Banana Einkorn Cake with Nutella Swirls

A banana cake made with the ancient wheat variety, Einkorn and generous dollops of nutella swirled into it for luxurious seduction of the palate.

A banana cake made with the ancient wheat variety, Einkorn and generous dollops of nutella swirled into it for luxurious seduction of the palate.

I am just back from a refreshing visit to our friendly neighbors in Canada. Really, the last couple of weeks has been a surreal rush of paperwork, visa offices, airplanes, bus travel, changed schedules, amazing meals, passionate producers, informative sessions, versatile maple creations and so much fun. Last week, I was rushed back into the depths of Winter with icy gales and white fluffy blankets on the ground.

It was a curious experience of dialing back time in many ways. I stepped back atleast a month in weather and it felt like, for a brief period of time, I was cocooned in the old ways of the Earth amidst the forests, barns and maple shacks. I am still collecting together my experiences and I promise you posts on that as well as some recipes inspired by the recent travel. 

The river across Quebec city looked like a breakaway glacier run with large chucks of ice floating on it even in late March!

The river across Quebec city looked like a breakaway glacier run with large chucks of ice floating on it even in late March!

Overlooking the covered bridge of Wakefield is this half frozen that is stunning in its stark beauty surrounded, it seems by Winter wonderland.

Overlooking the covered bridge of Wakefield is this half frozen that is stunning in its stark beauty surrounded, it seems by Winter wonderland.

In the meantime, as another week begins and I learn to recoup myself back into routine, I may as well confess, that I cooked nothing over the weekend! The kitchen lay peaceful and uninterrupted, save for the making of tea (i.e. boiling water) and the whiz of the blender to make almond milk. There was Indian and gluten free pizza that was delivered and most of the time was spent in a cleanse of six cold pressed juices. 

I am basically proud of myself for surviving that! And, actually, glad for it. After a week of several foie gras dishes, many many courses, all meticulously laced, nay, graced, with butter, I confessed to the need to just have a run of it all. Let me tell you, when you eat three course meals 10 times in a week, no amount of exercise is going to undo the padding on the sides. But a 'juice' cleanse, will get to work on that stat. And, only under those circumstances, do I recommend unbending and giving up on your normally high standards of eating to consider a non-medically-required liquid diet.

Downtown Quebec City - the shop and little boutiques

Downtown Quebec City - the shop and little boutiques

Cooling the banana cake with caramelized banana slices and pumpkin seeds.

Cooling the banana cake with caramelized banana slices and pumpkin seeds.

banana-cake-bread.jpg

In the spirit of harkening back and history, today's recipe is one that brings back the sexiness of old grains that were not turmoiled by modern science. As always I ease back into being home by baking something. Anything. Sweet or savory. Today's post is simply in that vein, marking my re-emergence after a week of absence {You did notice that I had taken a hiatus? Right?! }. Halleluyah! 

Einkorn is an heritage wheat strain that has been recently growing in popularity. The idea is that this is the unadulterated version of wheat, from when the wheat DNA was not being tampered with to create higher yield, larger kernel, pest-resistant crops. So, the argument is that this should be more tolerable to the human system. The reasoning behind this is reasonable, viz., since the science of ag changes faster than the rate of human adaption, it is possible to turn back time on the sensitivities of the system to the current crop by switching back to the older versions.

That is the equivalent of trying to run iOS8 on a iPhone 3GS, (only with the option of) going back to the original iOS to see if the device is still functional. What many of us have found that it does ease the burden on the system to do so. Both on the phone as well as the gut. I am certified wheat allergic and this reaction as with any other allergy is triggered by critical mass of allergens pervading the system. That means, I can get away with eating a croissant and a sourdough sandwich in a week. But, if I end up eating bread everyday, I am in for a nasty shock in a few days. 

What I found with Einkorn is that I am still left with the same level of susceptibility but the amount of this wheat I can partake before flaring up on allergens is much higher. So, I am ok to have a large slice of cake made with this flour that I typically would not be able to indulge in (without fallout) with a regular white flour goodie. One would then think that this is such a manna and with a simple substitution, all would go back to the hegemonies days of indulgence. But, fortunately, that is not quite possible.

 

 

 

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Have you tried Einkorn flour?

What do you think of it?

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For all that I bemoan my allergy and the inability to pile on the good bread on my plate, I am happy for it because it makes me eat a lot healthier and feel a lot better overall. Actually, it also helps creativity as I do need that energy source but now I have to eat more diversified meals to get the same nutrition. The pitfall also lies there, in that, I am not very sure, I am always doing a good job of the substitution. Truth be told, I do think, sometimes, I underfeed myself, unconsciously. 

Einkorn helps me with that. At the heart of it, it a very source of carbohydrates and one with mitigated side effects (for me). Balancing that is the price of this non-commodity. As it is not optimized for yield or resistance, it is a very natural grain that is well susceptible to the natural forces. It is not abundantly available and is priced as such. So, I have to be parsimonious in my use of it and as much conscious of how I incorporate it. Hence, no pigging out.

Banana bread/cake is, I think, well worth this investment. As it is, it is memorable as one of the first from-scratch bakes from my kitchen. Over that, its functionality as both breakfast as well as dessert, makes it an ideal target for use. Also, a little flour goes a long way here as the bulk of the volume comes from the bananas.

As a flour, Einkorn grind is denser than regular flour, falling closer to chickpea flour in heft. Accordingly, it absorbs more fluid and the liquid volumes in the recipes needs to be adjusted accordingly. I highly recommend going more by sense and experience than by exact measures in using this flour. Also, I suggest resting the batter for 10 minutes after mixing before pouring into the pan to test the consistency. In this time, any natural absorption would have taken place and if need be, you can add more liquid to adjust to correct batter consistency. 


Nutella Swirled Banana Einkorn Cake 

2 really ripe bananas

1 egg

3/4 cup einkorn flour

2/3 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 plump T nutella

1/2 cup raw sugar

4 T butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup whey or thin yogurt

Reserve half a banana sliced lengthwise for topping. Mash the remaining bananas with butter and sugar to make a lumpy, somewhat creamy mixture.

Crack the egg into this and whisk to incorporate until it nearly forms a pudding, that is peels away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Sift in the flour, salt and baking soda and fold into the mixture. If it is too thick, dribble in the whey or thinned yogurt.

Let it rest for 10 minutes and check batter consistency. If it has firmed up in this time, add more liquid to get it back to right consistency.

Pour batter into baking dish. Drop in dollop of nutella and swirl into the batter. It will not be even and that is the fun of it!

Slice the reserved banana into thin slivers and arrange on top. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top.

Bake for 35  minutes until risen and browned on top. Cool on rack for a few minutes. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.

It will last 2-3 days when stored covered.