Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Spiced Banana Cake

Spiced Banana Cake

And so begins a gleaming New Year, inspiring and hopeful; when you think about it, the start of the New Year is a little like mornings, both bearing the optimism of a new beginning, except mornings come around daily.
My little end-of-year break sadly ended today, and this morning I got ready for work thinking about resolutions, and how I try not to make them on New Year’s.

I used to think I wasn’t really a resolutions maker, but the fact is, I’ve been making resolutions all my life, just not necessarily at the start of each year.

Spiced Banana Cake by Elsa Brobbey

One resolution I’ve had a hard time keeping is breakfast, for some reason eating in the morning has been a bit of a challenge. So my resolutions for mornings this year is to eat breakfast.

It seemed so easy during our relaxing Christmas holiday, breakfast just seemed to happen naturally; we had our granola on some mornings, mum made her special Hausa koko, then there were those endless pots of coffee and tea to go with panettone, pandoro and this delectable spiced banana cake I made for Christmas morning.

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This cake is truly simple, more like banana bread but fluffier, finely spiced and topped with crushed nuts and dried cranberries.

It gets its yellowish hue from turmeric, a mildly fragrant warm spice with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
I love the colour it lends to the cake, also, it boosts the flavour of the cake with earthy hints and and a faint peppery flavour.

I try to add turmeric to my cooking as often as I can since it’s such a powerful healing spice.


What I do is mix all the spices; cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and turmeric together to make a rich warm mixture and then add it to my flour before the wet ingredients.

And when it’s baking, the smell of the bananas and the spices sweetly wafts through the kitchen and fills everywhere, that’s how you know something wonderful is baking.

It’s perfect with tea for wintry mornings, the spices aren’t overpowering, hints of ginger, cardamom and cinnamon comes thorough, balancing with the delicate aromas of bananas and vanilla.

This cake makes me hopeful, that maybe breakfasts wouldn’t be so hard after all.

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Spiced Strawberry Pie with Crumble Topping


There are certain movies that stay with you long after you’ve watched them, they aren’t necessarily the best, or your typical Oscar-worthy movies; sometimes it’s just because the themes in the movies are relatable.

I watched Higher Ground last year, a 2011 movie starring Vera Farmiga as a woman who suffers a crisis of faith in her tight-knit born-again Christian community.

Coming from an insanely religious culture, I connected with the heroine’s struggle with religion, faith, identity and doubt – I’ve been where she’s been, and basically came to the same realizations.
Every once in a while, something happens that makes me think back on this movie.

There’s also the song from which the movie gets its title, which brings back so many memories… there was a version sung in Twi that my dad played all the time, I can almost hear the singer’s raspy voice hauntingly sing of longing for a ‘higher ground’ – a far better place than she’s found; it made me dream then.

The reason why I’m bringing up the movie is because there’s a scene in it where the women gather for bible study, one of the ‘sisters’ is very excited that someone brought home-made carob-chip cookies to share.

Corrine, our heroine asks her friend; “Do you know what carob tastes like?”
“Chocolate?” her friend asks
“Disappointment” Corrine answers.

I thought about that scene when I started looking into making pie crust without the traditional animal fats (butter, lard) or vegetable shortening that contain trans fat.
I googled ‘vegan pie crust’ and coconut oil came up as an alternative. The challenge was to make a buttery and flaky crust that didn’t taste like disappointment, using coconut oil.

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I love coconut oil, I use it in everything – from soups to conditioning my hair, and I’ve used it for baking with great results. Coconut oil stays solid at certain temperatures (76 degrees F. melting point) and can be cut into flour in its solid state just like conventional shortening.

I chill mine in the fridge for a few minutes, cut it into pieces and whirl it with my flour and salt in the food processor for a few seconds, add apple cider vinegar and a few tablespoons of water.

The dough comes together much like any other pie dough, bakes flawlessly and tastes… buttery and flaky.

I made apple hand pies for work using the coconut oil dough, it got high praise, and no one could tell it had coconut oil in it.

This strawberry pie is what I do with the strawberries that are just coming in from California; I wish I knew how to resist them – they’re pretty tempting but not as tasty as BC strawberries in the summer.

There are so many delicious facets to this pie; the crust, perfect textured crumble topping, and the strawberry filling generously spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom for a rustic and flavourful taste – the warm spices and strawberries are perfect together; delightfully so, I love it especially during this time when we’re transitioning into warmer temperatures.

IMG_5197 Spiced Strawberry Pie


Apple Crisp with Custard Sauce


In the past few days, the city has been covered in a thick blanket of fog. It was sort of my idea of the Pacific Northwest when I considered moving here; I imagined long rejuvenating walks in the woods on foggy misty mornings before the city wakes.
Where I come from, the mist from the morning fog is believed to have restorative properties; the fresh dewy smell always reminds me of early morning walks with my grandmother when I was little. I guess that explains the yearning to go out in the fog…

Last night, just before dark, I went for a walk along the seawall. The quiet, the fog, the dusk and the reflection of the city lights on the water made for a hauntingly beautiful scene, I walked for bit, and just like that, all was well with the world again,
I went back home feeling like myself again, ready for dessert, craving something soothing, warm, sweet and light… to go with my mood.

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IMG_3456 Apple Crumble with Custard

I thought about this apple crisp, I usually make it in the summer from big shipment of Envy apples from New Zealand, but this weekend I found some fragrant crisp sweet BC apples on sale at the market and I couldn’t pass up.
This crisp is awesome with ice cream, but on nights like these, this light creamy custard does the trick.

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To make Bird’s Custard Sauce: Mix the 2 tablespoons Custard Powder and 1/4 cup sugar with a small amount of milk (from 2 cups of milk) to form a smooth paste. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil in a non-stick saucepan on medium heat. Gently whisk / stir the custard paste into the boiling milk. Bring back to the boil; stir until the custard begins to thicken. Add more milk if you prefer your custard thinner.


Spiced Applesauce Cake with ‘Buttercream’ Frosting


“It’s a pretty season, fall in Vancouver” – I hadn’t given it much thought until someone mentioned it today. Reddish and golden hued foliage, bright autumnal sun and the bluest skies, cooling temperatures and the start of snow on the mountains…
I used to regard fall with a bit of anxiety, it’s the season when the cold and rain returns, a passage into gloomy winter.
We’ve had a few perfect fall days, despite the rain and cold, which had me looking at the season differently – there’s something special there, you just have to let yourself see it.

And to celebrate fall… a cake!


I’ve mentioned this spiced applesauce cake before; although it wasn’t quite fall the last time I made it.
Yet, it’s the perfect autumn cake, with warming spices like ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.
It has all the comforting flavours of fall.
I love the smell of this cake when it’s baking, I’ll make it all season long just for how the wonderful scents of spice and baking fills everywhere.
The cake itself is moist, rich and not too sweet, and the frosting sweetens it up nicely.

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The recipe is easy and adaptable, add in your favourite spices and leave out what you don’t want.
I love cardamom, I try to sneak it into everything I bake, cardamom and ginger invigorates the cake.

I think this cake was supposed to make me change my outlook on fall, or perhaps help me add another to my list of ‘fall perfect’ things

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Sweet Cashew Cream

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I have a sweet tooth, there’s no denying it, and I don’t make excuses for it –
I own it… which is why I’m always ten pounds away from my ideal weight.
I love healthy food too, almost as much as I love junk food, so I’m constantly on the lookout for food that is all healthy, sweet and junk-ey.
Because let’s face it, as blasé as I am about my sweet tooth, the potential health implications aren’t lost on me.
So while I’m trying to put my days of polishing off a pint of ice cream in two servings behind me, I still like to indulge.

254/365 Cashew Cream #mostly365

This is where recipes like this sweet cashew cream comes in; it satisfies the sweet tooth but it’s not all junk food.
Cashew cream is used mainly in raw-food diets as a substitute for dairy; raw cashews are soaked overnight, and blended into a smooth cream that can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes.
For this sweet cashew cream, I used roasted and salted cashews –
Roasted cashews are sweeter with a rich nutty flavour.
And salt is the greatest flavour enhancer.


This sauce is amazing! It’s delicious; I slather it over bagels, toast and crackers.
It’s wonderful over ice cream, cakes, and other pastries, and as a dip for fruit.
I like to experiment with other nut butters too, almond butter, peanut butter, etc.


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