Rich, moist, dense, chocolatey, fudgy goodness. This baked good can’t decide if it’s a brownie or a cake, but it is clearly delicious no matter what you call it! This recipe is a no-fail crowd-pleaser every time and a Golden Graham Family favorite. I hope it quickly becomes a favourite in your family, too!
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Mr. Golden Graham, happy birthday to you! There, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about cake, baby. “Healthy” cake batter / birthday cake / fun-fetti (what exactly IS that, anyway?) recipes abound on Pinterest these days (check me out on Pinterest, too!) but they invariably feature white cake recipes. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had (and made) some great white cakes: angel food cake, pound cake, wedding cake (in my one Bridezilla act, I insisted on a three -tier white wedding cake for our wedding even though we only had about thirty-five reception guests because I liked the way it looked versus a two-tier cake. Thankfully the cake was so good we had people coming back for seconds and even thirds, and we’re talking real people dessert-size slices, not polite this-cake-must-feed-500-people dainty sample bites. I don’t know if the Real Atlantic Superstore Bakery in Lower Sackville even still makes wedding cakes to order, but I sure hope they do because our cake was sensational. We even had the top tier couriered from a Calgary freezer to St. John’s in time for our first anniversary after I forgot it during our relocation to The Rock. We thawed it out in a hotel room in St. Pierre – I love to tell people we celebrated our first anniversary in France – and enjoyed it every bit as much then as the first time around). All right, all right, sorry for the cakewalk down memory lane (ba-doom ching!). Some good cake memories right there. But in the Golden Graham household, a birthday cake had better be chocolate. And more specifically, it had better be THIS Oatmeal Chocolate Cake.
I started baking and cooking from scratch when I was about ten years old and made my first forays into “healthier” recipes a few years after that (I was probably the only kid in my entire junior high school who packed her own lunch with lentil-stuffed pita pockets – which actually sounds like a great lunch recipe for this blog!). Until that point, I fondly remember perfecting grilled cheese sandwiches with potato chips inside (Bick’s Sweet Mixed Pickles on the side) and no-baking Mint Nanaimo Bars from the Robin Hood three-part mix with my mom (Nanny Golden Graham) at Christmas. One of my first attempts at “healthy” baking was probably this Oatmeal Chocolate Cake – anyone who went to school with me in that era and celebrated a birthday I knew about would be presented with this cake. The recipe came from my aunt and she used to top it with a gorgeous, decadent frosting. Mr. Golden Graham thoughtfully said over a mouthful of said cake last night that one of his favourite things was that the cake is so moist and chocolatey that it doesn’t even need icing to complete it.
Knowing what I know now about “healthy” baking, there lots of additional tweaks and changes that could be made to this recipe to enhance its nutritional profile. The cake does still feature white flour, one and a half cups (!) of brown sugar (at least it’s not refined white sugar?) and canola oil (once lorded over butter because of its plant-based origins, it’s now not as “cool” as coconut oil). I’m sure you could substitute the canola oil with melted coconut oil, and you could replace the brown sugar with a natural liquid sweetener like maple syrup or honey or a sugar-free substitute if you were willing to play around with the ratio of dry/wet ingredients. You could also substitute all or part of the white flour with whole wheat flour and/or gluten-free flours. Coconut flour might work really well paired with a liquid sweetener and an extra egg or two for their binding properties to make up for the absence of gluten.
All that being said, I ain’t messing with a “classic” for my first-time presentation of this recipe, the same way I would never dream of baking any other cake for Mr. Golden Graham’s birthday. I mean, c’mon, it’s got OATMEAL in it. You could, in theory, have it for breakfast. Not that I personally *know* any family that would have had said cake for breakfast on a certain someone’s birthday…
Oatmeal Chocolate Cake (Dairy-free)
Rich, moist, dense, chocolatey fudgy goodness. This baked good can’t decide if it’s a brownie or a cake, but it is clearly delicious no matter what you call it!
Author: Charmaine Comeau, via The Golden Graham Girl
1/2 cup (40g) rolled oats, quick or instant (regular rolled oats work as well but expect a chewier, more noticeable “oatmeal” texture in the finished cake)
1 cup (250mL) boiling hot water
1 1/2 cups (340g) medium-packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125mL or 113g) canola oil OR melted coconut oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp (5mL or 4g) pure vanilla extract
1 cup (120-130g) all-purpose white flour
4 tbsp (20g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp (7g) baking soda
1 tsp (5g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2g) sea salt
1. Preheat a conventional oven to 350F (185C) or a convection oven to 325F (165C).
2. Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan with coconut oil, butter (if not dairy-free) or non-stick cooking spray.
3. Stir the oats with boiling water in a small bowl and set aside to cool.
4. Cream the brown sugar and oil in a large bowl.
5. Add the eggs and vanilla.
6. Stir in the cooled oat mixture.
7. In a separate bowl or container, combine all dry ingredients (pro tip: I like to put my dry ingredients in a sealable container and shake to combine thoroughly – no risk of whisking dry ingredients out of the bowl onto the countertop or floor!). Break up any lumps of cocoa powder with a fork or whisk.
8. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just fully combined.
9. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until edges just start to pull away from pan, center springs back slightly when pressed and a cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
10. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
Calories: 179 Fat: 8g Carbohydrates: 27g Sugar: 18g Fiber: 1g Protein: 2g
Serve warm (especially with a generous scoop of coconut or dairy ice cream or a dollop of whipped topping) OR cool completely and ice, if desired. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 3-5 days (if it lasts that long) – this makes a wonderful snacking cake any time of day (or night)!
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Some process shots: