I had a birthday recently and wanted to make something completely different from my usual birthday treat. While I normally love making chocolate cakes or lemon bars or rhubarb crisp for my special day, I decided on something entirely new – a raw dessert. I got this idea one day as I was at the Des Moines Public Library and came upon Raw Desserts, a cookbook by Erica Palmcrantz Aziz and Irmela Lilja. I went ahead and checked it out, along with another raw cookbook, and found several tempting treats!
The dessert I decided on was Strawberry Cake (p. 52). This was super simple to make and very refreshing! Because all the desserts are raw, there’s no need to pre-heat the oven which can be nice during the summer. Here’s a little tutorial for the one I selected:
Get all your ingredients ready! You’ll need: almonds, honey, olive or rapseed oil, salt, bananas, strawberries, cashews, pears, vanilla powder, and water! Ready, set, go! I started by making the icing for the cake which is called Cashew Cream. I made this first so it had some time to firm up in the refrigerator. Here’s how you make it:
1 cup of cashews
1 cup of water
1 tsp of vanilla powder
1 Tbsp of honey
1 pear peeled and sliced
Put the cashews in a food processor and mix until they are a fine powder. Add water. At this point you will be worried that you’ve created a runny mess. Never fear, this is where the honey and pear come into play. Add a sliced pear and the honey, as well as the vanilla powder, and mix again until well blended. Pour cream into container and store in refrigerator until you are ready to ice the cake.
A few things to note: the recipe didn’t say if the cashews should be salted but I assume unsalted would be the best way to go. Unsalted cashews are hard to find in a supermarket but I found them in bulk and a health food mart. Vanilla powder is expensive but can be swapped for extract so I know I’ll use it again.
Now for the cake bottom, aka crust:
3 cups of almonds
5 Tbsp of honey
3 Tbsp of olive oil or rapseed oil
pinch of salt
For the filling:
3 mashed bananas
2 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced
Place half the filling on the crust. Top that with more crust and then top that with more filling so you have a total of two layers of crust and two layers of filling. Top the cake with the remaining crust and pour cashew cream over top. Add fruit of your choice to decorate the cake.
A few things to note: I used almond oil because I’ll be honest, I don’t know what rapseed oil is and I only had extra virgin olive oil at home and thought that might be too strong. Almond oil gave it a great, sweet flavor.
I topped my cake with strawberries and blueberries although any variety of berry would taste great. The particular recipe I followed didn’t call for blueberries but I thought it would be both fun and add an additional flavor to the cake.
Overall I was pleased with how this turned out. I’m not sure why but I’d probably consider it more of a pie than a cake. Maybe it’s because it has so much fruit in it or maybe it’s because I used a pie pan. One thing’s for sure: I still can’t get pie out in one piece therefore I’m lacking a photo of a slice of my birthday treat looking pretty on a plate.
Moral of the story: look beyond the internet for fun recipes and turn to good old recipe books! I never really thought of checking one out from the library but it’s a great way to experiment in the kitchen. Oh and the next time you consider making a dessert, consider going raw. There are so many fabulous recipes in this book that it was difficult to pick just one!