from Babycakes by Erin McKenna

3 1/2 c whole spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 c coconut oil, plus more for the pans
1 1/3 c agave nectar
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce (there’s a recipe for homemade in this book! i took the slacker route and used store-bought…)
3 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 c hulled and sliced strawberries
vanilla frosting (recipe to follow)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottoms of three 8 x 3-inch round cake pans with circles of parchment paper and coat lightly with oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 1 cup oil and the agave nectar, applesauce, and vanilla directly to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the pans 180 degrees after 12 minutes. The finished cakes will be golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Let the cakes stand in the pans for 20 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edges, cover the top of each pan with a cutting board, and flip over. Carefully lift the pan away and re-invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate or a cake stand. With a frosting spatula, gently spread vanilla frosting over the top. Scatter enough strawberries over the frosting to completely cover it. Place a second layer on top, right side up, and spread with more frosting. Add another layer of strawberries. Place the final layer on top, domed side down. Spread the top with frosting and arrange strawberries over it decoratively. Cover the cake with a dome and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 16 slices.

Vanilla Frosting
1 1/2 c unsweetened soy milk
3/4 c dry soy milk powder
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 c agave nectar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c coconut oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a blender or a food processor, combine the soy milk, soy powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla. Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes. With the machine running, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for 6 hours or for up to 1 month. (If you plan to use it as a sauce, store the mixture at room temperature for up to 1 week.) Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.

I made this cake and frosting for my daughter’s smash cake at her first birthday party a few weeks ago. I was nervous that she wouldn’t be such a great sport and would be uninterested in whatever cake I put in front of her, thus thwarting my visions of a frosting covered baby I so desired for her party photos. I wasn’t willing to lure her in with too much sugar- I refuse to sacrifice her nap schedule for anything! Alas… strawberries. Strawberries shoved avocado out of the solid #1 position in my daughter’s food ranks weeks before the party, but would the position hold? Should I go with the first, tried and true love, zucchini? No, strawberries are delightful this time of year, and slabs of zucchini might look unusual in my prized smash cake photos. Hello Sweet Paradise Cake! Thanks for coming through for us again, Babycakes. She loved her cake, as you can see here:

The cake was actually quite tasty. Instead of the three 8-inch rounds, I did two 9-inch ones for the rest of the guests, and one 6-inch one for the smash cake. It worked really well! Of course the baking times took some serious adjustment, less for the larger pans, and much more for the smaller, and taller, one. I lost track of the time it took, but let’s say it’s a good thing I bought that extra box of toothpicks! My mom came over the next day to help, and I put her to work frosting the cakes. She did a lovely job! She showed me this great trick- before setting the unfrosted cake down on the plate or cake stand, put down some strips of parchment paper where the edge will meet the plate, that you can slide out when you’re finished frosting. That way, you don’t have to worry about keeping the plate clean! It was such a great idea. I hate a messy plate around a beautiful food item! We opted not to put the strawberries on top, since we didn’t want the frosting to get watery-pink before the party. Turned out I was too crunched for time to put them on just before serving it, having to make picnic sandwiches, decorations, and these cupcakes for the party. Who knew that preparing a birthday party for someone who won’t even remember the day would be so time consuming and stressful? Oh yeah, moms that have done it before, that’s who.
Like the cupcakes, this cake is not too sweet. But the flavor is sooooo good. At first when I sampled the frosting by itself, I swore it wasn’t sweet enough, and contemplated dumping confectioner’s sugar in. I’m glad I refrained! It was such a nice complement to the cake, I’m so glad I didn’t change a thing.
Overall, we had a really great day. The rainy spring gave us one sunny day in the middle of what seemed like a month of solid rain and cold. Here’s the dress that I made a few months back- perhaps you remember my very first project on this blogging adventure?

Well, it is still just a little on the big side, which is actually kind of a relief because it seems like everything else is too small for her anymore. Other than a skinned knee on her good buddy, and a skinned nose on the birthday girl (she’s new to bipedalism and got a little ahead of herself), I must say that her party was a big success.
Happy First Birthday, baby girl. Thank you for the best year of my life, with excitement of more to come. I’m so blessed to have you in my life. I love you more than I could have ever imagined!
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