Couscous Cake with Fruits

I got this recipe from Grænn kostur (Green Option), my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Iceland. Definitely give the place a try if you ever are in Reykjavík. Fantastic food. I have probably made this cake about one billion times and it is one of my husband's favourite cakes (and my mother in law's). I have made this cake without so much as electricity around (just a rusty gas stove) which goes to show that you don't always need fancy tools and gadgets.

In the summer of 2007 I was an assisting "chef" on a 10 day horse trekking trip through the wilderness of Iceland. I love horse trekking in the beautiful and untouched mountainside and experiencing nature at it's best. The horses also love the mountains. Due to a knee injury I wasn't able to ride in the summer of 2007 which is why I was helping out (my husband was assisting with the trek, his mother was the group leader). We had 12 riders, 67 horses and 4 assistants. When you are out riding all day long you get very hungry in the evening (it is not as easy as it sounds, sitting on a horse for 10 hours). Which is why we always arranged a lot of food to be eaten at mealtimes. As I wasn't in charge of the meal planning it wasn't exactly the types of food I would serve, lots of meat, heavy stews, pasta and other energy rich foods. I am not sure that the men of the group (all in their fifties) would have been happy with a salad and nut patties or tofu after a full day of riding and they seemed very happy with what we were preparing. Anyway..when riding in the mountains for 10 days, you are not exactly able to run to the shops for provisions so you have to bring everything along with you and it has to stay fresh for 10 days (not an easy task where there is no electricity). Before I went on the trip I was thinking that it might be nice to serve a cake in the mountains (where people would least expect it) and I started thinking about which cake would suit best. Usually the types of treats the riders have in the evenings are dry, store bought cakes or biscuits. I prepared two cakes, this one made out of couscous and the Dark Chocolate Cake (without Chocolate). I am telling you...the riders went MAD when they saw and tasted the cakes. What greeted them after a long, long day of riding was the aroma of dates and cinnamon being cooked in apple juice and then they saw the cake in all its glory with toasted nuts, kiwis and grapes on top. I think my husband wanted to cry out of sheer happiness. We were so remote there wasn't even a mobile phone (cellphone) connection and no populated area in sight for days. I am sure that this was the place the cake was meant to be eaten in and it vanished within 2 minutes into the mouths of 16 hungry people!

This would not have been possible but because the cake is vegan (and the ingredients won't spoil for a couple of days without a fridge).

The cake is also lactose free and egg free and very easy to make nut free. This is the perfect cake to enjoy after a long day of strenuous activity as it fills you with energy and happiness!

Note that you will need a round spring form cake tin 26 centimetres (10.2 inches) in diameter, 4 centimetres (1.5 inches) deep

My mother in law's favourite cake!

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Vegan

This recipe is easy to make:

  • Nut free

Couscous Cake with Fruits

Makes 1 cake


  • 120 grams (4¼ oz) pitted dates, chopped finely
  • Small piece fresh ginger (like a grape in size), peeled and chopped very finely
  • 80 grams (3 oz) raisins
  • 750 millilitres (25½ fluid oz) apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (from a health food store)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (Himalaya or sea salt)
  • 170 grams (6 oz) couscous
  • 2 ripe kiwis, sliced thinly
  • 50 grams (1¾ oz) grapes (any colour, seedless), sliced in halves
  • Handful almond slivers, toasted
  • Handful cashew nuts, toasted


  1. Chop the 120 grams dates finely.
  2. Peel the ginger (the skin is very thin, you can scrape it off with a teaspoon or a small knife) and chop finely.
  3. In a large saucepan, place the dates along with the 80 grams raisins, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the ginger.
  4. Pour the 750 apple juice into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced a bit.
  5. Rinse the 170 grams couscous in cold water, drain and add couscous to the saucepan. Stir vigorously for 1 minute with a large wooden spoon or until it becomes difficult to stir any more. The couscous will absorb the remaining liquid. As soon as you hear a "fhissing" sound (fhissssss) remove from the heat. The couscous should only need about 1 minute to absorb all the liquid. Be careful not to heat it any longer as it might burn.
  6. Line a round spring form cake tin 26 centimetres (10.2 inches) in diameter, 4 centimetres (1.5 inches) deep, with baking parchment.
  7. Pour the ingredients from the saucepan into the cake tin. Press lightly with your hands to even out the cake.
  8. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile prepare the topping.
  10. Heat a small frying pan and place the handful almond slivers and handful cashew nuts on the pan without any oil. Heat the almonds slivers for 3-4 minutes on high heat. Remove from the pan and add the cashew nuts. Heat for 5-6 minutes on high heat. Allow the nuts to cool.
  11. Slice the 50 grams grapes in halves.
  12. Peel the 2 kiwis and slice thinly.
  13. When the cake has cooled completely, transfer to a cake plate/dish.
  14. Arrange the kiwi slices on top of the cake.
  15. Arrange the grape halves (skin side up) on the the top of the kiwi slices.
  16. Sprinkle the cashew nuts and almond slivers on top. You can chop the cashew nuts coarsely if you prefer.
  17. Serve with whipped soy cream (or regular cream).


  • You can use other nuts for decoration such as hazelnuts, macadamia nuts or Brazil nuts.
  • You can use other fruits instead of the kiwis and grapes. Try strawberries, bananas, mangoes, blueberries and more. You can also try seasonal fruits and berries.
  • Omit the nuts if you are allergic.