Monday, April 12, 2010

The Best Healthy Birthday Cake EVER -- Using Soaked Grains

Wow. This. Is. Good. Cake. If you at all strive for "healthy" in your birthday celebrations, you'll want to give this cake a try. I made this cake for my husband's birthday two weekends ago. It was so delicious, I decided to give it a second try at a mother/daughter tea I was hosting the next weekend.

We thoroughly enjoyed it both times. I would even serve this cake to company -- even to guests who aren't necessarily used to whole foods. Honestly, I feel if I don't put another post up on this blog, I'll still have made my contribution to society with this recipe. (Well, maybe I do have higher ambitions than just inventing a chocolate cake recipe.) I'm just saying it was good cake and I think you'll enjoy it too!

Before I post the recipe, let me make a few comments about this cake, which I will call Super Moist Oatmeal Chocolate Cake.

  • This cake is super moist, like it's got pudding in the mix.
  • When we ate this cake for my husband's birthday, my kids and I all decided we wanted the same cake for our birthdays. Which means, I will make some variations on it as the year progresses. And, I will have to address the next issue... making a healthy icing for using on children's decorated cakes.
  • This cake does have oats in it. Which is a little un-normal for cakes. It tastes absolutely delicious. Just expect some texture from the oats. But, like I said, it is super moist, which is the important part of the texture... like rich velvet... It doesn't even really need ice cream on the side.
  • The cake tastes even better the next day. So, you might want to consider making it a day ahead of your event.
  • This cake uses all whole, unfractionated, unadulaterated, natural food ingredients.
  • Also, I wanted to use soaked grains because whole grains are difficult to digest and contain some enzyme inhibitors. Soaking grains for 12-24 hours using yogurt, kefir or lemon juice will neutralize the phytates, making the grain more digestible and the nutrients more available.
  • I baked this cake first in a 9x13 pan and second in a bundt pan. I think it turned out better as a sheet cake. The top was very soft and yummy, and it didn't even need icing. But, with a bundt pan, once it is flipped onto a plate, the top becomes the outside edge.

So, here's the recipe:

Super Moist Oatmeal Chocolate Cake

  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1 3/4 c. boiled water
  • 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt (or kefir)
  • 1/2 c. butter or coconut oil (I used one each time and both worked.)
  • 2 c. Sucanat or Rapadura
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (I used naturally sweetened, organic chocolate chips.)
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts, optional (I used this for the birthday cake, but not the tea cake.)

First, boil the 1 3/4 cups of water. Pour it over 1 cup of oats, and stir to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes to cool.

(It needs to be below 115 degrees so that it won't kill the active cultures in the yogurt. It took 30 minutes to reach about 105 degrees. I don't think it is necessary to always use a thermometer since it just has to be within a range. 30 minutes should get you between 105 and 115 every time.)

After 30 minutes, add in the 1 3/4 cups of flour and the 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt. Stir well to combine. It should look like this:

Cover loosely and leave at room temperature overnight.

When you are ready to make the cake, melt 1/2 cup of butter or coconut oil in a saucepan. Add the 2 cups of natural sweetener. And 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder. Then stir in the 2 eggs and mix well.

In a mixer, beat the soaked grains on medium high speed for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides a few times as you go. While the batter is beating, add the baking soda and salt. It will look like a very wet bread dough when you start. And the beating will soften it up, breaking most of the gluten strands.

Pour in the oil, sweetener and egg mixture and beat again at medium-high speed for another 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a 9x13 pan (or a bundt pan). If you are using walnuts, sprinkle them on the top of the batter. I only put them on half since some of my family prefers their cakes without nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees. For the 9x13 pan, it took 40 minutes to bake. For the bundt cake I made, it took 55 minutes before it tested done with a toothpick. Like I said above, I think it worked better in the sheet pan, but the presentation was better as a bundt cake.

So there you have it! In our opinion, it is by far the best "healthy" cake we have ever tasted AND it rivals most unhealthy chocolate cakes as well. I think most people you serve it to would not even guess you used whole grains! As you can see, it rose really nicely, which made a moist, light whole grain cake.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Please remember that my original recipes are copyrighted. It takes a good deal of planning, effort and creativity to develop a new recipe. If you share my recipe with others, please share the Health Begins With Mom link and properly credit the source. If you want to copy the text and pictures, you must ask for permission first. I appreciate that!

For more healthy recipes, check out Tuesday Twister here.
For your health,


Tim, Allyson, and kids said...

Did you use regular whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour? Do you know what the difference is? Is whole wheat pastry flour healthy?

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Allyson,

I used my freshly milled flour from both Hard White and Hard Red wheat berries.

Whole Wheat Pastry flour is made from soft white wheat berries. It is a very light flour, even though it is whole grain. Yes, it is healthy, but it has a slightly different nutritional profile than other wheat berries. It also lacks the nutty flavor.

I have always used a combination of red and white wheat berries because we like the flavor of red wheat, but it is too harsh all by itself, in our opinion.

If you were buying the flour instead of milling it at home, I would use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour... this is because, from my experience, the whole wheat flours at the store taste very strong... brands like Bob's Red Mill, Hodgson's Mill, Arrowhead Mill.

Hope this helps! ae

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

This looks really good. I recently discovered a chocolate zucchini cake recipe out of whole foods that I would serve to guests (recipe on my blog).

Tim, Allyson, and kids said...

We are buying flour in bulk since we don't have a grain mill. I guess I'll stick to the Whole Wheat Pastry flour or maybe experiment with a combination of pastry and regular whole wheat flours. Thanks!

Also, do you think I could use this recipe without the cocoa and maybe vanilla extract for a vanilla cake? My husband can't eat chocolate :(

Amy Ellen said...

Hi again, Allyson.

Yes, I would totally try making it a vanilla cake. I might even do so for Tickle's birthday since she's so young... maybe a bit too young for chocolate : )

I would omit the cocoa powder and chocolate chips, add 2 tsp. of vanilla and for sure use nuts.

Or, another idea to try would be to use almond flavoring and slivered almonds. That might be yummy.

OR, you could try using orange zest and almonds... which would be good in a bundt cake with an orange drizzle (sucanat in a food processor to make powdered sugar, a tablespoon or so of orange juice and more orange zest).

I could go on forever... I will for sure be trying some of these myself!

Let me know if you try something and it works!!!

Peace and joy, ae

Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS said...

This looks REALLY good! Thanks for sharing it in the Tuesday Twister!

Jessica said...

Wow, that looks great! I'll definitely be keeping this in mind for upcoming birthdays. Do you think this recipe would work as cupcakes?

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Jessica,

Yes, I do think it would work as cupcakes. In fact, Witzy turns five next week and I plan on making her a castle cake with a princess figure coming out of a window in the tower. We often call her "Daddy's Princess."

I plan on baking half of the batter in an 8x8 pan. Then dividing the other half in four cupcakes... Then putting them in the corner of the castle as towers with paper cones on top... and flags. I am still thinking of how to get the grey stone look on the walls... Any thoughts? I could use cocoa powder for brown, but how could I turn icing grey?

: ) ae

Millie said...

Yum. I have been wondering about a soaked chocolate cake. I'm glad you've done the hard work and came up with a great recipe.

Lisa said...

Perfect timing- my husband turns 40 in one week & we are having people over to celebrate. I told him I would make the cake because, now that we don't eat refined sugar, if we eat conventional sugar-filled garbage we feel so ICK! This should be great for our party :)

Amy Ellen said...

Another comment to update things...

A friend of mind made this into a Carrot Cake earlier in the week. She omitted the chocolate chips and cocoa. And instead, she added 3/4 cup drained pineapple and 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots. Her family enjoyed it!

busymomof10 said...

This sounds great! I can't wait to give it a try!!! Thanks for sharing!

Lori at The Davidson Den said...

Okay. I made your cake tonight. But I had trouble. Everything was fine until I got ready to pour the batter into my pan. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to "prepare" the pan in any way. At first, since you didn't mention it, I thought I'd leave the pan alone, but at the last second I decided to smear the corners with a little coconut oil just to be safe. However, the ENTIRE bottom stuck horribly! Also, are the chocolate chips supposed to all go to the bottom of the pan?? Mine did and even came close to tasting burnt. I guess I'm frustrated, because I'm trying so hard to make the transition to always soaking my grains, but I haven't acquired a "taste" for the results yet. Especially on these baked goods, etc. I'm a cake-eating fool! VERY picky about what constitutes good cake. I'm just not sure where I went wrong on this recipe. Any ideas?

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Lori!

I am so sorry!!! I didn't say to pour into a greased pan... I will have to edit that in, for sure!

My chocolate chips didn't sink to the bottom. They stayed dispersed throughout the cake, and were nice and melty. I wonder... I just used some organic chocolate chips. I don't think they're anything special. What kind did you use?

Also, what type of pan did you use? A heavy dark pan might be different with the baking.

Don't give up!!! I have kitchen disasters too... but practice makes perfect... or close to it!

Let me know how it tuirns out if you try it again.

:-) ae

Carrie Beth said...

Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful soaked grains recipes- I am clueless about creating this type of thing on my own and appreciate it so much! I made this recipe tonight for my 4 year old homeschool co-op's class tomorrow- had the same experience with the chocolate chips sinking to the bottom. I used regular chocolate chips since I could not get into town to get better ones- I wonder if this made a difference? Possibly even the mini-chips would have been better texture wise, even if not ingredient wise? THANKS again :)!

Tim, Allyson, and kids said...

I always toss blueberries with a little flour when making muffins to help them stay dispersed.

I wonder if this would help with the sinking chocolate chips problem.

Amy Ellen said...

Thanks for sharing the flour tip for the sinking chocolate chips, Allyson! I think it's definitely worth a try... I know that when I've seen people make fruitcake, they dust all the add-ins with flour, so it makes sense to do so with chocolate chips.

:-) ae

Carrie Beth said...

Great tip! I will try it next time. Even though our chips were on the bottom this time, my husband still begged for the one cupcake left after I got home from co-op!

Tiph said...

Thank you for this recipe! I am always looking for healthy alternatives of tasty treats.. and this one looks fantastic!! My birthday is tomorrow... and I *just* restocked my pantry with oats.. so I think I am going to try this one out! Can't wait!!! :)

Stephanie said...

How long should you bake it for cupcakes? I am making it for my daughters bday party this week. :)

Lola said...

This is THE best cake ever. The best part is no one at my son's birthday party will know how truly healthy it is!! Reminded me of Duncan Hines cakes from my previous life!!!! Thank u SOOOOO much for sharing this!

Heidi said...

Hi Amy Ellen!
We made your recipe yesterday and it stuck as I tried to cut it. It was mainly cool, but not to the point it was cold. Does it work better to make this the day before you want it so it can set? I want to make it again for Monday night. Do you refrigerate it?
Do you serve it with frosting ever?
Thank you,