17 Dec 2012

“I Love You” Chocolate Banana Gingerbread Cake


December is the best time of year to bake. Winter is setting in, and what better way to warm up the house than with delectable smells emanating from the oven? This is the time of year to be gathered close to those you love, so with some gingerbread cake on a plate accompanied with a pot of tea, invite your family and friends over! There are few things that communicate your love as clearly as something sweet and delicious.

Last year during this time, I had a dalliance with chocolate gingerbread, and this year the courtship continues. However, having had a whole year to mature my culinary capabilities, I think I have arrived upon a new rendition that approaches the zenith of gingerbread glory. This latest version uses freshly grated ginger and nutmeg to accentuate their warm flavours against the dark sweetness of molasses, while the addition of bananas keeps the cake moist but light. As with most good things, patience is required: a low baking temperature is used to bake the dense gingerbread through the middle without burning the outside. I love the symbolism of a circle for representing unity and togetherness, so I baked my gingerbread in a round cake pan. If you aren't as hung up on metaphor as me, you can be practical and bake it in a shallow rectangular dish, which would probably reduce the baking time and ensure even baking.

I relish the comfort and security that tradition can bring, so my plan is to bake some version of gingerbread each year from hereon as my own way of embracing holiday ritual. I am so pleased with this year's version, but of course there is always the potential for change (as our yoga practices remind us!), and perhaps next year it will be the same, but different. Until then, I plan to offer this up with warm fuzzy feelings to my loved ones.
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“I Love You” Chocolate Banana Gingerbread Cake

3 ripe bananas (frozen and then thawed)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (a rasp or Microplane does the best job)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
icing sugar (optional, for dusting)

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas. (I tend to freeze super ripe ones and then thaw them later - this way I'm not pressured to use them before the fruit flies appear on the counter, and more importantly they are super mushy after this freeze/thaw process.) Add the oil, molasses, egg, and milk. Whisk together until homogenous.

In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (sugars, spices, baking powder, flour, cocoa). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix with a spatula until just combined. If you really want to go all out, mix in some chocolate chips - everyone will think that your cake is the cat's whiskers. Pour the batter into a greased baking pan and bake at 300 F for 40-50 minutes. Baking time will depend on the size of your pan and how spread out the batter is. If a longer baking time is required, increase the oven heat to 350 F. Mine took a looong time to bake (over an hour), so if you are energy conscious you might want to bake a casserole for dinner at the same time. Or dry your clothes in the oven. Or something.

The cake is finished when the top is dry to the touch and a knife or skewer comes out of the middle cleanly. Let cool thoroughly before dusting with icing sugar. Doing this while it is snowing outside makes the activity extra romantic. Serve with love.

Written by Adrienne Shum
Photos by David Quiring

Adrienne Shum is a yoga instructor, an Ayurvedic lifestyle counsellor, and has a Masters in Food Science. She likes to cook, bake, and plan dinner parties. When she is not in the kitchen she is sewing leather pouches and journals (www.facebook.com/branniganandbarry). Please contact her for Ayurvedic nutrition consultations and upcoming workshop dates at adrienne.shum@gmail.com.






Fuelled by an ever growing passion for visual storytelling, David Quiring documents a gamut of life experiences through photography and cinematography. Alongside his photography, David maintains a strong personal yoga and meditation practice, deeply rooted in the principles of Yin yoga. He embraces the opportunity to teach Yin and share the lessons from his own journey, as he believes that the quiet form of Yin is a welcome and necessary complement to the busy Yang lifestyles that people often lead. Find David and his works at www.davidquiring.com.


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