Kind-Hearted Cake

Last month in this space, I wrote about a dear friend who had undergone coronary bypass surgery and how it has forced the issue of quality of life and diet to the front burner.

A little slice of heart-healthy heaven. (Kim O'Donnel)

Flash forward six weeks, my buddy Pop Rocks is 20-some pounds lighter with a good report from the doc and has been given the green light to return to work. Yesterday, a group of us at celebrated his first day back on the job. The question, though, was: How to fete a hardcore cake lover with a health-appropriate crumb?

Although equipped with an armory of heart-healthy cookie recipes, I realized that my heart-healthy cake repertoire is quite lean, and I had better get on the stick. After all, for the unofficial cake cutter at, there could be nothing other than cake.

Without a tube pan in my midst, I detoured around the idea of the traditional angel food cake, and frankly, I was less than thrilled about beating 10 egg whites.

A quick whirl through "Veganomicon," the wildly successful vegan kitchen primer released last fall, and I found details for a chocolate Bundt cake free of eggs and dairy -- with just a smidge of fat.

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of unfussy one-layer cakes, and this version was showing great straight-forward promise, with nothing unusual thrown into the batter to compensate for the lack of fat.

In fact, the fat is coming from 1/3 cup of Canola oil, the equivalent of 5 1/3 tablespoons (or about 16 teaspoons), and if you divide that by 12 (the approximate number of total servings), the oil content per serving is just a little over one teaspoon per serving.

Not too shabby for a cake party, huh?

By the way, 1 tablespoon of Canola oil contains: 120 calories, a total of 14 grams of fat, 9 of which are monounsaturated -- the good kind that helps lower LDL ("bad cholesterol) levels.

But let's cut to the chase -- how did this egg and dairy-free cake taste? Was it a respectable stand-in or a heart-healthy flop?

I gotta tell you, the results were impressive; this cake has a egg-like, sponge-y quality, with a moist crumb and deep chocolatey notes. It was far from a compromise. In fact, I'll be making this one again -- and again.

Recipe below the jump.

Today is chat day; talk to me at noon about cake crumbs or anything else on your mind.

Lower-Fat Deep Chocolate Bundt Cake
From "Veganomicon" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1 ¾ cups freshly brewed coffee
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup Canola oil
1/3 cup applesauce
¼ cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8- or 10-inch Bundt pan.

Bring coffee to a gentle simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is simmering, turn down heat and whisk in cocoa powder, until it has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, oil, applesauce and cornstarch until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved, about two minutes. Mix in extracts. Once chocolate has cooled, fold into applesauce mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold into wet ingredients, beating until relatively smooth, about one minute with a hand mixer or two minutes with a whisk.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If pan is on smaller side, cooking time could be as long as 55 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate to cool completely. Once cool, sift confectioners' sugar over top.

Makes about 12 servings.

By Kim ODonnel |  July 1, 2008; 10:09 AM ET Baking , Desserts , Wellness
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Sounds like a winner! Can I replace the coffee with something else? We're not coffee drinkers at our house, and I doubt that the powdered stuff would be a good idea.

Posted by: Arlington | July 1, 2008 11:37 AM

Like Arlington, I don't drink coffee but you can purchase a plain, black cup of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. That's what I did for tiramisu I made last December.

Posted by: Little Red | July 1, 2008 3:26 PM

Hi Kim -

How do you think a gluten-free flour would work in this? Do you think it would be the same portion (2 cups)?

Thanks for your help!

Posted by: Another Arlington-er | July 1, 2008 4:07 PM

Do you think this could be made in a regular cake pan.
If so, would the baking time be shorter? Thanks.

Posted by: cy | July 1, 2008 4:21 PM

for those of you w/out coffee makers, there is a powdered espresso that makes a great coffee/espresso substitute in a pinch. Medaglia D'oro is the brand i've used w/great success.

Posted by: on the hill | July 1, 2008 5:35 PM

I haven't tested this cake with all the variations some of have you inquired about, but I agree, with On the Hill that instant espresso is a great alternative to brewed coffee. Re: GF-flour -- I think it's worth a try. Was thinking of giving this recipe to my GF baking bud Jules Shepard who's always up for a GF challenge. The nice thing about the Bundt pan is presentation --I'm assuming you can do it in a regular round pan, but I'd probably line the pan with parchment to help with lifting out of pan.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | July 1, 2008 7:43 PM

Bustelo also makes a really good ground espresso. Though I've not used to cook with, I have pressed this cuban espresso to make flan! it's so darn good!

Posted by: FlaNBoyant Eats | July 2, 2008 2:34 AM

I have to chime in with my fav. vegan chocolate cake recipe, super simple and my go-to recipe for chocolate cake (even though I top it with real buttercream frosting!) ... it's here:

Posted by: nicole | July 2, 2008 11:47 AM

Coffee subsitute: Postum

Posted by: Breadlady | July 3, 2008 5:47 PM

Oh. My. Goodness.

This cake is da bomb. Better yet, I can let the kids lick the bowl without fear of raw eggs. Thanks Kim!!

Posted by: Centre of Nowhere | July 4, 2008 5:12 PM

I'm allergic to almonds (all stone fruit, actually) Do you think the cake would suffer if I left out the Almond Extract? Or is there a substitution anyone can recommend? My husband used to bake wonderful cakes, until his own bypass 1.5 yrs ago. Would love to make this cake to have at home and family celebrations.

Posted by: allergy lady | September 3, 2008 5:14 PM

Allergy lady: Just leave out the almond extract. No worries. You could up the vanilla just a tad, and the results will be just as tasty-licious. Enjoy!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | September 3, 2008 5:24 PM

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