Recipe: The Healthiest Birthday Cake on the Block

What do you feed your one year-old for his birthday?

There are some pretty amazing cakes out there. Like the cake my co-blogger Sarah located for her son's birthday : dino-themed, marzipan-covered, cute-as-a-button... But that was for a whole birthday party, complete with paper plates, streamers, a hundred delicious dishes, small healthy treats in the shape of penguins, friends, in-laws, and other kids.

OK so this isn't actually the cake Sarah made.
She didn't get her one year-old P confused with a nine year-old named Joey.
You wanna make a cake like this? You're that kind of mama? Well I'm not about to stop you.
First, leave this blog.
Second, go to:
Third, don't come back.

For Sweet Baby James' birthday, it was just us.
I'm not about to buy a dino cake for just us. Because that would be expensive.

Also, I forgot to order it ahead of time.

Enter, the New York Times recipe blog. I guess intellectuals need to eat after all.

The Molasses Cake is one of those fake foods. You know what I'm talking about – everyone tells you it tastes 'just like' the real one but actually it's healthy and doesn't contain anything worth trading into your friend's lunch-box. Like plain yogourt isn't whipped cream and bran flakes aren't exactly sugar cereal. In fact, there's a whole rainbow of deception in this adult-to-kids lie...

  • Zucchini bread = Chocolate cake. 
  • Frozen yogourt = Ice cream
  • Carrob anything = Chocolate anything
  • Frozen juice (you know that kind with the little red plastic tops that you put in the freezer yourself) = Popsicles
  • Kale chips = Potato chips
  • Small pieces of red onion = Special bacon bits
  • Tofu dogs = Hot dogs
  • McDonald's = A home renovation supply store
(many thanks to fb friends for sharing their memories – I know it was painful)

With regard to this last one, a friend of a friend of mine actually pulled it off. Whenever his kids asked about the yellow arches, he told them it was "Just, like, another Home Depot." Worked fine until the day his six year-old went off to a friend's birthday party. She came home and he asked her how it was.

"We went to McDonald's," she said. "And it was delicious."

She didn't speak to her dad for a week.

I think we should all take a lesson from this: while there are many things wrong with feeding your baby ice-cream cake from DQ, there's also something downright sneaky about serving crunchysproutkalehealthbread and calling it "cake".

"Don't eat it, it's iron-rich bread!"

So I added a blood orange and ginger compote filling.

And mascarpone-chai icing.

And it was delicious.


Molasses Bread: 

  • Dry:
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • a dash of salt
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • Wet:
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup plain yogourt
    • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Prep:
    • Preheat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle.
    • Grease a large casserole dish on the bottoms and sides.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  • Mix the wet ingredients together in another.
  • Put the two together.
  • Pour mixture into the pan and bake until the fork-test comes out clean.

Blood Orange and Ginger Compote Filling

  • One blood orange
  • Assorted citrus you'd like to get rid of
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Dried ginger root
  • Wash the blood orange. Without peeling it, grate half its skin (zest). Use a cheese grater, it's easy.
  • Peel the orange and blend its flesh with whatever other citrus you have on hand (withered grapefruit, anyone?) until it's smoothie consistency.
  • Transfer to a small pot on the stove at medium. Bring to a low boil, stirring consistently.
  • Add the zest, ginger and sugar. 
  • Turn the temperature down and let it simmer until the water's boiled off and it looks like the kind of thing you'd like to find in the middle of a cake.

Chai-Mascarpone Icing (this shit is incredible)

  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 teabag chai tea/1 tablespoon looseleaf chai tea 
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipped cream
  • Simmer the cream with a bag of chai tea in it, or some looseleaf. Let it steep and cool. Strain and remove chai tea bits.
  • With a wooden spoon, stir together the mascarpone and sugar, adding a bit at a time (it's easy to overpower the mascarpone taste with too much sugar, I know because I did it and then I had to run out to the yuppy market down the way and buy another container of mascarpone which, though overpriced like all things convenient, I can assure you, did not go to waste).
  • Add the cooled, flavoured cream. Mix it all together.
  • Let it chill in the fridge to reconsolidate.
Now you just get the "cake" out of the pan, cut it in two and put a layer of compote in between. Dollop the icing on top and let it artfully fall whichever way it wants. Presto! CAKE!

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