Moist Avocado Chocolate Loaf Cake

Hate it or love it, the ‘moist’ hopefully caught you off guard.

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(Apologies for the almost horrific slice cuts here, I have yet to get a serrated knife for my uni kitchen).

I feel like I’ve finally settled into January right when it has mostly ended. Not to say January wasn’t great, in fact it was amazing and I’ve already changed a few important (bad) habits, but I do feel as if my head’s been slightly all over the place, for no particular reason at all. It might be down to a waning self-confidence and general stress. For that, the solution is baking, the right amount of socialising, and deep work– I’ve caught myself too many a time staring at my phone screen as if it will give me the answers to all my burning, deep life questions.

A classic problem of the privileged 21st century life is not knowing what to do with a lot of ripe fruit. Ripe bananas are always tossed into a flurry of melted butter, sugar and flour to make pancakes or banana bread/cake. Avocados are left behind because they’re less lucky. Their hard shells of a coat don’t make it easy to spot when they’re ready, and sometimes it’s a little too late, so you smell the rotting brown flesh and toss it immediately.

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The first time I made this loaf it was a hit in my graduate dormitory, but a tad too dry. This time it turned out much more moist, which I definitely prefer. So bake it longer if you don’t fancy such a moist crumb (which you can clearly see below). The chocolate is optional but the bittersweet nature of some of the dark stuff goes a long way, piercing the creamy avocado crumb. You end up with a crusty top, creamy fluffy inside and melting dark chocolate.

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Avocado Chocolate Loaf Cake (makes 6 large slices)

Ingredients

1 large ripe avocado

190g (3/4 cup) butter at room temperature

2 tsp salt (use just 1 tsp if you are using salted butter)

200g (1 cup) sugar, I used a mix of raw cane and brown sugar

3 organic, free-range, medium eggs (use two if you have large eggs)

1 tsp vanilla extract

300g (almost 2.5 cups) flour, use plain flour or substitute half with buckwheat, which is what I did

2 tsp baking powder

0.5 tsp baking soda

60-80g chopped dark chocolate

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mash the ripe avocado. Add the room-temperature butter, sugar, salt and eggs and whisk those in well. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder and chocolate and whisk together briefly. Tip this dry mix into the wet and mix well with a wooden spoon until everything comes together, but do not overmix. Your batter should be neither too wet nor dry, and should easily drop off your spoon if you give it a firm flick. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle after the baking time should emerge with moist crumbs clinging to it. Enjoy warm with a pat of butter or nut butter on top. Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze and reheat for a future midday snack.

Pineapple Condensed Milk Loaf Cake

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If there’s one thing you make this week, make it this.

A fluffy pineapple condensed milk loaf cake, studded with fine bits of pineapple, topped with fresh pineapple slices and a lemon-pineapple glaze. 

Sometimes my ideas are like branches with dead ends and no coherence. Since this blog is all about delicious, easy bakes, I didn’t want to throw random curveballs, but I didn’t want to overestimate the charms of conformity either. Basic, but not too basic. A degree of subtle complexity, and certainly no plain jane taste.

Scavenging the kitchen left me with some leftover pineapple from last night’s dessert and, well, not much else. Pineapple loaf cake has been done before, upside-down variations galore, and my finding of condensed milk in the fridge led to this mild twist. I must say it was fun to play around with the ratios; it turned out to be the perfect balance of sweet from the condensed milk and tangy from the use of both fresh pineapple and pineapple juice. Here, there’s not much flamboyance, and hardly any finesse. Funnily enough, it’s exactly this lack of properness that provides the right amount of charm.

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{Above: served warm with lemon curd, a drizzle of condensed milk, and coconut chips}

It’s messy, sticky, glorious. A little of the juice from the fresh pineapple layered on top mixes with the lemon-pineapple glaze, and together with the fresh pineapple both on and inside the cake, forms the perfect topping to the fluffy cake base. And goodness is this fluffy. Fork work is no work. The condensed milk, other than its more unorthodox flavour in the cake, provides a satiating density without weighing anything down. Tender is the night crumb.

Ingredients

For the cake:

175g cake flour (or substitute with the same amount of all-purpose and add 2 extra tablespoons, and be sure to whisk the dry mix all the more thoroughly later)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

large pinch fine salt

115g white sugar

110g (around a stick) soft, unsalted butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g fresh pineapple, cut into even chunks, around 1cm thick

60ml (1/4 cup) condensed milk

60ml (1/4 cup) pineapple juice (freshly squeezed, or you can buy those cans which state ‘100% pineapple juice’), or substitute with 30ml lemon juice and 30ml water

freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

For the lemon-pineapple glaze:

75g icing sugar

juice of half a lemon (the remaining lemon juice)

1 tsp pineapple juice, or substitute with more lemon juice

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C (350F) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf tin. Separate your pineapple chunks into two clumps– one that’s 100g (to place at the bottom of your pan) and another that’s 50g. Finely chop this latter clump into small pieces. Sprinkle some white sugar on the bottom of your greased loaf tin, then place the chunks (100g in total; refer to picture above) of pineapple at the bottom. Set aside your loaf tin.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar for at least 30 seconds. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and condensed milk. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. To the butter-sugar mix, add half of the flour mix, then half of the pineapple juice. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything in briefly (streaks of flour are fine), then add the rest of the flour, remaining pineapple juice, half of the lemon juice, and the finely chopped pineapple. Mix everything together until just combined. The mixture should be yellow-ivory with a thick dropping consistency.

Tip batter into the loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes; mine took 42. Insert a wooden skewer into the middle of your loaf at the 40-minute mark– leave it for another couple of minutes if the skewer emerges wet and sticky, but take it out if it comes out dry. A few moist crumbs at the tip are fine, for the pineapple chunks at the bottom make it stickier and wetter than the other parts of the cake. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. In a bowl and with a fork or spoon, mix together the lemon juice, pineapple juice (or more lemon juice) and icing sugar. Play around here; you should have an opaque, white glaze. It should easily run when you hold the spoon at a height, but the stream would become reluctant once it starts thinning.

After removing the tin from the oven, leave the cake to cool on a cooling rack for an hour or so before removing. To remove, wear heatproof gloves and tip out your loaf cake, setting it down on your counter the way you put it in the oven (pineapple side down). Using a serrated knife, cut off the top of the cake, so both the top and bottom are flat (tip: the bits you cut off are wonderful, crusty and perfect with marmalade and tea). Flip the loaf cake so the pineapple side is on the top this time. Drizzle with the lemon-pineapple glaze.

Serve warm with lemon curd and more condensed milk. Store the rest in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to a week.