My whole grain flour obsession du jour is buckwheat flour. I’ve been using buckwheat flour in combination with wheat flour for years, but now I’m learning to savor it solo. Sweet-tooth me, a banana cake seemed a great place to start.
You may already have an affection for buckwheat, too without having thought about it much: think savory French crepes with melting Gruyere (the ultimate street food IMHO) or a big bowl of earthy Japanese soba noodles. But if baking with buckwheat is unfamiliar terrain, then it’s time to explore.
Buckwheat is actually one of the oldest crops in the world and is naturally gluten-free. Despite the misleading name, buckwheat has no relationship to wheat at all; it’s actually a fruit seed (related to rhubarb—who would have thunk?), not a grain. When it is milled, buckwheat produces a flour that is very absorbent—far more so than wheat flour—and works wonders in baked goods. Think crisp cookies and tender as can be cakes and muffins). And the flavor! It has a rich, earthy flavor akin to nuts (walnuts and pecans come to mind in particular).
Which brings me to my banana cake. Everyone who buys bananas ends up with some brown bananas, so it’s my position that one can never have too many recipes that use them up. So I offer you a quick and easy banana cake, adapted from a recipe in my new cookbook, Piece of Cake! Like all of the recipes in the book, this cake is made in one-bowl, without fuss. It turns out that buckwheat and bananas are a match made in heaven. I’ve embellished my cake with chocolate chips and pecans, but you could leave them out.
Oh, and if you need further incentive to try this cake, consider this: buckwheat, like quinoa, contains a full spectrum of essential amino acids, making it one of the few vegetable sources of complete protein that equals the protein of fish or meat in quality. Perhaps I should rename this “power cake?” Happy baking.
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- 1-1/2 cups buckwheat flour
- 1 cup natural cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 cups mashed VERY ripe bananas
- ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips (use gluten free chocolate chips if baking gluten-free)
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F and oil a 9-inch (23 cm) square metal baking pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Add eggs, oil and vanilla to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Gently stir in bananas and pecans.
- Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Store the cooled cake at room temperature in a cake keeper, or loosely wrapped in foil or plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. Alternatively, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap, then foil, completely enclosing cake, and freeze for up to 6 months. Let cake thaw at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
* Be sure to add the bananas after the batter is first mixed. Adding them at an earlier stage can make the cake tough and rubbery in texture. Gently stir them in only until just barely blended (the batter will appear lumpy) to avoid overmixing.
* Baking soda is naturally gluten free, so no need to buy a special variety if baking gluten free.