Mini Hazelnut Sponge Cakes Made Healthy

I know, the name for this recipe is a little much, but there is SO much I had to say to describe this very special recipe. You may be intimidated by the idea of making a sponge cake – but I’m here to assure you it will be the easiest sponge cake you will ever make. This recipe is based off of my Austrian Great Grandmother’s recipe that has been a staple in our family for special occasions. But…I wanted to enjoy this cake for more than just a special occasion because it is so dang good. I wanted it to be healthy enough to eat for breakfast – So I played around with the recipe and took out or reduced the “unhealthier” ingredients so I could devour this nutty and spongey baked good on the reg. Especially with my morning coffee!

Some adjustments I made:

First off, many sponge cakes are made by whipping the egg whites separately from the egg yolks to make a fluffy meringue that adds lots of airiness to the batter. However, since this step takes more time and effort than most of us are willing to do on a regular basis, I took it out to see how the results would be. Surprisingly, the end product was fabulous! Win-win situation all around.

Secondly, another big adjustment to make this recipe healthier was to decrease the sugar quantity in half and replace cane sugar with coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is a less processed form of sugar made from dehydrated coconut sap and has more minerals and nutrients compared to refined cane sugar. Coconut sugar is also considered a lower glycemic sugar, which means that is does not spike blood sugar as much as cane sugar.

On a third note, I made this recipe gluten-free and refined-carbohydrate free by swapping breadcrumbs with rolled oats. It worked like a charm!

Lastly, as for other health benefits of these mini cakes (feel free to make into a full sized cake too – just bake for longer), the base of the recipe is made from ground hazelnuts and eggs, a natural source of healthy fats and protein.

Tip: Store bought hazelnut flour/meal can be extremely expensive and hard to find. This is why I buy raw hazelnuts, dry-roast them, and then pulse in a blender to make my own hazelnut meal (details in recipe below). The consistency is a little course but it works great for most recipes, especially for this one.

Ok, let’s get to it!

Mini Hazelnut Sponge Cakes Made Healthy

Makes 8 mini loafs or 12 cupcakes. Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegetarian.

  • 1 1/2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp rolled oats (gf certified if needed)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1 tsp vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F and line a mini loaf pan or cupcake pan with baking cups (you can also oil the pan with olive or avocado oil, but it can be more challenging to remove the mini cakes ones baked, see note at end regarding a full cake). Once the oven is heated, add hazelnuts onto a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes – keep an eye on these as they can toast up pretty quick!

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and coconut sugar (either by hand or with a hand held mixer) for about 1 minute. Then mix in the vanilla and cinnamon, if using.

Once the hazelnuts are toasted, let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a food processor or blender. Add the oats and pulse just until a rough flour consistency is met, about 5-7 pulses. You don’t wan’t to pulse for too long or the hazelnuts will start to turn into hazelnut butter. Delicious but not what we want for this recipe! Add the baking powder and salt into the hazelnut mixture and shake together.

Add the hazelnut mixture into the egg mixture and mix just until the batter is evenly incorporated. Divide the batter into each baking cup and bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes for mini loafs and 15-20 minutes for cupcakes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). I love these with some nut butter or butter in the morning with my coffee. Enjoy!

Leftovers can be stored on the counter for up to two days or in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze these for up to two months.

*If you want to bake a full sized cake, I recommend using butter to grease the cake tin and then add a dusting of your flour of choice to cover the cake pan/tin. This will prevent sticking!