Almost-Healthy Cakes

13 Nov
Almost healthy

Almost healthy

My latest pancake endeavors, while delicious, have been nothing more than veiled excuses for over-indulging in desserts (not “deserts”), plain and simple. Desserts (again, not “deserts”) as meals, no less. Scared that my act would grow tiresome–and cognizant of the thinning patience of my wife and son with my weekly offerings–I had to mix it up. I decided to introduce a modicum of health in so doing. And then I mostly negated it. But still, I did introduce it first. That’s something.

Multigrain cakes made me nervous. The good ones I have had are among my favorite breakfast items, period. But the bad ones? Yama hama. The bad ones I have had are not worth even the crappy, over-sugared syrup under which they drown. So I engaged this week’s idea with a healthy dose of skepticism and perilously low expectations.

But, as you’ll read, things went swimmingly. My grains had the right balance, my spices were intermingled responsibly, my dairy…well, my dairy was overdone, sure. But we were once more doing cakes for dinner, on a Sunday, the one day of the week on which I throw all gastronomic caution to the wind for my choices. I couldn’t send myself to bed feeling too healthy later in the evening, lest my circadian rhythms be incorrectly queued in ways that would impact my entire week to follow. (What? Sunday, and no butter coma?) So, with one foot in the granary and the other knee-deep in the dairy, I made my most algebraic cakes to date, balancing that healthy and unhealthy side of the equation in ways I was never able to balance actual algebra problems.

Certainly, an actual healthy version of these cakes should be obvious. Trade buttermilk for something lighter, perhaps even–gasp–skim milk, the butter for margarine, the maple syrup for just berries. You get the idea. Perhaps one day I’ll find occasion to do so, but I wouldn’t bet on seeing it in this space. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a few million more times before I’m gone–I do cakes once a week, not once a day. It’s my griddle and I’ll griddle irresponsibly if I want to.

Pants: Our washer and dryer (seriously) melted down this weekend; we’re rationing pants until the new ones arrive, and I couldn’t risk any spillage whatsoever. (Too defensive?)

Planning: I just had to decide on my balance for grains for the cakes, and really, that decision was not final until I stood before the various options at my local food co-op. Other than that, my planning was minimal, as many of the ingredients were ones I have on hand.

Gathering: See above

Execution: My brain said “healthy” but this session was all about my heart, I guess. What started as an honest quest for healthy cakes finished as an exercise in total mitigation of inherent heart-healthiness. It was a zero sum proposition from the start, really, seeing as how I allow myself but this one indulgence each week. Daddy needs a gut-buster once in a while.

Results: Really excellent. I began having second thoughts about my grains as the batter came together. I worried about what my creativity might beget. But they were tasty, and dairy abundance aside, not ridiculously bad for you.

Crossover Potential: Endless. Various grain mixtures, toppings, nuts and other crunchies thrown in…

The cakes recipe:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (organic)
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (organic)
  • 1/3 cup corn meal (organic)
  • 1/3 cup consisting of flaxseed meal (organic) and brown rice flour (organic), evenly split
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup milk (whole, organic)
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar (pure cane, organic)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk (Kalona Supernatural Buttermilk)
  • 2 eggs (cage-free)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted (unsalted, organic)
  • Canola oil
  • Crushed nuts and/or pieces of fruit to taste
  • Maple syrup
  1. Mix oats with your whole milk and set aside to soak
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients
  3. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients except for butter until smooth
  4. Add in oats/milk mixture
  5. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees
  6. Preheat oven to 175 degrees, or activate warmer drawer on low
  7. Stir melted butter into batter with wooden spoon
  8. Brush griddle with oil; repeat between batches
  9. Ladle batter onto griddle with 1/4 measuring cup, sprinkling nuts and/or fruit into each cake
  10. Watch for bubbles–flip and repeat until both sides are golden brown, roughly 3 minutes per side
  11. Keep finished cakes in oven while the rest are prepared

Note: A simple search through cookbooks or on those worldwide interwebs will yield countless variations on the multigrain cake. Mine is an amalgam of tastes I’ve liked in my favorite breakfast haunts, as well as pieces I’ve mentally inventoried from recipes I’ve read. Get creative.


One Response to “Almost-Healthy Cakes”

  1. Amber Cummer November 14, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    These were my favorite so far! Chewy, grainy, deliciousness. A+!

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