I don’t remember my first set of school books, but I’m sure they included a book of alphabets with pictures. Our daughter never had any books to carry to school for her first two years. She just used to come back from school, proudly waving her very colourful “worksheets” to show us what she had done at school that day.
As I was saying, I still keep seeing those picture books with alphabets everywhere, and the first page almost always tells you that the letter “A” is for Apple! So I learnt that an Apple which was a somewhat round shaped red coloured fruit with a small stalk sprouting from its head to which was attached a single very green leaf!!
I wonder how many Indians living in India those days, other than in Kashmir and thereabouts, had actually seen an apple. I started school in East Africa where apples didn’t exist either. It wasn’t till I was in my teens that I saw my first apple.
The letter “A” also happens to be for Avocado, which I saw much before I did an apple. I never thought of avocados being grown in the African countries we lived in, but I think they must have. Those were the days before fruit was imported, and the avocados my parents used to buy were cheap enough to have to have been grown locally.
My mother used to love avocados, though she doesn’t seem to like them much now. I remember my mother scooping out the flesh and enjoying it with salt and a dash of lime juice. I never could understand what my mother saw in such an ugly looking tasteless fruit!
Actually, I still haven’t figured out what it is that there is to like about the avocado. I’m not sure I can even describe what an avocado tastes like, but I do know that I still do not like it. People say the taste is buttery (nutty somewhat) but I’d rather go with butter if I was looking for “buttery”.
However, there remains the fact that the avocado is rich in “good” fats (and calories), fibre and potassium. Avocados are nowadays as common as onions, potatoes and tomatoes at my market, in the season.
They are quite expensive and even though no one here likes it much, it seemed a good idea to buy a couple and see if they could be disguised (as in cooked or baked) and passed off as something else.
I had remembered seeing an avocado cake so I went searching for a recipe.
Why a cake with avocado? Well, why not? If one can make cakes with carrots, zucchini and beets why not with avocado? I also thought if I could hide the avocado in a cake, it would be likely to have more takers.
I improved the cake further by drizzling it with some melted chocolate!
The net threw up a lot of avocado cake recipes and all of them seemed to have cocoa or chocolate in them. Maybe the cocoa or chocolate is the avocado disguising ingredient and while I am self-proclaimed chocoholic, I didn’t want chocolate in my avocado cake.
I did find the odd link to a plain cake, but then the avocado was in the frosting! Again, this wasn’t what I was looking for.
Then there were a couple of cakes with avocado in the cake but required more eggs and butter than I was willing to bake with.
I thought the USP of the avocado was that its fat content (or being buttery) so I couldn’t understand cakes that caked for a stick and a half of butter!
So I came up with a workable recipe for the kind of cake I wanted. My recipe has much less butter and no eggs at all.
Many of the avocado cake recipes I saw used a bit of cornmeal along with all purpose flour. I happen to like the texture cornmeal lends to baked goods so I kept that in my recipe. If you do not like the taste of cornmeal in your cake, you can replace it with flour.
I also thought a bit of spice would add to the cake so I used chai masala.
The crowning glory was a chocolate drizzle. This recipe bakes into a pale green and moist cake that’s perfect to serve with coffee. There’s something mysterious about the pale green and just a faint hint of something different in the taste but it is not unpleasant. No one would say “avocado” if they didn’t know what went into it.
I would definitely recommend trying this once. I do not mind my avocado taking the form of this cake.
Eggless Spiced Avocado Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
75gm butter, softened
3/4 cup avocado purée*
1 cup buttermilk**
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp chai masala (or all spice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
* I puréed one avocado with 1 tsp of lemon juice and that gave me 3/4 cup of purée from one avocado.
** I used 1 tsp of white vinegar in 1 cup of milk instead of buttermilk.
Put the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, baking powder and chai masala in a bowl and whisk together. Keep aside.
In another bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the avocado purée and beat well.
Add half of the whisked flour and half the buttermilk and beat on medium speed, just until the batter is smooth. Add the remaining flour, buttermilk and vanilla extract and beat again till just till the batter is smooth.
Do not over beat.
Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan or a 8” or 9” cake tin and bake at 180C (350F) for about an hour, till the cake is done and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.
Unmould and cool the cake on a rack.
When cool drizzle with chocolate. Melt about 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate and 2 tbsp cream in a small bowl, over hot water. Stir the chocolate-cream mixture till smooth and drizzle over the avocado cake.
Serve the cake as it is or with ice-cream, or as you would prefer.
This cake serves 8 to 10.
You might have noticed that I'm putting a bit more effort into my photography. This has nothing to do with this recipe, but I wanted to mention something because I'm kind of proud of it.
The first picture in this post has been shaot in colur and has not been edited for that effect. I believe this sort of thing can be done with editing software, but that's something I still do not know much about beyond the basics.
I shot the picture using black and white props (the napkin, the background, the plates, the cup and saucer) so that I could show a hint of green that was in the slice of avocado cake. It was only after shooting the picture that I realised the efect of the slice of colour in an otherwise black and white picture.