Monthly Archives: May 2016

Seven Trees Cake



My friend Marjorie had the idea for a cake made with products from seven trees, so I made up a recipe for her birthday. She doesn’t eat wheat, dairy or sugar, so it was a fun challenge. But I would be happy to serve the results to anyone.

Our cake included local ingredients, including acorn meal, mesquite meal, pecan meal and whole pecans. We topped the cake with fresh apricots and mulberries from my mom’s tree I froze from last month. The cake is sweetened with maple butter.

Marjorie was inspired to harvest and clean urban cultivated Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) acorns by John Slattery. I’ve used acorns in savory items like crackers or soup, but this was my first experiment in dessert. Marjorie’s acorns were dry enough to shell without further drying or toasting.


Then I ground the meal in a coffee grinder and leached the bitter tannin from the meal using John’s method. Formerly, I had only leached whole acorns or used species that didn’t need leaching. I placed acorn meal in a jar of cold water, shook several times over half an hour or so, strained though a cloth and squeezed out the moisture.










It’s almost time to harvest mesquite pods to make into meal. To learn all about harvesting mesquite and many other desert foods in the next few weeks, see Desert Harvesters.


The mesquite in the bottom layer of the cake and the acorn in the top layer shine though. The coconut and pecan are surprisingly neutral as the bulk of the dry ingredients.


The main wet ingredient is egg, making a very nice moist, dense cake texture, almost like a fruit cake. I used maple butter, a concentrated maple syrup heated and whipped to form a creamy spread, but maple syrup would work. Since maple syrup is less sweet than maple butter, increase the quantity if using. I used ground vanilla pods since someone gave it to me, but twice the amount of vanilla extract would be fine.









Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. This would make a great muffin or cupcake, too.


We put a little coconut cream in between the layers to make them stick together.


The apricots from the farmers market were firm and tart, so we tossed them in a saucepan with a bit of maple butter to glaze them.


I had mulberries in the freezer from my mom’s tree last month.



Seven Trees Cake

Makes one 9” cake layer

I made this recipe once with acorn meal to make the top layer, once with mesquite meal to make the bottom layer.


¼ cup coconut flour

¼ cup pecan flour

3 tablespoons acorn meal OR 2 tablespoons mesquite flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla powder


4 eggs

½ cup coconut oil

1/3 cup maple butter

¼ cup coconut cream




Whole pecans

Coconut cream to adhere layers


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9” non-stick spring from pan. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix wet ingredients together. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until pick comes out clean, and cake edges come away from the pan and slightly brown. Remove from pan and cool.

If making two layers, adhere the two with coconut cream. Slice apricots and toss in a pan with a bit of maple butter or syrup until glazed. Arrange fruits and nuts on the top. Store in the refrigerator.




Categories: Sonoran Native | 4 Comments

Brick and Mortar Brownies


Linda here. It’s  ranged from breezy to downright windy here in the Old Pueblo this spring, affecting the moods of humans and non humans alike.  Bees, for example,  do not “like” wind, and on windy days I do not check Apis hives.  Red eyed and sneezing humans and are affected by the dust and pollen. Like so much in life, winds have a  mixed effect on things, both negative and positive.

One of the positives of pollen on the wind is that it can reveal a lot about older ecosystems. I recently learned about this in an article I came across on the science of archeobotany – which is basically the archeology of Things Botanical.

On a windy spring day such as we have experienced here – but in the early 18th century in Colonial Williamsburg  – masons were at work laying brick.  A mason “slather(s) mortar as he buil(ds) row after row of the buildings foundation”. Unbeknownst to him, he is also building an archeological record of the trees and plants growing at that time.  As pollen rode the waves of the winds it came to rest on/in the the mortar and  became encapsulated in the building itself.

The mortar acts like a kind of time machine where the pollen of old is extracted and analyzed by archeologists, revealing what plants lived and thrived at the time, in that town: trees, for example, were abundant –  (pine oak maple and hornbeam) revealing a tree filled ecosystem in Williamsburg in the early 18th century. Contrasted to pollen from the same town in the later in the 18th century/early 19th where/when the mortar reveals that the trees had been cut down – and mostly ragweed and goosefoot pollen are found in that time-frames pollen-mortar revelations. Pretty interesting.

In a similar way  Zander (1941) describes honey comb from Apis mellifera (found in a tomb from the Nineteenth Dynasty in Egypt), that was dissolved in water and found to contain mostly pollen from Egyptian avocado and desert dates  “which indicate that the plants of Egypt have changes considerably since the time of the pharaohs.”



RECIPE INGREDIETNS: (inspired and amended from  the cook book NOURISHING)

-2 medium sized sweet potatoes

– 11-12 fresh dates (pitted)

– ¾ cup cup ground almonds

– 2/3 cup buckweat flour

– 3 tablespoons cacao nibs

– ¼ cup raw cacao powder

– at least 3 tablespoons honey

– zest of one orange – plus the juice

– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

– ¼ t salt

– 1 tablespoon oil of your choice (olive oil/coconut oil)

– 1 tablespoon almond milk/ or coconut milk if you feel it needs moisture

– Optional 1-2 teaspoons ground chiltepin – seeds and all


Steam peeled sweet potatoes until soft (approximately 18 minutes) and blend in food processor with the dates and honey.



Mix the dry ingredients together and fold in the sweet potato/date/honey mixture.




Add the juice of the orange whose peel you just “zested”. If the batter is still a little dry you might add a little milk and/or oil.


Add this super power batter to a parchment paper lined baking pan – and cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool. Sprinkle with cacao powder, or honey, or chiltepin. Refrigerate – the cold brownie has a wonderful taste (whereas the warm are not so flavorful. )







Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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