A couple of months back, I experimented with cake from banana peel. It didn’t come out as well as I would have liked…a little solid and quite dry…Challenged to feed the troops at work, I had another crack at it.
I’ve done some learning since that first attempt and have two knew tricks to keep my cakes nice and moist: the first is to remove the cake from the oven when it is still a little underdone. The normal wisdom is that the cake is done when a skewer comes out clean: the truth is that it is already well done by this stage: the time to remove it from the oven is when just a few crumbs still stick to the skewer. The second trick is to store your cakes in a proper sealable cake tin i.e. not just on a plate on a shelf or in the fridge where it will quickly dry out.
My experiment with blending banana whole i.e. not skinned has been going well: the only hiccup has been that fresh banana skins are a little too fibrous to blend smoothly. Ripe and frozen bananas go through the blades no problem. If in doubt, I place any under-ripe peels in a container in the freezer where they start to break down. They only seem to semi-freeze which is probably why they still ripen while ‘frozen’ and only need 30 minutes if that, before they are soft enough to puree. the thawing process can be hastened by soaking the skins in water.
Unimpressed with the original banana peel recipe that was hideously over-sugared, I decided to use Nadia Lim’s base recipe for kumara cake and just sub out the three cups of kumara with three cups of pureed banana peel.I added some water – maybe a half cup – to the peels when pureeing them and this made that task and lot simpler and easier. I ‘greened’ up the recipe a tad by using 50/50 raw sugar and coconut sugar, and a 25/75 mix of home-ground wholemeal flour and store-bought high grade flour.
What came out of the oven was a lush rich uber-tasty cake that everybody thinks is ‘normal’ banana cake. They are amazed at the actual key ingredient. I like this recipe because a. it taste good and b. it reduces waste in the kitchen – sure, I’d only be composting the peels anyway but using banana peels in baking reduces the waste from a banana to just the very ends.
But wait!! It gets better. I reprised the healthy coffee icing I used on my colourful beetroot cake. To stretch the cashews I subbed in one third walnuts, soaked these overnight and followed the same recipe. I upped the coffee by half a teaspoon and it really kicks butt – an even healthier coffee hit. I can’t do too much about the sugar but will reduce it by half next time as the coffee flavour dominates and the base cake is pretty sweet anyway…