First B-day and Exceptionally Soft Red Velvet Cake

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One year! I just blinked my eyes and one year has gone passed by! Seriously, one year is gone. So intense. So fast. I can say that it’s been the best year of my life so far!

I love family celebrations.  It is an occasion to strengthen family ties as we just focus on our love for each other. The best way for me to express my love to my family is to bake a cake to share. That’s why my celebration cake has to be guilt-free, scrumptious, super-soft, and most importantly, memorable!

I guarantee that this deep red velvet cake uplifts your heart with its warming colour, and the contrast with the super-white cashew marzipan covering is just perfect. The colour combination, texture, moisture… Everything is just perfect! Finally a wholemeal cake with an extra-soft texture!

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My life with my baby is like a roller-coaster. I know is a cliché but time literally flew. Having realised that the idiom is so true, I felt the urge to leave something for him — something lasting and authentic.

Then, I started my usual brain-storming (which means I made myself sick with doubts about my motherhood!). In this age of scarcity, and living in a society where we receive a constant pressure to conform and perform, I wanted to offer a compelling alternative for him. With my son, my perspective towards life already came deeper and broader, much more than I would think about my own life. In a spark of inspiration (when I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the self beating mode), I realized that just love and a sense of belonging can create a solid base for my child’s life, from which he can develop the sense of be enough and he can freely make his decision on what he would like to do in his life.

I have been questioning myself a lot about how to make this happen for us. When I came across some research on shame and vulnerability. The topic overlaps a lot with my holistic studies on health and happiness. To let my child embrace a true sense of freedom, I need to teach him how to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable requires being real, honest and authentic. I also need to teach him that mistakes are a part of the journey and – big lesson for me first- that we are not what we do nor how we do it, we are far more than that. I would like him not to buy into simple criticism, and the only way is to learn to overcome my self-criticism first.

Accepting the way we are and bringing integrity into our life is the key to own our stories and enables us to make our best choices, regardless of any circumstances. It sets us free.
The only way to pass this life lesson to my child is to learn it myself first. It requires a daily practice, and I am committed to it.
The same commitment I put in my daily cooking to actively make healthier and happier choices, so my child will learn from how I live and not from what I say. I really believe it’ s the only effective way to teach.

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And of course I putted my best energy and commitment in this cake! Without doubt, my child’s first birthday has been the most important family event of the year. I tried few times before to get this recipe just right. What I wanted to bake was a proper whole-food cake, with soft sponge layers that is not only firm enough to keep its shape but also easy to cut. And, of course, the super yummy angel-white cashew marzipan. Needless to say, is sugar-animal free!

Cashews are the best nuts to make creams. They are easy to blend and naturally sweet. As any tropical nut, they have a rich and milky flavour and  they make an optimum alternative to dairy creams.

These yummy nuts contain some important nutrients such as magnesium. Magnesium is one of the key nutrients for calcium absorption. Some recent studies claim that magnesium can be much more effective than vitamin D for this purpose.

Another benefit of magnesium is to relax muscles. Therefore, it is a great alternative to painkillers to relieve headaches and other symptoms due to muscle tension. Magnesium is also found in lots of whole-grains, nuts and seaweeds.

In terms of Yin and Yang (i.e. expanding and contracting energies), cashews are placed more on the Yin side, as they grow in a tropical climate. For this reason, they are more suitable in summer or a hot climate. (Phew! Some sun just in time!). I always use a pinch of salt and few drops of lemon to alkalies and balance their yin nature.

For this recipe you need 2 mixing bowls, 2 spring-form cake tins diameter approx.16 cm, parchment paper, a good food processor, a long bread knife and a spatula.

Ingredients (Source organic where possible)

For the cake

1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup beetroot juice + a shot of beet concentrate
½ cup rice syrup
1/3 cup virgin corn germ oil
2 tbsp of chia seeds (if possible overnight soaked in the beet juice)
1tbsp organic baking powder or 1 tbsp baking soda + 2 tbsp cream of tartar
1 tsp apple vinegar
1 grated lemon zest (this must be organic)
A pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Into 2 separate bowls, divide the wet ingredients from the dry. (NB.Chia seeds go into the wet mixture.) Stir the wet ingredients well and leave it for 20 minutes for the chia seeds to soak up the moisture( if you have already soaked  your seeds skip this step).
    Tip. When you measure the wet ingredients, you can use the same cup if you follow this sequence : 1) beet juice, 2) oil and 3) rice syrup.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170º C or 300ºF.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and gently mix together until no flour is visible. Avoid over mixing. This will keep your cake top flat.
  4. Divide the dough into the 2 tins and bake on the middle rack for 1 hour or until the stick comes out clean.
  5. When completely cool, remove from tins.

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For the cream

400g organic cashews, soaked overnight
1tsp of pure vanilla bean powder
½ cup rice syrup or to taste
1+ ½ tbsp lemon juice
A pinch of sea salt

  1. Rinse the cashews
  2. Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Add a spoonful of water if needed.
    You can either cook the cream for a 5 minutes or leave it raw.The lemon not only helps alkalise the cream but also prevents it from fast oxidation. Even so, the cream will discolour within a couple of hours, changing from a pure white to light honey colour.

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To assemble

1. Slice off the rounded top of the first cake, if it has risen too much, This is to ensure that the cake layers will sit flat. Then slice both discs in half so that you have four layers.
2. Place one of the four layers on your favourite cake plate and cover with ½ cm of cream. Add the next layers, repeating the icing. Then, using a long spatula, cover with ½ cm of cream all around the edges. Decorate the cake with coconut flakes and beetroot ribbons.
Devour.

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all photos © Silvia Bifaro, no stealing please!

A little tip: during celebrations or when you consume a lot of sweet food, compensate with silicon rich whole-food (e.g. lettuce, celery, cucumber, carrots, millet and brown rice.). A great way to detox and refresh your body is to make a nice salad out of them, with puy lentils and a light seasoning.

Quick note about Chia Seeds
These lovely little friends has been a health buzz for a while now. When soaked they develop a jelly texture that helps to give cakes a fluffy texture as an alternative to eggs. They haven’t got any flavour, so won’t affect the taste of your food.

Chia seed contains many nutrients and are low in fat. And literally packed with proteins and Omega 3. are also a great source of fibre.
This super seed comes from a flowering plant native to Mexico and Central America and also grows in Australia. Some researchers claim that the seed was a staple food for the ancient Adzeki.

A little reminder. There are plenty of so-called “Superfoods” making a big buzz at the moment and I just want to mention that all wholefoods are amazing health booster superfoods.

I love Chia seed as it greatly eases my baking and also adds variety to my summer breakfast along with many other lovely seeds. However in some recipes, where their taste suits, I prefer to use the cheaper-and-still-very-good linseeds. These little friends have a distinctive flavour that works very well with some ingredients. And they also relax and detox your liver!! Such good buddies!

So, as spring is just around the corner and it is indeed the best time to cleanse the body, I will talk about them soon!

With love.

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