Monday, April 9, 2012

Healthy Snack Cake recipes

A suburban greenmom realizes she has way more cake recipes than she had any idea...
I am a big fan of the snack cake. So as long as we're talking healthy snacks...
These are the cakes I can make out of whatever fruits, flours, and/or sweeteners I have in the house at any given moment. I make these once every week or two, and it’s easy enough to vary the contents that I can keep doing it without making anyone bored.  These are the cakes I cut into squares and send to school for my kids’ lunches, the ones I take in to school on days I want to ingratiate myself with the prof and my fellow students, the ones I take to the nice neighbor who watched my kids for a couple of hours. I’ve been known to eat a few pieces myself, too.
I was just discovering what a ridiculous number of these recipes I have over on my blog, and I’m sure I won’t even cover them all here, but I’d like to just toss out an assortment, and you can click over to whatever might sound interesting.  My hope here is not so much that you will use the specific recipes (although, feel free, of course!) but that you might see how they are really all variations on each other, and how easy it is to perform that little alchemy that turns a bunch of random stuff into a really yummy cake. 
Most of these are adaptations of someone else’s recipes, often involving a reduction in the amount of sugar from the original and the substitution of some fruit puree or yogurt or something in place of some of the oil or butter. But best of all, they are quick and easy, tend to keep well, and are unbelievably ripe for substitution and variation just based on what you have. I am incredibly lazy with recipes; it has been a huge revelation to discover that a little futzing most of the time, as long as you don't go too far, will often not screw up your final product very much. so futz away. (A note: anything listed as being for a bundt cake can be halved and baked in an 8x8 pan; similarly, double any 8x8 recipe and you can make a bundt. The bundts also seem to transfer well to two loaf pans, but I don't do that as often...)
These come in a few main categories:
Random Fruity Cakes, based on my standby favorite “bundt cake of endless autumnal substitution”. These work with applesauce or apple butter, bananas, and/or pureed pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Or some mixture of the above. Or maybe some other stuff would work too.  This is my go-to recipe pretty much whenever I want to make one of these cakes. Honey Apple Butter cake and Pumpkin Butter with Zucchini cake are in here too. Other fruity cakes includes my use-up-lots-of-the-green-bludgers Zucchini Bread recipe. And the Applesauce Cake I made to give our neighbors a little thank you for letting us forage on their very plentiful apple tree to make a few quarts of sauce. Banana Orange snack cake is another I made a long time ago and really need to revisit…these, obviously, are my major go-to recipes.
Cakes based on homemade pancake mix, that are based on, well, my homemade pancake mix. I think once I didn’t have enough baking powder for something but had some baking mix, so I worked something out that way. Quite honestly, I don’t think these are as good as the first category cakes, but they are still pretty yummy. I have a simple berry muffin recipe here and a really delicious variation that’s a Honey Berry snack cake—one of those happy experiments gone right. And Blackberry tea cake, another really nice and flexible recipe using frozen berries.
Cakes involving chocolate. Not much else needs be said, right? Crockpot chocolate banana pudding isn’t exactly a cake, but it acts a lot like one. And 5 minute microwave chocolate cake in a mug isn’t the kind of snack we’re really talking about, either. On the slightly less decadent front is chocolate banana cake, which is also based a lot on the “endless substitution” model but subs in some cocoa powder for the flour. And throws in some chocolate chips. I’m no saint.
Cakes using honey instead of sugar. Some of these are in the first category too, but I’m including them here because more than once I have indeed discovered that I did not have any sugar in the house but wanted to make something anyway. The Honey Berry snack cake above is one of these. So is Honey Apple butter cake. I need to develop a few more of these…
Gingerbreads. These include a Pumpkin Gingerbread recipe, and another for “White Gingerbread”—a New England dessert that pretty much lacks ginger at all. Nutmeg is used instead. It’s actually really delicious, but has a lot of sugar in it.
--Jenn the Greenmom


Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I like the looks of these, esp. the versatility. What do you recommend for my first foray into your cake-world? It's not autumn, so probably not the autumnal ones, although I'll definitely want to try the zucchini one later...

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Betsy, actually that "autumnal" one is great for any time; I don't know why I called it that. It's a great way to use any combination of pureed or preserved fruit you have kicking around. The stronger-flavored the fruit, the more whole wheat (or white whole wheat) flour you can sneak in with the white stuff. On the "healthy" front the zucchini bread is probably one of the best.

Where to start? Hmm, maybe the applesauce cake? I don't know; I'm a pretty lazy baker, so if I can make these things work, anyone can! Good luck!


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