When I went Paleo, I gave away a lot of my old cookbooks. When was I ever going to bake bread, frost cakes, or make pasta again? Now that I've been adapting recipes, I wish I had them back. One book I couldn't bear to get rid of was All Cakes Considered by National Public Radio Producer Melissa Gray, because it's a gorgeous book... the photos are practically food porn, they are so good. Also, because the author offers tons of baking tips I've never thought of before (see Tips and Hints) and because every cake I baked from All Cakes was absolutely luscious, the book stayed in my "keep" pile.
Ms. Gray, a producer of All Things Considered, baked these cakes and brought a different one to work each week. Her lucky colleagues were the taste testers.I thought that was such a wonderful idea that the year before I retired, two colleagues and I baked a different recipe from this book and brought the cakes to our monthly staff meetings. We were very, very popular!
For the past several years, though, the book has collected dust on my shelf. Now I have finally opened it again and started to "paleotize" the recipes. And, thanks to the generous permission of the publishers, I can share my efforts with you. (All Cakes Considered, by Melissa Gray, is copyright 2009 and is used with permission of Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Visit www.ChronicleBooks.com )
Baking is as much a science as an art, and Paleo baking even more so. Nut or root flours (like tapioca or cassava) can't be swapped out 1:1 for wheat flour. Coconut flour, for example, absorbs a lot more liquid than other flours and if you substituted it for all-purpose flour 1:1, you'd have a very dry cake indeed (see Tips and Hints for more about flour).
Missy G's Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Visit www.ChronicleBooks.com
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
2 cups coconut sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup cashew flour or almond flour
1 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut milk (from can, shaken
to incorporate cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple flavoring
1/2 cup peeled, sliced apples
Coconut oil for greasing pan
2 TBS cold ghee, cut into pieces
2 TBS coconut sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1. About two hours or the day before baking the cake, prick the sweet potatoes with a fork (so they don't explode in your oven), preheat oven to 325 degrees, and bake for at least 45 minutes until they are soft. Remove from oven and let cool for at least one hour. Scoop out the insides and mash with a potato masher. Measure out two cups and cool to room temperature before mixing into the cake.
2. Position a cake rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 10-inch tube pan with parchment paper and grease the bottom and insides of the pan with coconut oil.
3. Cream the 1 cup ghee in a mixer on medium speed.
4. Gradually add the two cups coconut sugar to the ghee, 1/4 cup at a time, beating at medium to high speed after each addition.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time (see Tips and Hints), beating at medium to high speed for one minute after the addition of each one.
6. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup at a time.
7. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cashew flour, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
8. In another separate bowl, combine the coconut milk, vanilla, and maple flavoring.
9. With the mixer still on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and coconut milk mixture, beating after each addition. Start with a third of the flour mixture, beat, then add half of the coconut milk mixture, beat again and repeat until the last of the flour mixture has been beaten in.
10. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then mix the batter on medium to high speed for 2 minutes.
11. Slow the mixer down to the lowest speed and add the apples, mixing until just incorporated.
12. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and use the back of the spatula to smooth the top.
13. In a separate bowl, combine the 2 TBS cold ghee, 2 TBS coconut sugar, and chopped pecans to make the topping. Mix with a spoon until mixture is crumbly.
14. Sprinkle the topping all over the surface of the batter and bake cake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes before testing for doneness. Use a sharp knife or toothpick to test the cake, and poke around in a couple of places (as Ms. Gray says, "This cake can fool ya.")
15. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Unmold the cake by flipping it onto a plate, and then onto a cake rack, topping side up.
Miss Saigon Cinnamon Almond Coffee Cake
2 TBS ghee
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp Saigon cinnamon (regular cinnamon works, too)
1 cup sliced almonds
2 TBS cashew or almond flour
1/4 cup Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening (available in the health food section of your grocery store)
1 cup coconut sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup cashew or almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 cup coconut yogurt ( see Paleogram post for 11/4/2015) with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1
tsp maple syrup added (Note: Some people on Paleo eat raw milk yogurt made from the milk of grass-fed cows. If you can tolerate dairy, you can add the vanilla and maple syrup and use this yogurt instead of the coconut yogurt)
1 tsp almond extract
Coconut oil for greasing pan
1. In a microwaveable dish, melt the ghee on high power, about one minute.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the 1/2 cup coconut sugar, cinnamon, almonds and the 2 TBS cashew or almond flour. Add the melted ghee and stir to make the streusel. Set aside.
3. Position a rack so the cake will sit in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the inside of an 8-inch square baking dish with the coconut oil.
4. Cream the shortening with a mixer on medium speed and gradually add the 1 cup coconut sugar, beating well after each addition.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk the cashew or almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot powder and baking powder together.
7. Add a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, beat, then add 1/4 cup of the yogurt and beat again. Repeat once more, add the remaining flour mixture, and beat again.
8. Add the almond extract and beat well.
9. Using your spatula, guide about half the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out. Sprinkle 1/3 of the streusel over the batter. Pour the rest of your batter over the streusel and smooth again. Sprinkle the remaining streusel over the batter.
10. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan and serve.