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An Examined Life

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Tag: spices (page 1 of 2)

Pantry and Freezer Clean-Out (Yay, Spiced Banana Loaf)

I cook lunch and dinner on most days.

P and I take lunch to work in Thermos containers that keep the food warm for hours. A long time ago (or so it seems), I used to cook extra for dinner, and we took the leftovers for lunch the following day. Then something changed (and I don’t recall what it is). I began cooking lunch every morning. We discovered that Thermos containers are true to their word. The steaming dal blew my mind (and P’s too). We were instant converts. Now I cannot fathom eating leftovers for lunch. There is clearly something to be said for the sheer deliciousness that is freshly cooked food. There is a certain juiciness to it, an indescribable rasa that renders the food sublime and delicious and utterly satisfying.

You’d think that a kitchen as heavily used as ours would see a high turnover of ingredients and supplies. That’s certainly true for some varieties of dals and beans, fresh produce, bread, avocados, dates (we seem to consume them in crazy quantities – I jest), etc. However, there are certain ingredients that lurk on pantry and freezer shelves for a long while. So I have decided to start using those “silent actors” and clear them out.

Made a delicious Spiced Banana Loaf yesterday. Proud to say that I cleaned out the following items for this endeavor – Spelt flour, almond meal, broken cashews. I also used white whole wheat flour that has been sitting in the freezer for a while now (I bake mostly with spelt flour).

This is a vegan recipe that uses coconut oil. I use the organic, unrefined type and it is fairly flavorless. The original recipe called for 1.5 cups of chocolate chips but I used a blend of cranberries, black raisins, cashews and cocoa nibs instead. Can I say, that mix is a whole lot more interesting than plain old chocolate chips?

Spiced Banana Loaf

The end result was (or is) moist, mildly sweet (I used a third of the quantity of sugar asked for in the original recipe), perfectly spiced. I couldn’t carve out neat slices, instead ending up with little misshapen slabs.

So, if you would like to sample these little bits of deliciousness, please stop by. I am a little shy to tote them out this time. 🙂

The original recipe is at NY Times Cooking – Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Cake.

Ingredients

2 cups flour (I used a mix of spelt flour, white whole wheat flour and almond meal)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A couple pinches of salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut oil (unrefined, organic)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (cashews, dried cranberries, black raisins, cocoa nibs)

Method

  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, coconut milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in the dried fruit and nut and cocoa nibs mix. Stir well.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.
  • Transfer on to a cooling rack. Carefully turn it over, so the bottom does not get too moist.
  • Cut into wedges, enjoy.

Fresh Ginger Spice Cake

Fresh Ginger Spice Cake

Ginger is one of my favorite spices. I adore it in all forms. Fresh ginger is something I add to almost everything Indian I cook. Dal, khichdi, curries, soups… all of them get a generous addition of ginger – chopped or shredded. My daily cup of masala chai depends on fresh ginger for the zing and sharpness. Last India trip, I brought back to the U.S. a big knob of fragrant dried ginger (“chukkuh” in Malayalam). It liberally perfumed the plastic bag it came in. I add generous doses of dried ginger powder (“soonth”) to spice cookies and cakes. We are loyal consumers of all manner of herbal ginger teas (Yogi, Traditional Medicinals, Pukka, etc.)

I think I waited too long to make this cake, no?

Here is the original recipe. I have tweaked quantities and substituted ingredients in my version, so please read both recipes before you start baking!

Ingredients

80g fresh ginger, peeled
2/3 cup organic unsulphured molasses
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature (I used Ener-G egg replacer)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with oil or non-stick spray.
  • Chop the ginger finely. Or you can use a mixer/grinder to shred it finely.
  • Combine the shredded ginger, molasses, sugar and olive oil in a large bowl.
  • Mix the flour, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper in another bowl.
  • Bring the water to boil in a saucepan, add baking soda. Stir the water into the molasses mixture.
  • Incorporate the dry ingredients in to the molasses mixture.
  • Add the egg replacer to the batter. Mix well until combined thoroughly.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for an hour until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the top of the cake starts browning before the cake is done, cover with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking.
  • Let the cake cool for a good 30 minutes.
  • Cut into wedges, enjoy.

Notes

  • This cake is a beautiful blend of the sweet and spicy. The dark sweetness of the molasses perfectly complements the warm spices.
  • I used spelt flour in place of whole wheat flour.
  • The original recipe called for 120g of fresh ginger. However, the kind of fresh ginger we buy is very intense, so I reduced the quantity to 80g instead.
  • I used a loaf pan that was clearly the wrong size. The cake swelled up and started overflowing down the sides of the pan. The original recipe calls for a 9-inch springform pan or a 9inch x 3inch cake pan, neither of which I own. Well, the cake swelled like crazy, finally collapsing in the center. Next time, I will use a larger baking utensil.
  • I think this cake could benefit from the addition of dried cranberries and/or black raisins.