Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh, to be on 'island time'.....

One of the real indulgences I have come to enjoy in the past couple of years is the annual pilgrimage My Beloved and I have made to commune with the fishes. We're both keen SCUBA divers and - being Brits through and through - love the warm waters of the Caribbean. In past years, we've made aquatic acquaintances, fishy friends and marine mates with turtles, sharks, squid, rays, one now famous and beloved octopus, and sundry other reef dwellers in the waters off Tortola and Cayman Brac.

This year, however, with the state of the economy as it is, we felt it financially 'prudent' to remain home and not commit to such an unnecessary expense.

However, it seems that I may be missing the trip even more than I thought I would. And perhaps this would explain my sudden and overpowering urge to create the perfect vegan Caribbean Ginger Cake. The recipe I had from years ago makes liberal use of animal products in the form of butter and eggs so I decided to do away with all of that and this is the result:

It is super moist and sticky with a dense and chewy crumb that'll have you reaching for a second slice before you know what's hit you. Studded with chopped candied ginger, it packs a little heat and an element of surprise.....

Here's the recipe, if you'd like to give it a try. You will need:

(wet things)
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup non-dairy butter (I like the Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/2 cup ginger beer (note: not ginger ale - good powerful ginger beer!)
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 whole over-ripe banana, mashed
2 tbsp dark rum

(dry things)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Here's what you do:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease/line a 9"x 9" baking pan
2. In a large saucepan (actually, I use a saute pan, but who cares?!?!) gently melt the non-dairy butter with the molasses, brown sugar, candied ginger, fresh ginger and the ginger beer. While this is melting, mash your banana and stir the rum into it. Turn off the heat under the saute pan and then add the banana-rum-goo and stir well to combine. (In the original recipe, the molasses mix had to be left to cool as the next stage was to add in some beaten egss...see, veganizing it makes the recipe not only more compassionate but quicker too!)
3) Next onto the dry ingredients: into a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and powdered ginger. Stir with a clean spoon to mix.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix well and pour the batter into your prepared pan.
5. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

You could leave it to cool and frost the top thickly with a basic vegan lemon cream cheese frosting or just serve it with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Which is my preference.

OK, so it's not the same as swimming with the fishes but an afternoon in a sun-splattered garden with a fruity little cocktail in one hand and a slab of this in the other...well, I can always pretend I'm on 'island time', right?

Eat well and stay vegan, friends!