Friday, April 4, 2008

Cement Cake... A Failed Birthday Experiment

Hooray, hooray, I'm 20 today!
Yup, you read that right - little ol' me is growing up! I get to leave behind my foolish teenage years in order to pursure my foolish adult ones - and I fully intend to live it up! Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me or left messages on my Facebook profile... I felt so special! Andrew gave me my birthday gifts this past Tuesday (since he's at work Thursdays through Mondays... :-( Get out of Tim's, honey!) and I couldn't have been more excited... DVDs of Sweeney Todd and one of my favourite all time movies... Alice in Wonderland!!! As if that wasn't great enough, I had an awesome haircut today from Christina at Valentinos (she did my hair for my mom's wedding), my mom's taking me to the Market on the 18th (wonder if it was all the hints I dropped...), and I'm going for dinner at Ichiban Sushi tonight with my dad and Martha, followed by a Mongolian Grill meal with the family on Sunday and more sushi with the work ladies, my mom and Andrew on Tuesday! I'm thrilled, and feeling spoiled rotten! I guess you only turn 20 once in your life, but I really don't deserve the spoilage... should I go in the crisper?

So, when it came time to choose my birthday cake this year, I picked something highly unusual... and without chocolate in any form! This is a wonderfully nutty, creamy, gluten-, egg- and dairy-free orange spice cake that relies on chickpeas for a base. I set about making one I had adapted from this Morsels and Musings post (very heavily, as you can definitely see... I can't eat eggs and the stepfather's diabetic!), but I was fairly sure the taste will all be there in spirit. The original recipe did called for sugar, but I preferred the flavour the honey lent to the cake, playing off the earthy chickpeas and juicy, sweet-tart blood oranges that formed into the other pillars of the confection. Sounds great, right? And the batter... let me tell you... it tasted divine! Sure, it looked like wet cement going into the cake pan (hence today's title post), but I told myself it's all the blood orange's fault for the colouring, and the taste will win everyone ever.

And it would have... if it had baked.

Over an hour in the oven, in a shallow 9" pan, and STILL nothing looking even remotely baked. It was my worst culinary failure ever. Burned stuff I can handle, but a cake refusing to bake at all, especially one that tasted so promising... that was a harsh blow. I beat the gooey, still cement-y mass into the compost bucket without taking a photo to show you, but think Dutch pancake sprayed with grey paint... it's a pretty close comparison. Sigh.

I'm willing to bet, though, that the original recipe would be a Christmas party hit... I'd toss in a dash of nutmeg and cloves, and drizzle it with orange and maple syrup... my mouth waters just thinking about it! Sheesh, I guess this whole cake thing is more complicated than I thought! For now, though, I'm going to give you a recipe that I'm making now for birthday cake (and frosting) 2.0 - and this time I know for a fact it works! I realized that the tofu hiding in it is also Asian-esque, which works out beautifully for this month's SHF... Asian Sweet Invasion over at La Petite Boulangette!

In retrospect, this was actually a gift from the Fates, as it were... they must know how I like to bake!!

Birthday Beets Cake
Serves 12
398 mL canned sliced beets, drained
1/4 cup beet cooking liquid or water
2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2.5 oz low-fat silken tofu (Mori-Nu is what I used)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp liquid honey
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2/3 cup Splenda Granular
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

"I'm Too Lazy For This" Frosting
Serves 12
1 (3-oz) package Fat-Free Sugar-Free Jell-O White Chocolate Pudding mix
1 cup cold water
1/4 tsp each blue and red food colouring (optional, but purple is so pretty)
1 cup Cool Whip Free, softened
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Lightly spray two 8" cake pans with PAM.
  3. Put the drained beets into the food processor with beet liquid (or water), applesauce, tofu, vanilla, vinegar and honey. Process until very smooth.
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  5. Pour in the beet mixture and stir until well-combined.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Cool on a rack 1 hour before frosting.


  1. Whisk together pudding mix, water and food colouring until smooth.
  2. Pour pudding mix into softened Cool Whip, folding in until incorporated.
  3. Chill 30 minutes before frosting cake.
Amount Per Serving (cake and frosting)
Calories: 109.4
Total Fat: 0.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 71.0 mg
Total Carbs: 23.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
Protein: 3.0 g

Ahh, a cake that's actually... cake! See (Well, not yet, but soon I'll have photos!)? Chocolate makes everything better. My faith in the universe is restored. Stupid chickpeas.


  1. Happy birthday! The beet cake sounds good!

  2. ah I'm sorry for your failed cake recipe... I really like your blogs! I also invited you to be my friend on facebook :) Laurie

  3. hey sorry your first cak didnt work out... but its good to be spoiled around your birthday it shows that your loved by so many people... and i love the beet cake

  4. Happy Birthday Sarah. I hope everyone spoils you rotten:D

  5. Happy birthday, you sweet young thing! Libby

  6. oops, guess I missed commenting for your bday (hope 20 is going well so far!!), but I made this last night. Well, I cut it in half for a single layer cake and it was definately quite yummy warm :) what, no, i really baked a square cake... :)

    I was curious, mine didn't rise too much, was it supposed to? And with the frosting, did it come out quite thick?

    Thanks for the recipe! i love interesting combinations of ingredients (who knew lentils could go in cookies, too!)


Thanks for the feedback!