Paleo Tahini Banana ‘Pudding’ Cake
Vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free
First, I know that this is not real banana pudding. There is no custard or vanilla wafer cookies. But there are lots of bananas. When I say pudding, I am referring to the super soft, gooey center.
While I do enjoy regular old cake, I don’t really crave it. When I crave something sweet, I want it to be gooey, chewy and sweet. Regular old cake, while yummy, doesn’t really deliver the gooey factor.
I love banana bread; it is my breakfast bread kryptonite. When I wanted to make myself something for my birthday yesterday, this is what I made myself. It is a little bit like banana bread, a blondie and bread pudding all in one bite. Adding some of my tahini caramel sauce and it was pure heaven.
There are a few things that make this cake and its topping oh so delicious.
Bananas: Browner The Better
When you go to the grocery store, you will see people getting picky with their bananas. I wanted a woman pick up at least 10 different bunches before pulling 3 different ones apart and take 2 from each. And all of her bananas were yellow-green. These are not the bananas you want. When I pick bananas, I look for ones that are all yellow, even better with a few brown spots.
The browner the peel of the bananas, the riper and sweeter it is. The flesh of the banana will be softer (which some people don’t like), but for banana bread or this cake, these are the perfect ones. You want super sweet, soft bananas that will mash easily, add natural sweetness to your dessert and provide the much-needed moisture.
If you can only find semi-ripe bananas, place your bananas in a brown paper bag, cinched closed. Let sit in a warm part of your kitchen for 2 days. If they are still not ripe enough, add an apple to the bag, close again and give it another day.
I buy a lot of bananas at once, ripen them and keep any unused ones peeled, frozen in resealable bag in the freezer.
I have said it many times, but not all tahini is created equal. Sesame seed paste aka tahini, has an earthy, sweet-savory taste that is the perfect foil for super sweet bananas and coconut sugar. However, some tahinis can be very bitter and no amount of bananas or coconut sugar will make that bitterness go away.
Tahini is the dominant fat source in this recipe, so you want to make sure that you are using the best. My preferred is Soom Foods. I eat it straight from the jar so that tells you right away that it is not bitter. It is nutty (even thought they’re no nuts in there), somewhat savory and rich is natural oils from the sesame seeds. I highly recommend ordering some and adding it to your pantry.
Seriously Good Vanilla
Vanilla extract is something that I spend the money on, especially if I want to make sure that it is gluten-free. Vanilla extract is essentially vanilla seeds and alcohol, but many found in the grocery store will have a little sugar or corn syrup added to them, among other things. Also, not all vanilla extracts are gluten-free. If the alcohol is not gluten-free (not all are), then the extract is not gluten-free.
I like to make my own vanilla extract with just 2 ingredients: gluten-free vodka or tequila and 3 whole vanilla beans. Split each vanilla bean pod, scraping the seeds out the the tip of a knife. Add the seeds and cut pods to 3 cups of alcohol in a glass jar; shake together and let sit in a dark, cool place for 1 week. Boom. Vanilla extract. And it is about the same price to make it as it is buying it in the store.
And now cake. I highly recommend you make the caramel sauce in this recipe and double it. It is the best topping for ice cream, yogurt, really anything.
265g overripe bananas, mashed (about 2 large bananas)
3oz/86g tahini (about 1/3 cup)
1/2oz/15g olive oil (about 1 tbsp)
3/4 cup (110g) coconut sugar
1 tbsp (9g) flax meal
1/4 cup (48g) warm water
2 tsps vanilla extract
3 tbsp (22g) coconut flour
1/4 cup (32g) arrowroot flour
1 cup (132g) superfine almond flour
2 tsp (8g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (3g) baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
Optional: 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 banana, thinly sliced for topping the cake
Caramel sauce for topping
3oz coconut cream
3oz cashew butter (or tahini)
1oz maple syrup
2oz coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp organic, refined coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375F and liberally grease a 9inch round cake pan. I use solid coconut oil and really get in all the corners.
In a small bowl, whisk together the almond, coconut, arrowroot flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make sure to get out any lumps in the almond flour. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, tahini, oil and coconut sugar until fully incorporated. It’s ok for there to be lumps of banana. We like lumps. Add the flax meal and water (I do not combine them ahead of time) and whisk to incorporate.
Using a spatula, add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and mix until the flour mixture is fully incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, spreading it to the edges and smoothing out the top. Top with the sliced bananas (in any pattern you like).
Bake for 45-55 minutes; the middle will stay soft and gooey. You want the top and edges to be a deep, golden brown. Let cool completely at room temperature. Place a cooling rack on top of the cake pan, flip (the cake will release on its own or with a tap). Place a large plate on top of the upside down cake, flip and place the cake in the fridge.
Make the caramel sauce while the cake chills. Place all the ingredients, except for the vanilla, coconut oil and salt, in a heavy bottom saucepan (I use a cast-iron one). Whisk together over medium heat until the mixture is slightly thicker and nearly boiling. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract, whisking to incorporate. Return to the heat, stirring continuously, for another minute. Remove from the heat and add the coconut oil and salt. Pour into a heatproof glass jar; let cool before covering with a lid and keeping in the fridge.
Take the cake out of the fridge after an hour, slice and serve with the caramel sauce. It is heaven. Also, if you add some vanilla nice cream, you might achieve pure bliss. If there is any cake left over, keep it in the fridge for a week (it will be gone before then though).