Tag Archives: gluten free

(Not so) guilty pleasures

It was Leigh’s birthday yesterday, and with a birthday of course comes cake. Cake’s always a bit difficult for me: I have an allergy to nuts, and the potential for cross-contamination makes sweet treats a bit of a minefield. The obvious solution is to bake them myself and in recent years that’s exactly what I’ve done. It took me a while to get over my fear of baking: I’ve come to love cooking over the years, but my approach is rather ad hoc. The experimental attitude never seemed so appropriate for baking: get the careful mix of flour and sugar and fats wrong, and it would all be a bit of a flop.

I finally started to chill out a bit after mastering the cupcake with the help of a friend and flat mate with whom nearly three years ago I actually made two hundred cupcakes for the sake of my wedding. There was still something that niggled at me though, and that was the ingredients themselves: however good quality they may be, there’s never going to be anything very nutritious about white flour and sugar.

Particularly since the arrival of Arthur I’ve been keen to keep empty calories off the menu as much as possible. Of course there will be times when we’ll treat ourselves or resort to unhealthy snacks for the sake of convenience, but if I’m taking the time to bake at home I’d rather try to create something a bit more worthwhile. And with a bit of online investigation, I soon discovered that there are rather more options for the simple act of baking a cake than I ever imagined.

The cake I made for Leigh’s birthday is one I’ve made a couple of times before, and every time I do I think it gets a little bit tastier. It’s nut free, gluten free, refined sugar free, instead being full of all sorts of natural nutrients – and despite all that it’s really quite delicious.


Beetroot and Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Avocado Buttercream



450g cooked beetroots

4 eggs

125ml melted coconut oil

125ml maple syrup

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp mixed spice

50g unsweetened cocoa powder

60g coconut flour


1 ripe avocado

50g unsweetened cocoa powder

125ml maple syrup


My favourite tool for speed baking with a toddler in tow is my hand-held blender: all my mixing was therefore done with this, though if you have more subtle methods I’m sure the result will be even better.

1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius

2) In a large bowl, mix the beetroot, eggs and coconut oil

3) Add the maple syrup, vanilla, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices and mix well

4) Add the cocoa powder and coconut flour and mix until smooth

5) Pour the batter into a greased cake tin – I used an 8 inch tin

6) Cook for about 45 minutes – longer if necessary – until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean

7) Allow to cool

8) Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the icing until smooth

9) Spread the icing on the cake and decorate as desired (I used blueberries)


This cake was very well received at the end of Leigh’s birthday dinner last night, and tasted even better chilled with coffee for breakfast this morning. There was an undeniable wholesomeness to its flavour, but this was offset by the fact that it left us feeling well nourished and satisfied. As rich chocolatey pleasures go there was certainly a lot less guilt involved than you might expect!

Thank you to Sara at ‘Mum turned Mom’ for inspiring this post with her prompt ‘guilty pleasures’.


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