Almost all Neolithic desserts rely heavily on refined sweeteners (white sugar, corn syrup) to achieve their indulgent flavor. Not so with this cake. The only (all-natural!) sweetener it requires is 1/3 cup of honey, which, spread out over the entire pan, is not that terribly much. Most of the sweetness comes from the bananas themselves. For this reason, a lot of the flavor of your cake is going to depend on how ripe your bananas are. Green, unripe bananas are very tough and starchy. As they ripen, the starches convert to sugar, giving them the sweet taste that we all love. This recipe works best with slightly overripe bananas, when they are covered with a lot of black spots. It is a good way to get rid of the fruit that is languishing on your counter, and would otherwise spoil.
If you have not-quite-ripe bananas and are somewhat impatient (as I often am), you can speed up the process by placing your bananas in a brown paper bag. Bananas produce ethylene gas, which drives the ripening process, and placing them in the bag leads to concentrated quantities of the gas, which translates to faster ripening. When unripe bananas are brought to the store to be sold, they are also sprayed with massive quantities of ethylene gas in order to produce that bright yellow color and sweet taste that is so pleasing to customers. With the paper bag method, however, you are achieving the same result naturally, using the fruit’s own gases.
Some more of the sweetness (and a lot of the flavor) in this cake comes from the cinnamon. Not only a flavorful addition to recipes, cinnamon is somewhat of a wonder-spice, with numerous health benefits. Cinnamaldehyde, the organic compound that gives cinnamon its signature flavor, has been shown to impair cancer cell proliferation, decrease total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increase HDL (“good cholesterol”) levels, and relieve muscular insulin resistance. If you want to read more in-depth about cinnamon’s health benefits, I suggest you take a look at this post on Mark’s Daily Apple.
And now, on to the recipe. You will need:
4 over-ripe medium bananas
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup honey
2 organic free-range large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups almond flour (You can purchase pre-ground almond flour, although it can get a bit pricey. A more economical option would be to grind skinless almonds in your food processor until they reach the consistency of coarse sand.)
Pre-heat your oven to 350F and grease a 9-in round pan. (I used a spring form pan for nicer presentation and easier serving.) I enjoy the taste of coconut oil, but butter would work equally well. Blend the first five ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Stir the remaining (dry) ingredients together, and then beat into the wet mixture until well incorporated. Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and place in the center of the pre-heated oven. Bake 28 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean.
Allow to cool slightly, slice, and enjoy. Nick and I have agreed that this cake is at its most delicious served warm out of the oven and topped with either homemade jam (like an old-fashioned PB&J!) or a melting pad of grass-fed butter. We devoured over half of the pan at the dinner table, I got positive feedback from my mother, who was surprised that I made such a tasty dessert without any refined sugar, and I deemed the recipe a blog-worthy success.
I am sharing this post at lots of blog carnivals this week. Check out the Hearth and Soul Hop, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays and Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker, and Sweets for a Saturday.