by Niamh Burke Neff
This cake is perfect for the time of year where thoughts of gingerbread men, mulled wine, Christmas pudding and mince pies come to mind, and spices such as star anise, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are stocked in the cupboards of even the most culinary-challenged people.
Last weekend I had a longing some sort of a spiced ginger cake that would include chai spices I had recently blended, and as soon as I looked at what I had in the fridge, this recipe morphed into shape. This is the perfect cake to have with a hot cup of chai on a winter's eve, and that's exactly what ensued. The contrast between the spices, the crunchy nut topping and the slightly tangy chocolate frosting is really rather lovely.
The recipe below uses a 25cm diameter bundt cake tin, and all ingredients are organic. This is a wheat-free, sugar-free, vegan cake and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser...
For the cake:
- 350g spelt flour (you can use wheat flour also if you wish)
- 1 level teaspoon of allspice
- 1 level teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 level teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 level teaspoon ground cardamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 2 mashed ripe bananas
- ½ cup of red grape & thyme syrup (or you can use honey, coconut blossom nectar or agave instead)
- 1 cup of o-ghurt (you can use normal yogurt or a non-dairy yogurt of choice instead)
- 120 ml almond milk (you can use normal milk or a non-dairy milk of choice instead)
- 2-3 inches of fresh ginger finely cubed (you can use stem ginger if you wish)
For the caramelized nut topping:
- 1½ cups of roughly chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon of coconut blossom sugar (or fine raw cane sugar)
For the frosting:
- 400g dark chocolate (I used OM bar raw coconut chocolate which is vegan and sugar-free)
- ½ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (you can use prepacked if you wish)
- 1½ cups of pitted dates
- Lightly grease the cake tin with coconut oil (or margarine or butter). Preheat the oven to 170°c.
- In a large bowl, sieve together the dry ingredients. Add the chopped ginger and mix through well.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together the oil, banana, syrup, o-ghurt and almond milk, and add to the dry ingredients. Mix through gently until all large lumps are gone, be careful not to over mix it.
- Add the chopped pecans around the bottom of the tin, sprinkle with the coconut blossom sugar. Add the cake mixture on top and bake in the oven for approx 35-40 minutes (or until a skewer test comes out clean).
- Remove from the oven, (take the cake out of the tin) and cool on a wire rack. While the cake is cooling, gently melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (a 'bain marie'). Remove when almost melted and it will continue to melt while you prepare the rest of the mixture.
- Place the dates and orange juice in a blender and blend until pureed. Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture and mix well.
- Once your cake is cooled, cover it with the chocolate frosting, and decorate. I sprinkled some of the spices over the frosting to decorate, as well as raw cacao nibs, bees pollen, and powdered (edible) flowers that I had dried over the summer for a bit of colour (a concoction I lovingly refer to as 'pixie dust'). The chocolate frosting is quite glossy, so I finished it all off with some raw cacao sprinkled around the top, to offer an interesting matt contrast! Decorating is fun and there are no rules, so play with it.
This cake will keep for 4-5 days if you manage to not eat it all in one sitting!