The boys both love cooking, and it’s something the hubster and I both try to do several times a week with the kids, whether they’re helping chop veg or stir a pan. Something I like to do with them is what I call ‘experimental baking’, or as Matt puts it, changing recipes when you haven’t got half the stuff.
This week I had a couple of over ripe bananas and a pack of pre-cooked beetroot (not in vinegar!) to use up, which seems like an unpromising start for a cake recipe. I Googled ‘beetroot and banana cake’ and came up with a few likely looking candidates. I wrote out (in pencil) the recipe of the one that we had the nearest ingredients for (I’ve included a link to the website with the original recipe here).
The next stage is to go through the recipe and make substitutions and changes depending on what is available and what I want to use. For example the original recipe called for 300ml vegetable oil, I made it lower fat and boosted the nutrients by using 100ml cold pressed rapeseed oil and 200g plain yoghurt instead. I left out the nutmeg and added cacao powder. I blitzed 100g cashews to a flour and used that instead of the 124g of chopped nuts in the original. I added a teaspoon of baking powder. I had less beetroot than the recipe called for. I left off the cream cheese topping. I made cupcakes and a small loaf instead of one large cake because I didn’t have over an hour and a half to bake it. The initial recipe is therefore rubbed out and added to as we go along, so if it works we can repeat it, and if it doesn’t I can tweak it.
Toby helped by mashing bananas, measuring ingredients, stirring, lining the cup cake trays with
paper liners and, last but not least, licking clean the spoons and bowl (this is reasonably safe to do these days in the UK due to the ways eggs are handled here, but if you have immune issues you may want to exercise caution with cake mix containing raw egg).
Really great bakers will probably look at my cakes and say ‘well, the cracked top tells me they used 25g too little sugar’ or something, and for sure nothing I make is worthy of Pinterest, but they tasted great, they’re a bit lower in sugar and fat and higher in vitamins and minerals than most standard recipes, and so long as we have fun and they get eaten, we’re happy. These got the Toby seal of approval that they ‘didn’t taste of beetroot at all’ and even the hubster ate them despite them being ‘a little banana-y’ (he doesn’t eat fruit). The rate at which they are disappearing means we did something right!
So, should you fancy taking the plunge and making beetroot and banana chocolate cupcakes, here’s the recipe.
(I made 24 cupcakes and a small loaf, but the amount of mix would do at least 36 cupcakes without the loaf and they freeze well so you can make a big batch and take out a few at a time)
You will need:
250g packet cooked beetroot (not the one in vinegar though!)
450g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
275g caster sugar or light brown sugar
100g cashews blitzed to a flour (or chopped nuts for a crunchier texture)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
200g plain yoghurt
100ml cold pressed rapeseed oil (or other flavourless oil)
2 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line cup cake trays with paper liners. For the small loaf I oiled the tin and lined it with a wide strip of baking paper to help when turning it out
Mix all the ingredients except the baking powder in a large bowl. I add the baking powder right at the end when we’re almost ready to fill the cases as it starts to produce carbon dioxide as soon as it gets wetted by the other ingredients and if I’m cooking with the boys their mixing is sometimes so slow that we’ve lost the benefit of the baking powder by the time the cakes go in the oven.
Spoon the mix into the cases or pour into cake tins. The cup cakes took 12 minutes, the loaf about 25 minutes, a single cake would take longer (the original recipe said around an hour and a half).
To make the recipe vegan/dairy free, use an egg substitute such as chia seeds and replace the 200g yoghurt with an extra 200ml oil. For wheat free white spelt is good, for gluten free any gluten free cake flour will work.