Is it spring break where you are? Because I’ve got just the thing for you if it is… Blue surf cake. Also known as Ocean cake, Tidal Wave cake, Cloud cake, Beach cake. Maybe it could even be Galaxy cake…! This is basically your recipe when you’re looking for a fun cake that’s blue-themed and natural (in every sense) ??
But before I proceed to talking about the blue here, let me just say that you can still make this yummy, ice cream-like, dairy-free raw cake any day minus the blue element. The blues in this cake don’t affect the flavor, just the aesthetic… blue adds an interesting touch, especially if you’re looking to create “surfy” vibes, ocean roars, fluffy clouds, or galaxies galore ;)
Isn’t it incredible how something as simple as a color can change your whole perception of a cake? Colors are one of those things that make me incredibly happy. Gentle hues, enchanting wispy swirls of pretty shades, color-themed desserts. It’s a kind of grown up “playing with food” I wholeheartedly approve of.
And sometimes you just need that extra shade to make a particular “theme” happen. It’s wonderful when you have basic ingredients on hand to co-operate with your vision: you know, red berries for pinks and peachy tones, turmeric for yellow, blueberries or blackberries for gorgeous purples, spinach or avocado for greens, etc. (P.S. If you need some inspiration / guidance in that department, check out the raw cake natural coloring guide, which you can download from the homepage of this website).
But when you need a natural blue… ?? It can certainly be a pickle!
It’s a dilemma I’ve already struggled through when this raw blueberry cashew cheesecake happened. I got a reader request for a blue birthday cake to fit in with a specific party theme. Strapped for natural options in my kitchen I’ve gone through the rounds and tried everything in sight to create a gorgeous blue cheesecake to no avail.
Luckily in that circumstance I found a good workaround solution, but the hunt for the perfect blue colorant never left my mind. And so I’ve been on the look out and experimenting with different options since.
I finally landed on what I think is the perfect solution: blue butterfly pea flower powder. That’s what’s coloring this cake. All natural. All simple. All the blue shades you’ll ever need. And more (since blue powder has some magical chameleon properties I’ll tell you about in a minute).
Natural Blue Food Coloring Options for Raw Cakes:
Before I tell you about the blue butterfly pea tea powder and why I favor it, let me tell you about other alternatives I’ve tried out or explored for context:
- Blueberries, black currant, blackberries, fresh or frozen. Result: so purple!
- Blue fruit and veg chemistry, involving combining things like purple cabbage juice and baking soda or berries, etc.: works wonderfully for some things, but not for raw cakes. You can read about my experiments with it here. In a nut shell: it worked for me for things like frosting or parfaits, but not raw cheesecake. If you’re curious about the cabbage method though, on my blogging pal Natalie has a great DIY tutorial on it here.
- Blue food dye. No artificial dyes for me ??. There are some great natural ones out there, but they tend to be hard to find and costly. If you’re interested, here’s a brand I love.
- Blue matcha powder. That’s one I haven’t tried yet, but have seen pretty things made with on Instagram and think it’s an interesting option. It seems pretty comparable to me to the butterfly pea tea powder I used here, though the butterfly tea I found to be a lot more affordable.
- Blue Majik spirulina. I’ll admit I coveted this option above all else. It makes the most gorgeous blues hands down. I also like spirulina and use it regularly for personal purposes and in treats, so switching to a blue-er version would be quite simple. But. BUT. I tried to picture what you’d think of me if I told you you needed to purchase a $65 (or over $100 in some countries) bottle of algae powder so that you can use a sprinkle of it in a cake… Somehow I imagine that wouldn’t have gone over too well ???. I’d still absolutely favor this option, just not at this price point.
- Loose Leaf butterfly pea tea: when I first heard of blue butterfly pea tea and its magical coloring properties I ordered a bag of loose tea straight away. It’s a common drink in many Asian countries, especially Thailand. It makes beautiful steeped or iced teas. It’s a stunning shade of blue. And if you add a bit of lemon it turns pinks and purples galore. Chameleon tea chemistry right there! So gorgeous for serving as a tea or refreshment for guests. Also really fun for kids experiments — a friend recently did a Harry Potter-themed birthday party for her girl and they made magic color changing “potions” in little vials and this tea is so perfect for stuff like that. In short, it’s awesome and fun. But steeping a whole batch of tea isn’t going to work for cake — you need a much more concentrated blue for something like that. That’s where the powder comes in handy instead!
I came across the blue butterfly pea tea powder quite by chance. A friend told me about some pink pitaya powder she’s been using, which got me to the Just Blends website where I discovered the blue powder I’ve been looking for all along. It seemed quite affordable, and to be honest at that stage it was between succumbing to the costly Blue Majik siren call or going with this. I decided to order some and see what happens.
I was really impressed with the product. I liked that it shipped internationally, was affordable, natural, and well packaged. I also loved that I could order it right along with the pitaya powder (which I adore!). So it was a pleasure to work with from start to finish. I’ve been having fun using it in cakes like this, in ice cream, and even breakfast. I liked it so much I even emailed Just Blends to tell them I thought it was a great product.
The oddest thing happened when I got an enthusiastic email back from the owner of Just Blends. Strange coincidence: turns out the lady who owns it is someone I knew from from my Instagram circle and who is a fan of my work and she was really excited to hear from me ?. Strange coincidence the second: a good blogging pal of mine (Anthea from RainbowNourishments.com) happened to be staying at that lady’s house and they were just talking about my blog when I emailed ??. Small world! ??
Steph, the lady behind Just Blends, even gave me a 10% discount code for my blog readers. If you order from her, use the coupon code “UB10%” to get ten percent off any of your purchases. ??
Last but not least, in all the “blue” excitement, I forgot to tell you about one other feature of this cake: it’s oil-free ?. Yep, no coconut oil, and still all light and white! Yipee!
One tiny last note I’ll share: the cake is lemon-free. Keep in mind the chemistry chameleon note above re: the blue color changes shades when it comes into contact with acids.
Also, about the hues — the directions are recreating the cake pictured, but of course feel free to improvise and adjust the colors to your liking.
Ok, let’s cake!
As per usual, this recipe is for a tiny 5″ cake (this is the pan I use). See downloadable cake size guide below if you need help with sizing this cake up or down. Also, if you need any tips to get comfortable with raw cake making, you may find Unconventional Treats handy for that.
Oh, and one more final note: because this cake is designed to be very lush and creamy (no coconut oil, remember..), it’ll also get quite melty if not kept frozen. So be sure to serve it frozen, or thaw out for just 5-10 minutes prior to serving.
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 3 soft medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ¾ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked & strained (*see notes below)
- ⅓ cup coconut cream from a can of full fat milk that's been chilled overnight in the fridge
- 3-4 tbsp maple syrup (to taste)
- ½ tsp raw ground vanilla bean (or contents of half a fresh vanilla bean pod)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1¼ tsp blue butterfly pea tea powder for color
- Process all crust ingredients in a food processor. Transfer into a 5" springform pan and press down into an even flat crust. Freeze while working on next step.
- Add all filling ingredients, BUT ONLY ¼ tsp blue butterfly tea powder, to a power blender and blend into a smooth creamy consistency. Remove a third of this mixture and pour it into the springform pan over the crust, trying to keep it mostly to one side (let's say keep it to the right).
- Add in ½ a tsp more blue butterfly tea powder to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend once again to combine. Transfer half this mixture into the springform pan, placing it mostly into the center, or slightly to the left side.
- Add another ½ tsp blue pea powder to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend to combine. Transfer this mixture into the pan, pouring it mostly to the left. Now use a skewer or a small spoon to lightly swirl the mixtures together. I used a circular motion and went mostly around the edges of the pan to create the sea wave effect. Feel free to improvise -- just don't over-mix or the different layers will merge into one color.
- Freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Keep frozen until serving time. Slice and enjoy! Keep any leftovers frozen.
For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn't preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above).
Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you're interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.
This post contains affiliate links to the following products I use / recommend for this recipe: natural food dyes, Blue Majik spirulina, whole butterfly pea tea, and the Just Blends powders if you use the coupon code UB10% to get a 10% discount off your purchase.