Flour with A-Peel

Did you know that it’s possible to make flour out of America’s favorite fruit? That means it’s naturally gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, and keto-friendly. Now that’s bananas- Literally!

Green banana flour has been slow to take off in the US but has a ton of potential waiting to be unlocked. I was fortunate enough to get a sample of the stuff years ago, so I’ve been experimenting and learning through those trials, finally arriving at foolproof recipes worth sharing. It’s quite different from wheat, so don’t try just swapping it out 1-for-1.

Case in point; this early attempt was supposed to be a classic loaf of banana bread. The darned brick refused to rise, remaining as dry as a desert, condensed into a single bite.

How can you substitute banana flour for wheat flour?

Since banana flour has such a high starch content, you can use 25 – 30% less banana flour than wheat flour if adapting more conventional recipes. Otherwise, you’ll want to increase the liquid accordingly.Made from unripe, green bananas, this flour is high in starch which makes it very absorptive.

What does banana flour taste like?

It has a fairly neutral flavor, so it won’t taste like sweet, ripe bananas by itself. It’s ground very finely to create a smooth, almost silky texture when thickening liquids, and dense, regular crumb in baked goods.

With the right balance of liquid, fat, leavening, and a good dose of patience, the best, most banana-filled bread is absolutely within reach! Learning from my mistakes, I was able to craft a rich, moist, and tender bundt filled with every form of bananas I could get; banana flour, banana chips, and of course, fresh bananas. Each slice is sweet but not sugary, brightened with ginger and zesty orange juice for an invigorating finish.

Consider banana flour as an alternative to coconut flour or cassava flour, two other tropical, starchy powders with textural properties. It can be eaten raw, blended into smoothies in small doses, but is much more enjoyable when cooked, if you ask me.

I’ve also found banana flour to be an incredible ingredient for more savory preparations… But I’ll have to tease you with that idea for the time being. Stay tuned for part two of my banana flour exploration.

Banana flour can still be challenging to find in some parts of the US. If you can’t get it locally, you’ve got plenty of options online. It’s worth seeking out to make such tasty treats that can accommodate almost any dietary restrictions.

Continue reading “Flour with A-Peel”

Cakes of Biblical Proportions

Some cookbooks are more aspirational than inspirational. You know the sort; heavy, hard covers with glossy photos splashed across the pages. If not for the text, they could qualify as art projects, printed and bound for posterity. Laid out deliberately in plain view for guests to notice, appreciating your good taste, such things are pure beauty have plenty of value all the same.There’s a place on every well-appointed bookshelf for recipes dedicated to 10 minute meals and entirely unobtainable food porn.

On rare occasion, if you’re lucky, you’ll come across a cookbook that fits both descriptions. Filled with lofty pastry goals that look like the stuff of sweet dreams, yet written in such a way that you could genuinely recreate these edible sculptures in real life, Sara Kidd bridges that gap with her groundbreaking release of The Vegan Cake Bible.

Deserving of culinary worship, these are not your mom’s bake sale tray bakes. We’re talking Caramel Swirl Bundt with Nougatine, Almond Sponge with Caramelized Apple & Ginger Meringue Buttercream, Vanilla Malt Marshmallow Birthday Cake, and beyond. By including a full breakdown of each individual component, you can easily mix and match to create the unique combination you’re truly craving.

Roast Carrot Cardamom Cake

It’s not just a set of instructions, but a full education that could rival the popular virtual pastry courses offered by highly esteemed culinary schools. We’re talking about the nitty gritty behind food science, shedding light on why ingredients interact the way they do, creating unique textures and flavors to better harness that power. Sara won’t leave you hanging when it’s time to stack things up, with tips and tricks to build sound foundations for towering cakes, no matter how tall. Naturally, plenty of time is given to decorating skills that go beyond a basic piping bag, creating treats as beautiful as they are delicious. There’s even a chapter about transporting your cakes when it’s party time!

As a certified Old Vegan™, I wish I had such a complete guide when I was blindly mashing bananas into everything, hoping and praying the results would be reasonably edible. Never could I have even imagined these feats of cake mastery, made accessible to anyone bold enough to call themselves a Baker. Though initially daunting, I promise, these luscious, layered creations are within your reach.

What’s even more incredible is the unbelievable number of gluten-free options all throughout these colorful pages. Her Gluten-free Vegan Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd and American Buttercream is a case in point, which she generously granted me permission to reprint here. However, I don’t think my little recipe card could do it proper justice; there’s so much more description within her original post, that I must implore you to make that one extra click to get all the info.

While you’re over there, don’t miss Sara’s full archive of sweet recipes, videos, and even baking classes for hands-on experiences with the master herself. Anyone even remotely interested in sweets will relish such an indispensable resource. Treat yourself, or someone you love, to the gift of truly incredible vegan cakes today.

Bamboozled Cup Noodles

Few things are as consistent and predictable as ramen noodles. Dried, impervious to outside conditions for years, those shelf-stable strands taste the same on day one as they do on day one thousand. Tender and slippery, always salty, the savory flavor is a simple pleasure that everyone can appreciate. It’s a universal experience that seems to feed a hunger that isn’t always just a physical need. That’s the definition of comfort food; providing satisfaction on an emotional level.

Glistening as they float to the top of the cup, each glossy curl beckons, invoking a primal hunger even for those otherwise lacking an appetite. Such a familiar, nostalgic flavor promises the same instant gratification every single time. Before plunging in a fork, spoon or set of chopsticks, you already know exactly what you’re getting.

But wait, what is this trickery? Giving way like softly whipped cream, the seemingly plump noodles are not long and starchy at all! Beneath, where the should be soup, something more substantial awaits. Solid rather than liquid, this base seems to be fluffy, golden, and…

Cake? Make no mistake, this is definitely a sweet yellow cake, fragrant with notes of vanilla sugar, topped with silky cream cheese frosting!

April Fool’s!

As one who’s been burned a few times too many by ill-conceived and borderline malicious jokes, this is the only type of trick I’ll pull. I doubt anyone would actually be fooled, which makes it better, if you ask me. It’s a gentle trompe l’oeil, designed to delight rather than disgust. The ceramic cup noodle mug is what makes it more compelling, but it’s far from mandatory to get in on the fun.

You can easily make your own ramen cupcake by baking your favorite batter in any small oven-safe mug or bowl. Fill it only about halfway, since it will rise, and you still want space on top to add “noodles.” Baking time can vary greatly depending on the size, shape, and thickness of your vessel, so to make sure the cake is cooked all the way through, keep a close eye on your oven and test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. When removed, there should only be a few moist crumbs clinging to the sides at most, and no raw batter.

Cool completely and apply your favorite white, beige, or light tan frosting using a piping bag fitted with a multi hole piping tip. For the finish touch, add a few tiny pieces of peeled and diced kiwi along with pomegranate arils to stand in for the token vegetables on top.

You don’t need a wicked sense of humor to appreciate such a harmless prank. Like ramen, cake of any kind is welcome on my table at all times.

Sweet Sixteen

Birthdays slowly lose their appeal over the years, stacking up one after another whether you’re ready or not. What was once exciting becomes blasé. Been there, done that, ate the cake and lived to tell the tale. Rinse and repeat.

There are certain milestones that are genuinely worth getting fired up over. Especially for a youngster on the cusp of adulthood, a Sweet Sixteen is a huge event, above and beyond the average birthday. It symbolizes coming of age, transitioning into the next chapter of life, and maybe even graduating from the kids’ table.

My dearest BitterSweet blog, you are now a mature, fully ripened fruit. How on earth this happened is beyond me. Despite some bad parenting in the beginning, you managed to not only survive the abuse, but thrive in spite of it. Together we’ve grown in ways unthinkable at the start. Now I can’t imagine life without you, nor would I want to.

Happy Sweet Sixteen, BitterSweet! To commemorate this momentous occasion, I had to pull out all the stops for an unforgettable cake worthy of such an event. After hemming and hawing for month, inspiration struck: nothing short of a sixteen-layered crepe cake would do.

How I could have gone sixteen years without featuring a single recipe using ube is beyond me. Let’s make up for lost time and dive right in, shall we? This purple yam is a staple in the Philippines, where it’s often the key ingredient in ice cream, cakes, cookies, waffles, lattes, jams, puddings, and beyond. Though its main claim to fame is that otherworldly hue, the flavor is what keeps people coming back for more. Subtle and delicate with a natural sweetness, the flavor is nutty like toasted pistachio with a hint of vanilla bean.

Granted, I took a short cut here and used ube extract and powder rather than the genuine article. It’s much easier to blend in concentrated flavor and color than start from a whole, fresh tuber, even if it’s not authentic. Just a few drops makes a big splash, and as my crepes started piling up, I worried that I might have gone overboard.

Vibrant in a way that they looked Photoshopped in real life, those thin French pancakes have never been so bold before. Served alone to wrap up whipped cream or fruit, they would already be an unforgettable treat, but when transformed into a tall stack with fluffy layers of buttercream in between, the results are awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

Mille Crepe literally means “a thousand crepes,” so by that metric my grand gateau falls short. However, I think that sixteen is more than enough for now. Who knows: Maybe someday, little old BitterSweet will old enough to celebrate a millennia. Until then… Stay sweet!

Continue reading “Sweet Sixteen”

Cake It Naked

In the age-old debate between chocolate and vanilla, few can claim complete neutrality. Even if a strong preference emerges, it would be near impossible to deny the other. Who would want to imagine a life without rich chocolate lava cakes, dark chocolate fudge, or chewy brownies, or on the other hand, vanilla bean ice cream, crisp meringue cookies, or New York cheesecake. Luckily, we don’t need to pick sides in this battle. In fact, we can even have both at the same time.

Stripped down to the bare essentials, Naked Shake delivers pure plant-based protein with clean, well-rounded chocolate and vanilla flavors. Each is a treat served up as solo sips, blending instantly into a smooth, creamy treat that could give a classic milkshake a run for its money even when using plain water. That’s because MCT oil adds a certain richness that makes it far more satisfying than the average mix, giving you everything you want, and nothing you don’t.

When these two forces are combined, however, real magic starts to happen.

Endless layers of chocolate and vanilla paint this simple snacking cake in bold stripes, creating a crave-worthy contrast of flavors in every bite. Named for this pattern that looks similar to a zebra’s unique patterning, it’s more like a lazy marble cake that does all the work for you.

Stay naked and resist the urge to add icing; there’s no need for that extra sweetness that would only cover up such brilliant flavors. There’s nothing to hide when you start with quality ingredients and just don’t mess them up. GMO-free, soy-free, vegan and certified gluten-free, Naked Shake offers something that everyone can enjoy. In keeping with that spirit, my zebra cake is also gluten-free, and could be made low-sugar if you wanted to substitute erythritol or a monk fruit baking blend.

You don’t even need to rationalize slicing off a big chunk to enjoy for snack or breakfast. It’s a genuinely healthy choice; no cheating necessary! In fact, you could even bake off the batter as muffins for better portion control and portability, if you’re into those things.

Earn your stripes by shortening the divide between chocolate and vanilla. There’s room for both flavors and so much more, without making any compromises.

Continue reading “Cake It Naked”

Icing on the Birthday Cake

Birthdays were so simple as a kid; you had a party, got cake, played with all your friends, and opened presents. What’s not to love? Fast forward a few years and those same joyous rituals began to feel trite. Maybe you were too “cool” for all the fuss or had more complicated relationships. As time wore on, getting older didn’t seem like a thing to celebrate at all, for the daily slog of adulthood and the aches to come with it. Birthdays transformed from the best day of the year to the absolute worst.

Here I am now, observing the 33rd anniversary of my creation, and I think I’ve entered into the next part of the cycle. Finally breaking through the gloom, I realize how lucky I am to have such a “problem” of getting older. Yes, it’s difficult and so much of it is a pain, literally and figuratively, but it sure beats the alternative. It’s a day that I can use to treat myself to all the things I love, for no particular reason. Why not take the excuse to indulge?

That’s why I’m throwing a little virtual party right here, right now, with all things cake and cake-inspired. If it’s got sprinkles and sweetness, I’m all about it, whether it’s a cookie, a candy, or something else entirely. Here are just a few of my favorite treats that are worthy of any celebration, no matter what stage of birthday appreciation you find yourself in.

Continue reading “Icing on the Birthday Cake”