I know what you’re thinking, but it’s my birthday. And this year, I just felt like doing something crazy – like making a gigantic, over-the-top, totally indulgent cake…that’s healthy. You know it, I’m wild.
This wouldn’t be My New Roots if I poured a whole whack of sugar in the batter, or iced the cake with margarine. I am happy to report that this spectacular, beauty queen delight is sugar-free, dairy-free, and even made with whole grains. The cake itself is vegan, and the icing could easily follow suit (but I was just gifted with raw honey from a bee-keeping friend and of course had to use it!). Did I mention it’s delicious? I guess that was obvious.
I’ll try to make this post short and sweet, unlike this cake, which is anything but vertically challenged, and pleasantly un-saccharine. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of those grocery store desserts plastered in thick, white frosting that you can practically feel digging holes into your tooth enamel. This cake is eats more like a guiltless afternoon snack (or breakfast?), despite its indulgent appearance.
A couple notes: Feel free to use canned pumpkin if you are pressed for time, but of course I’m voting for the freshly roasted, homemade variety. Also, searching for canned pumpkin in a country where they don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving, I have discovered, is a very huge waste of time.
I used Hokkaido pumpkins, which seem to be very popular in Denmark (go figure). Hokkaidos are relatively small, very sweet, creamy, and the best part is you can eat the rind, which is where all the good stuff is. If you cannot find this variety, any small pie pumpkin will work. Select one that has a deep colour and is heavy for its size, as the larger they grow the stringier and tough their flesh becomes. And although I am usually up for creative food saving / repurposing, I would not recommend using your post-Halloween jack-o’-lantern pumpkin for the cake, as your neighborhood squirrel potentially used it as a motel room, which is cute but gross.
Roasting a pumpkin is disappointingly easy. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, place the halves face down on a lined cookie sheet, and bake until soft (30-60 minutes depending on the size of the pumpkin). I used two small Hokkaidos and had a little leftover for soup. If you can’t find pie pumpkins, sweet potatoes would be amazing, as would most winter squashes.
The icing recipe for this cake was adapted from the one I used on the Best Friends Banana Carrot Cake, here. If you are a vegan, use that recipe instead, but triple the amounts. I prefer this new method and combination, as it is a lot lighter tasting and simpler to make.
Okay, one last thing, I promise. The crowning glory of this cake is by far the roasted hazelnuts. Bake them right after the cake has come out of the oven (or during if you have enough space). They really add a delicious flavour and texture to the cake as a whole, and of course are stunning.
Pumpkin Spice Birthday Cake with Coconut Vanilla Icing and Roasted Hazelnuts
2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup light spelt
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (homemade, or canned)
1 cup date syrup (or maple syrup, honey)
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large, ripe banana
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1. Roast pumpkin halves in a 400°F oven until soft (30-60 minutes, depending on size). Let cool and scoop out flesh into a food processor. Blend until smooth and measure out 1½ cups. Set the rest aside. Reduce oven heat to 350°F.
2. Put 1½ cups of pumpkin puree back into food processor and add remaining wet ingredients, except for apple cider vinegar. Blend until well combined.
3. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry mix and stir to combine. When mixed, add apple cider vinegar and whisk quickly to incorporate.
5. Pour batter into two 8” spring form cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (keep oven on). Let cool completely before icing.
6. Place 1 cup of shelled hazelnuts on a cookie sheet, place in 350°F oven and bake for 10-20 minutes until the skins are dry and cracking (they will also smell delicious). Let cool slightly and remove skins by rubbing the hazelnuts together.
Coconut Vanilla Icing with Roasted Hazelnuts
3 cans of coconut milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
¼ cup creamed honey (not liquid honey)
1 cup roasted hazelnuts
1. Place cans of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 4 hours to cool and separate. Open cans and scoop out just the top cream layer, leaving the liquid portion (save for soup or stew!). Place in a bowl and whisk together with the honey.
2. Slice vanilla bean down the center lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Fold into the coconut cream and honey mixture. Place icing in the fridge to set.
3. Chop roasted hazelnuts.
1. When the cake is completely cool, remove from pans. Slice the rounded top edge off of one of the cakes (this will ensure that the subsequent layer will sit flat). Then slice both cakes in half so you have four layers.
2. Place one of the four layers on a cake stand or plate and cover with about ¼ of the icing, followed by a generous helping of the roasted hazelnuts. Add the next layers, repeating the icing and hazelnut procedure until you’ve used all four layers. Top the cake with hazelnuts. Serve. Devour. I love you too.