When Natural Kitchen Adventures met Ellabelle’s Kitchen
I set Ellie – a good friend of mine and author of the cake decorating blog Ellabelle’s Kitchen – and myself a challenge. Could we have an adventure in natural cake decorating? Using her wonderful imagination and my knowledge of natural ingredients we could surely come up with a gluten and refined sugar free cake, which not only tasted delicious but was also spectacularly beautiful, and of course healthy.
Both of us became stupidly excited about this and immediately set a date to hang out and cook. A few days later Ellie cryptically asked whether I could create a healthy white icing, some pip-able green icing, and also find some natural red food die. Easy I answered. Cream cheese & honey frosting, Matcha green tea powder & spirulina for a vibrant green, and beetroot juice for red. The freeze-dried raspberries were a last minute shopping basket impulse addition. I hoped they could be used somehow since Ellie refused to tell me what she had in mind! This weekend I turned up at Ellie’s house with a bag of shopping, and 4 layers of chocolate cake cooked the previous day ready for our experiment. Incredibly excited to find out what was in store and also excited to learn from Ellie’s who clearly knows her way around a palate knife. She also owns things like cake turntables, delicate paint brushes, piping bags and nozzles which were to come in handy!
I decided to use a very basic gluten free/paleo coconut flour chocolate cake recipe for this project. Vanilla based coconut flour cakes lack a bit of flavour, and ground almond based grain-free cakes are just too dense for a 4 layer cake. Plus I’m just not a Victoria sponge kind of girl. The cake recipe itself is really simple and lends itself brilliantly to a 4 tiered cake. Fibre rich coconut flour, plenty of nutritionally dense eggs, and with English organic honey as the sweetener this is a far cry from a shop bought gluten-free sponge. The recipe is adapted from my Bauman College, Natural Chef text book. I used 7.5″ cake tins, but if you went down to 6″ you’d get a deeper cake, and could possibly get away with 2 cakes, split in half for four layers.
Here’s how the cake came together:
- 5 eggs
- 125mls almond oil (or mild olive oil or coconut oil)
- 200g Organic honey
- 60g coconut flour
- 3 Tbs cocoa powder
- 1 Tbs finely ground coffee (use decaffeinated preferably - NB this is optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 750g Organic cream cheese
- 125g Organic butter
- 3 Tbs Organic honey
- ½ tsp Matcha green tea and ¼ tsp spirulina
- 1 beet and juice from a vacuum packed beetroot pack
- ~50g flaked almonds
- freeze dried raspberries
- Pre-heat the oven to 165 deg C
- Grease and line (base and sides 2 x 7.5" cake tins)
- Make up 1 batch of cake recipe. First crack the eggs into a bowl, add the oil & honey. Using a electric whisk, whisk up the ingredients till light and frothy.
- Sieve in the coconut flour, cocoa powered, coffee (if using), salt and baking powder, and whisk again until fully combined (for 2 minutes) Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl into the mix with a spatula.
- Split the mixture between the 2 cake tins - Ideally use scales to make sure you've done this evenly so that the cakes will be of even size - and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. The top of the cake will bounce back under a light touch when done. The cakes will not rise a massive amount. Allow to cool slightly, before turning out onto a cooling rack. Wash the tins and repeat procedure 2-5.
- To store the cakes until ready to ice, make sure they are fully cooled before layering up in an airtight cake tin with parchment paper between each later.
- First make up the frosting. Beat the cream cheese with a spatula, melt the butter a little and then combine with the cheese and add the honey. Whisk together until fully combined and set aside.
- Portion off some of the cheese - approx 100g and add ½ tsp Matcha green tea and ¼ spirulina until you get the strength of colour you desire. Place in a piping bag with very small nozzle and place in fridge until ready to use.
- Next make the flour petals. Blend the beet till you get a thick paste, dip a small paintbrush into the red liquid and paint both sides of the flaked almonds. Set on a plate to dry out fully, turning every so often to make sure both sides dry. NB this is time consuming!
- Now you're ready to attack the cake. Build up the cake by spreading each layer with white icing, and when all 4 tiers are done add to the sides. Smooth off - as Ellie is doing in the picture.
- Pipe the green icing up the sides of the cake, add the almond petals and fill up the middle with freeze dried raspberries - using a small brush dipped in water helps this process.
- This is no doubt a tricky process - just have fun!
I am so in love with this cake, and also the fact we pulled off a colourful cake, that’s completely free of refined sugar, and artificial colourings. I wonder what we’ll come up with next.
For Ellie’s story of the cake, particularly where she got her inspiration for this beautiful design – do check out her blog post here
How would you decorate a cake using natural ingredients?