As our moving date looms over us, I've been playing a culinary game. It's the "how many meals can I make without going to the grocery store?" game. I have a freezer full of duck stock, gyozas, frozen artichoke hearts and frozen beans, bits of gravy, frozen herbs...oh yes and a few pounds of English sausages. I also have cupboards full of those gourmet items you can't resist when you are on holiday or that kind friends and family members can't resist giving you at Christmas: flavored mustards and 37 varieties of hot pepper sauce (the Critic's love of spicy foods is well known) and grains that you think you should eat more often. So on the day that the Critic left for two weeks in Singapore* I started rummaging through the cupboards and freezer looking for ingredients for a sweet treat to cheer us all up. Banana cake: Big Brother loves it when I make them into cupcakes and I had a couple of bananas in the freezer. However, the recipe I use calls for butter and we had none. Then I thought of the yogurt cake I've made, which calls for oil instead. And I wondered: if I add bananas to the yogurt cake, what will that do to the consistency? Now an intelligent cook would, at this point, realize that you could probably substitute oil for butter in the banana cake recipe and everything would be just fine. But I have always disliked the idea of using a cup full of oil in anything and so instead I wondered...what if we replaced the oil with banana? Would it work?
The answer is a qualified yes. The cakes came out a little chewier than usual, but definitely tasty and definitely healthier. The only mistake I made, really, was in throwing some dried blueberries in the mix too. They were delicious - don't get me wrong - but not a hit with a suspicious three year old. But at least I now won't be packing blueberries...
*Yes, that's right: I've been left alone with the two monsters to battle the forces of Evil French Bureaucracy and organize a move in less than four weeks' time. Feel free to pity me - or better yet, send gin...
No-Fat Banana Cupcakes (makes 12-15)
The name of this recipe may be a bit of a misnomer: for all I know, bananas may have some fat in them. However, I can at least confirm that I added no fat myself. They are actually particularly good for small children (providing you omit the blueberries or have open-minded blueberry-loving children) because they don't crumble easily. Personally, I am always in favor of a cake that doesn't add to my twice-a-day sweeping habit.
1 pot of plain yoghurt (125 ml)
2 very ripe bananas, peeled
2 yogurt pots of sugar
3 yogurt pots of flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c dried sweetened blueberries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.Cut the banana in chunks and add to the mixing bowl with the yogurt. Beat until smooth and then add the eggs one by one, beating after each one until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix in the blueberries (if using). Pour the batter into lined cupcake molds, filling them 2/3 of the way. Bake for 15 -18 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. (Test with a wooden toothpick to make sure: if it comes out wet, the cakes are not done.)
And for anyone curious about what I did with the 12 leftover cupcakes...well, I managed to lock myself and the children in the flat last week and had to call on our neighbors to come and free us with the spare set of keys we gave them. Their poor teenaged son had to get up before nine for this kind deed so I left a half dozen on their doorstep the next day. As for the others, only my scale and I know where they went...