Saturday, July 19, 2014

Banana Walnut Cake

Looking at the countertops and grocery carts of most families these days, I'm amazed that bananas aren't an endangered species. Considering that over 100 billion of the berries (yes, they're berries) are eaten annually (27 pounds per person in the US alone), I'm sure there are some pretty grumpy monkeys out there somewhere fighting for the last bunch on the tree. My family buys bananas at least once a week year round, but over the summer containers of local berries, peaches, nectarines and other seasonal fruit start piling up as well (mostly from Costco, since my stepdad practically lives there). Given that there is no way the 3-5 of us (depending on whether my sister and stepbrother are home at the time) can mow through everything before it goes south, a lot of it ends up in either the freezer or the compost bin.

Banana Walnut Cake

As much as I love my plants, I prefer to save the fruit we buy for our consumption - bananas and berries in particular freeze beautifully, and I often open up the freezer door to find a surprising quantity of either, or both! Luckily, my family adores fruit in any form (except smoothies - we're just not big on those), so finding uses for the excess is never an issue! Most recently, I was going through my copy of Amy Green's Simply Sugar & Gluten Free when I came across her recipe for a Banana Walnut Cake. Like everything else in the book, it was dairy, refined sugar and gluten free - but it contained eggs, which I don't tend to keep on hand due to my allergy. I did have a decent amount of egg replacements open to me in the pantry (flax, chia, tofu and starches), but in the end I decided on my Homemade Egg Replacer and it worked perfectly fine.

The original recipe doesn't use a gum-based binder either, which likely factored into the cake's supremely tender nature (it sank slightly in the middle despite baking through, and was meltingly soft on the tongue). For extra structure, though, I tossed in a few spoonfuls of psyllium husk, something I've been doing with most gluten free or low-gluten recipes with great results. The soft texture of the cake is to die for on its own, but I loved the occasional crunchy bites of walnut peppering the crumb - next time I'd capitalize on the light flavour of the almond milk with slivered almonds (and a shot of Amaretto).

This is definitely unlike any banana bread I've had before, and now I can't wait for another excuse to raid my freezer!

Banana Walnut Cake

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays (#100!) and  Waste Not Want Not Wednesday 

Banana Walnut Cake
Makes one 9" cake, 12 slices
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup amber agave nectar
¼ cup Grade B maple syrup
¼ cup coconut sugar (or date sugar)
2 medium, overripe bananas, mashed
3 tbsp  Homemade Egg Replacer (or Ener-G), prepared
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
½ tbsp vanilla
⅔ cup chickpea flour
⅔ cup sorghum flour
⅓ cup potato starch
⅓ cup tapioca starch
2 tbsp psyllium husk fibre
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup chopped walnuts
coarse sugar, to top (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F and line a 9” springform pan with parchment.
  2. In a bowl, beat together oil, syrups, sugar and bananas until well combined.
  3. Beat in the egg replacer, almond milk and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Beat in the flours, starches, psyllium, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
  5. Mix until smooth, about 1 minute.
  6. Fold in the walnuts.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until it tests done with a toothpick.
  8. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove sides of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 267.5
Total Fat: 15.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 10.0 mg
Total Carbs: 32.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Protein: 3.2 g