cake is browning too quickly during baking, you can always tent it with a sheet of tinfoil.

I stuck mine in the fridge for a few hours of storage, which didn’t hurt it at all. It keeps well on the counter overnight (covered with foil), and makes a ridiculously amazing addition to breakfast the next day!

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IMG_1632Early morning mis en place…

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Aggressively Green Things

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I know, I know – could this cake look any swampier? I promise it’s delicious though. This is why matcha does so well in a tart – the pure green shows through so much better!

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This gets a little muddied with the almond flour and whatnot and kind of looks like it belongs on Dagoba in the middle of Yoda’s table, but whatever – it’s delicious, I swear! Some desserts are just prettier than others…

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I went out on a baking limb with this one a bit, but knowing I was feeding it to an adventurous one who has very similar tastes to mine (and likewise thinks overly sweet things and sugar are the devil), I knew I could a) go really tart on the lemon curd and b) make a really assertively green cake.

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FYI on the lemon curd situation – after consideration, we decided that the cake is really awesome on its own, no lemon curd needed. Obvs though we both love lemon curd, so we like that too, but it slightly overpowers the cake if the ratio isn’t quite right. So…. you do you! Both ways are tasty and lemon and matcha are a nice pairing, so it’s up to you how much tartness you want with your cake.

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In other life things, there have been very pretty skies lately!

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Happy almost weekend, blog friends!

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Matcha Almond Cake with Lemon Curd and Maple Hazelnuts

Grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleoish. Lightly sweet, definitely matcha-y, and assertively green! A word to the wise on this – we decided that the cake was great on its own, so I’m including the lemon curd recipe for thoroughness, but feel free to serve without. The lemon is pretty strong so if you want a more matcha-forward dessert, skip it. Perfect for dessert with a bit of ice cream, or breakfast alongside eggs & veg. Adapted from the almond honey cake I made, here. Yield: 1 8″ skillet or 8″ cake, depending on what pan you use. Serves 2 with leftovers ;)

For the cake:

  • 1.5 c almond flour (not meal), firmly packed
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 tbsp culinary grade matcha powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1/8 + 1/16 c melted coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease cast iron skillet or pan of choice with coconut oil. Toss a little almond flour in the bottom to finely coat. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and matcha. In a smaller bowl, whisk together beaten eggs, maple, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake on the center rack of the oven for about 38-40 minutes. I checked mine at 30 and put it back in for 8; it was perfect at 39. The top should be golden brown and firm to the touch, and the center shouldn’t jiggle when lightly shaken. Remove from the oven and let cool before topping and serving.

Maple Lemon Curd:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2.5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

I used a double boiler for this lemon curd, which literally is a game changer. Highly recommended! Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler until it’s at a high simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, sea salt, and maple syrup. Add in the coconut oil one tbsp at a time, whisking continuously, not adding the next tbsp until the first is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the lemon curd thickens and will coat the back of a spoon (or your whisk leaves tracks) – usually around 5 to 8 minutes. It’s a noticeable change when it happens, so just watch the cooking magic! Remove from heat and store in a glass container in the fridge until ready for use.

Maple Glazed Hazelnuts:

  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • sprinkle of sea salt

Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

Serve the cake with lemon curd, or not – your choice! Definitely with hazelnuts though, and quite possibly with ice cream. Store leftover cake in the fridge; covered with foil in the original pan is just fine. I’m here to attest that this cake is fabulous the next morning for breakfast!

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Eat, drink and be rosemary

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THIS CAKE.

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OMG.

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Okay okay I know the rule is you’re not supposed to say your own cooking is amazing, but… I’m going to break it. For this cake.

Because, it is OUTSTANDING.

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Probably my favorite cake I’ve ever made, to date. And I’m not the only one – it got rave reviews from the lucky duck who got to eat most of it. So, I consider that a win.

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I am loving rosemary and more ‘savory’ herbs in desserts lately – apologies in advance if there’s suddenly a bumper crop of rosemary or herby desserts on here. It’s just SO good! This cake teeters on the edge between sweet and savory – it’s really not all that sweet, but it’s perfectly satisfying for dessert with some ice cream and strawberries, and perfect for breakfast alongside some eggs and kale (and coffee. obvs).

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I will absolutely be making this again (I think other parties would be amenable to this as well… no, I KNOW they would, they said so!) – it really is my new favorite, go-to cake. It’s also really quick to throw together – the most time consuming part is likely mincing rosemary. But it’s worth it, when your hands and kitchen smell deliciously like rosemary and chocolate and lemon zest.

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In other news, I did some *colorful* art the other day! A short break from my black ink and paper usual beat. It was lovely to paint again – I miss having paint on my hands! I’ll have to rectify that, and soon.

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Do yourself a favor and bake. It’s not so hot right now; the weather is perfect for baking and sharing. Make cake. Feed the ones you love!

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Rosemary, Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake with Dark Chocolate

This cake is a breeze to throw together; and it’s absolutely beyond delicious for either dessert with ice cream & sliced berries, or for breakfast. Lightly sweet and very aromatic, the rosemary is perfectly complemented by the chocolate and hint of lemon. Coconut oil makes for a slightly denser cake with a moist (hydrated?!) crumb. Easily could be gluten free and dairy free – substitute any gluten free all purpose blend for the whole wheat and non-dairy greek-style yogurt for the whole milk greek I used here. Refined sugar free and whole wheat. Yield: 1 8″ cake, serves…. 2! Jk. More like 8 (but save some for breakfast!)

  • 1 c plain Greek yogurt (I use whole milk greek)
  • 2/3 c coconut oil, melted, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1/3 + 1/6 c maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated meyer lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chunks (mine were 70%)

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease an 8″ or 9″ round cake pan with coconut oil (I used 8″ and it was perfect with no spillage; you’ll have a slightly shorter cake if you use a 9″).

In a large bowl, whisk together greek yogurt, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, rosemary, lemon zest, and vanilla until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, one at at time. In a smaller bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add dry into wet, stirring until just combined. Roughly chop the dark chocolate chunks (I like how that yields a variety of chunk size) & add them to the batter. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes. The top should be golden brown & a tester should come out clean – I took mine out at 40, but realistically it probably could have used another 2-3 minutes to get the center full done (there was a small spot that was less done than I would prefer).

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edge, flip the cake onto a plate and then back onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve with ice cream (why not?); sliced strawberries are also excellent.

Store any leftovers covered in the fridge overnight – the cake will solidify a bit & be extra delicious for breakfast the next morning.

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Gettin’ figgy with it

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My morning yesterday was perfect: zesting meyer lemons early in the morning, to the sound of rain in the leaves and thunder overhead, under cloudy skies.

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Well, it would have been extra perfect with a latte, but no such luck!

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I LOVE the rainy weather we’ve been having – we don’t get summer storms all that often out here, so I’ve really been enjoying them (minus the super muggy nights – I could really do without that). We’ve also had cooler days, hooray! No more turning my apartment into a sauna by virtue of turning on my oven…

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A few shots from life lately… My last series of weekend snapchats was so stereotypically Bay Area Californian, I had to laugh at myself. Latte –> poolside lounging (with sci-fi novel, obvs) –> whole foods flower display –> sushi….

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However. This is a food blog (well, okay… dessert & baking blog these days), so let’s back to the topic at hand!

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This pudding cake is really fun to make – it totally looks like it’s not going to work when it goes in the oven (fingers crossed, beseeching the baking gods) – the cake batter sinks into the pudding underneath and you think to yourself “OMG THIS IS NOT GOING TO WORK AND I WILL BE SCREWED!” but then… you put it in the oven 25 minutes, try to walk away and ignore it….

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Lo and behold, when you take it out, there is CAKE on top of your PUDDING SAUCE! Borderline baking miracle right there, just the sort of thing to make you feel like you’ve won your day, even when it’s only 7am.

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Happy almost-weekend!

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Meyer Lemon Vanilla Pudding Cake with Port Roasted Figs

Refined sugar free and whole wheat. I reduced the sugar heavily & used maple for unrefined-ness, because of personal proclivities… Lightly sweet, super fun concept where the cake bakes into a pudding bath, basically. Essentially it becomes a self-saucing cake, which looks like it won’t work, but it does! Adapted from King Arthur Flour, here. Yield: 1 8″ cake, serves 2-5 (but really 2, for dessert & breakfast w/ a few snacking leftovers…)

The port roasted figs are also a great way to use an abundance of figs if you can’t eat them all fresh – they freeze well, and can be kept into the dark winter months when you want some figgy goodness!

For the roasted figs:

  • 1 lb fresh figs (however many you need or want!)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp port wine
  • zest from 1 meyer lemon

Preheat the oven to 400, and procure a baking sheet. Slice the ends off each fig, and then halve them. In a large bowl, toss the halved figs with honey, coconut sugar, port, and lemon zest, then place them cut-side down on the baking sheet.

Cover the baking sheet with foil, and roast for 20 minutes. They will be soft, with more liquid – if you want them drier, bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. When done, carefully remove the foil (watch out for steam!) and let them cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, or freeze – I’d say use them within 3 months if you freeze them, for best quality.

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons maple
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp meyer lemon juice

For the cake:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, minus 2 tbsp
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 meyer lemons, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp meyer lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8″ square pan (I used a ceramic baking dish with nice results).

To make the sauce: place tapioca in a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of milk, stirring until no lumps remain. Add the remaining milk, maple, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until the mixture simmers, about 5 minutes. It will thicken slightly but no more than that. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

To make the cake: in a largish mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, butter, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice (Or, if you’re me and baking at 6 am and kind of sleepy, just dump it all in one bowl – it’ll turn out just fine). Add to the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared pan over the sauce. It will kind of puddle into the sauce, which will creep up around the sides, and you will look at it and think that this will never work, but stick with me! Promise.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The top of the cake will be golden brown, with some bubbles from the pudding that has crept up around the edges. Remove from the oven, cool for 15 minutes, and serve warm, OR refrigerate until ready to serve. Reheat briefly before serving (or just leave at room temp for a few hours). Store covered leftovers in the fridge & eat for breakfast (it’s essentially breakfast food anyway: maple, milk & whole wheat…) Serve with roasted figs, warmed.

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Cake for a birthday!

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Birthdays call for cake and candles!! Besides, I haven’t made a layer cake in forever.

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I’ve also discovered that you can make frosting out of sweet potatoes and dark chocolate – day MADE! It’s literally incredible. You’d never know there were sweet potatoes in there unless I told you – it has the same texture and satisfaction factor as its sugar-laden cousins! Win win win.

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As any of you know who interact with me regularly, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate make up their own food groups in my personal food pyramid, so this is a dream come true. Besides that, I’ve fallen out of love with buttercream – it’s just SO sweet. No can do.

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But birthdays mean cake, and I happened to be baking this one for a nearest and dearest who (like me) thinks sugar is pretty much the devil… sooooo…. a healthified cake! Whole grains, healthier fats, greek yogurt (another food group), extra dark chocolate, and sweet potatoes.

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It’s basically a health food. Oh, and there’s coffee. So it’s not just a health food, but a balanced breakfast ;)

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In fact, we may or may not have eaten it as part of a balanced breakfast… eggs + kale + corn + chocolate cake with coffee: pretty much the most perfect breakfast I’ve ever eaten.

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Aaannndddd if you serve it with ice cream, you’ve got a calcium serving… hahah I kid, this isn’t health food, but it IS delicious cake that isn’t full of garbage!

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Let’s see, what else is new. OH! It’s not 100+ anymore so I was able to enjoy the baking of this at a normal hour (6 am is a normal hour for baking, right?! … Don’t look at me like that) – and not feel like I’ve been slapped in the face by the heat every time I go out. This is much better!

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More progress on the SF series:

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And more cake. Because birthdays and loved ones need cake!

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Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Mocha Frosting, Toffee, Raspberries and Coconut Coffee Drizzle

Birthday cake! For those in your life who love the chocolate – coffee – toffee – caramel situation. Chocolate-y, coffee-y but not too sweet – a healthier indulgence! The cake itself is refined sugar free and whole grain, and the frosting is dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free, and made of sweet potatoes! But you’d never know ;) Yield: one 6″ cake, 2 layers (double the entire recipe to fit two 9″ cake pans); sorry for some of the awkward measurements. Cake adapted from Epicurious, here; the frosting was inspired by the many versions of sweet potato frosting floating around the interwebs.

For the cake:

  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c whole grain spelt flour
  • 1/4 c + 1/8 c cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 c dark maple syrup (grade B is good)
  • 1/2 c full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Lightly grease two 6″ cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, sift together whole wheat and spelt flour, cacao powder, baking soda and powder and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together maple, greek yogurt, egg, avo oil, and vanilla until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into dry, and use a whisk to beat until the batter is fully combined, smooth and thick, about 1 minute (your dominant bicep will thank you). Distribute batter evenly into both cake pans, and bake for 23-25 minutes (30-35 for 9″) – the tops should spring back when lightly touched and a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 7-10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks (remove parchment paper) and cool completely before frosting.

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For the frosting:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 10 oz extra dark chocolate (I like 70% and above but you do you; chips are fine)
  • 1.5-2 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Bake the sweet potato (either in the oven for 45 – 1 hour @425 or in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes), slice open and let cool for about ten minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin (save for a snack later!!), drop the beautiful orange insides into the food processor, and pulse until smooth. Add in chopped dark chocolate and pulse until combined and smooth – the heat from the sweet potato should melt the chocolate (if it doesn’t, you can take the whole big mess out of the food processor, put it in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 15 seconds; then stick it back in the processor). Process until smooth, then add ground coffee, vanilla, and sea salt and pulse a few times to combine.

Store at room temp for an hour or so if you’re not using immediately, but refrigerate after that – microwave it for 10-20 seconds to get it back to spreadable consistency, as it’ll solidify in the fridge.

For the drizzle:

  • ~1/3 c full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool completely and store in an airtight jar in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble:

  • toffee shards
  • raspberries
  • unsweetened shredded coconut

I opted for a naked cake look this time – there is frosting between the layers, on top and just a bit on the sides, but you do you! The frosting recipe should make enough to cover a full 6″ cake. Decorate with toffee and raspberries to you heart’s content! The coconut coffee drizzle is separate – pour over each slice after serving.

Keeps well covered on the counter overnight; excellent for breakfast the next morning. It’s really whole wheat and sweet potatoes and coffee so that’s all part of a balanced breakfast…

If storing longer than overnight, I’d probably stick it in the fridge, but I like cold cake. The counter is probably fine too, provided it gets eaten within a couple of days!

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Wait… no citrus?!

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Hold the phone. NOT CITRUS?!

Surely you must be joking.

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Don’t worry, my love affair with all things citrus hasn’t ended, it’s just taking a week off so I can give apples some love. Apples haven’t really featured heavily in my desserts of late, so this is a nice change. Besides, apples, honey and almonds all pair so nicely together.

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This cake is a riff on the honey cake with blackberries & hazelnuts I made back in the fall, and this one once again reminds me of something you’d eat in the Shire – skillet and all, it’s very Tolkeinesque. Which of course appeals to my extraordinarily nerdy nature…

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Besides that, it’s light, delicious and comes together in a snap. I used a combination of apples since I love the tartness of Granny Smith but wanted a more complex flavor – Fujis are in here too.

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Excellent for dessert with some ice cream, and of course for breakfast alongside eggs & kale. Cake for breakfast? Sure, why not – it’s a great source of Vitamin E and healthy fats, plus it’s grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free so everyone wins.

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Besides cake, a few snaps of what’s been occupying my time lately:

More SF series, of course.

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No filter on this next one — I couldn’t believe how bright it was!

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Enjoy your cake! It tastes best in good company :)

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Apple Honey Cake with Blackberries and Maple Almonds

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleo depending on your definition. Light almond honey cake studded with apples and topped with blackberries (mo’ fruit!) and mapled almonds. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake; serves 2-8. Recipe is a riff on the honey cake with hazelnuts & blackberries, here. Note: I’ve adapted this recipe over time to fit my 8″ cast iron skillet perfectly, hence the odd measurements. Feel free to make this in a 9″ cake pan or skillet, just keep in mind the bake time will be less & you’ll have a slightly shorter cake.

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For the cake:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c honey (I use raw usually) – runny and thick honey are both fine
  • 1/8 + 1/16 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (I used a mix of Fuji & Granny Smith)
  • 1 apple for topping, sliced into 1/4″ thick wedges + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Cinnamon for topping

Peel, core and chop 2 apples, and set aside. Lightly grease your skillet or pan of choice with coconut oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in eggs, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract, and stir until all ingredients are just incorporated. Stir in 2 chopped apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside momentarily. Cut up the last apple, slicing it into 1/4″ wedges and toss it with the tbsp of melted coconut oil. Fan these out across the top (this is totally optional of course), and sprinkle a little cinnamon on them. Bake for 60-65 minutes (if you left the apples off the very top of the cake, your bake time will be slightly less – check at 45), until the top of the cake is lightly browned, firm, and a tester in the center comes out clean. You can cover the cake with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking if the cake is browning too fast. Remove and let cool before topping & serving.

For the maple almonds

  • 1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

For serving: top cake with blackberries and maple almonds! Slice and serve, especially good with vanilla ice cream. Store any leftovers covered, in the fridge for a few days.

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2017: the tale of demanding, reincarnating bananas

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Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats everyone a little better than last year – 2016 was a rough one for many. But as they say, onward and upward! Preferably with cake, which is where I come in.

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The dead bananas are calling! I had a plethora lurking around my kitchen this weekend and they put me on notice that they really wanted to reincarnate into something amazing… not banana bread again, if you please (my bananas can get a little demanding sometimes…). That being said, I had a hankering for banana cake (fundamentally different from banana bread, you see), so THIS happened!

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Happily so. Have you ever had sautéed dates? No? Get into the kitchen immediately and make them! I love dates anyway, but they are mindblowingly good when given a little bath in some olive oil and sea salt. I’ve always been a salt monster, so salty-sweet desserts are absolutely my jam, and these little powerhouses deliver. Besides that, they’re full of good nutrients (dates are high in vit A & K, plus potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium & zinc. woohoo!).

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This cake is actually full of good things – you have healthy fats from almond flour, hazelnuts, and coconut, and all the good stuff in dates. And besides that, most critically: it’s delicious, which is good for your soul.

Let’s see, what else? Jessie says hello (this is her way of chatting me up during breakfast, adorable cat)

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More drawings, of course! New year, same series! This is the Havens Mansion, built 1884 on S. Van Ness in SF.

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My first activity of 2017! Shocked? Nope.

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More beautiful sky!

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Show your new and improved 2017 self some love with some sautéed dates atop your cake, and revel in all the possibilities of a new year. Onward!

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Banana Date Skillet Cake with Coconut Frosting, Maple Hazelnuts, and Sautéed Dates

Pretty freaking amazing, if I do say so! Lightly sweet banana cake with jewel-like date pieces, coconut frosting and OMG sautéed dates, please make them immediately. Serve with a bit of ice cream or non-dairy biz if that’s your jam! Can’t miss either way. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake, enough frosting to frost the top (cake is served straight out of the skillet); extra hazelnuts because you’ll definitely want extras… and the amount of dates is up to you (make extra!). Skillet cake adapted from Confessions of a Confectionista, here!

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For the cake:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • heaping 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped

For the maple hazelnuts (make ahead, if desired):

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • splash of vanilla

For the sautéed dates:

  • 1-2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 7-8 medjool dates, halved & pitted
  • pinch of sea salt

For the coconut frosting:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled upside-down overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I usually make the hazelnuts ahead and store them in a jar until needed. Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

To make the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet with coconut oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Pour dry into wet, and use an electric mixer to beat until combined. Stir in the chopped dates, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. The cake will brown because of the honey – if you feel it’s browning too fast, feel free to cover it with foil. Let cool completely before serving.

While the cake is cooling, make the sautéed dates! (good luck not eating them all straight out of the pan). In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the dates and sauté, stirring frequently, until they caramelize and are heated through, just about 2-3 minutes (the edges will start to get a little crispy). Watch them carefully, as they burn easily. When done, move them to a bowl to cool and sprinkle with sea salt (be sure to get all of the good oil out of the pan for drizzling!).

Also while the cake is cooling, make the coconut frosting. Open the can of coconut milk rightside up, and scrape out the cream that has solidified at the top, leaving the coconut water at the bottom (save it and use it later!). Scoop the cream out into a bowl, add vanilla and coconut sugar, and use an electric mixer to beat into the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately, or chill for later use.

For serving: Frost the cake with the coconut whip (make sure to frost the cake once it’s completely cool! otherwise a melty mess will ensue); top with sautéed dates and maple hazelnuts. Indulge responsibly (i.e., have another piece)!

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