Can I just tell you how fun it is to try a recipe and have it fail miserably?
No? Nobody on board with that one? But you’re forgetting about the part where you make changes and try it again and nail it! It’s so satisfying. And that’s what happened with this cake!
I decided I wanted to make a German chocolate cake for Father’s day, so I set out to find a recipe that didn’t have eggs, dairy, gluten, xanthan gum, or refined sugar. (You can’t say I’m not optimistic!) I found several delicious looking recipes that came close, but very few that hit every criteria. Then I remembered my friend Alea’s website My Real Food Life had a great recipe that hits every rule I set out. (If you’ve never been to her site I highly recommend it, she has a gift for healthy baking and cooking and her recipes are so clean)
So I found a perfect recipe, emailed her to make sure it was OK to blog about it, and then proceeded to haphazardly change half the ingredients of her perfectly crafted recipe. Not surprisingly, my cake came out bland and disgustingly gummy. Wop wop.
After doing a post-mortem on my poor cake and with some helpful advice from Alea, I tried it again with some key changes and – success! This cake is moist and delicious with a great light crumb, and it doesn’t fall apart when you cut it or have a gummy texture. There’s beans and banana in it, but I assure you that you can’t taste them at all (even if you hate bananas. I promise!) Essentially, it tastes like regular chocolate cake – even my family who eats a pretty normal diet agrees with me. So satisfying. I did it as a cupcake this time, but I’m 99% sure it would work great as a layer cake as well – I’ll make it again soon and update you just to confirm.
The cake part of the recipe is really just a basic chocolate cake, so you can frost it or decorate it however you like, but since I had set out to make a German chocolate cake, I came up with a coconut pecan frosting as well. Fortunately that was a bit easier, and also super delicious. It’s kind of funny how working with restrictions can make something like figuring out a cake recipe so exciting. I do think this cake really would pass muster with anyone – I’m going to make it again in a couple weeks and serve it to my grandfather just to really test that theory.
It’s pretty much as easy to make as any cake – the frosting takes a little time on the stove to thicken, but that’s how it works with any coconut pecan cake frosting. I’ve made lots of German chocolate cakes with standard ingredients and I don’t think this one is any more time consuming or difficult.
For the cake, just mix together the wet ingredients (it’s important to mix them early and let the flax soak in a little bit) and then sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and you’ll have a nice chocolate-y batter – it should be maybe a touch thicker than your average cake batter, but not super thick:
Whip it pretty well – there’s no gluten in it so you don’t have to worry about over mixing and I think it helps to get it really well mixed. If you make cupcakes, fill the tins about 2/3 of the way full, or else divide the batter evenly between two 8 inch cake pans. Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes – you can make your frosting while you wait.
The frosting involves thickening some coconut milk, brown rice syrup, and arrowroot on the stove until it’s nice and thick:
Then mix in some toasted pecans and coconut until it’s all well combined:
Once your cake/cupcakes have finished baking (a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean), take them out of the oven, remove from the baking pan, and let cook on a wire rack. Stick the frosting in the fridge and let that cool for a little while too – it doesn’t need to be super cold, just cool it down from boiling hot so you can spread it without risk of injury.
There you have it! It’s good right away but you can also frost it and keep it in the fridge overnight, and then let it sit at room temperature for maybe 30-60 minutes before serving. I will point out that while this cake is technically refined sugar free because I use only brown rice syrup and agave nectar, those things are still technically sugar, so please don’t eat too much if you’re sensitive or trying to avoid sugar.
Also, can I just say that German chocolate cake is really not the prettiest of all cakes to photograph? Next time I’m making this with a lovely piped frosting or something so the pictures look as good as it tastes.
So, anyone else had any awesome failure-followed-by-success recipes lately? Or just some failures you want to commiserate over?
Coconut Pecan Frosting
- 1 c Almond milk
- 1.5 c. brown rice syrup you could do half and half brown rice syrup and agave nectar if you prefer
- 1.5 c Coconut milk
- 3 tsp Vanilla
- 3 T Arrowroot Starch
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2.5 c Shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1.5 c Pecans chopped very fine
- In a medium pan over medium heat, combine all ingredients except for coconut and pecans. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens. This took almost the entire time the cake was baking for me, about 30 minutes. While frosting mixture heats, spread coconut and pecans over a cookie sheet and bake (in the same oven the cake is in) for 5-10 minutes, checking frequently and removing once the coconut is just starting to turn golden brown around the edges.
- Once the mixture on the stove has thickened, remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans until everything is well combined. Cool in fridge for 10-20 minutes or longer and then frost cake/cupcakes once they have cooled.
Coconut Pecan Frosting