Cake is for life not just for birthdays.
I read this somewhere and feel it is true. Sometimes, we don’t need any excuse to eat cake. No special occasions needed. Baking cake in itself feels like a celebration of life. Isn’t it?
I come from a family of non-bakers. But, I love baking. Something that I discovered about myself five years back. I love baking with my daughter, now a first grader, even more. She also has a thing for baking, perhaps more than me. It has become our new secret unsaid tradition of sorts, so much that I dare not bake in her absence.
Whenever we bake together, she pulls up her small chair, stands on it for better reach, measures, whisks, stirs, smells, pours the vanilla (her favorite part), at times argues about the measurements being heaped or leveled and always begs to lick the whisk, spatula and the bowl after the batter goes into the pan without an ounce of hesitation. And, I enjoy every aspect of it.
She loves when baking involves chocolate or cocoa powder. Prunes on the other hand, she does not. She squints her eyes and shakes her head in disapproval at the mention of this despised dried fruit.
Cakes are like books, there are new ones you want to read and old ones you want to reread. – Ellen Rose
Often times, we bake banana bread when too many ripe bananas fill the fruit bowl. Although, we are never tired of banana bread, sometimes change does good. I love eating prunes and had always wondered how it might be to bake with them. When we baked this cake, I took the recipe of our favorite banana bread (which I am yet to share with y’all) and simply substituted prunes for bananas.
She kept asking me what the brown purée was and I promised to tell her after the cake comes out of the oven. As the aroma of the cake filled the kitchen and our entire apartment, she could barely sit still. When the cake had cooled down enough to be cut, she demanded for the first bite. Who was I to stop my little picky eater?
She took her first bite and exclaimed “I love this cake Amma”. I asked her to guess the secret ingredient hoping that she’d still like it after knowing what went in.
With her pretty big eyes, she said “Really? Well, I love your Prune Cake Amma!”
While I was still in disbelief, a new favorite had been born, a cake with wholesome ingredients, a “Healthy Cake” and perhaps an oxymoron.
This is such a simple recipe that it can almost be taken for granted.
As for the cake, it is delicious with a hint of cinnamon leaving you wondering what the secret ingredient is. If you are not used to cakes with whole wheat flour, it will feel denser, which it is.
Don’t take my word for it. Give it a try and decide for yourself.
- 8 prunes
- 1 cup water for boiling the prunes
- 2 tbsp organic unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup whole wheat chapathi atta or whole wheat flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 1/2 tsp aluminium-free baking powder (I use Rumford)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of sea salt
- 6 inch round pan
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease cake pan with few drops of oil, dust with flour and keep aside.
Bring butter to room temperature either by letting sit on the counter for 10-15 mins before using. Alternatively, you could place the mixing bowl in a bigger bowl of hot water while creaming it with sugar.
Measure all the dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk or sift well for thorough mixing and keep aside.
In a small saucepan, bring prunes to a boil in 1 cup water. Strain the soaked prunes reserving 1/3 cup of the soaked juice for the cake batter. Coarsely blend soaked prunes in a blender or mixer with 1 tbsp of the soaked water.
In a small to medium mixing bowl, beat sugar and room temperature butter with a whisk until fluffy, creamy and light in color. To this add prune purée, 1/3 cup of reserved prune soaked water, vanilla extract and whisk together.
Add the dry flour mix little at a time into the wet mix and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan on a baking tray on the middle rack and bake for 25 mins or until a tooth pick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean. By then the aroma of the cake should fill the room.
Remove the pan and let cool on a wire rack. After 15 mins, turn the cake onto a plate. Cut it when it has cooled enough to touch.
Serve warm optionally with a side of ice cream.
Prunes can be soaked for a couple of hours instead of boiling.
Do not open the oven door during the first 15 mins as it causes the rising dough to collapse.
Do not forget or delay cooling the cake on a wire rack right after pulling out of the oven. Otherwise, due to the retained heat, cake starts to sweat inside and end up soggy instead.
Make sure there is enough room for the cake to rise or else the dough will spill out during baking.
Do not over-bake or it will become dry and hard.