Rachel Werner
January 18, 2016

Raw Baking How-To - Photo by Ina Todoran/Flickr (UrbanFarmOnline.com)

Embarking on a raw diet can be a culinary expedition like no other, opening one’s eyes to the wealth of fruit, grains and vegetables waiting to be consumed in their natural, unprocessed state. When food is not cooked, its enzymes and nutrients aren’t altered. Despite the lure of potential health benefits, often the biggest challenges of eating raw food are the guidelines for food handling and preparation.

In order to adhere to a traditional raw nutritional plan, 70 to 80 percent of what is eaten daily should be plant-based foods heated at or below 115 degrees F. Although some may find it easier to manage a raw diet in conjunction with a vegetarian or vegan diet, consumption of unpasteurized milk, cheese made from raw milk, raw eggs, fish and meat is also allowed. Cold pressed-oils, dried organic legumes, and raw oils and butters are also common staples in a raw pantry. To facilitate ingredient processing and meal organization, veteran rawists recommend having a blender, dehydrator and juicer at home.

The idea of eating raw foods can be intriguing for many people aware of how their food is made or produced. Whether you want to try a few raw recipes or engage in a full-time raw diet, passing up desserts and pastries can be the hardest part. Don’t despair: Raw cuisine extends to the realm of baking, too.

In fact, many no-bake options exist beyond cheesecake, including layered bars, cream pies and tarts. Many of these recipes can be prepped in 30 minutes or less—an added bonus! The key to getting the desired flavor and texture is to keep things simple and taste as you go.

“The closer things are to the source, the better the outcome tastes,” says Susan Detering, co-owner of Batch Bakehouse in Madison, Wis. “Consider your ingredients and what is going to enhance flavors and texture. Build from that.”

Here are a few starter recipes to help you in your foray into raw baking.

Recipe: ChocoButter Bar

Prep time: 15 Minutes

Yield: one large 8-inch cake or 12 personal-sized cakes

Ingredients

Chocolate Fudge Layer

  • 3 to 4 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 T. maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup raw honey (or agave nectar)
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Layer

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (almond or sunflower-seed butter can also be used)
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raw honey (or agave nectar)

Ganache Layer

  • 1 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Preparation

Individually blend each layer in food processor until completely smooth and place in separate bowls. Grease or line a muffin tin or spring form pan.

Assemble layers in following order: ganache, peanut butter ice cream, chocolate fudge, ganache. Place in freezer for 3 to 4 hours. Remove from freezer and serve immediately.

To store, place in an airtight container in the freezer.

Recipe: Raw Harvest Pumpkin Pie

Yield: one pie

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried dates or figs
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Pumpkin Filling

  • 1 pie pumpkin (medium to large size), peeled, gutted and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup dates
  • 4 to 5 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • start with 1 T. pumpkin pie spice
  • extra cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and/or cloves (optional)

Preparation

Crust: Process nuts in food processor until the texture of rough flour. Add remaining crust ingredients, and pulse until it sticks together and forms a ball of dough. Press dough into bottom of a pie dish and refrigerate.

Filling: Process pumpkin cubes into smooth purée. Mix in remaining filling ingredients. Sample and add additional spices to taste. Spread filling into pie crust and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

A final word of wisdom: Raw desserts are often meant to be eaten the same day they’re prepared, so be conservative with serving amounts and sizes. “The biggest challenge of raw food is that it is alive, which results in a limited holding time or shelf life,” Detering says. Avoid waste by starting small, but be bold in the range of foods you begin to sample and experiment with when going au natural.

About the Author: Rachel Werner is a fitness instructor, personal trainer, freelance writer and blogger. Her passionate commitment to holistic wellness and sustainable agriculture makes Madison, Wis., a wonderful place for her to call home.
 


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