I wanted to make a moist, spicy cake for the holidays with a good crumb, spongy yet substantial—and low-sugar and vegan. Could I do it?
I could and I did. It was the big hit of my Thanksgiving dinner. I co-opted key parts of two different recipes and added my own usual tweaks and tricks…to come up with a moist, fluffy, deliciously out of this world cake that was wayyyyy lower in sugar than even the best “healthy“ recipes I could find. Only 4 g sugar per generous slice, plus a super impressive 4 g of protein per slice and 3 g of healthy fat. And absolutely sweet enough for everyone. Spicy and satisfying! I feel good eating two slices a day (or, okay, three on certain days).
I’ve made it THREE TIMES since Thanksgiving, because it’s not just for holidays. It good for breakfast and it’s a swell snack cake. I’ve taken it hiking.
Yes, there was frosting the first time — full disclosure, from a can, Simple Mills organic brand, pretty decently low sugar at 4 g of sugar per tablespoon, but it never made it on to the cake before we all started cannibalizing before it cooled enough to frost. Couldn’t wait long enough for me to get a picture ! Once it cooled, we just smeared the thinnest little schmear on top of each individual slice as we consumed it. For subsequent batches, I skipped it altogether. Just too much sugar and fat in frosting for me personally… Not worth it, the cake is the star.
For reference, I basically amalgamated a hybrid of the Feasting on Fruit pumpkin cake and Simple Vegan Blog pumpkin cake…and radically slashed the sugar, even the molasses (believe it or not, this cake was moist and delicious and sweet enough for all with just 1/8 of a cup! of coconut sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses – you should really try it that way before you decide it’s too little) while adding a bit more pumpkin. I didn’t use almond flour OR coconut milk. I just used oat and quinoa flour.
However, my secret ingredient that comes straight from the desert was substituting mesquite flour for some of the other flour. Helped with the sweetness too I’m sure.
Neither recipe I consulted called for oil but I actually added just a tablespoon of walnut oil. (Your favorite oil to bake with should work—I like La Tourangelle Sun-Coco too, and even pistachio oil sometimes, but coconut might not be the right flavor, so used refined.) Fiddled with the amount of baking soda and baking powder and apple cider vinegar and flax, and I nailed it! Glad I wrote it down… and here it is!
1 cup organic oat flour
3/4 cup organic millet flour (or play with/blend oat, millet, quinoa, chickpea, tapioca—oat-quinoa-millet play nice together)
4 T mesquite flour/powder
1/8 cup organic coconut sugar (2 T)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1.t T pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ginger powder
1 cup organic pumpkin puree
2 flax eggs (2 T flax + 4 T water—I actually used 365 Organic Maple-Vanilla Chia-Flax)
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 T blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup macadamia milk (or any plant milk)
1 T walnut oil (or oil of choice)
1 T apple cider vinegar
If you know me, you know I am an unceremonious mixer and my baking seems to be no worse for it. Sift dry ingredients, make a well in the middle, add wet ingredients, hand-mix till just blended (don’t overmix).
Pour batter into pan of choice (i used a 9″ round, with parchment in the bottom to avoid sticking—worked like a charm). Bake 45-50 minutes at 350˚ or until fork/toothpick in center comes out clean. Remove, cool, frost if desired (there are a trillion cashew-based and vegan-margarine-based as well as butter-based and cream-cheese vanilla frosting recipes in cyberworld, but4 g of sugar per slice is more than enough sweet for me).
Makes 12 slices—or however many you decide to carve up!
Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Robyn Landis is an ACE-certified holistic health coach, fitness trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, behavior change specialist, bestselling author and herbalist who likes to call herself a “joyful nourishment instigator.” A 25-year veteran of the fitness industry who vibrantly walks her talk, she believes that when we consciously evolve how we THINK about healthy choices, we then gladly DO what it takes to live long and strong. Her unique, trademark Conscious Inspiration™ process has helped thousands overcome health-info confusion, overwhelm, and resistance—and crack the code of “motivation” to find joy and ease in healthy living.
Robyn tirelessly dissolves destructive myths about health and fitness, and models joyful self-care.She weaves nearly three decades of study and practice into a signature blend of science, spirit, and common sense—refreshingly free of hype, regimens, and extremes. Her books (including Herbal Defense, cowritten with one of the world’s top plant-medicine experts) are published in five languages with a combined 200,000 copies in print, and her third is on the way.
Robyn coaches and trains privately and in groups, helping people LOVE getting the body and energy that’s fit for their purpose. Her clients learn to integrate food, exercise, rest, meditation and traditional healing, and become deeply happy getting exceptionally healthy™ —with energy to spare and the health to thrive and live fully. Her online courses include “NOURISH U: 9 Weeks to More Energy, Less Fat and a Super-Fueled Life.” www.nourish.university. She also speaks and writes passionately about how we can transform medicine and fitness culture to inspire people to be good to themselves—which is what self-care really is.