Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crunchy banana cake

I love the smell of bananas in baked goods, but there is one major drawback - banana breads and cakes tend to be stodgy. However, when I saw this recipe for "crackly banana bread" I was off to the neighboring shop immediately, looking for millet.

Alas, what I thought was millet was, on closer inspection, the ever popular and ubiquitous quinoa, but the next day I walked a few blocks more to an organic store and found millet. It's kind of like bird seed. Actually, it probably is bird seed. But the important thing is that it has a crunchy texture, and you know if there's one texture I can't resist, it's itsy bitsy bits of crunchiness in my food - figs, raspberries, sesame seeds, you name it, I love it.

I added flax seeds as well, thinking it would add to the crackle factor - and it did. I think most of my cakes are going to contain both millet and flax seeds from now on.

Here's what you need, adapted from the original recipe.

3 very ripe bananas (not pictured, because they were pretty gross looking)
1 large egg
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons spice mix (mix cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg etc.) (I used spice mix for Chai Masala; it contained some pepper in addition to the aforementioned spices and actually, the spiciness was quite welcome.)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white all purpose flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/3 cup uncooked millet
2 tablespoons flax seeds

Preheat your oven to 350F

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork or a potato masher until slimy smooth. Whisk in the egg, oil, ricotta and brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.

Add the millet and most of the flax seeds (keep a little for sprinkling on top), salt, baking powder and spice mixture. Mix briefly.

Sift in the flour, and stir until just combined - do not overdo it.

Spray your pan with baking spray (I used a 4 inch by 12 inch loaf pan) and pour in the batter.  

Sprinkle with the remaining flax seeds, and bake in the middle of the oven until a long toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. It should take about 45 to 55 minutes, depending on your oven.

Take the loaf out and let cool on a rack.

The result is a moist but delectably crunchy cake. The most delicious parts of the cake were, for me, the bottom, the sides, and especially the flax seed-sprinkled top. I think this means that next time I might make this as a sheet cake, perhaps half an inch high. That will mean more room for sprinkling flax seeds. Or maybe I'll use a mould for whoopie pies. 

I have millet on the brain now. I'm thinking what else I can put it in. Carrot cake? Spice cake? Cookies? Yes, yes, yes. I didn't know we fed birds such wonderful stuff!


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