Exquisite Elderberries 3: Vegan Sugar-free Elderberry Cake

Elderberries make rich fruity preserves and syrups but also contain beneficial compounds that are said to help treat various ailments. Interestingly, elderberry extract has been found to have antiviral properties in medical studies. So the traditional use of elderberry syrup for treating coughs and colds definitely seem to be more than an old wives tale. While using elderberries to make tasty and healthy treats, you should be aware that elderberries must not be consumed raw and must be cooked. (If you don't want to experience nausea and, erghm, significant laxative effect.)

Today I am sharing a recipe for a dairy-free egg-free sugar-free cake that is loaded with nutritious elderberries.  I created this cake by tweaking my go-to vegan banana cake recipe. It has a moist texture and, thanks to bananas, light natural sweetness. My children loved it and asked for more. They definitely didn't miss added sugar in this cake even though, like most children, they do have a sweet tooth.

You will need:

  • Large handful of ripe elderberry heads to give you 3/4 to 1 cup of berries

Look for fully ripe juicy purple-black berries with no or only a minimal number of unripe berries. Look for healthy full bunches, if the berries don't look inviting look at other bushes around. It is very common to find that one bush is only half ripe or past due while a nearby bush is just perfect. 

  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 70g vegetable oil (any oil with neutral taste will work, and yes, it is 70 grams, not 70 millilitres)
  • 230g plain flour
  • 3tsp of baking powder
  • 3-4 tablespoons of plant milk or water
  • pinch of salt

You could, of course, add a little sugar or honey if you feel like it. I have not tried using honey in this cake, but I think it would be wise to skip on the addition of plant milk or water if you do use a liquid sweetener like honey because it adds extra moisture. Do let us know how it works if you try it.

How to make a plant-based sugar-free dairy-free elderberry cake:

1. By hand or using a fork, pick the elderberries off stalks. Carefully pick out all debris, dry leaves or unripe berries

I find it easier to do this when the berries are immersed in water. In this recipe, you will be using whole berries, so you really need to make sure they are very clean. It is quite labour intensive but worth it.


2. Mash bananas with a fork. 

You are aiming for a slightly lumpy texture, not completely smooth. Once, I tried to puree the bananas in a food processor - and the recipe didn't work out.


3. Add oil to mashed bananas and mix, then add flour and baking powder, mix well. Add just enough plant milk to incorporate all the flour. The cake batter must not be too runny it should have thick spreading consistency.

4. Mix elderberries into the batter.

5. Transfer the cake batter into a baking tray (18x23cm, 9x7inch) lined with baking paper. Spread to a thickness of approx 3/4 inch. 

6. Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until golden brown at 180C.









Katerina Qabaha