Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Fruit-Sweetened, Oil-Free, Nut-Free}

Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Fruit-Sweetened, Oil-Free, Nut-Free}

So I have to admit this crazy fruity carob pudding cake is probably my most unconventional cake to date {and I make A LOT of unusual stuff}, and it came about as a result of a reader asking me for advice on finding a cake for their one year-old’s upcoming birthday: the challenge was that the cake ideally should only be made from either fruits, veggies, and possibly rice flour. No sweeteners, nuts, or seeds. I was told cocoa powder was ok. And so I ended up with this gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free, and oil-free {and lots more “free-from”} delicious crazy cake.

I had no idea this cake would generate such a huge interest and intrigue on social media — seems like everyone has been dying to know what’s in this beauty after seeing the photos, so I’ll share a bit more about my process of making this cake and what makes it work. Plus when you’ve got a crazy cake like this, some things require an explanation… You’ve been warned though, this definitely ain’t your typical birthday cake ;)

Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Fruit-Sweetened, Oil-Free, Nut-Free}

I first read the cake request while having my morning coffee one day last week and straight away my mind started throwing ideas around because the concept just sounded so odd and interestingly challenging. And once I get a “challenge” like that it just won’t go away until I find a solution. So I started thinking… a fruit-sweetened cake has not been an issue for me before, but it’s usually combined with nuts for a more balanced flavor. Using just rice flour in a cake can make it taste a little meh and it’s hard to get the right texture, especially without binders like guar gum, or starchy thickeners, etc. and I didn’t even want to go there — just wanted to keep things simple for the baby here. Veggies without something to mask the flavor are also not ideal in a cake…

And then, Eureka! I remembered a dessert I had made just days before from my talented {and super unconventional} friend Natalie over at Feasting on Fruit — her crazy fruity fudge bars {if you haven’t tried those yet, you totally should!} and straight away could see how I could adapt it into a cake. I also thought it would be perfect because the texture is very soft, and with baby in mind it just seemed like the perfect consistency for a treat. I had to swap things around of course, but I could visually see how the whole thing would come together and so surprised at myself, I put what I needed to do for the day aside, and into the kitchen I went…

Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Fruit-Sweetened, Oil-Free, Nut-Free}

Natalie’s fruity crazy fudge had the basic foundation I needed to work with — a sturdy base made from only bananas, dates, and oat flour. So I swapped out the oats for rice flour {using an even ratio of brown rice flour and sweet sticky/glutinous rice flour for a better texture balance}, and adjusted the flavors a little to make it more cake-like. The consistency with the rice flour is different to the one with oats by the way — a little more pudding-like, but still very sturdy. But the biggest thing that came to me was to use toasted carob powder in place of cacao powder. Carob has a remarkable flavor that is something like a fruity chocolate, and this flavor comes through all-the-more when actually combined with fruit like banana. So I decided to use that. If you prefer a more chocolatey cake, just use cacao powder in equal measure and it will taste great too {I’ve tested it out on Natalie’s bars and it was yummy}, but I say go with toasted carob powder if you can if you want a unique and special fruity and caramel-like cake.

The result of this base mix is a very unconventional cake indeed — something like a cross between a pudding and a fudge. It’s not exactly cakey, but holds up like a cake and can be layered, frosted, and handled just like one. And when chilled, it becomes this amazingly delicious sturdy pudding-fudge cake. I mean look at this cake — you wouldn’t know it’s made from just bananas {9 to be exact!}, dates, rice flour, and carob! I would order that any day at a cafe {and in fact hinted to everyone that if they are going to be surprising me for my birthday with a cake this year — this better be the one. Ask me what happened last year if you want to know why this is so… ;)}.

Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Fruit-Sweetened, Oil-Free, Nut-Free}

With the cake coming out successfully out of the oven, I then went to think about the frosting. What could be done? I really wanted this to look like a real-deal cake with a real deal frosting. The solution? Blend pretty much the same ingredients that are in the cake and use that as a frosting, of course! Almost the same ingredients, slightly different flavors, very different texture. The frosting tastes like a carob-caramel frosting and had the best consistency ever for a frosting — I believe this is the first time I’ve actually managed to pull of a dairy-free, and refined sugar-free frosting that works just like real frosting would. Super easy to use, very spreadable, holds together beautifully, and permanently remains intact without anything sliding off, oozing out of the cake, or not sticking to the sides, etc. Best frosting ever — it’s definitely going to be my go to for a lot of cakes from now on.

Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Fruit-Sweetened, Oil-Free, Nut-Free}

So, now you know what makes this magical crazy carob pudding cake work. Pretty neat, huh? Ready to make it yet? Well, I have a few more notes to share on handling and assembly first:

– I made this cake in my Vitamix and I have to say a high power blender would probably work best here. If you’re making it in a regular blender, especially if it’s a smaller one, you’ll need to a) split the base ingredients into two and blend it in two batches, and b) stop periodically and scrape down the sides and help things to mix along with a spatula. Don’t give up — keep going and pausing as long and as many times as you need to until you get that smooth consistency!

– I chose to make it into a two layer 6″ cake. I say that’s probably the best way to go if you want a pretty-looking layered cake. Even though it’s fruity and oil-free, it’s quite decadent and looks amazingly just like a cake. It’s just more special that way ;) You can alternatively make this into a single layer 9″ cake though if you prefer {if you don’t feel comfortable with frosting layered cakes, this may be the way to go}.

– The cake really needs to cool off properly after baking because the texture is delicate and you don’t want to wreck it by accident… It will also seem a little moist — don’t worry about that, so long as it feels sturdy, you’re good to go. The moist look will go away once the cake has chilled overnight. So give it a good amount of time to cool off after taking it out of the oven. I first let the the two pans sit on a cooling rack for about an hour. I then carefully flipped the base out onto a plate and then back onto the cooling rack {with the help of a cake lifter} and let it cool a few more hours just to be safe. You can feel when it’s fully cool to the touch..

– It really helps if you oil your pans well {or use a good non-stick pan if you prefer}, but also make sure to line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper just to be extra safe when flipping the cake out of the pan.

– Make the frosting when you are actually ready to frost. Don’t worry about crumb coating the cake first or pipping a ring out in the in-between layer to hold the frosting in — it’s not going to go anywhere ;) . Just put the cake on your cake plate {having a cake lifter really helps here} {I stuck a few pieces of parchment paper all around underneath the base layer, sort of like this, so that when you’re done frosting, you can just pull out the parchment and be left with a clean cake plate all around}, spread some of the frosting in an even layer and top with the next layer. Then frost all around the top and sides as you would with a normal cake.

– I chose to top the cake with some of my favorite healthy and pretty toppings, and luckily they fit the bill in terms of permitted ingredients here: just some cacao nibs and dried white mulberries. I think edible flowers or other dried berries would work well too for a natural & healthy cake topping.

– For easiest slicing and plating, refrigerate the cake overnight. I actually found that while the cake tasted amazing the first day, the flavor just kept on improving with the cake sitting in the fridge with each passing day. Of course, it didn’t make it past day three around here, but just saying — don’t be afraid to make it in advance :)

Oh, and for the banana-hating club {and I know some of you sure are ;) } I’m fairly certain this cake would work with ripe persimmons instead too. I’ve made something similar before and I have a 99.9999% feeling this would work just as well. I just didn’t have any on hand to test it out. Someone suggested avocado as well on Facebook, and I think that would work well here too, but the flavors and sweetness would need to be adjusted a bit…

Ok, so sorry for the novel here, let’s just get to the cake already:

5.0 from 4 reviews
Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Fruit-Sweetened, Oil-Free, Nut-Free}
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook/Chill Time: 
Ready In: 
Makes: 2 layer 6" cake
 
* Cake base adapted from this recipe from Feasting on Fruit.
Ingredients
Cake Ingredients:
  • 6 ripe bananas {or possibly ripe persimmons -- see notes above}
  • 1½ cups soft medjool dates
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract {optional}
  • 1 tsp cinnamon {optional}
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup roasted carob powder {or cacao powder for a chocolate cake}
  • ½ cup brown rice flour {or white rice flour}
  • ½ cup sweet sticky rice flour {also known as glutinous rice flour}
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 3 ripe bananas {or possibly ripe persimmons -- see note above}
  • 18 soft medjool dates
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice {optional}
  • ½ cup water
  • dash of sea salt
  • ½ cup toasted carob powder {or cacao powder for a chocolate frosting}
  • 1 cup sweet sticky rice flour {also known as glutinous rice flour}
Optional Toppings:
  • - Some dried white mulberries and cacao nibs to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease your cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Place bananas, medjool dates, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and water in a blender and blend into a smooth mixture. Add remaining ingredients and blend everything together, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides and help things mix together {see notes above if working without a high-power blender; use your tamper if using a Vitamix}.
  3. Transfer the batter into prepared pans, level out the tops and press the mixture in using a spatula. Tap the pan on the counter a few times go get rid of any air bubbles. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool completely before frosting {see notes above for more details}.
  4. When ready to frost, place bananas, medjool dates, vanilla, lemon juice, water, and sea salt into a blender and blend into a smooth consistency, add carob powder and sweet sticky rice flour and blend until mixture is uniform {just as you had done with the base layer}. Frost the cake {see notes above for tips}, decorate with toppings of your choice, and place in the fridge overnight for the cake to chill and fully set for best results. Enjoy!
Now your turn to share: what did YOU think was inside this cake when you first saw it?

Happy baking!

Audrey

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This gluten-free vegan Crazy Fruity Carob Pudding Cake recipe has been shared with Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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