Too much credit is given to originality in baking. It seems post the “clean eating” wave, there is still a cold war amongst food writers as to who can be the most original with their recipes. Personally, originality is never my motivation when writing recipes. I have copied – and credited – Nigella Lawson more than I care to count and sometimes, God damn it, a bolognese just is what it is! Stop remixing for the sake of remixing.
But I’ve noticed this mixing is at it’s most shameless with baking. The army of clean bloggers will sing from any elevated platform about their baking recipes that use the most obscure ingredients. Is it for the sake of eating clean? Is it just for the Gram? Who knows.
But I know I don’t care.
However, despite my cynicism, I love food writing in all of it’s forms, and vegetable substitutes in baking has always made me ponder. A beetroot in a cake is genius because it’s naturally fudgy, it’s sweet and gives a real body to a cake. A lady in a charity shop once told me she uses tomato soup from a can in a cake. Okay… I get it… it’s liquid and canned tomato is sweet. Sure, I’ll get on board.
I once read a recipe that boasted about some form of purred broccoli in a brownie. Some of you are just sick.
However when I was recipe testing for a local café, I was asked to make a gluten free sweet treat and I instantly went to a brownie or a blondie and was stuck with how to achieve a silky but sturdy batter without using flour. Then I read about using canned pulses in baking for texture… and I had a can of butterbeans going spare…
Fairly chewy in texture but also absorbent, I wondered if I used some ingredients with real face bashing flavour, the butterbeans would be the perfect ingredient to achieve a flourless batter and I wouldn’t lose any flavour.
I fell in love with them. They had enough sweetness with the chocolate and cherries to combat the hearty BANG of the crystallised ginger. I added ginger biscuit to the mix just so there was some crunch amongst all the tooth hugging sweetness.
So my regular readers don’t have to go into a state of panic, I’m not about to be grating mushrooms into a cookie, this was literally just the happy product of recipe testing!
Grease and line a 20 x 20 baking pan and preheat the oven to 180C.
Melt about 80g of peanut butter (I use a microwave because I’m lazy) and allow to cool on the side.
Blend a can of drained butter beans in a food processor with a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and an egg to create a creamy batter. It’ll look a little pale at the moment, but don’t worry, it’s about to get sexy.
In a bowl, break up 100g of white chocolate into small chip sized pieces before crunching up 80g of ginger biscuits. I use my hands for both things because there is something morbidly enjoyable about being destructive. I still bite the lids of my pens, for Christ sake. I’m sadistic.
Throw in 50g of crystallised ginger (relax, you can get it from Home Bargains for £1) and then tumble in 100g of roughly chopped glace cherries.
Now pour in the melted peanut butter and scoop in the butterbean batter and mix everything to combine.
Pour this into the lined baking tin and smooth the top. Throw in the preheated oven and bake for about for 35 – 40 minutes.
Photography by Lowri Bethan Photography