“Tasty” Cake-Making and Decorating!!!

Traditional cake making and decorating is certainly not my fortè, but I had fun trying in a cake decorating class at Madison AB Tech taught by Jill Peek.

My friend Elaine Chandler made beautiful cakes during class using traditional ingredients – she followed the rules!!
It was an adventure for me because my recipes and dessert-making style is anything but traditional. My cakes are grain, gluten, and sugar free with no artificial colors.

I went to my first class thinking I wouldn’t say much about my non-traditional baking style. But from the moment I walked in, I felt this teacher and my classmates might be open to something different and they were!
I was aware that my cakes would not be as tall, and my sugar-free icing would not have a texture or consistency well suited to decorating, but figured it was worth a try.

Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too much by showing my cake pictures. I figure, we are just practicing in life and most everything I create in the kitchen is experimental anyway! Sometimes it’s wonderful, and sometimes it’s not, but always edible as my friends will attest!

My first challenge was a butter cream icing that tasted good, was sugar-free, with a texture that would hold up when using decorating tips to make flowers, leaves, and designs!

Our teacher was wonderful at brainstorming ideas for my non-traditional ingredients. She suggested a Swiss Butter cream Icing or perhaps using meringue.

Here’s my first attempt! My butter cream icing was not stiff enough, so I put it in the fridge periodically during class to keep it from melting. I learned while whipping butter for this icing that it changed from yellow to white. I sure didn’t know that would happen.

My first cake for class was a Caramelized Orange Cake, a favorite that I’ve made many times. Sometimes I use different fruit, like peaches, pears, or even lemons.
We learned how to make specialty flowers and leaves, and my sugar-free ganache worked so well the teacher put my recipe on the chalkboard to share! WooHoo!
My next challenge was food coloring. I made pink the first night by using beets (write to me for recipe), which worked well, but it was downhill from there when I attempted other colors: green from chard, blue from red cabbage and orange from carrots. They looked pretty good initially, but were faded and pale when added to the icing – still working on those colors. If you have ideas or recipes for food coloring made from food, please share them with me.

My second cake was a Flourless Chocolate Cake with ButterCream Icing and Ganache. This cake recipe has unusual ingredients, and the wonderful taste is often a big surprise. The main ingredients are beets, quinoa, and chocolate. Go Figure! Published in 2013, and here’s the link: www.wncwoman.com/2013/12/food-for-thought-sweets-and-beets-who-woulda-thunk-it/#more-5915.

For our final night of class, we were challenged with making a cake that was at least 4” tall. Then we were to decorate with 2 types of flowers, one leaf, and use three different colors. Ugh! How might I do this?

My last cake for the final class challenge was a Carrot Cake with Fresh Blueberries.

My cake was only 3” high even with the blueberry filling, and my colors were pitiful, but my cake sure tasted good! I had fun creating and re-creating recipes and am grateful for the opportunity to be a “mad scientist” in the kitchen and in class!

(for cake decorating)
•2 cups (1#) unsalted cultured butter, softened
•2/3 cup honey
•1 teaspoon vanilla
•Pinch of salt
•1 cup coconut cream, chilled (cream from top of can)
•1 tablespoon guar gum (thickener that works with cold ingredients)
With a hand or stand mixer, whip coconut cream together with guar gum. Add butter, honey, vanilla and salt. Whip 3-5 minutes. Color will become almost pure white. Don’t refrigerate. (When I refrigerated the icing, it changed the texture and did not work well for decorating.)

•1/8 cup honey or enough to cover bottom of a large cast iron skillet
•1 large (or 2 small) oranges, peeled and sliced
•3/4 cup almond flour
•1/4 cup coconut flour
•½ cup melted coconut oil
•3 eggs
•2 teaspoons orange zest
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
•1/3 cup (1/2 C if you like it sweeter) honey
•Juice from 1 orange
•Heat 1/8 cup honey in large skillet, when hot add peeled, sliced oranges, turn to low for about 30 minutes or until oranges are caramelized (browned). Set aside. (If you are not icing this cake, save any remaining honey to drizzle over it). Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
•Using mixer or food processor, add dry ingredients and mix. Combine wet ingredients in a large measuring cup and add combo of vinegar and soda last. Add wet ingredients to processor and mix thoroughly.
•Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of 8” cake (don’t use spring form as honey will leak out). Oil the cake pan, as well as the top and bottom of parchment and sides of pan.
•Arrange caramelized oranges in bottom, add batter and bake for about 45+ minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
•Cool and turn onto plate. (If you are not decorating this cake, drizzle with honey and add whipped coconut cream if desired.)


•1 cup oat flour
•2 3/4 cups almond flour
•2 teaspoon baking soda
•¼ teaspoon salt
•1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
•½ teaspoon nutmeg
•2 cups finely shredded carrots (from about 3-4 large carrots)
•3 eggs, slightly beaten
•½ cup pure maple syrup
•1 cup coconut milk (save cream for icing or for another time)
•1 tablespoon pure vanilla
•1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
•1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Optional stir-ins:
•½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
•½ cup dried currants
•½ cup sliced almonds
• Extra shredded coconut and/or nuts for garnish

•Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two, 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease pan and paper with coconut oil.
•In large bowl, whisk together oat flour, almond meal, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
•In the bowl of an electric mixer (or mix by hand), add in shredded carrots, eggs, maple syrup, coconut milk, vanilla, and coconut oil. Put baking soda in small dish and add apple cider vinegar. Add to wet ingredients in mixer bowl.
•Beat on medium low speed just until well combined and smooth. Add in half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Add in the other half of dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
•Divide batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
•Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached.
•Cool cake in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert cakes on a wire rack, removing cake from the pans and allow to cool completely. Remove and discard parchment paper.
•While cakes are cooling completely (about 2 hours), prepare ButterCream Icing or icing of your choice. I put a layer of ButterCream on each side of the inside of the cakes then piled bottom layer with fresh blueberries. Then place top layer over blueberries and ice the full cake.

Have you tried making cakes and icing for decorating that don’t contain sugar, gluten, or chemicals? Can you share your experience and recipes with me via email?

Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not being the “mad scientist” in the kitchen or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys being the Food Editor for WNC Woman Magazine and volunteering in the community. Check out her Blog on Facebook: Sandy’s Food for Thought. You can contact her at Sandy@SouthernLifeRealty.com or call 828.273.9755

Sandy McCall
Written by Sandy McCall