Sunday, 7 July 2013

Flavours of Nanaimo Cake

Flavours of Nanaimo Birthday Cake

The Nanaimo bar. The no-bake three-layered bar is named appropriately after its city of origin and has been given the title of British Columbia's favourite dessert. Now, I'm not sure if all British Columbians love the Nanaimo bar, but I do know it is my brother's favourite dessert. Very well, he is a British Columbian...

Born on the seventh day of the seventh month, my brother must be a lucky boy, in certain ways. I have saved my family a lot of money baking cakes for birthdays and special events (and also doubling them up as gifts, puahahaha!) and his birthday is no exception. The reason why I didn't just make an actual Nanaimo bar is because of the few days expired carton of whipping cream sitting in my fridge door. The fastest way I could think of using it is by icing a cake. Too bad there aren't enough people to eat a two layered cake, that would've used even more whipped cream. I had to brave the hot oven on a summer day to make this cake -wipes imaginary sweat-.

Holey cake, revealing the bottom, texture of the cake

The wise words of Peanut Crumpet, "Laziness is a baker's worst enemy", proves to be extremely true in my experiences with cake making, in particular cupcake making. What did I do wrong this time? Well I was too lazy to melt the coconut oil, resulting in a holey cake. No really. Tip: If the top layer of the cake is too bumpy to frost, flip it over and frost the bottom, which should be perfectly flat. The unfortunate thing is that this isn't the first time my laziness of melting fat cost me the looks of the product. Just about every cupcake I've made is covered in holes. So sad. As if I didn't learn from that mistake, I continued being lazy making this cake by writing the words with chocolate condensed milk. Whipping cream does not hold other materials very well. As you can see, the colour from the rainbow chocolate bits soaked into the surrounding cream. My first attempt at decorating was so hideous, I had to do it a second time this morning. I scraped off all the old writing that had spread out to the point of being illegible, and took the time to properly melt chocolate for writing. Thankfully it looked a billion times better. Lesson of the day: don't be a lazy bum when making someone's birthday present, it will come back and bite you in the behind.

The smell of the cake is delightful as the oven does its magic on the batter, nutty and chocolatey~ Applesauce replaces most of the oil while keeping the resulting cake moist, but it's important to still add at least one tablespoon of fat! The coconut oil helps keep the cake fluffy. Completely fat-free baked goods usually come out gummy... Not good for eating, just good for throwing over neighbour's fences... Oops! Did I say too much, Peanut Crumpet? ;) 

Half fudgey layer of Flavours of Nanaimo Cake

Once decorated, I stored the cake in the fridge overnight. When eaten cold, the upper layer of the cake becomes like a denser fudge and the bottom remains sponge-y. There is some 'chew' from the coconut flakes and ground almonds. It is a great summer cake as it tastes very good when cold, frosted or not. Also, the cake isn't very sweet so it suits my family's Asian tastebuds. I mean, my appetite is near to zero after inhaling a massive dish of alfredo linguine at Coquitlam Grill for dinner. Even though I claim to have a separate stomach for dessert, winkwink~ There goes my week's worth of exercise.

This eggless and vegan (sans whipping cream!) cake recipe was drawn up by myself after reading a bunch of online cake recipes. Half regular chocolate cake and half almond flour based cake plus a healthy dose of coconut combines the flavours of the Nanaimo bar into a cake form. All that's missing is the vanilla custard sandwiched between the tiers of cake. I would highly recommend smearing homemade custard between layers of cake for the full experience; I was just too lazy to do so and one layer of cake is too delicate to be horizontally cut into two.

Special thanks to my best friend Az and her mom for per-exchanging movie tickets for us to watch Despicable Me 2 together and also accompanying us to dinner. We had such a great time and tons of laughter. I heart minions!
Flavours of Nanaimo Cake

Flavours of Nanaimo Cake
Yield: 1 8-inch round cake


  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • ½ cup Rooster Brand's Gold Label Coconut Milk
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup toasted shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup almond meal*
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar**
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted***
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an eight inch cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Make soured milk by combining milk and vinegar. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Buttermilk may be substituted in place of soured milk.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and coffee granules. Add shredded coconut and whisk together.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, applesauce, and melted coconut oil until smooth. Add vanilla and almond extract and mix until smooth. Finally, stir in soured milk and coconut milk and mix until smooth.
  5. Add dry ingredients all at once into wet mixture and stir until smooth.
  6. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake covered with an aluminum foil tent for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until toothpick check comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan.
  7. Decorate with freshly whipped cream sweetened with honey and vanilla extract.
* I made my own almond meal by toasting raw almonds and then whizzing them in a mini food chopper until they became a fine crumb. To make a less gritty cake, sift almond flour and continue to process crumbs until they fit through the sieve.

** The cake is subtly sweet. For a sweeter cake, use half a cup of brown sugar.

*** Be sure to melt the coconut oil, or you'll end up with a holey cake like mine. Not esthetically appealing. 

Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡