Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Streusel

Banana Coffee CakeSo have you ever wondered what it is with all this trend-driven food blogging?

The other day I came across an article with tips for successful food blogging, one of which was to watch Google Trends to see what recipes are trending so you can cook and share those and draw visitors to your blog like flies to honey. Or maple syrup. Whatever. Apparently everyone who’s anyone in the food blog world is doing it.

I did a double take, gulped, and then wondered — am I just way, way behind the times because I blog about the simple, everyday food I cook in my kitchen,  hoping that readers will enjoy something that comes straight from the  heart? In a world of a bazillion glamorous food blogs– each beautifully designed, photographed, and SEO’d to the eyeballs — am I the bumpkin who shows up to the party without makeup and in last season’s shoes?

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Banana Chocolate Coffee CakeIn a moment of confusion I turned to Desi, my resident sage. Do you think I should be watching Google Trends before I decide what to cook and post? I asked him.  Like many food bloggers today (and gosh, how they have exploded since I started blogging in 2007!) should I be spending hours on Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter to make sure that my blog gets read by everyone I can possibly reach? Otherwise, in another year, will anyone actually be reading Holy Cow!?

Well, is that what you want? he asked me back.

I thought for a moment, but I already knew the answer. No.

Let me clarify first– I don’t mean to knock every blogger out there who’s marketing their blog with savvy (although I will say that headlines stuffed with keywords hurt my eyes  and make me want to look no further). I understand the importance of marketing and I do my share of it. I am lucky enough to have great pictures on my blog thanks to Desi and I made some changes to the blog recently, like adding the Easy Recipe plugin so you could print and share recipes more easily. And I have a Facebook page, a Pinterest page and a Twitter account that I share my latest recipes on. But by no means do I want to spend hours every day selling my blog when I’d rather be creating great food and memorable posts. When I started writing Holy Cow!, all I wanted was to invite those of you who love good food to my kitchen, engage in a conversation about cooking, life and the animals that make it better, and share the simple meals I cook up for my family and friends. Even today that’s what I’d rather do with most of the time I spend nurturing this blog.

Still in the doldrums after my enlightening (if rather one-sided) conversation with Desi, I opened my mailbox and there was a reader email waiting for me. “Vaishali, I love you and your recipes and your website,” Ingrid wrote.  “You are an absolute treasure!”

Treasure? I don’t think so, but it was the light bulb moment I had so badly needed. I thought of all those emails and messages you have sent me over the years telling me how much you appreciate the blog (I have saved them in a folder and I look at them once in a while when I am having a bleak blog moment. True story). I thought of all the times you’ve cooked one of my recipes and written to tell me you loved it — it  brings a smile to my face each time and helps me keep going.  I thought of the blogs I love, like Nupur’s One Hot Stove, and why I love them– because they offer up a tasty slice of life alongside simple food. I realized then that my blog is already where I want it to be and the people I blog for — you and me — are already here. And if you aren’t, you might wander in one day and decide you’d like to  stay back for a chat and some good food.

And once I realized that I was relieved because, honestly, I’ve never been the trendy type. To me, life is all about doing your own thing and finding your own niche, not jumping into one created by someone else.

Here’s to bumpkins without makeup! May our tribe increase.

***

Banana Chocolate Coffee CakeNow for this delicious and healthy Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Streusel. I wanted to make a coffee cake for Desi (the word “cake” makes him delirious) — ideally one that would use up three overripe bananas sitting in the kitchen — when I found this recipe.

I made lots of changes to it, besides veganizing it by replacing the buttermilk and eggs. I made the cake whole wheat (yay!) and I cut down significantly on the sugar and oil (double yay!). The cake was moist, delicious, perfectly sweet, and — in a word– superb.

So here it is, as a thank you for sitting through my rant. This recipe’s not trending on any search engine, I’m pretty sure, but are bananas and cake and chocolate ever out of fashion?

Have a great weekend, all!

Banana Coffee Cake

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Streusel
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 16
A whole wheat Banana Coffee Cake with a topping of walnut-and-chocolate-chip streusel.
Ingredients
  • For the streusel topping:
  • 1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • For the cake batter:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (can use half regular whole wheat and half all-purpose flour)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk like soymilk mixed with 1 tsp of vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
Instructions
  1. Make the streusel by mixing well all of the streusel ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the sugar, oil and vanilla extract for a minute, either in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. If you don’t have either, use a whisk but make sure you beat well for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the nondairy milk and applesauce and beat for another minute until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Add the flour in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything’s well integrated and you don’t have any streaks of dry flour.
  5. Oil and flour a cake pan. The one I used was a square pan that’s 9 X 9 X 2 inches, but you can use a regular 8- or 9-inch cake pan if you’d rather.
  6. Pour half of the cake batter in the pan and with a spatula make sure it is spread in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the chocolate streusel topping on the batter.
  7. Pour in the remaining half of the batter and smooth over the chocolate streusel. Sprinkle the remaining streusel on top.
  8. Bake the cake in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cook in the pan on a rack.
  10. Slice and eat.
Calories: 259 Fat: 11.9 grams Sugar: 23.3 grams Fiber: 3.3 grams Protein: 2.5 grams

 Banana chocolate coffee cake
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For more healthy banana cake inspiration, check these out:

Elvis Cake, a luscious whole wheat banana cake with peanut butter frosting

Vegan Banana Cake

Low-Fat Banana Bundt Cake

Vegan Carrot Cake

Vegan Carrot Cake
You might have noticed that I haven’t posted many cake recipes on my blog, save a few cupcakes and a pumpkin cheescake I made over Thanksgiving.Well, the reason’s not because I don’t like cakes: I do, in fact a little too much. There was a time years ago, when I was still in grad school and my favorite show on public television was one where Debbi Fields, the woman who owns Mrs. Fields’ Cookies, would bake all sorts of yummy cakes and other goodies.At the time I was new to the United States and also a new baker. And the cakes I’d had in India (always store-bought) were usually white slabs with thick, hard, sugary icing on top in all kinds of psychedelic colors that tasted very sweet but nothing else. In fact, even in the mid ’90s, when I left Bombay, the only passably decent cake one could buy was a heart-shaped chocolate cake at a store named Croissants opposite Churchgate station. Of course, things have changed dramatically since and now the easier availability of ingredients, equipment and know-how means even home bakers can turn out amazing great baked goods.So fascinated was I with baking when I first moved here that on the days when I didn’t have any classes I’d get up in the morning all excited about the idea of plonking myself in front of the television and learning something new from Debbie Fields that I could then replicate in my kitchen.Many cakes and several inches on both our waistlines later, Desi told me it was time I got rid of my addiction to cake-baking. Now although I try not to listen to anything he tells me to do, it was I that had the lion’s share of the extra inches. So I tried to cut down my cake-making by quite a bit, limiting myself mostly to cupcakes where it is easier to control portion size.Of course, if there was any potential to include a healthy ingredient in the cake, the baking gloves would go right back on. As with banana nut bread, or pumpkin bread. And, of course, carrot cake.With an unbelievably moist texture, that rich-sweet carrot flavor and topped with a cream-cheese icing, the mighty carrot cake is easy to love. And the fact that it has plenty of carrots in it makes it an easy sell to even conscientious dieters.

I make my carrot cake even healthier by using in it only unrefined ingredients: whole-wheat pastry flour and turbinado sugar. Then there are the carrots, the walnuts and the applesauce: yummy goodness all around.

The cherries on top of the cake have nothing to do, by the way, with what’s in it. I just needed some color on the cake, and they were around, so on they went in the interests of making a pretty picture.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, everyone!

Vegan Carrot Cake

Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A moist and delicious whole wheat carrot cake that's completely vegan and even healthy, with a delicious cream cheese frosting
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For Carrot Cake:
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, then coarsely chopped.
  • For Cream Cheese Frosting:
Instructions
  1. To make cake, sift the whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.
  2. In another bowl mix the canola oil, applesauce, grated carrots, and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the oil-applesauce carrot mixture and stir everything to blend evenly.
  4. Add walnuts and mix.
  5. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, if posibble because this makes it far easier to unmold the cake. Oil the parchment paper as well.
  6. Now divide the batter evenly between the two pans
  7. and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Place the cake pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Then unmold the cakes gently and allow them to cool thoroughly on the rack. Frost when completely cooled.
  9. To make frosting, beat together all of the frosting ingredients in a bowl until very smooth.
  10. To frost, place one of the cooled cakes on a cake stand or plate. Smear the top with some frosting.
  11. Carefully place the other cake on top of the first one. Cover the cake with the remaining icing using a spatula.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.