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Orange and Chia Cake with Sugared Rosemary

Vegetarian, Low Protein (PKU), Gluten Free and Dairy Free

adapted from donna hay

Total Protein Count: 22.5g Protein
12 Serves = 1.9 g Protein per serve

Christmas is just around the corner now, and this simple yet festively-beautiful cake is a perfect addition to your holiday celebrations. In fact, of all the cakes I’ve made; this is my husband’s favourite. I can’t take the credit; it was adapted from Donnay Hay’s recipe to make it suitable for a PKU diet.

What I love most about this cake is how beautiful it looks! The smooth orange icing is so shiny, and the sugared rosemary look just like snow-covered trees. There are so many ways to decorate it. You could stand the rosemary up in the cake and gather them to resemble more of a snowy forest, or add coconut shavings for snow. Get the kids involved and have some family time around the kitchen table decorating.

The rosemary and orange are a delightful combination and add a Christmas smell when baking. While the chia seeds add protein, they create a lovely texture. If you want to reduce the protein content further, you can omit them as there enough eggs to act as a binder.

I originally doubled the recipe for a family lunch and created both a single cake and individual, mini cakes. The smaller cakes were well received by all (especially the children), and it was easier to control the protein count for Charlotte.

Give it a go! It really is not as difficult as it looks. Merry Christmas everyone from our family to yours!




250g dairy free margarine  or unsalted butter (not dairy free), softened
1 cup / 220 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (16.5 g Protein)
2 cups / 300g self-raising gluten free flour, sifted (3 g Protein)
1 Tbsp / 15 g black chia seeds (3 g Protein)
1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 Tbsp finely grated orange rind
1/2 cup / 125ml  organic orange juice
3/4 cup / 180ml almond milk (or milk of your choice; being mindful of the protein content)
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup / 55 g white sugar

Orange Icing:

2 cups / 320 g  icing sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp orange juice


Preheat oven to 160C / 325F.
Place butter, sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, chia seeds, rosemary, orange rind, orange juice and milk and beat on low speed until just combined. Spoon into a lightly greased 5 cm deep x 25 cm (10 inch) round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a  wire rack to cool completely. Alternatively you can place the mixture into a small cupcake tin for individual cakes. This will require less baking time, so check after 20-30 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, dip the rosemary sprigs in hot water, then press into the white sugar. Place on a small tray and allow to dry for 30 minutes or until crisp. Trim leaves and set aside.

To make the orange icing, place the icing sugar and orange juice in a bowl and whish until smooth. Once the cake has cooled, spoon over the icing and decorate with sugared rosemary to serve. With the small cakes, sprinkle a layer of coconut for a snowy effect; place the cakes on top.


– Replacing the caster and white sugar with another form of sugar (i.e. coconut) also works; however, for the orange icing, I find real icing sugar best to create the smooth surface.


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