Natural Kitchen Cake

Believe it or not, this little beauty is gluten, grain and sugar free:

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This cake was the result of a collaboration between me and a friend, Ceri.  As documented in my ‘About Me’ section, Ceri of Natural Kitchen Adventures is one of the main reasons this blog came into being.  If you haven’t ever checked out her blog, I suggest you do, she is one interesting and skilled lady with passion and talent for healthy cooking. When Ceri suggested that we should make a cake together I was slightly nervous about how I could maintain a standard of decorating that I would be happy with, without my go-to food dyes, sugar and E-numbers.

Ceri proposed that she made the cake and I decorated it – so far so good – the only stipulation was that everything I used had to be natural.  My forays into cakey excess, extravagance and flamboyance are well documented and so, approaching this challenge, I was slightly nervous.

Thinking about natural ingredients conjured the image of flowers for me and I started to think of how I could make a flowery cake without using sugar paste. I decided to use flaked almonds to make petals and beetroot to dye them pink.

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Ceri made four chocolate cakes that we layered with cream cheese frosting (sweetened with honey) and then she let me loose with flaked almonds, dried raspberries and green-tea dyed frosting.  Ceri had picked up the dried raspberries at the last minute as I had refused to tell her my decorating idea (I’m superstitious like that), I had just mentioned that I wanted to use red. She wasn’t sure the beetroot would be red enough and so had picked up the raspberries. My original idea was to use pomegranate seeds in the centre of the flowers but I’d forgotten to add it to our shopping list, so the raspberries were a happy last minute addition. It was Ceri’s idea to use green tea to dye the frosting for the stems.  It made a beautiful pale green that complimented the delicate pink of the beetroot-almond petals. Unfortunately it wasn’t the easiest thing to pipe – without the glossy sheen of royal icing, I found it slightly unwieldy to work with and the result is perhaps a little messier than I’d like.

P1040054I really liked the look of the 3D flowers and would definitely use the flaked almonds again to decorate a cake – natural challenge or not!

Ceri took the cake to a party and her hard baking work paid off, it looked beautiful when it had been cut into:

P1040068You can read more about this cake and get a recipe for it over at Natural Kitchen Adventures.  I really enjoyed the challenge and loved the results; I’m looking forward to the next collaboration…

 

 

 

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Chocoholic cake

This was a birthday cake for the Chief Executive of the company I work for. In our office we have an area affectionately known as the ‘PFA’ which stands for Project’s Food Area; it is a bit of empty desk space at the end of the Projects pod where there is only one rule – if you leave food there it is free for all. The PFA is often home to delicious, calorific and sinful snacks as one person treats the office to another pack or biscuits or a new bag of sweets.

I had noticed that our Chief Exec is quite fond of the PFA and often has a little sample of its offerings as he wonders through the office. I decided the only way to go with a cake for him was to appease his sweet tooth so I decided to make the ultimate chocoholic cake with his name on.

Finished Chocoholic cake

I knew that I was going to cover the cake in chocolates so I didn’t want the actual cake too sweet or it would be hideous to eat. I decided to adapt a Morrison’s recipe I have for chocolate beetroot cake with cream cheese frosting to make it gluten free (a friend in the office can’t eat wheat, you can read about an Octopus cake I made for her here).

The cream-cheese frosting is not sickly sweet like butter icing so I covered the sides of the cake in lots of different kinds of chocolates, carefully constructing the chocoholic boarder with lots of texture. I then made the chocolate letters by piping melted dark chocolate onto cling film and the setting them in the fridge. I added the letters at the last minute so they wouldn’t break or droop in transit. I did make one error with this cake in terms of gluten free – I used Maltesers in the decorating which, of course, contain wheat. Luckily Izzie knew that she couldn’t eat them and pulled the Maltesers off before tucking into the cake.

This cake was so tasty, I’m going to break with convention and post the recipe.

Chocolate beetroot

Gluten-free chocolate beetroot cake

225g self-raising gluten free flour

1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

70g cocoa

200g demerara sugar

150ml sunflower oil

300g cooked beetroot

2 tbsp milk

3 large eggs

 

Frosting

200g of plain chocolate

300g low fat soft cream cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line your tin (I used a square tin, roughly 8 inches)

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar.

In a blender mix together the wet ingredients – oil, beetroot, eggs, milk before pouring over the dry ingredients and mixing thoroughly.

Cook for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the middle of the cake clean.

 

For the frosting

Melt the chocolate and mix with the cream cheese. When the cake is cool, cover the cake in the frosting before adding any extra touches.