The Great Cake Debate

Yesterday I baked a cake. Just because I wanted to. Normally, I won’t make an entire cake, because if there is an entire cake in the house, somehow an entire cake gets eaten. (Cake Elves? Sugar Trolls? My Dog? I’m not sure exactly who eats it…but it gets G.O.N.E.)

So for me, the great debate is “Dare I Bake a Cake?” Knowing that if I make a whole cake, I’ll eat a whole cake the answer is usually NO. So what made yesterday different? For starters, it’s been almost 2 weeks that I’ve been gluten & dairy free, which means I haven’t been eating a lot of baked goods. My coffee has been so lonely… And I happened to have everything I needed on hand to make the cake.

I have to admit, I started from a mix (here’s my brand plug: I like Namaste) I use their spice cake mix because it’s really versatile and can be used as a base for gingerbread or carrot cake as well. I hate the fact that the first ingredient is sugar; but I do admire their honesty – so many manufacturers try to disguise the amount of sugar in their products by using multiple types of sugar (sugar, cane syrup, brown rice syrup, honey, white grape juice…they all add up to the same thing; but by using 5 different kinds of sugar, they show up lower on the ingredient list. It’s very deceptive marketing and it’s confusing for consumers trying to make an educated choice.) Bonus points for just telling it like it is.

Of course I try to “heathify” what I can…The directions call for 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of oil and 3/4 cup of water. I used the water and the eggs, but instead of oil I used 1/2 cup of organic unsweetned applesauce and then added a ripe banana, 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries (sliced up) and 1/4 cup of walnuts. According to the package’s nutritional info, the mix alone has 150 calories per serving (16 servings per mix) and if I prepared it as suggested, each serving would have 250 calories – that’s 4,000 calories of cake in the house. Really. You do the math – I’m not exaggerating! 16 x 250 = 4,000! Now I know 1/2 cup of oil has close to 1000 calories and over 100 grams of fat. Yeah, it’s mostly “good fat” but 100 grams of any kind of fat is NOT GOOD. And that’s just the oil, not including the 3 eggs and the fat already in the mix. So adding the applesauce, fruit and nuts, instead of oil, makes me feel a bit better about everything. Yup, a total rationalization. I wanted cake and I was gonna eat cake.

And I have to admit – it’s delicious. I made a single 9×13 cake (I could have made 2 9″ rounds or 16 cupcakes. But I feel like those 2 options would have cried out for icing. I mean what’s a cupcake without icing? A muffin? I didn’t want a muffin – I wanted CAKE!) and I did cut it into 16 pieces – they’re a fairly good size., about 2×3 inches.

So…how many pieces have I eaten? Well, yesterday I ate 2 and 1/2 (the dog got 1/2 of that last piece for dessert). Which is probably still a good 5oo calories of cake. Not a great choice – that’s more calories than I consumed at any single meal. I manged to invite a friend over for coffee and get her to eat 2 pieces and take 4 pieces home with her (6 pieces down – better her thighs than mine!) And so far today, I’ve only had 1 piece…but I expect I’ll have another. Whatever is left tomorrow is going into the freezer for a treat another day. Then the next time the craving strikes I won’t have a whole cake to contend with, I can just defrost a couple of pieces to satisfy my craving…

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