February 12th 2021
6 healthy baking recipes you’ll return to again and again
August 29th 2017 / 0 comment
In celebration of the return of The Great British Bake Off, and also just cake, two queens of sweet treats bring you their ultimate ‘makeover’ bakes
The Great British Bake Off is back, which means the perfect excuse to get your oven mitts on and serve up some desserts before hitting the sofa at 8pm (it's not like we've set an alarm or anything...).
In our book, any day deserves a good baking session, as the following healthy treat heroes will I’m sure agree. Whether you’re cooking up a storm for a dinner party, baking for a special occasion or simply fancy something sweet and comforting to tuck into, these recipes will hit the spot.
There is an odd one out in terms of ‘no actual baking needed’, but it goes by the name of cake so we’ve included it. The perfect chilled compromise for sticky, summer days, no?
Bon appétit, bakers...
A neuroscience student-turned-nutrition-focused-cook extraordinaire, Livia’s Kitchen founder Olivia Wollenberg made the switch from studying to pursuing a career in the food business and hasn’t looked back since. From selling her homemade crumbles in Selfridges in 2014 to publishing her first recipe book this year, her sweet-based star is on the up. Her initial inspiration when starting her business was not only to make healthier snacks, cakes and desserts accessible to all, but also to make food that was bursting with flavour rather than flatly ‘free from’. Try her clever yet simple recipes for yourself and we think you’ll agree.
Baked Carrot Cake
I absolutely love a moist cake rather than a dry, crumbly one, and carrot cake is one of the gooiest varieties when you get it right. Traditionally, it is the large amounts of butter mixed with the carrot that provides the moisture in a carrot cake, but, since I can’t eat dairy, I had to find another way to achieve this. This cake has the ideal level of moisture due to the finely ground almonds and carrot.
Makes an 18cm Double Layer Cake
Softened coconut oil, for greasing the tins
Cinnamon Cashew Cream (see below)
Orange zest, to decorate
480 g ground almonds
80g buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
480g carrots, finely grated
Zest of 2 oranges
60g melted raw coconut oil
500ml maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Grease two 18cm cake tins.
To make the cake
Mix the ground almonds, flour, spices, salt and sultanas in a bowl.
Add the grated carrot and orange zest and mix again.
Add the oil and maple syrup and stir to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the two tins, making sure they have equal amounts.
Smooth the top and bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking on them once 45–50 minutes has passed as they may need covering with foil for the remaining time.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool entirely in their tins. When you get them out they will still feel slightly moist in the middle, but they firm up a bit as they cool.
Remove the cake from the tin and ice the top of the first cake with the Cinnamon Cashew Cream, then stack the other cake on top and ice this with more frosting.
Grate the orange zest over the top to decorate and for extra flavour.
Apricots by themselves are not a fruit I regularly eat, but when experimenting with fruits for this chapter, apricots were amongst the clear winners. I love the beauty of this tart just as much as the taste.
Makes a 24cm Tart
Softened coconut oil, for greasing the dish
Ultimate Pastry or Sticky Nut Crust (see below)
300g fresh apricots (250g when stoned), thinly sliced
350g fresh apricots (300g when stoned)
200g almond butter (or see my Blanched Almond Vanilla Butter recipe in the book, page 46)
65ml maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon raw coconut oil
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
Grease a 24cm tart tin and, using your hands, spread the pastry or crust out evenly across it. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes until it begins to firm and brown slightly.
To make the filling
Blend the 300g stoned apricots to a purée, then add the other filling ingredients and blend until smooth.
Spread this filling into the pie case.
Arrange the stoned and thinly sliced apricots on top of the filling.
To make the glaze
Mix up all the ingredients for the glaze and brush it over the apricots.
Bake for 25 minutes until the filling and apricots are golden.
There were very high standards to meet in my house when it came to apple pie. My grandma used to make my dad an apple pie every year for his birthday, and it was his favourite treat. When I dug out her recipe to find out how she made it, I wasn’t surprised to find that she used pounds and pounds of butter and sugar. It was definitely a challenge to come up with a recipe that my Dad would say was better, but, very happily, I have achieved it here. The combination of the baked apple slices in maca-infused date toffee, sitting on top of the Ultimate Pastry, took his breath away.
Makes a 24cm Pie
Softened coconut oil, for greasing the tin
2 x Ultimate Pastry recipe (see below)
300g soft pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons maca powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
75g apple purée or unsweetened apple sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g raw coconut oil
3–4 Granny Smith apples
½ tablespoon coconut palm sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
Grease a 24cm pie tin with the coconut oil. Weigh out 400 g of the pastry dough and roll into a ball.
Roll out with a rolling pin until a small circle shape is formed.
Place in the greased pie tin and, using your hands, flatten the pastry out across the tin and along the sides, making sure it is spread evenly.
To make the filling
Put the soft dates in a food processor and add all the other filling ingredients. Blend until the mixture is well combined, sticky and thick.
Spread evenly across the pastry base using a spoon.
To make the topping
Core and slice the apples and arrange evenly over the entire pie, sinking the apples into the sticky filling.
Roll the remaining dough mix into a ball with your hands, ensuring your hands are cool as hot hands will make the pastry crumble.
Sprinkle some oat flour on the surface before you roll it out.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until really thin and in a circle shape.
Cut out long strips and place over the pie, weaving the strips across each other.
Sprinkle over the coconut palm sugar and a pinch of ground cinnamon.
Place in the oven and bake for 40–45 minutes.
The Ultimate Pastry
Although this may be one of the most simple recipes in the book, it might just be the one of which I am most proud. I never thought it would be possible to create a pastry that tastes this good without, the use of wheat, flour and butter. This recipe is one I absolutely could not live without since it has given me the flexibility to make so many exciting creations. The pastry works best with shop-bought oat flour or ground jumbo oats that have been sifted. Fine oatmeal can work, but not as well.
Makes Enough for a 24cm Pie Base
35g raw coconut oil, plus extra softened coconut oil for greasing the dish
200g oat flour
90ml maple syrup
Generous pinch of vanilla powder
Ground cinnamon or ground ginger (optional)
To make the crust
Melt the coconut oil so that it is liquid. Leave to cool for a few minutes after melting.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a spoon until well mixed.
Knead with your hands to allow them to come together, making sure your hands are not too warm as this may cause the pastry to crumble a little.
To make a pastry base, lay a large piece of cling film on your kitchen counter or table. Position the ball of pastry in the middle of the cling film. Cover the top of the ball with another large piece of film and roll the pastry between the two sheets using a rolling pin.
To line a tin
Place the mix in a greased pie dish and, with your hand, flatten it out across the base and the sides. Make sure it is evenly spread across the dish.
To cook the crust
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Bake the crust in the oven for 10–15 minutes until the sides are slightly golden.
Sticky Nut Crust
This pastry is one that can be used time and time again. It is the most simple and quickest of the pie crusts in this book and is so special because it only consists of five ingredients. It can be eaten raw or baked; for a slightly chewier crust, it should be left raw, but when looking for a crispier version, bake it in the oven.
Makes enough for a 24 cm pie base
Small amount of softened coconut oil, for greasing the dish
165g soft pitted Medjool dates
¼ teaspoon salt
To make the crust
Grease a pie dish with the coconut oil. With a food processor, crush the nuts with the dates and salt until the nuts are in very small pieces and the dates make the mixture gooey. Use your hands to check the stickiness of the mix. It should all bind together well. If not, then use a few extra dates and pulse the mix again.
To line a tin
Place the mix in the pie dish and, with your hand, flatten it out across the base and the sides. Make sure it is evenly spread across the dish. The crust can either be eaten raw or cooked.
For a cooked crust
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Bake the crust in the oven for 10–15 minutes until the sides are browning.
Cinnamon Cashew Cream
A cream is sometimes an essential part of a dessert; it can add moisture and a smooth texture to a cake or pudding. Although this is not ‘cream’ as you may know it (it’s made from nuts as opposed to dairy) this version serves the same purpose, and in my opinion is much more delicious. It is slightly denser than your average cream, so not as much is needed, while the cinnamon and vanilla provide a natural sweetness.
Makes Roughly 750g Cream
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
80ml maple syrup
Soak the cashews overnight or for a minimum of 4–6 hours. Drain and rinse.
Whizz the soaked nuts in a food processor along with 80 ml water until pretty much smooth.
Add all the other ingredients and whizz until completely smooth and creamy.
All recipes extracted from Livia’s Kitchen by Olivia Wollenberg, Ebury Press, hardback £20, Photography | Tara Fisher
Skilled professional pastry chef Henrietta Inman specialises in creating wholesome, beautiful and delicious patisserie using unrefined, natural ingredients. A purveyor of the ‘clean cake’, she opts for whole food ingredients over traditionally processed and refined baking staples, with impeccable results. Order a bespoke commission online, devour her blog and delve into her recently released cookbook to discover her Calgary Avansino-endorsed genius.
Courgette, basil, lime and pistachio cake with avocado lime cream and raspberry jam
This cake sings with fresh summer flavours. The courgette (zucchini) keeps the sponge layers wonderfully soft as they ooze with the refreshingly light lime cream and sharp raspberry jam (jelly). I love to finish it with edible flowers from my garden. It makes a show-stopping birthday cake, too.
90 g pistachio nuts, preferably activated dried
60 g coconut flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
180 g courgettes, grated
150 g natural coconut yogurt
150 g coconut sugar
¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt
Finely grated zest of 3 limes
15 g basil leaves, finely chopped, plus about 4 extra leaves for scattering over the lime cream
60 g coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing
Avocado lime cream
200 g avocado flesh (about 1 large avocado)
250 g natural coconut yogurt
100 g blonde coconut nectar
Finely grated zest of 1½ limes
60 ml lime juice
80 g coconut oil, melted
170 g quick-cook raspberry jam or no added sugar high fruit content raspberry jam
Small handful chopped pistachio nuts
Edible flowers such as honeysuckle or rose
Make the avocado lime cream first as it needs time to firm up in the fridge. Blend the avocado, coconut yogurt, coconut nectar, lime zest and juice in a blender until smooth. Add the coconut oil and blend until completely smooth. Place in a bowl and cover the surface of the cream completely with cling film (plastic wrap) so it does not oxidize and lose its colour. Chill in the fridge for 2–3 hours to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line the base of three 23 cm (9 inch) loose-bottomed or springform cake tins with coconut oil and baking parchment. Line a small baking tray with baking parchment.
Spread the pistachio nuts out on the lined baking tray and toast for 5–7 minutes until just getting colour. Leave to cool then roughly chop into small pieces. Sieve together the coconut flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) into a bowl.
In a large bowl, mix together the rest of the sponge ingredients except for the oil. Add in the sieved flour mix and chopped nuts, then finally stir in the oil. Divide the mix equally between the three tins (about 300 g per tin).
Spread the mix with a palette knife (frosting spatula) or small knife to make a thin layer.
Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the tins and bake for another 10 minutes until the top is dark golden brown and bounces back slightly when pressed. Leave to cool, remove from the tins and carefully peel off the baking parchment from the bottom of each sponge.
To assemble, spread the bottom layer of the sponge with half the jam (jelly) and about a quarter of the avocado lime cream. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and scatter half over the lime cream. Top with the middle layer of sponge and repeat the process with the jam (jelly), cream and basil. Carefully place on the final layer of sponge and top with the remaining cream, spreading it over the top of the cake and around the edges. Decorate with chopped pistachio nuts and edible flowers.
This cake will keep in the fridge for up to three days but it is best eaten fresh when all the flavours and colours are at their most vibrant.
Serve the Avocado lime cream in small glasses or cups, topped with shavings of fresh coconut, to make a light and fresh end to a meal.
Cherry and pistachio upside-down cakes with mesquite
Mesquite is a naturally sweet superfood powder, made from the large bean-like pods of the mesquite tree. It is low-GI, rich in calcium, lysine and magnesium, and has a unique flavour – slightly spicy, sweet and malty with caramel notes. It pairs beautifully with the sweet and juicy cherries submerged in a soft pistachio sponge.
Makes 12 muffin-sized cakes
60 g pistachio nuts, preferably activated dried
80 g coconut sugar, plus 1 tbsp for the bottom of the moulds
1½ tsp mesquite powder, plus 1 tsp for the bottom of the moulds
36 sweet cherries, about 360 g
100 g ground almonds (almond meal)
50 g buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
100 g coconut butter or nonhydrogenated dairy-free butter, plus extra for greasing
Chopped pistachio nuts
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
On the lined baking tray, lightly toast the pistachio nuts for 5–7 minutes until they are just beginning to colour. Leave to cool, then finely chop.
Mix together 1 tbsp coconut sugar with 1 tsp mesquite powder and sprinkle about ¼ tsp of the mix into the bottom of each mould. Stone the cherries, breaking them in half with your fingers as you do so. Fill each muffin mould with three cherries (six halves), arranged in a circle, slightly overlapping. Pour in any extra cherry juices and sprinkle over any leftover sugar and spice mix. Set aside.
Mix together the rest of the sugar and mesquite powder, ground almonds (almond meal), flour, baking powder and salt. Add the chopped pistachio nuts.
Melt the butter and add to the dry ingredients, followed by the eggs, and mix well. Divide the mix between the 12 moulds, spooning it on top of the cherries, and bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the tin and bake for a further 2–4 minutes, until the cakes are just firm to touch, slightly golden around the edges and some juices might be bubbling up.
Leave to cool in the tin then remove and top with fresh cherries and chopped pistachio nuts. These cakes are also delightful served with a chunk of my homemade chocolate ice cream or whipped coconut cream.
Rhubarb and pistachio cakes
Follow the above recipe, but replace the cherries with 200 g (7 oz) rhubarb, chopped into ½ cm pieces, dividing the rhubarb equally between the bottom of the muffin tins. Serve with extra rhubarb compote using the method on page 53 to make the compote.
Blueberry and pistachio cakes
Follow the above recipe, but replace the cherries with 180 g of blueberries, divided equally between the muffin tins.
Blueberry lemon mousse cake with scented geranium flowers
Whipped coconut cream lifts up this dessert to amazingly light and gorgeously smooth dimensions. It is rich and fresh at the same time, rounded out with the otherworldly scents of the fresh scented geranium flowers.
1 x 400 ml can coconut milk
150 g cashew nuts
325 g blueberries
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
100 ml lemon juice
110 g raw clear honey
¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt
75 g coconut oil
90 g pitted Medjool dates
¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 vanilla pod (bean), split lengthways and seeds scraped out
70 g desiccated coconut
35 g hemp seeds
30 g coconut oil
150 g blueberries
Scented geranium flowers or other edible flowers
The night before making this, place the can of coconut milk in the fridge. Line the base and sides of a 23cm (9 inch) springform or loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.
Soak the cashew nuts in 300 ml of filtered water with ½ tsp of Himalayan pink salt for 3–4 hours.
To make the base, in a food processor chop up the dates with the salt and vanilla seeds to form a ball-like paste. Add the coconut and hemp seeds and blitz to combine. Melt the coconut oil, add to the mix and process until everything is combined. Turn out into the prepared tin and press down to form an even base. Refrigerate.
In a blender, process 150 g of the blueberries, the lemon zest and juice, honey and salt to form a purple juice. Drain and rinse the cashew nuts thoroughly, then add them to the blueberry juice and process until smooth.
Open the can of coconut milk and remove the cream on the top, which will have set overnight. You need 240 g, so use some of the thinner milk from the bottom of the can if necessary. Whip up the coconut cream in a freestanding mixer or using an electric whisk, until smooth and thick.
Melt the coconut oil and blend it into the blueberry juice and then add everything in the blender to the whipped coconut cream. Lightly whisk everything once more until just combined. If you overmix, the cake won’t be as light as it should be. Fold in the remaining 175 g of blueberries then pour the mix over the prepared base. Refrigerate for about 2 hours until firm.
When set, demould. Decorate with blueberries and scented geranium flowers. Serve immediately. Keeps well in the fridge for up to five days.
Recipe and images extracted from Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman, photography by Lisa Linder. Published by Jacqui Small (£20)
What's your favourite healthy baking recipe? Let us know in the comments!