Triple Floral Red Earth Cake (Baked, Low Fat/Sugar)

[ Equipment: convection oven (preferred) or other LTB oven, a 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 (inch) loaf pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

Compared to the mini red earth cake I made back in 2010 as a tribute to the American South of Gone With The Wind, the “triple” in the title of this cake refers to its size (3 times the size of the mini) as well as the 3 kinds of flowers that color and flavor it. In the original, a hibiscus infusion tinted the deep brown cake with a rusty tinge spotted with flecks of red hibiscus petals. The texture of that cake could sometimes taste dry, so I reformulated it recently with greater moisture retention in mind. A small amount of oat flour (coarsely-ground rolled oats) absorbs water more efficiently than wheat flour. The cornstarch has been replaced with more baking powder – which has a cornstarch base and helps soften the crumb. For this reason, the baking powder MUST have a cornstarch base (check the label – it should be the first ingredient). I’ve tried as much as 3 tablespoons of baking powder, because the hibiscus seems to reduce the lift, but 3 was too much. The cake has more fat (in the form of oil), but still earns the title of low fat at around 5 grams per serving.

A tri-part bouquet infusion subtly flavors the updated cake with hibiscus, roses and lavender. The color is lighter and redder, due to the slightly higher concentration of red and purple flowers and acidified natural cocoa powder. A traditional red earth (like a traditional red velvet cake) rouges from red food dye and the acidification of natural cocoa powder. My mini cake from 2010 contains dutch-processed cocoa (Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa) that never reddens. In this cake, the tartness of the floral blend is the main acid in the batter, and I mix in some lemon juice to fix the color of the cake and restore brightness to the flavor.

Since I put in more oil, I take out calories by replacing the sugar with a sucralose-sugar blend. I grind the flower petals and buds with real granulated sugar, but sweeten the rest of the cake with granulated no-calorie sucralose. Although granulated sucralose weighs less than sugar, I did run a test with it as a grinding medium for the flowers, and it works fine. In general, I prefer the taste of sucralose-sugar blend, but this cake could be made with 100% granulated sucralose or 100% sugar, for that matter.

In one of the pictures, I garnish the cake with a “sugared” nut. The coating is actually granulated sucralose, which bakes into a whitish shell. The nuts are quite tasty, so I include the recipe for them below. By the way, I should emphasize that this cake was made with granulated sucralose throughout, not powdered sucralose – the kind in the packets. Powdered sucralose could work too, but with a slight change in the texture of the cake and in the appearance of the nuts.

Makes 8 servings
– 165 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C


  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (see text)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered coffee bean or instant coffee crystals (see text)
  • 1.2 oz. dried hibiscus flowers (approx. 4 tablespoons powdered hibiscus, see text)
  • 2 tablespoon dried rose petals
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
  • 1 tablespoons natural cocoa powder (see text)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sucralose
  • 1 tablespoon evaporated milk, skim or reduced-fat
  • Fat-free Cool Whip topping or whipped evaporated skim milk (sweetened)

Sugared Nuts:

  • Assorted large nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sucralose or sugar
  • 1 egg white

Sugared Nuts Method:

1. Cover cookie sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Rinse off nuts of any oil and salt and dry.

2. In a small dish, light beat the egg white. Dunk nuts in egg white and allow excess to drip off.

3. Roll nuts in sucralose or sugar until evenly coated.

4. Place nuts on baking sheet.

5. Bake at 250°F/121°C for about 25 minutes or until sugar coating is dry and has turned lightly golden.

Cake Method:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk all-purpose flour, oat flour, baking powder and salt until well combined. Set aside.

2. In a small food processor, add 1/4 cup sugar, hibiscus, rose petals and lavender buds. Process until contents have turned to powder.

3. In a medium bowl, mix boiling water and floral powder. Let infuse for at least 5 minutes and until water has cooled. Add coffee crystals/powder, cocoa powder and lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.

5. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce, vanilla extract and evaporated milk until well combined.

6. Mix in 3/4 cup granulated sucralose. Mix in hibiscus infusion.

8. Mix in flour mixture in 3 or 4 portions.

9. Pour into 8 x 4 inch loaf pan. Cover top of loaf pan with aluminum foil, crimping down edges. With a scissors or the pointed end of a bamboo skewer, cut out a rectangle in the foil, leaving a 1-inch border. With scissors, at each corner of the rectangle, snip a 1/2-inch diagonal cut.

10. Bake at 250°F/121°C for about 20 to 25 minutes or until cake almost touches foil. With 2 spoons or forks, peel back foil flaps on all 4 sides. Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time: 35 to 45 minutes). Cake is done if a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

11. Let cool. Unmold.

12. Slice and serve. Below are two ideas for serving the cake: whipped cream topped with a sugared nut or whipped cream, a sprinkle of cocoa powder and topped with a sliced strawberry.


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