Happy birthday, My New Roots! We’re celebrating 15 years strong with a Danish dreamcake, and I am so grateful to you, dear reader, for following along. Whether you’ve been here since the beginning, or this is your first post, thank you for being here and supporting my vision of a healthier, happier world.
I could say something cliché, like “I cannot believe it’s been 15 years already” but I CAN! Haha, I’ve packed so much into this last decade-and-a-half, that I’m actually shocked it hasn’t been 30 years! Two cookbooks, countless international cooking classes and workshops, an online membership platform, a TV show, a TED talk, a wellness retreat business, and a global community of hundreds of thousands of fine folks just like yourself. WOW.
This space has seen me through two overseas moves, four restaurant jobs, a marriage, a baby, home renovations, major health challenges and triumphs, and the personal evolution that comes along with all of it! I knew I needed to create a recipe that celebrated all of it and I’m so excited to share this Coconut Dreamcake with you.
Honouring a Classic
It was pretty fun deciding what I was going to bake for this anniversary and how I was going to photograph it. Those over-the-top layer cakes I made for previous birthdays felt fun and celebratory, but I also wanted something nostalgic and reverent for this one.
I have been wanting to try making a Sarah B-version of the classic Danish dessert, drømmekage (translation: “dreamcake”) for a very long time. When I lived in Copenhagen, this was one of my favourite treats because it is just so darn delicious and satisfying. The sponge is a moist and tender vanilla cake, with a topping of gooey, coconut caramel. Typically baked slab-style, and served in squares at bakeries all over the country, dreamcake is one of the most ubiquitous and well-loved desserts for a good reason – it truly is a dream!
Playing with an a time-honoured recipe is challenging, because why mess with a good thing?! But I’ve built a career on making healthy-ish, more nourishing swaps in traditional dishes, so why not attempt a drømmekage of my own?
If you’ve been here a while, you know that one of my favourite ingredients to work with is hemp! These light-tasting and creamy seeds are the perfect addition to so many meals, boosting the Omega-3 fat and protein content. They also contain good amounts of magnesium, iron, and zinc, and we could all use more minerals! Best of all? They’re grown locally here in Canada!
I love hemp seeds sprinkled onto my Revolutionary Pancakes and granola, blended into a rich and delicious milk, made into a mock-parmesan cheese, and of course blended into hemp butter. I knew I had to include hemp seeds in this celebratory dessert since I feel it’s my *signature move*. So I incorporated them in two ways: first as part of the flour mix for the vanilla sponge; this adds a beautiful tooth and moisture to the cake, keeping it fresh for days! And I made a hemp cream to replace the dairy cream in both the cake and the topping (just for fun – nothing against dairy cream!).
Other notable variations include toasting the coconut for the topping, which really brings the coconut flavour to the max! I used two kinds of coconut, since I love having just a few larger pieces for a textural change-up, but if you only have finely desiccated coconut, that’s *fine* too 🙂 Using coconut sugar in the topping adds an incredible depth of flavour and complexity that I suggest you don’t miss out on – it brings so much more to the party than plain old brown sugar.
I used unbleached cane sugar instead of coconut sugar in the dreamcake because I wanted to maintain the light colour of the cake. If you want to use another granulated sweetener, go for it! Substituting with a whole food liquid sweetener is a different ball game and I haven’t experimented with that yet. If you do, make sure to share in the comments and let us know how it goes!
You can use whole or light spelt, or a combination of those flours for the sponge – the combo was my favourite, a mix of half and half. You can substitute these with any other gluten-containing flours, or with a gluten-free mix that mimics all-purpose flour for baking (or make your own!).
Now I gotta tell you about the topping, because there is a moment when you’re making that caramel that I know will make you think you’ve failed and you haven’t! The butter and coconut sugar are stubborn to meld. The whole thing will split and look chunky and strange, and the excess butter will be oozing around, not wanting to play with anyone. THEN! it will magically come together if you just keep stirring. Make sure the heat is very low, and stick with it. If you’re going on 8 to 10 minutes even… just keep stirring – you got this (and it’s SO worth it)!
- ⅓ cup / 50g hemp seeds
- 1 cup / 150g wholegrain or light spelt flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
- 50 g salted butter preferably organic
- 4 eggs preferably organic
- 1 cup / 250g unbleached cane sugar
- ⅓ cup / 80ml hemp cream see recipe below
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 100 g salted butter preferably organic
- 1 ⅓ cup / 200g coconut sugar
- 3 Tbsp. hemp cream see recipe below
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. flaky salt such as Maldon
- 1 ½ cups / 150g unsweetened desiccated coconut
- ½ cup /25g unsweetened large flake coconut
- 1 cup / 250ml water
- ⅓ cup / 50g hemp seeds
- Start by preheating the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Prepare a 7” / 18cm round springform cake pan by greasing the interior with a little butter, and placing a parchment paper circle in the bottom (I find it easiest to trace the bottom of the cake form, then cut it out to fit perfectly). Stir in the flour mixture, then fold in the butter, hemp cream and vanilla. Pour batter into the prepared springform pan and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce oven temp to 350, and bake for another 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Make the hemp cream by placing the hemp seeds and water in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds, or until the cream is smooth. Set aside.
- In a food processor, blend hemp seeds until they’re the texture of sand (but don’t blend too much or you’ll end up with hemp butter!). Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to blend and set aside.
- Melt the butter over low heat and let cool. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy (either with an electric mixer or your arm muscles!). Stir in the flour mixture, then fold in the butter, hemp cream and vanilla. Pour batter into the prepared springform pan and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce oven temp to 350, and bake for another 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- While the sponge is baking, make the topping by toasting the coconut in a large skillet over medium heat (work in batches if necessary, and toast the two types of coconut separately). Once golden and fragrant, set aside. Melt the butter over low heat, then stir in the coconut sugar. Stir frequently until they combine into a thick caramel (this make take a few minutes, but keep stirring!). Add the hemp cream and vanilla, stir to incorporate. Remove from the heat, then add the flaky salt, toasted coconut, and fold to thoroughly combine.
- Once the sponge is baked, remove from the oven and spread the topping over as every as possible. Place back int the oven for another 5 minutes, just until the topping is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool completely, then place in the fridge to firm up, at least 2 hours. Remove cake from the fridge, then using a sharp knife, cut around the edge to release caramel that is stuck to the sides. Unlock the springform to reveal! Slice, say thank you, and enjoy. Leftovers can be stored covered, at room temperature for about a week.
Photographing this dreamcake was just as much fun as eating it. Since I was re-creating a Danish recipe, and those flavours got me all nostalgic for my Copenhagen home, I decided to try emulating that very special Nordic light that I truly miss. I feel like I succeeded! This was not an easy feat, but after 15 years of teaching myself how to take photos of food, I think I figured it out. This is all to say, that I’m still challenged by this ongoing project, and in love with everything I’ve learned along the way. What a trip!
And one final thanks to you, for being here, for the time and energy you’ve spent here on the blog, engaging on social, on Grow, in my cooking classes and retreats, zoom hangs, or even those passing moments on the street when you come up and say hello (don’t ever NOT do that by the way. I love meeting you!). The thing I value most from the last 15 years of creating this space, is the people that I’ve had the privilege of connecting with inside of it. Words could not describe how big and full my heart feels when I remember the meaningful conversations, hugs, high-fives, tears and smiles that we’ve shared, while navigating this wild ride of life, and trying our best to look after our miraculous, individual bodies, together as one.
Immense gratitude and love. Your friend always,