Gluten Free Cake Mix, Satsuma Buttercream + Making Healthy Choices

At the start of the year, everyone makes their healthy resolutions. We all do it. We flock to the gym, go on a diet, start running. We make these goals of fitness grandeur and vow to cut out all of our vices.  As much as I'm right there along with the masses who want to spend 2017 getting healthy, I'm also trying to look at this coming year with a fresh take on health and wellness. Cue photos of a decadent cake and the seemingly contradictory title to this post!

I promise I'm not an evil temptress trying to lure you in with sweet confections. I will say, it might help to have a granola bar or some other healthy snack on hand since these photos may drive you to devour whatever sweets you have nearby! The logic behind discussing new years health goals paired with gorgeous photos of cake will make sense soon, I promise!

In my last post, I discussed the concept of being more intentional about our everyday. Going mindlessly through our routines, we fail to appreciate the minutia of each day.  Taking time to bring focus and intention to our daily tasks can change the way we look at our day and how we feel overall. The same concept of intention can be applied to the choices we make when it comes to the food we eat. 

In looking at health and wellness for 2017, I've decided rather than attempting to remove all the 'vices' [desserts, wine, coffee, etc.] from my life, it makes much more sense to be more thoughtful about the choices I make when it comes to these things. 

If I'm going to indulge in a piece of cake, rather than quickly devouring it, I can turn this into a ritual. I can take my time, pull out a nice plate [like the beautiful gold trimmed one from this shoot], slice just the right sized piece [nothing too massive], and serve it alongside my favorite English tea, made just the way I like it. Soon, indulging in this 'vice' becomes something much more. 

I no longer feel like I 'cheated' and ruined the rest of my healthy day. By bringing some intention to the process, having a delicious piece of cake and cup of tea feels so special, rather than a mindless afterthought to a meal. 

Now that I've waxed poetic about the process of eating a lovely piece of cake, let's get to what we're all really thinking about...how can I make this gorgeous cake?!

I'm fairly sure I've said it in every post I've ever done about baking, but I'm not much of a baker nor do I have a sweet tooth.  I do, however, have lots of people in my life who love dessert. The real reason I love to cook [and occasionally bake] is so I can share a piece of me with the people I care about. 

I baked this cake just before the holidays when I was going to have dinner at the home of a couple friends of mine. One of them eats gluten free, so I immediately went and grabbed my tried and true cake mix. I discovered this months ago, and since then I only use this mix whenever I'm baking a cake, whether it's for someone who eats gluten free or not. It's THAT good.

I don't see using a mix as cheating.  I can still be really thoughtful with what I bake even when using a shortcut like this.  For this cake, I had some satsumas on hand, and simply zested and juiced one for the cake mix and a couple into the buttercream [recipe follows]. 

A quick bake, some time to cool down, a rather messy frosting job, and the cake [or rather cakes...this box actually makes enough for two 8-9" cakes!] is complete!

Satsuma Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup butter [2 sticks] softened [do NOT put in the microwave or melt!]
  • 1-2 satsumas juiced and zested [clementines, mandarine oranges, or tangerines all work!]
  • 3.5-4 cups powdered sugar [if you don't feel like measuring, just buy a standard sized package from the grocery- they are typically 4 cups!]
  • 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Combine the butter and satsuma zest in a mixer and beat for a couple minutes until light and creamy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, a half cup at a time, along with the satsuma juice. Alternately adding the powder and liquid in helps prevent the powdered sugar from ending up everywhere! Lastly mix in the almond or vanilla extract.  The buttercream should be light and fluffy, with bits of zest peeking through. 

To make quick work of this post: make this cake, share it with someone you care about, serve it on something nice, take your time eating it.