Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mother of an approval

Whole-wheat Banana Cake

Woke up this morning, to see that Shadow our 11-year-old cat had brought out a woollen scarf from inside my daughter’s wardrobe to knead on it – kitten fashion. Putting it away, I shook my head at how strange it was for such an old cat to have retained juvenile characteristics! Kittens knead and purr when they are suckling, but continue to remember the pleasurable feeling into adulthood and knead soft blankets, scarves or even human laps and shoulders when they feel contented and happy or sleepy.

Imagine Shadow, now almost an octogenarian in cat years, engaging in such cute kitty behaviour!

But then, isn’t there supposed to be a child in all of us forever? That child who seems to be evoked in inspirational literature, Agony Aunt columns, TV/Radio psychology shows, pictorial PowerPoint presentations and Facebook photos?

One thing that the child in me clamours for is mother’s approval. Yes, mother is so hard to please. Has always been so. But maybe it has helped me more than setting me back, by raising the bar and benchmarking standards.

Why, just a few weeks ago, on a visit to my maternal home I had made a banana cake with whatever was available at home to inaugurate a mother’s new oven and the new silicone baking tray I had taken for her.

It was as experimental and avant-garde as Beckett or Brecht baking a banana cake. There were these three absolutely disgusting looking black bananas (overripe actually) and there were two lonely little eggs huddled in her fridge. There was no butter for I had been eating all the malai on the milk all the time I was there. Whatever white butter was made had disappeared along with the Jowar rotis and Thalipeeths that mum made, courtesy me. There was no plain flour (maida) as mother doesn’t really store any.

With great trepidation I sallied forth to use whole-wheat flour, oil, sweetener, powdered jaggery and some butter milk and baked the cake in a new silicone mould I had no experience with and at a half microwave and half convection mode!

‘Chhan aahe!’ words of approval – but not quite there… Well, can’t expect more than this, I told myself.

The following day, I was proved wrong. When I called her from the airport to bid good bye and asked her what she had had for dinner- she replied ‘your banana cake’.

She had felt so sad and listless after I left, that all she had supped on just that cake and some tea… Awww… I felt a lump in the throat, which cleared the instant I realised this was the ‘full approval’!

Purrring now, even as I am writing this …

I baked this cake to refine the version I had made for mum, this one better, simply because I was in my own comfort zone – the approval had already been gained!

Whole-wheat Banana Cake

2 cups atta (wholewheat flour)
1 heaped tsp baking soda
4/5 cup over ripe bananas (mashed)
2 large eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup butter milk
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup Splenda (or any sweetener suitable for baking) or white sugar
1 tsp white poppy seeds
½ tsp salt
½ tsp powdered nutmeg
½ tsp powdered cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla essence (to counter the eggy smell)

Sift the flour with the salt and baking soda. You can pop back the bran into the flour, as we are sifting only to fluff the flour.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric whisk.  Add brown sugar, sweetener and beat further. Add the oil, half of the buttermilk, nutmeg, cinnamon vanilla essence and beat to mix.  Then add the flour and continue to whisk. Add the flour and continue to use the electric whisk – I used this trick against folding the flour in, as I was using atta flour. Slowly add the remaining buttermilk till you get a smooth batter.

Grease and lightly flour a large bundt pan and pour the mixture in it and tap the pan to make sure the batter settles down evenly. It is better to use a bundt pan as the banana cake, especially with the whole wheat flour is quite dense.

Pre-heat oven to 180C and bake the cake in it for about 40 to 45 min. Conduct a skewer test and bake a little more if required. Alternately, check if the sides of the cake spring back when pushed in. That is also a sign that the cake is done.

Cool the cake for a while in the pan, otherwise it might stick to the pan. Gently push back the cake from the sides, tap the bottom and upturn it onto a plate. Cool on a wire rack.

You can ice this if you want, or sift icing sugar on it, or simply slice it up and serve with tea! 

Makes a good supper too!

Mother swear!

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