Makes 8 servings or one layer

In a mountainous region outside of Milan, a young female baker prepared a different dessert every afternoon for students attending our holistic health seminar, serving it with either cappucino or tea. A one-layer cake got my attention for its color, lightness, simplicity and taste. It contains toasted almond meal for part of the flour, and orange zest and juice in the batter, along with jam for a shiny frosting dusted around the periphery with more ground nuts. I didn’t speak any Italian at the time so couldn’t ask questions, but came home and started experimenting. I like making the cake in a heart-shaped pan, and serving it on a cake stand for dramatic effect. Everyone loves the result and I love thinking of that afternoon in Italy.


3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached white pastry flour
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely ground (2 tablespoons set aside for garnish)
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 teaspoon 5-spice powder or nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
2 tablespoons Spectrum brand high-heat oil
½ cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup soymilk (Edensoy Original)
Zest of half an orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Orange Glaze:
          Makes 2/3 cup
1/2 cup fruit-juice sweetened marmalade (half a 10-ounce jar)
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. (I favor a heart-shaped pan.) Brush the sides of the pan with oil.

2. To prepare cake, in a large bowl mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk wet ingredients together and add to dry. Whisk until batter is almost smooth. Makes 3 cups batter. Pour batter into pan. Batter should measure no higher than 1 inch thick in pan.

3. Bake until cake tests done in the middle, 30 minutes. Allow cake to cool in pan for at least 15 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges and turn pan over to remove cake. Peel off and discard parchment. Transfer cake to a wire rack to cool at least 15 minutes more.

4. To make glaze, in a small saucepan whisk ingredients together. Bring to boil, whisking occasionally. Allow texture to firm, then spread over top of cake to edge. Sprinkle reserved ground almonds over glaze around the edge.

Variations: Strawberry-Hazelnut Heart Cake: Substitute strawberry jam for marmalade and hazelnuts for almonds. Delete almond extract and increase vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon.
          Sour Cherry or Raspberry Topping: These two red jam toppings taste great, but some people don’t appreciate the tiny raspberry seeds.
         Blueberry Tea Cake: Substitute Blueberry Jam for marmalade.
         Gluten-Free Cake: Substitute for whole wheat and unbleached white pastry flours with ½ cup each brown rice, millet and buckwheat flours. Quinoa, chestnut and arrowroot flours work nicely too. Or substitute Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Mix.

For 8 servings, per serving:
Calories: 289    Protein: 4gm    Fat: 9gm   Saturated Fat: 0.7gm    Carbohydrates: 50gm   Fiber:  1gm    Cholesterol: 0   Sodium: 174mg
Calories from Protein: 6%     Calories from Fats: 26%    Calories from Carbohydrates: 68%