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Cooking/Baking-Where do you draw the line?

by (128)
Updated October 23, 2014 at 4:11 AM
Created June 28, 2013 at 1:16 AM

My mom's birthday is this weekend and I was planning on baking a cake as my gift to her, and I was planning on baking a red velvet cake. Naturally, red velvet cake is not paleo at all, so I did a search on and found quite a handful of paleo/gluten free red velvet cake recipes. Then I did a search for authentic recipes for comparison. In both variations, the ingredient lists are quite lengthy and would be rather expensive. I'm leaning towards the paleo options, because like I said, I plan on eating some of this cake too! I also do not want to spend money on ingredients I will never use again. Yet, my mom does not eat paleo and it's her birthday.

The idea was that I would bake this cake at my apartment and then go over to my parents' house with the cake as a surprise, and thereby winning the on-going "favorite chid" contest between myself and my brother and sister.

So my question is: where do you draw the line with substitutions? Are there recipes and cuisines that simply do not taste good when "paleofied"? And it which 80/20 applies? And do you "compromise" your own habits a bit for someone else or for that authentic taste? In my case a birthday. I'm not even sure a paleo red velvet cake would even taste good! Has anyone ever attempted to bake one? What did it taste like? Obviously, not a serious, pressing question, but I thought it was interesting.

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128 · July 08, 2013 at 5:04 PM

the eggs in one at a time and then add the cocoa powder, you may need to shift it. Pour into a cake pan and bake for about 25 minutes at 350 . Then for the bananas, you simply melt the butter and stir the sugar in. Lay the banana slices in the pan and cook for about 20 seconds. Add rum/juice and cook for another 10 seconds. Flip the bananas over and cook one minute more. When both items are cool lay the bananas on top of the cake, you can also pour the butter mixture over as a sort of glaze.

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128 · July 08, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Oops sorry this is a bit late, the cake itself is pretty standard: 6 oz baker's chocolate, 1 stick unsalted butter, 3/4 cup sugar (could probably find a paleo friendlier sub), 3 large eggs, 1/2 unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla. And for the bananas:1-2 large firm bananas, 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, 3 tbs light brown sugar, 1/4 cup dark rum or orange juice,cinnamon So for the cake you melt the chocolate and butter together and stir it to incorporate and remove lumps.Add the sugar and salt and turn the heat to low, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove concoction from heat and beat

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1005 · July 04, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Of course! I seem to recall it was 2 cups pureed sweet potatoes (the light colored ones work best, but you can mix light and orange), 2/3 cup almond meal flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted, 1/2 cup "buttermilk" (almond milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice and left to sit for a few minutes), 1 medium steamed beet, pureed (more if you want a stronger color) 1/3 cup honey, and 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 2 eggs. Basically incorporate all ingredients in that order and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (which could take a while)

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128 · July 04, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Very good tips, thanks! And yep there's nothing healthy about cake, no matter what eating style you follow haha!

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128 · July 04, 2013 at 1:35 PM

That recipe does sound good, do you mind sharing it? My mom's birthday was actually last weekend but we are going to a family reunion next month and I usually make something for that. And I ended up doing a flourless chocolate cake with caramelized bananas for my mom. I'm not much of a baker, but I thought it was pretty good. Wanna swap?

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128 · June 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

She does not eat paleo, but she is pretty in the know about different diets and eating styles, ie vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo and she's pretty health conscious. I wasn't thinking of trying to "convert" her, I thought it might be interesting to try. But as others have pointed out, a birthday probably isn't the best time for experimentation.

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128 · June 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Wow that sounds delicious, thanks for the tips!

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128 · June 28, 2013 at 1:35 PM

These are both very good points. I'm more of a cook than a baker to begin with and I've never made red velvet cake. The fact that I was torn between the two versions made me post the question to begin with. At what point does it get ridiculous? I mean, vegan cheese exists!

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2626 · June 28, 2013 at 3:33 AM

It's also worth noting that expertise matters. If you know you can bake a conventional red velvet cake but you've never made a paleo one before, don't use someone else's special occasion for your test run.

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8 Answers

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1122 · June 28, 2013 at 2:45 AM

I make non-paleo stuff for desserts cuz it's just not worth it IMHO. Desserts aren't a norm for most conscientious paleo eaters so just make it a "time machine delicacy from the future". If your looking for a very easy, yet ultra rich cake, try the Pioneer Woman website for her chocolate sheet cake. You'll easily be the favorite child.

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55 · June 28, 2013 at 3:22 AM

I have done it both ways. If I'm cooking for people I don't know well I usually go for the non-paleo version. If it's for someone I'm willing to engage with about conscious dietary choices, I'll probably go for the paleo version to show that it can taste pretty amazing. I wouldn't try that if I was trying to make something very specific though, like red velvet cake.

For my kid's third birthday I made a paleo rainbow cake and blew peoples' minds. It was very satisfying.

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128 · June 28, 2013 at 1:35 PM

These are both very good points. I'm more of a cook than a baker to begin with and I've never made red velvet cake. The fact that I was torn between the two versions made me post the question to begin with. At what point does it get ridiculous? I mean, vegan cheese exists!

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2626 · June 28, 2013 at 3:33 AM

It's also worth noting that expertise matters. If you know you can bake a conventional red velvet cake but you've never made a paleo one before, don't use someone else's special occasion for your test run.

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1580 · July 04, 2013 at 10:59 AM

If you're going to do anything, make it with gluten free flour that has added binder like xanthum gum, and reduce the sugar content. There's no way to paleoify a cake and make it healthy

Almond flour is just vile, IMO. I attempted a "paleo brownie" recipe once and while it looked good, it tasted so foul I threw the whole lot in the bin.

If I want a dessert I make creme brulee with half the sugar, or chocolate fondants, which only need a a spoon of flour (and GF flour is fine) and again don't need to be that sweet.

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128 · July 04, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Very good tips, thanks! And yep there's nothing healthy about cake, no matter what eating style you follow haha!

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1005 · July 03, 2013 at 11:01 PM

I made delicious paleo red velvet cupcakes on Christmas (note that I don't celebrate Christmas, I just coincidently happened to have made them on Christmas) that was tasted pretty authentic. Ingredients: pureed sweet potatoes, almond meal flour cocoa powder, almond milk-and-lemon juice "buttermilk", coconut oil, steamed beets, honey, eggs, and baking soda. I'm willing to share the recipe if you'd like. BUT, if you're in doubt, you could experiment with paleo red velvet cake recipes and see which ones taste most "authentic". Maybe, if possible, you could make mini-batches of different red velvet cake recipes and see which ones your mom likes best. And as for drawing the line on the 80/20 rule, depends on your food allergies/sensitivies. If you have food allergies/sensitivities, then you might want to be stricter about not allowing SAD treats so you don't get milk poisoning or gluten poisoning or whatever-your-food-allergy-is poisoning, and you'll really want to paleo-ify desserts so you don't get set off. But if not, a SAD treat on occasions such as birthdays should be fine.

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1005 · July 04, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Of course! I seem to recall it was 2 cups pureed sweet potatoes (the light colored ones work best, but you can mix light and orange), 2/3 cup almond meal flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted, 1/2 cup "buttermilk" (almond milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice and left to sit for a few minutes), 1 medium steamed beet, pureed (more if you want a stronger color) 1/3 cup honey, and 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 2 eggs. Basically incorporate all ingredients in that order and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (which could take a while)

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128 · July 04, 2013 at 1:35 PM

That recipe does sound good, do you mind sharing it? My mom's birthday was actually last weekend but we are going to a family reunion next month and I usually make something for that. And I ended up doing a flourless chocolate cake with caramelized bananas for my mom. I'm not much of a baker, but I thought it was pretty good. Wanna swap?

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128 · July 08, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Oops sorry this is a bit late, the cake itself is pretty standard: 6 oz baker's chocolate, 1 stick unsalted butter, 3/4 cup sugar (could probably find a paleo friendlier sub), 3 large eggs, 1/2 unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla. And for the bananas:1-2 large firm bananas, 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, 3 tbs light brown sugar, 1/4 cup dark rum or orange juice,cinnamon So for the cake you melt the chocolate and butter together and stir it to incorporate and remove lumps.Add the sugar and salt and turn the heat to low, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove concoction from heat and beat

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128 · July 08, 2013 at 5:04 PM

the eggs in one at a time and then add the cocoa powder, you may need to shift it. Pour into a cake pan and bake for about 25 minutes at 350 . Then for the bananas, you simply melt the butter and stir the sugar in. Lay the banana slices in the pan and cook for about 20 seconds. Add rum/juice and cook for another 10 seconds. Flip the bananas over and cook one minute more. When both items are cool lay the bananas on top of the cake, you can also pour the butter mixture over as a sort of glaze.

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529 · June 28, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Hmm-- not exactly a red velvet cake, and not exactly Paleo, but a black bean (could be soaked at least -- unsure about fermented altering the taste) cake with chocolate is quite simple (honey, butter, beans, cocoa powder, cake pan) -- is quite simple, inexpensive, and very moist.

("Healthy Black Bean Cake", was it?)

Not quite Paleo, but there are other simple plantain-style Paleo recipes that might also taste good. (try "thepaleomom")

Try presenting a very good-tasting dessert as something new.

Unless there's a particular reason to present it as an exact replica/mimicry of a well-known dish, present it as a bright, new dish.

Also worth noting: most cake-baking and dessert-baking appears to follow several simple principles. If these are understood, something simple can be made up to taste wonderful.

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128 · June 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Wow that sounds delicious, thanks for the tips!

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24538 · June 28, 2013 at 3:05 AM

Does she eat a paleo diet? If not, why the effort to paleoize it?

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128 · June 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

She does not eat paleo, but she is pretty in the know about different diets and eating styles, ie vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo and she's pretty health conscious. I wasn't thinking of trying to "convert" her, I thought it might be interesting to try. But as others have pointed out, a birthday probably isn't the best time for experimentation.

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5650 · June 28, 2013 at 2:51 AM

i paleofy everything i make just because i wanna eat it, too. it always tastes different than the regular dessert, but at least it's healthier. it's usually not the only dessert at a party though so there are options for people that want regular desserts.

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80 · June 28, 2013 at 1:38 AM

My guess is it will not taste they way your mom would like and she probably won't eat it. No matter how hard you try non-paleo and paleo versions will never taste the same.

We make banana muffins paleo style and my mom will not eat them as they have a different taste and texture. We will make regular ones for people we know who will not eat some paleo foods.

I would just make her a regular cake and if you want some eat it. Though I bet it will not even look good to eat.

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