I find that baking with a toddler has a sedative quality. Take a rambunctious end-of-her rope two year old, give her an egg to crack, or flour to stir, and watch her turn to putty in your hands. Perhaps I am overstating it a tad but this has been my experience. The Bean and I often bake together in that pesky window of time before bed: when Mom is tired from a long day at work, Kiwi isn’t home yet, and the end-of-day toddler hysteria is setting in. Yes we could jump off the couch 472 times, or we could bake a cake. I’m going for door number 2.
The downside to baking at bedtime is that the finished product comes out of the oven just as the Bean is nodding off and her mom has a hankering for something sweet and carby. Though I inevitably promise the Bean she can “have some in the morning,” I’ve been known to consume half of whatever we’ve baked…and Kiwi the other half. Fail.
I am trying to remedy this problem by assembling a repertoire of remotely virtuous baked goods. And this is one of them. Whole wheat flour, greek yogurt, maple syrup, a touch of olive oil and lemon rind, and a whack of berries. It’s hard to believe that such an innocent set of ingredients could produce such a moist and delicious cake, and one that actually remains moist enough to pack for lunch the next day. That’s if you don’t eat it all, of course.
I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks – Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal. A dear friend gifted it to me for my wedding and it has since become the most oil-stained and dog eared cookbook in my collection. Full of healthy, simple, snacky-type foods perfect for a busy family. My peanut sauce started its life in that book, too.
This cake is almost infinitely adaptable to whatever you have on hand. No whole wheat flour? Use white instead. Short on maple syrup? Sugar’s fine too. Lemon rind not your thing? Leave it out or swap in orange or grapefruit peel instead. And for the berries — you can use almost anything. I used raspberries in the pictured batch, but have had good luck with blueberries and mixed berries too. If you have success with you own variation, please share it below!
(Oh, and in case you are wondering, I absolutely let the Bean lick the bowl and spoon, raw eggs and all. Shame on me, I know! It’s a childhood pleasure I am not willing to deprive her of.)
Believe me that this healthful, simple list of ingredients transforms into a surprisingly moist and delicious cake. Adapted from Grazing: A Healthier Approach to Snacks and Finger Foods, by Julie Van Rosendaal.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt (fat content doesn't matter)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Grated rind of one large lemon
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups frozen berries (raspberries, mixed berries, blueberries, etc.), not thawed
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or regular brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease (I usually use non-stick spray) an 8 inch x 8 inch square baking pan.
- In a large or medium mixing bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup, egg, yogurt, vanilla and lemon rind. In a separate smaller bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined (don't overmix!).
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the berries and sugar. Pop into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan, then cut into squares and enjoy!
- Slice and enjoy!
This cake surprisingly stays moist for a couple of days. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.