I apologise for that very lengthy title, but I just couldn’t NOT share all the attributes of this marvellous creation of mine. In fact, I should have added moist, fudgy, scrumptious, dreamy, chocolatey, rich, moreish, delightful, satisfying, luxurious, decadent, silky…
I wanted to make a cake for my daughter’s birthday, and in my research about healthy baking I repeatedly stumbled across the tip to use black beans instead of oil/butter and flour. Wut? Yes, that’s right. If you have been following me for some time, you know that I am crazy about legumes. I use them to replace meat (try my lentil bolognese and vegan pâté), cheese and dairy (hello vegan garlic sauce! Or how about some vegan cream cheese? Recipes coming soon so stay tuned!). They are cheap, satisfying, healthy, can be stored almost indefinitely and are incredibly yummy and versatile. But if you thought that the use of legumes is limited to savoury goodies, it’s time to tap into new bean realms.
So I conquered my pantry, kidnapped two beautiful tins of black beans and this is what I did with it. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure how this experiment would turn out. When it comes to baking, I tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just gluten free like back in the day when I started my new journey of no worries baking simply doesn’t cut it anymore these days. I want vegan, oil-free and possible also refined sugar free. Speaking of which, I wish I could say that this cake was sugar free. Unfortunately it isn’t. I am going to try a version with dates soon as I think they might go well in here, but I wanted to take it two steps at a time, not three steps, so for the moment, this uses plain old cane sugar. I’d love for you to try this with alternative sugars so if you do, let me know if it works! So this is not low-sugar or low-carb, but I hope that the lack of oil, butter, gluten, dairy and eggs makes up for it. Plus, beans = fibre and protein FTW.
Oh, and have I mentioned that this is a really easy one? No separating of eggs (it’s vegan – duh!), only one bowl, no first-mix-the-wet-ingredients-then-mix-the-dry-ingredients-then-sift-the-flour-crap that ain’t nobody got time for. The baking time is a little longer than I prefer (45 minutes), but the actual active hands-on time is less than 15. So no excuses!
So what does a cake made of black beans look, smell and taste like? The answer is: nothing short of divine.
Almost Fat Free Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 8-inch (20cm) round cake
2 cups almond milk, divided
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tins black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup apple sauce
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup+ gluten-free flour
3 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup raw organic cacao
Preheat oven to 180 °C and lightly grease an 8-inch or 20-cm bake tin with coconut oil. Mix 1.5 cups of the almond milk with the vinegar in a large mixing bowl and let sit for a minute to let the two ingredients react with each other. Blitz the drained and rinsed black beans together with the remaining half cup almond milk until a paste forms. A coarse texture is okay, but there should not be any large lumps.
Add the bean paste together with the apple sauce and vanilla to the almond milk-vinegar mix and beat until combined and a bit frothy. Add the flour, baking powder, cane sugar and cocoa and beat on high until very smooth. There will probably still be some bean skins, but that will resolve during baking. The texture of the batter should be that of a very thick custard. If in doubt, add a couple more tablespoons of flour. Taste the raw batter (no risk of salmonella) and add a bit more sugar if you have a sweet tooth (some of the sweetness will go away during baking).
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake on the middle rack for 40-45 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Let the cake cool completely before serving.