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Dessert for Breakfast

Posted Nov 16 2012 10:27am

Almond-Apricot Poppyseed Cake

The best dessert cakes also make the best breakfast cakes: they’re made with plenty of nuts, seeds, eggs, and sometimes have a creamy, probiotic foundation of whole-milk Greek yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche. We’re talking a protein-rich, very non-sugary cake. What a great way to start to the day! And it’s easy enough to dress up your breakfast cake for an after-dinner treat by adding fresh fruit, whipped cream, or a quick jam glaze. (Choose a naturally low-sugar jam like apricot, melt it over low heat, and pour it over the cake.)

This cake gets its sweetness from sucanat and a handful of chopped dried apricots; its richness comes from freshly ground nuts and generous amount of whole poppyseeds. You could vary the cake between almond and hazelnut by using either one (or both) of those nuts as flour and also by using unrefined almond or hazelnut oil in place of the extra-virgin olive oil. Likewise, you could alternate between using orange and lemon zest since citrus pairs beautifully with nuts and seeds.

Almond-Apricot Poppyseed Cake

1 stick butter, preferably from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold is a great choice)
6 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1 cup freshly ground almond and/or hazelnut flour* (if you’re grinding hazelnuts in a standard food processor rather than a high-powered Vitamix, be sure to chop the hazelnuts well before attempting to grind them!)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour*
1/2 cup poppyseeds
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup sucanat
Zest of 1 orange, preferably organic since you’re using the outer part of the orange
1/2 tsp. almond extract OR 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil OR unrefined almond oil OR unrefined hazelnut oil (feel free to match the oil to the nut to make the cake extra-flavorful)
Dash of cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400F. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and cut into about 8 chunks to let it soften. Use the butter wrapper to thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan. Set aside. (Note that butter made with cream from pastured cows will be much softer than conventional butter since grass-fed butter has less saturated fat. Not that there’s anything wrong with saturated fat, but cows who get to graze and exercise and live the way they should naturally have lower levels of saturated fat in their bodies than cows who spend their lives on concrete factory floors do. Soft butter — but butter that’s 100% butter and not a spread! — is the mark of a healthy cow. It’s also usually more yellow thanks to the pigments in the grass that healthy cows get to eat.)

Separate the eggs, slipping the whites into another large mixing bowl and the yolks into a regular soup bowl. The egg whites can come to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (Egg whites whip better at room temp than they do when they’re fresh-out-of-the-fridge cold. Also, eggs from pastured hens whip better than eggs from factory-farmed hens do.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the nut flour, buckwheat flour, poppyseeds, and apricots. Use a hand-held mixer to beat the softened butter for at least 2 minutes to fully aerate it. Beat in the sucanat, orange zest, and extract. One by one, beat in the egg yolks. Finally, beat in the oil and the flour mixture. Set aside while you whip the egg whites.

Sprinkle egg whites with a dash of cream of tartar and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. That means that when you stop the beaters and lift up them up from the eggs, fluffy white peaks will trail off the beaters and will gently slump over and curl a little at the tip. When you hit that point, use a spatula to carefully scoop about a quarter of the egg whites into the main mixing bowl. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, doing your best not to jar the bowl unduly. (You don’t want those carefully created air bubbles to pop!) Scoop the remaining whites into the batter and fold them in, scraping along the bottom of the bowl with the spatula to make sure you’re mixing the batter thoroughly. Mix/fold just until blended.

Scoop into the greased pan and ease the cake into the oven, again taking care not to jostle it. Immediately reduce the temperature to 300F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When serving, feel free to top with fresh fruit, freshly whipped cream (sweeten it with a dash of maple syrup when you whip it if you like), or apricot glaze.

Making the latter is quite simple: heat a naturally low-sugar apricot jam in a small pot over low heat until it melts, then pour onto cake. I’m a big fan of Tree of Life’s organic apricot jam — it makes a great glaze for any cake! Unglazed leftover cake should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated; if you’ve already glazed the cake, poke toothpicks into it and cover it with a plastic-wrap “tent” of sorts, being careful to tuck the wrap tightly underneath the bottom of the plate as you slide it into the fridge.


* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d rather make a wheat-based cake, use 1/2 cup spelt, kamut, or whole-wheat flour in place of the buckwheat. Be sure to use the nut flour, though, since otherwise the cake loses much of its flavor and moisture. (Not to mention nutrition.)

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