I’m not one to shy away from butter when it comes to baking. I love how it imparts its comforting flavour onto cakes and cookies, and not only does it help keep baked goods moist, it also provides a delicate crumb and texture.
I’ve generally a big believer in cakes, cookies and pastries being indulgent, and to be consumed in moderation. So my question is: Is a brownie a brownie when it’s made using dates and nuts for example, and doesn’t have the dense, fudgy, chewiness that a classic brownie ought to have? I used to say no. But I suppose that in a world that is increasingly becoming more varied in dietary preferences, a brownie is a brownie as long as those eating it are happy to call it that.
As I dabble more and more into the world of alternative flours and alternative fats, I am unearthing the fact that while it is difficult to replicate the wonders that butter, eggs and plain flour can do, healthier substitutes too can yield exceptional tasting cakes too.
In this recipe for Marbled Avocado Banana Bread, I used avocado in place of butter. While avocados provide healthy fats, they still miss out on helping to create a soft crumb that butter in more inclined to do. Avocados also tend to have a more earthier flavour to them.
In place of regular plain flour, I used a mix of spelt and dark rye, both of which have a slightly nutty flavour and with a bit more gluten especially in rye flour, a denser texture is created. This by no means results in a cake that is far from delicious. In fact, I sometimes enjoy cakes that are a little heavier because of the ‘chew-factor’ and you don’t need as big a piece in order to feel satiated. Also, as my bananas were really ripe when I made this, I didn’t need to add much coconut sugar to the batter. As such, I relished the natural sweetness of this bread that felt hardly indulgent.
Marbled Avocado Banana Bread (Yields 1 large loaf)
3 Ripe Bananas (300-360g)
1 Ripe Hass Avocado
30ml Sunflower Oil (Or Coconut Oil, or melted butter)
150ml Coconut Milk
50g Coconut Sugar
200g Spelt Flour
90g Dark Rye Flour
45g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Baking Soda
60g Chopped Walnuts
- Preheat oven to 170 deg C and line an 9×4″ loaf tin.
- Blend bananas, avocado, oil, eggs, milk and sugar until mixture is smooth. Split batter into two bowls
– To one, incorporate 100g Spelt Flour, 45g Dark Rye Flour, 1/2 tsp Baking Powder and 1.5 tsp Baking Soda.
– To the other, incorporate 100g Spelt Flour, 45g Dark Rye Flour, 1/2 tsp Baking Powder, 1.5 tsp Baking Soda, 45g Cocoa Powder and fold in 60g chopped Walnuts.
- Place both batters in prepared baking tin and swirl to marble.
- Bake 50-60min or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
As usual, I had to have some walnuts thrown in for texture. I love my crunchy crunch in my bakes. As Mum always says, have all the crunch you want while you still have teeth. Wise words indeed!
I guess it would be unfair to compare alternative forms of baking, or ‘unbaking’ (e.g. raw desserts) to more traditional bakes simply because they are different. It doesn’t mean that one trumps the other. They’re just different species of the same big wide dessert world. Kind of like how all of us belong the the human race but within that huge circle, we have different skin colours, different shapes, different sizes…
In this sense, opening myself up to alternative forms of baking has helped open my eyes to the appreciate the beauty in variation, and that just because something doesn’t follow classic recipes or the traditional forms of baking, doesn’t make it any less authentic or any less delicious – of which the latter, of course, is most important!