• Keep reading to learn how to make cookbook author Donna Crous’ dairy-free, gluten free and paleo Celebration chocolate cake!

    What Donna says about the recipe:

    “You certainly don’t need a celebration to bake this cake! Following an alternative diet definitely complicates things when it comes time to blow out your candles, grain-free baking uses calorie-dense ingredients, so smaller slices are all that’s needed. This cake is smaller in size: I use three 15cm-wide cake tins, which is not uncommon for artisan-style cakes and it looks beautiful. Feel free to use whatever tins you have available, anything from a single bundt tin, two sandwich tins, or three smaller artisan-style tins work well.”

    Top tip: Make the icing a day before to allow it to set; it will save you a lot of stress making it in advance.

    Makes 12 portions


    • 4 free-range eggs, separated
    • 125ml nut milk
    • 250ml black coffee, cooled
    • 125ml avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
    • 100g coconut sugar
    • 50g cocoa
    • 200g almond flour
    • 100g cassava flour
    • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
    • ½ tsp pink salt

    For the icing:

    • 480g coconut cream
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp powdered grass-fed gelatin or ½ tsp agar-agar
    • 250g dairy-free, dark chocolate chips
    • a pinch of pink salt
    • 100g chopped hazelnuts (optional)


    1. Make the icing a day ahead to allow it to set. Heat the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a saucepan over a medium heat until it starts to steam, then whisk through the gelatin, add the chocolate chips and salt, then leave it to stand for a few minutes. Stir well, making sure that all the chocolate is melted, then stir in chopped hazelnuts, if using. Transfer to a glass bowl and allow it to cool uncovered in the fridge until firm.

    2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven, or Gas 3) and prepare three 15cm cake tins (or two sandwich tins, or a single bundt tin) by either giving them a good wipe down with coconut oil or lining with baking paper. In a stand mixer or in a bowl using an electric or hand whisk, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then transfer to a smaller bowl and set aside.

    3. Put the egg yolks in the bowl and add the milk, coffee and oil, then beat well. Sift the sugar, cocoa, almond flour, cassava flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl.

    4. Spoon the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, one heaped spoon at a time, and mix using the mixer on slow or using a wooden spoon.

    5. Stop the mixer and fold through the egg whites (stirring in a figure-of-eight movement).

    6. Transfer the batter to your prepared baking tins and follow the schedule below for baking times (it changes depending on how many tins you use):

    • 3 tins: 30 minutes
    • 2 tins: 30–35 minutes
    • bundt tin: 35–40 minutes

    7. The cake is cooked when a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. It will also feel firm when pressed. Allow for extra time if not firm. Leave on a wire rack to cool entirely before removing the cake from the tin. When the cake is completely cold, cover with the icing and let the celebrations begin!

    8. Top your celebration chocolate cake with extra hazelnuts, fresh berries and edible flowers to add that extra wow factor.

    Extracted with permission from A Healthier Family for Life by Donna Crous, published by Little Brown and available in South Africa through Jonathan Ball Publishers, R495.

    Donna is a South African living in the Channel Islands, she focuses on using raw, natural ingredients in her recipes to create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle for her and her family, and she wants to teach us how we can do the same in her new cookbook.

    Buy her book at your nearest bookstore or find it on Takealot or Loot

    Find Donna on Instagram @Donnacrous

    Read her award-winning blog: Eighty20nutrition 


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    Sjaan is a food stylist and recipe developer for Food & Home. She aims to create mouth-watering images and exciting How To videos on our Instagram, hoping to inspire people to try new recipes and have fun in the kitchen.