I had planned to write up my post-Thanksgiving report, but I decided to wait until the smoke cleared before I tell ‘The Tale’ of what really happened that night…which involved a high-speed car chase through Paris, a few hypodermic needles, and a couple of user-unfriendly hors.
In the meantime, I thought I’d write a bit about what’s been baking around here, which I assure you will be just as exciting.
I’ve been cooking my way through Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Light Desserts which I featured in a recent interview, and have had a great time making many of the recipes from, including this towering chocolate cake I made for the first Thanksgiving I had. (Yes, we celebrate twice in Paris.)
Since I’ve been on the subject of leftovers around here, I confess much of this baking was due to a surplus of applesauce I’d made from an apple-picking I did when my friends who live in the countryside complained they had too many apples and didn’t know what to do with them all.
So I thought I would be a very good person, and help them out.
Luckily, my benevolence gave me a good excuse to try a rather good selection of cakes and cookies from Perfect Light Desserts, including the Easy Spice Cake (page 86), Holiday Fruitcake (page 75), Oatmeal Cranberry Bars (page 268), Chocolate Rum Cake (page 22), and my favorite, another batch of Chewy Oatmeal Cookies.
The Easy Spice Cake was a big hit…especially with me, since it was really simple to make, but was even a bigger hit with my French friends, who loved the fragrant spices and toasty crunch of slightly-exotic Texas pecans. (Although I did have a hard time explaining to Parisians the concept of a low-fat dessert, the results certainly won them over.) I added a big handful of chopped dates too, which I’m sure tipped the calorie scale a bit, but the extra fiber had a decidedly healthy ‘effect’ so I’m sure I’ll be forgiven.
Due to many requests from readers, Nick graciously gave me a second recipe to share, his Banana Loaf Cake. Nick advises mashing the bananas with a fork so they stay a bit chunky, but is especially adamant about using bananas that are so ripe they’re covered with spots. Or even a bit beyond.
Because the cake falls into the ‘light’ category, it has less than 300 calories per slice. But if you’re not watching your weight (or if no one’s watching you) perhaps you can sneak in a handful of chocolate chips as well, like I do.
Banana Loaf Cake
One 9-inch cake
Adapted from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim
- 2 1/2 cups flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 or 5 large very ripe banana-mash, then measure)
One 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, sprayed with vegetable cooking spray coated with fine, dry breadcrumbs or a dusting of flour
1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to break them up, then whisk in the sugar and the brown sugar. Whisk in the butter and vanilla, followed by the mashed bananas.
4. Sift the flour mixture over the banana mixture and thoroughly fold it in. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake the cake for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
6. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold it and cool completely on a rack.
Storage: Keep the cake wrapped in plastic at room temperature after it has cooled. For longer storage, double wrap and freeze for up to a month.