If you’ve checked out some of my blog posts, you’ll agree that I’m willing to try most things and I’m certainly not adverse to using unusual ingredients in lieu of something less ‘bad’ for you. For example, my Raw Chocolate & Walnut Brownies have a lashing of delicious frosting on them made out of cacao and avocado.
The health conscious will tell you there’s nothing that unusual about using avocado in desserts (it’s pretty de rigueur in the Philippines) but how about canned beans? The idea of using beans for sweet dishes isn’t too weird for me as many traditional Japanese desserts involve red bean jam (Anko – which I made in the Thermomix) but white beans in a cake? This even challenged my notion of ‘normal’.
When I came across a recipe in Simple Sugar & Gluten-Free’s dessert cookbook entitled Vanilla Bean Sponge Cake, I immediately conjured up pleasant thoughts of ‘vanilla bean’. On reading the ingredients list though, I soon realised the author meant ‘vanilla’ and ‘bean’ and the pleasant thoughts disappeared. Could canned beans work in a cake? I had heard of using chick peas to make a flourless cookie but I wasn’t so sure about a whole cake.
I only had a can of butter beans in the pantry so although the recipe called for white or cannellini beans, given there were enough recipes out there on the interweb for similar cakes using butter beans, I decided to save myself a trip to the shops. I might try this cake again another time though using white beans as I do think butter beans are sufficiently different in flavour and the former is probably more neutral in taste.
So how was the bean cake? I can confidently say that there are much worse cakes you can make out there but suffice to say, there are better gluten-free options as well. The cake itself is very moist and sponge-like (take that how you will) and while it doesn’t taste like beans at all, it does need a nicely flavoured syrup or glaze to finish it off. It’s not that the cake is bland; perhaps I personally need a distraction to keep my mind off this cake’s key ingredient.
Having said that, if you or a family member is allergic to rice or soy flour, using beans is a great alternative in baking. I do however recommend that the cake is eaten fresh from the oven and smothered in an unapologetically indulgent icing (chocolate, cream cheese…). It’s not particularly nice the next day unfortunately. My final verdict? I will give a bean based cake a go again some day but I think I’ll give the chick pea cookies a go first!
- one can of butter beans or other type of white beans, drained and rinsed well
- ¼ cup apple sauce (usually sweetened but increase sugar by 20g if not)
- 100g sugar of choice (I used a blend of cane sugar and brown rice syrup)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp of vegan margarine or butter
- 1tbsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup (90g) of gluten-free flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Pre-heat oven to 350F or 160C fan-forced. Line 8-inch cake pan with baking paper and dust with some extra flour.
- Place well dried beans (use kitchen paper to remove excess moisture) and apple sauce in TMX bowl and blitz on Speed 6 for 5 seconds or until quite smooth.
- Add sugar to bowl and blend on Speed 6 again for a few seconds.
- Add eggs, vanilla and margarine/butter. Blend together on Speed 5 for 10 seconds. The mixture should be quite smooth and runny.
- Add flour, baking powder and baking soda and combine well on Speed 3 for 10 seconds.
- Pour cake mixture into cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Cake is ready when golden brown and centre bounces back when lightly touched. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before inverting on to a wired rack lined with kitchen paper.
- When cool enough to touch, ice the cake with preferred icing or frosting and serve that day.