Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cake for breakfast

It's true.  Every once in a while, that's what we have.  But it's not real cake.  It's actually an undercover, well-rounded way to start the day.  Let me explain...

Eggs, like people, come in a variety
of shapes, sizes, and even colors
Unless you set the table in the morning with hot cereal made from wheat berries or steel-cut oats, locally produced eggs, fresh fruit and calcium-rich milk, you're probably eating something less healthy than my breakfast cake.  Maybe it's cereal from a box that doesn't expire for three years because it has no nutritional value on its own so it had to be doused with spray-on vitamins?  A pastry that has so much sugar it could send a diabetic into a coma?  Maybe frozen waffles with ingredients that you can't pronounce?  Or perhaps you didn't have time to make anything so you just skipped the most important meal of the day?

This easy, versatile, original recipe was recently requested by my sister, Deborah.  Now you all get to have it:

Mash 2 large or 3 medium very ripe bananas with a fork in your mixing bowl.  You don't want big chunks, but it doesn't have to feel like baby food.  Add up to 1/2 c. canola oil and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time until smooth.
In a separate bowl, blend 2 c. real whole wheat flour* with 1 tsp. baking powder1/2 tsp. salt, and any spice or blend of spices that you like.  My favorite is 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. cardamon, but sometimes I use nutmeg, ginger or cloves.  Add dry to wet and stir until the lumps are out, then pour in 1 c. milk and stir (not too hard or you'll splash!) until smooth.  Pour into two long loaf pans, lightly greased and floured or lined with parchment paper.  Chop at least 1/2 c. almonds or walnuts and sprinkle evenly over the top.


Almonds are a good source of protein, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium...

Bake at 325 F/160 C until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.  It takes 20-35 minutes in my very old oven, depending on the type of pan I'm using and whether or not Hemdiya played with the temperature knob while it was baking.  It's a forgiving cake though and you should be able to smell when it's done.  The milk, fruit, and almonds already give it plenty of natural sweetness, but you can add sweetener when you are mashing the bananas to make this a dessert cake.  Date syrup will make the cake very moist, so make sure you don't forget the salt (natural preservative) or your cake will spoil quickly.  Honey will make the cake drier and cause it to brown more in the oven, but you can add extra milk to compensate.  Freezes well if you're single; waste of time trying to freeze if you have a medium- to large-sized family.

Someday I plan on publishing a cookbook.  When you make this, please post your baking time in the comments section so I can give a narrower range, averaged out from a variety of ovens (and include which kind of pan you used: glass, non-stick metal, foil, etc.).  Thanks!!

*The whole wheat flour that you'll find in a paper sack is either white flour dust with bran added back in (and usually way too much to make up for the missing germ) or else it has probably gone rancid from the oil in the germ souring at room temperature.  "Real" whole wheat flour is not shelf stable and is highly susceptible to insect infestation, making it necessary to purchase frozen or vacuum sealed if you can't grind it yourself.