I am eternally searching for recipes that can work triple duty as dessert, afternoon snack and breakfast for a young and spritely toddler. The foods in questions must do this while remaining reasonably sound from a nutritional perspective. Cake has therefore mutated from a fluffy fat and sweet-based crumb into a creative medium to hide vegetables, grains and beans of all kinds.
This particular iteration is a spice-cake with a dense brownie-like texture. I won’t lie, it’s quite high up on the crunch-o-meter. My sister would say that it’s 70’s health-food cooking. It’s also a bit on the dry side which is the way I like my cakes, so feel free up the oil and reduce the cooking time a little if you want things moister. It can be enjoyed straight up as a snacking cake with a cup of tea, sweetened with a bit of non-dairy vanilla ice-cream, or toasted and buttered with some Earth Balance and a dusting of cinnamon sugar. It will leave you lastingly full and provide sustained energy release without the sugar high and corresponding crash: good news with a little one.
Yield: an 8’’x8’’ pan
What you need:
- 1-1/2 cups (250 g) chopped dates, soaked until soft in a 2 cup measuring glass (add water up to the 2 cup mark, or for a sweeter cake, use apple or blueberry juice)
- 1-1/2 cups cooked kidney or adzuki beans (you’ll want to use pressure cooked beans as simmered ones usually retain a bit too much tooth to easily be processed to pulp. In a pinch, canned beans will do – they’ve certainly go the right texture for the job – use a 540 mL can and make sure to rinse them well)
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cup whole-grain flour
- 1/4 cup Sucanat or organic cane sugar
- 1/4 cup carob powder
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
- 3 tablespoons flax seed, ground to a meal and then mixed with 6 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and set aside to gel for 10 minutes or so
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
What you do :
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8’’ x 8’’ glass or ceramic baking dish. Flour the greased dish using a bit of carob powder.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, carob, powdered spices, salt and baking powder.
- In a food processor, whiz together the dates and their soaking liquid, the flax goop, the beans, the oil and the Sucanat until smooth. It will take several minutes to get a really even pulp, stopping to scrape down the sides on a semi-regular basis.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well. The batter will be quite stiff. Fold in the rolled oats.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Even out the top as best you can, it will no doubt have a few peaks.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into squares.
- Add 1 cup of finely shredded coconut or chopped nuts to the batter at the same time as you fold in the rolled oats;
- Replace the red beans with black beans, swap the carob for cacao, tone down the spices and replace the rolled oats with chopped walnuts if you want something closer to a brownie;
- Omit the carob and spices, substitute navy beans for the red beans and add some mashed banana and pure vanilla extract for a similarly dense but pale cake.