What’s the best cake for runners?

ROUND 1

Angel food cake vs. Black forest gateau

The 1970s favourite gateau contains cherries, which have inflammation-reducing anthocyanins. But angel food cake, made with whisked egg whites – which can be easier on the stomach than heavier bakes – wins the day.

Lemon drizzle vs Traditional fruit cake

Lemon drizzle packs a refuelling sugar hit, with a dash of vitamin C from citrus, but it proves no match for the hearty fruit cake. Its fibre-rich raisins and sultanas will boost your iron intake.

Red velvet vs Battenberg

If your red velvet is made with beetroot you’ll get a fix of nitrates, which boosts oxygen delivery
to your muscles. Battenberg’s marzipan is made from vitamin E-rich almonds, which boost immunity. The red side sneaks it.

Pineapple upside down cake vs Parkin

Traditional parkin is a Northern powerhouse, packed with oats providing slow-release energy. The pineapple of the retro upside-down cake is a source of anti-inflammatory bromelain, but it can’t match the complex carbs of the parkin.

Victoria sponge vs Swiss roll

Both cakes feature a vanilla sponge with fresh cream and jam, but the Swiss roll’s is lower in saturated fat than the Victoria’s buttery offering, so it takes the victory.

Banana bread vs Chocolate cake

The cocoa in that
 slice of chocolatey indulgence is a source of antioxidants called flavanols, which have been linked to lower risk of heart disease. But more immediate benefits come from the banana, which contains the electrolyte potassium. An easy win for the banana.

Dorset apple cake vs Carrot cake

Carrots and apples are rich in vitamin C, and carrots contain A and K vitamins. Apple skins also contain the anti-inflammatory quercetin, but as the fruit is peeled for baking purposes, carrot cake has to be the winner here.

Coffee and walnut vs Coconut cake

Antioxidant-rich coffee goes very well with walnuts – which are rich in blood-boosting copper. Coconut brings magnesium and B vitamins to the table, but its high levels of saturated fat cost it victory.


QUARTER-FINAL

Angel food cake vs Traditional fruit cake

Not to everybody’s taste, perhaps, but fruit cake’s dense, sticky texture is immensely satisfying post-run – plus its dried fruit provides a source of potassium to balance your body’s electrolytes. Made mostly from sugar, egg whites and flour, angel food cake pales in comparison.

Parkin vs Red velvet cake

It’s Hollywood vs Huddersfield, as 
the great American red velvet takes 
on the humble British parkin, but while
 red velvet steals the show on looks, it’s blown away by the parkin’s stomach-friendly ingredients: ginger to improve digestion and oats for insoluble fibre.

Swiss roll vs Banana bread

Banana bread may be the less glamorous of these two contenders, but it does pack the runner’s fruit of choice. Bananas are also a prebiotic, meaning they feed good gut bacteria.
 By comparison, the cream-and-jam-filled Swiss roll is rather more style than substance and crashes out of the contest.

Carrot cake vs Coffee and walnut

Omega-3-rich walnuts earned coffee and walnut victory in the last round, but these brain-boosting nuts are also often present in carrot cake, where they’ll be alongside naturally sweet dried fruit and cinnamon, a spice that is thought to aid digestion. That’s enough to see carrot cake over the line.


SEMI-FINAL

Traditional fruit cake vs Parkin

Classic teatime cakes go head to head in 
this well-matched semi-final. Both cakes made it through a couple of tough contests to get this 
far in the competition but who will go on to win a place in the final? Fruit cake’s raisins and parkin’s molasses both provide a hit
 of iron, but parkin’s double whammy of digestion-aiding ginger and fibre-rich oats mean it pips fruit cake to the plating-up post.

Banana bread vs Carrot cake

Both cakes are strong competitors, thanks to the high concentration of fruit and vegetables in the recipes, so this is going to be close. From their electrolyte-balancing potassium to their vitamin C content, either is a fine post-run choice. However, comparing popular recipes for each reveals that carrot cake typically contains more sugar than its determined opponent, so banana bread marches on
into the final.


THE FINAL

Parkin vs Banana bread

The final battle comes down to two delicious, but, dare we say, unglamorous, cakes – Northern England’s parkin and the waste-not-want-not banana bread. This won't be a pretty final but when it comes to cake it’s the end product that matters, not the elegance. Parkin’s gut-friendly ginger and oats give it the edge over most cakes but it crumbles in comparison with hearty banana bread’s plethora
of runner-friendly benefits. Each slice includes immune-boosting vitamin C, fibre
 and the electrolyte potassium to aid rehydration, plus a high-quality carb hit. Banana bread is the worthy winner and should take pride of place on any runner’s dessert menu.