Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Banana Flour
I’m pretty excited about this recipe and it presents two firsts for me today;
The winning combination of chocolate & beetroot – I know; old hat, but I haven’t posted one of these to date;
and…. banana flour!
I don’t know why I haven’t used banana flour yet. The wonderful Melanie at the Source Bulk Foods shop in Bulimba sent me some awhile ago and it has been haunting me from the fridge ever since.
I think that I knew that it would be like opening a can of worms and embark me off on an experimental frenzy – of which I didn’t have the time or energy for…. And I was sort of afraid of it.. sort of….well, yep, said it now…
It turns out that there was nothing to be afraid of. Banana flour is really easy to use. I imagined that it would be a bit tricky, like coconut flour which can really fluctuate in consistency, depending on the brand & which way the wind is blowing!
Banana flour is traditionally made from green bananas which have been dried, then ground and often used as a gluten free replacement to wheat flour. It has a very mild banana flavour in its raw form and when cooked, a practically non-existent banana flavour; this surprised me.
The texture is lighter than wheat flour and you need about 25% less volume in recipes, making it a good replacement for flour.
Because the flour is produced with green bananas, it has a high percentage (17 – 30%) of resistance starch which has recently gained a lot of attention. Resistant starch refers to a type of starch that we cannot easily digest and acts similarly to soluble and insoluble fibre. Preliminary research has shown that increased resistant starch intake may reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, and colon cancer by enhancing the gut flora. In addition to this, banana flour is naturally high in potassium, magnesium and vitamin E.
Historically, banana flour has been used in Africa and Jamaica as a cheaper alternative to wheat flour where it has been available commercially since the early as 1900’s. Queensland produces over 90% of our banana production and has only in the last few years, started producing banana flour. Interestingly, it takes 8–10 kg of raw green bananas to produce 1 kg of banana flour.
Banana flour is used not only as a replacement for flour in baking, but also as a thickener for sauces and soups. It can also be mixed in smoothies & drinks as a resistant starch supplement.
My observations with baking with banana flour are:
- Because it is gluten free, you will still need a binder such as eggs or linseeds or xanthan gum to prevent crumbliness.
- Like coconut flour, it browns very quickly so you may need to cover your cakes, mid cooking to prevent burning.
- You will need less banana flour than regular flour as it has so much fibre. Substitute 1 cup of normal flour for ¾ cup banana flour.
- Too much, too soon might make you fart a lot!
So back to the chocolate cake! The combination of beetroot and chocolate in a cake is akin to apple & cinnamon, bananas and walnuts, Simon & Garfunkel, Bert & Ernie…..!!
Roasting the beetroot removes a lot of the water and intensifies the flavour. It is very sweet and earthy in this cake. You will need about 200g whole fresh beetroot, roasted in foil for about 40 minutes. I will wrap a few in foil and bung them in the oven when I am cooking something else. After peeling you should have no less than 160g of roasted beetroot. I’m sure that steamed beetroot would be okay, although the flavour may not be as exceptional.
The added beauty of this recipe is it hides the veges from the kids! And……this chocolate cake is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and NUT-FREE!!! Move over Magic Bean cake!!
Beetroot has long been used for medicinal purposes, primarily for disorders of the liver as it helps stimulate the liver’s detoxification processes. It is rich in fibre, folic acid and glutamine. Beetroot fibre has been shown to increase the level of antioxidant enzymes in the body, specifically one called glutathione peroxidase. And there are many studies that show favourable effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure.
This recipe makes a small cake in a loaf tin. I have tried to double the quantity to make a bigger loaf but it tends to brown too quickly before the middle is cooked. A double batch would work very well cooked in 2 sandwich pans or muffin tins. It would be fabulous sandwiched together with my faux whipped cream, or as butterfly cakes. And also banana flour can be a bit expensive first off. If you haven’t used it before, buying a small quantity of banana flour will give you the courage to buy more in the future. I bet you will!
160g roasted beetroot (about 1 medium large)
90g rapadura sugar
60g dark chocolate, chopped ( I used a dairy-free 70% chocolate)
80g olive oil
1 teas vanilla extract
20g cacao powder
55g banana flour
1 tab tapioca flour
1 teas baking powder
Purée the beetroot, chocolate and sugar together for 10 seconds on SP 8.
Add the oil, eggs, salt & vanilla and cacao and blend for 10 seconds on SP 8.
Add the banana flour, tapioca flour and baking powder and mix on SP 6 for 20 seconds or until well combined. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes at 160°C. I think it is perfect without icing but feel free to top with your favourite chocolate icing or ganache.
It makes 7 large cupcakes which take 20 minutes to bake.