I’ve not been asked very often to bake cakes, mostly because I think I am really a terrible baker, which essentially just comes down to me being terrible at following precise measurements. I like to explore, create and bend the rules. Baking doesn’t allow for this. However, there are a few things I have been requested to bake, oatmeal raisin cookies, Christmas cake, and cranberry orange scones. I’ve now recreated two of these to be grain-free, I haven’t yet nailed the third. But these were perfected in traditional flour baking, and I knew them with precision and almost by heart. So when I decide to bake something grain-free it has to be perfect, otherwise, in my opinion it’s just not worth it!
A year ago, when my friend Tera asked me to bake a cake (that would be one of three) at her wedding I was shocked and honored! I also jumped on the one chocolate option as fast as I could knowing well enough that the other two would be far too complicated for me to live up to such a high stake day!
Her wedding day was at a venue in the woods at Moon Mountain Lodge and thus was born my idea for a moon cake. She requested simply that it be chocolate and hazelnut (Nutella cake!? Yum!) and I happily obliged. And of course, that it be grain, and dairy- free. If you’ve never baked grain-free and dairy-free before, you’re in for a treat. If you have, then you know how difficult it can be. If you’re like me, you opt for most of the raw, “no-bake” options or with something you feel super familiar. Like that recipe you’ve now made 100 times. Unfortunately for me, I did not get the mathematics and patience of my sister who is a phenomenal baker. But I do have determination and dedication going for me.
So I decided to take the grain-free version of my famous Christmas cake as the base for this chocolate cake because it is tried and true at has never failed me! Plus, it’s absolutely decadent and divine and I am not biased, people RAVE over this cake. For the moon cake I did a layer cake and baked two individual layers, adding in chopped hazelnuts and then did a simple classic white frosting.
Decorating this cake is totally up to you,but I simply loved the elegance of the crescent moon and whimsy of fresh flowers.
Baking is a process, and unlike cooking it’s far less artistic and more scientific and so it is tedious. But like most great things in life, totally worth it. And the creativity really comes with getting to decorate it and make it so beautiful and special. So be patient with this, but if you’re making it for a special occasion, I promise it won’t disappoint. I absolutely loved baking this cake for their special day.
Cake (makes 1 layer, for two layers make this twice)
1 cups chopped medjool dates
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup coconut oil melted
1 cup organic raw cocoa (I use this it’s the best tasting and it is full of all the mineral and vitamin benefits from the cocoa bean)
4 pasture-raised egg whites
4 teaspoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup organic raw hazelnuts
2 cups organic palm shortening
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
4 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons arrowroot powder
12 drops liquid stevia (or half cup of honey or maple syrup)
Organic raw hazelnuts for moon decoration
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and then begin to pit and chop the dates.
- Boil the water on the stove top and dissolve into it the baking soda. Pour the water over the 1 cup of dates. Add the water and date mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
- On the stove melt the coconut oil and add in the cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt until all incorporated into somewhat of a chocolate sauce. Turn off the burner.
- Separate the 4 egg yolks from the whites. You can save the yolks for later use and add the whites into a large mixing bow. You can manually beat the egg whites using a whisk, or using a beater whip the egg whites until they form fluffy peaks.
- Add the date mixture to the chocolate sauce and mix until fully incorporated. Next, using a spatula, carefully take a small amount of the mixture and gently begin folding it into the egg whites. You want to begin to stir by rotating the eggs whites and the mixture together without losing the fluffiness of the egg whites. Continue to do this process until it is all mixed together, it should be a light and airy mixture.
- Next sprinkle and fold in the coconut flour.
- Using coconut oil, grease your circular pan to make sure it doesn’t stick. I used a 9 inch spring-form pan for easily releasing the cake layers.
- Transfer the batter evenly to the pan and smooth out on the top making sure it is distributed equally.
- On top sprinkle on 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts to have them spread out over the cake.
- Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. The cake will be dense.
- Repeat steps 1-10 for second layer.
- To make the icing combine all the ingredients in a mix bowl. Mix together well until completely incorporated.
- Chill the icing until ready to ice the cake.
- Add icing to the first layer of cake on the top, then place the second layer of cake on top.
- You can either only add icing to the top, to get more of a “naked” cake look, or spread the icing down along the sides as shown in the photos. Ice and decorate with the extra hazelnuts *optional*.
*photos by Mickey Trescott – thank you for capturing these :)