It’s no surprise to any one who knows me that I’m a massive sweet tooth. I’ll always choose dessert over a starter in a restaurant, I find it very difficult to enjoy a cup of tea without a biscuit and if I was on death row there’s no doubt that a large slab of hot chocolate fudge cake would form part of my final supper.
So as you can imagine, when trying to be healthy, cutting out the sweet stuff is where I really struggle. Smaller portions, more greens and less carbs, all easy peasy (ok maybe the carbs thing isn’t exactly easy – I do love me some pasta) but ask me to cut out my sweet treats however, and I’ll have lost the battle the minute someone mentions morning croissant.
That’s when enjoying home baking comes in pretty handy, as what I usually tell myself is that at least if I’m eating the sweet stuff that was made by my own fair hands I know exactly how much sugar/ butter/ chocolate I’m consuming and I can attempt to make things that feature more fruit than fat… sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Usually treats of the sweet variety that are tasty and healthy are hard to come by, but I think I’ve stumbled across a pretty scrumptious little bake that although no cactus juice, is slightly better positioned on the healthy scale than my usual giant slab of Tiffin or indulgent Victoria Sponge Cake.
Enter the Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake. Sounds like one of those mumbo jumbo health conscience cakes that isn’t really a cake doesn’t it? Well let me assure you, that despite the fact I adapted it from a recipe I found in a book named ‘When I Chose to be Healthy’ (or something of that ilk), it is in fact a cake and a pretty delicious one at that.
The key is the spelt flour – a little more expensive than your usual wholemeal or white variety but said to be better for you due to the lack of wheat. It would, under normal circumstances, see your sponge come up a little dry but that’s where the almonds come in, adding moisture, sponginess and a bit of a sweet nutty taste. White sugar is swapped for brown (which basically means it cancels itself out right?) and the large slab of butter added is all but forgiven when we think about the amount of fruit that gets thrown in. I’m not claiming it’s the saint of baked goods but it’s decidedly less evil than most. You can of course use any fruit you like, cherries were my choice and I’d highly recommend them but I think anything in the berry family would work equally well.
You will need…
125g unsalted butter
125 g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
50g wholemeal spelt flour
25g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
500g cherries (replace with your choice of fruit as an alternative)
4 tablespoons of golden caster sugar
30g flaked almonds
How it’s done…
1. Preheat your oven to around 180/200 C and line or grease a round cake tin.
2. Beat your butter and soft brown sugar until it resembles a light toffee colour and is completely smooth. Top tip – take your butter out of the fridge an hour or so before you start baking it make it easier to beat.
3. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Top tip – it may look like the mixture is curdling at times and if so just add a bit of your flour while beating.
4. Fold in both flours, the ground almonds and the baking powder gently using a large spoon.
5. Tip the mixture into your greased tin and gently spread out around the edges.
6. Pit your cherries and throw them loosely on top of the cake mix. No need to mix them in – they will sink in as cooked.
7. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the top of the cake and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top before returning to the oven for 10 minutes.
9. Use a skewer in the middle of the cake to test when ready (if it comes out clean and the cake looks nice and golden brown you’re good).
10. Leave to cool before slicing and serving. Perfect hot with a little cream or ice cream for dessert or cold as a mid afternoon snack.
This lasted us a full week (pretty good going for cakes in our house) and felt so light I even took it for breakfast a couple of mornings when rushing out to work. Considering both myself and GB are as bad as each other when it comes to sweet indulgences, we both rated this pretty highly so I’ll be making it again very soon!
If you do give it a go, be sure to tag your photos with #bettybakes so I can see your creations.