Lesley Stoyan: A Bowl of Cherries


Banana Chocolate Pecan Cake Recipe

a.k.a Birthday Dream Cake

“Anyone who spends any time in the kitchen eventually comes to realize that what he or she is looking for is the perfect chocolate cake.”

This sentence opens a chapter in More Home Cooking, a novelistic cookbook by the late, great American writer Laurie Colwin (if you don’t know her writings, track her down). She then presents a trio of easy recipes for scrumptious chocolate cakes.

We are going to offer another one.

Who doesn’t like cake? It says birthday and party. If it’s from a posh bakery, it will likely be delicious; if it’s from the grocery store, it will at least look delicious, all swagged with sugar roses and frosting swirls. 

As with most things, though, homemade is the best.

When we were young, our mother used to make a special cake for our birthdays. It was often chocolate. But what made it magic was the money.

She would wash silver coins and drop them into the batter. Your slice would be thick with icing, and glinting with dimes and nickels. Or even better, in those pre-loonie days, a nice fat quarter.

When we were teenagers, she made her signature a vanilla bundt cake stuffed with walnuts, chocolate chips, and of course, money. It was called “Better Than Sex Cake,” and when she served it at our sixteenth birthday party, she told us that it was. And to take her word for it.

(She remains known for her sharp tongue, yes.)

The base of this cake turned out to be a Duncan Hines packet. It was really good. But times are different now, and everyone’s upped their game to homemade-and-healthful. This is that, and decadent too.

Our mother’s birthday is in May. So this is our present to her.

Birthday Dream Cake
a.k.a Banana-Chocolate-Pecan Cake

Note that we are using light spelt flour—it has a slightly nutty flavor, as well as more nutrients and fibre. It’s also vegan! But don’t tell anyone unless you have to.


1 ½ cups organic spelt flour
1 cup organic raw sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 cup dark chocolate chips
6-8 coins, washed well and wrapped in tinfoil
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup rice milk
¼ cup organic canola oil
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 banana
½ cup chopped pecans
cinnamon to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa. Add chocolate chips and  pecans, mix together, and set aside.

Blend (still loving our Magic Bullet!) rice milk, canola, vanilla, lemon juice, and banana.

Combine wet and dry ingredients and gently stir until mixed, but not stiff.

Pour ingredients into a greased 8x8 cake pan. Place some wrapped coins throughout the batter. Top with extra nuts and chocolate chips and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes. Let cool. Serve on a pretty plate, think about birthdays past and present, hope for a shiny toonie, and enjoy this “rich” cake!

Serves 1-16, depending on portion size!