A few months ago, a conversation with my five year old went like this:
She: “Mamma! May I have cake for breakfast?”
Me: “No darling. Cakes don’t make a healthy breakfast choice.”
She: “Why do we have to eat healthy breakfast everyday?”
Me: “…(A long lecture on the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast, and how cakes are not healthy)…..”
Daughter( after a pause): “Then why do you bake unhealthy cakes all the time?”
Needless to say it surely made me frown. But with time, I have become more deft at steering my frowns towards smiles as my daughter is picking up argumentative skills. Not to be daunted, it was time to look for a cake recipe that would be healthy and not just for the namesake. So, here were my criteria:
A healthy cake should:
1. Not be slathered with buttercream or chocolate
2. Be low on fat, refined sugar and flour
3. Have some kind of fruit, vegetable and nuts in abundance
4. Have multi-grain flour in it
5. AND should appeal to the palate of a five year old
It appeared too idealistic but sometimes it pays to be stubborn. So, after going through many recipes, deciding on a few and finally tweaking a couple of them, I had my Eureka! moment.
Don’t go by the looks. This Plain Jane really packs a punch. This is my kind of everyday cake, one that I don’t mind my little girl having for breakfast. Despite having a high ratio of multi-grain flour, it is very moist and has a tender crumb. I think it will still taste great if the ratio is increased further; or sugar is decreased by a couple of tablespoons, or a fist full of grated coconut is added to the batter. But as of now, I am in love with this one. “Let them have cake!” has become my answer to the mid-meal/mid-play/mid-night/any-time hunger pangs on days this cake is in my fridge.
(Update- 9th September 2015) : It’s less than a week, and I have already made three batches of this, in different permutations and combinations. Yes, it’s that good. So, here is what I found:
1. Reducing sugar by two tablespoons makes it noticeably less sweet and while it’s healthier, kids may not fancy it, though it will make a good snack for elderly.
2. Increasing the multigrain flour: all-purpose flour ratio from 1:1 to 3:1 leads to coarser, rustic but still moist loaf, but again, my kid compared it to eating something “sandy”.
3. For the next, I substituted 1/3 cup of almond meal with grated unsweetened coconut, and it was divine. And while I was experimenting like there was no tomorrow, I ran out of banana puree but still had a cup full of grated carrots. I combined that with 1 ½ grated apple and 1/2 cup shredded coconut, and I couldn’t have offered you if you visited me the next evening, because it was all over. )
Makes one 9X5.5X4 inches loaf or 14-16 muffins
¼ cup sunflower oil
½ cup mashed ripe bananas
1 sweet apple, grated
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
½ tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup multigrain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup roasted almond meal
1 cup heaped tightly packed grated carrots
• Heat oven to 176° C. Line and grease a loaf pan or muffin tray
• In a big mixing bowl, mix eggs, mashed bananas, oil, grated apple and sugar. Add milk and mix well.
• In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins and cinnamon powder.
• Add grated carrots to the egg mix, followed by the flour mix and roasted almond meal. Mix well.
• Fill the loaf tin or muffin tray almost to the top and bake for about 30 mins or till the tester inserted in the middle comes out clean
• If baking in a loaf pan, check after 45 mins, and every 5 mins after that.
• Cool on a rack and store well.