Glorious & Gluttonous Paleo Gingerbread Cake

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If you read day 29 of my blog you know that during my 30-day primal/paleo challenge I was enticed, seduced and ultimately fell in love with a sweet treat introduced by a friend of mine, paleo gingerbread.

If you haven’t read day 29  – then get on it!

The seduction itself occurred on day 21, but I was too in lust and love with the dessert to bring myself to post about my forbidden love and treachery.

I admit, weeks after I ate that wonderful paleo gingerbread that my ‘almost always’ paleo friend made for me, I thought perhaps I had just imagined the goodness of it given I was in the middle of a tempting feast of sugar (dinner party) and was in day 21 of a 30 day paleo challenge.

So when the challenge finished, and I along with fellow challenges were invited by Primal Junction, to join a celebration, I thought I too would try my hand at making the gingerbread goodness, and see if a) I was a good as cook as my friend and b) if it really was three slice worthy and that good.

So I pulled up the original recipe, and just as my friend did for me that day made a few modifications. The modified list of must have’s is below –

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup coconut nectar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract or vanilla bean (I have used both)
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder (gluten free)
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Now the recipe we had, said stern words like follow the ingredients exactly, and make sure you do everything just as I have blah blah blah, and while I very much appreciate the author had taken the time to experiment and find a great paleo option for us all, there were adjustments to be made.

For instance the original recipe called for 2/3 cup blackstrap molasses, which we substituted for coconut nectar, and also for maple extract, which we left out completely. The first time I made these I also omitted the baking soda (by mistake) but it didn’t seam to matter and I didn’t have cloves so just added in extra cinnamon. So basically, you can just work through the spices to your taste and don’t get too hung up about it.

And best of all, its very easy to make.

Simply combine the eggs, coconut nectar, coconut oil and vanilla and beat well until its combined.

While your kitchen aid is churning that goodness, combine the rest of the dry ingredients in another bowl and mix with a spoon so it is combined.

While your blades are still churning, add the dry ingredients to the wet slowly, until it is combined and mixed well.

Now the recipe I had also was very particular about cooking this in a glass greased dish, 13×9. I used a metal non-stick square loaf pan that I greased with a coconut oil. On one occasion, because I was scared it wouldn’t come out cleanly; I also used baking paper to line the tin. Again don’t get too hung up about what you cook it in – but it does effect cooking times.

Choose your tin/pan/dish and spread the batter in evenly as best you can.

Bake in your pre-heated oven at 180 degrees and cook for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to about 110 for another 30 minutes.  Personally, my tin takes a little longer at this temperature so keep checking and don’t stress out if you need to keep the oven hot for a little while longer.

I also found this temperature and time often did not darken the cake enough, so would crank up the heat again to get a nice dark colour. You know its cooked inside if your poker/prodder/toothpick comes out clean, so if you do like a darker colour you might like to do the same. Word of caution however, this baby tans quickly so keep your eye on it or your brown will soon turn to black….

Once cooked, let the cake cool enough that you can safety take it out of your pan, but not completely or it might get stuck.

If possible try to let it cool completely before cutting  – more harsh words from the original recipe author – although again the first time I made this I was running late and cut it as steam was rising from it, and it still got rave reviews.

So, back to my original questions.

A)     Was I as good a cook as my friend? – No. Her colour was better, and its always nicer when someone makes it for you.

B)     Was the paleo gingerbread cake as good as I thought it was? Yes. It was snaffled up by most of the challenge celebrators and the recipe was asked for. Even my sugar loving family and Great Baker Gma complemented it the second time I made it for a family dinner.

The only problem with this little puppy is its so easy to make and eat, you will end up doing both WAY too much!

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The Primal Challenge Day 29

I have a confession to make.  Its day 29 and I feel like it is only right, with only one more day until this is officially finished, I need to get something off my chest.

It was over a week ago, and I would like to say it has been playing on my mind. That I have not been able to sleep from the guilt, that I regretted my actions. But in truth, I have been sleeping fine, (excluding the night I was poisoned) and there is no regret (excluding my nut habit).

It was at the girls Christmas party. Day 21. Remember the failed pudding, celebrity heads, the ‘your boring’ remarks and the self righteous ‘I didn’t even find it that hard’ comment.

I didn’t. Not at all.

Because, after the main meal, there was dessert. Fantastic dessert (not my failed pudding that is still hanging in the laundry, hoping it will self cleanse itself into something worth eating) but a range of homemade and store bought sugary goodness.

Ohhh dessert….. Rightly or wrongly, I indulged.

Yes that’s right. When it was all lined up on the table, the fudge, the chocolate, the gingerbread, the cheesecake, the fruit, and the nuts …. I ate something. And it wasn’t just the fruit.

I ate…..

No gluten….

No dairy……

Paleo gingerbread.

My beautiful and very talented ‘most often’ paleo friend with a passion for baking, researched, adapted and ultimately succeeded in bringing the moist, light, and I’ve never loved it so much in my life before, gingerbread before me.

Here friends is the recipe –

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 c. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
  • 3 c. almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Knowing I was not yet able to tackle molasses she replaced it with coconut nectar and took out the extracts and used a vanilla bean instead.

Amazing….

I ate two pieces. Or it might have been three. Either way it was too many and when I broke off half of another of the delight I begged her to put the rest away before I ate the lot. Thank god she did.

I can still taste the goodness of it now… well no I can’t, but I wish I could.

It literally was the answer to all my clean eating prayers.

Except of course on Sunday I went to Google and found that coconut nectar is still sugar and sugar is still not part of the 30 day challenge…. and so it wasn’t all that clean eating at all.

Fail.

I wrote about it on that Sunday. After I had shut down Google and stomped around the house in disgust and thought about how I could justify the coconut nectar. I even made a trip to the organic shop and purchased some (along with coconut flour, coconut sugar, organic vanilla essence, organic cacao powder and a range of – you guessed it – nuts) to see if by some miracle it had a low sugar content.

I tried to justify it to myself by saying it was like fruit. A banana was 55% sugar, and they are ok (in moderation) so why not coconut nectar?

I tried to justify it to myself by saying I had been clean on everything else in a borderline obsessive-compulsive way, that surely this one slip up (or three, it was three pieces) was ok?

But I couldn’t justify it.

I felt ashamed, and angry and a bit too full of self-pity.  Which is why I deleted my first attempt at a blog post on Sunday that talked about my subsequent failure. I didn’t want to admit it, because I still had over a week to go and if I had already failed then what would stop me from opening the flood gates and letting all the sugar wielding nastiness back in?

Angelic clean Stacey was on the ground and red wearing horned Stacey was holding her down with a pitchfork while she drowned me in fine white sugar.

So, if I’m honest, I failed the challenge. One way or another I fed my sugar addiction and I failed. On day 21.

But I picked myself up.

Even if I was not yet ready to admit it. And I got back on that clean eating bus, brushed off the sugar particles still stuck to my shoulders and went about the rest of the nine days as if they were the first.

I’ve tried almost every MOD Primal Junction has offered, and even some of my own or some from others with a slight twist.

I cleaned my pantry on the weekend and threw out and donated a range of ‘not clean’ jars of sauces and spices.

My pantry at work is (almost) empty of sugar full muesli bars and snacks – although a few of my colleagues are full of them.

I’ve spent hours researching food options and trying to find my own primal and paleo baked recipes to feed my habit of feeding others in a more clean eating way.

I’ve made my clean muesli and kept it in a jar ready for when I can introduce some good full fat Greek yoghurt back into my diet.

My freezer is full of frozen banana’s, my homemade stock- both chicken and beef –  pumpkin soup and some Cannings meat (wanted to get that last discounted order in).

My fridge is full of kale and organic eggs and broccoli and 3 C’s salad and speck paleo bacon and empty of ‘light’ yoghurt and milk (although there is still that double cream full fat brie cheese wrapped up on the top shelf).

My breakfast is either zucchini slice, frittata or bacon & egg muffins and is the envy of the office.

Today I even took home all my nuts from work, not one remains in my filing cabinet. I made another trail mix using more seeds and coconut flakes along with the berries and the nuts. And then I put it all in a tall glass jar, keeping only a small (very small) green container out that I can take to work tomorrow  – my last ditch attempt at curbing my nut snacking.

I’ve even tried to stay off the fruit for the last few days, only having it in smoothies and nothing else.

Although, I did fail on that tonight too when I found a ‘one mug paleo cake’ recipe.  Ingredient list below, I excluded any additional sweeteners or mixes that the website says you can use SURELY that is ok?

  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons cacao powder

Side note – quite nice, but a little dense. Can be bitter, and not as good as a oven baked cake. Suggest a few drops of water to keep it moist or less cacao powder based on the size of your banana. But overall a good quick option if you need something extra to keep your mind off the passionfruit gluten free but still full of sugar cake your husband is eating next to you on the couch. 

I have influenced others at work who are also making their own muesli and protein balls. Even a ‘crossfit cult’ believer has been converted. My sister in law lives clean most of the time, and shared a great paleo banana bread recipe with me and a few good chicken curries. I’m taking my husband to paleo places for breakfast (although he still ensures there is bread) and cooking us the same meals at night with no complaints.

I sorted through my wardrobe on Friday and had three bags of clothes I needed to donate, or sell or thrown out. While some were based on fashion changes (what WAS I thinking??) others no longer fit. I had to pack away 10 pairs of pants I had only just purchased at the start of the year as they were too big (couldn’t quite bring myself to throw them out yet just in case).

While most of the weight loss is thanks to an increased exercise regime when I found crossfit (I was already exercising five days a week before I moved to the sport, which gives you some indication of the intensity) it will be interesting to see if any of it is thanks to the Primal Junction, Primal Challenge.

I’ve done all of this in 29 days.

You realize I am still trying to justify the paleo gingerbread?

Either way, it’s an accomplishment.

Like a child in the lead up to Christmas I’m counting down.

Two more sleeps.

I’m not sure why I’m counting down, maybe just to say I’ve done it, that I succeeded (lets look past the red wine jus, the paleo gingerbread and the gravy poison sauce shall we?). Maybe to see if there really has been a difference. Or maybe just because I really would like a glass of wine to celebrate.

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