Living a paleo lifestyle in a non-paleo world has a fair number of challenges. Eating in a restaurant has become slightly more problematic since your choices are often drastically reduced to either steak or grilled fish with salad and even then you have to keep a wary eye on the sauces and dressings. Afternoon visits with friends pose a new set of challenges for we really don’t mind just enjoying a relaxed cup of coffee along with the really great company, but we know how comforting it is to share a meal or treat. And we have in the past been unintentionally rude and caused some embarrassment because we did not eat the treats set before us. But as with all things – communication is key and we’re spreading the word about our alternative diet.
Top of my list for challenging situations however is THE BIRTHDAY PARTY – an occasion when kids are allowed to go wild on sweets, candy, chips, cool drink and of course birthday cake. But not this year and not at my Francois’ party.
The theme for his 5th birthday party was Cowboys. I managed to dissuade him from a dragon party seeing that he’s worn the same dragon costume to the last 5 dress up events; be they a birthday party, book day or Halloween. I decided to put more emphasis on the décor than on the food. This year the cake would not be the center piece. It would merely serve as the stand for the candles and as a sweet baked treat.
Luckily I kept one of the tall boxes from our move and my son and I transformed it into a prison. The invitations included a bandana for each child and we added some sheriff badges and money bags. And what would a cowboy be without his pistol?
The money bags contained chocolate coins (not so very paleo, but it went down a treat) and the other snack on the table was a maize snack. My husband sent me an article by Loren Cordain on why potatoes are not paleo and having read that I decided I would rather give the kids a snack flavoured with MSG than potato crisps. (Oh, the choices I make!) Only after the party did my overloaded brain register that I could have bought MSG free maize snacks if I’d only done a bit more planning.
That’s the one negative about living in the Swartland. The nearest Woolworths store is 50 km away.
I wanted to give the moms a tea time treat as well and decided to bake another birthday cake and I served a cake version of the caramel pecan bar from paleomg.com. When it came to deciding on the best chocolate cake I did do the necessary planning and even baked some trial cakes to make sure I had the right one. My search led me to supergluemom’s Chocolate cake recipe. I really liked this recipe for it uses only 4 eggs and it combined coconut and almond flour. I also spent some more time on the paleo mom’s website and have subsequently decided that it is okay to use brown sugar in my baking. It’s a whole lot cheaper than honey and it is not something we consume every day.
On my first attempt I followed the recipe exactly except for substituting the coconut milk for cow’s milk, the honey for sugar and the large eggs for extra-large eggs. (Did I say I followed the recipe exactly?) The batter was too runny and not at all like chocolate mousse so I added some more coconut flour, almond flour and cocoa powder. I weighed the ingredients carefully and jotted them down (not something I do all the time) and the end result was amazing. A moist soft chocolaty cake that looks and tastes like a traditional sponge cake. I sprinkled the kids’ version with icing sugar and covered the adult version in a rich chocolate ganache made with 70% dark chocolate and cream. (The recipe follows below. You’ll need a kitchen scale for this one, sorry.)
The kids had a fun time and the moms could not believe they were enjoying grain-free treats. And even though it was not strictly paleo, we came pretty close and bearing in mind that it was a kid’s party I was (and still is) really pleased!
Chocolate cake recipe
105 g sifted coconut flour
45 g sifted almond flour
10 ml baking powder
80 g unsweetened cocoa powder
4 XL eggs
160 g brown sugar
400 ml milk
10 ml vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180 °C. Line a square baking tin (approximately 15 cm x 15cm) or two 19 cm diameter round cake pans with baking paper.
- Sift the flours, baking powder and cocoa powder together to combine.
- In a stand mixer beat the eggs until foamy. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is a very pale colour (ribbon stage). Add the milk and vanilla and beat for a short while on slow to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on slow to combine. The texture should be like chocolate mousse. Do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
The cake is best served on the day, but is still delicious straight from the fridge. I also freeze extra squares for lunch box treats.