A few days before my father-in-law’s 94th birthday, DH set me a challenge. His Dad was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but, being in his nineties, he’s finding it a little hard to adapt to his new eating regime. In particular, after 93 years of eating cake, biscuits, sweets, chocolates etc., he’s developed something of a fondness for them. And hasn’t taken kindly to the idea of giving them up.
So, as a birthday treat, DH wanted me to create a birthday cake that his diabetic Dad would be able to eat a large helping of – and even have seconds! – without any worries at all. A sugar-free, low-carb birthday cake. How hard could it be?!
I have a huge bag of coconut flour, so decided to use that instead of wheat flour as it is significantly lower in carbohydrate, not least because you only need to use a fraction of the amount. But cake needs sugar, right? Or at least sweetener. I considered my alternatives…
- Fructose (aka fruit sugar) is easier for some diabetics to metabolise, but is still a carbohydrate and most importantly, doesn’t work well in baking.
- Xylitol, which I’ve used in limited amounts before, is not metabolised, so doesn’t count as a dietary carbohydrate. It’s OK, but can cause tummy upsets in large quantities – not what you want from a birthday cake, really.
- Stevia, which comes in various formulations, but is much sweeter than sugar so can’t be substituted into a recipe easily.
- Erythritol, which is a sugar-alcohol like xylitol, and also is not metabolised, so counts as zero dietary carbs. It doesn’t have the side-effects of other similar products, and can be substituted 1:1 for sugar. Bingo!
A browse of the health food shop shelves and I’d bought a tub of Natvia which is almost entirely erythritol plus a teeny tiny bit of stevia for good measure. Time to get baking!
I have to admit, the mixture didn’t look promising. To quote Kipper, “That looks HORRIBLE, Mummy!” But once it was baked it was actually pretty good! We put a dollop of batter into a cupcake case and baked it separately as a tester – I didn’t want to serve my FIL a horrible cake on his birthday, after all – and having had a cautious nibble, Kipper then scoffed almost the whole thing. (She generously let me and DH have a tiny taste each).
To serve in place of icing, we covered the top of the cake in whipped cream and raspberries, and with a few birthday candles it looked very festive! DH’s Dad was suitably chuffed, and we all tucked in to slices of delicious low-carb chocolate cake and cups of tea. Hip hip! HOORAY! I reckoned that the whole cake only contained about 30g of available carbs – roughly the amount in a single slice of regular chocolate cake.
I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that this cake is ‘healthy’ or ‘diet’ as it does still contain a good dose of fat, however, if you’re looking for a delicious celebration cake and working to dietary restrictions, this recipe is pretty darned impressive if I do say so myself. The cake itself was dairy free, gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free and low carb. Obviously the whipped cream topping adds a dairy element, but you could easily skip that and use a non-dairy alternative like coconut or soya. Just don’t forget the candles!
I’m quite looking forward to DH’s next cooking challenge now!
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This made one 23cm round cake.
- 175g soft margarine (or butter)
- 150g Natvia erythritol sweetener (or equivalent)
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g coconut flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 25g cocoa powder
- 300ml whipping or double cream
- 200g fresh raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 23cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
- Cream the margarine and erythritol together until light and fluffy - at least five minutes in a stand mixer.
- Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the vanilla in a jug. Measure out the coconut flour, baking powder and cocoa and mix together in a separate bowl.
- Gradually add the eggs to the margarine mixture, and beat well to combine. The mixture may begin to curdle slightly - if this happens add a spoonful of the flour mixture with the eggs.
- Finally, mix in the coconut flour mixture and gently combine. Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.
- Once cool, cover the top of the cake with freshly whipped cream and raspberries. Serve & enjoy!
- If you're not bothered about dairy, you can substitute butter for the margarine.
Since it’s sugar-free and low-carb, and since it uses plenty of eggs, I’m linking this recipe up to Simply Eggcellent, which this month is looking for healthy recipes. I’m also adding it to CookBlogShare, hosted by Sneaky Veg, and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.