Cakes for Occasions with a Greek Twist

Cakes for occasions can be decorated with flowers, if preferred, and make a beautiful centerpiece on the dessert table. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Eating nutritious, whole foods is one of the keys to optimum health. Indulging in a decadent dessert on special occasions is something to look forward to, and in moderation, of course, should not ruin your diet. Highly refined flour and sugar were not available widely in the past. Most people ate whole grain breads and only saw sweets and cakes a few times during the year. Today, sugary snacks are everywhere, but it may be worth it to take a break and cut down on added sugar in your diet, so that when there is a party to attend, you can have your cake and eat it too, and maybe appreciate it a little bit more as well. The following cake recipes include Greek extra virgin olive oil to help keep them moist.

Greek Chocolate Cake

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups sliced strawberries

2 tablespoons sugar

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Beat until just combined. Transfer the cake batter to a greased and floured 9-inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the baking pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. While the cake is cooling, toss the sliced strawberries with the 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl and set aside. Once the cake is completely cooled, top with the strawberries, and serve with your favorite flavor of ice cream, and/or whipped cream, if preferred. The cake recipe can be doubled if you prefer a two layer cake with the strawberries and whipped cream in between the layers. Serve immediately.

Vegan (Nistisimo) Chocolate Cake

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 cups cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and add the vanilla, olive oil, vinegar, and the cold water. Stir until thoroughly combined. The batter will be liquid. Pour into a lightly oiled 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Tap the pan on the counter three times to release any air bubbles and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the strength of your oven. A cake tester, toothpick or skewer inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool completely on wire rack before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if desired, but not if using cake for a birthday since the sugar will make a mess when blowing out the candles. For a more nutritious cake with added protein and fiber, reduce the all-purpose flour to 2 cups and add 1 cup of whole wheat flour. To make cupcakes, pour the batter into a muffin tin lined with paper baking cups and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.