Today is Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year. The January blues post Christmas have set in, normal routines are resumed and everyone feels thoroughly fed up with the drudgery and monotony of every day life: it’s a good day to eat cake.
Although I’m adapting to vegan cooking (it’s not that far removed from my usual cooking), vegan baking is a whole new territory all together. My last venture into this area went disastrously wrong with an attempt at a lemon cake, where I used way too much coconut oil!
I think I’m sussing things out a lot more than I had a few months ago; milk and dairy replacements aren’t a problem, with ready-made substitutions widely available, but eggs pose a whole other problem altogether! I’ve since learnt about the value of chia eggs (seeds mixed with water that form a gel that is very similar in texture to egg whites) and also aquafaba (tinned chickpea water) is another useful egg replacement in certain dishes.
There is also the approach of finding a recipe that simply doesn’t require certain ingredients rather than trying to replace them like-for-like. After a certain amount of trial and error, I’ve adapted this yummy banana loaf recipe, which actually works and doesn’t lack in taste. I’m enjoying it as an alternative to my workday flapjack and it’s going down a storm in the kids lunch boxes too!
- 2 x very ripe bananas
- 75g Trex (vegetable shortening)
- 100ml maple syrup
- 190g oats, ground in a food processor to make a fine flour
- 1 x tsp vanilla extract
- 1 and a half tsp baking powder
- 50g walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 x tbsp chia seeds, mixed with a little water to make a gel similar in texture to egg white
- 60ml almond milk
- 1 x tbsp maca powder (optional)
Melt the Trex, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a saucepan over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and mix the mashed banana through, followed by the chia seed mixture and the chopped walnuts.
Stir through the ground oats, baking powder, maca powder (if using) and almond milk then transfer to a lined loaf tin.
Bake at 180C for 50 minutes to one hour or until a fork comes out clean. If the cake begins to colour too much on top, cover with foil for the remaining cooking time.
I’ve always liked to kid myself that my cakes are ‘healthy’ due to the fruit and vegetable I like to hide in them, but in reality, they’re unabashedly sweet treats packed with sugar! I’ve gone slightly further with this banana loaf and not only does it contain requisite fruit, I’ve also substituted the flour for oats, to provide a more substantial filling snack. There’s also no refined sugar in it – but that is due to my laziness. I’d actually run out of brown sugar and out of convenience I substituted maple syrup instead, which worked equally well.
We may not have well and truly beaten the January blues but cake may have eased them and lifted our spirits slightly – in a healthy eating kind of way.