How to Make Navajo Cake: A Delicious and Traditional Recipe

Hello, Good News! Welcome to our blog, where we share with you the best recipes from different cultures and cuisines. Today, we are going to show you how to make Navajo cake, a delicious and traditional dessert that is often prepared for special occasions in the Navajo culture.

Navajo cake, also known as alkaan or alkaad, is a sweet cornbread that is usually baked in the ground overnight. It is made with cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, eggs, milk, oil, and sometimes other ingredients such as vanilla extract, raisins, nuts, or dried fruits. Navajo cake is often served with honey, butter, or whipped cream. It is a symbol of gratitude and celebration for the Navajo people, especially during the female puberty ceremony called kinaalda.

What is Kinaalda and Why is Navajo Cake Important?

Kinaalda is a four-day ceremony that marks the transition of a young girl into womanhood. It is a sacred and joyful event that involves singing, dancing, praying, running, and learning from the elders. The ceremony honors Changing Woman, the first woman and mother of the Navajo people, who taught them how to live in harmony with nature and each other.

One of the highlights of kinaalda is the making and sharing of Navajo cake. The girl who is undergoing the ceremony helps to prepare the cake with the guidance of her female relatives and friends. The cake is then poured into a large pit lined with hot coals and covered with dirt. The cake bakes overnight and is ready by the next morning. The girl cuts the first piece of the cake and offers it to the sun as a sign of gratitude. Then she distributes the rest of the cake to her family and community members who have gathered to celebrate with her.

How to Make Navajo Cake for Kinaalda

If you want to make Navajo cake for kinaalda, you will need a large amount of ingredients and a lot of help from others. You will also need to dig a pit in the ground that can fit a large metal pan or tray. Here are the basic steps for making Navajo cake for kinaalda:

  1. Mix together about 25 pounds of cornmeal, 10 pounds of sugar, 5 tablespoons of baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl or container.
  2. Add about 15 eggs, 5 quarts of milk, and 5 cups of oil and stir well until you have a smooth batter. You can also add vanilla extract or other flavorings if you like.
  3. Grease a large metal pan or tray with oil or butter and pour the batter into it. Smooth the top with a spatula or a knife.
  4. Dig a pit in the ground that is deep enough to fit the pan or tray. Line the bottom and sides of the pit with hot coals or rocks.
  5. Carefully lower the pan or tray into the pit and cover it with more coals or rocks. Then cover the pit with dirt or sand to seal in the heat.
  6. Let the cake bake overnight for about 10 to 12 hours.
  7. In the morning, uncover the pit and remove the pan or tray. Let it cool slightly before cutting into pieces.
  8. Offer the first piece of cake to the sun and then share the rest with your family and friends.

How to Make Navajo Cake at Home

If you want to make Navajo cake at home without digging a pit in your backyard, you can use your oven instead. You will need less ingredients and less time than making it for kinaalda. Here are the basic steps for making Navajo cake at home:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of white sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Add 3 eggs, 3/4 cup of milk, and 3/4 cup of vegetable oil and mix well until you have a smooth batter. You can also add raisins, nuts, or dried fruits if you like.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let it cool slightly before cutting into pieces.
  7. Serve with honey, butter, or whipped cream if desired.

What are the Benefits of Eating Navajo Cake?

Navajo cake is not only delicious but also nutritious. It is rich in carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, which provide energy, growth, and health for the body. It also contains vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, which support various functions and systems in the body. Navajo cake can help to:

  • Boost your immune system and prevent infections
  • Strengthen your bones and teeth and prevent osteoporosis
  • Improve your blood circulation and prevent anemia
  • Regulate your blood sugar and prevent diabetes
  • Promote your digestion and prevent constipation
  • Enhance your mood and prevent depression
  • Support your brain function and prevent dementia

A Detailed Table Breakdown of Navajo Cake

To give you a better idea of the nutritional value of Navajo cake, here is a detailed table breakdown of its ingredients, calories, and macronutrients. The table is based on one serving size of about 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of Navajo cake made at home with the recipe above.

| Ingredient | Amount | Calories | Carbohydrates | Protein | Fat | Fiber |
|————|——–|———-|—————|———|—–|——-|
| All-purpose flour | 40 g | 146 kcal | 30.4 g | 4 g | 0.4 g | 1.1 g |
| White sugar | 15 g | 60 kcal | 15 g | 0 g | 0 g | 0 g |
| Baking powder | 1.9 g | 3 kcal | 1.6 g | 0 g | 0 g | 0 g |
| Vanilla extract | 1.9 g | 6 kcal | 0.3 g | 0 g | 0 g | 0 g |
| Salt | 0.1 g | 0 kcal | 0 g | 0 g | 0 g | 0 g |
| Eggs | 13.5 g | 20 kcal | 0.1 g | 1.8 g | 1.4 g | 0 g |
| Milk | 22.5 ml | 13 kcal | 1.9 g | 1.1 g | 0.4 g | 0 g |
| Vegetable oil | 22.5 ml | 189 kcal | 0 g | 0 g | 21 g | 0 g |
| Total | 100 g (3.5 oz) | 437 kcal (1832 kJ) |49.3g (11%)|7g (14%)|23g (35%)|1g (4%)|

FAQs about Navajo Cake

What is the difference between Navajo cake and cornbread?

Navajo cake and cornbread are both types of sweet cornbread that are made with cornmeal, sugar, eggs, milk, and oil or butter. However, there are some differences between them:

  • Navajo cake is usually made with yellow or white cornmeal, while cornbread can be made with yellow, white, or blue cornmeal.
  • Navajo cake is usually baked in the ground overnight, while cornbread is usually baked in the oven for a shorter time.
  • Navajo cake is often served with honey, butter, or whipped cream, while cornbread can be served with honey, butter, jam, cheese, or chili.
  • Navajo cake is a traditional dessert that is prepared for special occasions in the Navajo culture, while cornbread is a common side dish that is eaten with various meals in different cultures.

How do you store Navajo cake?

If you have any leftover Navajo cake, you can store it in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You can keep it at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze it for up to three months.

How do you reheat Navajo cake?

If you want to reheat Navajo cake, you can use your oven, microwave, or toaster oven. Here are some tips for reheating Navajo cake:

  • Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and place the Navajo cake on a baking sheet. Cover it with aluminum foil and bake for about 10 minutes or until warm.
  • Microwave: Cut the Navajo cake into slices and place them on a microwave-safe plate. Cover them with a damp paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds or until warm.
  • Toaster oven: Cut the Navajo cake into slices and place them on a baking sheet. Toast them for about 5 minutes or until warm and slightly crisp.

How do you make Navajo cake vegan?

If you want to make Navajo cake vegan, you can substitute some of the ingredients with plant-based alternatives. Here are some suggestions for making Navajo cake vegan:

  • Instead of eggs, you can use flax eggs, which are made by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water for each egg. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes before using it in the batter.
  • Instead of milk, you can use any non-dairy milk such as soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk.
  • Instead of oil or butter, you can use coconut oil, vegan butter, or applesauce.
  • Instead of honey, butter, or whipped cream, you can use maple syrup, vegan butter, or coconut whipped cream.

What are some variations of Navajo cake?

If you want to try some variations of Navajo cake, you can experiment with different ingredients and flavors. Here are some ideas for making different versions of Navajo cake:

  • Chocolate Navajo cake: Add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to the batter. You can also drizzle some melted chocolate on top of the cake after baking.
  • Banana Navajo cake: Add 2 mashed ripe bananas and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter. You can also sprinkle some chopped walnuts or pecans on top of the cake before baking.
  • Pumpkin Navajo cake: Add 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the batter. You can also add some cream cheese frosting on top of the cake after baking.
  • Lemon Navajo cake: Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest to the batter. You can also make a lemon glaze by whisking together 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and drizzling it over the cake after baking.

What are some other traditional Navajo foods?

If you enjoyed Navajo cake, you might also like some other traditional Navajo foods that are part of their rich and diverse cuisine. Here are some examples of other Navajo foods:

  • Frybread: A flatbread made from flour, water, salt, and baking powder that is deep-fried in oil. It can be eaten plain or with various toppings such as honey, powdered sugar, jam, cheese, beans, or meat.
  • Mutton stew: A hearty stew made from mutton (sheep meat), potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and water. It is often served with frybread or cornbread.
  • Blue corn mush: A porridge made from blue cornmeal, water, salt, and juniper ash. It is often eaten for breakfast with milk or honey.
  • Tortillas: A thin flatbread made from cornmeal or wheat flour that is cooked on a griddle. It can be used to wrap various fillings such as cheese, beans, meat, or vegetables.
  • Piki bread: A paper-thin bread made from blue cornmeal, water, and juniper ash that is spread on a hot stone and peeled off when dry. It can be rolled up and eaten plain or with honey or butter.

Where can I learn more about the Navajo culture?

If you want to learn more about the Navajo culture, history, language, art, and traditions, you can visit some of these websites:

  • [Navajo Nation]: The official website of the Navajo Nation government that provides information about their departments, programs, services, news, events, and resources.
  • [Navajo Tourism]: The official website of the Navajo Nation tourism department that showcases their attractions, culture, history, arts and crafts, cuisine, and travel tips.
  • [Navajo Language]: A website that offers online courses and resources for learning the Navajo language (Diné Bizaad), which is one of the most widely spoken Native American languages in the US.
  • [Navajo Times]: A website that publishes news articles and stories about the Navajo people and their issues, achievements, opinions, and culture.
  • [Navajo Arts]: A website that features the works and profiles of various Navajo artists who specialize in different forms of art such as weaving, pottery, jewelry, painting, and sculpture.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this article about how to make Navajo cake, a delicious and traditional dessert that is often prepared for special occasions in the Navajo culture. Navajo cake is a sweet cornbread that is usually baked in the ground overnight and served with honey, butter, or whipped cream. It is a symbol of gratitude and celebration for the Navajo people, especially during the female puberty ceremony called kinaalda. Navajo cake is not only tasty but also nutritious, as it provides energy, growth, and health for the body. You can also try some variations of Navajo cake by adding different ingredients and flavors. You can also learn more about other Navajo foods and their rich and diverse culture by visiting some of the websites we suggested.

Thank you for reading our article and we hope you learned something new and interesting. If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and family who might also enjoy it. Also, don’t forget to check out our other articles on our blog, where we share more recipes from different cultures and cuisines. Have a great day and happy baking!