I’m sure a few of you would have come across the term ‘caveman diet’ in some magazine, book or newspaper article. The whole phenomenon is intriguing and sensible; we basically are advocating a reverting to our ancestors’ lifestyle in the hopes that such a change will propel some sort of advancement in human health. We’ll be healthier, have lower BMIs, stronger bones, etc. It’s all very well and good, right? In a sense, yes. The diet itself is meant to promote a healthier lifestyle. You eat more red meat, fruits, vegetables and natural whole grains, whilst reducing the amount of processed wheat and dairy you consume. You benefit from increased energy and concentration, and better blood sugar levels which don’t shoot up and down like a roller coaster like 90% of the American population. When I first came across this idea, I took it lightly, the brioche and caffeine and egg fan that I am. Heck, the usual ingredients I touch in the kitchen are refined flours, eggs and sugar. Everything which promotes slower metabolisms, obesity, impeded thinking, and heart disease. In one way or another, indirect or not. And now, despite acknowledging its benefits, my attitude towards the caveman phenomenon hasn’t changed drastically. But why scoff at something proven to be beneficial?
I mentioned one of my favourite books in a previous post– The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman. His writing is superb, impactful; I haven’t come across another book which has altered my perspective on the human body quite as much. The thing is, we as humans evolve to accommodate change. We are so darn flexible, proven by the fact that we aren’t all dead at this point in modern time. I don’t think we need to fully revert to the caveman diet because our bodies have evolved to accommodate all that is available to us. I’m not saying we should gorge ourselves on cakes and sweets all day throughout the year, but in the end, eating more red meat and completely eliminating all the pleasures of the world (you know what I mean here) won’t exactly do your mood or health a tremendous amount of good. I’m no nutritionist, but can’t we advocate balance and not rigid dietary restrictions? I personally cannot take stomach a lot of red meat because I feel as if I have a little animal cemetery cradling my stomach afterward, hence I tend to eat more fish. Let’s just not stop having the cupcake, or mini bundt, treat on the weekend. Let’s live for the balance of what us, these smart cookies, have grown to learn, tweak and love. I’m all for the (occasional) elimination of those horrid processed foods, aka anything in a packet, but sweet tooths, I’m on your side. Go ahead, bake a tray of these. I implore you!
My mum recently bought mountains of speculoos/biscoff cookie spread for her own kitchen experiments. Yes, another reason why I love her so much. Lotus Biscuits are actually the best thing dunked into hot and milky English Breakfast tea. And there are a million things one can dip into hot and milky tea. Speculoos and cream cheese has been done before, and I love how this recipe incorporates both without overwhelming either flavour. The speculoos is the obvious flavour in the cake batter, which is on the slightly denser side to hold up the integrity of a robust mini bundt. Topped with crushed speculoos biscuits, salted caramel sauce (had some extra left over), and coconut date sugar. The cream cheese frosting and crushed biscuits are enough here; I just happened to have leftover ingredients which amped up the light and otherwise more predictable bites of speculoos heaven.
The crushed biscuits on top offer the loveliest texture contrast. The recipe itself is so simple because the speculoos spread already has flavours like cinnamon and vanilla, so the rest is just a matter of 5-minute mixing, tops.
Speculoos Mini Bundts (makes 12, adapted from Baked Bree)
58g soft, unsalted butter
140g Speculoos/Biscoff spread (a half cup)
225g (1 cup) white sugar
80ml whole milk
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
188g all-purpose flour (around 1.5 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
quarter teaspoon of salt
For the cream cheese frosting:
113g softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk (test according to preferred consistency)
Preheat your oven to 177C and butter a mini bundt or cupcake tin. In a small bowl, briefly whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the speculoos spread, butter and white sugar. Beat for at least a minute, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mix and mix briefly to incorporatel the mix should look a bit dry but still sticky. Pour in the milk and fold in to incorporate. The batter shouldn’t be too thick or thin, and will resist ever so slightly when allowed to drop from the spatula.
Fill the cupcake/bundt molds full with the batter. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Mine were done at the 18-minute mark. Test the inside by poking in a wooden skewer. They should have risen significantly but still look smooth and golden-brown on top. Allow the bundts to cool on a wire rack whilst you make the cream cheese glaze. Beat together the icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla. Add milk, a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
Remove the bundts from the pan once cool and using a knife, cut off the tops. This step obviously isn’t necessary if you’re just making cupcakes! The cupcake tops you get from making mini bundts are like an added bonus. I had a couple toasted for breakfast the other morning and they go wonderfully with nut butter and honey…. or the classic butter and marmalade, though the cake is already pretty sweet on its own. Place the bundts the right way up on the cooling rack, and drizzle the cream cheese glaze on top, allowing it to dribble down the sides, down the ridges formed by the cute little molds.
Optional: Sprinkle crushed speculoos biscuits on top