June 7, 2014

Basil upside down cakes with fig and plum yoghurt

I am the first to admit I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and will never knock back a piece of cake given the opportunity! Having said that, I always prefer savoury dishes and I live by my philosophy to load up on greens and I am extremely passionate about giving my family a diet full of wholesome foods as well as enjoying a treat now and then too…everything in moderation right?

You might be wondering why there is basil in this cake? Well it is another one of my experiments to create a deliciously sweet cake but with a dollop of guilt-free mixed in.

If the thought of basil makes you turn up your nose or at least lead you to think pesto instead of cake; be a little daring and try this, you will be surprised and most likely be blown away by how uplifting and fabulous it is!

Key ingredients

I discovered that basil complements the sweet jammy flavour of figs and delectable slight tart flavour of plums which was inspired by a gourmet black plum & roasted fig yoghurt. Basil is so fragrant and uplifting. It also balances the sweetness and is a unique way to use it in a cake.

There’s more to enjoy with this cake! The Mediterranean populations know what they are doing when it comes to well-being. Ingredients such as sweet basil, olive oil, lemons, almonds, figs and plums are all consumed regularly to keep your body beautiful inside and out. The Mediterranean diet is by far the one my family and I follow to keep us well; rich in olive oil, nuts, oily fish and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

In Italy, basil was a symbol of love in ancient culture. It’s not surprising given the cardiovascular benefits of Vitamins A (through concentration of beta-carotene), K and C as well as important minerals; manganese, copper and omega-3 fatty acids just to name a few.  It’s health protecting effects reside in both the flavonoids (protection at a cellular level against radiation and oxygen-based damage) and in the volatile oils which have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Figs were also revered as a sacred fruit in Ancient Rome. No wonder why as they are an excellent source of dietary fibre and contain different types of antioxidants. The riper the fig, the more antioxidants. Plums too are part of this antioxidants goodness plus a very good source of Vitamin-C.

Olive oil also reduces the risk of heart disease, circulation (which could be good for your sex life too), helps protect our skin due to the many rich antioxidants it has. Lemon and almonds promote well-being and have been touted as being good for sexual health.

With a little prep, these petite cakes are the perfect sweet to enjoy for afternoon tea or share at a dinner party as they are easy to make ahead and serve when you need them.

They will last well for a few days and can be eaten cold or easily warmed up in the oven within a minute.

I added the strawberries and syrup for a twist and a little more sweetness but you can easily cut this step out and they will be just as good. Alternatively, you could dust with a bit of icing sugar and serve with yoghurt garnished with some basil leaves.

Lemon sugar syrupAlmost combined

My ethos is to be as sustainable as possible, so by all means use your leftover basil and oil in a pesto or a salad!

Basil upside down cakes


~~ Infused basil oil ~~

1 cup olive oil

2 cups sweet basil leaves

~ Lemon sugar syrup ~

4 tablespoons of caster sugar

1 lemon (juiced)

Main cake:-

12 strawberries sliced thinly

3 medium eggs at room temperature (yolks and whites separated)

1/2 cup caster sugar

20 gm fresh sweet basil leaves finely chopped

1/4 cup almond milk (60 ml)

3/4 cup (85 gm) whole wheat flour

3/4 cup almond meal (50 gm)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice


1. In a bowl, place 2 cups of broken basil leaves in 1 cup olive oil and muddle to concentrate oil and infuse. Strain oil after a minimum of an hour and measure out 1/2 cup.

2. Preheat the oven to 160 C / 325 F and grease a deep bottom 12 capacity muffin tin with olive oil and line with baking paper. Arrange strawberry slices overlapping in the base of the tin so that there are no gaps in the centre.

3. In a small saucepan, combine and stir lemon juice and sugar over low-medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and spoon approximately a teaspoon of syrup in each muffin base on the strawberries.

4. Beat together the egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer or electric beaters until the mixture is thick and pale. Continue to mix and in this order, add 1/2 cup basil infused oil, almond milk, almond meal, chopped basil leaves, flour and baking powder until just combined.

5. In a clean glass bowl and clean beaters, whisk the egg whites to soft foamy peaks and then add 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Slowly add two tablespoons sugar until medium to stiff peaks just form. Fold half the egg whites into the batter to loosen and then the remaining half.

6. Spoon mixture into muffin tins for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

7. Serve with Rachel’s Black Plum & Roasted Fig yoghurt and top with small basil leaves and strawberries to garnish.




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