Who do you think bakes a cake for my birthday? You guessed it right! Not that my husband can’t cook or bake. He can, and he likes to do it. It’s all my fault – I dread cleaning up after his forays into my kitchen. So while he was at work, I whipped up a little cake for just the two of us. Even though it is sort of a significant date, I am still not up to celebrating, so I didn’t feel like spending more than a minute on it. Well, two minutes, if you count the frosting. However, I am very strict about My Own Rules of Dessert (please click here), so it must be chocolate, and the more chocolate, the better!
For my husband’s sake, I try to limit gluten as much as possible. So for this cake, I use whole spelt flour, light brown sugar, olive oil, soy milk, and unsweetened cocoa powder. A pinch of baking powder, a pinch of salt, and a little splash of vanilla extract – that’s all you need. It helps to mix the dry ingredients first, then add the wet ingredients, and mix really well.
How did it happen? I almost forgot the secret ingredient – a splash of rum! Mix it in, it’ll only make it better!
Here comes the moment of decision. It could be done as a trendy cake-in-a-mug, but I didn’t feel like having something as un-glamorous as that on my birthday. The alternative was to mist a microwavable dish with oil, transfer batter into it and shape it with a spoon. Note: if you try to mix it in that dish, the oil will be absorbed into the batter and the cake will stick to the dish. My intention was to remove it when ready. Microwave it on high for one minute and test by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out dry, the cake is done. Depending on your microwave, it might require 10 – 15 seconds more. Don’t overdo it as it will be too dry. When ready, take it out of the microwave and let it cool completely.
Meanwhile, it only takes a few seconds to mix the frosting. You need some more cocoa powder, soy milk, vanilla extract, and your favorite sugar substitute (I use xylitol). I wanted to make it more liquefied, more as a sauce than frosting, but you can use coconut cream instead of soy milk to make it thick and creamy. Whisk it briefly just to make sure everything blends nicely and refrigerate it uncovered. This way it thickens a little, but not much.
I know you are all curious about my “significant date” and trying to figure out the numbers on the cake. My great-grandmother, while in her nineties, once told me that a lady has to choose an age with which she is most comfortable and stick to it for the rest of her life. When I turned 25, I had a phenomenal birthday, with my friends performing (I dare say better than on stage!), and I declared that I would be 18 from now and forever.
I had not celebrated my birthday for many years – simply refused to do it. Until – twenty years ago – I met my husband. I had another significant date coming up, and it coincided with arrival to Miami of my dear friends, the renowned Gypsy star couple, Rada and Nikolai (may he rest in piece) Volshaninov. Unbeknownst to me, my then husband-to-be arranged for a surprise party, invited family and friends, and persuaded Rada, Nikolai, and their daughter Kalinka to perform. Unfortunately, I can’t find any photos of that evening (and there are some!), but this is how they looked then.
Twenty years later, Nikolai (Kolya, as we called him), is no longer with us, but Rada is still singing, as stunning as ever. Sometimes, she still drags me on stage with her! In my eyes, she is always twenty five.
This is what they looked like when we first met and became friends, in Odessa, during the filming of The Dangerous Tour. I was almost eighteen then, and they were… oh, well, always twenty five!
Meanwhile, my cake has cooled off and could be transferred to a serving plate by flipping it upside down. The crusty side has to end up on the bottom.
By the time the frosting has sufficiently thickened, my husband came home and decided to decorate my birthday cake for me. On top of liberally spread frosting (as you see, it ran down the sides and is surrounding the cake on the bottom) and some finely ground walnuts – found in the refrigerator – he is trying to make something with blueberries and raspberries. Let’s see!
I don’t know about you, but I can clearly see eighteen! We cut it straight down the middle, between numbers 1 and 8, and it was moist, chocolaty, and scrumptious – the best!
- 1/4 cup spelt flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar or xylitol
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons soy, coconut, or almond milk (rice milk is too thin)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon rum
- 1 1/2 cup soy, coconut, or almond milk (use the same amount of coconut cream for thicker frosting)
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon or more Xylitol or any sweetener you prefer
- Mist microwaveable dish with oil. Put aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, mix thoroughly.
- Transfer batter to oiled microwaveable dish, shape with spoon.
- Microwave uncovered on high for 1 minute. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick. If not done, microwave in 5 second increments until done. Remove, put aside to cool.
- Briefly whisk frosting ingredients, refrigerate uncovered until cake cools off.
- Transfer cake to serving plate upside down. Liberally spread frosting.
- Garnish with ground walnuts and berries.