April 23, 2009

Banana-coconut-yogurt cake

I live in a university town, and there's an old joke here that when you take a cab, your driver probably has a PhD. There's actually a lot of truth to that, and as I've discovered over the years, it applies to more than cab drivers. The story goes that people come here for their degrees, fall in love with the city, and never leave, causing a glut of overqualified job seekers. But there's more to the story than just too many qualified workers. Some of these highly educated folks decide to take a different path. Take the handyman who cleared our walks this winter, caulked the tub and made me a new cutting board. He's a (too young to retire) retired engineer who builds decks and pergolas, trims trees, does woodworking, etc. And in a conversation with the painter who is working on our house trim, I discovered that he used to be a social worker/ psychotherapist. He also sold plants at the farmers market for 10 years. He prefers painting, which he started doing to put himself through school, to therapy. These are two people who have found what they really want to do, love their work, and love where they live. This is one of the little tidbits that comes to mind as I get closer to leaving the city that I love so much. There will probably be more . . .

So how do I connect that little blurb about my favorite city to a banana cake? Well, the house trim will be brown - about the same color as the bananas that were sitting on the counter looking ready to explode. They were past the point where anyone would want to eat them, and were crying out to be baked into a cake and not wasted. Each morning as I passed them on my trip through the kitchen before going to work, they cried a little louder, until I finally took action. There was also a jar of leftover coconut milk waiting to be used, and a carton of the most tangy (damn sour) unsweetened soy yogurt in the fridge, that needed a purpose. The words "banana sour cream cake" were assaulting my brain, even though I've never had such a cake, let alone made one, but now I've done both. Not real sour cream, of course, but sour yogurt must be kind of the same once it gets into a cake, don't you think? The cake far exceeded my expectations (and apparently my son's since he ate about half of it after I went to bed!) It was substantial without being heavy, not too sweet and with an almost velvety texture. Delicious!

Banana coconut yogurt cake
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, sifted or stirred well before measuring
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup evaporated cane juice (like Sucanot)
  • 2 very ripe bananas (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy yogurt (I used Wildwood)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  2. Mash the bananas well and mix with the yogurt. Add the oil, coconut milk, soy milk and lemon juice and mix together.
  3. Add the liquid to the dry and fold in until all the flour is incorporated. Don't over-mix.
  4. Bake in a lightly oiled 9" square pan for about 40 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven. The baked cake should pull away from the sides of the pan and spring back to the touch. Don't over-bake.
This cake was especially charming while still slightly warm.

note: When I put the batter into the pan I was sure the pan was filled too high and would overflow, but it baked up perfectly. (I was so worried I even put foil around the edge just in case, but it was unnecessary.)


  1. Sounds spectacular! I'm sure the velvety texture came from both the coconut milk AND the yogurt--fabulous! And I just love your segue between brown house trim and banana cake!

  2. Thanks for coming up with this recipe so I can go and make some with my own damn sour yogurt!

  3. In Germany there's a saying that all German studies students become cab drivers becaue there's so many of them. It's also pretty true.

    This cake sounds so fantastic! I love the flavour combination and this sounds like a great cake for travelling, too. I can totally imagine myself sitting in a train and enjoying a piece of cake here.

  4. Ricki,
    Those bananas were as brown as they could get!

    You didn't make it 100% clear just how "tangy" the yogurt was. Yikes.

    Thanks for your comments. I think I traveled quite a bit between the kitchen and other parts of the house while the cake was around - a train sounds better . . .

  5. This sounds so wonderful! It is very close to my baking habits : whole wheat flour,evaporated cane juice [thats why all the cakes look brown, but they are superior!!


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