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‘FAB’-Steamed Banana Cake

In Experimental, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on May 29, 2010 at 12:57 am

Surprise surprise! Another steamed cake recipe! When I say I am obsessed with something, I really mean it. I’m not going to just let it go after one try. I’d do it / make it / eat it again and again. But eating too much of the same thing would result in Sensory Specific Satiety and a decreased desire to continue eating it. That is why I set out to make as many variations of it. Neh. That was just some lame attempt to scientifically justify my actions. I simply want my muffins and cakes lower in calories, in all sorts of flavours that I like, yet still soft and moist so that I can enjoy my cakes and still have caloric allowance to enjoy all the other pleasurable foods that are out there waiting for me to enjoy. Is that too much to ask for?

You might have realized that the basic recipe of flour-sugar-egg-baking powder limits the possibilities of variations to dry flavouring ingredients like spices, essences and currants. With just 4 ingredients on the list, it might seem rather difficult to make the ingredient substitutions… but I realized it actually isn’t that complicated, really.

I found a recipe on chowtimes for steamed banana cake to make as a reward for my project group’s sensory panel. A quick comparison with the basic steamed cake recipe shows a partial substitution of egg (wet ingredient) with mashed banana (wet ingredient), and a larger amount of baking powder (1.5tsp vs 0.5tsp) to provide additional air bubbles for the rising of the cake that was originally contributed by the egg foam. The teaspoon of oil added contributes to a softer crumb texture as there is now less egg yolk (I’ll try it next time without oil just to see how significant the difference is).

The result? Soft and moist with a lovely flavour like banana quickbread. 😀


Steamed Banana Cake Recipe
adapted from ChowTimes

  • 1 ripe banana (~100g) roughly mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp oil (optional)
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 50g sugar (or adjust batter to desired sweetness)
  • 100g flour
  1. Heat up your steamer.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients together and fold in the dry ingredients quickly.
  3. Pour into dish and steam for ~15min. (I made one 15cm x 22cm oval cake, 3-4cm in height)
  4. Voila! Done in a jiffy!

Variation #1: with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon added. While this was steaming, I mixed together Variation #2: with 1 heaping tsp cocoa powder added.
The cinnamon version was so well-received that I made another for tomorrow’s Project Emotions Picnic in Sweden 🙂 This time with 1.5 times the above recipe with 1 tsp of cinnamon, additional 1 tbsp of water to substitute the extra half an egg, an extra handful of raisins and a half banana sliced and arranged on top! 😀

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FAB – The GBP Muffin

In Baking, Experimental, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on April 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I have a confession to make.

I am a compulsive snacker.
Doh!! Nothing new ha….

Despite how anti-healthy it sounds, I must say that this addiction of mine is one of my greatest motivations and source of inspiration in developing healthier recipe alternatives with unexpectedly good flavour combinations and a chew factor to please a study snacker.

First of all, because I have to keep eating all the time (I’ve a long reputation of being the skinny girl who is always hungry), I am always sourcing out affordable low calorie and nutrient dense snacks that I can munch on the whole day without doing my body too much damage. My current favourite snack food is bran flakes from Fakta, (18kr/SGD$4.50 for a huge box of 500g that would last me at least 2-3 weeks of snacking), which I put in milk or yogurt or in sandwiches for fibre and crunch; which I use as little dishes to hold flakes of reduced fat brunost (weird-sounding but good!); or which simply tastes so delicious on their own. With a 70% composition of whole grains, 14.5g of fibre and 330kcal per 100g (one rice bowl of bran flakes is about 30g), I load up on fibre whilst getting a healthy dose of B1, B2 and B3 vitamins that are essential for health but often very much lacking in low-meat diets.


Second of all, because I am munching all the time, I often pop one thing in my mouth after another, and make surprising discoveries when the residual flavours of the previous snack combines harmoniously with my next snack. Or with my drink. Flavour combinations that people normally don’t put together, but are sometimes a match-made-in-heaven just waiting to materialize.

Two days ago, I was preparing a training presentation for my emotions research rater panel and snacking on a bowl of bran flakes and some ginger tea (2 slices of ginger in one pot of boiling water. Addictive right, L? ;)). It suddenly occurred to me that I should perhaps check if the ABC cake I have promised to share with my panel was still in lovely happy shape (just an excuse to eat lah), but I was rather upset that the crust at the base of my cake was now unrecognizable (moisture migration, what was I expecting?). Well, guess what I did? I stuck bran flakes at the base to recreate that crust and boy was it good! Then I sipped some ginger tea, and WOW the ginger balanced out the estery sweetness of the banana flavour really well! I also recalled a positive experience of bran flakes in pear-banana yogurt (fyi: one of the most popular yogurt flavour here in Denmark) and so I invited one of my pear friends to join in the party.

Voila! Ginger-Banana-Pear-Bran…and I pick….. MUFFIN! Quick and easy! And with bananas in the recipe, going low fat is naturally predetermined.

Ginger Banana Pear Bran Muffin Recipe created from a basic 2 parts dry : 2 parts liquid : 1 egg : 0.5 fat basic muffin recipe

  • 60g bran flakes cereal (approx 1 cup volume but half is void space)
  • 125g flour (1 cup)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle of salt (enhances sweetness of the food)
  • 140ml milk (slightly >1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g banana (2/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • sprinkle salt
  • 1 small pear chopped in bits (1/2 cup)
  • 2tsp grated ginger
  • 40g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Prepare 12 muffin cups (I used non-stick silicon muffin cups – no grease, no paper).
  2. Combine bran flakes and milk and stand till moistened. Mix in egg, oil, mashed bananas, ginger and chopped pear bits.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  4. Fold in wet ingredients (2) into dry ingredients (3). Mix till just combined. Fill muffin pan / holder until 2/3 full.
  5. Bake for 25min until top is golden brown.

The results:

  • Ginger + cinnamon + banana = yum! I’d recommend adding some sunflower seeds or nuts. One almond on top was not enough to satisfy me.
  • Overall the texture was pretty good, but I was hoping for the texture to be a little more tender. Too much liquid and too little fat enhanced the gluten development, especially around the bits of pear fruit. I’d take out the pear because its flavour was too mild (I’ll eat it on the side instead hurhur). And maybe I’ll add carrots instead. And avocado. Oh wait, that sounds familiar…? 😛 So take out the pear, and add another tbsp of oil. I’ll report my results next time.

ABC – The Alternative Brownie

In Baking, Experimental, Recipes on April 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

You know how ABC soups with all those ingredients thrown in always inevitably taste so wholesome and good? Now, let me present you with…. *drum roll*…..the ABC cake!

To fully appreciate this unique creation, it is first essential to head back to some fundamental ideas that have been hardwired in our cognitive systems since early years.

Lesson #1:  A for Apple? Wrong! B for Boy? C for Car? Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
The correct answer is….
A for Avocado! B for Banana! C for Carrot!

Avocado Banana Carrot Cake is so going to be the new classic when (one fine day) poorskinnychef becomes famous (would you like to help me out here? :)). Within the past 12 hours of its conception, it has won over a German who hates sweet food, a Dane who eats carbs only on blue moons, a Chinese who couldn’t imagine what an avocado would be doing in a cake, and of course a food obsessed Singaporean (yours truly) who has eaten her way through much of the world to confidently proclaim that this cake is a definite winner. Throw in another ‘A’ – for Almonds, and it’s ready to conquer the world!

This cake has the same consistency of fudgy brownies, with an incredible softness and moistness like banana bread that is neither sticky nor crumbly, and providing enough resistance to chew without being rubbery like many low fat / fat free cakes I’ve made in the past. Oh and that same fudgy brownie soft crust that crumples when you press on it, ♥♥. In fact, you might even call this ABC the Alternative Brownie Cake! 🙂 It’s green (good cake for you hlyf) all through, but still, go ahead and add on a mossy slathering of refreshing avocado lemon frosting *recipe below*, a shower of woody chopped almonds, plant it with raw carrot strips and mark this treasure with a teeny crisp dark chocolate flake. Beauty. The taste? A dominant banana flavour with a recognizable nutty creamy avocado aroma, doubling the goodness of traditional carrot cake and banana bread.

Lesson #2: This is flavour synergy, where 1+1+1 = 6. [Even the raw carrot and chocolate bit garnish added one personal scale point on the 9-point rated scale of liking.]


Unlike most creamed butter cakes with 50% of the calories coming from fat, this one has about 30% instead (yes I did those geek calculations from the raw ingredients) because all that ABC plant mash-shreds serve part of the function of fat replacement, thus there was only 60g of butter added to my 32 x 11 x 2.5cm cake. There are a few key notes to look out for in order to not end up with rubber or rock when doing low fat cake baking. 1. Knowing your ingredients, and 2. knowing the chemistry of gluten network formation. I’ve been reading up more on baking chemistry and ingredient substitution lately, in order to gain more flexibility with my baking (lower the calories, cut costs and avoid large stocks of ingredients whilst maximizing sensory pleasure). But I’d like to do some more experimentation first before sharing more detailed advice! Ok, enough of geekhood, it’s time to deliver what I’m primarily here to deliver — good cheap simple food with a healthy dose of thought. Enjoy!!

Avocado Banana Carrot Cake Recipe inspired by Lynne’s muffin recipe

  • 150g banana (1.5 medium bananas or 25-30cm of banana)
  • 60g avocado (about half a medium avocado)
  • 50g of finely grated carrots (about 10cm of a medium carrot) — carrots inspired by Chris & Ying’s delicious looking carrot cake!
  • 60g butter
  • 110g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 185g plain flour or 1.5 cups
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (I replaced 15g of the sugar with vanilla sugar)
  • 50g chopped almonds
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (contributes a lighter texture via aeration, where air bubbles formed from rubbing of fat with sugar gets coated and stabilized by fat crystals. i.e. butter should not melt otherwise FAIL!)
  2. Add in eggs and mix (add in another egg white if you’re using cheap small eggs like I do– egg whites contribute a less firm structure to the cake than egg yolks)
  3. Throw in half of the flour mix and fold in quickly (fat coats flour, and reduces gluten formation — more tender texture)
  4. Add in fruit and vegetable mash, chopped nuts and fold in the remaining flour (additional water from fruit / veg interacts with the flour to form gluten networks that give the product structure. If too much gluten network formation, you’ll get a tough chewy cake!)
  5. Bake in tin lined with baking paper at 175˚C for 35-40min (makes a cake of ~300cm2 area and about 2.5cm height).

Avocado Lemon Frosting Recipe

* I’ve used only half of this frosting made (don’t want the cake too sweet), and kept the rest, which I’ll figure out what to do with at a later date. For even spreading of frosting and to prevent the frosting from masking the cake crust I like, I turned the cake upside down and spreaded the frosting on the flat base of the cake so that the crust becomes the base! 🙂

  • 60g avocado (the other half of the avocado, used as a butter substitute in the basic frosting recipe)
  • 120g icing sugar (approx 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or 15g of vanilla sugar to substitute part of icing sugar)
  • 1 dsp/tbsp lemon juice (adjust to taste, I squeezed straight from the wedge till I was happy with the sourness / flavour
  1. Mix half of icing sugar to mashed avocado
  2. Slowly incorporate the rest of the icing sugar and lemon juice to your desired taste and consistency

You’re welcome.