Sometime in the past month or so, I became obsessed with prune cake. Mostly, it was because I had, as previously mentioned, seven pounds of prunes in my pantry and I was running out of ways to use them (I can only make so many prune brownies).
I’d heard about prune cake at some point — a sweet, sumptuous spice cake studded with bits of dried plums that is, apparently, a big deal in the south. And though eating prunes right out of the bag doesn’t sound that appealing, I figured they’d bring moisture and sweetness to a cake, as dates do in many sugarless cake recipes.
But try as I might, I could not find a single recipe for paleo (or even gluten-free) prune cake anywhere. It seemed like such a waste — prunes are so naturally sweet, why add huge amounts of sugar? And with so many eggs in the batter, surely the cake had enough structure without gluten…and, ugh, a whole cup of canola oil? Why, when prunes have so much moisture anyway?
I couldn’t just stand idly by and let this travesty go unmitigated.
Using The Pioneer Woman’s prune cake recipe as inspiration, I whipped up a delicious, healthy prune cake so good that no one will even think to ask what the fruit is — if you don’t mention it.
My version uses coconut flour and almond flour instead of the wheat flour originally called for, and simmers the prunes in apple juice to make up for the lack of sugar. I also used a far-reduced amount of coconut oil, added an extra egg, and used many more prunes in the recipe to make up for the lack of oil and sugar. With almond milk in place of the buttermilk, this recipe is perfectly paleo.
As for the glaze, I couldn’t let that go. A cake without frosting is, well, a large, square muffin. The only way I know how to make paleo caramel without resorting to coconut sugar is to use dried pitted dates, which already have that wonderful caramel-y flavor. After pureeing, I ended up with a really delicious frosting-like substance that reminds me a lot of the filling you’d find in a German chocolate cake. It might not satisfy non-paleo eaters — I had a comment that it was “weird,” no further explanation — but it’s sweet and delicious and the closest thing I could get to caramel glaze. As a bonus, the extras are amazing spread on apple slices.
- 1 1/2 cups prunes
- 3/4 cup apple juice
- 1 cup almond milk or coconut milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (plus extra for pan)
- 2 Tbsp honey (cut back a little if desired)
- 1 1/2 cup almond flour
- 2 Tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 40 pitted dates
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp coconut flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 pan with coconut oil.
- Combine prunes and apple juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about8 minutes, or until prunes are very tender. Drain, mash prunes with a fork or potato masher, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine vinegar and almond milk in a small bowl and set aside to curdle. Place eggs, oil and honey in a food processor and pulse to combine. (You can also do this with a mixer, if you like — stir to combine.) Combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and coconut flour in another bowl and mix thoroughly. Add to wet ingredients and pulse to combine.
- Add almond milk mixture and vanilla to the batter; pulse to combine. Add prunes, and pulse a few more times so they are evenly distributed.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean. It will look a little underbaked — that’s fine. Let cool while you’re making the frosting.
- Place dates in the bowl of a food processor and process until they clump together in a ball. Add coconut milk, water, vanilla and coconut flour. Process until smooth and of the correct consistency. It will be a tiny bit grainy, but that’s sort of the nature of the beast.
- Spread over cooled cake. You will probably use only 3/4 of the frosting; add the rest to oatmeal, apple slices, or whatever your little heart desires.