Celebrate all the Leos! Best-Yet Mix-n-Match Mud Cake.

Gluten and grain free, refined sugar free, optional dairy free/paleo.

Today I’m headed off to a committee meeting with a group of awesome women who run and steer the Nimbin Preschool. This term our meeting happens to fall right in the middle of the Leo birthday bonanza.. 6 of our 8 committee members are currently Leos, so of course we need cake!

This is a recipe I’ve hacked from Annabel Langbein’s Ultimate Chocolate Brownie recipe. It’s still a bit of a work in progress, (I almost never bake anything quite the same twice), but I think this might be the best version yet. I’m calling it a mix-n-match because the fun is in the optional additions, get creative!

  • 2 cups dates, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 150g fat – coconut oil or lard to make it paleo, butter, ghee for lower lactose and casein, melted with
  • 50g cocoa butter (if you don’t have cocoa butter, replace with other fat as above)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-3 Tbs honey
  • 1 cup cocoa, raw cacao or carob powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda (bicarb)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (the salt isn’t necessary if you’re using salted butter, but is essential if you’re not. Unless you are on a restricted salt diet of course.. it won’t ruin the cake to leave it out, but all sweet things taste better with a little bit of salt)
  • 1/4 cup liquid (milk – almond/coconut/dairy, or water works fine too)

Optional:

  • Chopped nuts
  • Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg – any of the baking spices really
  • Vanilla essence
  • Orange, lemon or peppermint oil
  • Dried fruit or candied ginger
  • Fresh or frozen berries
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chocolate chips

Method:

In a blender, add your dates, boiled water and tsp baking soda. Give the dates a pulse or two to chop them up slightly, then let sit for 20 mins.

While you wait, preheat the oven to 160c. Grease and flour your cake pan, I used a 10″ springform pan because it’s what I have, which results in a fairly shallow cake with these quantities. You could use a smaller pan for a deeper cake, it’ll just take a little longer.

Once the dates have softened, add the melted fats and blend until smooth. Add in your eggs, milk or water, and vanilla essence, spices or essential oils if using, and blend until smooth. Stop the blender and add your cocoa, coconut flour, salt and bicarb, blend again. You will probably need to use the tamper on your blender, or stop it periodically and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Mix in any solid additions by hand so they stay chunky. Pour into your pan and bake until it pulls away from the edges and is springy in the centre, about 40 minutes.

The texture and flavour of this cake improve with a day or two sitting in the fridge. I have frosted it in the past with whipped butter and honey with a little cocoa, but it’s kind of overkill. It’s great served with some cultured cream and fresh fruit or berries. As for the additions… it’s very dense, so I find it’s improved with some kind of texture added. Chopped nuts are fantastic, though shredded coconut does the job as well. Frozen berries are nice, chopped candied ginger or dried berries, and a few drops of orange oil work beautifully. Enjoy!

Update:

I just made this for my daughter’s birthday, and as I didn’t want to give her chocolate, I omitted the cocoa, added a couple of tablespoons of extra coconut flour to make up the difference, and 1/4 teaspoon or so of lemon oil. I then stirred a handful of frozen mixed berries though the batter, and once in the pan scattered another handful over the top. It came out super delicious and a great chocolate free option. Next time I would leave out the honey though, it was a bit too sweet. I also think this cake would work great with carob instead of cacao.

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