Christmas cake

Chocolate and cream = heaven! You’d never guess there was butternut squash in the cake, either in taste or in texture. In fact, I tend to play the ‘guess the vegetable’ game with my friends, and they rarely guess right. With the butternut squash replacing the butter, though, this really is a light recipe. It’s also really easy to jazz up for different occasions – I’ll give a few examples below. I don’t want to jinx anything, but this cake has never failed. Stick to the recipe, and something beautiful inevitably surprises you 🙂

3 organic eggs (seriously, for the chickens’ wellbeing as well as your own health, go organic)

100g caster sugar (this means the cake is not massively sweet, so you can add up to 160g if you really have a sweet tooth, but this blog is about healthy yumminess after all, and I think the chocolate flavour adds sufficient depth) – you can replace with coconut sugar (I don’t tolerate this)

200g raw butternut squash (peeled and grated as finely as your food processor will go). You can replace it with carrot or sweet potato (don’t use regular pumpkin)

120g rice flour, semolina, or quinoa flour (I tend to use whatever I have in the house – spelt doesn’t work so well here though so I’d stick with gluten-free)

80g hazelnuts, ground finely – a coffee grinder will work nicely. When I don’t have almonds in the house, I tend to just use more of the flour above, but the almond does add more flavour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

125ml milk (use buttermilk if you have it, but if not, any milk – yes also dairy free – will do)

Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Line two 18cm diameter tins (preferably with removable bottoms) with baking parchment and grease the tins too.

Whisk the eggs for 5 minutes with the sugar. Then add the grated vegetable (you can do this with the mixer on slow speed or manually), followed by the other dry ingredients.

Add the milk and whisk slowly till the whole mixture is well combined.

Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. If you don’t have two tins, you can pour the mixture into one tin, but if you do that, I’d increase the baking time to at least 40 minutes and then check whether it’s ready.

Once they’re ready, remove the cakes from the oven and their tins and let them cool down entirely, until they’re entirely cold.

As for fillings and topping, I tend to go with my imagination and according to what I have in the house. Here are some ideas:
– For a no-fuss option, I tend to go with a lovely layer of 250g whipped lactose-free cream sandwiched between the two cakes (I tend to add either pineapple chunks or cherries through the cream, though I’m sure it would work with strawberries or other fruits too – nectarines or peaches perhaps?) and a cocoa powder layer sprinkled on top of the constructed cake.
– For a more stylish version, I add 50g mascarpone and 50g yoghurt to 250ml cream (all lactose-free) for the middle. Oh, you could add sugar to it, but that would make it too sweet (and unhealthy) for me – the natural sugars from the fruit will add desired sweetness. For the top, I melt 200g of dark cooking chocolate with 200ml of lactose-free cream. Let that cool down until it becomes creamy in texture (rather than entirely runny) and then pour it over the top.

– Do you like my christmassy decoration? I got the inspiration here ( though whoever made that cake did something much more stunning than mine), and added fresh pine and holly from the garden. What an amazing discovery that was, that you can dip anything (anything?!) in egg white and then cover it in caster sugar and it comes out looking like it’s covered in a lovely frost layer. Go wild!


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