polly 5th birthday cake
Food: Paleo Recipes and Gut Health

A Special Little Girl’s Birthday Cake

My eldest requested a chocolate birthday cake, as she does every year. I was flicking through my old recipe book (a hand written cooking journal I kept in my pre-blogging days) for inspiration and came across the cake I made for her first birthday. I tweaked it a little to accommodate her allergies, but the end result was a fabulously moist and delicious fudgey cake.

The secret ingredient – courgette – does something rather magical but you can’t detect the flavour. Unlike beetroot which I love but others can be a bit funny about. I made a beetroot choccie cake for my hubby’s Grandma’s 80th birthday, and his annoying Aunt exclaimed at the top of her voice ‘err has this got beetroot in’? Although everyone had been enjoying it until that point half the guests sadly didn’t eat any more afterwards. I now find it’s best to keep such ingredients close to my chest.

This recipe will feed about twenty people if you only want to give them a small piece each. Alternatively you could double up and make it two layers which I’ve done before and works really well. My original was made with wholemeal flour and egg so if you aren’t after a free from cake, then replace the flaxseed with 2 eggs, and the pecans with plain flour.

This cake is gluten, dairy, refined sugar and egg free

200g courgettes (top, tailed and peeled)
200g ground pecans
2 tbsp flaxseed
25g cocoa powder
120ml coconut oil
120ml milk (I’ve used goats, soya and rice in the past and they’ve all worked)
100ml honey
100g melted dark chocolate
Tbsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp of crushed pods)
Tsp bicarb of soda
(icing) 100g melted dark chocolate
50g butter of choice
Tbsp honey

– preheat your oven to 170C (180C if it’s not fan assisted) and grease a loose bottomed cake tin or silicone mould

– if you have a decent blender or food processor whiz together your courgettes, flaxseed, oil, milk, honey, vanilla and bicarb. Pour the mixture over the pecans and combine well


– if you are making by hand grate your courgettes finely and mix together in a large bowl with the pecans

– mix together all the other cake ingredients, then fold in the nuts and courgettes until you have a batter

– pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 mins. Leave to cool completely before icing it

– to make the icing melt all three ingredients together in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water

– once it’s all melted remove from the heat and beat together until thick and luscious looking

– pour the icing over the cooled cake and top as you wish

*I’ve used finely chopped fresh mango to make a 5

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  1. […] a little like a cross between a beetroot brownie and a carrot cake. The added boost of pure cacao butter (the best bit in a chocolate bar full of […]

  2. This is the second time I’ve seen courgette in a cake before, I really must try it out to see what it tastes like – I’m so curious…. What a great 5th birthday cake 🙂

  3. Oh wow, this looks amazing, I’ve not used courgette in cake yet but I love beetroot in chocolate cake-well done you for creating such a spectacular birthday cake for your daughter and wonderful to be creating an online archive of your pre-blogging recipes! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays

  4. Hope you enjoy it 🙂 please let me know how you get on!

  5. That’s great, never used courgette in a cake before. My son is egg free, dairy free and nut free so if we replace the pecans with flour it would be perfect for us.

  6. you know homer says mmmm donuts i am saying mmm chocolate right now what a great cake

  7. Thanks hon, the icing looked particularly tasty but I couldn’t eat it BOOOOO!

  8. […] were interspersed with trampoline bouncing and mud pie making in the garden. Then it was time for birthday cake, who doesn’t like chocolate fudge cake? I didn’t do party bags, but gave our guests […]

  9. Thanks Fiona!

  10. Thanks so much, but we don’t do grains or refined sugar either 😉

  11. This looks so nice! Lovely shiny icing too! ##TastyTuesdays

  12. Happy chocolatey birthday! Am sure the cake was as brilliant tasting as it looked and am keeping hold of the recipe as we have a son who can’t have dairy, eggs or soya. We have found a great victoria sponge recipe which works a great (I use rice or almond milk too) – you can see it here and would recommend (I used a butter cream on top and in the middle to make it more yum – just Pure organic marg and icing sugar) http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/eggless_sponge_cake_70634

  13. Happy chocolatey 5th birthday! #TastyTuesday

  14. Thanks so much Vicki, I was told it was lovely and even better the next day after going super fudgey in the fridge. Unfortunately I’m off cocoa for the foreseeable future booooo!!!

    Happy baking to you – hope your little one enjoyed their special day 🙂

  15. That look super super delicious! I haven’t made a courgette cake for a long time but this looks like a good one to try. I hope your daughter enjoyed her birthday! It was my youngests’ birthday yesterday so I have been busy baking too! 😉

  16. Thanks very much for popping over!

  17. It looks and sounds delicious!

  18. Thanks Julie! 5yo was chuffed with it 🙂

  19. Glad you like the sound of the cake. Please let me know how you get on if you do give it a go.

  20. Thanks Denise. Let me know if you do. Btw hubby said the cake was at it’s best last night after being in the fridge for over 24hours. Apparently it went super fudgey… no chocolate cake for me until at least xmas!

  21. Thanks Beth!! xxx

  22. Thanks for popping by 🙂

  23. This looks like a great, healthier version of the classic chocolate cake.

  24. That looks soo yummy!!!! Xxx

  25. I think I will have a go at this.

    Often my chocolate cakes turn out a bit, “Yeah…. so what?’ Just lacking the depth that I imagine a chocolate cake should have..

    Happy happy birthday!

  26. That sounds like a lovely recipe – I have lots of food intolerances myself and like to try out different flour and diary substitutes and like to add fruit and vegetables to my baking. Must give yours a try. #recipeoftheweek

  27. What a beautiful looking cake, yum!

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