Thursday, February 2, 2012

African Chocolate Loaf

When I started this little blog of mine I had high hopes of writing about African adventures. But I should have been able to predict the outcome: mostly, well, food. Baking is just one of the more fascinating aspects of my life!

Here is a little lesson in substitution. Where lots of vegan baking uses apple sauce, I go for mashed bananas, blended pineapple or whatever other fruit puree happens to be at hand - down at the Cape they only sell one kind of apple sauce, and it's overpriced and loaded with sugar. Same for canned pumpkin: a staple food in North America, it's virtually impossible to get in South Africa. Tried and loved instead are baked sweet potato (a staple of the African diet, so there's usually some leftovers around) or roasted gem squash, a small, round, green squash that is very common here. Potato might work well, too!

The result in this case: what I call African Chocolate Loaf. A moist, dense, chocolatey cake, with a crispy crust and hints of German ginger bread, soy-, egg-, and dairy free!

(This recipe is strongly inspired by the PPK Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf; I got the boiling water trick from Isa as well, it seems to do something good for the texture.)

1/4 cup mashed (about one extra-small) banana
2 Tbs sunflower oil
1/3 cup baking cocoa, unsweetened
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water, divided
1 cup mashed yam or squash or...
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 ts vanilla essence
1 ts apple cider vinegar

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup pastry flour
1/2 ts ground cinnamon
1/4 ts ground nutmeg
1/4 ts ground ginger
1/8 ts ground cloves
1/8 ts ground black pepper
1 ts baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bar (90-100g) dark chocolate
  • Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a loaf pan with baking paper. 
  • Mash the banana, use a blender to turn your starchy veg into a smooth puree. Chop the chocolate into ~5mm chunks. Get the water boiling.
  • Sift together the flours, spices, baking soda and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together banana, oil and cocoa.
  • Add 1/3 cp boiling water to the cocoa mass, stirring quickly to make a smooth sauce.
  • To this chocolate sauce, add sugar, vanilla and vinegar.
  • Add about half the dry ingredients to the wet, mix, add 1 Tbs boiling water and briskly stir together until incorporated. Add the second half and another Tbs hot water and mix again, don't overmix!
  • Gently fold in the chocolate (no more stirring...).
  • You should have a pretty thick batter by now; use a spatula to dump it into the baking pan.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes. This one is easy to burn because you can't tell done-ness by the color; after 45 minutes check every 5 min or so by sticking a kebab skewer into the loaf: when it comes out more or less dry your cake is done.
  • Serves 12 at about 180kcal, 6g fat and 4g fibre per serving.

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