Just because I’m a nutritionist doesn’t mean I don’t love me a sweet treat every now and then — especially when the weather cools, the days get shorter and all I want to complete a perfectly cozy fireside dinner is a sweet indulgence just like this one.
This deliciously moist and fragrant cake is the easiest recipe in my baking repertoire. You can throw it together in 10 minutes and serve it as a luscious dessert (it’s slightly pudding-y when eaten warm), as an afternoon treat with a nice cup of Earl Grey, or – I mean, why the heck not? – for breakfast with a big blob of Greek yogurt!
I use very little sugar to sweeten this; if you have diabetes, are eating a ketogenic diet or avoid sugar for some other reason, you can use a non-glycemic, non-caloric sweetener like Lakanto, a mixture of erythritol and monkfruit sweetener. Or you can go halvesies — half Lakanto, half sugar. Whatever rocks your boat.
Meanwhile, this cake is surprisingly nutritious — it combined healthy fats from almonds and olive oil with protein-rich eggs, contains no gluten or refined carbohydrate (especially if you use non-glycemic sweetener) and contains warming and antioxidant spices. You can even make it dairy-free by using non-dairy cream cheese; I tested this with KiteHill’s almond cream cheese and it tasted just like the real thing.
I usually make a 16-serving batch in a brownie tin, keep them refrigerated in a sealed container and munch my way through them over the week (with a little help from my kids), enjoying a square after dinner each day until they’re gone.
- 1/2 cup sugar or Lakanto
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon untreated, preferably organic
- 1½ cups almond flour finely ground
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum optional; but helps to strengthen the structure of the cake in the absence of gluten)
Cream cheese frosting
- 4 oz full-fat cream cheese at room temperature or a plant-based substitute like KiteHill almond cream cheese)
- 1½ tbsp icing sugar or Lakanto
- finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon untreated, preferably organic
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup pecans lightly toasted and then chopped
- a pinch of finely zested orange peel untreated, preferably organic
- Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan (brownie tin) with baking parchment. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar or Lakanto whichever using) and beat with a wire whisk or electric beater. Whisk in olive oil, spice mix, lemon zest, pumpkin puree and salt. Once these are all combined, fold in the almonds and the baking powder, mixing everything well.
- Pour into the prepared pan and slide into pre-heated oven. Bake for 40 minutes (the cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.)
- While the cake is baking, toast the pecan nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning; they are ready when they emit a toasty, nutty fragrance -- after about 2-3 minutes. Tip onto a plate to cool
- Next, while the cake is still baking,, beat cream cheese, sweetener, lemon zest and vanilla extract into a smooth cream. If its too thick, add a little milk, kefir or water to thin to the desired consistency.
- Once the cake is ready, remove and set on a wire rack to cool. After 10 minutes, lift the cake out of the pan by the baking parchment and cool completely on the wire rack.
- Once fully cooled, spread with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle with chopped toasted pecan nuts and/or finely zested orange peel. Cut into 16 squares. Enjoy.