I have a best friend. On here I call her Muffin.
Muffin has a history with illness; a much more storied, dangerous, and exacting one than mine. Our friendship began when our bodies were strong and our spirits unstoppable. We’re so thankful now that we were reckless, and lived dangerously and fully back then. Now we’re so careful, so precise, and so used to premeditating physical complications and energy black holes. This recipe is from her, and for her.
Muffin and I met in college through a friend whom she grew up with and whom I dated for almost ten years. We had many friends in common for a long time, and still do, along with fifteen years of college escapades, camping, trips to lakes and ashrams, and the trials and travails of growing older together.
Muffin’s my favorite person. She’s taught me so much about patience, grace, faith, and friendship. If I have one soulmate in life, it is she.
Because of her physical state, Muffin’s diet is extremely limited: absolutely no grains, fruit, soy, alcohol, corn, vinegar, sugar of any form (including fruit sugar), dairy other than clarified butter, nightshade vegetables, any vegetable with a high level of starch… the list is long and specific. There’s little to give her a variety in texture, or flavor, or things that feel celebratory. When I see her, I try to feast her with roasted duck breast or lamb ribs, decadent dishes and high-quality ingredients. She’s such a special person, and I wish there were more that could be fun for her when it comes to food.
This recipe is one of the last bastions for something cakelike for her. Her mother developed it from the basic premise that carob, flax and ghee (clarified butter) taste good together. In her awesomeness, she worked the recipe until it had the texture of a cake or quick bread, with a subtle sweetness from coconut flour. I tested and adapted it every so slightly, and it’s now a staple in my own home as well.
It’s safe for those with food allergies, or who need gentle food while going through a medical procedure. It’s grain, soy, nut, dairy, and sugar free, and has no sugar replacement either. So the result is an ever-so-slightly sweet cake that tastes better and better the more you eat it. If you’re trying to get off of sugars, too, this is a fun way to transition out, since it offers the satisfaction of a chocolate cake without any threatening ingredients, and will help reduce sugar cravings over time.
If you’re looking for something a bit more traditionally sweet, feel free to frost it. But I’d say try it on its own first, and get the satisfaction of decadence that’s actually body-supportive.
The Ultimate Gluten-Dairy-Grain-Nut-Soy-Sugar-Free Carob Cake
Notes: It’s really important that you line the pan with parchment paper and grease it thinly with olive oil, ghee or coconut oil. Let the cake cool completely in the pan (or stick it in the fridge) before cutting – it cuts better when cold, and tastes better that way too, in my mind. If you want to lift the whole cake out, do so when it’s cold very carefully; because there’s not much to hold it together when it’s warm, and the hardened fat when cold helps. Trust me.
- 50g ground flax seed
- 100g carob powder (or cocoa powder if you can’t find carob, but that has caffeine in it)
- 150g coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla / beans from one vanilla pod
- 1 13.5oz can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, melted ghee or olive oil
Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8×8 square pan with parchment paper, then grease. Set aside.
Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat 4 eggs well. Add vanilla and coconut milk, then whisk thoroughly to combine. Fold in dry ingredients, then stir in coconut oil / ghee / olive oil.
Now, here’s the thing. The kind of flax / coconut flour you use will determine how dry the final batter will be. You want it to be thick, but not unmoveable. Add a bit of water or additional coconut milk slowly, 2 tablespoons at a time or so, until it’s thin enough that can spread it in a pan, but not so much so that you can pour it directly in.
Dump batter in pan and smooth as much as possible.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until firm at the center. Cool completely, and refrigerate before cutting and serving.